Southern Cookin' Makes You Good Lookin'

Random Rantings about Food and Such

Homemade Butterfingers


Ever seen something that made you think, “I’ve just got to try that to see for myself”?  Well, Steph at the blog, Plain Chicken (http://www.plainchicken.com/) posted a recipe for Homemade Butterfingers that was the red flag to my bull.  It only has three ingredients, which is pretty phenomenal in itself.  Two are easy, obviously–peanut butter and chocolate.  But the third was the total kick in the pants and the reason i just had to try them.  Now before i spill the beans (no, the secret ingredient isn’t beans), let me tell you this.  If you want to make these, you’d better get the ingredient within the next few months because it is seasonal.  Nope.  Not a fruit or vegetable although it’s main ingredient is plant-based.  Are you ready?  Huh?  Okay!  Here goes!

Yup!  Candy corn!  Can you believe it?!?

Let me tell you, children…it worked like a charm.  Be warned though–it does cool off and harden quickly so get that peanut butter in there and stir immediately.  Takes a while to cool, also, so don’t think you can make this and be eating it in thirty minutes.

Three out of three Franzs (still haven’t heard from one yet but expect favorable results) highly recommend them.  My Stef says they’re BETTER than Butterfingers.  Praise indeed!  Moister, ergo better.

Oh no.  One’s calling my name.  Can’t…….resist.  All i can say is, no one better lay a finger on my Better Butterfinger.

melted candy corn

Homemade Butterfingers aka Better Butterfinger

1 lb. candy corn
16 oz jar peanut butter
16 oz pkg. melting chocolate (i used half chocolate bark and half Baker’s Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate)

Melt candy corn in microwave on high 1 minute. Stir and continue cooking in 15-second intervals til melted, stirring after each interval. Stir in peanut butter. Spread mixture in an 8×8 pan lined with parchment. Cool completely. Cut into squares. Dip in melted chocolate candy coating. Lay on waxed paper to set.

liquid candy corn

candy corn/peanut butter mixture

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Margaret’s Pan-Fried Potatoes


You’ve heard Emeril talk about kicking it up a notch?  Well, this old dog learned a new trick while we were visiting Michael’s Aunt Margaret and Uncle Denny at their home in Louisiana.  First, let me tell you about Margaret.  This was my first time to actually get to meet her but i’d heard so many things about her.  Like the fact that she is a Fish Whisperer.  Seriously.  She can fish everybody else under the table–or should that be boat or pier, as the case may be?  And she’s smart as all get out.  She knows more about plumbing and building and such than most of the guys do (sorry, fellas.)  She’s really cool!  Come to find out, she can cook too.  My Mama has always made these wonderful pan-fried potatoes with onions that just make me want to slap somebody (but not Mama.)  Margaret, though, kicked it up a notch and added shredded carrot and bell pepper.  Ooooeee!  That was some fine eatin’, let me tell ya.  Could’ve easily eaten the whole pan myself, but that would’ve been selfish, not made a good first impression,…and left me with no room for her peach cobbler which REALLY would’ve been a shame.

Uncle Denny and Aunt Margaret

The Fish Whisperer

Before you cry foul over the butter, i’m sure you could use olive oil or some other oil or mix one of them with the butter to make it a little more cholesterol friendly.  But, you know what?  You’ve only got so many days on this earth.  Why deprive yourself?  Look at Paula Deen.  She looks as fit as a fiddle and i’ll bet her arteries are lubricated in the stuff.  But that’s just my opinion.

Oh well, i’d better hush.  Time for my night time gig–referee for FWW (Feline World Wrestling.)  Looks like they’re ready to rumble, if the catcrobatics are any indication.  Maybe Michael and i should learn to cat wrestle so we could work off our potatoes.

Nah.

Margaret’s Pan-Fried Potatoes

4 or 5 med. size potatoes
1/3 stick butter, cut in half
1/2 medium onion, sliced thin and separated
1/2 bell pepper, chopped into small pieces
2 carrots, shredded
Salt
Pepper
Peel, wash and slice potatoes, fairly thin.  Put into a bowl of ice water until ready to cook.
Peel and slice onion.  Peel and shred carrots.  Chop bell pepper.
Melt half of  butter in skillet (frying pan). Add half of potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add half of remaining vegetables.  Repeat layers and add remaining butter, cut into slices/pats.  Turn heat to medium; cover pan and cook about twenty minutes.  Remove cover and stir.   Turn heat to medium high to let potatoes brown. When most are brown, remove to a serving bowl.
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Oh, Snap!


Do you ever associate a certain word or phrase with a certain person?  Or a mispronounced word that your child has/does say?  My girls used to eat “pasghetti” and Ashley liked to eat “kitchen” (chicken) while Stephanie liked “fruit cottontail” (fruit cocktail.)  Then there was the weed-peter and i could go on and on, much to their embarrassment.  Of course, as they’ve grown up, we’ve still associated words with them.  See a nice looking motorcycle and we all think or say, “Sweet!”, thanks to Ashley.  Another of her little sayings was “Oh, snap!” so when trying to name this fruity concoction with Ginger Snaps, that just seemed to be appropriate.

Fall is definitely in the air (when you have to mow the lawn wearing a light jacket and never get hot enough to take it off, you know), so last night a change of pace in dessert was called for.  Now, this was probably not the most fall-fruity recipe but you can fall-fruity it however you want.  I’m constantly hounding you to experiment in the kitchen and am doing it again.  Some people are afraid to try to things.  Don’t be!  Embrace your inner Iron Chef or your Paula Deen!  Just take it a little at the time…and i mean that in more ways than one.  If you think that a little almond extract would be good, use just a drop or two, not a tablespoon to begin with.  You can always add more; it’s the taking away that’s the problem.

Oh, snap!  Persi’s giving me the glare.  It’s way past time for her and Ninja’s morning treat.  Off to satisfy the kittehs.

Oh, Snap!

Large can of peaches (drain about 2/3 of liquid)

1 banana (or more)

1/2 cup blueberries (or more)

Few drops of coconut-flavored oil (if desired; other fruit flavored oils would be great as well)

1 tsp. spices (such as Five Spice, pumpkin pie spice or a mix of cinnamon, clove, ginger,  etc.)

Ginger Snap cookies

Whipped Topping

Almond extract (if desired)

Slice banana and add with partially drained peaches, blueberries, oil and spices in a saucepan.  Heat until warm but not boiling.  Layer Ginger Snap cookies with the fruit mixture.  Top with whipped topping that has been mixed with a few drops of almond extract.  Enjoy!

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Chocolate Candy Cake


If you  haven’t figured out by now, i kinda sorta have this thing for chocolate.  Just like i kinda sorta have a thing for God, my hubby, my girls, my family, my country, my kitties, and Mexican food.  Yeah, i’m pretty fanantical about chocolate.  My dream job would be anything that would allow me to work outside or inside the Hershey Chocolate Company’s plant and smell that wonderful cocoa-filled atmosphere.  If you’ve never been to Hershey,PA, you should go just to roll down the windows of your car and breathe.  Anyway, back to chocolate.

If Southern cookin’ makes you good lookin’, chocolate makes you happy, healthy (hey, it’s a known medical fact), and interesting.  Think about it.  If someone says that something or somebody is vanilla, what do you think?  Boring.  My hubby is having a fit over here (nosey parker is reading as i type–have you guessed he’s the ultimate vanilla lover?)  So, if chocolate is the opposite of vanilla…well, you figure it out.  (He’s still having a conniption.  Poor non-chocolate person.)

Now, his little sister, Rebecca, on the other hand, is a chocoholic too.  And since i missed blogging on her birthday, this one’s for her.  Mama made one of these cakes last week and we got to help devour it.  Oh, sweet cocoa beans!  Just give me the frosting and a spoon and get out of the way.  Yowza.  Wish i had pix of the cake but was too busy stuffing my face to even think about it.  Typical.

Belated Happy Birthday, Rebecca!  Enjoy every minute of this year!

Rebecca and Russ

Chocolate Candy Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup water

1 cup butter or margarine

1/4 cup baking cocoa powder

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Candy Frosting

Combine fliour, sugar and soda; mix well and set aside.

Combine water, butter and cocoa in a heavy saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Gradually stir into flour mixture.  Stir in buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla.  Pour into a greased and floured 13 x 9 pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  While warm, prick cake surface at 1 inch intervals with a fork/meat fork.  Spread with frosting.  Yield: 15 servings or 5 chocoholic servings.

Chocolate Candy Frosting

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs evaporated milk

1/4 cup baking cocoa

1 (16 oz) pkg powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Combine butter, milk and cocoa in a heavy saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Stir in sugar; return to a boil, stirring constantly.  Immediately remove from heat.  Add vanilla and pecans; stir constantly 3 to 5 minutes or until frosting begins to lose its gloss.  Yield: enough for one sheet cake or for one chunky rump like me  to eat in a binge.

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Dirty Rice


You’ve heard me go on and on about the cooks in my family but Michael is equally blessed in great cooks.  His mom, Sue, is a fantastic cook and she learned it from her mother, Editha, aka MawMaw.   Holy Cannoli, can that lady cook!  And usually cooks enough for the guys from nearby Ft. Polk to all walk away full.  But when you’re used to feeding lots of people (she’s had five children, sixteen grandchildren, and i’ve lost track of the greats and great-greats), what can you expect?  While we were visiting her Wednesday, MawMaw had outdone herself again.  It’s more of a question of what she DIDN’T cook than what she did.  My thighs just gained five pounds thinking about it.

Michael and MawMaw

I’m sure all of her younguns have their favorite dishes.  Michael’s would be her cornbread.  He absolutely has to have a bowl of cornbread and milk or he feels like he hasn’t been to MawMaw’s. I’d be hard-pressed to say which of her dishes is my favorite but her Dirty Rice ranks way up there.  She graciously told me how she does it.  Now, as with any great cook, there aren’t exact measurements but she gave me enough info that i guesstimated well enough for the batch we had today.  I brought a spoonful of it for Michael to taste to see if he thought it was close enough and i guess it was.  I had dropped a grain of rice on my shirt and he asked if he could have it and proceeded to pop it in his mouth.  Nuff said.

MawMaw and daughter Sue

If you’re blessed to have a MawMaw or a Mama or someone wonderful in your family whose cooking is the highlight of your family get-togethers, thank God for them!  And let them know.  Tell them you know you’re the good-lookin’ person you are today all because of them.  Even if you’re uglier than a mud fence, tell ’em.  Even if you look like you fell out of an ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down, tell ’em.  Even if….well, just tell ’em and eat a bowl of your favorite dish just for me.  Couldn’t hurt.

MawMaw’s Dirty Rice

2 rolls of Jimmy Dean hot sausage

4 cups of cooked rice

1 bell pepper chopped (MawMaw mixes the different colors of peppers so it looks really pretty)

1/2 onion, chopped

Cajun seasoning (like Tony Chachere’s or Louisiana brand)

water

Cook sausage in a Dutch oven or deep skillet to which you’ve added water.  You don’t want to fry the sausage but want it to cook down and be in a liquid mixture.  When sausage is no longer pink, add pepper and onion, cooking until tender.  Add Cajun seasoning and mix thoroughly.  Gradually add in rice, mixing thoroughly with each addition.

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Chocolate Lover’s Banana Pudding


When life hands you lemons,…well, you know the rest.  Today, life (or should I say Aldi’s grocery store) handed us bananas for 25 cents a pound.  Hard to resist, right?  Michael said we could make banana pudding–hint, hint.  So, we backtracked through the store to pick up puddin’ ingredients and when we got to the pudding mix, a thought struck.  What if you used chocolate pudding and made a chocolate lover’s version?  Well!  We’re on to something now!  Then we walked over to the cookie section and what do we find next to the vanilla wafers?  Fudge-striped cookies.  Magic!  And, being a genius, Michael said it had to have chocolate syrup on top, so there you have it.  Chocolate Lover’s Banana Pudding.

Naturally i could not post this without having done clinical trials.  Both test participants deemed it fit for human consumption.  Who am i kididng?  Michael and i thought it was pretty doggone good–and he’s not even a chocolate lover.  If it passes the Chocoholic Junior’s–Stephanie’s–taste test, we’ll declare it a success.  If you’re a chocofanatic, tell me what you think.  We Chocolatiers have to stick together…until there’s only one last piece of chocolate and then it’s every woman (or man) for her-or-himself.

Chocolate Lover’s Banana Pudding

2 boxes instant chocolate pudding mix

4 cups milk

5 or 6 bananas

1 pkg. fudge-striped cookies, crushed/crumbled

Half a package of Heath Toffee Bits (optional but really good!)

Cool Whip or homemade whipped cream

Chocolate syrup

Prepare chocolate pudding according to directions.

Place half of crushed/crumbled cookies in a large bowl or pan.  Layer half of the bananas, sliced, on top.  Sprinkle on part of the Heath Toffee Bits, if desired.  Spread half of the pudding mixture on top.  Repeat the layers and chill.  When ready to serve, add a generous dollop of whipped cream and even more generous amount of chocolate syrup on top.  Generous.  GEN-ER-OUS.

Crumbled and Crushed Fudge-Stripe Cookies

Layers of Cookies, Bananas, Heath Bits, and Pudding

Banana Puddin. You doin' it right.

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Eggs Benedict


I’m baaaack!  Honey, let me tell you–going home to visit family is like going to food heaven.  Oh, how i’ve eaten the last two weeks!  My mouth and tummy have not known such glory in a while.  If Southern cookin’ does make you good lookin’, i should be Lynda Carter or Sophia Loren or somebody beautiful by now.  And all this yummalicious eating means one thing: more recipes!  Whoo hoo!  Isn’t it funny how you forget some of the things you’ve grown up with?  The other day, Mama mentioned a wonderful bread recipe that i had completely forgotten but when she said it, my childhood taste buds started salivating.  Don’t worry–it’s on the list of things to blog.

But first,…you are about to be blessed.  My brother Steve–remember the Muffin Man?  the one who gave us the scrumdillyumptious Blueberry Muffin recipe?–has gifted us with another of his wondrous concoctions.  Forgive the blatant boasting but i got to eat some of his cooking while i was home.  I know, i know.  And, yes, you should be jealous.  Anywho, i digress.  On today’s menu: Eggs Benedict a la Steve.

I’m gonna hush from here on out and let him do the blogging  but will say that i’m including the pic he sent of his eggberts and also pics i took the night we had dinner with him and his four lovely gals (wife Kim and daughters Courtney, Haley, and Karrigan.)  They made homemade pizza and, pa-zow!, it was out of this world!  Thanks for the recipe, brother mine, and for the terrific dinner and even better fellowship, all five of you!  We love you!

Eggs Benedict

8 Eggs
1 stick Butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice (or the juice of one small lemon)
pinch of salt
2 english muffins (or 4 pieces of toast-homemade bread works wonderful here)
Ham
Basil/Rosemary/Dill/Thyme (lots of leeway here..whatever you have fresh will work;  I have used all.)
Fill a large pot about a quarter of the way and set it to low boil.  Set large metal mixing bowl on top of the boiling pot making sure not to let water actually touch the bowl (double boiler works great if you have one).  Put 4 egg yolks only into the mixing bowl (I save the whites for meringue or other treats, but if you don’t have immediate plans then discard them before they go bad)  Add lemon juice to yolks and whisk until mixture thickens and almost doubles in size.  Melt the stick of butter and slowly incorporate it into the egg mixture (if you go too fast, the heat from the butter could scramble the eggs.)   Once you have all of the butter in, continue to whisk until mixture has doubled and the consistency is fairly smooth.   Good work, you just made hollandaise sauce!!
Leave the boiling water  pot on and take your remaining 4 eggs and crack them gently and drop into the water.  Keep an eye on them, it only takes a few minutes to properly poach (I prefer mine to be runny to add to the hollandaise sauce but some like the yolk cooked thoroughly)  A great tip I have learned for people having difficulty breaking the yolks during this procedure, take a large piece of saran wrap, crack the egg into the middle, close the edges of the wrap around the egg and tie it off.  Place the entire package into boiling water and poach.  This can also help you shape the finished product into neat little formations!
While the eggs are cooking, take your cooked ham (I like to smoke or grill mine to give it even more amazing flavor) and place into a chop chop or other food processor.  Blend the ham up to the consistency you desire (my kids like it fine chopped like a powder almost)  Set ham aside for now.  Take the fresh herbs you picked from your garden and give them a rough chop and set aside.
Toast muffins or bread and plate them.  Now take your eggs out of the boiling water one at a time and drain thoroughly.  Place one egg on each piece of toast and cover liberally with hollandaise sauce.  Take your chopped ham and sprinkle over the plate and finally take your herbs and finish off.
The flavor of the fresh herbs with the smokiness of the ham and the creamy heaven of the fresh hollandaise sauce will have your entire family requesting this breakfast over and over again.
Bon Appetit!

Culinary Artist Steve "Gator Boy" Scott

Karrigan aka Krusty

Haley aka The Saucy Minx

Courtney aka Cheezer

Pizza aka Gone!

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