Last week, I hinted that I would be sharing the recipe for the dessert I took to my family's Easter dinner in this week's column, but Easter weekend didn't go as planned.

My son came down with a stomach bug Saturday, which took up a lot of my time and attention. But then Easter morning, he seemed fine, but I only had time to make lemon bars from a box mix, which I felt a little bad about but not too bad because I really like that mix.


I did not get to taste any of them, however. Because as Easter Sunday went by, I started feeling strange grumblings in my own stomach. I ate a small dinner, and skipped dessert (with the exception of one vanilla cream egg from the Easter basket my father had so lovingly curated).

I didn't make it home with that egg still in my stomach. Or my Easter dinner, for what it matters. But no need to get into the gross details.

Since then, I've been living on the usual post-stomach bug diet: lots of water, bananas, Saltines and lightly buttered noodles.

Saltines seem to come in such large boxes, which is funny, because I know that when I'm sick is the only time I eat them. Hopefully by the time this runs, I'll be back to normal food, and then I'll have three more sleeves of Saltines left that will surely be stale by the next time we get sick.

So this week I found two recipes that use Saltines. There wasn't that much diversity out there. There are lots of recipes for Saltine-based toffee, and those are delicious, but I believe I shared that recipe back around Christmas. There were also a bunch of recipes for "flavored" Saltines, but these called for unheard of amounts of vegetable oil, that I could not pass on in good conscience.

Luckily I found a new and pleasing dessert, which is pretty reminiscent of my boxed lemon bars that I thought would be good to share. This was a story featured on NPR and it is supposedly a North Carolina classic dessert. It's a lot like a key lime pie, though the author said you can use lemon or lime juice, or a combination of the two, and the crust is made out of crushed Saltines and butter. I've never seen this on my summer OBX vacations, but perhaps it's more popular on the southern North Carolina beaches.

The second recipe is for baked pork chops with a Saltine and Parmesan crust. I find pork chops difficult to cook — there's such a fine line between undercooked and overcooked, but I thought that the crust would help keep the natural juices in, keeping it from getting dry even if it does get a little close to the overcooked side of the line.

So there you have it, two ways to use Saltines that don't focus on absorbing your stomach acid.


Bill Smith's Atlantic Beach Pie

For the crust

1 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers

1/3 to 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter

3 tablespoons sugar


For the filling

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup lemon or lime juice or a mix of the two

Fresh whipped cream and coarse sea salt for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Crush the crackers finely, but not to dust. You can use a food processor or your hands. Add the sugar, then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into an 8-inch pie pan. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust colors a little.

While the crust is cooling (it doesn't need to be cold), beat the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the citrus juice. It is important to completely combine these ingredients. Pour into the shell and bake for 16 minutes until the filling has set. The pie needs to be completely cold to be sliced. Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Baked pork chops

3 boneless pork chops

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 cup finely crushed Saltine crackers

3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

Rinse pork chops and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside. Whisk together egg and milk in a shallow container. Combine cracker crumbs, cheese, salt, and pepper in another shallow container. Dip pork chops into egg mixture, then crumbs. Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Brown each side of the pork chops for about 4-5 minutes, then place in a baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 145 degrees. For extra crispy pork chops, broil them for about 2 minutes on each side. Don't over-bake or they will be dry.