Grandma Sarah was Jeff’s grandmother. We moved into her house after she passed away, and as we were cleaning it out, I found a big book of her recipes. Since our blueberry bushes are full of berries right now, I went through her book a few days ago looking for blueberry recipes. She had a ton of them – lots of cakes, muffins, and crumbles – but pound cake is one of my favorites, so I decided to try this one first.
Here’s the recipe:
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup milk
Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, grease a 10 inch tube pan and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a very large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture’s well combined.
Beat in the eggs one at a time.
Stir the blueberries into the flour mixture.
Gently stir the blueberry mixture into the butter mixture by hand.
Stir in milk until just combined.
Spread batter into prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees for 60-75 minutes. (It took me 75, but check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the cake around 60 minutes. If the toothpick comes out clean, it’s done.)
Cool I’m the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Aunt Sarah is my grandmother’s sister, and when I was younger, she had a restaurant in our little hometown called the Kountry Kitchen. The restaurant was a lunch buffet where they would have a couple different meat choices each day and about five or six different sides to choose from. Fridays were always my favorite, because Friday was broccoli casserole day.
When I was little, I was extremely picky, so everyone was amazed that I would even eat broccoli casserole. I loved the stuff so much that Aunt Sarah started making it for all of our family get-togethers. She makes a pan without the cheese topping for me because I don’t like cheese (yes, I’m spoiled).
This recipe is one of my favorites, especially around the holidays.
2 one pound packages of frozen broccoli
1 small yellow or white onion, diced
1 stick butter or margarine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup white rice, uncooked (we use MinuteRice for this recipe and it works great)
Salt and pepper to taste
Place broccoli in a large boiler. Add about 2 cups of water and cook until the broccoli is very tender (the pieces should be falling apart).
Melt the stick of butter and sauté onion in the butter until they become transparent.
Stir together the cooked broccoli, butter and onions, soups, and rice until mixed well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour into a greased 9×13 casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the edges of the casserole start to bubble. (This recipe also freezes well, so you can divide the mixture into smaller dishes and freeze some for later, which is what I usually do).
OPTIONAL: Add grated cheese or a butter cracker crust on top before baking.
This recipe is a staple at our house. It’s easy to toss everything in my slow cooker before I go to work and it’s perfectly tender and has the house smelling amazing when we get home. It’s incredibly easy to do, requires almost no prep, and just does it’s thing in the slow cooker without me having to do anything. On a busy weekday, that’s definitely a win in my book!
One 2-3 lb chuck roast
4 medium russet potatoes, cubed
2 handfuls baby carrots
1/2 onion, sliced
1/4 cup beef broth
Place the chuck roast in the slow cooker. If you want it to cook faster, you can cut it into smaller pieces.
Season well with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
Top with carrots, cubed potatoes, and sliced onion.
Pour in 1/4 cup beef broth (or you can use water, but it won’t have as much flavor).
Cook on low for 8-9 hours OR on high for 4-5 hours, until potatoes and carrots are fork tender and meat can be easily shredded with a fork.
This reheats really well, and I usually have a couple days worth of leftovers when I cook a roast this size. I use leftovers for an easy lunch or use them to make sandwiches or my Shredded Beef Stuffed Baked Potatoes.
My Mamaw Gibson has been bringing this fruit salad to every family event and church social for as long as I can remember. It is one of my favorites. It’s also my brother’s absolute favorite fruit salad ever and he always requests it when we all get together. It makes the perfect sweet summer treat.
1 can pineapple chunks, drained
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1 can sliced peaches, drained
2 bananas, sliced
1 can strawberry pie filling
Drain the canned fruit really well and pour into a large bowl. Add sliced bananas. Pour strawberry pie filling over the top and mix well. Refrigerate before serving.
When I was about 5 or 6, I would spend the summers at my Mamaw Hopper and DeDad’s house (my dad’s parents). I would spend my days following DeDad around, watching PBS, taking Mamaw’s ear off, and waiting for my uncle to get off work at 3:00 because he always had something fun to do before my mom came to pick me up on her way home from work.
DeDad always had a garden, so in the summer Mamaw Hopper would cook vegetables from his garden and cornbread for lunch almost every day. I wasn’t allowed to help her cook because she had one of those old, gold-colored gas stoves and it would get really hot when she turned the oven on. She was always afraid I would get burned, so she would corral me by putting me on a a barstool in the corner of the kitchen away from the stove so I could talk while she worked. She made cornbread every day, and there was usually a huge spread of vegetables to choose from for lunch. DeDad grew peas, tomatoes, corn, pepper, squash, and my favorite: okra. Whenever he would come in with a 5 gallon bucket of okra in the morning, I would be so excited because that meant Mamaw was going to cook fried okra.
Mamaw and me in 1993
I loved her fried okra, and after Mamaw Hopper passed away when I was 9, my mother and I spent a few years trying to figure out exactly what she did that made it so good. Of course, that recipe wasn’t written down anywhere, so we had to go from memory. We would make a batch, taste it, and it would never be the same. We racked our brains trying to figure out what she could have done that we were forgetting.
Now, when Mamaw made fried okra, she didn’t deep fry it. She actually didn’t fry it at all. She would put a pan in the oven and get it really hot, put a little oil in the bottom of the pan, and then add the okra and bake it in the oven. I remember watching from my stool in the corner as she would take it out every 15 minutes to stir it around so it cooked evenly. It always smelled so good, and I would ask every time if it was ready yet. My mom and I were doing the exact same thing, but it just wasn’t turning out right. What we made was good, but it just wasn’t as good as Mamaw’s.
Finally, one day when we were at the grocery store, my mom reached for a bag of white cornmeal, which is what she always bought. Out of the blue, I mentioned that Mamaw used to always buy yellow cornmeal and asked why we never used the yellow kind. My mom said that she had always bought the white because thats what her mom bought, but I wanted to try the yellow, so that’s what we got.
Later, we decided to make okra. We had pretty much given up on ever figuring out what Mamaw’s exact recipe was, but our copycat was pretty good, so we made it just like always. Heat the pan, put a tiny bit of oil in the pan, pour in the frozen okra, sprinkle on some cornmeal, garlic salt, and seasoned salt, and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Guess what! The yellow corn meal made a HUGE difference! It tasted exactly like Mamaw’s okra! I have had people tell me that this doesn’t make sense, because white and yellow cornmeal taste the same, but they’re wrong. The yellow cornmeal made all the difference, and my mom and I were both so happy to finally be able to make okra for my dad that tastes just like his mom’s.
So here’s what you need for Mamaw Hopper’s Okra:
1 lb bag of frozen okra
Yellow corn meal
Lowry’s garlic salt
Lowry’s seasoned salt
Oil or cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the pan in the oven while it’s preheating so the pan gets hot (this keeps the okra from sticking to the pan).
Once the pan is hot, spray with a liberal amount of cooking spray or pour in about a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Spread the okra out into an even layer in the pan. Sprinkle about 1/8 a cup of yellow cornmeal over the okra. Season with garlic and seasoned salt to taste (I like my okra pretty salty, so I go pretty heavy with this part). Stir the okra so it’s all coated with the meal and seasoning. Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour, taking out to stir every 15 minutes.
My dad actually likes his okra a little bit more crispy, so sometimes I stick it back in the oven for an extra 15 minutes for him. I love that the breeding is light so you can really taste the okra. This is a favorite side dish in our house, and I love that I think of my Mamaw every time I make it.
This is Jeff. He’s a runner, golfer, fisherman, and the greatest husband ever. He’s also the Grill Master at our house, and last night he grilled us up some of his signature cream cheese burgers.
What makes his burgers so special is that he mixes cream cheese in with the meat before forming the patties. This makes a super moist and juicy burger. I’d never had anything like this until we started dating, and even though I’m not a huge fan of cream cheese, he eventually won me over with these. To me, the key is making sure the cream cheese gets mixed with the meat evenly.
Here’s what you need for Jeff’s burgers:
1 pound ground chuck
1/3 package cream cheese
Southern Flavor Charbroil Seasoning (This awesome stuff is made in Alabama and it is so good! Jeff uses it on steaks and burgers. If you’re not from Alabama and can’t find this in your grocery store, you can go to www.southernflavor.com for more information.)
Mix the meat and cream cheese so the cream cheese is evenly distributed. Form into large patties (Jeff likes big burgers, so he usually gets 3 large parties from a 1 pound package of meat). Season liberally with Southern Flavor.
Grill on medium heat (Jeff uses a charcoal grill) for 9 minutes on each side.
Jeff loves spicy mayo and ketchup on his burger, and he even likes to spread a little extra cream cheese on top. I stack mine high with lettuce, red onion, and dill pickles.
On the side, we had DeDad’s Famous French Fries.
DeDad is my grandfather on my dad’s side. I used to spend the summers at his house while my parents were at work, and whenever we had a meal that required French fries, my Mamaw would come into the den and hand him a bowl of potatoes and tell him to make his famous French fries. He would sit in his recliner and peel the potatoes with his eyes closed to impress me. He would always pretend that he cut his finger at least once (I fell for it every single time). Then, he would slice the potatoes up and take them in the kitchen to fry them. He told me that he learned to cook when he was in the Navy.
DeDad’s fries were the best French fries I’d ever had, and after the first time he made them, I would always ask my mom for “DeDad’s Famous French Fries” and would complain if she pulled a bag of frozen fries out of the freezer on burger night.
This recipe is super easy. All you need is potatoes, a fryer full of vegetable oil (heated to 350 degrees), and some salt. I’ve never really timed how long I let these cook. I just watch them and take them out of the grease when they start to turn golden brown.
Aunt Mary Joyce has always been one of my family’s many great cooks. While my grandmother and all my aunts are great cooks, Aunt Mary’s recipes are different because she was a military wife and has lived all over the world. Her collection of recipes is definitely one that we all enjoy.
Aunt Mary and Uncle John at a recent family reunion
This recipe for Chalupas (Mexican pork and beans) is one she got from a friend when she lived on the base in Germany (go figure – Mexican food in Germany). I guess her friends were just as well traveled as she was. It’s an easy slow cooker meal for busy weeknights, so it is a perfect upgrade for #tacotuesday instead of just tossing some taco seasoning in some ground beef.
Here’s what you need:
A slow cooker (you can also cook this in a large stock pot on the stove if you have the time)
1 pound pork roast or pork chops
1 pound of dried pinto beans, soaked and rinsed (If you don’t have dried beans, you can use 3 cans of canned pinto beans – this recipe is really super easy and you can use whatever you have on hand. I made it once with a can of pinto beans, a can of red kidney beans, and a can of white kidney beans – you can really do whatever you like and clean out your pantry.)
1 Tbsp. cumin
1.5 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 tsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. chili powder
Spray your slow cooker crock with cooking spray. Layer pork chops or pork roast in bottom of the crock. Pour beans on top and cover with water.
Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
After cooking, remove pork chops from crock and shred pork. Add back to the pot with the spices. Cook on high for 1 more hour, until mixture thickens.
Serve with shredded lettuce, chopped onion and pepper, cheese, and taco shells or tortilla chips.
This makes a large batch, but it will keep in the fridge for about a week, or you can freeze it in a freezer safe jar. My husband and I love to eat it like a soup topped with onions, pepper, cheese, and lettuce. You can also put it in tacos or roll it up in a burrito. It also makes a great dip for parties (tailgate treat, anyone?).