By Ann Cipperly

Hand-painted favorite Bible verses are framed and placed in various rooms at the lovely home of Tiffany and Allen Martin in the Historic District in Opelika. Built in 1916, the house has original floors, high ceilings with deep molding along with spacious grounds with a pool for the Martins’ four children to enjoy the outdoors.

Tiffany grew up in Auburn, while Allen’s family was in Opelika. His father, Stan Martin, attended Opelika High School with Tiffany’s parents, Karen Baker and .Jim Trussell.

Tiffany and Allen met at Lee Scott Academy and attended Auburn University. She graduated with a degree in human development and family studies. They married when Allen was in his second year at Cumberland Law School at Samford University. Allen is now the owner of Martin Law in Opelika.

This year Tiffany is home schooling their children, Allen, 14; Langston, 11; Ellie, 10; and Mary Chapman, 8. The family stays busy with the two boys in traveling basketball with Allen as a coach. Langston is also in tournament fishing for the Auburn Anglers.

“It is generally basketball or fishing tournaments on Mother’s Day,” says Tiffany, “and I love it either way.”

With Allen’s work schedule, Tiffany does most of the cooking and has learned to grill. She began cooking many of their favorite recipes when they were dating. When she was in college, Tiffany and her best friend would spend weekends looking through cookbooks and cooking.

The Honey Grilled Flank Steak is still one of the favorites their children have grown up enjoying. The Grilled Corn goes well with the steak.

Other favorites include Barbecue Grilled Chicken, yummy Key Lime Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce and Orange Ice Cream Cups, a unique treat with a combination of orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream filled in oranges.

Tiffany tries to have a menu plan at the beginning of the week and will ask the children what they would like. She also works in new dishes.  She involves the girls in helping to prepare the food and especially enjoys serving the food to look attractive on the plate.

Tiffany loves being a mother. “My lifelong dream was to be a mom,” she says. “ I have always loved working with children, children with special needs and others with little hearts that need healing. Part of our adoption process was that with Ellie. She is a blessing.”

Her favorite verse is: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth,” III John 1:4.

“Getting to be a mom is something that I adore and have cherished,” she says. “What I love about being a mom includes listening to their hearts and encouraging them to live big dreams.

“I love the idea of not settling and not just having a dream of what you think you can accomplish,” she adds, “so I always encourage them to go bigger. We have dream journals, and I started one for myself.”

For five years Tiffany wrote in her dream journal about having a white house with wrought iron. Their current house is similar to the one she dreamed of having with her family.

“In our house we say, ‘speak life.’ I love providing an atmosphere for that and providing a home where our children can bring friends from all different backgrounds.

“My cooking is not to impress,” says Tiffany, “but to allow the fellowship that would not have been there if we had not taken extra time to prepare a meal.”

Years ago she read a story that had an impact on her life as a mother. She remembers the story was comparing mothers to building great cathedrals.  A part of the story was about a rich man who saw a workman carving a tiny bird inside a beam. The rich man was confused and asked him why he spent so much time carving that bird that would be covered by the roof that no one will ever see.

The workman explained, “God sees it, and what we do.”

Tiffany feels every small thing she does for her children matters, whether it is decorating a cupcake or placing a note in a lunchbox.  “Even if they don’t see it,” she says, “God sees it. No act of kindness is too small for God to see. We are building great cathedrals.

“A truth I took away from this story that has helped me is that the builders of the cathedrals gave their life for something that they would never see finished,” she adds. “As mothers we may not see how our children turn out or all the things they will do in their life, but we know we invested in every part.

“The builders of the cathedrals made great sacrifices but didn’t expect any credit. When cooking, I love the thought of not expecting the comments for the great steak, but just love seeing them enjoying it.

“I know that God sees all we do,” adds Tiffany, “and regardless of how it turns out, God knows that we did the right thing. That is what is most important to me.”

Ann Cipperly can be contacted at


Seven Layer Dip
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 pkg. taco seasoning mix
16 oz. can refried beans
6 oz. carton avocado dip
1 small can chopped black olives, drained
2 large tomatoes, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped chili peppers
2 cups grated Mexican cheese
Combine sour cream and taco mix. Then layer remaining ingredients in order. Chill for 4 hours. Serve with tortilla chips.

Honey Grilled Flank Steak
2 lb. flank steak
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp.  cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. pepper
Score steak diagonally across the grain at 3/4-inch intervals. Place steak in a large heavy-duty, zip lock bag or shallow dish. Combine oil and remaining ingredients; pour over steak. Seal or cover; marinate in refrigerator 8 hours, turning occasionally.
Remove steak from marinade, reserving marinade. Bring marinade to a boil in a small saucepan; set aside.
Grill steak, uncovered, over medium hot coals (350 to 400 degrees) 8 to 10 minutes on each side or until desired doneness, basting with reserved marinade the last 5 minutes. To serve, slice steak diagonally across the grain.

Orange Ice Cream Cups
6 thick-skinned oranges, such as navels or blood oranges
1 qt. orange sherbet
3 cups vanilla ice cream
3 oz. orange juice
Mint leaves for garnish
Cut tops off oranges. Scoop out all of the pulp and juice from the oranges, reserving about 1/4 cup pulp and juice. Set orange shells aside.
In a large bowl, mix sherbet and ice cream together. Add orange pulp and juice and stir to combine. Freeze until just firm.
Spoon mixture into orange shells, packing it down. Freeze for 2 hours. Serve garnished with mint leaves.

Grilled Corn on the Cob
4 ears of corn
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Husk corn; remove silk. Rinse under cold water; shake off excess water. Wrap each ear in foil.
Grill 15 to 20 minutes or until corn is tender, turning occasionally. Remove from grill, unwrap corn.
Mix butter, Parmesan cheese and parsley. Spread butter mixture on corn.

Key Lime Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
8 oz. container sour cream
1 1/2 tsp. grated lime rind
1/2 cup key lime juice
Strawberry Sauce, recipe follows
Garnishes: strawberry halves, lime slices, lime zest
Stir together first 3 ingredients; firmly press on bottom and 1 inch up sides of a greased 9-inch spring-form pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.
Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add 1 1/4 cups sugar, beating until blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in sour cream, lime rind and juice. Pour mixture in crust.
Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 5 minutes. Partially open oven door; let stand in oven 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and immediately run a knife around edge of pan, releasing sides.
Cool completely in pan on a wire rack; cover and chill 8 hours. Garnish, if desired, and serve with Strawberry Sauce (recipe follows).
Strawberry Sauce:
1 1/4 cups fresh strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. grated lime rind
Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.

Banana Pops
4 large bananas
2 cups fruit- flavored yogurt
1 cup crushed cereal
Peel bananas, leave whole, and dip them in yogurt. Roll bananas in crushed cereal to coat. Freeze until firm. Serve when firm.

Barbecue Grilled Chicken
12 oz. can Dr Pepper
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. prepared mustard
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 clove garlic, minced
4 lb. split chicken breasts
In a medium saucepan, combine Dr Pepper and next 8 ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool.
Place chicken in a shallow dish. Pour half of sauce over chicken, and marinate 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
Grill chicken, covered with grill lid, over medium-hot coals (350 to 400 degrees) about 35 minutes or until meat thermometer reaches 180 degrees at the thickest part, turning occasionally. Brush chicken with remaining sauce while cooking.

Seafood Manicotti
1 qt. whipping cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper
14 dried manicotti shells
2 lb. unpeeled large fresh shrimp
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup celery
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 lb. fresh crabmeat, drained and flaked
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with peppers
Combine first 4 ingredients in a large saucepan; cook over medium-high heat 30 minutes or until thickened and reduced to 2 cups. Set aside.
Cook manicotti according to package directions; drain. Peel shrimp and devein, if desired. Chop shrimp; set aside.
Sauté onion and next three ingredients in butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender.
Add shrimp and crabmeat; cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes until shrimp turn pink. Remove from heat. Cool 10 minutes; drain excess liquid.
Combine seafood mixture and whipping cream mixture. Fill shells, and place in two lightly greased baking dishes. Sprinkle with cheese.
Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes. Serve hot.

Parmesan-Baked Salmon
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp.  Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)
4 salmon filets, skin removed
2 tsp. lemon juice
10 Ritz crackers
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix mayonnaise, cheese and pepper until well blended; set aside.
Place salmon on foil-lined shallow baking pan. Drizzle evenly with lemon juice. Top with cheese mixture; spread to evenly cover salmon. Sprinkle with cracker crumbs.
Bake at 400 degrees 12 to 15 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with a fork.

Broccoli and Cabbage Slaw
2 (3 oz.) pkg. beef flavored ramen noodles
1 cup silver almonds
16 oz. bag angel hair shredded cabbage
10 oz. bag broccoli slaw mix
3/4 cup sliced green onions
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Break ramen noodles into small pieces. On a large baking sheet, combine ramen noodles, reserving seasoning packets, and almonds. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine shredded cabbage, broccoli slaw and green onions.
In a small bowl, combine oil, sugar, vinegar and 2 reserved ramen noodle seasoning packets. Pour over slaw mix. Stir in noodles and almonds. Serve immediately.

Chicken Tetrazzini
3 to 3 1/2 lb. broiler-fryer
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
8 oz. pkg. dried spaghetti
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cup half and half
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
10 3/4 oz. can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 tsp. vanilla
4 oz. jar sliced pimento, drained
1 tsp. paprika
3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Place broiler-fryer in a Dutch oven; add water to cover. Add salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken from broth, reserving broth. Let chicken cool to touch. Remove bones and shred chicken.
Add enough water to reserved broth to measure 3 quarts. Bring to a boil. Cook spaghetti in broth according to package directions. Drain.
Sauté sliced mushrooms, green pepper and onion in butter in Dutch oven over medium heat until tender. Add flour and next 4 ingredients; stir until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Gradually stir in half and half, and cook until mixture is thickened, stirring gently. Add 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Add shredded chicken, mushroom soup, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, vanilla and pimiento; stir well.
Combine chicken mixture with spaghetti, tossing until combined. Spread mixture in a greased 13-x-9-inch baking dish.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Combine remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and 1 tsp. paprika; stir well. Sprinkle remaining 1 3/4 cups cheddar cheese diagonally across top of casserole. Repeat process with almonds and Parmesan-paprika mixture. Bake 5 more minutes or until cheddar cheese melts.

Broccoli Salad
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 lb. broccoli, fresh
1 cup golden raisins
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup mayonnaise, light
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
In a small bowl, whisk together all mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar; set aside.
In a large bowl, toss broccoli (bite-size pieces), raisins, sunflower seeds, red onion, bacon and cheese.
Pour the dressing mixture over broccoli mixture and toss to coat.
Chill salad at least 2 hours before serving. Right before serving, toss salad again.