Baking and frying, cooking all the day. Joyfully eating, what such happy play.

Kasey's Kitchen

Before you consider trying any of my recipes, there are some things that you should know. First, I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian. (I try to limit my intake of dairy products and eggs, though.) I eat nothing with eyes but potatoes. I am a vegetarian more for spiritual than health reasons. No animals are harmed for the sake of my eating experience, but neither am I a health nut, though I would not mind being one if I had more time to devote to such a lifestyle and if I had a much bigger kitchen.

Second, I am not a professional cook. I do not follow recipes well, if at all. For that matter, I mostly treat all instructions as guidelines and/or something to which I must refer back when all else fails. (Yes, sterotypically male.) I also tend to add and subtract ingredients at a whim, especially garlic, onions, peppers, and mushrooms, and I never actually measure spices.

Third, substitutions are a requirement of life, otherwise, nothing new would ever happen. So, substitute like mad, my friends! I use prepared products when fresh or frozen are inconvenient or unavailable. Store brands are fine when I plan on tweaking them anyway, and as for soy milk, whole milk, fat free milk, condensed milk, or powdered milk, is there a difference? Of course, but you can decide what that is. Cream, now that is another story, but butter is margarine, olive oil is vegetable oil, etc. Still, I prefer the better ingredients when available. (There really is a difference.)

Lastly, I firmly believe that cooking should be enjoyable, and if you have pleasant company and/or helpers whilst preparing meals, I believe that good energy spills over into the dishes being prepared, and that is always a plus. Since food, for us animals, means eating living tissue, blessing it and thanking the donors seems to me to be a spiritually sound thing to do. If nothing else, clearly having a pleasant frame of mind whilst preparing dishes means that you are putting more love and care into them, thus you watch what you are doing more vigilantly, such as cooking times, adding spices, mixing ingredients, etc.

So, if I have not scared you away by now, the recipes (read: guidelines) are below. Have a go at them, but remember to have fun whilst preparing them.

appetizers and accents

Salsa Fresa

This recipe is great in summer as a good use for tomatoes that start producing almost faster than I can pick them (or so it seems). I grow several varieties, and I like to mix them. You can play with the proportions. The main thing is that it should be muy parecido a la bandera de México, resemble the Mexican flag (red, white, and green).

    Ingredients:
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1 cup diced bell peppers
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro (coriander)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 packet of taco powder (or some sort of chili powder)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (esp. from canned peppers)
    If you like it hot add any or all of these:
  • ¼ cup jalapeno peppers
  • ¼ cup hot sauce (I like Texas Pete or Red Rooster)
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red peppers
    Preparation:
  • Start by dicing the tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions, collecting them in a large mixing bowl.
  • In the blender, puree the taco powder, garlic powder, lime juice, vinegar, any of the spicy items, and about half the cilantro.
  • Either chop the rest of the cilantro, or rip it if you like the bigger pieces. (It is prettier, and I love cilantro.)
  • Mix everything together in the bowl, and that is it, chill overnight, that is, what you do not eat right away. It can be a bit addictive.

If you prefer, you can throw all the ingredients into the blender, but that would be a shame. Crying whilst dicing the onions only makes you anticipate the burn more. Serve with tortilla chips, maize blanco (white corn).

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Stuffed Mushrooms Florentine

I find this recipe to be sinfully good, even with canned spinach and without the walnuts. My critters can not get enough of it; however, I have a friend who is allergic to mushrooms, so I created a side dish, Greek Spinach, that is very similar (see below).

    Ingredients:
  • 16 oz fresh mushrooms (preferably baby portobellos)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill weed, crushed
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
    Preparation:
  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Remove and chop mushroom stems, enough to equal about 1 cup, set aside.
  • In 3 quart sauce pan sauté over medium heat 2 tablespoon butter, onions, walnuts, garlic (about 3 minutes).
  • Add chopped mushroom stems and spinach.
  • Cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until liquid evaporates.
  • Remove from heat, stir in cheese, dill, and pepper.
  • With remaining butter, lightly brush caps (or use butter flavored spray).
  • Fill caps with mixture and sprinkle with salt (or seasoned salt).
  • Bake 15 minutes on rack in broiler pan.
  • You can snack on the leftover mixture whilst waiting. Spread it on garlic bread. Oh, my! Just do not get too enraptured and forget to check on the batch in the oven. They will be even better!

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Pepper Platter

Need to spice up a meal? Why not offer a presentation of assorted peppers: bell peppers (different colors), banana peppers, jalapenos, whatever. Slice any way that looks nice to you. Add some onion wedges, too, especially if you are serving beans or corn bread. Serve on a platter. It is really more of a garnish than a side, but either way, it does not get much easier than this!

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Cranberry Relish

This is actually a zesty cranberry sauce. I love to make extra during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays for gifting. People who really like the canned cranberry sauce often find it a little too much, though, but they also eat white bread and drink weak coffee, so what do they know.  smile

    Ingredients:
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 10 oz orange marmalade
  • pinch of salt
    Preparation:
  • Mix orange juice, sugar, and salt in a pot.
  • Bring to boil then add the cranberries.
  • Reduce heat and cook until most of the cranberries have popped.
  • Remove from heat, add marmalade, and mix well.
  • Chill before serving.

An alternative to orange marmalade is any citrus-type preserves. I especially like to use apricot/pineapple preserves. You can mix and match. Sometimes I like to make two or three different varieties and serve them on a platter together with, heaven save us, canned cranberry sauce. I sometimes cut back on the sugar, since the marmalade and preserves are already heavily sweetened. You decide.

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Vegetable Marinade

This is a simple dish that I like to throw into my tossed salad or even use for relish in pasta salad. This, too, is more of a garnish. I suppose that you could just buy Gardinia mix at the grocery store, but this has more variety.

    Ingredients:
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 16 oz mushrooms
  • 2 cups broccoli flowerets
  • 2 cups cauliflower flowerets
  • 2 cups sweet red pepper cut into ½ inch squares
  • 2 cups diagonally sliced carrots
  • 10 oz black olives
  • 10 oz green olives
  • 10 oz hot pepper rings
    Preparation:
  • Combine oil, vinegar, garlic oregano, pepper.
  • Add veggies, toss to coat.
  • Cover, refrigerate at least four hours, stirring occasionally.

You can add cocktail onions for an extra zip or pretty much any vegetable that you might like, such as celery. Of course, you can also leave any out. If you are going to let it sit overnight, add some crushed red pepper to give it a kick.

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soups and salads

Gazpacho

Apparently, just about any chilled soup with tomatoes and cucumber can be called gazpacho. I saw some truly interesting versions in Vegetarian Times. Here is my version.

    Ingredients:
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (I usually leave this out)

Throw all the ingredients into a blender and puree. Transfer into a bowl, and chill overnight. For a special chilled soup, serve this over diced cucumbers and tomatoes, garnished with sliced green onions.

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Potato Salad

This is definitely not my mother's recipe, which is wonderful, but I like this better. I never much cared for sweet relish, and she does not use any mustard.

    Ingredients:
  • 3 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed (though I like to leave on some of the skin)
  • ¼ cup chopped raw onion (red is preferred)
  • ¼ cup diced raw celery
  • ¼ cup diced dill pickles (or sweet or dill relish or cucumbers)
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
    Preparation:
  • Boil potatoes until slightly tender, allow to cool.
  • Mix veggies and eggs.
  • Blend lemon juice into mayo, add spices and mustard.
  • Mix everything together.
  • Garnish with green olives, cover, and chill.

Mom sometimes uses instant mashed potatoes in her recipe, and it still is delicious. There are reasons for avoiding instant mash potatoes, but if you eat them anyway, they are an option.

King Cole Slaw

Though some of my family and friends really liked this recipe, I personally prefer the Southern Cole Slaw.

    Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup mayo
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/8 cup chopped onion (more or less to taste)
  • 20 oz pineapple chucks, well-drained
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/3 cup toasted almonds, slivered
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • pinch of salt
    Preparation:
  • Mix mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, and spices.
  • Add fruit and veggies, mix well
  • Chill before serving.

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Southern Cole Slaw

Well, this is not necessarily the traditional version, but I live in the southern United States, and it is my recipe, ipso facto, Southern Cole Slaw.

    Ingredients:
  • 1 half head of red cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup minced onions
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic (optional)
    Preparation:
  • Toss the veggies in a large bowl.
  • Add mayonnaise and spices, mix well.
  • Chill before serving.

I find that I do not actually measure out the mayonnaise. I add it in a little at a time until I like the consistency. I do not usually measure salt either, but I usually do not put more than a pinch in most recipes. Garlic and pepper, on the other hand, is usually a bit over used, especially if I am the only one eating the dish. If you want a more traditional version, use green cabbage. Feel free to try other varieties of cabbage, too. Savoy is great in slaw.

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sides

Southern-Fried Zucchini and Squash

This is very southern in at least one aspect, it is pan fried. Country-cookin' Southerners will eat just about anything that you batter and fry them. I usually prefer the more healthy stir-fried verson, but every once in a while, the ghosts of my ancestors come a'callin'.

    Ingredients:
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ cup corn meal
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic (optional for us garlic fiends)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup olive oil, approximately
  • yellow squash
  • zucchini
    Preparation:
  • In a medium bowl mix the flour, corn meal, and spices.
  • In a small bowl mix the butter milk and egg, whip it good. This is the egg wash.
  • Slice the veggies into medium thick medallions (not too thin or they will fall apart, too thick and they will not be greasy enough, Southern Fried, remember).
  • Use a fork to skewer a medallion. Dip it in the egg wash until it is thoroughly wet, then dip it into the flour mix until it is completed covered.
  • Place the medallions in a pre-warmed pan with the olive oil.
  • On a medium heat, brown both sides, place on a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
  • Serve immediately or keep warm until you do serve them.

The amount of squash and zucchini is up to you. You can also use green tomatoes and egg plant with this recipe. This is even better if you actually marinate the veggies in the egg wash overnight (you might need another egg and more buttermilk if you are making a lot.

If you are really going Southern, you can go one step further. Use the pan grease to make a gravy, but you will have to make biscuits, if you do that. It is the law. [grin]

Honey-Buttered Yams and Carrots

This is almost too sweet, but since it is even better the next day, warmed over, you do not have to eat it all in one sitting.

    Ingredients:
  • 2 cups canned yams
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into medallions
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • pinch of salt
    Preparation:
  • Pour the yams into a pot.
  • Add the carrots and everything else.
  • Cook on low heat until the yams begin to break up.
  • Serve warm.

The slower this cooks, the more the carrots absorb the flavor. If you cook it too fast, the carrots seem to be incapable with the yams, which is another reason warmed over the next day they are even better. You can always cook them the day before and chill them overnight, warming them at meal time. That fixes that problem.

This is also a great dish with which to play. You can add all sorts of fruit to the mix, including raisins, apples, pineapples, peaches, whatever sounds good. I find that my cranberry relish makes a great topping for this.

Greek Spinach

This was inspired by my love of Spanakopitas and by leaving out mushrooms from mushrooms Florentine for a friend who is allergic to them.

    Ingredients:
  • 28 oz canned spinach
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic (I like several)
  • 4 oz feta cheese
  • 4 oz parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dill weed (crushed if you are using fresh dill)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    Preparation:
  • In a large pan, pour the oil and sauté the onions and garlic.
  • Add the spinach and dill weed, cook at low heat until the liquid is mostly evaporated.
  • Add the cheeses.
  • Serve warm.

This is even better if you use fresh spinach. As if you needed to be told that. If you have no allergy issues and love portabellas as much as do I, added them (back) into the dish, diced or sliced.

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Cajun Black Beans

This is another easy recipe using canned beans. It may not be real Cajun, so a better name might be Fort Mountain Cajun Black Beans.

    Ingredients:
  • 30 oz canned black beans
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 1 tablespoon of Cajun spice mix (or more, but it is salty)
  • 1 cup water or more if needed

Preparation: Mix ingredients in a pot and cook over a low heat for at least half an hour, add water if the beans start to dry out whilst cooking. If you like it spicy, like I do, but not so salty, try to find a Cajun Seasoning without salt or at least less (good luck with that). I just add hot sauce and that adds a special flavor to it anyway. Chili powder helps, too.

Braised Broccoli

This is an alternative to steaming, but be sure not to overcook them, though some prefer them that way, I guess. This hardly is worth listing, but after the Southern-Fried Squash and Zucchini, I did not want people to think that I eat only fried veggies.

    Ingredients:
  • 3 bunches of broccoli
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 cup water

Preparation: Cook on low heat until the broccoli reaches the desired tenderness. If crisp broccoli is your forte but not for the rest of your dinner companions, you might want to cut this recipe in half or even a third, because reheating this dish will lead to mushy broccoli that only white bread eaters like.

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Tator Tot Casserole

This was the most popular dish that I made one Thanksgiving. In fact, it was the only item that I had none left to bring home.

    Ingredients:
  • 1 bag frozen tator tots (or an equivalent product)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 green bell pepper (add 1 red bell pepper for even more flavor)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
    Preparation:
  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Grease a small baking dish (9 in²)and fill it about half full with the frozen tator tots.
  • Mix in the cheese, saving a little for the topping.
  • In a frying pan mix the onions and peppers and sauté in about 2 tablespoons of oil.
  • Remove the mixture and set aside.
  • In the same pan add the remaining oil to any left from before.
  • Add the flour stirring until slightly brown, then slowly pour in the milk stirring continuously until thick.
  • Add the peppers and onions that you set aside.
  • Pour this sauce over the tator tots and cheese carefully. You will probably need to mix it a bit to spread it evenly.
  • Use the remaining cheese to cover the casserole.
  • Bake for 1 hour or until the topping is nicely brown.

You might find this easier to mix in a separate bowl, but still put the tator tots in the pan first before adding them to the bowl just to be sure that you do not have too many. I find this dish is a bit too plain for my liking, so I like to add a few sliced jalapenos into the mix for a little kick, assuming that I am not too concerned about sharing with the faint of heart.

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Creamy Spinach-Artichoke Casserole

This is another of those dishes that I really like but that my family will barely touch at holiday dinners. Maybe because it is not traditional. Of course, it could be that because they do not like artichokes.

    Ingredients:
  • 6.5 oz marinated artichoke hearts
  • 4 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 20 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 10.5 oz condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup crushed seasoned bread crumbs
    Preparation:
  • Preheat oven to 325°.
  • Drain artichokes, reserve marinade.
  • Place marinade in wide pan, add mushrooms, onion, garlic.
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from heat, and add spinach, soup, sour cream, eggs, spices, and juice.
  • Stir to blend well.
  • Spoon half mixture into 1.25 quart casserole dish.
  • Layer with artichokes, cover with remaining half.
  • Sprinkle bread crumbs over top.
  • Bake uncovered 35-40 minutes.

Portabella mushrooms add more flavor. I suppose you could make this without the artichokes, but why coddle the white-bread eaters? It leaves more for you if they go for the fried chicken and potatoe salad.

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Apple Squash

This is a nice variation for squash. One of these years I am even trying to grow one of those gourd squash varieties in my garden, just to make this recipe.

    Ingredients:
  • ½ cup butter
  • 3 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ¼ cup pineapple juice
  • 1 large squash (if small, use more), any of the gourd-like varieties, seeded, cut in half
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
    Preparation:
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Place squash cut side down in shallow baking dish.
  • Pour hot water ½ inch deep, cover with foil, bake for 30 minutes or until tender.
  • Melt butter over low heat in pan, and add apples, spices, and sugar.
  • Stir in juice, sauté until apples are tender, not mushy (watch carefully).
  • Fill into squash, sprinkle with pecans, broil until slightly browned.
  • Serve immediately.

An alternative is to dice the squash and mix with the apples. Bake in a shallow pan for 30 minutes.

Sweet Potato Soufflé

    Ingredients:
  • 2 cups yams
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 tablespoon melted butter (or margarine)
  • ¼ teaspoon powder cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon powder allspice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
    Preparation:
  • Blend all ingredients together until it resembles pie filling.
  • Spread yam mixture into buttered glass baking dish.
  • Pour butter evenly over top.
  • Bake at 400° for 30 minutes
  • Remove from oven, top with mini marshmallows, slightly toast them under a low broiler just before serving.

My favorite alternative to this recipe is to top it with pecan pie mix before baking (recipe below), instead of using marshmellows. It is the best soufflé version I know.

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entrées

Fort Mountain Jambalaya

As I mentioned earlier, my cooking is certainly not traditional Cajun fare, so I named it after the mountain where I live. I doubt that there are many mountains in Cajun country (mostly swamps). This is one of those "cheat" recipes, since the basic part of the dish is store packaged Jambalaya mix (in the rice section). I use the store brand when I want to make this version, since I plan on "doctoring" it up anyway. I find this Jambalaya is a meal in itself.

    Ingredients:
  • 1 box Jambalaya rice mix
  • 1 box frozen soysage links (Morning Stars Farms, is my choice)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 8 oz portabella mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun spice mix (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder (optional)
    Preparation:
  • Follow the directions on the box for making the Jambalaya.
  • When you add the rice mixture to the boiling water, add all the other ingredients except the links.
  • Most recipes call for reducing the heat and simmering for 25 minutes, covered, with occasional stirring.
  • Cut the links into bite-sized pieces.
  • About 5 to 10 minutes before the rice is ready add the links.
  • When it is ready, fluff the mixture, cover it, and set it aside for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

An alternative to this is to use the dirty rice mix and soysage crumbles instead of links. Either way is yummy.

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Crowder Skillet Dinner

This recipe is an alteration one found on a package of peas. It is a simple hearty meal.

    Ingredients:
  • 16 oz frozen Crowder Peas
  • 2 cups water
  • 8 oz ground veggie burger
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped bell pepper
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 8 oz mushrooms
  • salt and pepper to taste
    Preparation:
  • In a large pot, pour oil and add onions.
  • Simmer at low heat until onions become clear.
  • Add remaining ingredients bring to boil for 3 minutes.
  • Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Boca Meatless Ground Burger, is my choice, but Morningstar Farms has at least two crumbles products that would work. Use whatever meat substitute you prefer, so long as it resembles beef.

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desserts

Pecan Pie

I like to make this mixture as a topping for sweet potato scuffle rather than baking it in a pie shell, something my cousin Marlene does, which is where I got the idea. She can not make a bad dish if her life depended on it. What a great cook! This however is not her recipe, but it is acceptable, so long as her cooking is unavailable.

    Ingredients:
  • ¼ cup honey (or corn syrup)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons butter (or margarine)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup broken pecans
  • 1 pie shell
    Preparation:
  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Heat honey and sugar together to form a smooth syrup, remove from heat.
  • Stir in butter and salt. Gradually stir in beaten eggs, vanilla, and pecans.
  • Let cool.
  • Pour into pie shell.
  • Bake 10 minutes, then lower to 325° and bake another 30 minutes

If you put this over the sweet potato scuffle instead of in the pie shell, cook according to that recipe.

Pineapple Orange Cups

This is another one of those recipes that I do not much like, but my younger nieces and nephews like it a lot.

    Ingredients:
  • 8 oz pineapple chucks
  • 11 oz. mandarin orange segments
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
    Preparation:
  • Drain pineapples and oranges.
  • Mix all the ingredients, then divide into small cups for individual servings, you decide on the size.
  • Refrigerate until chilled.

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Chesseberry Pie

This dish is very similar to cheese cake, about as rich, certainly as fattening, though a lot less prissy. Since it has more than one type of berry, I originally used my last name as a pun for the naming of it, but I changed it to cheeseberry instead. Actually, you will be making two pies at once, one with jam mixed in and the other with jam as a topping. I am not sure which I like best, but once you decide, if you make it again, you can do them both the same way.

    Ingredients:
  • 2 graham cracker crust pie shells (already made, yeah)
  • 16 oz cream cheese
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter or margarine
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups fruit jam (recipe below)
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries
  • 10-12 fresh strawberries
    Preparation:
  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, and salt.
  • Add the eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice, mix well.
  • Add the cream cheese and mix to a consistency that you like.
  • Open the pie shell containers by peeling back the tin edges, leave them up to catch spill over, and save the plastic seals, they are the covers. (I almost threw them into the recycling bin.)
  • Pour the mixture unevenly into the pie shells, about 2/3 into one, 1/3 into the other.
  • Into the lesser filled pie, slowly pour in one cup of fruit jam whilst swirling it around.
  • Bake both for about 50 minutes to an hour, until the jam-free pie looks firm.
  • When it is firm, remove it and set it aside to cool.
  • Continue to cook the other pie for about another 30 minutes, checking frequently to make sure that it is not turning too brown.
  • When you remove the jam-filled pie, it will be less firm, set it aside to cool.
  • Now pour 1 cup of fruit jam on top of the first pie.
  • Scatter half the blackberries around the surface and arrange half the strawberries in a circle in the center.
  • It is good warm, or you can cover it (with that convenient plastic lid that came with it) and put it in the refrigerator.
  • When the second pie is cool, garnish it with the rest of the berries, then use the plastic cover and put it in the refrigerator over night. It needs to chill before eating.

Technically you are supposed to separate the eggs and add the ingredients in much more precise order, but I do not even use a mixer. I use a vegetable masher to crush the cream cheese and whip the mixture. It is lumpy, but I kind of like the texture. I make this when the blackberries start ripening around the house, but you could substitute any berry or fruit I suppose that you like.

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Fruit Jam

To be honest, this was my first attempt at jam, and I did NOT correctly follow the recipe in my grandmother's cookbook. My jam came out a bit too fluid for normal jam, but it made a great glaze and filling for my cheese pie. I used canned peaches and a lot less sugar than her recipe suggested. You will likely find a recipe for jam on the packet of pectin, but if you want to try my version…

    Ingredients:
  • 1 cup peaches or nectarines
  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 oz fruit jell pectin
    Preparation:
  • Put the fruit in a pot and use a vegetable (potato) masher to crush the fruit. It should be "lumpy".
  • Add the sugar and pectin, stir it in well, and it bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and cook until it thickens (or in my case, until I grew weary of waiting), stirring frequently.
  • Pour into sterile jars and seal, or if you are about to make the cheese pie, just cover the jars with foil and once they cool, put them in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.

This "jam" is also a good topping over ice cream or as a mix for frozen drinks which I really like in the summer.

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Banana Pudding Cookies

I found this recipe online. I actually made it without a mixer and added a couple of handfuls of dried banana chips.

Ingredients:

2¼ cups All-purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt
1 cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
¾ cup Firmly Packed Light Brown Sugar
¾ cup Granulated Sugar
1 Box (3.4 Oz) Instant Banana Pudding Mix
2 Large Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 cup Quick-cooking Oats, not instant
4 oz White Baking Chocolate, chopped
20 Vanilla Wafers, broken, or 8 graham cracker squares, broken

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F and place a rack in the center. Have ready two ungreased baking sheets.
  2. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium size bowl; set aside.
  3. Beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed (if you have a mixer) until creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl often.
  4. Beat in the pudding mix and then beat in the eggs and vanilla on medium-low speed.
  5. By hand or using the lowest speed of the mixer, add the flour mixture to the batter and blend until it is almost fully mixed in.
  6. Stir in the oats, white chocolate, and broken cookies, letting the cookies break a little more as you stir.
  7. Scoop up tablespoons of dough and make balls about 1-inch in diameter and arrange about 2½ inches apart on the baking sheets.
  8. Press down slightly so that the tops are even.
  9. Bake one sheet at a time for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are nicely browned and the cookies appear set.
  10. Remove from the oven and while they are still warm, using the tip of a spatula, gently nudge the edge of the cookies inward to add some crinkles and folds.
  11. Let cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Variations:

  • Add banana chips along with the oats et al.

Information:
Makes about 42 cookies.

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breads

Mexican Cornbread

Any truly good southern cook can make excellent old-fashion corn bread, and this is nearly my Grandmother's recipe but with lots of extras added.

    Ingredients:
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 oz can corn, drained
  • ¼ cup diced green bell pepper
  • ¼ cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup grated Mexican crumbling cheese (or any firm variety)
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
    Preparation:
  • Preheat oven 425°.
  • Mix dry ingredients first, then add the rest, mix thoroughly.
  • Pour mixture into shallow 9 inch pan (greased) and bake about 30 minutes.

Though this cornbread pretty much goes with any Southern dish, it may not be compatible with them all. If you want a zesty version, add jalapenos to taste (for me, that means a lot). You can alter this recipe several ways. Use cream corn instead of kernel corn. Use different peppers or cheeses, or use your basic cornbread recipe and add which ever of the above ingredients you like.

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