Monday, June 22, 2009

Hot Wing Dip


After discovering a version of this recipe in the Moms League of Birmingham cookbook, I altered it to suit our family's tastes. It's become one of my most-requested recipes, even from one friend who works in the hotel and restaurant industry! If you're as big a fan of hot wings as we are, this dip is sure to quickly become one of your favorites.

1 12.5 oz. can chicken in water, drained
1/2 cup hot sauce (We use Frank's or Crystal)
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1 8 oz. block cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a small skillet, combine the drained chicken and hot sauce and heat over medium. Break the chicken up with a fork, and cook until thoroughly combined and heated through. Meanwhile, soften cream cheese in the microwave. When chicken/hot sauce is hot and bubbly, pour it over the cream cheese and stir in ranch dressing and shredded cheddar. Mix to combine, and turn into a small crock pot (dip size). Serve with celery sticks or assorted crackers.

Truck Stop Breakfast Bowl


One of TJ's favorite weekend rituals is when I wake up and make truck stop breakfast bowls. I don't know why it's such a big deal - they're one of those things that you just put together on a whim, but I guess it's become a weekend "thing" now that I just can't stop! Since TJ can't eat the original truck stop breakfast because of his sharp limitations on carbs, this tides him over until the day when he can have biscuits again. (By the way, I don't eat this - too much fat and grease for me, but TJ LOVES it!)

6 slices (1/2 lb.). thick-cut bacon, fried and drained
2 eggs
3 slices cheese

Fry the bacon, then remove to a paper plate to drain. With drippings still hot, crack two eggs in the pan and fry in the bacon grease, then remove and drain. In a bowl, lay down one fried egg, top with 1 slice of cheese, then 3 slices bacon. Make another layer of egg, 1 slice of cheese, then bacon. Finally, top with cheese and microwave about 30 sec. on HI to melt the cheese on top.

I rocked the "original" truck stop breakfast during my pregnancy, when insomnia had me up at 3 am making biscuits from scratch. Since TJ had to get up at 4:30 or so, I usually had him a hot breakfast sandwich to take with him, consisting of a fried egg and a piece of cheddar between two slices of fried bologna sandwiched within the aforementioned biscuit. One time I got fancy and put grapes on the side - he wanted to know why I tried to mess up his breakfast with something healthy! :-)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Kahlua Cake


I first experienced this wonderful cake while staying with my host family at Alabama's Junior Miss state finals in Montgomery in 1997. Diane Brown, consummate hostess and Mom #2, had whipped up this delight and invited another host family over for dessert and coffee. It looked so pretty on the plate, I just knew it'd taken her hours to make - wrong!

Sadly, Diane passed away this year, but I will always think of her when making Kahlua cake - the twinkle in her eye like she was always "up to something", her loving spirit of generosity and kindness, and the pleasure she took from giving joy to others. I know she's up there in heaven laughing WITH me, AT me, and FOR me!

2 boxes ice cream sandwiches
2 tubs Cool Whip
1/2 cup Kahlua
chopped Heath Bars
Hershey's syrup and/or cocoa powderfor garnish

Fold together Cool Whip and Kahlua, set aside. Create a layer of ice cream sandwiches in the bottom of a baking dish, add a layer of the Cool Whip mixture, then repeat with another layer of sandwiches and more Cool Whip "fluff". Top with a sprinkling of chopped Heath bars and freeze overnight. To serve, cut into squares and drizzle a zigzag pattern with the Hershey's syrup and/or add a light dusting of cocoa powder. If you've got one on hand, a little mint sprig is pretty too.

Baked Beans


Growing up, my paternal grandmother, Polly, was known for her baked beans. We usually had them at our Easter meal at their house, accompanied by white bread sandwiches with homemade baked ham, potato salad, assorted "col'drinks" and lemon icebox pie. After stuffing ourselves, my sister and I impatiently awaited permission to go out in the front yard and hunt the eggs our parents had hidden in the creeping phlox that swept across the front of the property. More than once, we also found some "spring peepers" - the summer's singing frogs. (Always picked them up gently and put them right back - mom would've had a fit to find one in our pockets!)

Polly's beans are probably the best baked beans I've ever had. They're sweet, not overly smoky or onion-y like some homemade baked beans, and *should* retain the shape of the spoon when cooked correctly. (Thanks Joe B. for coining that reference last night - so, so true!) Mix up a batch and try them for yourselves!

2 regular-sized cans of pork and beans
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup ketchup
2 T. yellow mustard
1/2 lb. bacon, cut into small pieces.

Mix all together in a big bowl, turn out into an oblong baking dish (9x13 works great), and cook at 350 for an hour.

Summer Slaw


My maternal grandmother used to have a big fish fry at least once a summer, complete with homemade slaw, baked beans, sliced homegrown tomatoes, deviled eggs, sweet tea, banana pudding and crappie fried light as air. We'd sit outside on weathered, barn-red picnic tables, chase each other around the yard with sparklers and catch lightning bugs after dinner. It was one of those memorable experiences you don't really think about until you're older, and hope to someday recreate.

I've never been a good fish-fryer, but could manage the rest well enough, save the homemade coleslaw. One day, a hankering for my MeMe's coleslaw snuck up on me, and I called her for the recipe - thinking all this time that making homemade slaw was a difficult and time-consuming endeavor. Pshaw! With only 4 ingredients, her peppery vinegar-based slaw is simply awesome with pulled pork barbecue, fried fish, burgers, or country vegetables. It takes less than 5 minutes to put together, unless you shred your own cabbage, and will instantly transport you to a back yard glittering with lightning bugs, real metal sparklers and the 4th of July.

1 head cabbage, finely shredded
2 small or 1 large bag pre-shredded angelhair coleslaw mix
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup white vinegar
dash of salt
pepper to taste

Put the coleslaw greens in a deep bowl. Measure out the vinegar in a measuring cup, add the sugar, and mix with a fork until slurry. Pour vinegar/sugar mixture over the coleslaw, add a little salt, and pepper to taste. I usually use at least 1T. of pepper but keep tasting to see how much works for you. Mix it all up, set it in the fridge overnight, and mix again about an hour before serving. Make sure to use a slotted spoon! Should serve 6, but don't count on it.

Check out Gollum's blog for other Foodie Friday recipes!