With azaleas lining the drive, the home of Karen and Judge James Anderson is picture perfect nestled in a woodland setting. Native azaleas in pink, orange and yellow are also abundant on each side of the pond in the back of the Auburn home with a spacious deck for relaxing and dining while overlooking the view. Karen enjoys entertaining family and friends on the deck, as well as in their great room, which was once an indoor swimming pool.
The Andersons feed birds and have gourds hanging from a pole for purple martins, as well as bird feeders throughout the garden. A fountain near the front door and next to the deck in back provides soothing sounds of cascading water. Pots of yellow pansies, boxwood topiaries and other plants accent the deck.
Karen and James enjoy relaxing on the deck and dining outdoors, and the family will fish in the pond with the wood ducks. Last fall, they noticed something unusual in the pond, and it was an alligator! The pond overflows into a creek that goes to Chewacla. Karen later saw a post that someone found an alligator in Twin Creeks.
On the other side of the pond, they have an area with a huge firepit, a grill, benches and picnic tables that they enjoy during cooler months. They feed deer on that side of the pond so they won’t eat the azaleas.
Karen moved into her attractive home 28 years ago after changes were made to the house. The indoor pool at one end of the house was converted into a great room with a large fireplace, and the screened porch was changed to a sunroom to enjoy year around.
While the Andersons savor time at their Auburn house, they also enjoy time at a lake house and their home in Montgomery, where Judge Anderson is circuit judge of Montgomery County.
Karen grew up living in numerous places. She was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and lived in San Diego, California, for 10 years while her father received his master’s and doctorate degrees at UCLA. The family then moved to Des Moines, Iowa, where he taught at Drake University for three years. From there, they lived in Ithaca, New York, where her father taught at Cornell University, then in Harrisonburg, Virginia, at James Madison University.
When Karen graduated from high school, the family moved to Auburn, and her father was head of physics at Auburn University for 10 years. Her father lives next door, and Karen misses her mother who passed away during Covid.
Karen has a love of cooking and baking desserts. Both of her grandmothers and her mother were good cooks. Growing up, Karen was in charge of making dessert while her mother prepared dinner.
“I would get cookbooks out all the time looking for recipes,” she said. “My three younger brothers never asked Mom what was for dinner; they asked me what was for dessert. Baking is still my favorite thing.”
Karen’s specialty is cakes, and she is sharing her favorite cake, Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Chocolate Buttermilk Frosting. The recipes came from a friend. She is also sharing her Lemon Blueberry Muffin and Strawberry Pie recipes.
Karen passed her love of cooking to her daughter, Holly Muncie, who lives in Auburn. Holly, and her husband, Alex, have three children, Kirkley, almost 17; Jay, 14; and Mac, 12. Karen has two bonus grandchildren, Keyes, 5, and Kruce, 1, who are the children of James’ daughter.
While Karen mostly entertains their large family, she also enjoys having friends over for dinner. She is in a prayer group that meets at homes, and they take turns providing lunch.
Her Mom’s Crockpot Beef Stroganoff is a family favorite, and it was her mother’s go-to dish for company. It makes a good amount to serve a large group, and it is easy to cut the recipe in half. Karen’s paternal grandmother would make the Strawberry Pretzel Salad when she visited, and it was her favorite that Karen now makes for family. When having company, she will prepare dessert a day ahead.
The Barbecue Chicken Wings are popular with grandchildren. James enjoys grilling and will sometimes grill the wings and other entrees.
Shrimp Creole and Shrimp and Vegetables Stir-Fry are also family favorites. They are good one-dish meals that only need rice and crusty bread. When her brothers visit, they request the shrimp dishes and their mother’s stroganoff. When family spends the night, she makes the Overnight Breakfast Casserole and muffins with blueberries from her garden.
Along with cooking, Karen has a love of working in the yard. Decorating is also one of her hobbies. In the living room, she decorated the mantel of the large fireplace with brass candlesticks flanking a collection of antique mirrors. On the other side of the room, the wall is covered in stone that was found on the property with 21 acres. Portraits of their daughters hang in this room.
Decorator Linda Ayers helped Karen with selecting antiques for the house, including a large dining room table that seats 12 in the great room. Karen collects brown transferware that is display in arrangements on walls and on two hutches.
Karen relishes time at home. “I love living here,” she said. “We are just so glad to have a place to share with family and friends.”
Clip and save Karen’s family’s favorite recipes, and treat your family to scrumptious dishes.

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with Buttermilk Chocolate Icing
My favorite cake to make!
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
2 cups cake flour (measure after sifting)
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
Cream butter and sugar together using a handheld mixer. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in melted chocolate.
In another bowl, mix together flour, soda and salt. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to wet ingredients, beating after each addition. Add vanilla. Beat until all ingredients are mixed.
Spray two 8-inch cake pans with Pam before pouring in batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until tests done when a toothpick is inserted near the center. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pans.
Buttermilk Chocolate Icing:
3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 Tbsp. butter
3 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Mix sugar, whipping cream and butter together in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and let boil for 1 minute. Take off heat and add chocolate and butter. Add vanilla. Stir until thick enough to frost cake (5 to 10 minutes

Frost quickly as it gets too thick fast.

Mom’s Crockpot Beef Stroganoff
This was my Mom’s go-to dish for company, and it is my most requested dish to make. It is easy to cut the recipe in half.
2 lb. round steak, cut into ¾-inch cubes
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves of minced garlic
4 cups sour cream
4 cans cream of mushroom soup
4 Tbsp. Worcestershire
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Two 6 oz. jars of sliced mushrooms
Cook steak, onion and garlic in oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until meat is browned. Add rest of ingredients and mix well.
Put in a large crockpot (6 quarts) and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours until meat is tender. Serve over rice and with a side of green beans.
Makes about 10 servings.

Lemon Blueberry Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup half and half cream (I use fat free)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spray muffin pans with Pam for baking for 16 muffins.
In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl combine eggs, cream, oil and lemon extract. Stir this into dry ingredients just until moistened.
Then gently fold in blueberries (do not thaw if using frozen).
Divide batter equally into the greased muffin tins.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.
Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.
Makes 16 muffins.

Blue Plate Special Halibut
1 1/2 lb. halibut fillets or steaks
Vegetable cooking spray
1/2 cup lite mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. minced red onion
1 tsp. dried dill weed
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Coat halibut with vegetable cooking spray. Place fish in baking dish.
Mix together mayonnaise, red onion and dill weed; spread over top of halibut.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until halibut flakes when tested with fork.
Makes six servings.

Spicy Shrimp Creole
1 small onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbsp. butter
16 oz. can chopped tomatoes, undrained
8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/8 tsp. red pepper
1 lb. frozen medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and thawed
Sauté onion, green pepper, celery and garlic in butter in a Dutch oven until tender. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, thyme and red pepper.
Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes or until desired consistency. Stir in shrimp, and simmer over medium heat 5 to 10 minutes or until shrimp are done.
Serve over rice.

Shrimp and Vegetable Stir-Fry
A great one dish meal.
1 lb. frozen medium frozen shrimp, peeled, deveined and thawed
4 Tbsp. cornstarch, divided
8 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce, divided
1 ½ cups water
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
2 stalks celery, cut diagonally into ¼-inch slices
1 medium size red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
1/4 lb. green onions (white parts), cut into 1-inch lengths
Mix shrimp with 2 Tbsp. cornstarch and 2 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce in small bowl; stir to coat evenly. Let stand 15 minutes.
Meanwhile combine 1 1/2 cups water, 2 Tbsp. cornstarch and 6 Tbsp. teriyaki sauce; set aside.
Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in hot wok or large skillet over high heat. Add shrimp and stir-fry 1 minute; remove.
Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in same pan. Add celery, red pepper and green onions; stir fry 2 minutes. Stir in shrimp and teriyaki sauce mixture. Cook and stir until mixture boils and thickens.
Serve over rice with crusty bread.
Makes four servings.

Oven Baked Barbecue Chicken Wings
Grandkids request this recipe!
1 cup flour
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
20 chicken wings
1 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, combine flour with all the spices.
Coat wings with flour mixture and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake them for 40 minutes, turning once.
In a medium sized bowl, mix together barbecue sauce and honey.
Coat the cooked chicken wings with the honey barbecue sauce and lay them onto a baking sheet covered with clean parchment paper. Bake for 8 to10 minutes until caramelized.

Grandmother’s Strawberry Pretzel Salad
2 cups crushed pretzels
3/4 cup melted butter
3 Tbsp. sugar
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
12 oz. Cool Whip
2 small pkg. strawberry Jell-O
2 cups boiling water
Two 10 oz. pkg. frozen sliced strawberries
Mix together pretzels, 3/4 cup melted butter and 3 Tbsp. sugar. Press in a 1 3×9 baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool completely.
Beat together with an electric mixer on medium the cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and Cool Whip until smooth. Spread over pretzel crust. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water. Add unthawed strawberries and stir until dissolved.
Cool until slightly thickened in the refrigerator (check after 10 minutes).
Spread over cream cheese and refrigerate for several hours., then cut in squares and enjoy!

Overnight Breakfast Casserole
1 lb. ground sausage
3/4 loaf of sliced bread
2 cups shredded cheddar
8 eggs
2 egg whites
2 cups half and half
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. Cajun seasoning
Brown and drain sausage.
Remove crusts from bread. Cut slices to fit side by side in a greased 13 x 9-inch pan.
Sprinkle sausage over bread.
Sprinkle cheese over sausage.
Mix eggs, half and half and spices together. Pour over bread.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove casserole from refrigerator and sit on the counter when you turn oven on to preheat at 350 degrees.
Bake for 45 minutes or until brown on top.

Macaroni and Cheese
6 oz. pkg. elbow macaroni
6 Tbsp. and 4 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. chopped onion
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
4 cups whole milk
1 lb. grated sharp cheddar
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
Cook macaroni 12 to 15 minutes, drain.
Melt 6 Tbsp. butter in a saucepan. Sauté onion just until tender. Stir in flour and salt. Remove pan from heat and gradually stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly until white sauce has thickened. In a greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish layer 1/3 each of macaroni, white sauce and cheese. Repeat twice.
In a small saucepan melt 4 Tbsp. butter. Remove from heat and stir in breadcrumbs. Spoon over top of casserole.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until bubbly and browned.

Strawberry Pie
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 tsp. quick-cook tapioca
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
4 cups fresh sliced strawberries
1 box Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust (the kind you unfold)
1 Tbsp. butter
Combine sugar, tapioca, salt and nutmeg. Add strawberries and mix to coat fruit. Let stand 20 minutes.
Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry. Fill with fruit mixture. Dot with the butter. Cut the top pastry in strips to make a lattice top, seal.
Bake at 400 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

Mom’s Double Frosted Brownies
One of my most requested desserts!
2 boxes of brownie mix
Ingredients for brownie mix
1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
4 Tbsp. vanilla instant pudding powder
6 Tbsp. milk
4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tubs fudge frosting
Line a 13 x 9-inch pan with foil that hangs over the sides 2 inches; spray with Pam. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Make brownies as directed on box. Bake for 55 minutes. Cool in pan.
For next layer, beat butter until fluffy. Beat in pudding mix and milk. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. When smooth spread on cooled brownies. Chill until firm.
Carefully spread fudge frosting over top after chilled. Chill again and then carefully pull brownies out of pan by the foil hanging over. Put on large cutting board and cut into bite size squares. Wipe the knife after each cut to get clean cut brownies.
Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.