Frito Pie

I remember the first time I tried Frito pie. I was with my grandparents at our yearly fair in the small town in Tennessee where I grew up. This recipe is about as Southern as you can get. It is simple and extremely delicious. I have heard some people bake it all together but where I’m from we just pile it on top of one another so we do not get soggy chips. When making this meal I lay out everything buffet style and allow everyone to help themselves. Frito plain chips (11 ounce bag) 4 cups prepared chili (alternatively 2 cans of chili) Sour cream 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded Tomato, diced Jalapenos (optional) 1. In a large serving dish, add chips, pour chili on top, sprinkle cheese, and add tomatoes, dollop with sour cream and sprinkle jalapeños or set up buffet style and let everyone help themselves. Yields: 4 servings

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Kids as well as adults will love this tasty dish. Moms can feel good knowing everyone is getting vegetables as well. If you are a vegetarian, you can easily leave off the meatballs and have yourself a very filling main dish as well. 1/2 cup onion, diced 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 carrot, diced 5 tomatoes, chopped 1/3 cup water 1/2 cup mushrooms, diced 1 (6 ounce) can tomato sauce 1-1/2 tablespoons parsley 1 tablespoon oregano 1/2 teaspoon marjoram, ground 1 teaspoon sugar 8 ounces dried spaghetti Meatballs: 1 pound lean beef 1 egg 3/4 ground breadcrumbs 1/2 teaspoon salt 1. In a large sauté pan on low heat, add olive oil, garlic, mushrooms, carrots and onion. Allow onions to become tender. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, water, parsley and sugar. Bring to full boil then reduce heat to simmer. Allow to cook for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. 2. Cook pasta according to pasta directions. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 F. In a large mixing bowl, add beef, egg, breadcrumbs and salt. Mix well with hands. Shape into 19 meatballs. Lightly oil a baking sheet, arrange meatballs onto sheet and bake 20 minutes. 3. Carefully add noodles into the pan, coating well. Place cooked meatballs in pasta, coat as well. Cover and allow simmering 2 minutes. Yields: 6 servings

Lasagna

What can ever go wrong when you serve lasagna? This Italian dish has so many varieties and I have yet to meet one I have not adored. The actual word in Italian is lasagna but Americans seemed to turn it into lasagna. Although this dish has Italian roots, the word is actually Greek so some say it is Greek. And then we have the British which say the saucy dish belongs to them. What do you think? 1 pound ground beef 1 medium onion, chopped 1 cloves garlic, minced 1 14-1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, un-drained 4 ounces tomato sauce 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 8 dried lasagna noodles 1 beaten egg 1 15 ounce container ricotta cheese or 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 6 ounces mozzarella/cheddar blended cheese. Shredded 1. For sauce, in a large saucepan cook beef, onion, and garlic until meat is no longer pink. Drain. Stir in un-drained tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and black pepper into meat mixture. Bring to full boil; reduce heat. Simmer and cover for 15 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, cook pasta noodles according to their package directions. Drain and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, add egg, ricotta, and the 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Set aside. Preheat oven to 375 F. 3. Spread about 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom a baking pan (13x9x2 inches) Layer enough noodles to just cover the bottom. The take turns layering filling, meat and cheese. You should eat with a layer of cheese then sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. 4. Bake in oven for 30 minutes Yields: 8 servings

Cocoa Cake

This cake is deliciously moist. I prefer to leave it in the fridge for a day before eating so the butter cream frosting can develop almost as if it is ganache hugging your cake so tightly. Cake: 3/4 cup butter, softened 3 eggs 2 cups all purpose flour 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/8 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1-1/2 cups sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla 1-1/2 cups milk Frosting: 6 tablespoons butter, softened 2 cups powdered sugar 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1/3 cup milk 1/2 teaspoon vanilla Cake: 1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease two 9 inch round cake pans then lightly dust with flour, sit aside. In a large mixing bowl, add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. Blend well. Add eggs, vanilla, butter and milk, blend on low with an electric mixer until smooth. Evenly pour batter into cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool on wire racks. Frosting: 2. In a large mixing bowl, add butter, sugar, cocoa, and vanilla. Gradually add milk to get desired consistency while blending with an electric mixer. Generously frost cake. Yields: 1 cake

Honey Florentines

These delicate Italian cookies taste almost like caramel. They go perfect alongside a cup of hot tea or coffee. Make sure to space them apart when baking so they have room to grow and become as thin as they should be. I love baking with honey as it is one of the oldest things we have on earth. It dates back to 5500BC. In addition, you may never want to leave the kitchen; they cook extremely fast and burn even faster. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 tablespoons brown sugar 1-1/2 tablespoon honey 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour Pinch sea salt 1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or baking mats. 2. In a small saucepan over low-medium heat add butter, brown sugar and honey, stir until well blended. In a medium sized bowl add sugar mixture and flour; mix well with a spoon until blended. 3. Place 1/2 teaspoon of mixture on baking sheet, making sure each spoonful is 3 inches away from one another so they have room to bake. Bake 3-4 minutes, until edges are golden. Cool cookies on baking sheet on a wire rack. Yields: 15 cookies

Streusel Muffins

As easy as the store bought muffin bags may be, you can make homemade ones just as quick and without all the added preservatives. Nothing can top homemade and your family will appreciate it. These simple muffins are light and fluffy with a perfect golden streusel topping. The added walnuts give them a little something extra and special. 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour 1/3 cup sugar 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 egg, beaten 3/4 cup milk 1/4 cup cooking oil Streusel Topping: 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 3 tablespoons brown sugar 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ground 2 tablespoons butter 3 tablespoons walnuts, chopped 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin cups or line with paper bake cups; set aside. In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside. 2. In another bowl combine egg, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). 3. In a small bowl stir together 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in walnuts. 4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. If desired, sprinkle Streusel Topping over muffin batter in cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups; serve warm. Yields: 12 Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Crown Loaf

This is beautiful bread and a healthy one at that. A key to make this bread is that the dough must remain sticky; do not be tempted to add extra flour. If you rather use your own combination of seeds go ahead. All kinds of seeds, seasonings and nuts work well with this recipe. 4 cups whole-wheat flour plus 2 tablespoons 2 teaspoons salt 1 tablespoon instant yeast 1-1/4 cups lukewarm water (may need more) 3 tablespoons honey 2 tablespoons plus 3 teaspoons sunflower oil 2 tablespoons nigella seeds 2 tablespoons sesame seeds 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning 1. In a large mixing bowl, add flour, salt, and yeast, Add honey, oil and warm water. Mix well. Mix to form soft dough, you want this dough to be somewhat sticky, add a bit more water if needed to get that sticky consistency. Knead for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, add 1 teaspoon oil. Place dough into bowl, cover and sit in a warm area for 1-1/2 hours. 2. Place dough on working surface and flatten (about 1 inch thickness). Shape into a round then cut into 8 wedges. Roll each wedge into a ball. With a pastry brush, lightly brush balls all over with 2 teaspoons oil. Roll 2 balls in nigella, 2 in sesame, 2 in seasoning and 2 in flour. Grease 9 inch round pan and place dough inside. Cover with towel and place in warm area until needed. 3. Preheat oven to 450 F. When oven has heated place bread, allow to cook 10 minutes then lower heat to 400 F and cook for a remaining 20 minutes. Yields: 8 servings.

Lemon Chicken Pasta

Pasta is an easy dish to make especially on these hot days. Luckily, it is just as filling and satisfactory as the meals that take hours to cook. The combination of lemon and chicken broth bedazzles this dish. Not only is this flavorsome but it is also healthy. 2 cups dried rotini 4-5 chicken bread, skinless and boneless, cubed 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour 3 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 shallots, diced 1/2 cup frozen peas 1 cup water 3 garlic cloves, minced 3/4 cup chicken broth 3 tablespoons lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 3 tablespoons parsley Parmesan cheese, optional 1. Cook pasta according to bag directions. Set aside. In a small saucepan add peas and 1 cup water, bring to boil then reduce to low, cook 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. 2. In a large mixing bowl, add chicken cubes, flour, salt and pepper, mix well. In a sauté pan on medium heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add chicken and allow cooking until no longer pink inside. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Reduce heat to low medium. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic and shallots. Cook for 1 minute. Carefully add chicken broth and lemon juice. Cook uncovered for 2 minutes. Add chicken, peas and parsley, allow to heat though. 3. Toss pasta with chicken mixture. Sprinkle Parmesan on top.

Glazed Marble Chiffon Cake

This recipe was one of those that were perfect from the start to the finish. A marvelous batter, beautifully peaked egg whites, gorgeous chocolate and a delectable orange glaze. A great tip for cooling bunt cakes that I have adapted over the years is to save a thick glass bottle; I use an empty olive oil bottle. This allows the cake to completely cool when it is sitting on it. You can also dampen a towel with HOT water and sit the cake on it; the steam should loosen your cake. The eggs may seem like a lot but that is what a chiffon cake is all about, it makes the cake fluffy and moist. If you reduce that, you will just have a plain dry cake. Chocolate batter: 1/3 cup baking cocoa 1/4 cup boiling water 3 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoons oil Orange batter: 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour 7 egg yolks 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1-1/2 cups sugar 3/4 cup water, cold 2 teaspoons grated orange peel Egg white mixture: 7 egg whites 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar Orange glaze: 2 cups powdered sugar 1/3 cup butter, melted 4 tablespoons orange juice 1 teaspoon grated orange peel 1. Pre-heat oven to 325 F. (chocolate batter) In a large mixing bowl add cocoa, sugar, oil and water, whisk until well blended. (Orange batter)In another large mixing bowl add flour, baking powder, salt and sugar blending well. Add egg yolks and water, mix well. (egg white mixture) In another large mixing bowl, add egg whites and cream of tartar. With an electric mixer beat until soft peaks form. 2. Remove 2 cups of orange batter add 2 teaspoons of grated orange peel then fold in egg white mixture sit side. Stir chocolate batter to the remaining orange batter. Mix well. In an un-greased 10-inch tube pan alternately spoon in orange batter then chocolate batter swirling with a knife afterward. 3. Bake for 70 minutes or until cake springs at your touch. Cool cake. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl add powdered sugar, butter, orange juice and orange peel. Blend well with an electric mixer. Glaze cooled cake with orange glaze. Yields: 1 cake

Potato Salad

I love potato salad because nothing says summer is here as it does. The mix of fresh scallions adds that crisp summer taste that I just love. Every time we have, extra condiment packs in our bags after we eat I always save them. I love to be able to take them on picnics and such. I made this entire salad out of those packets can you believe it? Not only are they handy they save money. With the economy as it is, you should always save what you have left as well. Rich or poor wasting food is not funny. 5 large potatoes, boiled 5 boiled eggs, diced 1 cup mayonnaise 1 tablespoon mustard 1 tablespoon white vinegar 1/2 tablespoon celery seeds 4 scallions, chopped Salt & pepper to taste Paprika 1. Carefully peel skin from cooked potatoes then cube potatoes. In a large mixing bowl add mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar celery seeds, salt and pepper then mix well. Add potatoes, eggs and scallion, blending well. Sprinkle paprika on top and allow chilling in refrigerator over night. Yields: 10 servings