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I am a simple country girl who loves life and lives it to the fullest. I cook for one of the greatest families ever. Cooking is my passion and I consider it as well to be my gift.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Who said that lasagna is not healthy? Cottage cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses not only provide a creamy texture to this dish, but lots of calcium, protein and vitamin A. It is delicious and satisfying at the same time.

1 1/2 lbs. ground round
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
20 oz. tomato sauce
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
3/4 tsp. crushed fennel seeds (don't leave this part out if you can help it-I also use it in my spaghetti and meatballs)
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (more to sprinkle over the top)
1 9oz. pkg. Barilla Oven-Ready lasagna noodles or the old stand-by noodles that you boil
1 (12oz.) carton cottage cheese (large curd)
8 oz. sour cream
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese (the good kind, not that stuff in the cans, at least the shredded in the bags)

Cook beef, onion and green pepper in a large skillet until meat is browned, stirring to crumble...as if you didn't know that. Duh. Add tomato sauce through the 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so, stirring every now and then.

If you are using the noodles that you have to boil, do that, omitting the salt that is called for on the package; drain.

Combine cottage cheese, sour cream, and cream cheese; mix to a smooth consistency. Grease a large (13X9) casserole dish. Spread 1/2 cup or a little more of the meat sauce over the bottom of the dish. Layer half each of noodles, cottage cheese mixture, meat sauce and mozzarella. Repeat layers.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Top dish with more chopped fresh parsley...not that dried stuff, it has its place but its place is not here! Bake for 30 minutes; and now for the most important step in the whole recipe, ALLOW TO REST ON THE STOVE FOR AT LEAST 12 TO 15 MINUTES before you go cutting into it. I realize that you are going to be very impatient at this point, BUT, I am watching you.....this allows the juices to settle down, mingle and marry, you know what I am talking about!

Now, get out your prettiest serving plates, red ones are best, toss the salad that's been chilling in the fridge, and take the garlic toast out of the oven. Pull up a chair, say a lil' prayer, and dig in.

"I have partaken of alot of different lasagnas through the years and I never met one that I didn't like."~Adele Forbes

Sunday, August 22, 2010

TACO PIE by Deliah Johnson (Mrs. Glenn Johnson) of Newland, NC

While pilfering through the basket of cookbooks that my dear cousin and friend, Martha Jo Hicks gave me yesterday, I found one entitled "Country Classics Special Delivery" from the North Carolina Rural Letter Carrier Auxiliary. I was flipping through it and the name of a local town caught my eye and lo and behold the recipe had been submitted by Deliah Johnson (Mrs. Glenn Johnson) of Newland, NC where I was raised. Here is her version of a Taco Pie that will be resting on my counter later sometime today. It's a small world 'they' say.....

1 pkg. hotroll mix or crescent dinner rolls
1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 chopped onion
1 pkg. taco seasoning
2/3 cup water
4 to 8 oz. sour cream
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
crushed corn chips

Brown meat and onion; drain excess fat. Add taco seasoning and water. Spread meat mixture over dough. Spread sour cream over meat. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top and then add chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

COOKS NOTE: Top this off with FORBES SUMMER SALSA and you will be so glad you did! Thanks Deliah for this wonderful recipe and thank you Glenn for being such a thoughtful and special letter carrier for so many years.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


The most common variety of yellow-fleshed potatoes, Yukon Golds have the perfect balance of starchiness and waxiness. While this makes them quite versatile, remember that the flesh has too much moisture and starch for roasting, therefore the skins won't get crisp, and the insides will be mushy. Be sure and use them when possible with all other methods of potato cooking, their buttery flesh will make you glad that you did!

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons water
2 1/2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 5 medium)
1/3 cup fat-free milk
1 (4oz.) pkg. goat cheese, cut into cubes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Add 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time, as liquid evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits after each addition. Remove from heat and set aside.

While onion cooks, place potatos in Dutch oven, add water to cover. Bring to a boil: reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and return to pan.

Place milk in a 1-cup glass measure. Microwave at MEDIUM (50% power) 30 seconds or until warm.

Add cheese to potato in pan. Mash potato mixture with a potato masher 3 or 4 times or until cheese melts. Add milk, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper; mash to desired consistency. Stir in reserved onion, and serve immediately.

Serves 10


The flavors of this dish are wonderful. Use two red potatoes and two sweet potatoes if you would like as opposed to all red potatoes.

3/4 cup beer, chicken broth, or dry white wine
1/4 cup Grey Poupon Savory Honey Mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 l. kielbasa, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large sweet onion, sliced

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix first 3 ingredients until well blended. Combine remaining ingredients in roasting pan Drizzle with wine mixture; toss to coat. Bake 50 to 60 minutes until tender, stirring occasionally.
Serves 6

1 potato 2 potato 3 potato 4

Monday, August 9, 2010


Seafood and fresh raw veggies love taking a dip in this sauce.....

1/4 cup light mayonnaise
3 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
1/3 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Combine mayonnaise and sour cream, stirring with a wire whisk until smooth. Add ketchup and remaining ingredients.

Serves 8; 2 tablespoons each equals 1 WW point

"I never met a cocktail of any kind that I didn't like."~Adele Forbes

Sunday, August 8, 2010


When winter winds howl, bring out a jar of this jam at breakfast....very nice with pancakes and waffles.

6 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
4 cups blueberries (2 pints)
3 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped (1 lb.)

Combine sugar, water and lemon juice in a heavy pot. Heat to boiling. Stir in blueberries and apple. Cook, stirring constantly, until jam tests for set, about 15 minutes. Seal in hot sterilized jars.

Yield: 8 8-oz. jars

"There was a young man of Calcutta Who had a most terrible stutter. He said, "Pass the ham, And the j...j...j...jam, And the b...b...b...b...b...b....butter."~Anon


Spread it on French Toast or top vanilla ice cream with it...either way...you'll be glad you did!

6 cups blueberries (3 pints)
1 lemon, rind and juice
7 cups sugar

Combine all ingredients in heavy pot. Heat VERY SLOWLY to a boil, mashing some of the berries with the back of a wooden spoon to make more juice.

Boil rapidly until jam tests for set, about 5 minutes. Seal in hot sterilized 8-oz. jars.

Yield: 6 8-oz. jars

Jean Baudrillard: "Terror is as much a part of the concept of truth as runniness is of the concept of jam. We wouldn't like jam if it didn't, by its very nature, ooze. We wouldn't like truth if it wasn't sticky, if, from time to time, it didn't ooze blood."

Love Letters- Part 2 Big Paul & Little Joe

"If you want to be with somebody you love, aren't you already there?"~Richard Bach

October 23rd, 1918, Guntersville, Alabama..
"Dear friend, I received your letter something like a week ago and it was two days before I could read it.
Paul we have all had that dreadful disease, "Influenza." There were eight of us children in bed at one time and dad not able to sit up. I was the last one to get sick. Today is my first day to stay up. Just been sick five days over a week.
Paul there is over five hundred people sick in town and some dying every day. Four of our leading Doctors died in town last Friday.
There is forty seven cases within one mile of us and some not expecting to live any length of time.
Paul I will close, I haven't any news atol, I am almost ashamed to send this. Your friend, Little Joe"

Oct 1, 1920, Sewell, West Virginia...

"My dearest Little Joe,
By heck Joe I have had the blues for several days because I had no mail when I would come in from work at night. I was beginning to want to see Xmas come so I could leave this hollow, but I don't care now if it don't come for two months, if I can get some letters from Little Joe and I spect I will for she is going to town where Uncle Sam (Clark) pays someone to pack the mail around on the streets and not take it to a D. little old box stuck up on a stick ten miles from anywhere. I don't care if you ever go back to the old farm for it causes a fellow to think things sometime that are not true over time.
Well Joe, what do you think I could do and who could I be with that I could have more pleasure and enjoy myself more than to take a horse back ride with you any where or anytime! I would not care if I had to ride two old Gentlemen cows, it would be Pleasure to Paul M. just the fun and lots of it would be a good idea to try me out if you have any doubts about it. No Joe, I don't think there is any one who would enjoy your little ohl Presence more than your big friend would even if we have to take the top rail off of some ohl farmers fence and Poke it through the fence crook and one get on each end of it and take an ohl childhood ride. Your big boy, Paul M."

Reading my grandparents love letters takes me on a journey through space and time like no other I have ever been on. I can be in Pyatte, NC in 1914 one minute and in Orange, Texas, 1922 the next. I have laughed and I have cried as I am doing now. Their love for one another can be prepared to the likes of Romeo and Juliet, or Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
I was raised in their home and that is where my love of cooking came into play. My grandfather Paul had large gardens on each side of the house and in the good old summertime , Mama Joe's Formica topped kitchen table always groaned with the load of fruits and vegetables that always graced it. .They canned everything they grew in one form or another. Cucumbers became pickles which were prized possessions amongst the town people of Newland, NC. Tomatoes might become relish or spaghetti sauce, cabbage turned into sauerkraut magically inside of an old-timey crock. Apples and peaches showed their pretty colors in preserves, butters, and sauces. Pickled beans and corn permeated every nook and cranny of the old house with their sour smell. The coral red beets looked especially lovely lined up in jars on every counter. Peppers of every color and heat were turned into sweet relish. Plum jam, squash pickles, rhubarb chutney, and green tomato jam all looked especially lovely on the shelves in the cellar which was under the house. The grandchildrens job was to carry the finished product to this damp and musty space which always gave me a sense of wonderment.
The love letters have given me a deeper appreciation, not only of their love for each other, but for the amazing people that they were both before and after they were married. The journey still continues because of these amazing letters. Their story deserves to be told.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Generous neighbors in the Globe below me share their summer bounties of fresh tomatoes and bell peppers every August and I put them to good use with this flavorful salsa. I never go by the 'per-say' ingredients but rather start with how ever many tomatoes I have and go from there. Use lots of fresh lime juice and cilantro.

2 cups peeled chopped tomato (red & yellow & Heirloom if you have them)
1/2 cup finely chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
2 to 4 jalapenos, chopped
8oz. tomato sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice, don't dare use that 'stuff' in the bottle
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Combine all ingredients. cover and chill well. Becomes better each day as it mingles and marries.

Cooks Note: I make huge bowls of this and don't measure anything just throw everything in by sight and what I have to work with. If you are making large amounts of it to you can by all means throw it in the food processor as opposed to chopping it all up by hand. It is just as good and last years batch we even thought was better than some of the 'chopped' jars I canned. Either way, enjoy it year round this way with chips or in lots of different recipes...uuummm...my Mexican Fudge comes to mind and 'The Best Chicken Enchiladas".


This is my most requested 'summer' pie. I have seen men eat a whole pie at one sitting. Therefore I make at least 6 to 8 pies at a time and I only make these delectable jewels 'in season'. Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided
1 (9-inch) baked pie shell
5 Roma tomatoes (out of season)
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
4 nice cloves of garlic
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
chopped fresh basil for garnish

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the mozzarella on bottom of pie shell. Cut tomatoes in wedges and drain on paper towels. Drain well...turn them over and make sure that you get all of the moisture that you can out of them or your pie will end up soggy...and who wants to eat a soggy pie? If you are using garden fresh tomatoes (in season) peel them and slice about 1/4-inch thick and seed if needed and drain well on paper towels. Arrange the wedges or slices over the cheese in the pie shell.

Process the basil and garlic in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Sprinkle over tomatoes. Combine remaining 1 cup mozzarella, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese and pepper. Spoon evenly over basil mixture to cover top, making sure to spread all the way to the edge of the crust. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm garnished with fresh chiffonaded basil. Delicious!

Cooks Note: to chiffonade basil, stack several leaves together and roll up like you would a cigarette and then cut in slices with a sharp knife. A fancy and fun little trick.

"I'm not saying my golf game went bad, but if I grew tomatoes, they'd come up sliced."~Attributed to both Miller Barber and Lee Trevino