I Did Not Take That Photo, But I Have Made Most of the Dishes in My Books

Chess Pie

I've had several requests for a Chess Pie recipe. I don't have one of my own creation, but here's a pretty standard one.

1/2 cup butter

2 cups white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/4 cup evaporated milk

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

1 (9 inch) unbaked pie shell

David White’s No Fail Bacon Sweater Turkey Method

1 bunch fresh rosemary

1 bunch fresh thyme

At least one pound of thick-cut bacon

Turkey of your choosing

  • Thaw the turkey in a safe, responsible manner that will not result in food poisoning.  It’s all fun and games until a holiday becomes, “That year we all had our stomachs pumped.”

  • Preheat the oven to 325.  Set up turkey in your roasting pan.  (We always use a roasting rack to keep the turkey from rolling.)

  • Rinse herbs and arrange them in a thick layer over the bird’s breast.  Lay strips of bacon over the top of the bird, weaving in a second layer in the opposite direction.

  •  As the bird and the bacon cook, the fat drips over the herbs, basting and flavoring the turkey.  Be sure to set the oven rack low enough so that the bacon is not too close to the top heating element.

  • Cook the bird to a safe temperature.  Remove bacon and herbs before carving.  Crumble crisped bacon into mashed potatoes, casseroles, salads, and other side dishes.

Aunt Linda’s “Un-Vegetable” Green Beans

1 stick butter

1 tbsp garlic powder

Six strips of thick-cut bacon

1 cup light brown sugar

1 gallon canned cut green beans

Because if you left nutritional value in the vegetable, it wouldn’t be southern!  This is a great holiday side because you can fix it early in the day and let it simmer for several hours while you cook other dishes.  

The original recipe came from the McCracken County Schools Food Services Department, and then went through several experimental tweakings by various family members before we arrived at this version.

  • Chop bacon in to inch-long sections.  In a large stainless steel pot, brown the bacon, leave the bacon and grease in the pot. Add green beans, garlic powder, butter and brown sugar.

  • Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low simmer and cover.  Simmer for two to three hours.  The longer it simmers, the more the flavors soak into the beans.

  •   The green beans will in no way resemble a vegetable by the time they’re served.  But they are DELICIOUS.

Molly’s “No Skill Required” Brookies

16.5 oz tube cookie dough

1 brownie mix

Eggs, oil and water as required by brownie mix

1/2 tsp vanilla

Brookies are the beautifully baked baby of brownies and chocolate chip cookies.  They are quite literally the easiest thing in the world to bake, but somehow look and taste like you’ve done something really impressive in the kitchen.  They are my go-to bake sale and potluck contribution.

  • Pre-heat oven to 325. Grease cupcake tin. Prepare brownie mix as directed, adding vanilla to the mixture. Pour brownie mix into each depression in the cupcake tin until about half-full.  Break off chunks of cookie dough and drop them into the brownie batter.  Each depression should be about 2/3 full.

  •  Bake at 325 for 25-30 minutes.  The cookie dough will sink into the batter as it bakes.  Cool before removing from tin.

White Christmas Snack Mix

Every year, my mom spends weeks preparing huge batches of fudge, divinity, peanut butter balls, Chinese New Year cookies, coconut balls, chocolate covered cherries, and other goodies, which she distributes to lucky people in enormous Christmas care packages.  While David is essential personnel in this endeavor, I am generally assigned to the sidelines because candy thermometers intimidate me. Also, I once set fire to a microwave.

So Mom and David play Willy Wonka and I make snarky comments from the breakfast bar.  It’s safer that way.

If I share the recipes for said goodies, my own mother will break my typing fingers – my index fingers, which are the good ones.  I need them. I can, however, share her recipe for “white Christmas mix” because I figured out how to make it without her help.  (Insert evil laugh.)

“White Christmas snack mix” is one of those go-to party or gift snacks you can’t possibly screw up.   Put it in a cellophane treat bag, tie it with a pretty ribbon and you’ve got a gift for teachers, neighbors and coworkers.

More “holiday gift tag friendly” names for the snack include reindeer chow, snowdrop snacks, and elf granola.

Before you get started, cover two baking sheets with waxed paper.

You’re going to need a LARGE mixing bowl.  To get the right mix of salty and sweet, I recommend items like Rice Chex, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Golden Grahams, Cheerios, Pretzels, Reese’s Pieces, M&Ms, dried chow mein noodles, peanuts or party nut mix.  But you can add anything that sounds good to you.  You can mix this in any proportions you want, just remember you need enough white chocolate to sufficiently coat the whole mess.

Melt white chocolate candy coating in a saucepan over low to medium heat until it is smooth.  (NO CHUNKS!)  Pour the warm, melted chocolate over your snack mixture and stir until the pieces are evenly coated.   Immediately empty the bowl on to the papered baking sheets so the chocolate can cool and set.  Store cooled, dried snack mix in an airtight container – assuming that your family doesn’t immediately devour it.

It’s happened before.

Faux Type O Sangria

1 Bottle St. John's Red

3/4 cup Huckleberry Syrup

3/4 cup peach-mango-orange juice blend

1 1/2 cup orange juice

Cherries and orange slices to garnish

Mix liquid ingredients. Serve chilled. Makes 8-10 servings.

(Courtesy of Glisson Vineyard and Winery in Paducah, Ky.)

- Featured in UNDEAD SUBLET in THE UNDEAD IN MY BED Anthology

Jane’s Mama’s Pot Pie

I received a few e-mails asking whether I have a good pot pie recipe. My mother-in-law gave me a great one.

I keep a few of these in the freezer for those nights I don’t feel like cooking, but feel too guilty to feed my kids fast food. And since we’re heading into the colder weather, I thought I’d share it with you.

(makes two pot pies.)

4 frozen deep dish pie shells
2 pounds cooked, diced chicken
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of onion soup
1 can of Veg-All, drained
1 cup shredded cheese
2 tbsp minced garlic
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp celery salt

Mix soups, veggies, chicken, cheese, garlic and spices in a large mixing bowl. Split the mixture evenly between two pie shells. Invert the remaining shells over them. If you’re freezing the pie, leave the top pie pan on, and wrap the whole thing in aluminum foil. To bake, work the top pie pan loose and let the crust collapse over the pie.

Bake a frozen pie at 350 for an hour covered in aluminum foil, then addition 30 minutes uncovered until the crust is golden. Bake a thawed pie at 350 for an hour uncovered.


Lacey’s Ugly Cake

1 box dark chocolate cake mix
5 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 cup water
8 oz. cream cheese softened
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat over to 375 degrees.

Coat a bundt pan with your preferred non-stick spray. In a large mixing bowl, blend 4 eggs, oil, water and cake mix until there are no "mix lumps." In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese, vanilla, remaining egg and sugar until smooth. Stir chocolate chips into the cream cheese mixture. Pour cake mix into the pan. Drop spoonfuls of the cream cheese filling into the cake batter, being careful not to let it touch the sides of the pan. The mixture will sink into the batter as it bakes.

Bake for 30 minutes. Test for "doneness" with a toothpick. The edges of the cake should be pulling away from the pan and the visible patches of cream cheese filling should be set. Cool the cake before removing it from the pan, otherwise it will disintegrate into hot cake pudding. (The good news is the hot cake pudding is also pretty dang tasty.) When the marbled, gnarled, weirdly colored patches of cream cheese filling are revealed, you will know why I call it Ugly Cake.

I have to give credit where it's due. This is a modified Cake Mix Doctor Recipe.