Revive the tradition of Southern Sunday dinners

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By Ann Cipperly

Recently, I have been thinking about growing up in Opelika. My happiest memories were on Sundays when my Mother would be in the kitchen preparing a wonderful dinner with fried chicken or beef roast, garden fresh vegetables, biscuits and a yummy dessert, which was quickly devoured by my brother, sister and myself.

I realized that while I loved Mom’s Sunday dinner, I am most thankful for growing up in a Christian home.

This came to mind as I was sitting in the CT scan waiting room at M.D. Anderson in Houston. I had been given a tall pre-test drink laced with additives to aid in the tests. I had an hour to sip the beverage before I was called to have a port inserted for the dyes used in the body scans.

Don sat next to me wearing earphones, as he looked over the assorted music selections on his iPad.

As the room filled up quickly, the nervous looks were obvious on those arriving. A woman pushing her wheelchair sat down next to me. She was wearing a mask and a small paper cap to cover her bare head. I smiled and asked where she was from. ”Not far,” she nervously said, being from a nearby town.

A lady sitting across from us, who had been watching us, came over. She had lived in Long Island, N.Y. I told her my husband had graduated from high school there, as I shook Don’s shoulder to get his attention.

I am always looking at people and often will ask them where they live, especially those who look anxious. I think it helps to have someone to talk to and listen to their story.

When no one was interested in talking and my mind wondered to the “if”, I pulled out my copy of Bible verses I had assembled. The paper is worn and the edges crumbled from being pulled from my purse so many times. These are the verses that always bring peace. I should be nervous, worried and anxious, but instead I feel blessed.

I was blessed to have a Christian family who taught me early in life about Jesus. My earliest memory is standing on our porch \telling my Dad that I wanted to go back to my grandparents’ house next door. In my mind, I can still see the old house lit up and hear the gospel songs. Since my grandmother was crippled and could not attend church, my uncle and cousin, who were both ministers, took worship to her house.

When I was 5 years old, my grandfather passed away. A room with a small porch was built onto our house for my grandmother to live with us. I would sit in her room for hours listening to Bible stories or gospel music.

Jesus was a friend I talked to when I fed the chickens. Sometimes I would sneak leftover cornbread to feed my favorite chickens and baby chicks. I had given them all names and did not like it when one of the hens was on the menu for Sunday dinner.

Our old frame house did not have central heat or air, so when the weather was warm, the doors and windows were always open. I could be found after church sitting in the swing on the porch, waiting for the delicious Sunday dinner. Once in a while I would open the screen door to check on the progress of the meal, forgetting I was not supposed to let the door slam.

At times, I was called to help by setting the table, which would be decorated with Mom’s pretty flowers, if anything was in bloom. I don’t know how she managed to have a vegetable garden and grow flowers with everything else she did.

Glasses would clink at the sound of being filled with ice and sweet tea.

Mom placed the wonderful, homemade dishes on platters around the table, and Dad said grace. It seemed Sunday dinner lasted longer than any others. We would laugh at Dad’s stories of growing up on a farm in the piney woods somewhere outside Opelika.

After Don and I married and had children, I continued the tradition of Sunday dinners after church. Sometimes I prepared the meal a day ahead or used a crock-pot. Other days I quickly assembled easy recipes.

All those sweet memories carried me through the long day of scans and the aftermath of being sick.

As I sat in my doctor’s waiting room the following morning, I knew, whatever the report, I have been blessed with a wonderful family, husband, children and grandchildren. The strength I had to walk into the doctor’s office was from being taught about Jesus that had brought comfort my entire life.

The drive home was lighter than the trip to Houston. I praised God all the way for another good report to keep the miracle going, providing more time to linger over Sunday dinners with my family.

Ann Cipperly can be contacted at recipes@cipperly.com

Recipes:

Marinated Eye of Round Roast
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup wine vinegar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. lemon pepper, optional
1 eye of round roast
Combine marinade ingredients in a 13 by 9 inch pan. Roll roast in sauce. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake roast in sauce for about one and one half hours for medium or 3 hours at 250 degrees. Let sit 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with sauce.

Easy Braised Pork Chops
Pork chops
Salt and pepper
Sliced onion, optional
Water
In a large skillet, pour a small amount of oil. When hot, add pork chops without over crowding. Season chops with salt and pepper. When brown, turn over; add salt and pepper.
When both sides are brown, place on a foiled liked cookie sheet with a rim (foil for easy cleanup). Finish browning pork chops, may need to add a little more oil.
When pork chops are all cooked, pour some of the grease off. Add about 1/2 to 2/3 cup hot water. Stir to loosen brown bits from pan. Boil for a few minutes to cook down.
Pour over chops. Can add a slice of sweet or regular onion on top of each chop. Cover pan tightly with foil.
Bake at 350 for about an hour. Be careful removing foil, as it is hot.

Grilled or Oven Roasted Pork Tenderloin
2 pork tenderloins
Marinade:
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Measure marinade ingredients in a glass dish; stir and add pork, rolling to completely cover meat. Cover and marinate in refrigerator overnight.
Grill Method: Cook pork on grill for about 30 to 40 minutes or until desired doneness. Allow to rest 15 minutes before slicing.
Oven Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle oil in a skillet and brown pork. Pour marinade over meat or roast plain for 25 minutes or until desired doneness. Allow pork to rest 15 minutes before slicing.
Recipe is easy to double or triple.

Easy Saucy Chicken
To prepare ahead, pour sauce over chicken, cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.
1 whole chicken, cut up or 6 chicken breasts or thighs
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup catsup
1/4 cup honey
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sauce ingredients. Place chicken in a shallow baking pan. Pour sauce over top. Baste with sauce from time to time while it cooks for 1 hour.

Sunday Brisket
1 brisket
Sauce:
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup liquid smoke
Sprinkle garlic powder, salt and pepper on brisket; place in large roasting pan. Add Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke. Cover tightly. Bake for 5 hours at 250 degrees. Let rest about 15 minutes before slicing.
*This was always a favorite entrée for the Jasmine Garden Club dinners.

Chicken in Honey Dijon Sauce
Can prepare ahead and then bake.
1 chicken, cut-up or 6 chicken breasts
½ cup honey
½ cup Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. curry powder
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken in baking dish. Combine remaining ingredients; pour over chicken. Cover and bake 45 minutes, basting with sauce. Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer.

Creamy Parmesan Lemon Chicken
6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts or thighs
4 to 6 Tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. sherry or cooking sherry, optional
2 Tbsp. grated lemon rind
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup or more Parmesan cheese
Sauté chicken breasts in butter until light brown; salt and pepper to taste. Place chicken in a baking dish.
Add sherry, lemon juice and rind to butter in skillet. Cook over low heat, stirring for three to four minutes. Slowly blend heavy cream into sauce, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and pour over chicken. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over chicken. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes (longer for thighs) or until cooked. Serve with rice or pasta.

Old Fashioned Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dark molasses
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup shortening or vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9 inch pan. Measure all ingredients into large mixer bowl. Blend 1/2 minute on low speed, scraping bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Lemon Sauce
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
1 egg, well beaten
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Serve warm.

Chicken Cacciatore
Can prepare the day ahead and reheat.
½ cup self-rising flour
Salt, pepper
Buttermilk, optional
2 fryers, cut-up or chicken breasts or thighs
Oil
2 Tbsp. butter
12 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
½ cup sliced celery
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
Two 16-oz. cans diced tomatoes
8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. oregano
Salt and pepper chicken; dip in buttermilk (can omit this step), then roll in flour. Brown in hot oil; place into a large oven proof baking dish.
In another skillet, sauté mushrooms in butter; set aside.
In same skillet, sauté onion, celery and garlic in a small amount of butter or olive oil. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in mushrooms. Pour over chicken. Cover and bake in 350 oven for 30 minutes; remove cover and bake an additional 20 minutes. Serve with pasta.

Chicken Croquettes with Remoulade Sauce
2 Tbsp. butter or oil 
½ medium-size red bell pepper, diced, optional 
4 green onions, thinly sliced 
1 garlic clove, pressed 
3 cups chopped, cooked chicken 
1 cup soft breadcrumbs 
1 large egg, beaten 
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise 
1 Tbsp. Creole mustard or grainy Dijon mustard
2 tsp. Creole seasoning, optional 
Vegetable oil 
Remoulade Sauce
Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper, green onions, and garlic; sauté 3 to 4 minutes until vegetables are tender. 
Combine bell pepper mixture, chicken, and next 5 ingredients. Shape mixture into patties. 
Sauté patties in hot oil over medium heat 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve with Remoulade Sauce. Makes 4 to 6 servings. Remoulade Sauce: 
1 cup mayonnaise 
3 green onions, sliced 
2 Tbsp. Creole mustard or grainy Dijon mustard 
2 garlic cloves, pressed 
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, optional 
Combine ingredients until well blended.

Chicken Thighs with Balsamic Garlic Sauce
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large oven proof skillet over medium high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken smooth side down in the pan and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn chicken, cook a few minutes and place skillet in oven. Cook for 40 minutes or until cooked.
Place chicken on a platter to rest.
Return skillet to stove top over medium high heat, adding more olive oil, if needed. Add minced garlic, stirring constantly for 1 minute, then add balsamic vinegar. Stir, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan for about 1 minute.
Add chicken broth; bring to a boil. Mix butter and flour together to make a paste. Whisk flour into butter mixture; bring to a boil. Simmer until the sauce gets thick, about 2 minutes. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

Chicken with Marsala Sauce
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
Salt and pepper
½ cup flour, optional
2 Tbsp. melted butter or canola oil
1 lb. sliced mushrooms, sliced, optional
1/3 cup dry Marsala wine, sherry or cooking sherry
½ or more cup chicken stock
Grated Swiss, mozzarella or Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Salt and pepper chicken; dredge in flour and lightly brown in butte or oil. Remove to ovenproof dish. Sauté mushrooms in same skillet, adding more butter if necessary; sprinkle over chicken.
In skillet add wine and let simmer; add chicken broth; bring to a boil and simmer a few minutes. Pour over chicken and mushrooms.
Sprinkle cheese of choice over chicken. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is done. Serves 6.

Mom’s Chocolate Pound Cake
2 sticks butter, softened
½ cup shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
4 Tbsp. cocoa
1 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and shortening; add sugar and eggs. Sift dry ingredients; add alternately with milk to creamed mixture. Stir in vanilla. Bake in a greased bundt pan for about 80 minutes or until tests done. Can bake in two loaf pans. Cool and frost.
Frosting
¾ stick butter, softened
5 Tbsp. cocoa
6 Tbsp. milk
1 box powdered sugar
Cream butter and cocoa; add sugar alternately with milk. Mix until blended and smooth.

Parmesan Baked Pork Chops
1 cup Parmesan cheese 
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
4 boneless pork chops
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Combine first 4 ingredients. Rub olive oil on pork chops and dip each one in the Parmesan mixture to coat. Press mixture over pork chops until well covered.
Spray baking pan with nonstick spray. Place pork chops in pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour,

Chicken in Mustard Sauce
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
Flour
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. oil
½ cup chicken broth
3 Tbsp. smooth or grainy Dijon mustard
3/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
Chopped fresh parsley, optional
Season chicken with salt and pepper; coat with flour. Place butter and oil in skillet over medium heat. When hot, add chicken and cook until lightly brown but done. Remove to platter.
Pour broth in skillet; simmer about 2 minutes. Add mustard and cream. Boil until sauce has thickened slightly. Salt if needed.
Spoon sauce over chicken; garnish with parsley.

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