Mama's Rum Cake!

This rum cake is absolutely my favorite type of pound cake.  It's so moist and delicious with just a hint of rum flavoring and it's not overly sweet or rich...the perfect cake for a breakfast cake or for a snack with your afternoon coffee.  The glaze that goes over it just makes it even more delicious and it's also a pretty cake to be a Bundt pan type cake.  This is my mother's recipe and she has always made the very best rum cake.   Is this cake made using a cake mix?  Yes. Is this cake still one of the best cakes you will ever make or eat?  Again, yes!   It's also not a difficult cake to make and even those who are fairly new to baking can do this.  
Here is what you will need:
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 (18.25 oz.)  yellow cake mix
1 (3  3/4 oz.) instant vanilla pudding and pie filling
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
1/2 cup dark rum
Rum Glaze
2 Tbs. butter, melted
2 cups confectioners sugar
2 Tbs. dark rum or 2 tsp. rum flavoring
1 to 2 Tbs. half and half or milk
1 cup pecan halves for garnish
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Spray a Bundt pan well with nonstick spray for baking.  Sprinkle the chopped nuts in the bottom of the pan.  Mix the cake mix, pudding mix,  oil, water, eggs, vanilla flavoring, and rum until well mixed, about 2 minutes.   Pour over the pecans in the Bundt pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 50 - 60 minutes.   Remove from oven and let cool for about 30 minutes before removing from pan.
Melt butter in a saucepan, combine with confectioners sugar and rum or rum flavoring.  Mix until smooth, adding 1/2 Tablespoon milk at a time until it's thin enough to pour over cake, but not too thin.  You will probably need more of the milk if you use the rum flavoring instead of the actual rum since you use less.

Pour the glaze over the cake letting it run down and over the sides.  If your glaze is thick enough it won't run a whole lot.  Dot the top and down the side a little with the pecan halves.
 Mama's Rum Cake!

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sliders!

If you love Buffalo Chicken Wings, but maybe not the messiness involved in eating them and the cost of preparing them for a crowd, these Buffalo Chicken Sliders might be a good alternative.  They are also more of an actual meal.  Since you cook the chicken in the slow cooker, they are prepared and cooked in advance and can be held for long periods of time in the slow cooker on warm.  These are perfect for game day or for any type of gathering really!   Here is what you will need for these:

6-7 boneless chicken breasts (I used frozen and put them right in the slow cooker frozen)
1 medium size onion, diced
1/2 stick of butter, cut in pieces
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
1  1/2 cups hot wing sauce, divided ( I used Texas Peete, but any you like works fine)
1 pkg. provolone or Swiss cheese slices
1 pkg. dinner rolls (King's Hawaiian dinner rolls work well)
bleu cheese dressing or ranch dressing
shredded lettuce

Spray a slow cooker with nonstick spray.  Place diced onion in the bottom.  Place chicken on top of the onion.  Sprinkle with the black pepper, garlic powder, celery salt, and ranch dressing mix. Place pats of butter on top of the chicken.  Pour 1 cup of the hot wing sauce over all. Reserve the other 1/2  cup for later.  Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours.
Remove the chicken and shred it with two forks.  Keep about 1 cup of the liquid the chicken cooked in and place the shredded chicken back in it in the slow cooker.  Pour the reserved 1/2 cup of wing sauce over the chicken and mix it all together.  I like to let it cook on low for about another hour, but you can go ahead and serve immediately also.
Place a slice of the provolone on each dinner roll and then the chicken.  Top with shredded lettuce and dressing of your choice or serve plain!  These are going to disappear fast!  If you have a big crowd you will want to double this recipe!


Ten Main Dish Meals for under $10.00!

So many times I get questions about stretching your food dollars and recipes for providing nourishing meals that are tasty, but don't break your budget to put on the table.  When I am asked if I have any recipes for families on limited incomes with several little (and big) mouths to feed  I have to laugh a little.  I was raised by a woman who can pinch a penny until Lincoln begs for  Mama's penchant for frugality drove us all nuts at times, but now I am glad she knew how to make the most of things.  I watched and listened and learned to shop carefully and to cook very economically, which has come in very handy during my life, because there have been many times I have also, lived on a tight budget for one reason or another.  Even when we didn't have to be quite as careful though, I still bargain shop and cook much like I do during leaner times.  It's just how I was raised and how I was taught to live. 

 Now, I am not an extreme coupon type of person, but I do use coupons whenever I can and I do shop the sales at the stores I frequent.  I use store brands if they are less expensive and still taste good.  I use name brands when they are just better or I have a coupon or they are on sale.  It's all about quality and common sense.  If we won't eat something because the quality is not there, what have I really saved? 

Stretching the food budget is not as hard as some might think, it just takes planning.  One great way to do this in an organized manner, is to make a menu for the week or for two weeks before you shop and then list all of the items you will need for each meal.   Then buy only those items when you shop.  My mother used to do this when we were growing up and money was tight.  I have done this in my more organized days when money was tight also.  Another great tip is to buy in bulk and plan a menu that uses that bulk item two or three a large package of chicken breasts that are on sale or a large package of ground chuck, instead of buying it in 1 - 2 pound packages which are always higher.  If you are relying on older kids or husbands in the household with getting meals started, it also helps them know just exactly what the dinner plans are and where to start.  My mother used to make out a complete menu and tape it to the inside of one of the cabinet doors so everyone was aware of the dinner plans.

Here are 10 great main dish meals that are some of the most popular and most requested on the site and at my house. You can make all of these for right around or under $10.00 each and most of them with a salad or vegetable and bread are a meal.  These will serve 4-6 people depending on your families appetites and some will serve more than 6.  Some of these recipes make a lot of food also that can be served for more than one meal.  

The cost for these recipes is based on food prices in my area, which is fairly typical for the southeastern United States. I also didn't count spices and such in these calculations.  Those are basically staples or should be in your kitchen.

To get the recipes for each click on the name of the dish below each picture:





Southern Peanut Butter Cream Pie!

There is a little diner in our city that has been in business for at least 50 years that has the best cream pies with meringue.  This place is a tiny little place and unless you were a local, you probably wouldn't even stop there, but on any given day you can go there and they will have homemade chocolate cream pie, coconut cream pie, lemon cream pie, sometimes butterscotch cream pie and most days the very best pie they make...peanut butter cream pie.   It is to die for and if you are  peanut butter lover like I am, it will be your favorite.  
Now I know most like the cold, pudding like whipped cream peanut butter pies and I like those also, but this is a different type of peanut butter pie.  The filling is cooked and it's made in a regular pie shell with meringue on top.  It's truly a southern delight and if you have never had one, you have to try it.  Here is all you will need: 
1 9 inch pie shell, baked 
1 cup milk
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter (4 Tbs.)
3 Tbs. cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs, separated and at room temperature (use just the yolks in the filling and reserve the whites for the meringue)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
3 egg whites (room temperature eggs make better meringue)
1 tsp. baking powder
4 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. corn starch
1 tsp. vanilla
Combine milk, egg yolks, sugar and corn starch in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 3 minutes.  Whisk well.  Add in the butter and vanilla and cook for about 3 more minutes.  Remove and whisk again until very smooth.  This filling should be thick by now, if not cook a little more and whisk again. Add the peanut butter and beat until smooth.  Pour into the baked pie shell.
You can also do this on the stovetop.  Just bring the ingredients up just to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened and add butter, vanilla and peanut butter right at the end.

For the meringue, add 1 tsp. of baking powder to the egg whites and start to beat the whites with an electric mixer on high. Gradually add in 4 Tbs. of sugar, continuing to beat. When stiff peaks start to form (this takes some time) add in 1 tsp. of corn starch and 1 tsp. of vanilla. Don't go too heavy on the vanilla or it will change the color of your meringue or use the colorless.  Make sure your bowl and beaters are completely clean and dry before you start making the meringue.   Any oil or residue will cause the meringue not to be high and light. This includes oils on your hands.  Do not touch the egg whites when separating them. I actually read a tutorial on making meringue lately that said to strain the egg whites through your fingers...don't do that for meringue.  The natural oils on your fingers and hands can affect your meringue. 

This is how your meringue should look.
Spread the meringue over your pie and be sure to seal the edges of the meringue all of the way around by just closing any gaps or air pockets.  People ask frequently about why their meringue shrinks and pulls away on the sides, it's because they didn't seal it down all the way around the pie.
Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. 

Southern Peanut Butter Cream Pie!

Creamy Ham and Potato Casserole!

When I still lived at home, years ago, before I got married, it was my responsibility to cook dinner for the family when my mother was working.  This was one thing I never really minded doing, because for as long as I can remember, I have always loved to cook.  My mother usually told me, pretty specifically, what to cook.  If you have ever read other recipes you know, I have a tendency to wander from the guidelines and to improvise...a lot.   So, when Mama told me exactly what to cook, at times, I didn't always cook what she said.  Sometimes this worked out really great and other times...not so great, which I would definitely hear about.  My little sister was always my best support in my rebellious wandering off the traditional culinary path...probably because she felt sorry for me when it didn't turn out so well. Creative children are always so
This casserole was one of my earliest culinary creations.  I don't even remember what it was I was told to cook, but this was not it, so I held my breath and decided to gamble on it.  I had some leftover ham and I was probably told to make some sort of potatoes and this is what I came up with.  Fortunately, is was a hit, because the week before I experimented with shrimp creole and that creole was so hot, it would light you up.  My mother hates spicy!  It wasn't a good outcome!    The whole family praised this one and after I was married and cooking on my own, we ate this one a lot.   It's fairly easy, inexpensive and most everyone loves this.  It can also be served as a main dish or as a side dish.  Here is what you will need:
4 medium size potatoes, sliced very thin
2 cups chopped ham (use leftover baked ham or a ham steak diced)
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 Tbs. butter
1 can Cheddar cheese soup
1  (12oz.) can evaporated milk
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
seasoned salt
black pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese or Monterrey Jack/cheddar blend
In a skillet over medium heat lightly sauté the onion and ham in the 4 Tbs. butter just until the onion is soft.
Layer 1/2 of the potato slices in a 2 1/2 to 3 quart casserole dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.  Sprinkle lightly with seasoned salt and black pepper.
Layer half of the ham, onion and butter mixture over potatoes.
Sprinkle half of the cheddar cheese over the ham.
Repeat layers again with potatoes and ham. In a sauce pan over low heat combine the cheddar cheese soup, the milk and the celery salt and garlic powder until warm and combined.  Pour over the ham and potatoes. The liquid should come up just to the top of the potatoes.
Sprinkle with the rest of the shredded cheese.  Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.  Various types of potatoes require different cooking times so if the potatoes are not fork tender cook a little longer. You might need to recover it if the top starts to get too brown.  Most of the time, these cooking times work perfectly though.  To prevent spill overs in your oven, you might want to place this on a cookie sheet to bake and make sure your casserole has plenty of room for expansion.  This gets very hot and bubbly, especially while it's covered.   Allow to stand for about 7-10 minutes once it's out of the oven.
Creamy Ham and Potato Casserole! 


Kentucky Butter Cake!

The Kentucky Butter Cake is pretty much just what the name says it is.  It's a really good buttery pound cake that gets kicked up another notch, as we in Kentucky are known for doing, by adding a buttery glaze to it.  Now I know most areas have pound cakes of various types...sour cream, cream cheese, but in Kentucky we don't mess around, we just go big on the butter and sugar. This isn't a complicated cake or a flamboyantly beautiful cake.  It's not stacked to the ceiling or frosted with a really fantastic 7 minute frosting that only the best cooks even attempt. However, it's a Kentucky gem.

I have been meaning to make this cake for some time now, well ever since I started this blog, nine months ago, but it just kept getting pushed to the back burner for some reason.  Then the other day, a sweet lady wrote to me and said she was searching for a certain type of butter cake that she wanted to make for a friend of hers who was ill.  His grandmother used to make it for him years ago. She said she had tried with no success several times and she just could not figure out what he wanted.  So I asked her to ask him what type of pan it was baked in and she said he pulled out her Bundt pan.   Hmmm...I thought I might know the answer, so I asked her where he was from or actually where grandmother was from, and she said Central Kentucky.  That did it!  I knew he was talking about the Kentucky butter cake.  So, I decided I needed to make this and post it so this gentleman could get his Kentucky butter cake when he gets out of the hospital this time.   I hope he enjoys it!   Here is what you will need for this cake:

1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. butter flavoring (optional) I used Watkins

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 tsp. butter flavoring (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in buttermilk, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, vanilla, and butter flavoring if you are using it.  Mix well, but don't over mix. 

Pour into a Bundt pan or a tube pan that has been liberally sprayed with nonstick spray for baking that contains flour or butter and flour the pan.  Do this very well cover all or this cake might stick.

Place in the oven for 60-65 minutes.  A pick inserted in the middle should come out clean.

To make the glaze, melt the butter with the sugar and water over low heat just until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved.  Add the vanilla and the butter flavoring. 

With a wooden skewer or a fork with large tines, poke holes in the cake while it's still in the pan. Slowly pour the warm glaze over the cake.  It will gradually settle into the cake completely.  Let the cake sit in the pan and cool.  When it's cool, run a sharp knife around the edges of the pan just to loosen it.  Do the center of the pan also. 

Gently turn the cake out onto a cake plate.

Kentucky Butter Cake! 

Oven Fried Chicken!

I have tried a lot of different recipes and techniques for oven 'frying' chicken.  Some have been good...some could have been better.  It seems that with some recipes, if you cook it at a high enough heat and long enough to crisp the crust, the chicken itself ends up dry.  Others I have tried, the chicken is moist and tasty, but the crust is lacking in crispiness and ends up a little soggy and falling off.  
This recipe is the best, so far, I have tried.  The chicken is so moist, it's unreal and the crust is very crispy and tasty.  It also doesn't take all afternoon to prepare.   Here is what you will need:
 4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (if you prefer other pieces use those)
2 cups buttermilk
1 sleeve of Ritz crackers, crushed fine
2 cups Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pkg. dry Ranch dressing mix
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
6 Tbs. butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place the chicken pieces in a bowl and cover with the buttermilk. I cut my breasts in half because they were very large and I like more crust. You can also cut them in nuggets or strips.  Kids like the smaller pieces better.  Place the top on your bowl and refrigerate for about an hour.   It's best if it has time to marinate in the buttermilk.
Place the Ritz crackers in a gallon size Ziploc bag.  You can crush them with a rolling pin or in a food processor.   Add the Panko bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, dry Ranch dressing mix, and black pepper.  Mix it all together well.  Add the chicken pieces, two at a time to the crumb mixture.  Shake the excess buttermilk off of them.  
These are Panko Bread Crumbs in case you aren't familiar with them.  The texture is very different than other bread crumbs, very crispy.

Remove from the crumb mixture and place them on a cookie sheet or pan you have lined with foil, preferably nonstick Reynolds wrap, which I think is one of the keys to this crust crisping up like it does, that has been liberally sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. /Drizzle each piece with the melted butter. Place in oven for 40 - 45 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chicken pieces.

Oven Fried Chicken


Skillet Cornbread!

I have honestly put off posting a recipe for skillet cornbread, because it seems any discussion of cornbread brings out strange things in people. Each region of the country seems to have their own ideas about cornbread.  Is it sweet or is it just savory, does it have flour in it or does it just have cornmeal?  Is that cornmeal supposed to be white or yellow?  Do you use oil, bacon drippings or shortening to grease your skillet?  Believe it or not, does it have eggs in it and do you use one or two?  It can get downright ugly when the 'Cornbread Wars' begin.   I have seen just glimpses of it when I post the recipe for  Hoe Cakes, which was in and of itself creates a very 'interesting' debate at times.  Some folks didn't even know what a hoe cake was and some just knew they were pancakes and I don't think they understand to this day that they are not! 
When I first got married and I was going to have my in-laws over to dinner, I couldn't decide what to cook, so my husband told me to just cook 'country food', because that was what they really liked and would appreciate most.  I cooked a big pot of pinto beans with ham in them and a big skillet of cornbread.  I am sure I cooked some other things to go with that, but I can't remember what it's been so long.  I do remember how they went on and on about my cornbread.  They just had never had cornbread that tasted like that before and my mother-in-law wanted to know the secret.  She kept saying this is almost like cake, it's so high and light.  She couldn't believe that I put as much flour in cornbread as I did cornmeal and two eggs on top of that.  She said no wonder it's like cake.  She was taught to only use cornmeal and if eggs only one and no bacon grease.   Those little things make all of the difference in the world in cornbread.  
We do not really make our cornbread sweet in this area of the South.  If you do add sugar, it's just a spoonful...nothing more.   Now, if you like sweet cornbread, add sugar to this recipe and it will be great.  That is just not how we make it. This recipe is how my mother taught me to make cornbread when I was just a teenager at home and it's how we both make it still.  This is what you will need:
1 cup self rising flour
1 cup self rising cornmeal
1 cup buttermilk (can use regular milk also)
1 tsp. bacon grease (optional)
1 Tbs. sugar (optional)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil or shortening
If you cannot buy self rising flour and cornmeal in your area, add 1 Tbs. baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda and 1/2 tsp. salt to the all purpose variety.  If you can buy the self rising, buy some for cornbread, it just makes it much better.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place oil or shortening in an iron skillet preferably or an 8"x8" baking dish and place in the oven to get hot.  If you are using the teaspoon of bacon grease, add it to the skillet also.  It's just enough to give the cornbread that good bacon flavor, but you don't have to cook it in all bacon grease.  To me there is nothing better than shortening for cooking cornbread in an iron skillet, but I know some of you are terrified of it (which I don't really understand) and the oil works well also.
Mix all  of the other ingredients together. Take the skillet out of the oven when it is sizzling hot. Be very careful if using an iron skillet, that grease can pop.   Add about a tablespoon of the hot oil or shortening to the batter. The batter will be well combined but still have a few lumps.  Don't over beat it, because it makes your cornbread crumbly.
Pour the batter into that hot grease in the pan.  It should sizzle.  This is how you get that crispy crusty outside and tender cake like inside that is key to good cornbread.   The iron skillet is perfect for this, but you can get almost the same effect in a glass baking dish also.  Iron just conducts the heat so much better.  Notice how the grease comes up over the edges of the cornbread.  If it doesn't, you don't have enough in your pan.  Don't skimp on it.
Place back in the oven on the middle rack for 30 to 35 minutes.  A sharp knife inserted in the center should come out clean.  Remove from the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes.  You can cut it out of the pan or if it's baked in iron skillet you can flip it out whole onto a plate and cut it in wedges.  
Skillet Cornbread!

Orange Buttermilk Salad!

This is one of those "salads" that is really almost a light dessert, but however you serve it, it's really delicious.  I am not a person who is really crazy about the congealed, creamy, fruity salads, but this one is one of my favorites.  If you are one of those folks who doesn't care for buttermilk, don't worry, you will never know this has buttermilk in it when it's all mixed together.   Here is what you need for this "Orange Buttermilk Salad": 
1  8 oz. can of crushed pineapple in syrup
1  5 oz. box of orange flavored Jello gelatin
2 cups buttermilk
1 8 oz. container of whipped topping, thawed
1 (11oz.)  can mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Place pineapple with it's juice in the microwave and cook until it boils...about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes in most microwaves.   Pour orange gelatin in and mix.  Let this cool to room temperature.  Whisk in the buttermilk. Fold in the whipped topping, mandarin orange segments and the nuts.  You can pour this into an 8 cup mold or in a pretty glass serving bowl.  Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight is best. 
This basic recipe can be easily altered by to make different flavors.  For example by using cherry gelatin and a cup of chopped maraschino cherries, you can change this to a Cherry Buttermilk Salad.
Orange Buttermilk Salad 

Easy Peasy Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting!

These Red Velvet Cookies are so easy, it's ridiculous, really!   Anybody can make these and they are perfect to get the kids involved with.  Buy some cute Valentine sprinkles of various shapes and let them go crazy.  Of course the temptation to eat them before they ever get the frosting on them, much less the sprinkles will be hard to resist.  These are so good!  This is what you will need:
1 box Red Velvet cake mix (be sure to get the 18.5 oz. size)
2 eggs
6 Tbs. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
Cream Cheese Frosting
1  8oz. package cream cheese, softened
4 Tbs. butter, softened
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix cake mix, butter, eggs and vanilla until well blended.  You can mix this with just a whisk or large spoon.  Spray a heavy cookie sheet with nonstick spray or line it with parchment paper. 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Scoop about 1 Tablespoon out and roll into a ball about the size of a small walnut. Place on the prepared cookie sheet and just slightly press down to flatten a little. Bake for 9-10 minutes.   They will just be starting to crack around the edges and on the top.  That's the way they should look. 
Remove from oven and let sit for 2-3 minutes before removing to a rack to cool.  Let cool completely before frosting.
Make your cream cheese frosting while the cookies cool.  Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Beat in the powdered sugar and add vanilla.
You can chill the frosting while the cookies cool and it goes on the cookies and sets up a little easier or use it at room temperature...whichever works for you!  Sprinkle the tops with sprinkles or colored sugar or just leave plain! 

Baked Bacon Cheese Dip in a Bread Bowl!

This is a yummy concoction of cheeses mixed together with bacon and baked in the oven in a hollowed out bread bowl.  It goes together easy enough, but does require some time to bake. You can serve this with chunks of bread, bagel crisps, or my favorite is tortilla chips.  This would be perfect for your Super Bowl Party.   I like to garnish the top with some chopped green onion and some extra bacon.   This is what you will need:

1 round loaf of bread (I used the King's Hawaiian Bread)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened ( I used light cream cheese and it works fine)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups cheddar or a cheddar Monterrey jack blend, shredded
1 Tbs. dry Ranch dressing mix
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
dash of Tabasco sauce (to your taste)
6-7 strips of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/4 cup green onions, sliced with some of the green blades

Hollow out the bread bowl, leaving a good amount for a shell.  Place it on a large sheet of foil, on a heavy cookie sheet or pizza pan.
Blend the softened cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, ranch dressing mix, Tabasco sauce and garlic powder until it's smooth.  You can probably just do this with a spoon unless the cream cheese is not soft and then you will need a mixer.  Mix in the shredded cheddar cheese and all of the bacon crumbles except for about 2 or 3 strips for the top. Pour into the bread bowl. Cover with the foil and place in the oven at 375 degrees for 1 hour.  Take the foil off the top and bake for about 15 more minutes.  
Garnish with the rest of the bacon and green onions!
Baked Bacon Cheese Dip in a Bread Bowl!