By Ann Cipperly

Although the coronavirus has limited activities, the Cannon Gate neighborhood in Opelika has enjoyed outdoor events to stay connected and keep children active. The first houses were built around 2006, and now the first phase contains 36 homes, with the second phase in progress. The neighborhood is sharing its favorite recipes, including some they have taken to pot-luck events over the years.

Race Cannon is the developer of the neighborhood. Located off Oak Bowery Road, the site was a pasture many years ago where Canon’s grandfather took his hunting dog, Mae, to train her to hunt.

“The family used to have picnics there,” Cannon said in a history for the Homeowners Association. “It became known as Mae’s Pasture and is still known as that in the family.”

On the other side of the creek, Lucinda Samford Cannon and her brother, Jimmy, developed the area known as Forest Hills.

“Several land plan designs were made for Cannon Gate over 50 years, but none successfully accommodated the environmental difficulties with the creek, wetlands and the flood plains,” Race said. “An older, retired pioneer of environmental land planning named Charles Franzman contributed the plan with guidance from me on what the market needed.

“We wanted several different products including the cluster homes, the front porch homes, sidewalks, streetlights, underground utilities, gently curving roads, estate-sized lots and a walking trail. The idea was to construct one phase at a time. Over the year, the economics have changed, and the time frame has been slowed down.”

Today, Charlie Couey is the third president of the Homeowners Association. Max Waddington served as the first president, while Tom Plot served as the second president.

Couey, his wife Stevie, and their daughters moved to the neighborhood four years ago. Couey is a flight nurse for Life Saver Helicopter, and his wife is a teacher at Beulah Elementary School. They have three daughters: Susannah, 15, Caroline, 11, and Addison, 9.

“Cannon Gate is a family oriented neighborhood,” he said. “We have a lot of families with kids. We also have a diverse age group with retires, empty-nesters, and new parents.”

With about 30 children in the neighborhood, Cannon Gate has built a full sized playground with slides, swings and picnic tables. They Homeowners Association is planning to build a pavilion and neighborhood pool.

A spring and fall event is held for the entire neighborhood each year. An outside barbecue and pot-luck dinner is held with outdoor games in the spring. The event gives everyone a chance to get to know each other, particularly as the neighborhood grows.

Each fall, the neighborhood hold a s’mores cookout for Halloween, since there are so many children coming into the neighborhood to trick or treat. A fire pit is placed in a curved street for making s’mores that are also given to trick or treaters. In the past, the neighborhood has made over 200 s’mores. Mary Ann and Charles Deweese originally suggested the idea that has become popular over the years.

“At Christmas, we have held a cookie exchange,” Couey said. “The neighborhood is working on ideas for a special event during the Christmas season.”

Couey is from Hartselle in north Alabama. After he graduated from high school, he attended Auburn University. While in college, he met his wife, who is from Tuscaloosa. After they got married, the couple decided to live in Opelika since they liked the area so much.

“We liked the atmosphere and small town feel that Opelika had to offer,” Couey said. “We liked that Opelika and Auburn together had all the amenities together that a big town would have with the stores, shopping and restaurants.”

Couey does most of his family’s cooking. His mother taught him how to cook when he was growing up. After graduating from Auburn University, Charlie worked for Auburn and Opelika Fire Departments for ten years and learned a lot about cooking and baking from his fellow fireman.

“I learned about baking and cooking and brought that home,” he said. “Stevie doesn’t enjoy cooking as much I do, and since we share duties around the house, I don’t mind cooking.”

The neighborhood has its own Facebook page. If anyone is sick or if there is a new baby, they let everyone know. Neighbors will get together to provide meals. They also let the neighbors know if there is anything suspicious going on. “We all look out for each other,” Charlie said. “We work together as one big team.”

Race is pleased to see that the development is such a friendly neighborhood that stays connected and looks out for each other.

“Cannon Gate has been a joy to develop,” Race said, “and it would not have been possible without the capable help of land planners, engineers, home builders, realtors and most importantly the residents who provide the unique sense of community. I think it will be a happy home for many generations of families in wonderful Opelika.”


Crock-Pot Bacon Ranch Crack Chicken

Charlie Couey

Serve with pasta or stir cooked pasta into the chicken and sauce. 

4 chicken breasts

1 large can condensed of cream of chicken soup

1 packet dry ranch dressing

1 bag real bacon bits

8 oz. pkg, cream cheese

Combine all ingredients in a crock-pot and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours.

Shred chicken with a fork. Add your favorite cooked pasta and combine in the crock-pot. Serve. 

Pimento Cheese

Jennifer Wilson

Two 10 oz. blocks sharp cheddar cheese

1 10 oz. block extra sharp cheddar cheese

Two 7 oz. jars diced pimentos, drained

1 tsp. lemon juice 

1/4 tsp. granulated garlic

2 dashes cayenne pepper

2 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1 to 1 1/2 cups Duke’s mayonnaise, divided

Grate the cheeses into a large bowl and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. (Do not use pre-shredded cheese, as the “something” added keeps the flavors of the seasonings from be absorbed.)

Add pimentos, lemon juice, garlic, cayenne and Worcestershire and then toss.

Add 1 cup of the mayonnaise and stir until blended. Add more mayonnaise, if needed.

Refrigerate overnight for the best flavor.

Serve with crackers, on a slice of toasted bread or top a burger instead of a slice of cheese! This makes 6 to 7 cups, which is plenty to share.

Pork Chop and Wild Rice Casserole

Shirley Waddington

6 pork chops, cut into cubes

4 stalks celery, sliced

1 large onion, chopped

1 (14 1/2 oz.) can chicken broth

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can mushrooms, drained

1 box Uncle Ben’s wild rice mix

In a 2-quart saucepan, heat broth, soup and mushrooms. Add rice and mix packet.

In skillet, brown meat. Add onions and celery; sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.

Combine soup mix with meat mix and pour into lightly greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees about 45 to 60 minutes. Serve with applesauce and hot rolls.

Serves 6 to 8.

Hint: May substitute 2 to 3 pounds of boneless pork roast, cut to bite-size pieces, for pork chops.

Add soy sauce to individual servings per taste.

Easy Crock-Pot Chicken Tacos 

Lisa Salsman

With three teenagers in the home, this has been one of our favorites! It is simple, and the leftovers are fantastic!

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 jar salsa

1 packet taco seasoning

1 can whole kernel corn, drained

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Soft or hard taco shells (We prefer the soft flour tortillas.)

Rinse chicken and pat dry, then place in crock-pot.

Mix salsa and taco seasoning, then pour over chicken.

Pour black beans and corn over the top of the chicken and salsa mix.

Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.

Shred the chicken.

Serve on warm tortillas or with hard taco shells and whatever toppings you prefer.

Serves a family of 6 to 8.

Easily reheated and enjoyed as leftovers. This chicken mix is also good to add into other recipes if you get creative.

Ham and Cheese Crescent Sandwiches

Lucinda S. Cannon

8 oz. can crescent dinner rolls

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

1 tsp. instant minced onion

1/2 tsp. poppy seed

4 oz. pkg. sliced ham

6 oz. pkg. Swiss cheese slices

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Separate dough into 8 triangles. Place 2 triangles next to each other and pinch together to make a large triangle. Put filling into triangle and roll up. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 4 sandwiches.

Mama Wilson’s Beef Casserole

Jodi Wells

I usually double this recipe so that I can give half to someone else or freeze for another meal. It is great served with buttered rolls and salad or vegetables.

1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained

1 can tomato soup

1 can cream of mushroom soup

4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

8 oz. sour cream

1 bag medium egg noodles, boiled as directed on package and drained (I generally use about ¾ of the bag.)

1 tsp. or more garlic salt

1 bag grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all above ingredients except the grated cheese (you will use the cheese after the casserole has cooked).  I don’t always use all the egg noodles. You can use your judgment based on the consistency of noodles you want in the casserole. I usually use about 3/4 of the bag.

Pour mixture into casserole dish and bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees.

Remove from oven and top with grated cheese. Return to oven long enough to fully melt cheese on top of casserole.

Crock-Pot Potato Soup

Jamie Cook

32 oz. bag of frozen shredded hash browns

2 cans cream of chicken soup

32 oz. container chicken broth

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, room temperature

Combine frozen hash-browns, cream of chicken soup and chicken broth in a crock-pot. Cook on low for about 4 to 6 hours or until hash browns are tender.

Thirty minutes before serving, add cream cheese and wait until it melts. Stir well. Serve.

Artichoke and Pistachio Dip

Ginger Stern

1 small garlic clove

1 can artichokes, quartered

3/4 cup shelled pistachios

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. olive oil 
Rough chop artichokes and garlic in the food processor; put them in a bowl. Next, give the pistachios a rough chop in same processor and add to the bowl with the processed artichokes and garlic.

Stir in Parmesan cheese. Add a little olive oil to blend. Serve with crackers and enjoy.

Shoe Peg Corn and Green Bean Casserole

Debbie Allen

Mix all together:

1 can shoe peg corn, drained

1 can French style green beans, drained

1 can cream of celery soup

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup slivered almonds

Place in greased casserole.

Mix 1 sleeve crushed Ritz crackers with 1 stick melted butter, and place on top of casserole.

Cook 30 to 35 minutes on 350 degrees. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chippers

Mary Ann Deweese

1 stick butter, room temperature

½ cup sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

Cream the butter and both sugars.


1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ tsp. salt or can use less

½ tsp. baking soda

Beat the ingredients together.

Then add:

¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ cup pecans or walnuts, optional

Pour into a greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Crock-Pot Taco Soup

Tori Beth Thompson

16 oz. can pinto beans

16 oz. can white beans or kidney beans

11 oz. can corn, drained

1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chilies

28 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 pkg. taco seasoning

1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing

Combine all ingredients in a crock-pot. Cook on low or high until desired doneness.     

Sausage and Cheese on English Muffins

Lucinda S. Cannon

1 lb. bulk sausage

2 glass jars Kraft Old English Cheese

1 small can chopped chilies, not drained

1 pkg. English muffins

Cook sausage slowly and crumble. Drain. Add cheese and chilies. Spread mixture on 12 English muffins halves.

May be frozen on cookie sheet, open-face style. When frozen, put in baggie to pull out each as needed. Heat at 350 degrees until hot.

Gail’s Pound Cake

Jennifer Wilson

I love this old-fashioned pound cake recipe that was given to me by a dear friend in Atlanta.  You can bake it in a traditional pan, a long loaf pan (which is what I use), or individual loaf pans to share.

4 sticks butter (2 cups) softened 

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

4 cups of sugar

4 cups all-purpose Flour 

8 eggs

2 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Cream butter and cream cheese.

Add sugar gradually and mix well.

Add flour and eggs (alternate 1/2 cup flour and one egg).

Add vanilla.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours or until cake tester inserted comes out clean.

Cow Patties

Charlie Couey

4 Tbsp. cocoa powder

4 cups sugar

1 cup milk

1 stick butter

Combine above ingredients in a saucepan. Boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add the following:

4 tsp. vanilla

1 cup crunchy peanut butter

4 ½ cups oatmeal (cooks in 1-minute oatmeal)

Drop by the spoonful on foil and let dry.

Note: If it is a humid day, cookies will not set.

Ooey Gooey Bars

Lucinda S. Cannon

1 box yellow cake mix

1/2 cup melted butter

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

8 oz. pkg cream cheese, room temperature

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Spray a 9 X 13-inch pan with Pam.

Mix cake mix, butter, 1 tsp. vanilla and 2 eggs. Pat into the pan.

Mix cream cheese, 2 eggs and 1 tsp. vanilla with an electric mixer.  Slowly beat in the confectioners’ sugar. Pour on top of the cake layer.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes on 350 degrees.

Ham Spread on English Muffins

Lucinda S. Cannon

1 cup chopped ham

1 cup Swiss cheese, grated

2 Tbsp. chopped green pepper

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce

2 Tbsp. chopped green onion

1/4 cup mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients and spread on English muffin halves. Toast at 300 degrees until muffins are lightly browned on edges.

Pork Chop Casserole

Lucinda S. Cannon

6 oz. pkg. long-grain and wild rice mix

2 cups hot water

6 pork loin chips, bone-in and trimmed

¼ tsp. pepper

10 ¾ oz. can cream of celery soup

½ cup milk

Combine rice, seasoning packet from rice mix and hot water; place in a lightly greased  9×13-inch dish. Set aside. Sprinkle pork shops with pepper and place over rice mixture. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Uncover casserole; combine cream of celery soup and milk and pour over casserole. Bake casserole, uncovered, 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serves 6.


Ginger Stern

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 Tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. kosher salt

2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

3 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For Boiling:

1 pot water

2/3 cups baking soda

For Baking:

1 egg yolk plus 1 Tbsp. water whisked together (for egg wash)

Coarse salt for sprinkling

For the Dough:

Combine the water and sugar in a standing mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top.

Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until the mixture begins to foam and grow.

Add the butter and stir to combine.

Add the flour and salt together and whisk to combine.

Pour in the liquid and use the dough hook attachment to mix on low speed until all the ingredients are combined.

Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove the dough from the mixer and place it in a clean, oiled bowl.

Cover with a kitchen towel and place in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and drizzle with a little oil.

Fill a large pot with water and the baking soda. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil.

Meanwhile, place the dough on a slightly oiled counter and divide into 16 equal pieces.

Roll out each piece of dough into a rope, lay it on the counter and press out flat

Hold each end in one hand and make a u-shape with the rope, cross them over each other, bring it down, twist, and press onto the bottom of the U to form a pretzel.

Place onto the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Drop the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 or 2 at a time for about 30 seconds, constantly spooning the hot water over the dough.

Remove them from the water using a large, flat spatula and place right on the oiled baking sheet.

Brush the top of each pretzel with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake until dark golden brown in color, about 12 minutes.

Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving. Makes 16 pretzels.