Creamy Peach Salad!

This "Creamy Peach Salad" is so cool and refreshing and it's pretty enough for a special occasion dinner.  It's also really easy and can be made in advance, which is always great!   You can use canned or fresh peaches in this also.  If you have fresh peaches, by all means, use them. This is also very easy to make sugar free!  Here is what you will need:
2 (3 oz.) pkgs. peach gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (15 oz.) can peach slices, drained and diced  (can use an equal amount of fresh peaches)
1 (8 oz.) can of crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup lemon-lime flavored soda (like Sprite or 7-Up)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 (8 oz.) carton of frozen whipped topping, thawed
whipped cream for garnish
Dissolve gelatin in water.   In a bowl, whip cream cheese until it's fluffy and then mix in the gelatin mixture.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in the peaches, pineapple, lemon-lime soda, vanilla and nuts.   Fold in the whipped topping.   Pour into a 9"x13" dish and chill for 3-4 hours or overnight.   To serve, cut in squares and garnish each square with a dollop of whipped cream. 

Easy Blueberry Cheesecake!

Cheesecake and blueberries are two of my very favorite things.  This is an easy no bake cheesecake.  We used fresh blueberries that are so good right now and they made it really delicious, but you could use a can of blueberry pie filling if you can't get the fresh blueberries.   The crust is particularly tasty also and you do bake it for a few minutes, but you can make this in a deep pie plate, so the usual spring form pan isn't necessary.  Here is what you will need for this easy cheesecake:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup flour
1 cup nuts, chopped
8 oz. cream cheese, softened slightly
8 oz. frozen whipped topping
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Blueberry Topping
2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1/2 cup water
Combine brown sugar, butter, flour and nuts and press into a deep pie plate or a quiche pan.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.   Cool completely.
Whip together cream cheese, sugar, frozen whipped topping and vanilla.  Spread on the crust.
For the topping, combine the blueberries, sugar, water and cornstarch in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook until mixture just boils and thickens.  Remove from heat and cool.  Once cooled pour over the cheesecake and chill for at least 2-3 hours before serving.



Zucchini Fritters!

These fritters are a great way to use all of that fresh zucchini you have in the garden right now. They are delicious and so easy to make.  If you have never had them, they are somewhat similar to potato cakes or even  Cornbread Hoecakes or as we call it, fried cornbread.   Since you shred the zucchini, this is also a really good way to use those zucchini that get way too big for other know those that hide in the garden when you got out to pick them and then one day you notice this zucchini that is huge and wonder why you never saw it before.  Am I the only one who has had that experience?  Here is what you need for these yummy little fritters: 
2 cups of zucchini, peeled and shredded
1/4 cup onion, finely minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
vegetable oil for frying
Stir all ingredients, except the oil together.  Heat about 1/4 cup oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Drop about 2 heaping tablespoons of batter at a time in the oil.  It should be sizzling, but not smoking.  Brown on one side and flip over and brown on the other side.  Place on a paper towel lined plate when done.   These cook pretty fast so don't over brown them, but they should be somewhat brown and crispy.  Serve immediately! 

Brownie Split Cake!


This "Brownie Split Cake" is such a fun dessert to serve and it's just perfect for a bunch of teens or  even younger children. It would be perfect for a sleepover or a church group.  I served it this week to some of kids in our family at a little pool party we had for them and they loved it.  We just served the cake squares and set out all of the toppings for them to make their own creation.  They had a blast with it.  Turn kids, of any age, loose with hot fudge, warm caramel, sprinkles and whipped cream and you know it's a good time! 
When I asked for their critique on whether it was 'blog worthy', I got a unanimous thumbs up and comments like 'awesome' and 'amazing' and 'delicious'!  Here is what you will need for this 'awesome' dessert:
1 (18.3 oz.) family size brownie mix ( plus the ingredients to make them)
4-5 bananas, sliced thin
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, softened
strawberry ice cream topping, pineapple ice cream topping, hot fudge topping, caramel topping, whipped cream, sprinkles, nut topping, and maraschino cherries.
Bake the brownie mix in a 9"x13" pan.  Cool completely.
Layer the banana slices evenly over the brownies.
 Spread the slightly softened ice cream over the banana layer.  Cover tightly and freeze for at least 3-4 hours or overnight.   Remove from the freezer about 15 minutes before serving. 
 Cut in squares and serve with your favorite ice cream sundae toppings! 

Hamburger Pie!

This "Hamburger Pie" recipe is one that we grew up with.  It's very similar to a shepherds pie sort of dish.   It's basically a one dish meal, it's economical and you can prepare this the night before and bake it right before dinner.  Those are three winning keys to a great recipe for me.  Add a salad and bread and dinner is done!  Here is what you will need:
1 lb. ground chuck
1 medium onion, diced
1 can cut green beans, drained (could substitute corn)
1 can tomato soup
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cups mashed potatoes
6 Tbs. milk
1 egg, beaten
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Brown ground chuck and onion, drain excess fat.  Add the green beans tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings.   Mix together and pour into a 2 quart casserole dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. 
Beat the milk and egg into the potatoes and spoon 1/4 cup mounds over the beef mixture. 
 Sprinkle the top with the shredded cheese.  Place in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly. 

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake!

This "Chocolate Chip Pound Cake" is one of my favorites.  I love a good pound cake and I also love anything chocolate.  The addition of sour cream in this makes it really moist.  Kids love this cake and it's perfect for an after school snack with a glass of cold milk.   Here is what you will need for this:
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 (8 oz.) sour cream
1 (3.5 oz.) box of instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbs. vanilla
4 eggs
1 (8 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
2 cups powdered sugar
5-6 Tbs. milk
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
Chocolate sprinkles for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix first 6 ingredients.  Pour 1/3 of the batter into a Bundt pan sprayed liberally with nonstick baking spray or greased and floured.  Sprinkle with 1/3 of the chocolate chips.
Mix 1/3 of batter with all of the chocolate syrup and pour over the first layer of batter.  Sprinkle with 1/3 of the chocolate chips.  Pour the rest of the batter over that layer.  End by sprinkling with the last 1/3 of the chocolate chips. 
Place in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 45 -50 minutes.  A pick inserted in the center should come out clean.
Allow to cool for about 15-20 minutes before turning out onto a cake plate. 
Once cooled, stir together the glaze ingredients and spoon over the top of the cake.  It should just run down the sides on it's own.  Sprinkle the top with chocolate sprinkles! 


Mama's Pimento Cheese!

My mother makes the best pimento cheese ever.  Now, I know we all think our mothers or grandmothers or whatever made the best this or that and to us they did or still do.  Sometimes we think this because they introduced us to these certain foods or because of the love that went into making these foods.  However, sometimes, it's really because they make it better than everyone else.  I think that is the case with this pimento cheese recipe. I just never like any better than this.  Here is what you will need for this:
5 cups grated American Cheese
1 cup Miracle Whip (can use mayonnaise if you prefer)
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup chopped pimento
Mix the first 4 ingredients well and stir the pimento in last. This is one of two recipes Mama uses Miracle Whip in instead of mayonnaise and according to her, it's part of the secret to the taste.  I have tried making it with mayonnaise and she is right, it's not as good for some reason.   If you are one of the mayonnaise only types, who gets a little crazy about it, use mayonnaise.   Chill before serving.


Black Eyed Pea Salad!

This is  a great little salad to use some of your garden produce that is so fresh and good right now.  It's a really easy salad to put together and it lasts in the fridge for a couple of days.   The base for this recipe is the black eyed pea.
As I have mentioned before, I am not crazy about black eyed peas when they are just served by themselves.  I tend to believe the story about why southerners even began eating black eyed peas in the first place.  The story goes that back during the Civil War, the union soldiers burned and pillaged just about everything in the South that could be used to sustain the southern troops, including crops and other food sources.   They left the black eyed peas alone because they were used basically to feed farm animals and not humans.  Of course, southerners are known to make use of what they have.  They know how to cook the most unsavory foods and make them really tasty.  The black eyed pea provided nourishment during that time when everything else was just about gone.  This is one of the theories about why we eat them on New Year's Day for good luck.  
Black eyed peas are actually full of good nutrients and when mixed with other ingredients and spiced up a bit, they can be tasty.  This salad does wonders for the homely black eyed pea.  Here is what you will need for it:
2 (15 oz.)  cans black eyed peas, drained and rinsed (you can cook dried ones for this)
1 medium size sweet onion, diced (Vidalia is best)
1 medium size cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 green or red bell pepper, diced
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced (I used one red and one yellow)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (could use 2 tsp. dried)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (could use 2 tsp. dried)
2 Tbs. jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (could use red wine vinegar or a cider vinegar)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. sugar
After you have drained the black eyed peas in a colander and rinsed them well, chop and dice all of the other vegetables and herbs.   If you don't have access to the fresh basil and parsley, you can substitute dried herbs, but the fresh is so much better. 
Dice everything in a fairly uniform size. I actually had a beautiful orange bell pepper I used in this.  If you seed the cucumber and tomatoes, the salad holds up much better for a couple of days in the fridge. 
Once it's all diced, place all of the ingredients in a salad bowl. 
Whisk together the olive oil, rice wine vinegar (or some other mild vinegar), the salt, pepper, celery salt, garlic powder, and sugar.  Pour over the salad ingredients, toss together and chill for 30 minutes to an hour before serving.

French Coconut Pie!


French Coconut Pie is such a delicious, decadent dessert, but it's really quite easy to make.  This recipe turns out great every time.   If you are not an experienced baker or just don't bake much and you want to impress company or someone special, this is the pie to make!  Here is what you will need:

1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tbs. self rising flour
3 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla
1  1/2 cups flaked coconut
1 deep dish pie shell or pastry for a deep dish pie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together butter and sugar.  Add flour, eggs,  and buttermilk and mix well.  Add vanilla and coconut.

Place the pie shell in a deep dish pie plate. Place the pie plate on a cookie sheet and pour the mixture into shell.  Place on the center rack of the oven set at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.   Decrease the temperature to 300 degrees and bake for 40 minutes.   The top should be just slightly browned.

  Remove and cool before slicing.
Serve with or without a dollop of whipped cream!

Fried Dill Pickles!

I have to admit that I really love "Fried Dill Pickles" and I am not even a big dill pickle eater, but there is something about dredging them in cornmeal and frying them that makes them delicious.  There are several restaurants in our area that serve fried dill pickles as an appetizer and most are really good, but my favorite fried pickles are at a little place called "Toots".  It's a sports bar and  burger sort of place and they do this type of food really well.  It's a small chain restaurant mostly located in Kentucky and Tennessee.  When I started frying my own pickles at home, my goal was to fry them as good as Toot's.  Not 'tooting' my own horn or anything (that was just bad), I think I accomplished what I set out to do!   I prefer the fried pickle slices, but you can do the spears if you like more pickle and less crust. I am all about crust, myself!  Here is what you need:

1 (16 oz.) jar of dill pickle slices (  I like to use Vlasic ovals)
1 cup buttermilk
6-7 drops of hot sauce
1 cup self rising flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning (can substitute seasoned salt if you don't like the spiciness)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
oil for frying

Drain the jar of pickles in a colander.

Spread the pickle slices out on a double thickness of paper towels to get the liquid off of them as much as possible. 

When they are fairly dry, mix the buttermilk and hot sauce in a bowl and place the pickle slices in it.  If you don't drain them first, the buttermilk won't adhere to the slices.

Combine the flour, cornmeal and seasonings in a shallow dish, like a pie plate.  Remove the pickles and dredge them in the mixture, making sure to cover each slice.   Drop a each slice in a deep fryer with oil heated to around 375 degrees.   Make sure your oil is hot enough, but not smoking.   You can use vegetable oil, canola oil, or peanut oil.   If you don't have a deep fryer, you can use a heavy pan with high sides on the stove.  

 The pickles will float to the top if your oil is good and hot.  Turn each one over to brown both sides.  Use a slotted spoon to remove them when they are brown to a paper towel lined plate.  If you like them really salty, sprinkle immediately with a little more salt.  For me, the seasoning added to the flour is enough, because the pickles are already salty. 

Serve immediately with ranch dressing!

7-Up Cake!

If you aren't familiar with the 7-Up Cake, it's just one of the best pound cakes ever that is made with...yes, you guessed right...7-Up.   It's the same principle as the  Coca Cola Cake, in that the carbonation in the soda is what makes the cake rise, but other than that, the two cakes are totally different.   The 7-Up Cake is a lightly lemon flavored pound cake.  Some folks leave the icing off and serve it just plain or with some fruit.  That's ok I guess, but I love it with the icing. That's just what makes it great for me.   This is the 7-Up cake made from scratch.  Some make it with a cake mix and I can go either way, but I know that some of you think cake mixes are the Devil himself, so I went with scratch.  I honestly don't think baking a cake with a cake mix is any easier than from scratch.   The results might be a little more consistent for some who don't bake often though.   Here is what you need for this cake:

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup  shortening (can use vegetable oil)
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. lemon extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup 7-Up (could use another lemon-lime soda)

2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. lemon extract
4-5 Tbs. half and half or milk
1 Tbs. lemon zest (optional, if you like more of a lemon zing)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter, shortening and sugar with an electric mixer.  Add eggs, one at a time. 

In another bowl sift together the flour, salt and baking soda.   Add 1 cup at a time to the wet mixture and beat just enough to mix well.  Don't over beat this or it will make the cake drier.   

Add in the vanilla and lemon extracts and fold in the 7-Up.

Pour batter into a large Bundt pan that has been greased and floured or sprayed with a nonstick spray for baking.  Don't forget the stem of the pan.   Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.   Check it at 1 hour.  A pick inserted in the center should come out clean.   It took about an hour and five minutes in my oven.  Don't over bake it.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan, until you can handle the pan safely.  Turn it out onto a cake plate and allow to cool before glazing.

To prepare the glaze, mix the powdered sugar with the other ingredients and stir together until smooth.

 Pour over the top of the cake and just let it run down the sides.  If you do not like as much icing as I do, you might not need to use all of this, but I like a nice thick glaze on mine.

Nana's Lunch Lady Brownies

Yesterday I went to cook with my mother to get some of her best and most requested recipes.  She has so many that I want to feature on here for people who have asked over time for the recipes, but we decided to do her from scratch brownies and her homemade yeast rolls which are both to die for.  When I refer to Nana on here it's because my mother is Nana to her five grandchildren who are now basically all grown up, but she will always be Nana to them.  Her recipes and certain things she cooks will always be Nana's also.  Each one of them has their favorites and Nana knows what they are for each one.  When they are visiting those dishes are going to be prepared and ready for them.  I am starting with these brownies because they are actually one of my favorites. Once you make these brownies, the boxed mix will never be the same to you again.

My mother actual got this recipe many years ago from the lady that ran our elementary school cafeteria, who was an excellent cook herself.   I always looked forward to lunch on the days we had these wonderful brownies.  I still remember the big sheet pans they baked them on and drooling as they cut them in the perfect squares to serve us.   What ever happened to school lunches serving real, from scratch, food like that?  Maybe, they do in your area still and I hope so, but I can tell you the schools I have been in, do not.    I always considered these my mother's brownies, but when several of you asked me about 'lunch lady' brownies, I remembered that Mama got the recipe from Mrs. Drummond, our very own lunch lady, so I changed the name and wanted to give her the credit.  Here is what you will need:


2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups self rising flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup water
1 stick butter*
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
4 Tbs. cocoa
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1tsp. vanilla


1 stick butter*
4 Tbs. cocoa
6 Tbs. half and half
1 lb. confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

**You can use margarine in this, but we basically never cook with margarine.  The recipe will turn out fine, but it will not taste as good.  Margarine has a lot of water content in it, especially the whipped varieties and we know what water tastes like. 

Here is what you will need for the cake part of the brownie:

Vanilla, vegetable or canola oil, cocoa, butter, sugar, salt, self rising flour, buttermilk, baking soda and eggs.

Sift  2 1/2 cups flour into a mixing bowl, add 2 cups sugar, 1 tsp. baking soda, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Mix together.

Place one stick butter, 1 cup water, 4 Tbs cocoa powder, 1/2 cup oil in a saucepan over medium heat and bring just to a boil.  As soon as it begins to boil remove from heat.  Pour over the dry ingredients and mix together just until moist.

Beat up two eggs with wire whisk, add 1/2 cup buttermilk.  Add this mixture to the cocoa mixture and mix just until blended with wire whisk.  Add 1 tsp vanilla and mix.  Do not over mix and do not use electric mix, just use the whisk.

Pour this into a greased 11" x 15" pan.  This is a sheet cake pan.  If you don't have a sheet cake pan, you could use a 9" x13" pan and an 8" x 8" pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. 
During the last ten minutes of baking, start your icing.  Here is what you will need:

1 stick butter, 4 Tbs cocoa, 6 Tbs. half and half, 1 lb. confectioner's sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Place 1 stick butter, 4 Tbs. cocoa,  and 6 Tbs. half and half in a pan.  Bring to boil, as soon as it boils remove from heat and add 1 lb. confectioner's sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla.  Beat well with whisk until smooth.  You can add 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts or if you don't care for nuts, leave them out. 

Pour over the warm brownies and spread to cover. Let them sit and cool just slightly, you can serve them while still a little warm though.
Yummy!  These are absolutely the best brownies you will ever eat. Everybody always loves them!   

Fire and Ice Salad!

This "Fire and Ice Salad" is an old favorite in the south.  My mother has been making a version of this since I was just a little girl.  It makes great use of all of the fresh produce we have available every summer.   The name comes from the cool vegetables and the little kick the dressing has.  My mother's version doesn't have the kick, probably because she doesn't like the hotter spiciness, but as most of you know, I love heat so my version is more fiery.   You can adapt it to your tastes.  Here is what you will need:
1/2 cup cider vinegar (can use white)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper (fresh ground pepper)
1 tsp. celery seeds
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
6-7 drops of hot sauce (optional)
2 medium sweet onions, sliced and separated into rings (preferably Vidalia)
2 medium cucumbers, peeled and sliced thin
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 medium vine ripe tomatoes, diced
2 Tbs. minced jalapeno pepper (you can use a fresh, seeded pepper or the pickled rings)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (optional)
Mix the first 9 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Boil for about 1 minute.  You can also do this in the microwave for about 3-4 minutes.   Set off of the heat to cool while you prepare the rest of the vegetables.
I like to dice the green pepper in smaller pieces and just separate the onion into rings.
Peel and slice the cucumbers in thin slices.
Place all of the vegetables and the basil in a salad bowl with a tight fitting lid and pour the cooled dressing overall.  The dressing doesn't have to be completely cool and can be still slightly warm.  Toss the vegetables, cover and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow the vegetables soak up some of the flavor.  The fresh basil is optional in this.  It's something I usually add, just because I grow tons of it and like to use it, but it does add great flavor.
This holds up in the refrigerator for a couple of days and if you only add the tomato to the portion you are serving, it lasts even longer.  I really love it with grilled foods or even pinto beans and cornbread!  It's just so fresh tasting!

Hawaiian Banana Bread!

This recipe for banana bread is absolutely the moistest I have ever made.  I think the addition of the pineapple probably has something to do with that, even though the taste if pineapple is not all that obvious in it.  This recipe makes two nice size loaves of banana bread also.   I serve it with a Tropical Cream Cheese Spread that just makes it extra yummy!   Here is what you will need for this banana bread and the spread:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1  1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 bananas)
1 (8oz.) can crushed pineapple, well drained ( reserve the juice for the spread)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Tropical Cream Cheese Spread
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 Tbs. honey
2 Tbs. of the reserved pineapple juice
1/4 cup maraschino cherries, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.  

Mix together all of the wet ingredients. 

Gradually stir in the dry ingredients and mix just until blended.  Stir in the chopped nuts last.  Divide evenly between two 9"x5"x3" loaf pans that have been well greased and floured or sprayed with nonstick spray for baking.  Bake for 60-65 minutes. 

Allow to cool in the pans for about 15 - 20 minutes and then turn them out. 
To prepare the Tropical Cream Cheese Spread, mix all of the ingredients with a mixer or in a food processor and then place in a bowl, cover and chill until ready to serve. 
This bread is great for breakfast,  with a cup of coffee or a good snack for the kids.