Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Old Fashioned Chicken and Fluffy Drop Dumplings

A classic southern comfort dish made of stewed chicken with fluffy drop dumplings.
A classic southern comfort dish made of stewed chicken with fluffy drop dumplings.

Old Fashioned Chicken and Fluffy Drop Dumplings

You just cannot beat this Southern classic of stewed chicken with dumplings in the comfort meal category. While most of us Southerners can agree on that, it's the dumplings that can cause a stir as much as our cornbread can.

How to Render and Use Bacon Fat




Ahhh, yes... Bacon Fat.

Now this, my friends, is a true staple of the southern kitchen in my little ole humble opinion and it is a rare southern household that doesn't have a Mason jar or grease pot full of this hanging around the stove or in the fridge.

Course lots of times we cook with bacon, so we use both the bacon and the rendered fat from the bacon. Yum - nothing like bacon. Bacon fat just adds so much flavor to cooking it is impossible to match with any other fat, even butter, and y'all know I love butter.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Easy Homemade Southern Peach Ice Cream

Ice cream made with fresh peaches, sweetened condensed milk, half and half and instant vanilla pudding, makes a creamy texture that you'll be sure had to be from a homemade custard.
Ice cream made with fresh peaches, sweetened condensed milk, half and half and instant vanilla pudding, makes a creamy texture that you'll be sure had to be from a homemade custard.

Homemade Peach Ice Cream

Homemade peach ice cream is another food that makes me think of my Grandma Mac. She didn't make it often during the summer, but when she did, it was so good. She had the old-fashioned hand cranked type of ice cream maker too - what a lot of lovin' work must've gone into making that ice cream, and goodness, it sure tasted it too.

Classic Onion Burgers

Juicy and delicious onion burgers made with an envelope of onion soup mix, tomato sauce and Worcestershire are a long loved classic.
Juicy and delicious onion burgers made with an envelope of onion soup mix, tomato sauce and Worcestershire are a long loved classic.

Classic Onion Burgers

I do love a grilled burger, and like many of you, I've been making these burgers for years. It just produces a tender, yummy burger full of onion flavor - by far one of my favorite ways to eat a grilled burger.

A simple packet of onion soup mix provides all the onion flavor you need (or you can make up your own homemade version of the packet too), the Worcestershire sauce gives it a tasty punch and the tomato sauce helps to keep the burger nice and moist.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Old Fashioned Hand-Squeezed Fresh Lemonade

Old fashioned homemade lemonade made with freshly squeezed lemons and simple syrup.
Old fashioned homemade lemonade made with freshly squeezed lemons and simple syrup.

Old Fashioned Hand-Squeezed Lemonade

I admit, there are some pretty good frozen lemonade concentrates out there, but a holiday like Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day, just calls for something special and that means fresh, homemade lemonade to me. This one begins with a simple syrup, which really helps to provide that perfect balance between tart and sweet. Be careful not to over-boil the syrup though ... you don't want to make candy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Perfect Root Beer Float

Scoops of a high quality ice cream, topped with a great root beer, preferably bottled and ideally Barq's, add a tall spoon and straw and you have a fantastic, ice cold root beer float.

Perfect Root Beer Float

With ice cream in the house and summer just around the corner, seemed to me a root beer float was just waiting to happen!

Just sippin' on this reminded me of Amy, my best friend in junior high school, and visiting her Mama at Calvert-Carraway's drug store, where she worked in the afternoons. We'd sit and sometimes spin when we could get away with it, on top of the red vinyl topped metal barstools at the soda fountain counter and get treated to an ice cold root beer float - or sometimes a cherry coke - while we soaked in that ice cold air conditioning on one of these swelterin' hot summer days we have down here in the Deep South. I clearly remember when businesses used to proudly display signs in their front windows that shouted "Ice Cold Air!"

And if there weren't too many patrons eating at the counter and we didn't annoy Amy's Mama too much, sometimes we'd get to snack on some yummy onion rings too! Boy, those were the days. Life was simple, no worries, and nothin' to do but just be.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Southern Style Potato Salad

A basic and traditional southern potato salad - simply potatoes, onion, celery, eggs, just a bit of mustard, some pickle and mayonnaise, shown here plated with my BBQ menu, including grilled ribs, baked beans, macaroni salad, marinated tomatoes and Silver Queen corn on the cob.
A basic and traditional southern potato salad - simply potatoes, onion, celery, eggs, just a bit of mustard, some pickle and mayonnaise, shown here plated with my BBQ menu, including grilled ribs, baked beans, macaroni salad, marinated tomatoes and Silver Queen corn on the cob.

Southern Style Potato Salad

Potato salad reminds me so much of my Mama. This recipe is basically the same as hers - simple, basic, southern potato salad. Nothin' fancy or highfalutin' - just potatoes, eggs, onion, celery, a little bit of mustard, some pickle relish, salt & pepper. Oh, and mayo, of course!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tommie's Brownies aka Buttermilk Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake

A long-held southern favorite, Texas Sheet Cake, is the lightest, fluffiest, perfectly sweet, rich and delectable, melt in your mouth, best chocolate cake ever. No matter how hard you try you will not be able to eat just one piece.
A long-held southern favorite, Texas Sheet Cake, is the lightest, fluffiest, perfectly sweet, rich and delectable, melt in your mouth, best chocolate cake ever. No matter how hard you try you will not be able to eat just one piece.

Tommie's Brownies aka Buttermilk Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake

I got this big batch brownie recipe several years ago from Tommie, a friend of mine from Oklahoma, but it's essentially one of those recipes that has been around in one form or another, and by one name or another, for as long as I have, and probably longer.

It originated with Hershey many years back, and was on the back of the cocoa tin. One year, I can't even remember how many orders of this sheet cake Tommie said she did for a church bake sale, but it had to be a few dozen all told. As soon as somebody would find out she was making them for the bake sale, they'd be calling to place an order for a full tray before the bake sale even started! I can certainly see why.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Apple and Walnut Pie

Apple and Walnut Pie made in layers of crushed walnuts, apples and cinnamon sugar.

Apple and Walnut Pie

I had some apples to use up and considered doing a good ole old fashioned apple pie but I settled on doing this Apple & Walnut Pie instead. This is actually an old Slavonian recipe that is intended to be made as a slab pie in an oblong dish and cut up into squares, but I had some ready made Pillsbury pie crusts in the fridge that also needed to be used, so I decided to adapt it for a regular pie pan instead.

I also thought I would use the thin slicing blade on my food processor this time in order to slice the apples real thin (chip), but honestly I wasn't real stoked up about the results. I should have known better to be honest. I much more prefer texture to my apples, and chipping them takes that away.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tater Cakes! - Mashed Potato Patties

Transform cold, leftover mashed potatoes into a whole new side with these delicious potato croquettes.
Transform cold, leftover mashed potatoes into a whole new side with these delicious potato croquettes.

Mashed Potato Patties

Better known I guess as Mashed Potato Patties, but Tater Cakes sound so much more interesting, don't ya think?  The basic seasoning for my potato patties are always garlic powder, onion powder, and of course, a little Slap Ya Mama {affil link}, but honestly you can flavor these up just about anyway you like. You can also use a variety of coatings in combination with the flour - bread crumbs are standard, panko bread crumbs are superb, but crushed potato chips or tortilla chips work well, especially the flavored and spicy kinds of chips, heck you can even use crushed plain corn flakes! Use your imagination.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cheesy Chicken and Spaghetti Casserole

A well loved casserole dish, this chicken and spaghetti casserole made with chicken, cream soup, onion, garlic and Rotel diced tomato, is loaded with cheesy goodness.
A well loved casserole dish, this chicken and spaghetti casserole made with chicken, cream soup, onion, garlic and Rotel diced tomato, is loaded with cheesy goodness.

Cheesy Chicken and Spaghetti Casserole

Now in all fairness, I know that this recipe is representative of what most folks think of when they think of chicken spaghetti. I really don't consider this to be a true "chicken spaghetti," since my Grandma - Grandma Mac of the pound cake fame - made a killer chicken spaghetti that was my all time favorite dish. Her chicken spaghetti was made with a whole hen and a red sauce similar to a beef based spaghetti, it was not baked, and it contained no cheese whatsoever.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Southern Style Creamed Peas

Green peas, or preferably petit pois, simmered in a light bacon and butter roux.
Green peas, or preferably petit pois, simmered in a light bacon and butter roux.

Southern Style Creamed Peas

Break out that jar of bacon fat ya got in the fridge for this one, cuz we're startin' with a roux!


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ranch Mashed Potato Casserole

Mashed Potato Casserole, made with heavy cream, milk, butter, sour cream, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, Ranch dressing mix, garlic and onion powder, Cajun seasoning, paprika and French fried onion bits.

Ranch Mashed Potato Casserole

Hot dang it is muggy uggy down here along the Gulf Coast. Geez... you'd think it was July already for pete's sake. I was tryin' to get some pics of a few flowers earlier and had to keep wiping the lens and viewfinder between every shot because it kept foggin' up! All I can say is thank the Lord for central air conditioning.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Homemade Southern Red Beans and Rice

Homemade red kidney beans made with dried beans, and slow stewed with the Trinity, bacon, smoked sausage and a good ham bone or ham hock if you have one, served over hot rice with fresh French bread.
Homemade red kidney beans made with dried beans, and slow stewed with the Trinity, bacon, smoked sausage and a good ham bone or ham hock if you have one, served over hot rice with fresh French bread.

Homemade Southern Red Beans and Rice

Monday. Wash Day. Red Beans and Rice day.

Back in the day at least, that was the way that it was, and the tradition of eating red beans & rice on Mondays, either for lunch or dinner, carries on down here in the south, even if nobody’s doin’ laundry.

Grandma Mac's Perfect Southern Pound Cake

A perfect pound cake like Grandma' used to make, moist, tender, light, fluffy, creamy and buttery, all at the same time. Shown here with my skillet peaches.
In my mind a perfect pound cake like Grandma's, is moist, tender, light, fluffy, creamy, and buttery, all at the same time. Shown here with my skillet peaches.

Grandma Mac's Perfect Southern Pound Cake

Was it wrong to have pound cake for breakfast? If there were peaches involved?? Or strawberries with real whipped cream. If it is, I don't care.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Grown-Up Southern Tea Room Chutney Chicken Salad

Inspired by Martha's Tea Room in Ocean Springs, MS, this is a grown-up, southern tea room style chicken salad, made with chicken, red onion, apples, grapes, and pecans and a secret ingredient of fruit chutney.

Chutney Chicken Salad

This is not your standard deli style chicken salad with creamy mayo, celery, and sometimes, chopped up eggs - though that's pretty darned good itself and I sure love it. No, this one is the kind that you get when you go to lunch with the ladies at 'Tea Room Restaurants' all across the country, and in fact, Martha's Tea Room, right here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, was the inspiration behind this chicken salad recipe I wrote. The only secret I could pull out of the owner, Martha Reichard, was that it contained her mother's homemade mango chutney. Many people have tried to duplicate this top secret chicken salad and as Reichard stated in a television interview, nobody has come close. Well, this isn't her recipe either of course, it's just my tea room style chicken salad, inspired by Martha's Tea Room.

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