Broccoli Almond Casserole!

 
 
 
 
 
We love our casseroles in the south and broccoli casserole has become just about  as traditional as fried chicken and mashed potatoes at big family dinners.   There are a thousand different broccoli casseroles and I love broccoli so I usually like them all. This casserole is a little different than the classics we always make, but it's really good and it has a little crunch to it that I like. It's also a little more elegant with the addition of sliced almonds that dress it up. This casserole can be prepared the night before and then just baked right before your dinner.  You can use frozen broccoli or fresh, which I prefer, but either is really good.   Here is what you will need:
 
 
1  10 oz. pkg frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained or an equivalent amount of fresh broccoli, cooked until just tender and chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbs. chopped pimento
1 cup crushed cheese nip crackers
1/2 cup sliced almonds
3 Tbs. butter
 
 
Cook broccoli (slightly under cook) and drain.  Mix soup, mayonnaise, egg, cheese, lemon juice, and seasoned salt and fold in broccoli.  Pour into a 2 quart casserole sprayed with nonstick spray.  Top with chopped pimento.  If you don't care for pimento, this can be left out, but it does add nice color. Top with sliced almonds.
Top with crushed cheese crackers and dot with butter.  You can substitute a sleeve of crushed Ritz crackers for the cheese crackers. Dot with pats of the butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 
 
Broccoli Almond Casserole!
 





Senate White Bean Soup!

  
 
This is called 'Senate' white bean soup, because it has been served in the United States Senate dining room for over 100 years and has always been a big favorite there.  This particular recipe was given to me by a dear lady years ago who was one of the best southern cooks I have ever known.  She and her husband served as the directors over the Southern Baptist Association in our county.  The summer after I graduated from college I worked at the missions office, as did my sister, and we really grew to love Reverend and Mrs. Tallant.   They were just wonderful people.  This soup always reminds me of them.
 
Mrs. Tallant would cook a nice lunch for everyone each day and we would all eat at the office there, because at night or in the afternoon, myself and two or three other girls would get in my little car and travel all over our county to the small rural churches and help them conduct their Bible schools.  It was a lot of fun, but it makes me tired just thinking about it now.  Needless to say, we needed those nourishing lunches.  
 
 This soup was something she would make for the monthly pastor's luncheon.   All of the ministers in the area would come together for a meeting once a month or sometimes twice and Mrs. Tallant would have a nice meal prepared for them.  I think that is what got a lot of them to the meeting actually.  This basic recipe makes quite a bit of soup for a family, but if you are feeding a crowd like she did, you can double it.   Here is what you'll need:
 
 
1 lb. navy or great northern beans
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup grated or shredded carrot
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 ham hock or meaty ham bone
2 cups chopped ham (can use country ham or smoked ham)
1 Tbs. bacon drippings
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2-3 drops of Tabasco sauce (optional)
 
 




 
Wash and sort the beans.  Place in your soup pot or dutch oven and cover with water about an inch over the top of the beans.  Bring to a boil.  Boil for just a few minutes.  Remove from the heat and drain well.  Place back in the pan with about 2 quarts of water.  Add the chopped celery, onion, garlic, and shredded carrot. Add the ham hock or ham bone and the bacon drippings.  Season with salt and black pepper.  Bring up to a boil then turn down to simmer and simmer covered for about an hour.

Add the chopped ham and cook for about 2 more hours on medium low heat.  Remove 2 cups of the beans and mash them with a fork and return to pot.  This just thickens the soup. Also, remove the ham hock or ham bone and trim any of the lean meat from it. Discard the fat and bone.  Cook for about 30 more minutes.  The soup should be nice and thick at this point.  Taste for seasoning, depending on what type of ham you used, you might need more salt.  If you used country ham, you probably won't need any additional salt.
Senate White Bean Soup!
 



Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Honey Mustard Dressing!

 
 
 
 
This is one of my mother's favorite salads, so I made it for her birthday dinner.  She used to always say she did not like spinach, which was odd for a woman who ate just about everything, but I made this salad years ago and once she ate it she changed her mind about spinach.   I think spinach got a bad name from the days  when it was just creamed or cooked like other greens, but not seasoned well.  Personally, it's one of my favorite greens to cook with, because it's so flexible and can be used in so many ways.   I grow my own spinach for the limited window we have here in Kentucky that it can survive.  I love having it available when I want it. 
 
I will admit that the star of the show in this salad is the dressing though.  Every year for my big Christmas get together, our nephews on my husband's side of the family always ask, "Did you make the warm bacon dressing and the stuffed mushrooms?"  not what is the dessert or what is the main course, but the warm bacon dressing and the mushrooms...lol.  It's a family favorite and it's not hard to make at all.  Here is what you will need for the salad and dressing:
 
 
1 bag baby spinach (10 oz.)
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced green onions (including some of the green blades)
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced or rough chopped
1 cup shredded Parmesan or Swiss cheese
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
7-8 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled (divided)
 
Dressing
bacon drippings from frying the bacon
1 Tbs. minced garlic
2 Tbs. vinegar (white or apple cider, doesn't matter)
2 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. Dijon or spicy brown mustard
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. celery seed (optional)
dash of black pepper
dash of seasoned salt
1 Tbs. cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup cold water
3 strips of the bacon crumbled into the dressing after it is thickened
 
 
Fry the bacon in a skillet and leave the drippings in the pan for the dressing.  If it's more than 2 Tbs. pour the extra off.
 
Layer the salad ingredients in the order given in a pretty glass salad bowl, finishing with 4-5 strips of the bacon, crumbled.
 
Saute the garlic in the bacon drippings just slightly, don't burn it or it will be bitter. Stir in the vinegar, sugar, mustard and the cornstarch dissolved in water.  Bring it up just to a bubble and add the honey, mayonnaise, celery seed, black pepper, and seasoned salt.  Whisk until smooth and don't boil, but just cook until it's thickened slightly. It thickens more once you take it off the heat and serve it.   Go light on the salt and pepper because it's already seasoned with the bacon drippings. Crumble the three reserved strips of bacon into the dressing.
 
Pour the dressing into a serving bowl just right before serving so that it remains warm and I let guests put their own on the salad to their taste.
 
 
 
 
 
 


Easy Peasy Peanut Butter Cookies...3 Ingredients!

  
  
A reader sent me this recipe a little while back and to be honest, when I saw it I thought she had left something out.  How could these turn out with no flour in them?  I could understand the lack of butter or shortening because of the oil in the peanut butter, but no flour?   So, I finally got time to make them and they were wonderful.  I couldn't believe it.   These are perfect to make with your children or grandchildren also because of the simplicity.  You can add things to the basic recipe to jazz it up if you want.  I added a cup of peanut butter chips, just because that 's what I had, but you could add chocolate chips, nuts, or M&M's...wouldn't the kids love that?    These are perfect for those who need gluten free recipes or can't have dairy products.   Here is what you will need.
 
 
2 cups peanut butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
Optional add ins (I used peanut butter chips)
 


 
Mix all of it together to the point that you can scoop it and roll into a ball.  Roll into a ball about the size of a small walnut and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. 
With a fork press a crisscross pattern on the top of each one.  You will need to wet the fork in warm water after each cookie.  You can sprinkle the tops with a little more sugar, or not.  It's up to you!  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes.  Don't over bake or they will get too hard.  This recipe makes 2 dozen cookies. 
 
 
 



Curried Chicken Salad!

 
 
 
I love curry and I especially love it paired with chicken in recipes.  I realize curry is an acquired taste for some and a little of it does go a long way, but if you are looking for something just a little different than plain old chicken salad, this is it.  
 
It's great on a sandwich. I like it served on croissants or a good wheat bread or even sourdough is excellent.  It's also perfect served with fruit for a chicken salad plate and it can be made in no time at all.   The curry flavor does intensify as this sits, so you might want to make it a couple of hours before you serve it to meld the flavors.    One word of caution,  if you are single and have a date anytime in the next three days, you might want to put off making this because curry tends to stay with you a while...lol.   Here is what you will need:
 
 
4 cups of diced chicken breast
1 cup seedless grapes, sliced ( red or white)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup sliced green onions (including some of the green tops)
1 cup raisins ( can use golden raisins or I used Craisins for the color)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 sour cream
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 Tbs. curry powder ( use less is you are new to curry to see if you love it, you can always add more)
dash of garlic powder
dash of black pepper
 
OPTION:  If you don't care for raisins, you can substitute a cup of diced apple in this and it's really good also.
 
 
Chop celery and green onion.
 
Slice the grapes.
 


 
Place the chopped chicken, celery, green onion, raisins, nuts, and grapes in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix the mayonnaise, sour cream and all of the seasonings, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice.  Pour over the salad ingredients and mix together.  This is best if its chilled for a couple of hours before serving.
 
Curried Chicken Salad!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



Banana Puddin' Pie!


 
 
Do you like banana pudding?  What about banana cream pie?  Well, this is a delicious combination of the two and it has a wonderful crust made of vanilla wafers.   The recipe is not complicated, but it does have several steps so I will break them down in the order that it makes the most sense to do them in.  My mother made this pie for dinner and it was ready when I got there so I don't have the pictures of each step to show you, but it's fairly easy to understand.  Here is what you will need for this:
 
 
1  12 oz box of Vanilla wafers, divided
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 large bananas, sliced
 
 
Vanilla Cream Filling
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 egg yolks
2 cups. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
 
Meringue
4 egg whites
1/2 cup of sugar
 
 
 
Set aside 30 vanilla wafers.  Put the rest in a food processor and pulse until coarsely crushed. Stir together crushed vanilla wafers and melted butter.  Press this mixture in the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch pie plate.   Bake at 350 degrees until until lightly browned.  Remove and cool for at least 30 minutes.
 
Arrange the banana slices evenly over the crust.  Prepare the vanilla filling by mixing the first 5  ingredients (sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks, milk and vanilla)  in a pan and whisking over medium heat for 8-9 minutes or until it has thickened to a pudding like consistency.   Spread half of the filling over the bananas. Top with 20 whole vanilla wafers. Spread the remaining filling over the vanilla wafers.  
 
In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they are foamy adding 1 Tbs. of sugar a time until it is all incorporated.  Beat on high until stiff peaks form.  Spread over the filling and be sure to seal it to the edges of the pie.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.  Cool for 1 hour on the counter.  Crush the last 10 vanilla wafers and sprinkle over the top.   This will cut and server better if you chill it for 4 hours before serving.  However, if you are like me and my family, it probably won't make it that far and we like it best before it's refrigerated.  Do which ever you like best! 
 
Banana Puddin' Pie!



Cheesy Sausage Dip!

 
 
We have been making this cheesy, spicy sausage dip in our family for...well, I don't even remember when we didn't make it.  My mother always made it, and then, me and my sister made it and now our kids make it!  I guess it's the family dip...lol. Don't all families have those couple of recipes or things they always have when they get together?   
 
This concoction is something I always made when my son was growing up and he had boys stay over or come home from school with him.  If there were very many and as they grew into very large boys, I had to double the recipe.  Some of those boys, who are now grown, still talk about the sausage dip when we see them.   The things that make memories for kids.   When it involved our house, it usually had to do with food or some crazy thing my husband did to them.  He has always been the worst kid in the house!  This is so easy, it's stupid and I mean that in a good way!   Here is what you need:
 
1 lb. roll of breakfast sausage ( I use Purnell's medium sausage)
1 lb. Velveeta cheese
1 8 oz. cream cheese (you can use light cream cheese)
1  10 oz. can of regular Rotel tomatoes
 
Crumble and brown the sausage in a skillet.  You can use mild sausage for less spice or hot for more.  I use Purnell's medium. I am very partial to Purnell's sausage and it is a Kentucky product, but you can use any sausage you like.
 
Drain the Rotel slightly and add to the pan.  At this point you can put the sausage in a slow cooker and add the other ingredients and cook on low.  The slow cooker is good to use if you taking this to a party because you can warm it back up and it will stay warm while you are there.   A skillet with a lid also works though.
Cube the Velveeta and cream cheese and add to the pan.
 
Cover and warm on low just until the cheeses are melted.  Stir to blend until smooth once they are soft and melty.  Make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom if you are not using a nonstick pan it could. 
 
Serve with tortilla chips or Fritos Scoops. This will disappear fast!
 
 

 
 
 


Chess Pie...a Southern Favorite!

 
 
 
 
 
The one pie that is probably close to 'as southern' as the pecan pie, is the the chess pie.  In my part of the south, it was probably served much more often, mainly because pecans do not grow here and were not always plentiful like in so many of the deeper south states.  Even without the pecans, this pie is very rich and a small slice will do for most people. 
 
There are a lot of theories about why it's called chess pie, but no one knows for sure.  Some think because it is similar to the English lemon curd pie which they called a 'cheese pie', minus the lemon and the cheese,  so this pie became known as chess pie.   That seems to be a stretch to me.  Another theory is that gentlemen would retire to the parlor after dinner to play chess and have this pie.  I don't think that works either.  Then there is the one that theorizes that back in the day of slavery, the cooks would be asked what was for dessert and they would say 'jes pie'...that one might work.  The last one is that this pie is so sweet it will keep in a pie chest or safe for a few days without ruining and was therefore called a 'chest pie' and with the southern accents, later called a Chess Pie.  That one works for me best.   It could be any or none of these.
 
I always remember my great great aunt making this pie and it seemed like she made it at least once a week.  She baked every week day (not weekends)  of every week that I can remember.  Can you imagine baking that much?  I can't and I cook a lot...especially now.   Here is what you need for this pie:
 
 
1 unbaked 9" pie shell
1 stick butter, melted
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1Tbs. flour
2 Tbs. cornmeal
1 Tbs. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup half and half
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Place the unbaked pie shell on a cookie sheet.  Pour the mixture in the shell and carefully place in the oven on the center rack.  
 
 
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until slightly browned (don't over brown).   Remove and cool before serving.
 
 
 
Chess Pie!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



Southern Chicken and Dressing Casserole!

  
 
This is like putting Thanksgiving dinner in one dish. It's chicken and stuffing and a creamy gravy all cooked together. It makes a big casserole so it feeds a crowd.  You can actually use chicken or leftover turkey in this and it's a good way to use up leftover turkey during the holidays. 
 
This is really good served with mashed potatoes, southern green beans, and banana split fruit salad.  Add some easy homemade buttermilk dinner rolls   and you have a meal that is a celebration.   This is great to make the night before also to save prep time.    This does make a large casserole so if you are not cooking for a family or company you can make two and freeze one for another meal.  I love things that I can do this way.  Then, I always have a casserole in the freezer to pull out at the last minute when I get busy and don't have time to cook a whole meal from scratch.   This casserole uses some convenience items, like the herb stuffing mix, but if you want to use your own cornbread with some poultry season added, go for it.  This is not a cornbread dressing recipe, it is a casserole.  If you are looking for an actual cornbread dressing, go to Southern Cornbread Dressing
 
Here is what you will need for this casserole:
 
4 cups of cooked chicken, chopped in bite size pieces ( you can use turkey also)
1 (12 or 14 oz.) pkg. herb seasoned stuffing mix ( I use Pepperidge Farm or you can substitute your own cornbread crumbled)
1 1/2 stick of butter, divided
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup sliced water chestnuts (optional)
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
 
 
Mix chicken, soups, 1/2 can of the chicken broth, milk, onion, celery, water chestnuts, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning.
 
Melt 1 stick of butter.  Mix the butter and the rest of the chicken broth with the stuffing mix.  Place 1/2 of the stuffing in a 3 quart casserole dish you have sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. 
Pour the chicken mixture over the stuffing layer.
Top with the remainder of the stuffing mixture and dot with butter.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until hot and bubbly around the edges.
 
 



Country Hash Brown Casserole!

  
  
This is another family favorite that we have been making for years.  This is a good potato dish for company or big family dinners, because it can be prepared the night before and it serves a lot of people.   This is also good for both a big breakfast and as a dinner side.   Here is what you will need:
 
 
1  2lb. package of southern style hash browns, the diced variety, thawed (you can use the shredded variety if you prefer)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 stick of butter, melted
1 can cream of chicken soup
16 oz. sour cream
1/2 c finely diced onion
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
 Topping
1/2 stick of butter, melted
2 cups crushed cornflakes
 
 
In a large mixing bowl, mix all of the casserole ingredients until well blended.  Pour and spread evenly into a 2  1/2 quart casserole dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Mix the other  1/2 stick of butter and the cornflake crumbs and sprinkle over the top.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour until hot and bubbly. 
 
I have turned this into more of a main dish by stirring in 2 cups of chopped ham and 1/2 cup milk.  Just add a vegetable and/or salad and bread and you have dinner.   If you don't have a big family or company to feed, this casserole can be divided into two smaller ones and one can be frozen for another meal.  I freeze before I bake it and then just take it out for another time.
 
 
Country Hash Brown Casserole!





Parmesan Cauliflower Salad!


 
This salad recipe is one that my mother always made and served when she had a restaurant.  It was always very popular and surprisingly the men who ate there really loved it.  Men and salads don't always click for some reason.
 
  This is a great salad to make for a crowd or to take to a potluck, because it makes a lot and you can make it the night before.  Actually it's best made at least a few hours ahead of time.    This is a good salad to serve alongside any type of food, but it's surprisingly good with Italian food like lasagna or spaghetti.  It's also a good salad for the fall and winter months because the ingredients are not seasonal and are good all year round in the grocery.   Here is what you will need for this:
 
 
1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, torn in bite size pieces
1 large head of cauliflower, broken into bite size florets
1 medium green pepper, cut in rings
1 medium onion cut in rings ( a purple onion is really pretty for this)
1/2 lb bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
 
 
In a large glass salad bowl or even a trifle dish works well for this,  place the torn lettuce in the bottom.  Add the cauliflower.  Mix the mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar together.  Spread over the cauliflower and lettuce.  Sprinkle the Parmesan over that. Add the onion and green pepper rings.  Finish with the crumbled bacon.   Chill for 2 to 4 hours.   Toss just before serving. 
 
 

 



Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie!



 
 

Pecan pie is as southern as Scarlett O'hara and "Gone With The Wind" or Paula Deen, whatever your point of reference is..lol.  Most people love it and it's actually not all that hard to bake, but few people do anymore it seems.  Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie is a very Kentucky version of the pie, kicked up a little notch.  Because all good bourbon is born and raised in Kentucky, we tend to use it in our cooking quite a bit.    If you do not want to buy bourbon just to put 2 tablespoons in this pie, never fear, you can substitute a teaspoon of good vanilla. 
 
 If you do invest in a little bottle of bourbon for this, don't worry, we will use it in several other recipes, especially during the holidays.  I have not posted my bourbon soaked ham yet and you do not want to miss that one.  There is no substitute for the bourbon there.   We will also be making Miss Evelyn's Bourbon Balls in the next months and you will need a good amount for those.  Here is what you need for this pie:
 
1  9 inch unbaked pie shell
2 cups pecans (halves are pretty, but you can used the pieces)
3 large eggs, beaten
4 Tbs. butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup white corn syrup
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips  ( I use the mini chips)
2 Tbs. good KY bourbon ( can use 1 tsp. good vanilla)
dash of salt
 
 
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place pecans in the bottom of the unbaked pie shell.
 
Blend the eggs with butter, then mix in sugar, syrup, just a dash of salt, and bourbon.  Stir in the chocolate chips at the end.  pour this mixture over the pecans in the pie shell.
 COOKING TIP:  Before you fill the pie shell, place it on a cookie sheet or pizza pan.  The pie will cook more evenly and it's easier to move it to and from the oven.
 


 
Bake on 375 degrees for 10 minutes.  Lower oven to 350 degrees and bake an additional 30 minutes or until it is set.  Remove and cool for about an hour before serving.
 
Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice or a dollop of whipped cream!
Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie!
 
 
 
 
 

Spinach Dip in a Bread Bowl!


 
This is a cold spinach dip that is served in a bread bowl with chunks of the bread for dipping.   The King's Hawaiian Bread is the best for this.  While I love a good hot spinach and artichoke dip also, I really think I like this cold spinach dip the best.  It can even be made up a day or even two ahead and then you just have to assemble your bread bowl the day of your party.    Here is what you will need:
 
1  10 oz. package of frozen chopped spinach, cooked, cooled and squeezed until all liquid is removed
1  16 oz container sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 pkg. vegetable soup mix (Knorr brand is best)
1  8 oz. can water chestnuts, chopped
3-4 chopped green onions, including some of the green blades
1 round top loaf of King's Hawaiian Bread  ( I usually use two to have more bread for dipping)







Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl until well blended.   TIP:  Use paper towels to press all of the liquid out of the spinach.  If you leave water in it, your dip will be too watery and will not hold up well.

 



Chill for at least 2 hours.  It's best if it chills overnight to blend flavors.
When you are ready to serve, place the bread on a platter big enough to also place the cubed bread around the edges.  With a serrated knife carve out a bowl in the center leaving a good shell to hold the dip.  Cube the bread in big chunks that you remove. I usually use two loaves and use one just for the bread cubes, because what you remove from the center is never enough.
 
 
 
 
 



Red Velvet Cake Roll!

 
 
I realize it's a little early for red velvet, but it's becoming so popular it's being made all year long here in the south.  I got a request from a Sweet Tea and Cornbread reader for a red velvet cake roll recipe that would actually roll without breaking, which she was having a problem with.   I decided to go to my 'baking expert' for this one...my mother.   When I ran this by her, she said, I will have to think about this one and get back to you.   I thought it  odd that she had to think this much, because this woman can bake just about anything, so the next day she calls me and says  "I don't see any way to use red velvet cake mix and get it to roll without breaking".  I am not sure where she got the idea it had to be a mix, but when I told her it didn't need to be a mix, from scratch is fine...she said, "Oh, that's no problem then."   Problem solved...lol.   Isn't it funny how just a little communication clarification can make such a difference. So this is what Mama came up with and I must say it looks beautiful and it tastes yummy.   Here is what you need:
 
Cake
 
1/3 cup  plain flour
1 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 tsp. salt
4 large eggs separated ( leave them out to come to room temp beforehand)
1 cup sugar divided
1 oz. red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla
confectioner's sugar
 
 
Cream Cheese Filling
 
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick butter, softened
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
 
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Line a 15x10 jelly roll pan with wax paper or parchment paper.  Grease and flour the pan or spray with the nonstick baking spray made for baking with the flour in it.
 
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well.   In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar with an electric mixer until they are fluffy.
 
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the other 1/2 cup of sugar until stiff peaks form, but not until they are dry.   Make sure the beaters and the bowl are very clean and dry when you start. 
 
Add the egg yolks, food coloring, and vanilla to the dry ingredients until blended.  Fold in the egg whites.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Place in the preheated oven and bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
 
While the cake bakes, prepare the cream cheese filling by creaming the cream cheese and butter together.  Add vanilla and confectioners sugar until whipped.  This should be a little stiffer than cream cheese frosting.
 
When the cake is done, lay out a clean dish cloth and sprinkle it with confectioner's sugar.  Turn the cake out on the cloth.  Remove the wax paper.  If the edges of the cake need it, trim them with kitchen shears to make them nice and even.  Roll the cake starting on the long side with the cloth into a tight roll.  Lay the roll, seam side down on a rack to cool in the cloth.
 
When cool, unroll cake and spread cream cheese filling to within 1/2 inch of the edges.  Re-roll the cake once filled and place on a platter seam side down.  Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar or you could drizzle with melted white chocolate.  To serve on a platter in slices, as shown in the above picture, with a sharp knife, slice in 1 inch slices.  If it's chilled beforehand, it will slice easier. 
 
OPTIONAL TIP:   You can make this as a chocolate roll by using a 1/3 cup cocoa powder and leaving the red food coloring out.   Add some mini chocolate chips to the cream cheese filling for a chocolate chip roll.
 
Red Velvet Cake Roll!



Cheesy Potato Soup...Comfort in a Bowl!


 
The weather in southern Kentucky over the past weekend was a little blah and rainy.  I guess it was the tail of hurricane Isaac moving up this way.  It wasn't cold, but just dreary and when it's dreary I usually get out my soup pot.  We actually eat this soup all year round, just not as much in the really hot weather.  It's the soup I make most, because everyone likes this one and I usually always have the ingredients on hand.  This is what you will need:
 
5-6 medium size potatoes, peeled and cubed (Idaho or Russet work well)
3 chicken bullion cubes ( I prefer Knorr)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
enough water to just cover the potatoes
4 Tbs. butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half and half  (can use all whole milk, but it's much creamier with the half and half)
2 cups whole milk 
8 oz. block of cream cheese, cubed
1 lb of Velveeta cheese, cubed  (can use a good American cheese)
 
Garnish
 
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sliced green onions
2 cups chopped bacon cooked crisp
                                                                                                       
 
 
                                                                                          
Place the peeled, cubed potatoes in a stock pot or dutch oven.  Put just enough water over them to cover them.  Don't put more because you are not draining this off.  Add the chicken bullion cubes, salt, seasoned salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Bring this up to a boil and then turn to low to simmer until the potatoes are tender.
 






While the potatoes cook, we will make a simple white sauce or bechamel...isn't that fancy?  My mother always called it a white sauce and it's the one sauce every cook needs to know how to make, because you can do so much with it.  So don't stop reading because I said...'bechamel'...lol.  I say this because when my son first started cooking for himself and asked how to make this soup, when I got to this step, he lost interest.  I am sure he can master it now though.    I do mine in the microwave, because it's quick and much easier, but you can do it on the stove.  Place 4 Tbs of butter in a bowl and melt, whisk in the flour (plain or self rising...doesn' t matter), cook in the microwave for about 30 seconds or on the stove just until it starts to bubble.  This is to cook that raw flour taste out.  Sprinkle in a dash of salt and pepper and then whisk in the half and half and the milk.  Cook on hi in the microwave for 3 minutes or on the stove until it starts to bubble.  Remove from the microwave and whisk out any of the lumps. 
Add the cream cheese and Velveeta cheese cubes.  Microwave for another 3 minutes.  Remove and whisk again until the cheeses are melted and the sauce is smooth.  You might have to place back in the microwave for a minute or 2 and whisk again.  This is now a cheese sauce and it should be a thick cheese sauce.   If you are doing this on the stove, you need to whisk the whole time after you bring it to a boil and add the cheeses.  It will stick if you don't.  That is why I like to use the microwave for this.  This mixture is added to the potatoes that you have cooked, leaving the water over them, but first take a potato masher or fork and mash the potato cubes a little.  Don't pulverize them, but just mashed a few of the slightly.  This helps thicken the soup and gives it a good texture.  Pour the cheese sauce in the pot and stir to mix it all until it's well incorporated.  The sauce should blend with the liquid in the potatoes and become just the right consistency.   Taste for salt and pepper.  I usually sprinkle the top with a little more seasoned salt.   
  
I like to set out bowls of chopped bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, and sliced green onions or chives and let everyone garnish their own.