The older I get, the more that I realize that all of those times that Mama said: “don’t spend your money on me,” she meant it. She wanted then what she still wants, time spent together. Time is something we can never get back, and the older my mama gets, time becomes more precious to me.
In comparison to many families today, my mother’s family was a big one. She had six brothers and sisters. Today, my mother and her sister are the only siblings that remain. I decided that my mama would like nothing better than a little family time for Mother’s Day. So on a recent visit, I invited my aunt and a couple of cousins to a luncheon at mama’s house. I kept the menu simple with homemade chicken salad, pasta salad made with fresh vegetables and purchased Italian dressing, cucumber sandwiches, purchased cheese straws, and I bought a fruit tray, cut up and ready to eat and made a poppy seed vinaigrette dressing. The table was elegantly set with mama’s best china and crystal and the memories we made are priceless.
As you struggle to come up with a gift for mom this Sunday, keep in mind that time spent with you is something she will always treasure!
Simple Pasta Salad
- 1 lb. pasta
- 2 c. cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- ¾ c. sliced black olives
- sliced red onion
- crumbled feta cheese
- chopped bell pepper
- 1 to 1½ c. Italian dressing
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Toss pasta, cherry tomatoes, olives, red onion, feta cheese, and bell pepper with Italian dressing.
- Refrigerate for several hours before serving.
You may need to add a little more Italian dressing to salad just before serving.
Fruit Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing
- 4 cups fresh fruit
- 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- ¼ tsp. poppy seeds
- Wash and cut up fruit, set aside. In a small bowl whisk vinegar, oil, sugar and poppy seeds. Pour over fruit an gently toss. Serve immediately.
- 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1 cucumber, peeled & seeds removed
- 1 medium onion
- dash salt
- dash hot sauce
- mayonnaise on bread, if desired
- Grate cucumber and onion and squeeze dry. (I do this using a clean dish towel. Put in the center of a towel then roll towel and twist.) Set aside.
- Blend cream cheese with an electric mixer. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Store in refrigerator for 24 hours.
- If using mayonnaise, spread on desired bread. Top with cucumber spread and another slice of bread.
Perfect Chicken Salad
- 4 lg. chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
- 1 to 2 c. mayonnaise, depending on how you like it
- ½ to ¾ c. chopped celery
- 1 tbsp. yellow mustard
- ¼ tsp. poppy seeds
- ½ tsp. salt
- Mix shredded chicken, mayonnaise, celery, mustard, poppy seeds, and salt in a large bowl and refrigerate.
One of the best things about living on the Gulf coast was being introduced to Cajun food and Mardi Gras. One of the first things we did on the coast was to attend a family-friendly Mardi Gras parade. We were all caught up in the spirit of the celebration with moon pies and beads. We often visited Louisana while living in Pensacola, especially during the years that Wes played with a travel ice hockey team out of Baton Rouge. We enjoyed the people, their food, and their customs.
We do not celebrate Mardi Gras in a big way here in Georgia, but I say, there’s no better excuse to cook up some good Cajun food. I found this recipe on www.raisedonaroux.com, where I found many other recipes that I can’t wait to try! This chicken marinates for 48 hours for a wonderful flavor. It’s cooks up wonderfully crispy with the addition of corn starch, and it is incredibly moist and juicy. Don’t let the hot sauce scare you because it isn’t hot at all. The marinade simply gives it an excellent taste.
Fat Tuesday Fried Chicken
- Seasoning Mix:
- 3 tbsp. kosher salt
- 2 tbsp. dried thyme leaves
- 2 tbsp. smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp. garlic powder
- 2 tbsp. onion powder
- 2 tbsp. black pepper
- 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp. white pepper
- 1 (3-lb.) whole chickens, cut into serving pieces
- 4 c. buttermilk
- 2 tbsp. Louisiana hot sauce
- 2 tbsp. Crystal hot sauce
- 4 c. all-purpose flour
- ½ c. corn starch
- Peanut oil for frying
- In a small bowl, thoroughly combine seasoning mix. Season chicken with 6 tbsp. of the mix. Reserve remaining mix. Place chicken in 1 or 2 large resealable bags.
- In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk and hot sauces; pour over the chicken. Seal and refrigerate for a least 4 hours or up to 48 hours, (the longer it soaks the better), turning occasionally.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and reserved seasoning mix.
- Set a rack on a large baking sheet.
- Working one piece at a time, remove chicken from buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into the bag. Dredge in flour mixture and shake off excess. Place on prepared rack.
- Pour oil halfway up the side of a large, deep skillet (preferably cast iron) and heat to 350° F.
- Prepare another large baking sheet lined with paper towels and a rack over top.
- Fry chicken in batches, starting skin side down. Do not overcrowd skillet. Once chicken is added to oil, the temperature will drop. Maintain cooking temperature of 315° F for ideal frying. Fry, turning, until golden brown and cooked through to reach an internal temperature of 165° F. Remove to rack and allow to drain. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.
One of my favorite parts of Christmas was always helping the kids get ready for Santa’s visit. We baked cookies and sat up a special table near the tree. They would write him notes and leave a snack for Rudolph too. I’m not sure who had more fun, the kids or me.
How about a special treat for Santa this year? Instead of just leaving him a boring glass of milk, leave him this belly warming Frothy Vanilla Milk. So delicious that you will be making it for yourself too! A delicious change from regular old chocolate milk.
Frothy Vanilla Milk
- 4 c. whole milk
- 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp. light brown sugar
- 1½ whole vanilla beans, split in half lengthwise
- Whipped Cream, for garnish, optional
- Ground nutmeg, for dusting, optional
- In a large saucepan, combine the milk and both sugars. Scrape the vanilla seeds from the middle of the beans into the saucepan and also add the split beans. Bring the milk to a simmer; cover, remove from heat, and let stand for 30 minutes to allow the vanilla to flavor the milk.
- Discard the vanilla beans and rewarm the milk over moderate heat, whisking vigorously, until frothy and warm. Serve in mugs with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.
I have always been more of a pound cake baker than a layer cake baker. I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe it’s because they are just so darn easy and they tend to get better with time. My favorite pound cake recipes seem to get moister the longer they sit.
Here’s a wonderfully moist cake that I love making this time of the year. I prefer to use my homemade applesauce but any applesauce will work. It is not only delicious but it is lovely when sprinkled with powdered sugar and would be beautiful on a holiday dessert table!
Spiced Applesauce Pound Cake
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2¾ c. all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. ground ginger
- ¼ tsp. ground cloves
- ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 c. light brown sugar, packed
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 c. no-sugar applesauce
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-cup bundt pan well and place it on a large baking pan, set aside.
- Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg in a large bowl.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the applesauce, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, being careful not to overmix.
- Pour batter into prepared bundt pan. Place the baking pan/bundt pan onto middle rack in preheated oven. Bake 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
- Cool completely before inverting on a cake plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.