Fresh Strawberry Cake Roll!

This strawberry cake roll looks very elegant and impressive and it's great to serve to company.  They don't need to know how easy it is.  It's also lower in fat than a lot of desserts because the base is angel food cake.  Here is what you will need for this: 
1 Angel Food Cake Mix
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, divided
2 pints fresh strawberries
3 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
3 Tbs. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a jelly roll pan  (15  1/2" x 10  1/2")  with waxed paper and spray it with nonstick spray.  Prepare cake mix as directed on the package and spread evenly in the pan.   Bake 35 to 40 minutes.
Sprinkle a clean kitchen towel well with confectioners sugar.  Invert the cake onto the towel and peel off the wax paper.  Cut any crisp edges from the cake.  From the narrow end, roll the cake and the towel together.  Place the roll seam side down an a rack to cool.
While the cake cools, cap and slice 1 pint of  strawberries in thin slices.  Sprinkle them with the 3 Tbs. granulated sugar.  Stir them and let them sit until the sugar is dissolved.
In  bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with the milk until smooth.  Blend in the vanilla and 1 cup confectioners sugar.   
Unroll the cake and spread with the cream cheese mixture.  Cover the cream cheese mixture with the sliced strawberries.  Reroll the cake and sprinkle generously with the remainder of the confectioners sugar.  Place seam side down on a pretty platter or plate and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 
Slice and serve with the remainder of the strawberries.  You can slice them and macerate them in sugar and just a little water to make a syrup, like you would for strawberry shortcake,  or just serve the fresh berries alongside.   It also looks pretty to garnish the platter with a few berries.

Southern Fruit Tea!

Fruit Tea is a very southern beverage that has been around for years and years.  I am not completely sure where it got it's start, but I can almost guess the reason it was created came from the fact that we southerners do not waste anything.  We also know how to improvise when we don't have exactly what we need.  I can just picture some creative southern mama having juice leftover from breakfast and maybe also being a little short on sugar when making the tea for lunch and thinking, ..."hmmm, wonder if I dumped this orange juice I have leftover in the tea it would help sweeten it and still be really good?"   So she did, and it was a hit and so next time she added a little pineapple juice also and then it just gained traction from there. 
Fruit Tea of this type is now served in the south as a beverage choice at various events....showers, receptions, and other sorts of special events and such.  However, some  southern restaurants and tea rooms serve their version of it also.  There are many variations on this and it is not set in stone.  Different juices can be used.  This recipe is very summery and citrusy.  Some folks also like to use peaches or raspberry.   This is great for a beverage choice for a wedding or baby shower and can be mixed and served like a punch in a punch bowl also.  
Here is what you will need for this:
2 family size tea bags or 8 individual tea bags
4 cups boiling water
1  1/2 - 2 cups sugar (according to your taste)
1 (6 oz.) can frozen orange juice concentrate
1 (6 oz.) can frozen lemonade
1 cup pineapple juice
10 cups water
1 lemon, sliced in thin slices
1 lime, sliced in thin slices
1 orange, sliced in thin slices
1 cup maraschino cherries, drained (optional)
Boil the tea bags in the 4 cups of boiling water just until it boils.  Turn off and cover to steep for at least 30 minutes.
In a gallon container (glass preferably) mix the warm tea with the sugar and stir to dissolve.  Once the sugar is completely dissolved add the orange juice, lemonade, and pineapple juice.  Stir to mix well.  Add the 10 cups of water and stir again.  
Make small cuts in the skin of the lemon, lime, and orange.  Just light cuts not through to the skin.  This releases the oils and flavor of the fruit.  Slice all three in thin slices and float in the fruit tea.  Add ice to completely fill the container and stir again.   To make it really pretty you can float the maraschino cherries in it! 


Swiss Chicken Bake!

This is a down home and hearty chicken casserole that appeals to all ages.  The adults love it and the children will also really enjoy it.  It's also one of those dishes that doesn't require so many ingredients and can be assembled the day before to bake the next day.  Here is what you will need:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
sprinkle of seasoned salt
sprinkle of black pepper
6 slices Swiss cheese
1 (10  3/4 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
1/ 2 cup milk
3 cups herb seasoned stuffing mix, dry - do not prepare it (I used Pepperidge Farm, but any will work)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
Arrange the chicken breasts in a 9"x13" baking dish that has been sprayed well with nonstick spray.  Sprinkle each one with just a little seasoned salt and black pepper.  Lay a slice of Swiss cheese over each chicken breast.
Mix the soup with the 1/2 cup milk and pour over the chicken.  Sprinkle the top evenly with the stuffing mix.  Drizzle the stuffing evenly with the melted butter.   Cover tightly with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes.  Uncover and allow to brown just a little for about 8-10 minutes. 
Once brown and bubbly, remove from oven and serve!   This is really good with mashed potatoes or wild rice and a green vegetable of your choice or a salad!



Pig Pickin' Cake!

I love the name of this cake!  Only in the South will you find a cake called "Pig Pickin' Cake" and only in the South will you find folks that know what "Pig Pickin'" means to begin with!   I have seen this recipe on various food sites and such and sometimes even if they get the name right, they still don't know why it's called "Pig Pickin' Cake".   I have seen a few attribute the name to how people 'pig out' when they get a taste of the cake or that they make pigs out of themselves over it.  So, for those of you who are wondering about the name,  a 'pig pickin' is a pig roast or when a whole pig is barbequed for a bunch of people.  The guests all usually bring side dishes and desserts and that sort of thing and this cake became very popular as a perfect cool ending to such a meal.  Most think it gained popularity back in the seventies or around that time.  It seems like so many of the good recipes came about back in the seventies for some reason.  
Now there are several variations and even names for this cake, but this is the recipe my Aunt Vel uses and if I do say so myself, hers is one of the best.   Here is what her recipe calls for:
 1 butter cake mix 
4 eggs
1/2/ cup vegetable oil
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 (15 oz.) can Mandarin oranges, chopped and drained (reserve juice)
1 (5 oz.) box of  instant vanilla pudding
1 (8oz.) can crushed pineapple with juice
1 (16 oz.) large frozen whipped topping
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a mixing bowl combine the cake mix, eggs, juice from the oranges and oil.  Fold in the Mandarin oranges and pecans.  
Prepare three 9 inch round cake pans.  Cut a circle of parchment or wax paper and place in the bottom of each pan.  Spray the pans and paper with nonstick baking spray.    Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. 
To prepare the frosting, mix the pudding mix, whipped topping and pineapple.  Be sure to buy "instant" pudding and not cook and serve.  Every time I post a recipe like this, someone will post a comment that  the frosting was runny and would not set up and when I question what kind of pudding they used, we will discover they did not use instant or left the pudding out completely.  That just won't    Place the frosting in the fridge and allow it to chill for about 30 minutes before frosting the cake layers.   
Place the cake layers on a cake plate and frost between each layer and over the sides and top.   Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Pig Pickin' Cake!

Luscious Lemon Pound Cake!

This is a delicious lemon pound cake that is made really easy by using a cake mix.   Now, some cakes are better made from scratch and most of the true classics really need to be made from scratch.  However, every now and then, a truly wonderful cake starts with boxed cake mix  and this is one of those cakes.  I have made lemon pound cakes from scratch and to be honest they weren't  a bit better than this one.  Here is what you will need for this cake: 
1 (18.25 oz.) lemon cake mix (be sure it's the full size  and not one of the reduced size ones)
1 (3.5 oz.) box of lemon gelatin
4 eggs
1 cup lemon-lime flavored soda (I used Sprite)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbs. lemon zest
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2  Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the cake mix and the rest of the cake ingredients.  Do not over mix. 
Spray a tube pan or a Bundt pan well with nonstick baking spray.  Pour cake into pan and place in oven.  Bake for approximately 42-45 minutes.   Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.  Run a sharp knife around the edge to loosen and then turn out onto a cake plate. 
Allow to cool.  Mix 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 - 2 Tbs. lemon juice to make a glaze.  Drizzle over the top of the cake, allowing some to drip down the sides.
That's it and you have this "Luscious Lemon Pound Cake"!  Wasn't that easy?

Blueberry Cream Cheese Bars!


 I saw this recipe in the barbeque issue of this month's Taste of the South magazine.  It caught my attention because it had two of my favorite things in it...blueberries and cream cheese and I had both in my refrigerator.   It turned out to be a good recipe also and I only modified it with a little tweak here and there.   Here is what you will need: 

1  1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour, divided
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
3/4 cup butter, melted
2  (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups fresh blueberries
powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 375.

Spray a 9"x13" baking dish with nonstick baking spray with flour or butter and flour it.

In a mixing bowl, combine the 1  1/4 cups flour, melted butter,  3/4 cup sugar and oats. 

Lightly press this mixture in the bottom of the baking dish.   Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool.   Reduce the heat to 325 degrees.

While the crust is cooling prepare the filling.   In a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese and sugar together with an electric mixer.   Add in the 2 Tbs. flour, the eggs, vanilla and the lemon juice and blend just until mixed together.  

Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the crust. 

Pour the cream cheese filling over all.   Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted 1 inch from the center comes out clean or the center is firm to touch.   Remove and allow to cool for 2 hours.  Chill in the refrigerator for about 3 hours.  Remove and cut in squares.  Garnish by sprinkling each square with powdered sugar. 

White Chocolate Banana Cream Pie!

There is a popular restaurant in our area that serves a delicious white chocolate banana cream pie.  The problem is that I am usually too full by the time I finish dinner to ever order dessert, so I decided that I would recreate that pie.   This is my version and it comes pretty dang close to theirs.   The other great thing is that I made the whole pie for what one piece of the restaurant version costs.  This recipe has a few steps to it, but it's not really hard to make so don't let that deter you.  Here is what you will need:
Graham Cracker Crust
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sugar
You can use a prepared graham cracker crust (one that has two extra servings is best)
1/3 cup half and half
2 Tbs. butter
6 oz. white baking chocolate  (you will need 2  (4 oz.)  bars for this pie total)
3 - 4 bananas, sliced
1   1/2 cups half and half
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbs. butter
8 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed
white chocolate curls for garnish
Prepare the crust by mixing the melted butter with the sugar and graham cracker crumbs.  Press in a deep pie dish on the bottom and up the sides.  Refrigerate for about 15 minutes  If you buy a prepared graham cracker crust, the larger one that has two extra servings works best.   This is a large pie.   Keebler makes the larger crust. 
In a saucepan melt the butter with 1/3 cup half and half and 6 oz. of white chocolate.  Stir until smooth.  You can also do this in the microwave for about 1 -2 minutes.   Pour the smooth mixture in the crust and chill for 30 minutes. 
Make the custard while the white chocolate layer chills.  Place the 1  1/2 cups half and half in a saucepan over medium heat.  Mix the cornstarch and the sugar.  Stir into the half and half.  Add the egg yolks.  Cook and stir until the mixture starts to thicken.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and butter.   Pour into a bowl and refrigerate for 20 minutes. 
Layer the sliced bananas over the white chocolate layer of the pie and pour the cooled custard over it. 
Make chocolate curls out of the chocolate you have left over.  I use a vegetable peeler to do this. It curls best if it's slightly warmed up, but not much.  You can just hold it in your hand for a minute and that is plenty. 
Spread the whipped topping over the pie and finish with the chocolate curls.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving, overnight is even better.   

Strawberry Lemonade!


This takes homemade lemonade and kicks it up a notch with fresh picked strawberries or at least strawberries you picked up fresh from your grocery or farmer's market.    As much as I love good lemonade, I might like this even better.   It's perfect for a beverage choice at your summer cookouts or other various events...bridal and baby showers, graduation parties, church events, family reunions, pool parties, even a country themed wedding.   It's so pretty and fresh tasting. It won't last long.  This recipe makes 1/2 gallon, but you can easily double it for a larger crowd.    Here is what you will need:
6-8 lemons or enough to produce 1 cup lemon juice (depending on their size and juiciness)
1  1/2 cups water
1  1/2 cups sugar  (If you like your lemonade a little less sweet reduce the sugar to 1 cup)
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and divided
1 lemon, cut in thin slices
Place the water and sugar in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil to make a simple syrup.  Boil for about 1 minute.  Mash or puree 1 cup of the strawberries and add them to the simple syrup.   Remove from heat and allow to cool a little while you juice the lemons.
Juice the lemons, removing seeds and pulp.  Add lemon juice and simple syrup to a 2 quart pitcher and blend.  Add water and ice to fill and stir.
Lightly score one whole lemon you have reserved for garnish.  Don't cut deep, just light cuts in the skin.  Then slice in nice thin slices.    Add the slices to the pitcher of lemonade and stir.   Cutting the outer skin a little releases more of the oils and flavor of the lemon.   
Slice the other cup of strawberries and add them to the pitcher.
Allow the lemonade to sit for about 30 minutes before serving for the best flavor and to chill.
If you have leftover strawberry lemonade you want to save (you probably won't), remove the lemon slices, cover and refrigerate.   The lemon slices, if left in for very long, will make the leftover lemonade slightly bitter.

Old Fashioned Lemon Icebox Pie!

There is nothing better to me when the weather gets warm than cool, lemony treats.  Lemon desserts are just some of my favorites.  I have had a lot of requests for an "Old Fashioned Lemon Icebox Pie" recipe.   Now, sometimes I am not sure everyone is thinking of the same thing when we talk about lemon icebox pie.  There seems to be some confusion about lemon pie, even among some food sites.  Lemon Icebox pie is not the same thing as Lemon Meringue Pie.   Lemon Meringue Pie has a custard that is cooked before you pour it in the prebaked shell and it is topped with, well, meringue.  This is Lemon Meringue Pie:
Lemon Icebox Pie comes in two varieties nowadays.  The no bake version that is made with sweetened condensed milk, whipped cream, lemon juice, and sometimes cream cheese.  It is a more frozen type of pie and while it's really tasty, it's not really what is the old fashioned type.   The old fashioned pie has egg yolks in it and it's just really creamy and has just the right lemony zest to it.  Some recipes do not bake the pie after it's filled, but I know from past experience that so many of you have issues with raw eggs that this recipe does bake the filling.  It also does not have a meringue topping, but is topped with whipped cream. 
Here is what you will need for this "Old Fashioned Lemon Icebox Pie":
1 graham cracker pie shell ( you can used the premade one or make your own)
1 (14 oz.) can of sweetened condensed milk (like Eagle Brand)
3/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (5-6 lemons juiced, depending on the size and juiciness)
zest of 1 of the lemons
4 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk the sweetened condensed milk and the lemon juice together.  In a separate bowl whisk the lemon zest and the egg yolks together until light yellow.  You can save the whites of the eggs for another use.  Actually they freeze well and can even be thawed and brought to room temp to make meringue for another dessert on another day.
Add the yolks to the lemon juice and milk mixture.   Add in the vanilla and pinch of salt. 
 Pour into the graham cracker crust and bake for 15 minutes in the 350 degree oven.  Remove and allow to cool completely on the counter.  Cover the pie loosely, not allowing plastic wrap to touch the top of the pie, if you happen to use plastic wrap to cover it.  Refrigerate for 3-4 hours before serving.  This pie will keep for several days in the fridge (3-4) or you can even freeze it.  Just be sure to thaw it before serving for the best results.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream on top! 

Grilled Pineapple Pork Chops!


We love to grill out in the warmer months of the year.  Actually, we grill out some all year round.  It is much more enjoyable in warm, sunny weather than it is in 30 and 40 degree weather in January  though.   I love a good grilled steak, but to be honest, a grilled pork chop, when it's done right can just about rival a steak. Some folks tell me they just can't grill pork that isn't dry and a little on the tough side.  There are few tips on grilling pork chops that will make them much better.
First of all, you have to have chops that are thick enough.  You cannot grill tiny little skinny pork chops and have them stay moist and tender.  So if you have some chops like that, use them for breading and frying or oven fry them.  For grilling chops, you need a pork chop that is at least 3/4 inch thick and an inch thick is even better.  
 Now, there are two ways to get chops like that.  You can buy them  cut that way from your meat department, you might have to ask the butcher to cut some for you if there aren't any on the shelf.   The bone in cut that are cut thick are wonderful, but you will pay a pretty penny for them.  They are a specialty cut and they are not cheap.    A more economical way to get good grilling chops, is to buy a pork loin, preferably when it's on sale and cut your own.   You can then adjust the thickness.  If you are lucky enough to shop at a store that still has a full service meat department with a butcher, you can ask them to cut the pork loin to your specifications also.  Most of the time I just don't have time to wait for them.   I cut mine 1 inch thick to start, there will  be a little shrinkage after they are grilled.  
The second secret to a good grilled chop is a marinade and giving them time to sit and soak in that marinade.  The best marinades are the ones you mix up yourself and that contain some acidic fruit juices for tenderizing.   The marinade for these has pineapple juice and lime juice which contain enzymes that act as a very natural meat tenderizer.  You need to give them a soak in this delicious concoction for at least 1 hour, but no more than 2 hours.   I think after two hours, the meat starts to break down too much and it changes the texture.   This is so simple, but it will result in the best grilled chops you have ever eaten.   Here is what you need:
6-8 thick pork chops (3/4" - 1")
20 oz. can pineapple slices (drained, juice reserved for marinade, you can use fresh pineapple if available)
juice of one lime
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
seasoned salt
black pepper
In a gallon size Ziploc bag or a large bowl with a tight fitting lid mix the pineapple juice, lime juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper.  Place the pork chops in the marinade and coat well with it.  If you are using the Ziploc bag, place it in a baking dish or on a large platter and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, turning the bag over at least once during this time to be sure each side gets a good soak.  
Prepare your grill for grilling and oil or spray the grates with nonstick spray.  Grill this pork on medium low heat.   They are thick and do better with lower heat to be sure they get done on the inside.  As I have said before, I know eating pink on the inside pork is the frou-frou, she- she thing to do these days, but not at my house.  I do not serve pork any way except done.  I don't care what those chefs on the Food Network say about it.  I am not sure they have ever met an actual pig or a pig farmer....I have.   It matters. 
  Place the chops on the grill and pour the marinade over them after you place them on the grates.   It all cooks off, pretty much, but it gives them a nice glaze.  Sprinkle each one with some seasoned salt and black pepper.   Grill until nice and brown on each side and not pink in the middle.  Another grilling tip...don't poke and jab at the meat while it grills and turn it with a spatula instead of a meat fork.  Every time you stick a fork in it, you are allowing the juices to escape which dries it out.  With pork, this lean, you need all of that juiciness.   When the chops are done. place on a platter, cover with foil and allow to rest while you finish the rest of your meal. 
Now there are two different things you can do with the pineapple slices.  You can place them on the grill and just grill them on each side until you get grill marks and serve a pineapple ring on each of the pork chops or you can make a sort of pineapple chutney for dipping the pork in which is what I did.   Here is what you need:
pineapple rings, diced fine or pulse in the food processor
1 Tbs. butter
1 tsp. garlic minced
1 Tbs. lime juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
 2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
red pepper flakes to taste
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped
Saute pineapple and garlic in butter.  Add lime juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, brown sugar and cilantro.  Simmer until just cooked down.  Serve alongside the pork.  This is good warm or cold.

These are great served with a wild rice pilaf or the Twice Baked Potato Casserole or The Country Hash Brown Casserole!

Jefferson Davis Pie!

This is one of those pies that is pretty much made only in the South and even in the South, more than likely in just a few states or regions of the South.   We make it in Kentucky, probably because this is where Jefferson Davis was born in Christian County, KY and there is a state park and monument named for him there.  His family moved to Louisiana and then Mississippi when he was around 12 years old, but he later returned to Lexington, KY to attend college.  Jefferson Davis is best known as the president of the Confederate states during the civil war.   This version of the pie  is very close to the one they serve at the famous Boone Tavern  in Berea, KY and is supposed the be the recipe passed down in the Jefferson Davis family.  It's also sometimes called Kentucky Pie.   
 I find this pie to be similar to a Chess Pie, but to me it's not quite as rich.   It's best served with a dollop of whipped cream.  Here is what you will need:
1 deep dish pie shell, unbaked
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs. flour
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup heavy cream
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix the sugars, flour, nutmeg and cinnamon. 
Add cream and mix.
Add eggs and mix.
Add butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and vanilla and mix.
Place the pie shell on a cookie sheet.  This helps the pie cook evenly and it catches any spill overs.  Pour the mixture into the shell and carefully place in the oven.  Bake at 400 for 10 minutes.   Reduce heat to 350 and bake for approximately 40 -45 minutes.  It will puff up some, but will fall back down when it cools.  Cool and serve with whipped cream... bourbon whipped cream is especially good! 
Bourbon Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 Tbs. white sugar
1 Tbs. good Kentucky Bourbon
Whip cream and sugar until peaks form and then fold in bourbon.  Serve immediately.

Jefferson Davis Pie with Bourbon Whipped Cream!

Strawberry Dream Salad!

This strawberry salad is a really old recipe that we have been making for years.  It's a bit different from some of the other congealed salads and is not really quite as sweet.   It is really  tasty though. It's perfect for potlucks and holiday meals.   Here is what you need for this one: 
2  (3 oz.) pkg. strawberry gelatin
1 cup water
2 (10 oz.) boxes frozen strawberries
3 bananas, mashed
1 (20 oz.) can of crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (16oz.) container of sour cream
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese,softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add gelatin to dissolve.  Add strawberries and break them up to separate them.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except the sour cream cream cheese sugar, and vanilla.  Pour half of the mixture of the mixture in a 9"x13" dish.  Refrigerate until soft set.
Mix the sour cream, cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar until smooth.  Spread over the gelatin layer.
Pour the rest of the gelatin/fruit mixture over the top of this layer.   Chill for at least 4 hours.  Cut in squares and top with a dollop of whipped cream to serve.



Coconut Cream Cake!

This is a really easy coconut cake to make, but the results are delicious.  It's the perfect coconut cake to make when you are short on time or just don't feel up to a stacked cake or making that icing that takes a little more time and effort to get just right.  This is just about a fail proof cake.  If you can read directions and turn on an oven, you can do this.  It's simple, but your guests or family will still think you are a culinary wonder!   If you are wanting something more elaborate, there is always
Mama's Southern Coconut Cake!
Here is what you need for this creamy, yummy coconut cake:
1 white cake mix (and the ingredients called for on the box)
1 (15 oz.) can of cream of coconut
1  (14 oz.) can of sweetened condensed milk (like Eagle Brand)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond flavoring (optional)
1 (16 oz.) frozen whipped topping
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
maraschino cherries for garnish (optional)
Bake cake as directed in a 9"x13" pan.  Mix the cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk and the flavorings.  
 Poke holes evenly over the cake as soon as it comes our of the oven.   I just use a meat fork for this.   You don't have to over do it, just randomly over the whole cake. 
Pour the creamy coconut mixture over the cake.  Let the cake cool completely, then frost with the frozen whipped topping.  Sprinkle the top with the coconut. 
Garnish with maraschino cherries if you want to dress it up a bit.  Keep refrigerated.  This cake is best when it sits in the fridge for a few hours before serving to let the cake soak up all of the creamy, yummy goodness! 

Creamy White Chicken Enchiladas!

As you can tell, if you have followed this site and my recipes for very long, I love spicy foods.  My favorite ethnic food is probably Italian, but I would have to say Mexican is a close second.  The city I live in has grown a lot over the last twenty five years or so and even though it's still just a midsized southern city, we do have a large Hispanic population and a lot of restaurants that offer some really good Mexican cuisine. 
 I like to try to recreate some of their dishes at home and I have even been known to ask some of  the Hispanic ladies about various ingredients at the local WalMart or grocery store.  The funny part is that many of these folks do not speak much English and my 2 years of high school Spanish and 1 semester of college Spanish is pretty much long forgotten, so  it can be difficult to communicate at times.  
 One day, at the cheese case, I was pondering over which white Mexican melting cheese to buy to make queso dip, because mine just never tasted like the kind you get in the restaurants, and there was a family there buying some cheese also.  I watched what they picked up and  I just asked them if what I had was good.  They looked at me blankly, so I picked two kinds and said this one or this one?  It was instant understanding.  The older woman took both of them and put them back on the shelf and then picked out two completely different things and put them in my cart.  She was talking the whole time and the younger girls with her were just smiling.  I thanked her with my best gracias...I did remember that much and we parted.   My husband had been waiting by the freezer across the way for me, watching and wondering what was wrong with me.  He said, I now know there is not anyone you  won't try to start a conversation with about food (or anything else really)  and succeed...even those who do no speak a word of English.  I now know the right Mexican cheese to buy though.  I like to go to the source of the best, authentic information.
These chicken enchiladas are one of the dishes I use one of those cheeses in and it makes them so creamy and good.  The rest of the recipe is adapted from a recipe my sister makes and gets rave reviews on from her family and friends.  I did use the chicken that I made for the Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos , but you can also just roast some chicken breasts seasoned with some taco seasoning. 
Here is what you will need for these yummy enchiladas.
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken seasoned with taco seasoning (3-4 breasts work for this)
6 large flour tortillas  (10 inch)
3 cups white shredded Mexican melting cheese or Monterrey Jack cheese (If you like spicier dishes you can use Pepper Jack Cheese)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
3 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
pinch of pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
3 cups half and half cream
8 oz. sour cream
1  (4.5 oz) can of green chillies
1/2 tsp. hot sauce (I used Tabasco sauce, increase if you like more spice)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray a 9"x13" baking dish with nonstick spray.   
Divide the chicken evenly between the six flour tortillas and sprinkle with the white cheese, reserving 1 cup for the top of the dish. 

 I used the slow cooker chicken that I prepared for chicken tacos.  If you bake your chicken or use a rotisserie chicken you may want to add some taco seasoning to it for flavor.  Just mix in about 1 - 2 Tbs. with the chicken or sprinkle the breasts with it before baking.
Divide the chicken between the tortillas and sprinkle with some of the white cheese.  Roll them all up and line them up in the baking dish side by side.
This is the white cheese I used, if you can get it, it's really good, but you can use Monterrey Jack or even Pepper Jack for a little more heat. 
Melt the butter in a skillet and add the flour, cook for a few minutes.  Add the half and half, salt, pepper, garlic powder,  and cumin.  Whisk until it bubbles and thickens.  Turn heat off and add hot sauce and sour cream.  Whisk until smooth.  Add green chillies.
Pour the sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle the reserved cup of white cheese and the 1 cup of shredded cheese over the top.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. 
Uncover and bake for about 10 more minutes or until the cheese is just starting to brown.
Sprinkle with cilantro and salsa or pico de gallo and serve with rice and or refried beans.


German Chocolate Cheesecake!


If you love cheesecake and chocolate and especially anything German chocolate, you will love this "German Chocolate Cheesecake!  Every time I post a recipe that involves German Chocolate, I get comments from folks that there is no such chocolate or cake or whatever in Germany and they don't understand why we call such chocolate creations "German" chocolate.  They would be right, but German Chocolate was not named German chocolate because it's made in Germany or because it has anything to do with Germany.   The chocolate was name for the man who created it, Sam German, who worked for the Baker's chocolate company.   So when you look for German Chocolate, it's on the baking aisle and will be made by Baker's.

I seriously think this is one of the best cheesecakes ever, but I hardly meet a cheesecake I don't  You can be the judge!  You do need a springform pan for this, so invest in one if you don't have one.  They come in really handy.  Here is what you will need for this decadent cheesecake:

1  1/2 cups crushed Oreo crumbs (about 20 cookies)
2  Tbs. brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

2 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
4 oz. Baker's German Chocolate, melted and cooled
2/3 cups brown sugar, packed
2 Tbs. powdered baking cocoa
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract

1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup half and half cream
5 Tbs. of butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the Oreo crumbs, brown sugar and butter.  Press in the bottom and up the sides of a 9" springform pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool.

In a mixing bowl beat cream cheese until it's smooth.  Beat in the German chocolate, brown sugar and cocoa. Add eggs and beat just until combined.  Add the vanilla and almond extracts.

Place the springform pan in a double thickness of aluminum foil and wrap it around the outside tightly. Fill with the cheesecake filling.

 Place the springform pan in a larger baking pan and fill the larger pan with 1 inch of water.  Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 50 to 55 minutes. 

Remove the springform pan from the hot water bath and allow to cool for about 10 - 15 minutes.  Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the crust.  Allow to cool for about another hour.  Refrigerate for about 4 hours or overnight.  

Combine the topping ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil.  Boil and stir constantly for 3 minutes.    Allow the topping to cool.  

 When it has cooled sufficiently, remove the sides of the springform pan and spread the topping evenly over cheesecake.  Serve.   Be sure to refrigerate leftovers.

German Chocolate Cheesecake!

Fresh Strawberry Cake!

This is a great cake to make during strawberry season with fresh picked strawberries or you can also use frozen strawberries when fresh are not available.  It's also a really easy cake to make and is so moist.  Here is what you will need: 

1 white cake mix (get the full size cake mix, some companies have drastically reduced them)
1 (3.5 oz.) box strawberry gelatin
2 cups sliced strawberries (reserve 1/4 cup with juice for frosting)
2 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. water
1/2 cup Sprite or water
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 lb.  (16 oz.)  box of powdered sugar
1/4 cup strawberries with juice
3/4 stick of butter or 6 Tbs.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the sliced strawberries in a bowl with the 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons water.  Stir together to dissolve sugar and let sit while you mix the other cake ingredients.  

Combine the cake mix, gelatin, Sprite or water (it's better if you replace the water with Sprite), eggs and vegetable oil.  Mix well with an electric mixer.   Add the strawberries with the juice, reserving 1/4 cup for the icing.  Blend with the electric mixer to break up the strawberries some.   When mixed pour into a 9"x13" pan that has been sprayed with nonstick baking spray.

Bake for approximately 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Once cooled prepare icing by beating the reserved strawberries with the butter and the powdered sugar.  Spread over cooled cake while still in the pan.  Cut and serve!