By Ann Cipperly
It hardly seems possible that it has been eight years since I started writing the food column for the Observer. It seems like yesterday that I walked into the first office of the Observer in the old Woolworth’s building on a sunny October afternoon. It seemed strange walking into the building where I went as a child with my parents looking at toys and later as a teenager buying make-up.
I talked to Jason Hill, who was the editor then, about writing for this new paper in my hometown. I told him about my experience as a lifestyle and food editor and writing for different publications. When I mentioned I had written a food column for 15 years for a paper, he immediately said he would really like to have a column with recipes.
Although I was providing recipes and preparing dishes for photos at a magazine, it appealed to me to be back writing about cooks and the recipes I prepared for my family. I had always enjoyed being in people’s homes taking about food and getting wonderful recipes that would become my favorites too. I would also write features.
I began writing about food 39 years ago because I loved to cook and had a ton (my husband says at least) of recipes and was developing new ones every week. One day, Millard Grimes, who was the publisher of the Opelika Daily News said he had always thought featuring cooks would be interesting.
I thought about that and decided to interview cooks in the community from time to time. I found that I loved it, and that Mr. Grimes was right, people like to read about people.
Over the years I have met many interesting folks and made new friends. Often when I am trying to decide who I can ask to share recipes or what I should write about, God opens a door.
Not long ago, I asked someone in my Sunday school class who they thought would be a good person to feature. They suggested someone, and when I walked out the door that person was standing outside my class, so I felt God made the choice.
I would have to say from the beginning God has made the choices and opened the doors. Every person over the years has been a blessing to me in one way or another.
As I looked over the recipe files to make a selection of recipes to run this week, it brought back many memories of good times and friendships. Picking a few recipes from eight years is not easy since they are all good and my favorites.
Even with millions of recipes on the web, there is a lot to be said about recipes people have cooked for years and some being in their family for generations.
Look over the following and see if there is a recipe or two you missed the first time around. They are all tried and true favorites from families in Opelika and may become your family’s favorite too.
A warm thanks to all the cooks who have shared their recipes and to all the readers who look for this page each week. If I haven’t met you yet, I hope I will soon and maybe get a few of your favorite recipes!
Ann Cipperly can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fancy Pimento Cheese
½ can or more mild Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Two 8 oz. blocks sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 oz. jar chopped pimento
3 Tbsp. grated onion
4 oz. cream cheese, soften
Mix all ingredients together. May add entire can of Rotel, if desired. It is better to use blocks of cheese and grate your own rather than using bags of grated cheese. Chill overnight before serving.
Serve with assorted crackers or small bread slices.
Oven Fried Catfish
This is a healthy version of fried catfish. We ate this a lot at our house before we opened our own catfish restaurant.
Light vegetable oil cooking spray
½ cup cornmeal
1 Tbsp. Greek seasoning
1 Tbsp. Creole seasoning
1 tsp. paprika
4-5 catfish fillets
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spray baking sheet 3 times to coat.
Mix cornmeal and Greek seasoning on a large plate. Sprinkle Creole seasoning, garlic powder and lemon pepper on each of the catfish fillets. Coat thoroughly with the cornmeal mixture and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. Dust each fillet with paprika. Coat catfish with vegetable oil spray.
Bake on the bottom rack in the oven for 20 minutes on 400 degrees. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for about 5 minutes longer until crust is golden and fish flakes easily.
Country Fried Steak and Gravy
2 lb. cube steaks
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup self-rising flour
Salt and pepper
12-inch skillet with top
Cut steak into palm sized pieces. Lightly salt and pepper both sides of steak, adding more pepper than salt. Heat cooking oil in deep skillet on medium high until oil is hot. Keep temperature on medium high for entire cooking process. Pour 1 cup flour onto a plate to bread both sides of steak. After breading, place into hot oil for frying. Flip steaks after 5 minutes. Then flip every 5 minutes for 20 minutes or until steaks are lightly crusty. After steaks are ready, let sit on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Remove ½ cup of hot oil from skillet. According to taste, pile a few pieces, or all pieces, of steak on one side of skillet. Pour remaining flour from breading process into skillet, add ½ tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper; then add additional 2 Tbsp. flour to skillet. Spread flour around skillet in oil, stirring continuously to create gravy. Move steak pieces around in gravy. Stir until gravy is very brown. Cook gravy mixture for approximately 4 minutes. Then pour in 4 cups water and mix well. Place top over skillet; turn temperature down to simmer for 5 minutes to thicken gravy.
Havlin’s Shrimp J. Michael
¼ cup chopped green onions
¼ cup chopped bell pepper
¼ cup chopped celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cans cream of celery soup
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1-2 cans water
¼ cup Rotel tomatoes
½ Tbsp. black pepper
½ Tbsp. curry powder
½ Tbsp. seasoning salt
2 lb. peeled, uncooked shrimp
Sauté onions, pepper, celery and garlic in olive oil. Add remaining ingredients, except shrimp, and simmer 20 minutes. Add shrimp and cook 4 minutes.
Serve over rice and have extra Rotel tomatoes at table. Serves 8.
Pork Tenderloins with Mustard Sauce
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. coarse- grained mustard
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
2 pork tenderloins (1 pkg.)
¼ cup dry white wine or apple juice
Marinate tenderloins in a plastic bag in above ingredients for about 8 hours or overnight.
Place on lightly greased rack in shallow pan. Brush with half of wine mixture. Bake at 400 degrees until thermometer registers 160 degrees (about 25 minutes). Can also use pork loin roast.
Cool about 10 minutes before slicing.
1¾ cup whipping cream
¼ cup coarse-grained mustard
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Cook whipping cream until reduced to about 1¼ cups (about 15 minutes), Stirring often. Add mustard, salt and pepper and cook until mixture is heated, stirring constantly. Makes about 1 1/3 cups sauce.
8 manicotti noodles
16 oz. cottage cheese
1 lb. ground beef, cooked and drained
8 oz. sour cream
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 jar medium-size spaghetti sauce
Boil noodles according to box and put in 9 x 13 dish.
In a bowl, mix ground beef, cottage cheese, sour cream and a handful of mozzarella cheese. Stuff noodles with the mixture. Spread remaining mixture around dish.
Pour spaghetti sauce over entire dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes covered with foil. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes.
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 red pepper, seeded, small diced
1 onion, diced
2 tsp. chopped garlic
1 lb. ground beef
¾ cup breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. chopped basil
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 cup marinara sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sauté peppers, onions and garlic in the olive oil until just soft; cool.
Combine remaining ingredients except marinara; add pepper mixture. Place into greased loaf pan. Top with marinara sauce. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until thermometer reaches 160 degrees. Let rest five minutes. Slice and serve. Serves 4.
No fail recipe
1 whole chicken
2 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
2 lbs. ground beef
2 cans whole tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
32 oz. bottle ketchup
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. hickory smoke salt
Red pepper to taste
2 cans cream style corn
Boil chicken; remove skin and bones. Save broth. Cook onion and ground beef in broth. Add remaining ingredients, except corn. Simmer 45 minutes to an hour. Add corn. Be careful that corn does not stick to the bottom of pan.
Chicken Enchiladas with White Sauce
2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1 (3 oz.) can (mild) chopped green chilies
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 pint sour cream
1/2 lb. cheddar cheese, grated
1 pkg. flour tortillas, sliced in strips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 by 13-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place layer of tortillas on bottom of pan.
Toss together chicken, Monterey Jack cheese and chilies.
Then add soup and sour cream. Spread layer of chicken mixture over tortillas. Top with layer of cheddar cheese. Finish with layer of tortillas and sprinkle top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.
Can prepare a day ahead and bake or freeze.
Gulliver’s Creamed Corn
Two 10 oz packages frozen white corn
2 cups whole milk
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. butter
Bring first four ingredients to a boil; lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes while stirring frequently. Add butter and flour; mix well and heat on low until thick.
Ken’s Apricot Chili Glazed Salmon
2 or 3 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
2 or 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup white wine
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1cup apricot preserves
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 salmon fillets, washed and dried
Add olive oil and jalapenos to saucepan; heat on medium for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Add wine and deglaze for 3-4 minutes. Stir in mustard and preserves. Heat on low for 3-4 minutes until bubbly. Remove from heat and let cool 20 minutes.
Place salmon on parchment paper in a shallow pan. Spread sauce on each fillet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with Pineapple Sauce
1 box Duncan Hines Yellow Butter Cake Mix or Old Time 1-2-3-4 Basic Cake
1 large can whole pineapple slices
1 jar maraschino cherries
1 stick butter or margarine
1½ cups light brown sugar
Melt one stick of butter in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish or pan, spreading over pan into corners. Sprinkle 1½ cups light brown sugar over bottom of pan.
Drain one can sliced pineapple (reserve juice).
Place eight whole pineapple slices in pan. Cut two slices in half. Place down sides to meet whole slices. Place one maraschino cherry in center of each slice.
For the cake:
Follow directions on box for mixing cake. (If cake mix is used, sift before mixing.)
Pour cake batter over pineapple slices and bake in a 350 degree oven until cake is brown. Let cool ten minutes – loosen around sides – turn out on large cake platter/dish.
After cake is cooled: Melt ½ stick butter; add 1 tsp. flour and stir well. Do not brown. Add 1/3 cup sugar and blend well, add reserved pineapple juice and cook on low heat until sauce is slightly thick. Serve over cake.
Green Salad with Cranberries and Pecans
1 cup pecan halves
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. dry mustard
8 oz. spring salad mix
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Spread pecans in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate lined with wax paper. Microwave on high for 1 minute and stir. Microwave for 20 seconds longer, if needed to toast pecans.
Combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper and dry mustard in a jar with a tight-fitting lid; seal tightly. Shake to combine.
Toss pecans, salad mix, cranberries and cheese in salad bowl. Add ¼ cup vinaigrette and toss to coat. Taste and add additional dressing if desired. Serve immediately. Store remaining vinaigrette in refrigerator. Serves 6 to 8.
Crock-Pot Swiss Steak
2 lb. beef steak
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
l large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1½ cups beef broth
Cut meat into 1/2 inch thick slices and
season on both sides with salt and pepper.
Dredge both sides of meat in flour.
Tenderize meat until about 1/4 inch thick and
dredge again in flour.
Heat oil in a Dutch over set over medium heat. Cook
steak until golden brown on both sides.
Place cooked steak into crock-pot/slow cooker and
add onions, garlic and celery. Then add remaining ingredients. Cook on high for 5 to 6 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours.