Mark McKinney and his wife Cassie have written their first cookbook, "United Plates Of Texas." They are excited to share over 75 of their favorite recipes and stories from their life long journeys as dedicated foodies. "United Plates of Texas" is AVAILABLE NOW! Order your copy today!

Bonus: Every cookbook purchase comes with a FREE DOWNLOAD of Mark's song, "Bacon & Eggs" from the World In Between album. 

United Plates of Texas
  • United Plates of Texas

United Plates of Texas

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United Plates of Texas cookbook by Mark McKinney & Cassie McKinney

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Cajun Creamed Spinach 

This is a new recipe we made for this year's Friendsgiving gathering, and it was a huge hit.

Definitely making this one again for Thanksgiving!



2 gloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Cajun seasoning, to taste. (I like Tony Chachere's.)
5 10-oz packages of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 package bacon
1/2 cup grated parmesan
10 oz cream cheese
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs or crushed jalapeño kettle chips 



Cook your package of bacon until crispy, and then chop into small pieces. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. This should take 5-6 minutes. Add the heavy cream, nutmeg and Cajun seasoning and bring to a simmer. Let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.

Mix the spinach and bacon into the mixture, along with 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Season with more Cajun seasoning to taste if needed.

Transfer the mixture into a 1 1/2 - 2 quart casserole dish and sprinkle with the Panko breadcrumbs or the crushed up Jalapeño kettle chips. Bake until bubbling and light golden-brown on top. Total baking time should be around 15/20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm!

Butternut Squash Gratin 


1 large butternut squash (about 7 or 8 cups), cubed into 3/4 inch chunks
2 cups sweet onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 eggs
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups real mayo
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs


Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cube the butternut squash and then boil for 15 minutes in slightly salty water until fork tender. Drain and set aside. 

Finely chop the sweet onion, and then sauce in the olive oil over medium heat until soft and translucent. 

In a casserole bowl, mix the butter, mayo, eggs, onion, salt and as much black pepper as you like, and most of the parmesan and Panko (save a little of each for the top). Add the tender butternut squash to the mixture, folding it all together evenly. Top with the remaining Panko and parmesan and bake for about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven when the top has a golden-brown color. Let it cool just a bit, and serve warm. 

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Classic Buttermilk Pie 

Mark always prefers pie and cobbler to cake, and this buttermilk pie has been one of my favorite recipes since I was a kid. It's a great option to serve as dessert after Easter lunch/dinner, and if there's leftovers, it goes great with a cup of coffee the next morning!

Serves: 8



1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup ice water (Add a bit more if you need to moisten it a bit.)


You can also just use a pre-made crust to make it easy!


4 eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest, grated
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
A pinch of salt


The crust: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and the salt. Using your kitchen scissors, or a knife, cut the stick of butter into small pieces and start mixing until it is combined into coarse crumbs. Stir in the ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture forms a ball. Wrap the top of the mixing bowl in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours. 

Roll dough out to fit a 9-inch pie plate. Plate crust In pie plate. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and make the sides of the pie crust look nice and fancy. Now you are ready to pour in your pie mixture and bake. 

The pie: Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. While your dough is chilling in the refrigerator, whisk together the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in all of the remaining ingredients until well-combined and you have a smooth consistency. 

Pour the pie mixture into your pie crust and bake for 25-30 minutes. Check the pie often, and if it looks like it is getting too brown on top too quickly, cover with aluminum foil to avoid burning the top. 

Toothpick test it when it's done baking to be sure it doesn't need more time. 


Sautéed Carrots with Crushed Pistachios 

A different, delicious and EASY side to bring to your Easter family brunch! This recipe serves 4, so be sure and double or triple the recipe to accommodate a big group. Enjoy!!

Serves: 4


8 medium carrots
1 tablespoon balsamic reduction
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup pistachios, shelled and crushed
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil 

**Note: Cassie prefers the HEB Brand garlic-flavored pistachios!


Wash and quickly scrape your carrots clean, but do NOT cut them - you will cook them whole. 

Pour the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the carrots in the skillet and line them so that every carrot is laying against the pan. Do not remove them for about 4 or 5 minutes, so they start to brown and slightly caramelize on one side. Once slightly browned, flip the carrots over and repeat on the other side. Add a splash of salt to counter the sweetness and toss the carrots around so that the salt covers them evenly. 

Place the carrots on a serving plate and drizzle balsamic reduction all over them, followed by the honey. Pour the pistachios on a cutting board and cut, crush and smash them into small pieces. Sprinkle the pistachios over the top of the carrots. Serve warm. 


Sriracha Deviled Eggs 

What's Easter Sunday without deviled eggs?? Kick yours up a notch with our Sriracha Deviled Eggs!  

Deviled eggs are one of the most popular items to bring to a holiday gathering. Here's a delicious and easy way to make yours stand out from the rest:  

Makes: 2 dozen egg halves 

What You'll Need: 

12 hard-boiled eggs  
3 tablespoons mayo  
2 tablespoons Sriracha  
3⁄4 teaspoon Dijon mustard  
1 Teaspoon lime juice  
1⁄2 teaspoon salt  
1⁄2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 

Garnish Options: 

Pickled jalapeños 
Chopped fresh chives  

To Make: 

Split the hard-boiled eggs in half lengthwise. Remove the egg yolks. In a mixing bowl, break up the egg yolks with a fork. Stir in the Sriracha, mayo, Dijon mustard, lime juice, salt and pepper. Fill a Ziploc bag with the mixture, cut a small slit into one corner of the bag, and squeeze the mixture back into the egg whites. Shake as much paprika as desired over the eggs and top each one with a few chives and/or a pickled jalapeño. Chill in the fridge before serving.  

***If spicy isn’t your thing, just go with our classic version: Replace the Sriracha with mustard and add a 1/3 cup of grated onions to the mix. Top each with a black olive! 



Honey-Glazed Balsamic Brussels 

If you're not using beer in your Brussel sprouts, you're doing it wrong. 

I love Brussel sprouts almost any way you can possibly serve them, but this recipe will turn even the most adamant Brussel sprout hater into a lover, trust me. 


5-6 cups Brussel sprouts 
8 strips bacon 
2 tablespoons balsamic reduction 
2 tablespoons honey 
1 teaspoon salt 
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup Beer (or water)

Cook the bacon in a cast iron skillet (preferred) or a regular skillet over medium/low heat, flipping it until its crispy all over. This should take about ten minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate layered with paper towels, leaving the drippings in the pan. You should have about two tablespoons of drippings left in the pan; if there is too much just remove a little, if not enough, add a little olive oil. 

While the bacon is cooking, you should cut the Brussel sprouts in half. If the stems are too large just cut them off and throw them away. 

Heat the pan of bacon drippings to medium/ high heat and arrange the sprouts cut-side down in a single layer and sprinkle with salt. Cook for about four to five minutes without moving so they will start to brown on the bottom. Now, stir them around and add just a splash of water to deglaze the bottom of the pan and lower the heat to medium. Allow the sprouts to cook for another three or four minutes, until they are slightly tender when poked with a fork, but NOT too soft – you want them to remain a bit al dente. 

Reduce the heat to low, crumble the bacon and add it back to the pan, along with the honey, balsamic reduction and cracked black pepper. Toss everything together to evenly coat it all and then plate it up and serve. You might want to top it with a little extra bacon if you kept some aside. Enjoy!


Click here to Pre-Order the new cookbook, United Plates of Texas! **Ships in January**

Grammy's Holiday Rum Cake 


My mom makes this one every year around the holidays and it is my son Jagger's favorite. Don't let the kids go too hard on this one! Haha 



1 box butter flavor Duncan Hines cake mix
4 eggs 
1⁄2 cup pecans, chopped 
1⁄2 cup oil 
1⁄2 cup rum (or more if you're looking for a buzz)
1⁄2 cup water 


1 stick butter 
1⁄4 cup rum (or more!)
1⁄4 cup water 
1 cup sugar 

The cake: Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Beat all ingredients together until well mixed. Spray Bundt pan with baking spray. 

Spread the pecans over the bottom of the Bundt pan. Pour in the batter. Bake for about 55 minutes. 

The sauce: While the cake is in the oven, combine the sauce ingredients in a sauce pan and cook on low heat for about two minutes, stirring constantly. 

When the cake is done, pull it out of the oven and test it with the toothpick test. Pour over warm 

cake in the Bundt pan. It will slowly absorb. After all the sauce has been absorbed and the cake is cool, flip the Bundt cake onto a serving plate.



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Bacon-Wrapped Scallops with Honey Sriracha Butter Sauce 

Our Christmas Day meals: Egg's Benedict for breakfast, Scallops for dinner. 


Scallops are something that can seem really intimidating too cook at home, but they shouldn’t. Combining bacon with just about anything is almost always a good idea – but wrapping bacon around these tasty little candies of the sea with this honey-infused sriracha butter sauce takes it to a whole other level. 

This has become our traditional Christmas Day meal. Scallops on Christmas might sound weird, but hey, why not? They are damn delicious. 


12 medium scallops 
12 strips of bacon 
2 tablespoons Bonfire Blend (or your favorite BBQ seasoning) 
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 
10 toothpicks 


1/3 cup unsalted butter 1⁄4 cup honey 
2 tablespoons sriracha 
1 teaspoon lemon juice 
1 teaspoon garlic powder 1⁄4 teaspoon salt 

The bacon: On a bacon rack over a cookie sheet (to catch the grease), cook the bacon in the oven 

at 350 degrees for about 15-25 minutes. You want the bacon to be fully cooked, but not too crispy, so that it is still pliable. Pull out and let it slightly cool – keep in mind that it will continue to crisp for a bit after it is removed from the oven. 

Put the seasoning on a small plate and press each scallop into the blend on both flat sides of the scallops, and place them on a different plate. Take the bacon and wrap each scallop around the unseasoned edge, overlapping by about an inch, and then break off the rest of the excess bacon if you need to. Place a toothpick through the end of the bacon into the scallop to hold the bacon in place. Repeat for each scallop. 

The scallops: Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium/high heat and pour the olive oil so that it coats the bottom and let it continue to heat until just before its smoking point. Think of your skillet like a clock: Starting at 12 o’clock, quickly place each scallop seasoning side down in the hot skillet. Once you’ve laid them all down and the 12 o’clock scallop has cooked for about two minutes, begin flipping them all over to cook for another two minutes. Now, remove them, clockwise, and transfer to a cool plate. These things cook fast and you do not want to overcook them because they can become tough. Now, place six scallops each on two serving plates and make your sauce. 

The sauce: In a small sauce pan over low heat, slowly melt the butter, then add the honey, sriracha and garlic powder, lemon juice and salt. Increase to medium heat and whisk for 30 seconds so it all blends together smooth. Drizzle equal amounts of sauce over each scallop and serve. Heaven in yo mouth!


Click here to Pre-Order our Cookbook, United Plates of Texas today! **Ships in January**

Crab Cake Egg's Benedict with Bacon Hollandaise Sauce 

Our Christmas Day brunch tradition is Cassie's favorite - egg's Benedict. But I decided to spice it up a few years back and make them with crab cakes, and infuse the hollandaise sauce with bacon and we quickly had a new favorite. This meal is not one you'd consider quick and easy - but definitely worth it. 

Serves: 4 


1 egg 
2 tablespoons green onions, chopped 
1⁄4 cup roasted red pepper, chopped 
1 tablespoon melted butter 
8 ounces lump crab meat 
1 cup panko bread crumbs, plus 1 cup divided 1⁄4 teaspoon salt 
1⁄2 teaspoon pepper 
Pinch of cayenne 
1⁄2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning 


4 strips bacon 
4 tablespoons butter 4 egg yolks 
2 tablespoons lemon Pinch of cayenne 
4 eggs (for poaching) 

The crab cakes: Combine all the crab cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Reserve one cup of the Panko for breading. Form into 4 patties, about 1 inch thick. Place remaining Panko in a bowl, and one at a time, place the patties in the Panko and press until they are well-covered with bread crumbs on all sides. 

In a pan over medium high heat, cook the bacon until crispy and cooked all the way through. Set the bacon aside. Add the crab cakes to the pan and cook them in the bacon grease. Cook until they are golden brown on the underside, and then carefully flip the crab cakes and cook on the other side until they are cooked all the way through. This should take about 3 minutes per side. Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside. 

The hollandaise: In a food processor, add the bacon and process until the bacon disintegrates into crumbs. Add the egg yolks and process for about three minutes. Melt the butter in a pot on the stove (or in the microwave) until hot and steaming. While the food processor is running, slowly, SLOWLY add the butter until it is well-combined with the yolks. Add the lemon and cayenne, and process until smooth. If your sauce is too thick, add water about a teaspoon at a time to thin it out. 

The eggs: To poach the eggs, bring a large skillet of water to a simmer over medium heat. Break your cold eggs one at a time into a small bowl. Holding the bowl just above the simmering water, gently slip the egg into the water. Repeat for the remaining eggs. Cook the eggs in barely simmering water until white is set and yolk is cooked but still runny inside. This usually takes about 3-4 minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and drain well. 

Place one crab cake on each plate, top with the poached egg, then add the hollandaise. I like to serve it over a bed of arugula to add a nice color and extra flavor. Season with pepper to taste and serve right away.


Click here Pre-Order our new cookbook, United Plates of Texas, today! **Ships in January**

Sweet & Salty Green Bean Bundles 

When you want to bring a tasty side to a holiday party without being the fourteenth dip on the buffet line...Cue: Sweet & Salty Green Bean Bundles! 


Makes 10-15 bundles 

1 (12 ounce) package of long green beans
1 package thin bacon 
1⁄2 cup soy sauce 
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 
1 tablespoon butter 
3 tablespoons brown sugar 
2 garlic cloves, finely minced


To Make:

These tasty little bundles are great as a side with almost any meal, and they also make a great appetizer to show up with at your next family gathering. 

The green beans: Bring a medium sized pot of lightly salted water to boil. Drop the green beans into the boiling water for about five minutes so that the beans start to soften, but are still partly crunchy. Remove from the heat, drain the water and set the beans aside. 

The bacon: In a cast iron skillet, cook about ten pieces of bacon for about four minutes, so that it is cooked, but not crispy. You want the bacon to be limber enough to wrap around the bundles of green beans. 

The sauce: In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add in the minced garlic. After about two minutes, add the soy sauce and the brown sugar and stir it all together. When the brown sugar has dissolved, remove the sauce from the heat. 

The bundles: Cut your ten pieces of bacon in half. Take about five or six green beans at a time and wrap a piece of bacon around them, covering a good portion of the center of each bundle. Stab a toothpick or two through the bacon to hold the bundles together. Repeat this until all of your green beans are wrapped. 

Pre-heat your oven until 350 degrees. Place the bundles on a cookie a sheet and brush each one with the sauce, saving enough to brush them again once they are done baking. Bake for 20-25 minutes, remove and brush the remaining sauce on top of the bundles.





















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