Butter. It Is Our Friend.

As much as I love to cook, I have never really been one for baking. It’s way too exact for me. I’d much rather make something where I can throw in a dollop of this and a dash of that and a heap of something else and then stick it in the oven until it smells like it’s done.

Plus, baking sometimes requires special equipment like candy thermometers and double boilers. And also baking doesn’t involve nearly enough cheese.


There’s something about Christmastime.

And for the last couple of weeks, I have been baking up a storm. At least by my standards. Compared to your standards, I’ve probably just been baking up a light shower. Nonetheless, I thought I’d share a few bake-y recipes that I love.

Note: you will not see any homemade candy on this list. I draw the line at having to use a candy thermometer. It’s bad enough that baking requires me to do all sorts of math.

Mama’s Pound Cake – It’s a classic.

Hummingbird Cake – This is one of the first layer cakes that I ever made, and it’s still one of my favorites. The pineapple in the layers makes me so happy.

The Bar – I made this recipe for the first time tonight, and OH. MY. WORD. I don’t know when I’ve ever tasted something and thought, Well, this is just butter in all its glory. I’m taking these to a Christmas party tomorrow night, and then I’m going to make another batch next week because my mama WILL. LOVE. THEM. Three sticks of butter makes everything better, you know.

Coconut Cake – I’m not usually a fan of coconut. But these cake layers are so delicious that they totally won me over.

Peanut Butter Blossoms – Peanut butter. Chocolate. Sugar. Butter. What’s not to love?

Lucy’s Chocolate Pie – My grandmother’s chocolate pudding recipe is the best. THE BEST. And in a baked pie shell? With some homemade meringue on top? Perfection.

(Just FYI: for my meringue, I whip four egg whites with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. When the egg whites make stiff peaks, I spread the meringue on top of a cooled chocolate pie, then put the whole thing in the oven until the peaks start to get some color on them.)

Apple Dumplings – These are so good that I talked about them for two days after I made them. Could not get over how something so simple could be so delicious. I’m planning to make them this Christmas Eve, in fact.

Chocolate Citrus Cake with Candied Oranges – I made this cake last week. I skipped the candied oranges step because it was after 10 at night when I iced the cake and MAMA NEEDED SOME SLEEP. My cake didn’t turn out nearly as pretty as the picture next to the recipe, but let me tell you what: the layers of this cake – and the chocolate ganache in between – are ABSOLUTELY DIVINE. I think when I make this cake again I’ll probably just do the cake with some whipped cream and candied oranges on top. No icing. The layers are THAT good.

So those are my favorites – what are some of yours?

DipTacular 2009

Well, I think we can all agree that it’s a glorious time of year. In addition to the fact that fall is just around the corner and September is blessedly, unseasonably cool so far, college football is now underway. In fact, as I’m writing this post Boise State and Oregon are playing on ESPN, and even thought I am always a wee bit puzzled by Boise State’s blue football field, I am TICKLED TO PIECES to see them on my TV screen tonight.

Because where college football leads, dips will most always follow.

Hallelujah. Give the Lord a handclap of praise.

I don’t think I’ve ever – EVER – met a dip that I didn’t like, and as far as I’m concerned there’s no more perfect gameday menu than about four or five dips and an assortment of chips. And I think it goes without saying that at least one of those bag-o-chips needs to be Fritos.

I adore a Frito.

Anyway, whenever my beloved Mississippi State Bulldogs play a televised game, you can rest assured that a couple of things will be happening in our house: 1) I will be vacuuming, because I get very, VERY nervous when the Bulldogs play and there’s something about vacuuming that soothes my nerves, not to mention that all my yelling isn’t nearly as obnoxious when the vacuum drowns it out and 2) I will be eating cheese dip. Well, and 3) I will be drinking diet Coke over ice.

And 4) I will be calling my sister at least 5 or 20 times.

We’re sort of enthusiastic about our Bulldogs around here.

So in the spirit of fall and football season and fun times with family and friends, here are a few dips that I love to make for college gamedays.

Caramelized Onion Dip
from Come On In

1 tablespoon REAL butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large red onion, quartered, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup REAL mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Saute’ onion in butter and oil until caramelized (takes about 15-20 minutes). Cool and combine with remaining ingredients. Mix well and chill for at least 1 hour. Serve with chips or crackers – or both if you’re feeling crazy. Serves 6.


Asian Style Dip
from Epicurious

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespooon toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

Combine first 11 ingredients in a small bowl; whisk to blend.

Cover and refrigerate. Serve with assorted cut-up vegetables (carrots, red bell peppers, sugar snap peas, cucumber, broccoli – whatever you like). Serves 6.


And finally, I’ve posted this recipe before, but OH MY WORD it bears repeating, mainly because it will change your life forever.

White Rotel Dip
from my sister-in-law Janie

3 packages of pork sausage (mild or spicy is fine – but use at least 1 maple-flavored)
4 packages of cream cheese
2 cans of Rotel tomatoes

Brown sausage and drain. In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients and heat until cheese is melted, being careful to stir often.

Serve with tortilla chips. And as I said the first time I posted it, if you’re worried about eating cream cheese AND sausage in the same dish, don’t worry because the tomatoes are TOTALLY healthy, and therefore you’ll be just fine.


I hope y’all have a great time looking through all the recipes today – I cannot WAIT to find some cheese-laden treasures. And remember: when you add your post to the Mr. Linky, please link to your specific post – not your general blog URL.

Happy DipTacular, y’all!

Because I Want To Affirm You And Your Cream Cheese-Related Goals

When Janie and I were trying to get our ducks in a row for this trip, my husband actually suggested that instead of fixing big meals at night, we could round up something for the boys and then have a little appetizer fest for the grown-ups. Janie and I thought this plan was sixty three kinds of brilliant because, well, YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED THAT WE ENJOY US SOME APPETIZERS.

So. I feel that it’s only right and fair for me to bring you up-to-speed on this trip’s Featured Appetizers.

(I just totally made up that whole “Featured Appetizers” business.)

(But sometimes I just like to pretend like I’m writing on the chalkboard at The Olive Garden.)

(After all, when you’re here, you’re family.)

Hot Bacon Swiss Dip

2 packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
5 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, Swiss cheese and green onion. Spread mixture in a round Pyrex pie plate. Top with crackers and bacon, then bake at 350 until bubbly. Serve with your favorite chip.


Chili Bean Dip

2 packages cream cheese, softened (ARE YOU NOTICING A PATTERN?)
1 can Hormel turkey chili
2 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese

Spread cream cheese on bottom of square baking dish. Top with chili, then cheese. Bake on 350 until cheese is melted and everything is nice and bubbly. Serve with Fritos.


Paula’s Black Bean Salsa

PW’s Jalapeno Bacon Thingies

PW’s Chili Con Queso

PW’s Pico de Gallo & Guacamole


So. That all ought to do nicely, don’t you think?

(Also: please know that we’re making these over the course of five nights. However, if you feel led to make these over the course of, say, one night, then please know that I completely support – and lo, even admire – your decision.)

And even though the boys haven’t partaken of our appetizers, they have enjoyed untold volumes of sliced turkey, Cheetos, chocolate chip cookies and Sprite. And cereal. OH SWEET MERCY at the cereal.

Finally, this:

There is not a doubt in my mind that he has made some of the happiest memories of his life in the last three days.

And this:

God pretty much showed out with the whole where-the-water-meets-the-sky thing, didn’t He?

Happy Tuesday, y’all.

Bacon Always Comes To The Rescue

Today was just a typical summer day for us – a little swimming, a little errand running, a little resting, a little playing – and I was honestly wondering how in the sam hill I was going to write a blog post tonight considering the deep level of mundane we’ve got going on over here. I mean, would you like to hear about the new sunscreen I bought today at Target? Or the pile of towels I haven’t folded? Or how I can’t seem to get the water out of my ears and keep asking people to repeat things? Or how I pulled out the Windex this morning because our coffee table glass is all smudgy and here it is sixteen hours later and that coffee table has still not seen fit to grab hold of that Windex and CLEAN ITS OWN DADGUM SELF, CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THE NERVE?

But tonight I was flipping between HGTV and Food Network – as I tend to do on all the days that end in “y” – and do you know what show was about to come on Food Network? DO YOU KNOW?

A show called “The Best Thing I Ever Ate – With Bacon.”


It was like I had died and gone to fried pork heaven, y’all.

(And do you know what you do in fried pork heaven? You talk incessantly about bacon. THEN YOU EAT IT.)

I won’t spoil all the delightful bacon-related details in case you haven’t seen the show yet, but I didn’t just watch that show: I talked back to it. I almost shouted “AMEN” one time, but I caught myself and just said “YESSIR” instead. However, I’m pretty sure that if I’d had a handkerchief in my hand I would’ve waved it. And a couple of times the food looked so good that I thought about standing up and stomping my feet in affirmation, but I figured my husband was probably disturbed enough that I was talking back to a TV show about bacon, so I erred on the side of restraint.

Anyway, watching the show made me think about the best thing I’ve ever eaten with bacon, and initially I decided that I’m a purist – someone who likes thick-sliced bacon fried really crispy, the end. But then I remembered the first time I cooked Spicy Barbecued Shrimp – eight or nine years ago, probably – and after I tasted it I thought oh, the bacon TOTALLY transforms the flavor of this dish. To this day it’s one of my favorite recipes, and in light of tonight’s TV show, I thought I’d share it with y’all.

And this is not an original recipe, mind you. It’s from Southern Living, but since I can’t find it on SL’s recipe site anymore, I’ll just type it out here. Because apparently it’s very important to me that we all enjoy the bacon.

Spicy Barbecue Shrimp

1/4 pound bacon, chopped
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, pressed
2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 pounds unpeeled, medium-size fresh shrimp

Saute’ bacon a large skillet until crisp. Add butter and next 4 ingredients, and cook over medium heat until onion is tender. Stir in lemon juice and shrimp; cook, stirring often, 5 to 7 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Serve with French bread. Makes 3 to 4 main dish servings or 8 appetizer servings.

One amendment to the recipe: after you eat all your shrimp, you really need to sop up the remaining butter and bacon grease and seasoning with your French bread. I just want to encourage you to do that, okay? It’s BACON-INFUSED BUTTER, for crying out loud. There’s just no good reason to be timid. Except for the sake of your cholesterol, of course, but you can worry about that another time.

And by all means, if you have any bacon-related recipes (or lo, even bacon-related memories) that you’d like to share with the class, I think I can speak for all of us and say THE INTERNET WOULD BE SO GRATEFUL.

In fact, if I may paraphrase something that Duff from “Ace of Cakes” said during tonight’s show: it’ll be a “celebacon.”

Why yes. Yes it will be.

And I for one could not be more delighted.

Breakfast Round-Up

I’m not very good about organizing the recipes I post here in any sort of easy-to-locate fashion, so when holidays roll around I usually get emails with subject lines that say things like “Coffee Cake Recipe?” or “Breakfast Casserole Recipe?” or “WOMAN, WHY CAN’T YOU FILE THINGS SO WE CAN FIND THEM?”

Maybe notsomuch that last one. But I bet y’all think it.

Anyway, most of the requests are for breakfast dishes (I am such a fan of the two-meal option when there’s company in the house; I love to fix a big breakfast and then supper late in the afternoon…at lunch guests can have snacks or leftovers or air, it’s totally up to them), so I thought I’d put them all in one spot for you hostesses with the mostestses.

Quick Oatmeal Granola
Cheese Grits
Breakfast Casserole
Apple-Craisin French Toast Casserole
Granite Steps Coffee Cake
Crescent Roll Breakfast Casserole
Angela’s Chocolate Gravy
Pound Cake (if you have never had pound cake for breakfast, you have no idea what you’re missing)
Coconut Cake (I mean, WHY NOT? Coconut is a fruit, and I think fruit always qualifies as a breakfast food.)
Fig Preserves Cake (again, IT’S A FRUIT)

And as always, you can never go wrong with identifiable meat.

Hope you enjoy All The Butter, y’all.

Edited to add the Chocolate Gravy link – and I corrected the salt amount on the fig preserves cake, just FYI.

It’s Not Purty But It’s Good

When I was a little girl we spent many Wednesday nights at Family Night Supper. It was almost always a potluck affair, and while Poplar Springs Methodist wasn’t the largest congregation in my hometown, I PROMISE that we had the best cooks. I’d put them up against any other church in Mississippi – even the Baptist ones.

I mean, y’all know the Baptists can throw down with some potluck. It’s their collective spiritual gift.

It’s funny when I look back on that time and realize that I always knew whose dishes to look for as we walked through the potluck line. Miss Kitty made a chicken pie that I loved. Mrs. Julia made scalloped potatoes, and anything Miss Ruth made was delicious. Ditto for Martha and my mama, who never showed up for Family Night Supper without a freshly baked cake or pie, with the exception of that one time Martha took an Edward’s Key Lime Pie because “you just can’t make them any better than they do! You can’t! They’re just so light and creamy and tart but not tarty tart, not so tart that your lips pucker but tart so that it’s just so refreshing, you know it’s refreshing! It’s a refreshing tart!”

So all that to say: I have a thing for food that reminds me of Family Night Supper. I don’t make a lot of casseroles these days because we sort of burned out on them last year, but every once in awhile I’ll run across a casserole recipe that I can’t wait to try. And that happened to me this past weekend in Memphis when I was looking through one of Janie’s Paula Deen magazines – because as soon as I saw the picture that accompanied the recipe, I knew it was some Serious Family Night Fare.


I had most of the ingredients in my pantry, and since the recipe makes 8-10 servings, I knew the three of us could eat the casserole for several meals. And while I was expecting to be underwhelmed, the dish did not disappoint. It’s simple, hearty, tasty and 100% comfort food. Provided that you have happy Family Night memories, of course.

(Thanks, Poplar Springs, for the happy family night memories!)

Paula’s Tater Tot Shepherd’s Pie

1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of celery soup
1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (15-ounce) can niblet corn, drained
1 (15-ounce) can English peas, drained
3 tablespoons browning sauce (I didn’t know what this was so I left it out)
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (I used hot sauce)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon poultry seasoning (left it out because it seemed weird)
1/8 teaspoon sage (left out the sage, too)
(I also added about 1/4 cup sour cream because I just felt like it)
1 (32-ounce) package frozen tater tots

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 13×9-inch baking dish.

In a large skillet, combine ground chuck, onion, and garlic; cook over medium-high heat until meat is browned and crumbles. Drain well.

In a large bowl, combine meat mixture, soups, corn, peas, browning sauce, garlic salt, red pepper, paprika, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and sage. Spoon into prepared baking dish. Top evenly with tater tots.

Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until browned and bubbly.

Makes 8 – 10 servings.

When I took it out of the oven I had such a Family Night Supper Flashback that I had to take a picture. It looks like a big dish of gray and beige – which, come to think of it, I guess it was – but oh, did we ever enjoy it.

It doesn’t even have cheese or bacon (I KNOW!), and still, it was delicious.

Do any of you have Family Night Supper favorites? If so, share the recipe or a link to the recipe in the comments – I have a feeling that Campbell’s Soups are about to be well-represented.

Bon tater tot, y’all.