Vidalia Onion Casserole!

I love Vidalia onions and I use them as much as I can when they are available.  If you are not familiar with the Vidalia onion, they are a sweet onion that you can easily eat raw without the usual pungent effects of a regular yellow or red onion.   They are called Vidalia because of where they are grown which is Vidalia, Georgia.   They are unusually sweet, because of the low amount of sulfur in the soil there.  The Vidalia onion is the Georgia state vegetable.
If you cannot get Vidalia onions in your area, use any other sweet onion you do have access to.  The Walla Walla, Texas Sweet Onion or the Bermuda Onion would work.   This casserole is a great side dish for a good grilled steak, pork chops or even ribs. 
Here is what you will need:
2 large Vidalia onions, sliced thin and separated into rings (if they are smaller, use three)
1/2 cup butter, divided (1 stick)
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded Cheddar Monterrey Jack blend cheese (can use all Cheddar)
1 sleeve butter flavored crackers, crushed (like Ritz or Town House)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt 4 Tbs. of the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion rings.  Sprinkle with seasoned salt and black pepper.  Toss in the butter and saute just until they start to soften.  I don't like to overcook them so they have a little texture after this bakes.
Add the sour cream and toss to blend.  Turn the heat off at this stage.  You don't want your sour cream to break.
Spray an 8"x8" baking dish or a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish with nonstick spray.  Layer half of the onion mixture in the bottom.
Sprinkle with 1/2 of the grated Parmesan and 1/2 the shredded Cheddar Monterrey jack blend.
Melt the other 4 Tablespoons of butter and toss the crushed Ritz crackers in it.  Sprinkle half of the buttered crumbs over the cheese. 
Repeat the same layers all again, ending in the buttered cracker crumbs.  Place in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes!
It should be slightly browned and bubbly when you take it out!
Serve immediately!  This is a great side dish, but I can eat it by itself leftover the next day.  It reheats well! 

Ruth Ann's Banana Cream Cheese Muffins!

The recipe for these "Banana Cream Cheese Muffins" came by way of my parent's neighbor, Juanita.  She got the recipe from a friend of hers, Ruth Ann.  Not only did Juanita provide us the recipe, she baked a batch of the muffins and brought them over with it!   I love when that happens!   I especially love it when the muffins are this delicious! 
The beauty of this recipe is that it is so flexible.  You can substitute zucchini for bananas and make them zucchini muffins and you can also make this into banana or zucchini bread.  Here is what you will need for these yummy muffins:
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
3 very ripe bananas, mashed  ( to make zucchini muffins substitute 2 cups unpeeled, shredded zucchini)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat the sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla together for about 3 minutes.   Add in the cream cheese and beat until smooth.
Add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Mix just until combined and dry ingredients are moist.
Add in the nuts and bananas (or zucchini).
Spray a 12 cup muffins pan with nonstick spray or use liners.
This makes 12 large muffins or 18 smaller ones.  Bake the larger ones for about 25 minutes.  The smaller ones will take about 20 minutes.  The baking time will vary according to how full you fill your muffins tins.  Test with a pick inserted in the center.  It will come out clean when they are done.

Maple Glazed Carrots!

Carrots are so good for us and they add that pop of color to your plate that makes it appealing.  However, sometimes it's hard to get the kiddos to eat things like carrots.  This recipe is so yummy the kids will be asking for carrots for dinner and it takes no time at all to prepare.  Here is what you need:
1 bag baby carrots or 1 lb. peeled and sliced carrots
1/4 cup water
3 Tbs. butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tbs. maple syrup (use the real thing if you have it)
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Place all of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to simmer and cover the pan.   Cook for about 15 minutes.
Uncover the pan and bring the heat up to about medium and cook until the sauce starts to reduce and become more of a glaze.  Be sure to stir during this so they don't burn.  This takes about 10 minutes.
That's all there is to it!  They are ready to serve! 
These are so good with just about any main course! 

Kentucky Bourbon Sticky Chicken!

When you think of Bourbon Chicken, you probably think of it as a Chinese carryout or buffet type of chicken, because that is where you usually find it.  The story is that a Chinese chef who cooked in a restaurant on Bourbon Street in New Orleans created the dish.  This "Kentucky Bourbon Sticky Chicken" is not that Bourbon Chicken.  It's a bit different and it is lip smacking.
Since 95% of the world's bourbon is manufactured in Kentucky  it's only right that Kentucky have it's own bourbon chicken recipe, so here it is!  I used skinless boneless chicken breasts for this, but if you like the dark meat, you can use thighs or even chicken legs and wings would be fabulous!  Here is what you will need:
5-6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
juice one lime (could substitute a lemon)
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup good Kentucky bourbon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
3 green onions, sliced thin
2 Tbs. bacon drippings (can substitute oil)
Cut your lime in half and juice it.
Add all of the other ingredients except the bacon drippings to make your marinade!  I like this juicer, because I can just mix everything up right in the same dish!   Stir until the brown sugar is dissolved 
Place the chicken a gallon size Ziplock bag and pour the marinade over all in the bag.  Zip it up and turn it until all of the pieces are coated.  I usually put the bag on a platter or on a cookie sheet, in case it leaks.  Place this in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours to get good and soaked with the flavors.  If you can think far enough ahead, you can even do this the night before and let it hang all night.  I don't usually think that far ahead unless I am cooking for company. 

 In a large heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, but if you don't have one any you have is fine, heat the bacon drippings or oil.  This recipe requires a good constant conduction of heat and the cast iron is good for that.  Take the chicken out of the marinade and just brown it on each side.  Reserve the marinade.   The bacon drippings give this such great flavor, but if you don't keep bacon drippings, use vegetable or canola oil.  Get some good color on both sides of the chicken.
Pour the marinade you reserved over the chicken and bring it to a boil.  Let this boil for about a minute or two and then turn down to medium.  Leave this uncovered and cook for about 40-45 minutes, turning the chicken every 10 minutes.  The sauce will gradually start to reduce so you need to watch it, because as it thickens it will stick and can burn.   Spoon the sauce over the pieces as it reduces also.
At the end of 40-45 minutes the chicken will be nice and actually bourbon colored and that marinade will have reduced to the most wonderful sticky coating.   For anyone worried about the alcohol, it's long gone by this point, but bourbon leaves a wonderful flavor and is a natural tenderizer. 
It's a beautiful thing!
I like this served with rice and a green vegetable or salad, but potatoes work also!  This was a huge hit at our house! 

Quiche Lorraine!

This creamy quiche makes the menu even more suitable for an Easter Brunch.  If you are using the menu for a bridal shower or baby shower, you could bake the quiche mixture in the mini muffin tin and make the bite size quiches.   This is a lighter quiche than some I have made and bakes up very nice. 


4-5 slices of bacon cooked up crisp and drained
4 eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
1 Tbs. finely diced onion
2 cups cheddar or Swiss cheese (either works fine)
1 cup half and half cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 8 inch pie shell

Crumble the bacon and place in the bottom of the pie shell that has not been baked.  Beat eggs with wire whisk.  Add in half and half, onion, green pepper, salt, and pepper and whisk together. Place cheese in pie shell on top of bacon and pour egg mixture over this.  Before you pour the egg mixture in the pie shell,  place it on a cookie sheet.  Place the quiche on the cookie sheet in a 300 degree preheated oven.  Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until the center is firm and not jiggly.

Rotel Green Beans!

We love green beans, but sometimes you want to change them up a bit and make them taste a little different.   These "Rotel Green Beans" do just that and they are really low in fat and calories, which never hurts.  That way you can eat more fried chicken!   This is so easy.  Here is what you will need:
1 Tbs. bacon drippings or olive oil
1/2 cup diced sweet onion
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 (15 oz.) cans French Style green beans, drained ( you could use just cut green beans also)
1 (10 oz.) can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies (do not drain)
1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning ( I used Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
juice of 1/2 lime
Place the bacon drippings or olive oil in a skillet.  Use what you prefer, but the bacon drippings add a better flavor.   Add the diced onion and saute until soft, add the minced garlic and  just saute a little.  Garlic burns fast so not too much.  
Add the beans and Rotel. 
Sprinkle with the seasonings and toss together.  Cover and cook on medium low heat just about 15 to 20 minutes!
Serve them up...yum!

Peach Fried Pies!

 This recipe for fried pies is one from another of my aunts, Aunt Lassie.  For those who are new to "Sweet Tea and Cornbread", my mother has five sisters and they are all really good southern cooks, so I not only get recipes from them, they actually cook them up for me to photograph sometimes also, which is great!   Aunt Lassie is next to the oldest of my mother's sisters and she is quite a character.  I am not allowed to tell you how much of a character, because Mama won't let me, but let's just say she was always the life of the party and still tries to be. She would be the first to say so!  She never meets a stranger, that is for sure and no matter what the adversity of life, has not let it get her down! 
The first thing I always think about concerning Aunt Lassie's cooking is how fast she always was in the kitchen.  She used to be like a five foot tall tornado when she got started cooking.  I remember us going to visit her one time, sort of unannounced.  She and her husband were remodeling an old Victorian era house and collecting antiques for it and we went to see it one afternoon. 
We had no plans to stay for dinner, but she insisted.  She said I have a good roast thawed out and I will fix that.  It was already like three or four o'clock or so, and I was thinking, there is no way we are eating before seven or eight o'clock.   So, we went to the kitchen to start dinner and she got out this pressure cooker and seasoned up that roast and threw it in there and got out some vegetables, peeled potatoes and started some tea.  She was moving around in that kitchen like a whirlwind.  Within, what must have been less than an hour and a half, we sat down to a full dinner and it was delicious.  When we left, I told Mama I had never seen anybody cook that fast in my life.   She just laughed and said Aunt Lassie had always been fast like that and that cooking in restaurants and such made you get much faster out of necessity.
Aunt Lassie also loves kitchen gadgets.  That must be where I get it from.  When we sat down to write up this recipe, she told me she had a food processor before anyone in this area even knew what one   The even funnier thing is, she is still using it.   I think she said she saw it at a Montgomery Ward store in either Houston or Dallas, TX.  years ago and she said, I have to have one of those and she bought it and brought it home.   She says it's one of the best kitchen appliances they ever invented.
I have posted my mother's fried pies on the site already, but since we used fresh apples for those and not dried fruit, I wanted to also post one with dried fruit.  This recipe is just a bit different overall.   Here is what you will need:
3 (6oz.) pkgs. dried peaches (could use dried apricots also)
1  1/4 cups sugar
4 Tbs. butter
1 tsp. vanilla 
1 tsp. cinnamon
1  1/2 cups self rising flour
1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup milk
shortening or oil for frying
Place the dried fruit in a saucepan with just enough water to cover it.  Add the sugar, butter, vanilla and cinnamon.   Simmer, uncovered for about 40 minutes. Once cooked down, allow it to cool and then it's best to refrigerate and get it good and cold.   Once cold, Aunt Lassie said she puts the mixture in her food processor and pulses it just a second.  Now you know why I told you the food processor story.   Don't over do it with the food processor though, or you will have peach sauce.  You can also just mash the peaches up with a potato masher while they are warm and before you refrigerate them. 
To make your pastry, cut the shortening into the flour, like you would for biscuit dough.  Gradually add the milk to make a soft dough.   It might take a bit more or less milk than the 1/3 cup, just add it a little at a time until the right consistency.    Now, you can roll and cut the pie circles from here or you can refrigerate this dough and get it good and cold and then roll.  It is easier to work with cold.   
If you will just cut the dough in equal portions like this and then roll each portion, you will get pies that are all about the same. 
 Rolls each portion on a floured surface and then use a saucer or something similar in size to cut out a perfectly round circle.  Place about 1/3 cup filling in the center of each one and fold over.  Using the tines of a fork press to seal all the way around.  Make sure they are sealed well. 
In a large skillet heat some shortening or oil, place two to three pies in the hot oil and cook just until well browned on each side.  Aunt Lassie says she pricks the pies with a fork as they cook to allow some of the steam to escape.
Serve plain or with a sprinkle of powdered sugar!  They are yummy!


Chinese Chicken Salad!

This "Chinese Chicken Salad" is delicious salad using the Ramen noodles, but with several differences to the others I have posted before.   This one has bacon and chopped chicken in it, so it's almost a meal, but you could serve it as a side also.  I could add egg rolls or spring rolls to this and serve it for  a light supper or lunch.   This is great for potlucks or company also, because it's a big salad.   This is a great way to use leftover chicken also! 
Here is what you will need:
1 large bag mixed baby salad greens
1 bunch green onions, sliced including the green blades
1/2 red or green bell pepper, diced
1 (20 oz.) can of pineapple tidbits, drained well, reserve 1/4 cup of the juice
1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
1 cup cooked chicken breast, diced
1 cup crisp cooked bacon, crumbled
2 pkgs. chicken flavored Ramen noodles, crushed reserve seasoning packets
2 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup oil (whatever you prefer, vegetable, canola or extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup rice wine or cider vinegar
1/4 cup reserved pineapple juice
2 tsp. soy sauce
juice of one lime
2 Ramen seasoning packets
In a large salad bowl, mix the salad greens, green onion and bell pepper.  Add the pineapple that has been drained well and reserve 1/4 cup of the juice for the dressing. Toss together!
Add the diced chicken breast!  If you are doing this ahead of serving, stop at this point and cover and refrigerate!  If not go ahead and add the toasted almonds and bacon crumbles. 
Break up the Ramen noodles.  I just do it in the bags using something like a cup or a meat mallet to crush them up.  You need to leave some texture to them, not too fine. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and add the noodles.  Cook just until lightly browned.  Reserve the seasoning packets for your dressing.
In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until the sugar and seasoning packets have dissolved and the dressing has emulsified.   Pour over the salad ingredients and toss lightly.  Sprinkle the toasted Ramen noodles on top! 
Serve immediately!

Chili Cheese Cornbread Casserole!

This "Chili Cheese Cornbread Casserole" is one of those recipes I love, because not only does it taste wonderful, it all bakes in one dish.   Add a salad, like the Mexican Salad or some Spanish Rice and dinner is done!   We just love this casserole!  Here is what you will need:
1 lb. ground chuck or beef
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix, plus the water called for
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper
pinch of cayenne (optional)
1 (15 oz.) can of chili beans, undrained
2 (8.5 oz.)  pkgs. Jiffy Cornbread mix
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk (can use regular milk)
1 (15 oz.) can cream style corn
1 (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack Cheddar blend
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet brown the ground chuck or beef with the diced onion until browned.  Drain any excess grease.  Add the taco seasoning, water it calls for, chili powder, black pepper, and cayenne if you are using it.  You know I like a heat to things, but if you don't leave it out. 
Now add the chili beans and bring it up just to slight boil, than turn down to low .
In a mixing bowl stir the cornbread mixes, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk, cream style corn, whole kernel corn and green chilies together until smooth. 
 Pour half of the cornbread batter in a 9"x13" baking dish that has been sprayed well with nonstick spray. 
Now spread the meat mixture over the cornbread layer.  Sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheese.
Pour the rest of the cornbread mixture over the meat and place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 -50 minutes.   The last 10 minutes of cooking pull it out and sprinkle the top with the other cup of the shredded cheddar cheese! 
When it comes out the cheese on top is melted and bubbly.  Allow to sit for about 5 minutes before cutting in squares!
You can serve this just as is...
Or dress it up with toppings of your choice.  I like sour cream, salsa and green onions!  This is so yummy and it's good warmed over the next  day also!