Laurie Gilbert shares favorite recipes from places lived

Photo by Ann Cipperly

By Ann Cipperly
Laurie Gilbert has a love for cooking and art.  Her collection of art accents the walls of her lovely home overlooking stunning views of a golf course, where husband Reggie enjoys spending his spare time. Laurie collected recipes from friends at the various places they have lived over the years and is sharing the favorites.

Laurie grew up in the mountains of North Carolina between Murphy and Waynesville. Cooking has been a tradition in her family, with her grandmother owning a tearoom in Waynesville.  Laurie has three of her grandmother’s iron skillets from the tearoom and uses them.

After high school, Laurie attended Auburn University where she met Reggie, who was a baseball player. Laurie was in a sorority and involved in activities on campus.

They were married at the end of her junior year at Auburn. With the Vietnam War going on, Reggie joined the Air Force and was sent to Great Falls, Mt. Laurie finished her degree there and taught high school.

After four years, they moved to South Carolina, North Carolina and then back to South Carolina where Reggie became involved in banking. They also lived in Birmingham.

From Birmingham, they moved to Decatur in north Alabama where Reggie and other businessmen formed a community bank. They lived there for 20 years, which was the longest in one place.  When Reggie retired, they sold the bank.

In 2002, the Gilberts moved to Lake Martin. They then decided to build a house in this area. They feel blessed to have their children and grandchildren living here.

When their son, Hardin, moved to the area several years ago, he worked at Warehouse Bistro in Opelika. He now owns Avondale Bar in downtown Auburn, named after the first school he attended in Birmingham. His wife Jill works at The Hound.

The Gilberts’ daughter Carrie Carpenter, who works in the development office at Auburn University, has two children, Lauriston, an Auburn graduate, and Hardin, who is 15.

Laurie was in management for Carlisle clothes for many years. She retired but later went back to work with the company. While she has now officially retired, she helps her daughter with the clothing line.

She currently serves on the Women’s Leadership Advisory Board at the AU College of Liberal Arts. “I find it most rewarding,” says Laurie, “as we promote programs, speakers and projects that are led by women, who are prominent in leadership roles in the world of business and entrepreneurial pursuits.”

She served on the board at the Jule Smith Museum of Art for many years and met many local artists. Laurie has collected art from her cousin, Noyers Capehart, who is well known in North Carolina, and she also has art from local artists.

Cooking is another interest for Laurie. She tries to have the family over once a week for a meal.  She has a cookbook from her mother that has handwritten recipes. Laurie is planning to create a cookbook with her recipes handwritten for her granddaughters.

She didn’t start cooking until after she got married, and then called her mother often to ask cooking questions. She has collected recipes from friends at all the places they have lived, and she is still collecting recipes from friends.

One of her favorite recipes is from Carrie Jefferies, the minister’s wife at The Good Shepherd Anglican Church of Opelika, where the Gilberts attend services.  At one of the church’s Holy Chow meals held once a month, Carrie served Crunchy Asian Salad embellished with avocado, mango and almonds, which is now one of Laurie’s favorites.

At one of the Holy Chow events, Laurie prepared Chicken Pasta Salad, a recipe she received from a friend in Huntsville. The recipe is from a well known caterer and is Laurie’s children’s favorite dish.

Two favorite salads are Fruit Salad with Blackberry-Basil Vinaigrette, and Vegetable Mix salad with baby carrots, mushrooms and artichoke hearts, a recipe from Birmingham.

Laurie has made Erma’s Taco Salad for many years. The recipe is from Reggie’s aunt, the late Erma Cater of Opelika.

Her most requested recipe over the years is the Pork Tenderloin with Chimichurri, which is great for entertaining. The Beef Tenderloin is marinated in a special sauce is also good for a special dinner.

When the Gilberts lived in Decatur, she received the Chocolate Snowball from a friend.  They were in a cooking club when they lived there and met monthly in homes.

Laurie enjoys looking over her recipe collection, as it brings back wonderful memories of good friends and places they have lived.

“The dishes that have been my favorite,” says Laurie, “have not been from recipes I have found. They are recipes shared by friends.”

Ann Cipperly can be contacted at


Pork with Chimichurri Sauce
Use either boneless pork loin or pork tenderloins. Rub with cooking oil; season with a Cajun seasoning of your choice (I use Tony Chachere’s) and black pepper.
If using pork loin, bake in oven to about 160 on meat thermometer.  I grill the tenderloins over low heat until well browned, turning often. I have done both.
May be done the day ahead. Refrigerate, then bring to room temperature before serving.  If using pork loin, split down the center and slice.
Sauce may be done day ahead but is best if made day of serving.  It should be at room temperature.
Chimichurri Sauce
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. minced jalapeño  (minced or whole in jar)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh oregano or 2 Tbsp. dried
3 limes, juiced
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
Combine garlic, jalapeños, and vinegar in bowl.  Stir in oregano, lime juice and parsley. Whisk in oil, salt and pepper.  Mix well.
Slice pork and spoon sauce over just to cover.  Keep remaining sauce in bowl to add to pork when it is served on sour dough bread slices.

Crunchy Asian Salad
Recipe from Carrie Jeffers
16 oz. bag cole slaw mix
Two (3 oz.) pkg. Ramen noodles (discard seasoning packet)
1 cup shelled Edamames (available locally)
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1 mango, peeled and diced
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. soy sauce
About 1/4 tsp. sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 425.  Crumble dry ramen; spread on baking sheet with sliced almonds. Bake about 5 minutes; toss, return to oven for additional 3 minutes, if needed.  Watch carefully so noodles so not burn.  Let cool.
In a large bowl add all ingredients together including dressing and serve. Serves 8-10
*Note: If preparing ahead of time, it tastes best when avocado and ramen/almonds are added just before serving. May want to make another container of dressing to have extra.

Chicken Pasta Salad
My children’s favorite dish
2 whole chicken breasts, cooked and chopped well
4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
8 oz. linguine
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. dill weed (I add more)
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green or yellow pepper
3 Tbsp. chopped green onion
2 Tbsp. chopped pimento
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 – 1 tsp. Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning
1 Tbsp. good olive oil
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
DAY BEFORE: sprinkle cooked chopped chicken with vinegar and some salt. Refrigerate.
NEXT DAY: Cook pasta and toss with olive oil. Set aside. Mix all other ingredients. Toss everything and refrigerate for several hours. Yield: 8-10 Servings
*Adjust seasonings adding more if needed: Tony Chachere’s, salt, pepper, dill weed, etc. I always prefer more of all the seasonings.

Vegetable Marinade with Baby Carrots, Mushrooms and Artichoke Hearts
2 cans baby carrots, drained
2 onions, sliced
3 large cans mushroom buttons, drained
1/2 green pepper
1 can artichoke hearts, drained
Marinate above in the following overnight, up to several days.
1 can tomato soup
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. Worcestershire
1/2 cup salad oil
3/4 cup vinegar
4 whole peeled garlic buds
Salt, pepper, lemon juice to taste
Combine all marinade ingredients.
Serves 4 to 6.

Fruit Salad with Blackberry-Basil Vinaigrette
8 cups mixed salad greens
1 1/2 cups sliced mango
1 1/2 cups pink grapefruit segments
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries
1 cup fresh blackberries
1 large avocado, sliced
Place all ingredients in a large bowl; gently toss.
1/2 of 10 oz. jar blackberry preserves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
6 fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. seasoned pepper
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Pulse dressing ingredients except oil in blender until blended.  With blender running, add oil and blend until smooth.
Toss with salad greens and fruit. Serves 6.

Marinated Baked Chicken Breasts
Family favorite from Decatur
2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup. lemon juice
4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. celery salt
2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. salt or more to taste
1 tsp. pepper
Combine above ingredients.
8 or 12 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I like to pound chicken to even thickness). Note: Can take 6 thick chicken breasts and cut horizontally into 2.
Add chicken to sour cream mixture, coating well. Refrigerate overnight or make several hours before.
2 1/2 cups Ritz cracker crumbs (2 rolls)
1 1/2 cups soda cracker crumbs (1 roll)
1 cup butter, melted, divided
Combine Ritz and soda cracker crumbs. Remove chicken from sour cream mixture; roll in crumbs place in shallow pan.  Spoon half of butter over chicken.  Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour.  Spoon remaining butter over chicken. Bake 45 minutes more.

Family Favorite Taco Salad
Recipe from Reggie’s Aunt Erma Cater of Opelika
Brown and drain 1 lb of ground round; cool.
4 medium size chopped tomatoes
2 to 3 cups (or adjust to suit taste) shredded cheddar cheese
1 chopped onion
Before serving, stir in:
1 regular size bag Nacho Cheese Doritos, crunched
1 small bottle Kraft 1000 Island Dressing (not low-fat)
You can add shredded lettuce to the plate before serving, but we don’t.

Tortellini Salad
1 bag frozen tortellini (I use tri-color when I can find it)
Follow pkg. directions for cooking, being sure not to overcook. Cool under cold water.
Marinated artichoke hearts to taste
Sundried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
I small can sliced black olives, drained
A good Italian dressing added to taste
Parmesan cheese to taste
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste if needed.
Combine all ingredients. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. May need to add more Italian dressings before serving. Serves 6-8.

Marinated Beef Tenderloin
1 cup catsup
2 tsp. mustard
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups water
2 pkg. Italian dressing mix
Combine above ingredients.
1 beef tenderloin
Pour sauce over beef; marinate overnight, turning once.  Drain and reserve marinade.  Heat sauce to boiling before serving with sliced tenderloin.
Bake at 425 30-45 minutes, basting with sauce:
140 degrees for rare
150 degrees for med. Rare
160 degrees for medium
*May cook over medium high on gas grill instead of baking.

Lollie’s Chicken Salad
2 ½ lbs. frozen chicken tenders, thawed (prefers Sam’s)
3-4 ribs celery
Water to cover
Add: kosher salt, ground pepper, Nature’s Seasonings. Bring to slow boil on medium; cook until no longer pink; turn off heat, cover. Let sit for 30 minutes until cooled.
When cool, finely chop chicken in food processor. Add about ½ cup finely diced celery chopped with knife, not in processor. Set chicken and celery aside.
In food processor, add about half a jar of Hellman’s mayonnaise (or to taste), juice of 1 lemon, generous amount of white pepper and kosher salt. Blend and add to chicken and celery.
Good as is or add ¼ cup drained Wickles pickle relish for more zest.

Decatur Pimento Cheese
2 oz. jar pimentos, drained
1 Tbsp. grated onion with juice
8 oz. Kraft Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese (red log) or Cabot’s extra sharp yellow and white cheddar
Dash of Worcestershire Sauce to taste
6 dashes Tabasco or to taste
6 Tbsp. or more Hellman’s Mayonnaise to get consistency you prefer
Black pepper to taste (I go heavy to see black specks in finished pimento cheese)
Mix all ingredients in food processor.  Let stand overnight in refrigerator. Will set up to firmer consistency.
*You can vary the amount of onion and Tabasco.  I usually reduce onion a bit and add more Tabasco and Worcestershire. I usually double the recipe in order to have some to give away.

Balsamic Reduction
Use on salads, grilled veggies, meats or fruits, especially strawberries
1 1/2 cups Turbinado (raw sugar)
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
In 5 qt. saucepan, dissolve sugar in vinegar; reduce to syrup consistency.  The mixture will bubble and expand when it is close to the desired consistency.
Makes 1 pint jar. Store in refrigerator.
Boule de Neige
(Chocolate Snowball)
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
2 tsp. instant coffee
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 lb. butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp. brandy
Line a 5 cup mold (Pyrex bowl) with double thickness of foil.
Put chocolate, coffee and sugar in work bowl of food processor with steel blade.  Finely chop and slowly add boiling water.  Run machine until chocolate is melted.
Add butter; blend completely.  Add eggs and brandy.
Pour mixture into mold.
Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for about 40 – 50 minutes or until a thick crust has formed on top but center is still fairly soft.
Let cool, wrap, and refrigerate to chill. Serves 8-10.
Serve with whipped cream or raspberry sauce.
*May be made a week ahead.  Must be made at least a day ahead.

Artichoke Squares
(3) 6 oz. jars marinated hearts, reserve 3-4 Tbsp. of the oil
2-3 bunches green onions, chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
8 eggs
10 saltine crackers, crumbled
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 tsp. Tabasco
1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese
In pan, sauté onions and garlic in reserved oil until limp.
Beat eggs in large bowl, add cracker crumbs, and beat again.
Add parsley, Tabasco, Worcestershire and artichokes, beating well after each addition.
When well blended, put into well greased 8 x 12 or 9 x 13 (depending on how thick you want).
Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes or until firm.  Remove from oven and sprinkle generously with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


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