Friday, December 4, 2015

Chocolate Seduction PIe for Santa's Sweet Tooth

One of the most decadent desserts that I have ever eaten is a chocolate pie that I first enjoyed at a local cafĂ© in my home town. The name of the pie is Chocolate Seduction and it stands up very well to its title. The pie is very rich and has a velvety texture with a thin crisp layer on top. The ingredients are probably found in your pantry at all times. Santa claims that it his very favorite late night pick me up, especially when served with a dollop of whipped cream and a glass of cold milk. The recipe makes two pies. One to enjoy now and one to save for Christmas Eve or any special occasion. The pie freezes very well and will keep for several months when frozen.

Chocolate Seduction Pie

8 ounces unsweetened chocolate - we use Baker's
4 sticks butter - do not substitute
5 cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream
8 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp high quality vanilla
2 - refrigerated pie crust fit into nine inch pie plates

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In heavy saucepan, melt chocolate and butter together on low heat until completely melted and blended, stirring occasionally. Add sugar and mix well. Mixture will be grainy. Add heavy cream and stir continuously over low heat until sugar has dissolved. Mixture will appear smooth and silky. Remove from heat.
Beat eggs and yolks in a small bowl. Gradually add to chocolate mixture using a whisk until fully mixed. Pour beaten eggs in very slowly in a thin stream. Whisk in vanilla. Pour into pie shells and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until pies are almost set, but have a little shake in the middle.
Today, it took an hour for the pies to bake. I really had the shells filled full. Just remember to begin checking them around 40 minutes, as you do not want them to bake hard.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Quick and Easy Lasagna and the Boy Who Loved it for Breakfast

My oldest son is a very successful veterinarian. He also is a great family man, volunteers for many community events, and is a great cook. Recently, when I visited with his family for a week, he let the beans spill, that he loved my Quick and Easy Lasagna, especially for breakfast the next morning. And, he admitted that he preferred it cold. I am definitely not a fan of cold lasagna, but I did make it this week and it was delicious served hot from the oven with lots of gooey cheese melted throughout and on the top.
I have made this recipe so many times that I can make it in my sleep. It takes about 20 minutes to throw together and 35 minutes to bake, and therefore is a great weeknight meal. When I first started making lasagna in the early 1970's ricotta cheese was not available in our small town grocery stores, therefore, I always substituted cottage cheese. It may not be very sophisticated, but my family still prefers it made with cottage cheese.

Quick and Easy Lasagna

12 lasagna noodles
1 1/2 pound ground round
1 32 ounce jar Ragu Old World pasta sauce
1 16 ounce container cottage cheese
24 ounces of shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

Boil noodles in salted boiling water with a little olive oil added to water - Use package directions for cooking times. I have tried to use the "no cook" noodles, but it just isn't the same taste or texture.

Brown ground beef in large skillet until cooked through with no pink showing. I season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Mix Ragu pasta sauce into meat and simmer while noodles are cooking.

Grease with olive oil a 9X13 lasagna pan. Place 6 noodles on the bottom of pan. Spread half of the cottage cheese and 8 ounces of mozzarella cheese on the noodles. Top with half of the meat sauce. Repeat layers ending with meat sauce on top. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly. Remove foil and add the last 8 ounces of mozzarella cheese. Bake another 5 - 10 minutes until cheese is melted. Remove from oven.  Let sit another 5-10 minutes before serving.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Tomato-Artichoke Spinach Salad and a 16th Birthday

Recently, I made a quick trip to Florida to visit my oldest son and his family. I had an incredible trip and was fortunate enough to be part of some very special milestones. My oldest grandson turned 16 with all of the hoopla and celebration that goes with a new drivers license and freedom. His little brother, only a mere freshman in high school was moved up to the Varsity football team for the remainder of the season and the next year. I was lucky enough to be there for a game and watch him catch an amazing touchdown pass.
Their little sister, always the cool girl, is practicing her safe passenger techniques while looking great -
Things were so very hectic, but my daughter in law always comes up with delicious meals on the run. We had this delicious Tomato Artichoke Spinach Salad one night and it was just the perfect touch to complete our pasta dinner. Since I have returned to North Carolina we have enjoyed it several times. It is fairly easy to put together and healthy also.
Tomato Artichoke Spinach Salad
3 Large Plum Tomatoes - Quartered
2 Tablespoons Basil Pesto
2 Tablespoons Sherry Vinegar - or Red Wine
1 cup quartered Artichoke Hearts - Drained
1/2 cup Cheese and Garlic Croutons
2 Cups Baby Spinach
Whisk pesto and vinegar in a medium salad bowl until well blended. Add tomatoes, artichokes, and croutons, toss until evenly coated. Add spinach to bowl and gently mix. Serve immediately

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Scalloped Potatoes from my Grandmama

Scalloped potatoes have always been a favorite side dish with our family. I have never seen a written recipe. My grandmama taught my mother how to make them and my mama passed on the oral instructions to me. I have handed down the "recipe" to my girls. These potatoes are a wonderful addition to almost any dinner table. We love them with steak cooked on the grill. They are a good accompaniment served with meat loaf, pork chops, or baked chicken. I will gladly share my grandmama's instructions.

Scalloped Potatoes
Serves 4 to 6

3 pounds of red potatoes, sliced fairly thin
1/2 to 3/4 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
3 Tablespoons Flour
1 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese - hoop is the best
salt and pepper

Butter a 2 1/2 quart casserole generously. Your casserole dish should be on the shallow side. You will have two layers of potatoes.

Layer half of the sliced potatoes into the dish. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover the potatoes with half of the butter cut into pats.

Sprinkle half of the flour over the potatoes and pour half of the milk over all. Cover all with 3/4 cups of the grated cheese.
Repeat the layers, but do not add cheese on the top at this time. Cover with foil and bake 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Test potatoes for doneness by sticking with a fork. When potatoes are tender, remove the foil and add the other 3/4 cup cheese on the top. Bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
I hope that you enjoy this passed-down family recipe and will prepare it often for your family.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Toll House Chocolate Chip Pie - Straight out of the 70's

One of the first pies that I learned to bake as a new bride was the Toll House Chocolate Chip pie. The recipe came from an advertisement in one of the Holiday magazines during the early 1970's. I rediscovered the original clipping recently while unpacking my recipe file. I have moved from Florida to North Carolina and was quite concerned that all of my family recipes make the move safely. I made this pie this weekend and it was just as good as I remember. The topping has a crispy crust and the filling is a very decadent layer of  chocolate chips mixed with eggs, flour, sugar, and lots of butter!!! Your family will love this special treat! Don't forget a scoop of vanilla ice cream for the finishing touch.

Toll House Chocolate Chip Pie

1 unbaked nine inch pie crust
2 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter - softened to room temperature
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a pie plate with the unbaked pie crust - I use Pillsbury roll out crust and have for years- Don't forget to crimp the edges of your crust

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs on high speed until light and foamy. Add the flour and both sugars to the bowl and mix again until combined. Then add the softened butter and mix one more time until completely mixed.

Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans and mix until the chocolate and nuts are evenly mixed throughout the batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared crust.

Bake for 50 or 60 minutes until a sharp knife inserted halfway between the edge and the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for about 30 minutes.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Aunt Lila Mae's Peach Cobbler - the World's Best

My Aunt Lila Mae was my mother's aunt, but they were the same age and next door neighbors. My Great Grandaddy Spooner married a much younger woman when he became a widower and all of his children were grown and gone. Aunt Lila Mae was the baby daughter and only child of this marriage. They lived right next door to my mother and the two grew up as best friends. According to my mother, Lila Mae was spoiled rotten. She had a car in the 1930's and would take all of her nieces "joy riding". When she graduated from high school, she moved to Atlanta and became an airline stewardess in the late 30's. I always thought that she was glamorous beyond belief. After the war, she came home and married a local boy and moved into her parents' home. Not only was she sophisticated and beautiful, but she was a wonderful cook and loved to entertain. This is her peach cobbler recipe that she promised would never fail and would make any man propose marriage.
I have been making this version for around 50 years and it always comes out perfect. It is so very easy and my family and friends claim that it is the World's Best.

I loaded up on peaches from the Peach Stand in Fort Mill to make all of our favorite peach desserts. The peaches in South Carolina may not be plentiful this summer, due to a late freeze, but they are delicious.

Aunt Lila Mae's Peach Cobbler - AKA the World's Best

2 cups fresh and juicy peaches - peeled and sliced
1 cup self rising flour
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup boiling water

Place peeled and sliced peaches in a buttered 2 quart casserole dish.
Stir the flour, milk, butter, and sugar with a spoon until well mixed.

This mixture will be very thick. Spread the batter on top of the peaches. Try to keep all of the peaches underneath the batter.

Sprinkle the 3/4 cup sugar on top of the batter. The sugar may be increased to 1 cup if the peaches are on the tart side.

Pour the boiling water over all. It will be very wet and appear not appetizing at all, but this step creates the crispy sugar glaze on top along with yummy peach juices

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until the top is brown and the sugar has formed a glaze,
It is imperative to serve this cobbler with vanilla ice cream. Home churned is preferred, but a quality vanilla bean variety will do just fine. Enjoy and please leave a comment with your results.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Aunt Lucille's Peach Pie and the Peach Stand

My husband's Aunt Lucille lived just outside of Vienna, Georgia on a farm loaded with lots of peach trees. She made a fabulous open faced peach pie that was a favorite of my husband and all of his cousins that met there every summer for a family reunion. This pie was one of the very first desserts that I learned to cook as a new bride. It is very simple to make with perfect results every time. I use the Pillsbury roll out pie crusts and everyone always raves about my homemade crust. I'll never tell!

As many of you know, I have just sold my family home of many years and have relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina. I am always on the lookout for fresh produce and a good meat market. I have only been in Charlotte for one week and have had great success at the Peach Stand in Fort Mill, SC. It is only about 15 minutes from Lake Wylie where I live and has the most fantastic meats and fresh produce. I have been on a search for peaches for Aunt Lucille's pie as well as my World's Best Peach Cobbler and was directed to the Peach Stand by several Carolinians. My daughter and her joined my there today for a terrific lunch. She had the Ultimate BLT with Fried Green Tomatoes and pimento cheese. I had the Pita Chicken Salad wrap. It was some of the best chicken salad that I have ever eaten, including my own. After our delicious lunch, we journeyed to the meat market for a quick preview. The steaks looked amazing.

Our main mission of the day was to select the perfect basket of peaches along with some South Carolina tomatoes, grown in the richest red clay imaginable. We succeeded and headed home with out prized possessions.
Aunt Lucille's Open Faced Peach Pie never tasted better. Here is the simple recipe that is suitable for the most novice pie baker.

Aunt Lucille's Open Faced Peach Pie

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup butter or margarine- cold and cut in small slices

Blend together the sugar, flour, and butter with a pastry blender or very clean fingers and hands- the hand method is by far the easiest.

Place half of the mixture in an unbaked pie shell.
Peel about 6 or 7 ripe peaches, cut them in half and remove the pit. Place them on the sugar, flour, and butter mixture that has already been placed in the pie shell.

Top the peaches with the remainder of the  prepared mixture.

Bake in a 325 to 350 degree oven until top is golden brown - this should be 30 to 40 minutes.

Always top with vanilla ice cream.

This pie can be wrapped in saran wrap and then in foil and frozen before it is baked. It will turn out perfectly, just like fresh, if baked within six months. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Fried Okra - My Mama's South Georgia Method

If my mother was given a good cast iron skillet, she could fry anything. She used her dutch oven for frying okra, green tomatoes, quail, dove, and chicken. She used a shorter but larger frying pan for frying catfish, bream, and shellcracker. Her secret was not hurrying and never overcrowding the pan. She also was perfection at seasonings. I have found her recipe for fried okra. She always fried in peanut oil. It did not smell up the house or smoke heavily. It is very expensive now, but I still splurge and use it for my fried favorites. 

Try to find very young and tender okra. You will not want hard edges that can be quite chokey. 

South Georgia Fried Okra

2 cups Peanut Oil
1 large egg - lightly beaten
a little water- maybe a tablespoon
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour
1 cup fine cracker crumbs - this is one sleeve of saltines - or cracker meal can be used
1 1/2 teaspoons salt should flavor the breading 
1 pound okra with the stem removed that has been sliced into rounds. . 

Line a broiling pan or platter with a brown grocery bag. 

Heat the oil in a cast iron Dutch oven or other deep, heavy skillet. Whisk the egg, water, and buttermilk together in a small bowl. In a paper bag, combine the flour, cracker crumbs or meal, salt and pepper to taste. 

Dip the okra into the buttermilk milk using a lunchroom size slotted spoon. Place the okra in the bag and shake, shake, shake until well coated. Using another slotted spoon that is completely dry, remove the okra from the bag, and shake to remove the the excess oil. 

Fry the okra in hot oil until deep brown, several minutes. Drain on the prepared grocery bag and sprinkle with extra salt. Serve immediately. 

The serving tray will probably not make it to the table. My people stand around waiting for each batch and eat it as soon as it is cool enough to not burn their mouths. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

30 Minute Chicken Broccoli Divan

I really can't believe that I am writing a blog post on this super simple recipe, but my family loves it, and it only takes 30 minutes from prep to table. It takes about 10 minutes to assemble and 20 easy baking minutes. It is perfect for a family of four and might even get the little ones to eat some broccoli, or they can pick around it, if they must. I usually just served a simple lettuce and tomato salad with purchased dressings to accompany this quick weeknight meal. Vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup makes a fast dessert. I just feel that it is very important for the family to sit down together every night to a nutritional dinner. This is just about as easy as picking up fast food and doesn't take much longer to prepare. 

You will need to purchase a rotisserie chicken for this recipe and pull the meat off of the bones. I often buy the cold ones from the day before at the grocery store. They are cheaper and easier to work with due to the fact that they are not hot. Of course, you can always use leftover chicken that you have prepared. Or even the packaged grilled strips.
Purchase the family size Steamfresh broccoli cuts and prepare them in the microwave following package directions. I love Birds Eye Stemfresh Frozen Vegetables for young families who need to get dinner on the table as fast as possible.

Chicken Broccoli Divan

1 Family size package Steamfresh Broccoli Cuts, cooked or 4 cups cooked broccoli florets
2 cups cubed chicken - rotisserie is perfect for this recipe
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
30 Ritz Crackers crushed
1/4 cup butter, melted

Place the broccoli and chicken in a  shallow casserole dish - and 11 x 7 will do - or even a deep dish pie plate
Stir the soup and and milk in a small bowl. Pour the soup mixture over the broccoli and chicken. Sprinkle with the cheese. Stir the Ritz Crackers and the melted butter over the cheese. 
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes until the chicken mixture is hot and bubbly - It could take a few extra minutes. Just check to make sure that your topping doesn't get too brown.

Could any dinner for 4 be easier? Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Georgia Fig Preserves from Brown Turkey Figs

My parents both grew up in the small South Georgia community of Donalsonville in Seminole County. My daddy was a city boy. His mother died very young leaving my grandfather with four children under the age of 5. My daddy always said that it didn't take his father long to decide that he wanted to become a Baptist minister and headed to Seminary School at Mercer in Macon, Georgia. The children went to Donalsonville to live with their grandmother. She had a grocery store, chickens running around the yard, and a big healthy fig tree. They all loved figs, but my daddy feigned an allergy to fig leaves and never had to pick the fruit. When he was a grown man, his aunts and uncles all said that "Brother" as he was known, would get fig poisoning if he touched the fig leaves.
My mother, on the other hand, grew up on a farm about 5 miles out in the country. She had two sisters and no brothers and had to work in the cotton fields like a "hand". Her mother was a very genteel lady and even though she and the girls often picked cotton, they wore large brim straw hats to preserve their peaches 'n cream complexions. It was at her farmhouse table that I learned to love fig preserves.
When, my parents retired and moved home to Georgia, they had the most beautiful fig tree in their yard. The kids always got a kick out of the fact that there was always a rubber snake in the tree to scare off the birds who loved to nibble on the juicy sweet figs. Mother would fix them bowls of fresh figs bathed in cream and sprinkled with sugar for breakfast. That was just the appetizer. The main attraction were her homemade biscuits slathered with butter and gobs of her sweet fig preserves.
Her recipe was from a University of Georgia pamphlet that I still have in my cookbook collection.
The type of figs that my parents and grandparents grew in their back yards and made those delicious preserves with are named Brown Turkey. They are a brownish purple on the outside when ripe and a have a pinkish tinted and juicy center. 

Georgia Fig Preserves

3 quarts figs
3 quarts boiling water
4 cups sugar
1 1/2 quarts water
2 lemons - thinly sliced

Yields about 10 half pint jars

Pour 3 quarts boiling water over the figs. Let stand 15 minutes. Drain and discard liquid. Rinse figs in cold water and drain. Prepare syrup by mixing sugar, 1 1/2 quarts water and lemon. Boil rapidly 10 minutes. Skim syrup; remove and discard lemon slices. Drop figs carefully into the boiling hot syrup, a few at a time, Cook rapidly until figs are transparent. Remove figs and place in a shallow pan. Boil syrup until thick, pour over figs and let stand 6 to 8 hours. 

Sterilize half pint jars and lids. Reheat figs and syrup to boiling. Pour hot preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust two piece metal canning lids, Process in a Boiling Water Canner 10 minutes. 

When pouring hot preserves into hot jars, make sure to wear oven mitts and to use a kitchen funnel, as the hot juice can quickly scald hands. 

This may seem like a lot of trouble, but if you have access to Brown Turkey Figs, the finished delectable preserves will be well worth your time and effort. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Fried Dill Pickles and the OK Cafe

While visiting Altanta in the early 1990's I was introduced to Fried Dill Pickles at the OK Cafe. The OK Cafe is a family owned diner that serves southern specialties with a twist of soul. The fried dill pickle chips and the restaurant became favorites of ours instantly. No trip to Atlanta was complete without a visit to the OK Cafe on West Paces Ferry. Recently, the cafe was a victim of a fire in the take-away section, and has been closed for repairs. It is scheduled to reopen this summer. Everyone in Atlanta is celebrating. Other favorites on the menu include meat loaf, chicken pot pie, country fried steak, and the most delicious grilled cheese sandwich ever. All vegetables are fresh and prepared daily according to availability.
The pickles at the OK Cafe are served with a ranch dressing, but I prefer a concoction known as Comeback sauce. It is a dipping sauce, somewhere between Remoulade and Thousand Island dressing. 

Fried Dill Pickles

1 jar dill pickle slices
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeall
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
1 cup buttermilk
Peanut oil for frying 
Comeback Sauce for dipping

Pour peanut oil into a skillet about 1/2 to 1 inch deep. Heat to Medium High. Drain the pickles on paper towels, and prepare the coating.

Place corn meal in a small bowl, and add 1/2 of the flour and seasoned salt. Stir until combined. In a separate bowl or plate place remaining flour and pour buttermilk into a third bowl.

Dip pickle slices into buttermilk, then flour, then buttermilk again. Finally dip into the cornmeal - Place pickles on a paper towel lined cookie sheet or tray during this process. By all means, use your hands and dip the slices one at a time. 

Place pickle slices into hot oil and cook until browned. You may need to stir and flip once during the frying. The frying process should be between 5 and 10 minutes. 
Remove from skillet and drain on another paper towel lined tray or cookie sheet. Let cool for a few minutes before eating.

Comeback Sauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 cup mayonnaise - Duke's preferably
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Gulden's mustard
cracked black pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients and whisk briskly until well mixed, or process in a blender. Store in refrigerator. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Margarita Pie and Hurricane Charley

Fresh key limes had been so common place to us for decades. We had an everbearing Key Lime tree in our backyard that always had fruit. We would have blooms and fully developed fruit on the tree year round. Many people lost their homes, cars, and businesses when the eye of Hurricane Charley whipped through our small town in 2004. We were saddened by our great loss- Our Key Lime tree. It was pulled completely out of the ground. We tried to save it by replanting it with tender loving care, but it never produced fruit again and had to finally be removed. I always had key lime juice for our favorite desserts and marinades. I would freeze bags of juice in one cup quantities for cooking and sharing. The traditional Key Lime Pie with meringue was common around our house on a monthly basis, but for special occasions, I would make this frozen Margarita pie with a pretzel crust. It does taste just like its namesake. Be prepared with a designated driver after partaking -
As with the original Key Lime pie recipe, it calls for that magical can of deliciousness - Sweetened Condensed Milk - Eagle Brand being the choice of the South.  Many quick desserts begin with a can of the ever faithful Eagle Brand.

This particular recipe is from the 1980 cookbook - Sunny Side Up from the Junior League of Fort Lauderdale. 

Frozen Margarita Pie with Pretzel Crust


1 1/2 cups crushed pretzel sticks
1/4 cups sugar
1/4 pound butter, melted

Combine crushed pretzels and sugar. Add melted butter. Press into a 9 inch buttered pie plate and chill.


1 (14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice - Key Limes are preferred, but any variety will work
2 tablespoons tequila
2 tablespoons Triple Sec
1 cup heavy cream whipped with 1/4 cup sugar

Combine sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, tequila, and Triple Sec. Fold whipped cream into mixture. Pour into chilled crust and freeze for three to four hours until firm. The pie can be made ahead and stored in the freezer for three to four days before serving. Before serving, garnish with a slice of lime. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

"Don't Peek" Chicken and Rice Casserole from Mr. Food

Things are really hectic around my house. I am getting it ready to sell. We have only owned two homes in our lives and we thought that we would be in this one forever. But life throws glitches in the best laid plans. Whoever would have thought that I would be a widow at age 53? After ten years of rambling around in our giant and well loved home, I finally realize that I don't need it and can't afford the upkeep. I would rather be vacationing in the mountains or cruising to Hawaii. I am a slow learner. 
I was thinking of a great one dish meal to fix for dinner that would leave plenty of leftovers for the weekend. Then I remembered one of my favorite recipes from the old Mr. Food kitchen segments that I used to watch during the noon news hour. I found the card and popped it in the oven. It turned out perfect, since I followed the directions and didn't peek. Here it is for you to enjoy - the perfect weeknight dinner - just throw together a salad with those fresh Florida tomatoes and you will be all set.

"Don't Peek" Chicken - a Quick and Easy recipe from Mr. Food

1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 soup can cold water
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon fresh parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 chicken breasts or 8 thighs and legs - ( I love the thighs and legs)
Paprika for a good sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Coat a 9 X13 pan with cooking spray
In a large bowl, mix together rice, soups, soup mix, water, garlic, parsley, and worcestershire sauce
Pour mixture into prepared pan. Press chicken into the mixture. Sprinkle with paprika, then cover tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake 1 1/4 hours. Do not open cover (not even to peek) during baking.
It is really good-

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"From Scratch" Chocolate Pudding - A Special Treat

Everyone knows that the grandchildren love chocolate pudding. Next time that they visit, make them a batch of "from scratch" pudding. You will be the hit of the household. It is not much more time consuming than the cook 'n serve variety and so much better. Definitely, they will turn their noses up at instant pudding after tasting this delectable dessert.

If you really want to make a statement, splurge and purchase Ghiradelli's premium cocoa for even greater flavor.

You will need a good heavy pot and a fast turning wrist for stirring- but it is only for two minutes.

"From Scratch" Chocolate Pudding

2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
3 tbs cornstarch
2 1/4 cups milk
pinch salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 tsp vanilla

Place sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy medium pot. Stir together. Slowly add milk to pot. Bring ingredients to a boil on medium high heat. Boil and stir or whisk  constantly for two minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Cool on stovetop. Pour into 4 serving containers. Chill in refrigerator until serving - at least 4 hours- for flavors to meld. 

How easy is that? Try it tonight!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Shrimp Creole and the Florida Panhandle

As a little girl, living in the Florida panhandle with parents from southwest Georgia, we would eat quite a bit of fresh seafood. On Saturday afternoons, daddy would load us up in the Pontiac and head over to the coastal areas for a fresh seafood shopping day. We would have several coolers filled with ice and momma would have her shopping lists for her seafood favorites. We would always purchase fresh shrimp, quarts of shelled oysters, and usually at least one type of fish. Red Snapper was always a good choice. Either Sopchoppy or Panacea were the destinations of our travels. I always hoped that daddy chose Panacea, as there was a restaurant where I loved to eat. It was named Angelo's Seafood Restaurant and was built on stilts over the water. I would get mounds of fried shrimp with all of the trimmings, and a Shirley Temple to boot. Angelo's is still in business and a great place to continue making memories.
When I married and we moved to Florida, we were lucky enough to have a great seafood market in Placida, Florida, with the freshest seafood daily from the Gulf of Mexico. We have a beach condo on Little Gasparilla Island and always stop for fresh "pink gold" Florida shrimp. The flavor of these delectable bites is salty/sweet, and the texture is firm and appealing. They freeze great and have no loss of flavor or texture
when thawed.

One of my favorite shrimp recipes is Shrimp Creole. These days, it is the rage to serve creole dishes with grits, but I still prefer rice for this recipe.

Shrimp Creole

2 medium size green bell peppers- chopped
1 medium Vidalia or Florida sweet onion - diced
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley
about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt and a good sprinkling of pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 (16 ounce) cans whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 pound medium shrimp, cooked, peeled, and deveined- if you don't have access to good quality fresh shrimp- flash frozen shimp work well - and you can purchase bags that already cleaned, cooked, and deveined.

Easy Preparation

Saute the first 8 ingredients in a Dutch oven until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the canned tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes. Add shrimp; cook over medium heat until well heated. Discard the bay leaf and serve over hot cooked rice. Sprinkle on hot pepper sauce, if desired. We have too many little ones to add hot sauce to the recipe while simmering. 

This recipe was revised from a version that originally was published in a 1980 edition of Southern Living magazine.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

3 Day Coconut Cake and Easter Fun

My favorite cake in the whole world is my mother's recipe for 3 Day Coconut Cake. This moist and delicious cake takes three days to "marinate" in the refrigerator before serving. Some of my family do not love coconut, so I can only serve it for a limited audience, or for my own enjoyment. If you are a lover of coconut, this recipe is for you. It is so very easy and begins with Duncan Hines Golden Butter Recipe Cake Mix.
If you can find BirdsEye Frozen coconut, be sure to use that in the recipe for delicious flavor and consistency. 
I was not with coconut lovers this Easter, so we did not get to have this delicious cake. But it is my special Easter dessert that I usually serve. Through the years I've learned, if they won't eat it, don't make it. These precious children opted for a Publix Easter Egg Cake instead- what we do for the grandkids!

They had so much fun at the Flagler Museum on Palm Beach hunting for eggs.
Then, we had a great Easter lunch after church, with everyone's favorite foods. 

Three Day Coconut Cake 

1 box Duncan Hines Golden Butter Cake Mix and the ingredients on the package
16 ounces sour cream
12 ounces sweetened coconut - frozen if available
1 3/4 cup sugar
8 ounces Cool Whip - no substitutions for this and do not use fat free

The day before I make the cake, I like to mix the sour cream, coconut, and sugar in a medium bowl. I mix it well, cover and refrigerate overnight. 

The next day, I  prep three 9 inch cake pans with Baker's Joy and bake the cake using the directions on the box. 

Cool the cakes in pans for around 10 minutes, and then turn them out onto wire racks to cool. 

When the cakes are completely cool, take half of the coconut mixture and spread it evenly between the three cake layers. Stack the layers as you frost.

Take the other half of the mixture and mix it with the Cool Whip. Cover the top and sides with this mixture.

Cover the cake in a tight cake container, such as Tupperware's cake carrier, and refrigerate for three days - No peeking allowed.

Everyone will want the recipe- except of course, those crazy coconut haters.