Southern Cookin' Makes You Good Lookin'

Random Rantings about Food and Such

Payday Bar Cake

If life is like a box of chocolates, lately mine has been all nuts. We’ve had some really bad stuff going on recently but we’ve been blessed with great things too. Fortunately God gives you a balance to keep you from getting too full of yourself or so down that you need watching. Last Wednesday, July 4th, was my darling fella’s and my 25th anniversary. Due to circumstances, it was a bittersweet day but honestly i’m thankful for that. Made me take stock so that i realized just how blessed my life with him has been. Good and bad, thick and thin (no snide remarks on the thick part, now)–we’ve done it and we’ve done it together. And if you’ve got to go through these tough times in life, it’s a blessing to have someone to share them with. Nice to know the sweet patooty is there for me. For instance, in our unique celebration of our 25th and the country’s birthday, we went to Niagara Falls with the girls for the first time. We were standing at the overlook where you grab the Maid of the Mist tour, enjoying the awesomeness of the falls, when it happened. Again. Second time this summer and, unfortunately, a recurring theme in my life. Not sure why i’m a magnet but i am. Michael and i are standing side by side when, out of the blue (literally), i get the flying poo salute from a bird on the front of my shirt and a little on my arm. But it’s all good. Last time it was on the top of my head and this time we got so soaked by the falls that my shirt was practically washed afterwards. What did my fella do, though? Offered me his eyeglasses cleaning cloth to wipe it off which meant that later he had nothing to dry his glasses with. That’s a good man. No wonder i’m nuts about him!

Here’s something you’ll be nuts about. And, yes…it is another recipe passed on by Mama so you know already that it’s good.

Thank you, Tracey!

Payday Bar Cake

1 box yellow cake mix

1/3 cup butter, softened, plus 1/4 cup butter

3 cups mini marshmallows

2/3 cup corn syrup (light)

1 egg

2 tsp. vanilla

12 oz. peanut butter chips

2 cups salted peanuts

1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies

Mix cake mix, butter, and egg in a bowl. Press in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ pan and bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 18 minutes. Remove from oven.

Sprinkle marshmallows on top of cake and return to oven for 1–2 minutes or until marshmallows puff.

In a saucepan, heat corn syrup, 1/4 cup butter, vanilla, and peanut butter chips until melted. Remove from heat and stir in Rice Krispies and peanuts. Spoon over marshmallows and spread to cover.

Chill before cutting into bars.

Leave a comment »

Chocolate Cherry Tea Bread

Okay, chocolate lovers.  Here’s a goodie for ya!  This is wonderful with your afternoon tea while you’re watching “Keeping Up Appearances” while using your Royal Doulton with the handpainted periwinkles.  If you’ve never experienced Hyacinth Bucket (it’s pronounced boo-kay), you really have to check out KUA.  Everyone knows or is related to a Hyacinth or a Richard or an Onslow.  ;0)  Anyway, i digress.  Chocolate bread.

Now–if you cannot find cherry chips, just double up on the chocolate or perhaps venture down another road like white chocolate, peanut butter, or the like.  Same thing with the almonds.  You can easily use walnuts, pecans, pistachio, etc.  Makes great mini loaves to give as gifts or as a special treat for someone.

Chocolate Cherry Tea Bread

1/2 cup applesauce

1/3 cup shortening

2 eggs

1/3 cup brewed tea or water

1 1/4 cup sugar or Splenda

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup baking cocoa

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup cherry flavored chips

1/3 cup slivered almonds

Combine applesauce, shortening, eggs, tea/water and sugar; beat on low speed for 30 seconds.  Combine dry ingredients and add to applesauce mixture.  Beat on low for 30 seconds; beat on high for 2 1/2 minutes.

Fold in chips and nuts.  Pour into a greased, floured 9 x 5″ loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to wire rack.

Can be eaten as is or with a glaze.

Leave a comment »

Avocado Chicken Salad and Savory Oatmeal Cookies

Finally!  Some good things to post about!  Yeah!

This past Saturday we were pleased as punch to be able to host our monthly ladies’ tea party.  We were missing a few people but sure had a lot of fun with the wonderful ladies who were able to attend!  I won’t yack on about stuff (as i usually do) but will get right down to business because i’ve got quite a few new recipes to share with you!

First up to bat…Avocado Chicken Salad found at The Spontaneous Hausfrau.  (    To quote the girls, this one is a keeper!  The avocado adds a wonderful creaminess and that extra zing from lime juice which really puts this on another level.  Th only changes i made were to use celery seed instead of celery and Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute (no salt) in place of the Lawry’s Season Salt and they were great.

Next in the line up is a really cool twist on oatmeal cookies found at  (   Don’t think of your grandmother’s sweet cookies filled with chewy raisins.  This is a savory treat bursting with the tang of Parmesan cheese and the pungent taste of rosemary.  Very unique and quite a surprise for the taste buds!


Avocado Chicken Salad

1/2 an avocado
1 tablespoon lime
1/2 cup mayo
6 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Lawry’s season salt or TJ’s 21 Seasoning Salute
2 1/2 cups poached or roasted chicken breast,  chopped
1/3 cup celery, diced, or 1 tablespoon celery seed
1/3 cup dried cranberries

Combine the avocado, lime, mayonnaise, sour cream, worcestershire sauce, and season salt and mix until creamed well.   Transfer the dressing to a large bowl and fold in the chicken, celery, and dried cranberries until well-combined. Chill in the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving.

Savory Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup warm water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup sifted unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Place the oats in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the water over them.

In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, brown sugar and egg. Pour this mixture over the oats, stir to combine, and set aside.

In another mixing bowl, combine the flour, fine sea salt, baking soda, rosemary, and black pepper. Whisk to combine well. Stir in the Parmesan.

Gradually sprinkle the flour mixture over the oat mixture, stirring until combined.

Form 1 tablespoon size scoops of batter and place, evenly spaced on a parchment paper or baking mat-lined cookie sheet. Flatten each piece of dough to about 1/4-inch thick. Use your hands to form an even disk. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on top of each.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, until the edges are slightly darkened.  Cool on a cooling rack.

Leave a comment »

Skillet Cane Syrup Cake

Have you ever found something, especially something you associate with your childhood, that you don’t see on a regular basis and suddenly you’re giddy with excitement?  That happened to me several weeks ago when we were in Ollie’s.  You know, if i could get all of my favorite stores and restaurants and friends and what-not in ONE place,…you’d probably have to call it Heaven because i don’t think it will happen here on earth.  Anyway, for those of you unfamiliar with Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, it is where overstocks go to be bought up by bargain hunters (like me) at a good price.    Sometimes you go to Ollie’s and get a couple things; sometimes you go to Ollie’s and wish you’d brought a U-Haul with you.  The last time we went, i found something i never expected to find.  Bottles of Cane Syrup!  Yes!  You can’t find cane syrup around these parts–just isn’t far South enough.  And to make it even better–it was Roddenberry’s Cane Patch Syrup.  (insert smile)  Now, i know that folks from Louisiana think that Steen’s is the only cane syrup there is but we happened to grow up on Roddenberry’s and think it’s just dandy.  When we would go to  California to visit my grandparents, Mama always made sure to bring a can of Roddenberry’s to Pa who would eat it every morning on Nana’s homemade biscuits and gravy.  Yep, that’s right.  He put syrup on top of his gravy, which i thought was odd but now that i’m older, maybe it wasn’t so strange.

So…all that yack just to tell you about a WONDERFUL recipe i tried today!  Michael’s MawMaw makes syrup cakes but i’ve never been smart enough to get the recipe from her.  After looking at several different recipes online, the one posted on Grit’s website by Razor Family Farms was the winner.  And, buddy, was it a winner!  Believe it or not, i was a good girl and only tweaked it slightly.  She suggested serving the cake with melted butter, toasted pecans, and more syrup.  I put the pecans on the bottom of the pan before adding the batter and it really didn’t need the butter and extra syrup.  It is soooo fine as it is!  If i would do anything differently, it would be to add more pecans, but that’s it.  Very light, moist, and full of flavor!  After baby girl ate a bite, she said, “Tell me again why we ever go out to eat?”  ;0)  You do the dishes and maybe we won’t.  File that one under Heaven also.

Skillet Cane Syrup Cake

1 stick (4 oz) softened butter plus 1 Tbs for melting in skillet

1/2 cup sugar or Splenda

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups cane syrup

2 large eggs

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

dash of nutmeg

1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk

2 tsp vanilla or buttered rum

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Heat oven to 375 and melt a tablespoon of butter in an iron skillet (large.)  Spread melted butter around skillet to coat.  Pour pecans on bottom of hot skillet.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add cane syrup and eggs.  Mix thoroughly.

In a bowl, combine flour, salt, soda, and nutmeg.  Alternate adding dry mixture and buttermilk in the creamed mixture, a bit at the time, until incorporated.  Add vanilla.

Pour batter in the still-hot skillet.  As soon as the skillet is in the oven, turn the temperature down to 350 degrees.  Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, until cake is springy to the touch.


Butterfinger Trifle

My name is April and i’m addicted to Pinterest.  Anyone else need to join my Not Interested in Recovering group? ;0)

Saw a yummy sounding recipe on Pinterest a couple days ago and decided to look around at the blog to see what else this smart lady had to offer.  OH, children!  There it was.  Butterfinger Trifle.  Hello!  Needless to say, i pinned it and decided it was going to be dessert after Sunday dinner.  All i can say is,…Emily at 52 Mantels is a genius!  (

First thing she did that was brilliant: added sour cream to your boxed brownie mix’s list of ingredients.  Talk about fudgy!  Second thing:  add peanut butter to your vanilla pudding.  We may start having peanut butter pudding around here more often!  Now, i will tell you that this arranged marriage started off a little rocky.  Peanut butter was not convinced it wanted to be wed to pudding but after several minutes of persuasion, it finally came around.  I did tweak the recipe just a tad but am sure you’d be happy with either version.

This is a dangerous recipe, friends.  It WILL be gone tomorrow one way or other because resistance was futile for me today! May have to spend a little extra time exercising on Pinterest to work it off.

Butterfinger Trifle

1 box brownie mix

1–8 oz container sour cream (light or non-fat is fine)

2 small boxes vanilla pudding

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

2–8 oz containers whipped topping (or 2 cups homemade)

1 pack (8 bars) fun-size Butterfinger candy bars

Prepare brownie mix according to directions, adding in the 8 ounces of sour cream.  Bake as directed.  Brownies will be very moist and fudge-like.  Allow to cool.

Prepare both boxes of pudding.  Allow to set partially before adding peanut butter.  This takes a bit of mixing but will incorporate eventually!

Crush 4 of the fun-sized (miniature) Butterfingers and mix in with one container of whipped topping.

In a trifle bowl or other container, layer crumbled brownies, pudding mixture, and whipped topping with crushed candy, ending with a layer of brownies on top.  When ready to serve, top with the other container of whipped topping and sprinkle the remaining candy bars, crushed, on top of that.


Little Wait/Little Weight Cake in a Mug

A couple days ago, Ashley asked if i were saving any of the cake mixes for any reason.  Nah, just got them while they were on sale, so have at it.  Less than 10 minutes later, she shows up with a steaming mug.  How sweet!  She brought a cup of tea!  Ha!  Guess again.  She brought CAKE!  Ooooooh!  Cake!

Now you’ve probably seen the mug cake/cake-in-a-mug things before as i have.  This is even better because it is a lighter version.  Some brilliant person got the idea of mixing a box of cake mix (any flavor, any brand) with a box of angel food cake mix so that you only have to add water.  Genius!  Of course, you could add other liquids in place of water.  Use a chocolate cake mix and add coffee–mocha cake!  Or a lemon cake mix and add pineapple juice–sunshine cake!  Carrot cake mix with V-8–super carrot cake!  And Jackie Chan smiles and doesn’t have to karate chop you.  Okay, got carried away there.

Only drawback with these…really hot when they first come out (so blow, blow, blow!) and…doggone, you just want to keep eating them!

Thank you, Ashley, you little muggins you!  ;0)

Cake in a Mug

1 box of cake mix (any flavor or brand)

1 box of angel food cake

Mix cake mixes together in a container that can be sealed.

Single serving:  1/3 cup of cake mix with 3 tablespoons of water.  Mix thoroughly in a larger mug.  Microwave for one minute.  Can spray with cooking oil spray before adding mixture but cleans up fairly easily without it.



So Like Sonic’s Cherry Limeade

Hello,Children!  Hope this finds all well and having a wonderful start to 2012!  Sorry for my absenteeism of late.  Life has been…interesting!  Nuff said.

This past Friday we had the privilege of hosting a surprise birthday luncheon for a very special lady who just happened to be turning eighty-years-young.  Our beloved Jewel (or Lee-J, as her old Air Force and nursing buddies call her) didn’t know what hit her.  She knew she was coming over for lunch, but not that some of her favorite friends would be there as well.  We enjoyed ourselves and enjoyed her enjoying herself! :0)

Queen for the Day, Lee Jewel Lockard

Tried out a new recipe to serve along with iced tea and coffee and it made a big splash.  Literally.  For some reason it “exploded” on poor Ashley when she tried stirring it in the glass dispenser (you know, those cool ones with a spigot.  Love it!  Gift from Stephanie.  World’s s-l-o-w-e-s-t spigot, but no biggee.)  She and dear Donna had to wipe up the tidal wave, but most of it was still present and accounted for.


This recipe is so, so easy and only 3 ingredients!  Life is good!


So Like Sonic’s Cherry Limade

1 can frozen limeade

1 jar maraschino cherries

1 bottle of lemon-lime carbonated soda  (i double batched this recipe  and one of these sodas was Cherry 7-up)

Allow frozen limeade to defrost a bit before mixing.  Add in cherries with juice and soda.  Mix and serve.

* Can freeze some of the cherries in the cherry juice in little shaped containers ahead of time if serving in a punch bowl/glass container.

Leave a comment »

Peanut Butter and Snickers cookies

So, here’s the Reader’s Digest/Campbell’s Soup version…you know, condensed.  Saturday, i was introduced to a cookie that was a “Holy Cow!” experience.  It made up for some disappointment in the situation (which is another story) but sometimes things happen for multiple reasons and i figure this cookie was one of them.  Thank you to a very sweet lady  named Joyce who made them and a very funny and sweet lady named Geri who insisted i try them.

Now, this is what you need to know.  If you can make peanut butter cookies (whether from scratch, a mix or know how to open up a roll of the refrigerated stuff), you’re good to go.  You also need to be able to not only open up mini Snickers bars, but also not succumb to eating all of them.  The latter is the most difficult part of the process.





Because i’d had enough cooking to do for Christmas, i cheated and bought a bag of the dry Betty Crocker Peanut Butter cookie mix.  It is scrumptious!  No  matter how you arrive at your cookie dough, basically all you need to do is get a good-sized spoonful of it and “wrap” it around a mini Snickers bar.  Bake them at 350 degrees for about 8–12 minutes on a parchment lined or greased cookie sheet.  My first sheet’s worth i overbaked, really–you want them to look a little underdone. Not mushy, falling apart but not browned and with crisped tops, if you know what i mean.

Not a lot of info for you, i suppose, but i winged it and it worked great!  Wonderful little cookies!  I had 5 out of 5 thumbs up on my taste testers.

These cookies are just like my two youngest nephews, Corey and Hank, who have just celebrated their birthdays.  Sweet and nutty!  Happy Birthday, guys!  Aunt April loves you!!!


Happy Birthday, Hank!

Happy Birthday, Corey!

Leave a comment »

Samoa Bark

We were blessed with some beautiful, fat snowflakes at church today.  I say blessed because 1) they really were pretty and 2) they didn’t all pile up on the ground and make a mess.  My kind of snow!  Chunky Chick here just doesn’t love having to clean the driveway (but usually does have to) or drive in it, so this was just right.  I actually prefer my white stuff to be right next to the Gulf of Mexico in Pensacola, FL–ya know what i mean?  But this was really cool, especially since it’s one week till Christmas.

Some day i may actually spend Christmas in Samoa.  At least, that’s one of the places Ashley has talked about moving to.  We know the people are fantastic, if my brother Russ’s bunch of Samoan buddies are any indication.  And Samoans make great cookies. ;0)

Speaking of which, Shelly, the inspiring writer of the blog Cookies and Cream (, posted a recipe for Samoa Bark.  HELLO!  Yep, you’ve got my attention!  Chocolate.  Coconut.  Caramel.  Cookies.  What’s not to love?!?!  And it’s also quite simple to make.  One of several goodies that we’ve given away (and taste tested) lately.

Speaking of lovely ingredients, i cleaned the crock pot and have a batch of Hot Chocolate melting away…with the addition of coconut oil and almond extract.  A dark chocolate/Almond Joy Hot Chocolate!  Whee!  I’ll be lookin’ for ya!

Samoa Bark

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate plus 2 oz for drizzle (i used half semi and half Special Dark)

35–40 shortbread cookies

14 oz. bag of caramels

3 cups sweetened coconut

2 Tbs. water

Line a baking sheet with foil/parchment paper.

Melt 12 oz. of chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave.  Spread on the lined baking sheet.

Top chocolate evenly with the cookies.  Place in the freezer while you are working on the next step.

In a non-stick skillet on medium-low heat, toast the coconut, stirring occassionally.  Will take about ten minutes.  OR place coconut on a cookie sheet and bake in a 225 degree oven, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.

Unwrap caramels and place in a medium saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water.  Melt over medium-low heat, stirring continuously, until just melted.  Remove from heat and add coconut, mixing well.

Remove chocolate from freezer and spread the caramel/coconut mixture on top.  Drizzle with melted chocolate.

Return to the freezer for 5 more minutes.  Cut into squares or break into pieces.





Pumpkin-Ginger Trifle

Today’s church service was wonderful.  The sermon was great, the Christmas program was well done by all, and, naturally, we had potluck afterwards.  You knew we would eat, didn’t you?

Usually i have no problems deciding what to bring to church for “eatin’ meetin’s” but for some weird reason i just couldn’t hit on “IT” this time until late in the game.  Maybe it’s because of all the goody-making or being more concerned about the Christmas program.  Whatever the cause, the crock pot full of shredded pork with Zesty Peach BBQ Sauce was a late decision.  The dessert…well, there’s a bit of a story there.

Remember a certain Pumpkin-Ginger Pound Cake named in honor of a certain feline who was ill at the time?  Well, i made quite a LOT of it and ended up freezing some.  I also had a frozen pumpkin pie in the same chest freezer.  Cue the fridge and a container of leftover pumpkin puree.  Add in a few things and what do you get?  Pumpkin-Ginger Trifle.

Okay, so i was taking a chance that it would actually work well together and not trying one BEFORE taking it to church.  As usual, God is good and it was well received.  So, if you happened to be there and want to make your own, OR if you’re curious and want to do the same, here’s the low down.

One:  Go to the previous post for Persi’s Pumpkin Ginger Pound Cake and make one.  Or you could buy a ready-made pound cake.  Won’t be as flavorful but would do in a pinch.  Crumble it into pieces.

Two:  Get a small can of pumpkin puree and a small container of whipping cream.  Whip up the cream (or get a large container of ready-made.)  Put half of the cream aside and mix in the pumpkin with the other half.  I added just a couple drops of almond flavoring to the whipped cream, by the by.

Three:  Make or buy a small pumpkin pie.  Cut it into little pieces.

Four:  Buy a can of sweetened condensed milk and see the previous post on how to turn it into caramel.

Assembly:  In a trifle bowl, small punch bowl, or other suitable container, pour a layer (about half) of pound cake crumbs on bottom.  Next, add a layer (half) of the whipped cream/pumpkin mixture.  Follow with a layer of pumpkin pie pieces.  Dollop caramel on top of that.  Repeat the steps and finish off with the remaining whipped cream that was set aside.

I wasn’t smart enough (and was also in a rush this morning) to take a photo before it was “trifled” with, but here’s a picture of what was left over. ;0)

Beautiful trifle bowl painted by the fabulous Tammy Parker

The cute little gingerbread sprinkles on top don't look so cute now

Leave a comment »