Offering hospitality is a ministry for Bobby Samford

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By Ann Cipperly

Tucked in a wooded area down a winding road, the home of Joy and Bobby Samford opens to a large den with a soaring stone fireplace and a screened porch where they enjoy hosting family and friends to share a meal. Bobby enjoys cooking and sees offering hospitality as a ministry.

“In Acts 2 where the church started,” he days, “and there are scriptures about breaking bread together. There is a lot of ministry done sitting down at a meal together. Inviting people to your home to share a meal with them is special.”

Bobby grew up in Opelika with his parents, Jackie and the late Thomas Samford, being sterling role models of showing love to others. “Mom was a great cook,” he says, “and Dad was the outdoor weekend cook.”

He remembers both of his grandmothers were also good cooks and having many delicious meals at their homes. His paternal grandparents were Aileen and Thomas Samford, and his maternal grandparents were Blanch, “Big Mama”, and Jack Screws, who managed the Opelika Hardware store. All of them lived in Opelika.

Bobby followed in his father’s footsteps of enjoying grilling and has two grills on their covered porch. His younger brother, Richard, was also influenced by their parents’ enjoyment of cooking. Richard is a successful caterer, specializing in barbecue, ribs, chicken, stew and other foods.

Now that their mother doesn’t cook anymore and their father and grandparents have passed away, Bobby and Richard are carrying on the family’s love of cooking and hospitality.

“I like cooking,” Bobby adds. “That is my part of loving and caring for people. I am excited about getting a meal together when I am going to be spending time with people.”

Bobby graduated from Lee Academy the final year before the school merged with Scott Preparatory. He graduated from Auburn University and attended the University of Alabama for his master’s degree. He met Joy while at Alabama. He returned to Auburn for additional graduate work.

Joy grew up in west Alabama in Aliceville. After they married, they lived in Selma where he taught school while in graduate school. They moved to Opelika in 1993.

Bobby spent 34 years in education before retiring last year. He taught and coached in different places and was an administrator at Lee-Scott for 22 years.

Joy has taught music over the years. She was on staff at Trinity United Methodist Church for 17 years and has led choir for different ages. They attend Auburn Community Church where she now sings. Joy teaches part-time at Spicer’s Music Shop and helps take care of her mother, who is in a Dadeville nursing home.

Bobby and Joy have three children. Amanda is in graduate school at AUM, Chase, 22, is a senior at Auburn University and will be starting dental school in July, and Clay, 18, is a freshman at Southern Union.

While Bobby is the main cook for the family, Joy prepares the side dishes. Amanda is beginning to cook, and their sons are getting more involved in watching their father cook on the grill. “That is time together with the kids and that is special,” he says.

When planning meals, Bobby orders groceries at Wright’s Market and has them delivered to their home. He recommends the market, and thinks their meats are the best.

His Go-To Grilled, Baked or Air-Fried Chicken is placed in brine overnight and then a marinade to assure it is tender and flavorful. They are at a point where he wants to cook healthy, so using the air-fryer keeps the chicken crispy without cooking in oil.

The Fish Tacos can be prepared with your favorite white, flaky fish. The fish is marinated and then grilled or cooked in a skillet. For assembling the tacos, the fish are placed in taco shells and topped with a Chipotle-Lime Sauce.

Bobby’s Turkey Meatballs and Marinara has less than 300 calories per serving but are packed with flavor. He adapts recipes to suit his family’s taste. The Chicken Spaghetti is one of their children’s favorites.

“I enjoy cooking for the people I care about,” says Bobby. “It is my part of loving and caring for people by doing something for them. It is special having people in your home to share time and a meal. If it gets the kids coming home, that is a good thing.”

Ann Cipperly can be contacted at recipes@cipperly.com.

Recipes:

Go-To Grilled, Baked or Air-Fried Chicken
This recipe is what I have settled on to get the most consistent results. Once I tried brining the chicken, it was so much tenderer that I always do it now, if we have time. If you haven’t tried an air-fryer, do it. It’s a game changer for saving time and eating healthier.
4-6 boneless chicken breasts
Brine:
8 cups water
¼ cup kosher salt (or 2 Tbsp regular table salt)
½ cup light brown sugar
The night before, place chicken breasts and above ingredients in Ziplock plastic bag or bowl; refrigerate overnight. Make sure brine covers chicken, using ratios above.
The next morning, rinse brine from chicken and place in Ziplock plastic bag with the following marinade. Refrigerate until ready to grill. I take it out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling, so meat will get closer to room temperature.
Marinade:
½ cup olive oil
½ cup balsamic vinegar
⅓ cup soy sauce
⅓ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup lemon (or lime) juice
⅔ cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. hot sauce
1 tsp. minced garlic
Pepper (to taste)
You can add your favorite sauce during last 10 minutes of grilling or let everyone use their favorite on the side.
The chicken can also be cooked in a 375 oven for 45 minutes or in an air-fryer at 380-390 degrees for 12-14 minutes, turning over about halfway through cooking.
Fish Tacos with Chipotle-Lime Sauce
1 lb. of your favorite white, flaky fish (We use tilapia filets since they come in large quantities and can stay readily available in the freezer and thawed quickly).
Tortillas
Marinade:
¼ cup olive oil or canola
1 lime (juiced)
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. Old Bay Blackened Seasoning
¼ cup fresh cilantro
Pour marinade over fish and let sit for 30 minutes. When ready to cook, heat grill or skillet to medium-high. Cook fish 3-4 minutes on one side; flip for only a couple minutes more. Use your spatula and give fish a ‘rough chop.’ Set aside to build your tacos.
You can get creative at this point. Put your tortillas on skillet/griddle for 1-2 minutes per side. When ready to serve, put fish in the taco shell and add salsa, Asian slaw, or whatever you like in your tacos. We top with a Chipotle-Lime Sauce.
Chipotle-Lime Sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro
1 lime (juiced)
Place all ingredients in food processor and puree.
Note: Fat free mayonnaise would make this sauce lower in calories.
It is so easy to make extra fish and keep in Ziplock bags for warm-up and quick meal.
Turkey Meatballs and Marinara
(less than 300 calories per serving)
Meatballs:
1 lb. ground turkey
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 egg
⅓ cup parsley (chopped)
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
Mix all above ingredients and form into 1-inch balls. If you have an air-fryer (which I recommend) cook them in batches, 10-12 per batch following air-fryer instructions.
You can also cook in a skillet with 2 Tbsp. olive oil until browned on all sides and cooked through. This should take no more than 5 minutes.
Marinara:
This can be used with spaghetti or any other dish requiring marinara.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
⅓ cup fresh basil (chopped)
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
¼ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Heat oil over medium-high heat in skillet. Add garlic and heat a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes and all other ingredients above. Simmer uncovered for 8-10 minutes.
Add cooked meatballs to the marinara until warm. Top with additional Pecorino/Romano cheese and serve with pasta or spaghetti squash as a healthy replacement.
Spaghetti Squash
If using spaghetti squash, use knife to poke 8-10 random holes in it. Place in pan and cook at 425 degrees for 65-70 minutes. When cooled, cut open lengthwise and rake insides out with a fork. It looks and works just like pasta but with virtually no calories.
Thai Lettuce Wraps
2 chicken breasts, cut into strips (or buy precooked strips to save time)
⅓ cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
⅓ cup hoisin sauce
1 ½ tsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. sriracha
1 Tbsp. minced (or fresh grated) ginger
Combine above ingredients in Ziplock plastic bag and marinade for couple of hours or overnight.
When ready to prepare, dump Ziplock ingredients into a skillet and cook chicken until done. If using precooked strips, you’ll just be warming-up the chicken.
Peanuts
Cilantro
Chop up a couple tablespoons of peanuts and cilantro and sprinkle over chicken when cooked/warmed.
Baby lettuce leaves or romaine
Asian slaw or red cabbage
Corn, black beans, green onions
Pico
Thai chili sauce
At this point, you can be creative. Use either butter lettuce leaves or whole romaine as your ‘container’ for the ingredients. We add the chicken, Asian slaw or red cabbage, and the corn, black bean and green onion combo, or pico and finish it off with sweet Thai chili sauce (found in ethnic foods aisle).
Spicy Guacamole
2-3 ripe avocados
½ cup red onion (diced)
2 jalapenos (seeded and diced)
2 limes (juiced)
¼ cup fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 Roma tomatoes (or 1 can Rotel)
Kosher salt/pepper (to taste)
Seal unused portion in refrigerator.
Combine all ingredients and serve with chips of choice. “Heat” can be increased by leaving seeds in jalapenos or adding cayenne pepper.

Reuben Egg Rolls
(Had these at McGuire’s in Destin and had to try to repeat!)
1 pkg. egg roll wraps
1 lb. thin sliced corned beef
8 oz. Swiss cheese (shredded)
½ cup sauerkraut
1 egg
Vegetable oil
Thousand island dressing
Beat egg and a tablespoon of water together for an egg wash to seal each wrap.
In each wrap place corned beef, pinch of Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut (to taste). Start rolling at a corner, folding in the sides as you roll. Seal final corner with egg wash. Do not overfill or wraps (very thin) will break open.
Pour 1-2 inches of vegetable oil in skillet; heat to 350 degrees; drop in egg rolls until browned 2-3 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towel and dip in thousand island dressing.

Chicken Spaghetti
3 cans cooked chicken or 3 cooked chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 medium yellow onion (diced)
1 pkg. spaghetti noodles (or angel hair)
1 can Rotel
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups sour cream
16 oz. shredded cheddar (or Colby jack)
¼ cup Parmesan cheese (experiment with your favorite cheeses)
1 tsp. garlic salt
Pinch of pepper
Panko breadcrumbs for topping, optional
Prepare pasta per instructions on package. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in pan and add onion and garlic. Cook approximately 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
In large bowl, combine all ingredients (except topping), including onion mixture and cooked spaghetti (drained); fold in chicken.
Put entire mixture in lasagna pan or any 11 x 14-inch dish. We use panko breadcrumbs on top and cook uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until breadcrumbs are browned on top.
This recipe makes a lot of spaghetti and should easily feed 8-10.

White Chicken Chili
Make this in slow cooker. It could not be easier.
2 lbs. chicken (can be breasts or tenders) If using breasts, cut in half lengthwise.)
1 yellow onion (diced)
1 tsp. minced garlic
24 oz. chicken broth
2 cans Great Northern beans (drained)
1 can Rotel (drained)
2 cans southwestern (or whole kernel) corn
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
¾ tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ cup fresh cilantro
Salt/pepper (to taste)
Put all ingredients above in slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup half and half
Here’s where the “white” part comes in. With 15 minutes to go, add cream cheese, sour cream and half and half to the slow cooker. A healthier option is to use the fat free options of cream cheese, sour cream and substitute skim or 2% milk.

Breakfast Casserole with Bacon and Sausage
This is a staple around our house during the holidays. However, it is so easy to have in refrigerator for easy warm-up all week. Making this the night before allows the egg and milk mixture to soak into the bread. Turkey bacon and sausage would be easy substitute.
10 pieces white bread (broken into pieces), divided
10 eggs (beaten)
1-quart milk
3 cups shredded/grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 lb. bacon (cooked and crumbled)
1 lb. sausage (cooked, drained)
2 tsp. yellow (or stone-ground) mustard
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. dry mustard
Coat a 9 x 13 casserole dish with nonstick spray (foil/disposable is easier). Break up 5 pieces of bread in bottom of the dish. Spread 1½ cup of the cheddar cheese, bacon and sausage to the top of the bread.
Beat eggs, milk, mustard, Worcestershire and salt/pepper and pour half of the mixture over the bread, cheese and meat. Add remaining bread and cheese. Pour remaining egg mixture on top.
Cover and refrigerate overnight, if possible. Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until browned.

Joy’s Monkey Bread
3 10-oz cans buttermilk biscuits
1 cup sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon
2 sticks butter (softened)
½ cup light (or dark) brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Open biscuits and cut each one into quarters. Combine sugar, cinnamon, and biscuit quarters in a Ziplock plastic bag and mix or shake. Spread these biscuit quarters into bottom of a lightly greased Bundt pan.
In a small pan, melt together butter and brown sugar. Once these have become one color, pour over biscuits in Bundt pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until browned on top. Allow to cool 15-20 minutes and then turn over onto a plate.

Game Day Wings
There are many ways to fix wings. Of course, frying before tossing tastes good. We tried this alternative to see if they would be crispy without all the oil and fat. They are! This is healthier and a lot easier than frying them!
25-30 wings (we prefer drumettes)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt (or ¼ tsp. table salt)
½ tsp. garlic powder
Place all chicken in large bowl. Sprinkle baking powder, salt and garlic powder over chicken. Toss the chicken with tongs or your hands. This mixture helps dry out the chicken skin and will help get them crispy. Place wings on a greased baking rack sitting inside an oven pan (with sides or fat rendering from chicken will make a mess in your oven). Placing wings on this baking rack helps them get crispy on all sides. Place in a 250-degree oven for 30 minutes. After this, turn oven up to 425 and cook an additional 45 minutes. Toss wings in your favorite wing/hot sauce or eat as is.

Pumpkin Bread
This makes 2 loaves-keep one, share one!
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1½ sticks unsalted butter (softened)
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
15-oz. can pure pumpkin
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 8 x 4-inch loaf pans with butter and flour (or coat with nonstick spray).
In a bowl combine first seven dry ingredients and whisk until mixed; set aside.
In bowl of electric mixer, combine butter and sugar and mix just until blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Continue beating until fluffy-about 2-3 minutes. Fold in the pumpkin.
Add the dry mixture and mix on low speed until well combined.
Turn the batter evenly into the two greased loaf pans. Place on middle rack in preheated oven for 65-70 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.
Use a knife to go around edges of pans to avoid sticking. Let loaves cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, and then turn out on wire rack to cool completely.

Great Southern Biscuits
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
5 Tbsp. sugar
¼ cup warm water
2 packets active dry yeast
2 sticks salted butter-cubed plus 4 Tbsp. melted
2 cups buttermilk
Whisk together first 5 dry ingredients. Combine water (90-110 degrees if you have a thermometer), yeast and sugar and set aside for 2-3 minutes.
Using hands, mix the cubed butter into dry flour mixture, breaking up the butter into small pebbles as you mix.
Make a well in the center and pour the yeast mixture and the buttermilk. Gently fold the flour into the wet ingredients. Keep mixing until a ball starts to form then gently knead to create a smooth dough. Cover with wet towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for approximately 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Transfer dough to a floured surface and press out so that dough is 1-2 inches thick. Fold dough in half, press out again, and fold again-this will create layers in your biscuits.
Cut dough using 2-3-inch round cutter or glass.
Brush bottom of cast iron skillet with the melted butter. Place biscuits, sides touching, in skillet and brush top of biscuits with melted butter. Bake at 425 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until browned on top.
This recipe makes enough dough for approximately 15 biscuits. Skillet will probably not hold them all at one time.

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