Welcome spring with time outdoors, enjoying easy to prepare meals


By Ann Cipperly

With Bradford Pear and Tulip trees and clusters of daffodils blooming around town, we welcome the return of spring with sunny, warmer weather. Whether you are working in the yard or able to get out more now with a vaccine, plan on serving easy recipes to enjoy time out of doors, even if it is relaxing on the patio. 

After so many gloomy cold days, spring beckons to plant an herb garden or clean flowerpots to get ready for new plants. Herbs will flourish in large pots and planting them in pots allows you to place them in a sunny location. Be sure to plant plenty of parsley, basil, sage, thyme, dill, rosemary and others for enhancing the flavor of dishes. Tomato plants and other vegetables also grow in pots if you don’t have a sunny place for a garden.

After enjoying time out of doors, prepare a meal that is easy and delicious. Make a list of menus for the week in order to keep ingredients on hand for days when you don’t have much time to cook.

An easy recipe to assemble is Andy’s Restaurant Macaroni and Cheese. Julia Moreman shared this recipe years ago. It was served at Andy’s Restaurant, which was the most popular restaurant in Opelika for many years. It was the setting for luncheons, rehearsal dinners and parties.

The restaurant was owned by the parents of Julia’s late husband, Dick Moreman. He helped at the restaurant at one time before his sister, Mari Crim, ran the business.

Julia taught at Opelika High School for two and a half years. A young Julia was my English teacher in the 11th grade. I will always be thankful to Julia for her influence and for introducing me to the beautiful poetry of Robert Frost.

Dick and Julia owned and operated Golden Crown Interiors and Flowers on Second Avenue. Julia operated the flower shop, while Dick was the designer for the interior decorating service. They were both active in the community and at the First United Methodist Church.

Dick’s mother, Cecil Moreman, with Jane Walker, was co-founder of the Lee County Youth Development Center, and Dick served on the board.

Julia and Dick lived in the historic two-story house on 10th Street at the entrance to Collinwood Street for 47 years. After Dick passed away, Julia was ready to downsize. She moved into her new home at National Village in June 2014. Cherished antiques from her former home fit nicely in the new house.

Julia enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren. The Macaroni and Cheese from Andy’s restaurant is still being prepared as a favorite dish for the grandchildren. 

Another easy dish children will enjoy is Heather Cummings’ One-Skillet Spaghetti. Heather and her husband, Kevin, have two sons, Jake and John Conner. Heather, who is director of Children’s Ministries at Trinity United Methodist, is a former educator and school administrator. 

Growing up, Heather helped her mother and grandmother cook, and she enjoys cooking for her family. She tries to find recipes that everyone will enjoy, that are nutritious and can be prepared ahead or assembled quickly. The boys are involved with many activities that keep her and Kevin busy.

The ingredients for Heather’s Beach Pasta are easy to have on hand for preparing an easy meal on vacation or at home. You can also use a rotisserie chicken instead of canned.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, pork tenderloin, ground beef and ground turkey are all good to have on hand for quick meals. Keep containers of chicken stock, canned tomatoes, pasta sauces, pastas, rice, panko crumbs and balsamic vinegar in the pantry. Bread will freeze well.

As you get busy with spring activities outdoors, look over the following recipes from several good cooks and select ones to serve your family in the coming week. These recipes go together quickly, and most only need a salad to complete a delectable meal. 

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

Andy’s Restaurant Macaroni and Cheese

Julia Moreman

1 small box elbow macaroni

½ stick butter

1 egg

½ cup milk

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook macaroni according to directions on box. Drain and mix with other ingredients. Bake about 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

One-Skillet Spaghetti


1 lb. ground beef

1 (4 oz.) can mushrooms, drained

1 large onion, chopped (optional)

¾ cup chopped green pepper

1 tsp. salt

1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 tsp. sugar

½ cup water

1 heaping tsp. chili powder

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 (7 oz.) pkg. thin spaghetti, broken into 2 inch pieces (uncooked)

In a Dutch oven cook ground beef, onion and green pepper until beef is browned and vegetables are tender. Drain.

Add all remaining ingredients except cheese, blending well. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until spaghetti is tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and heat until cheese melts.

Tomato and Mozzarella Bruschetta

Melissa Scott

Use slices of baguette for appetizer servings and slices of regular French bread for lunch or a light supper with a green salad. Easy to cut recipe in half. 

French bread baguette

Butter, melted, and olive oil


2 tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes

1 cup shredded mozzarella 

1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp. garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil

Combine topping ingredients. Let sit for at least 20 minutes.

Slice a French baguette. Brush one side of bread with butter and olive oil (equal parts). Lay slices on cookie sheet. Broil until lightly brown. Take out and flip over.

Spoon cheese mixture over each piece. Broil until cheese melts and is lightly brown.

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Reduction

Dr. Cathy Donald

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. minced shallots

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1½ tsp. sugar

1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary (or ½ tsp. dried)

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Cooking spray

1 lb. pork tenderloin, sliced

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat; add shallots and garlic. Sauté 2 minutes. Add vinegar and next 3 ingredients; cook until reduced to ½ cup.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; coat pan with cooking spray. Season pork with salt and pepper. Place pork in pan; cook 2 minutes on each side. Add balsamic reduction, turning pork to coat. Continue to cook until desired doneness. 

Parmesan Chicken

Vondalyn Hall

This recipe can be prepared several hours ahead and then cooked at the last minute. It is great served plain, or over angel hair pasta topped with a marinara sauce.

1 clove garlic, minced

1 stick margarine or butter

1 cup crushed crackers

1 cup crushed corn flakes

1 cup Parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1/8 tsp. black pepper

2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut in pieces (approximately 3x 3 inches)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine melted butter in a bowl with minced garlic. In another bowl combine cracker crumbs, crushed corn flakes, Parmesan cheese, parsley and black pepper.

Dip chicken pieces in garlic butter, then in breadcrumb mixture to coat.

Place coated chicken pieces in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Drizzle with remaining garlic butter and top with any remaining breadcrumbs. Bake uncovered at 450 degrees for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Pork Chop One-Dish Meal

Nadine Knowles’ Don’t Forget the Parsley

This one-dish recipe is nice because if you are cooking for only two, there is no problem with leftovers. You simply cook two pork chops and less rice. I call it my easy meal, and it is.

8 nice size pork chops

1 cup rice, salted to taste

8 slices tomatoes

8 slices onion

8 bell pepper rings

Salt and pepper

Partly cook the rice; drain. In a heavy pan with a small amount of cooking oil, brown pork chops. Do not overcook at this point. Salt and pepper to taste.

Place chops in baking pan. On each chop, put a large tablespoon of rice; on this a slice of tomato, then and onion slice and pepper ring. Cover pan. Bake 45 minutes at 350.

With this I serve corn sticks, green salad and dessert. 

Chicken Nuggets and Sweet Potato Fries

Jamie Bell

Chicken breasts

Panko crumbs, seasoned

2 sweet potatoes

Salt, pepper or your favorite seasoning

Ranch dressing for dipping

Wash and dry sweet potatoes. Cut into fry size strips. Coat with seasoning and place evenly on parchment covered cookie sheet (they will stick to your pan!) Cook at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, turning over half way. Keep your eyes on the fries or they will burn.

Wash and cut chicken into nugget size pieces. Place crumbs into a bowl and add chicken; toss to coat. Cook in 375 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until cooked all the way through.

Smoked Salmon Fettuccine

Sally Ann Doyle

4 oz. dry fettuccine

2 Tbsp. butter

1 cup onion, sliced lengthwise

1 or 2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 oz. mushrooms, sliced

4 oz. smoked salmon slices

Pinch of salt

½ tsp. black pepper

½ cup white wine

1 cup whipping cream

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta.  In deep skilled melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until tender and translucent. Stir in mushrooms, salt and pepper; sauté until mushrooms are soft. Pour in white wine, cream and salmon. Simmer sauce until thick and creamy, stirring frequently as it reduces.

Toss warm pasta with sauce and then fold in grated cheese. You may refrigerate leftovers (if there are any!) Makes 2 servings.

The Boys’ Favorite Bacon Wrapped Pork Chops

Laurel Dudley

8 pork chops

8 slices of bacon

1 cup soy sauce

1 medium onion, grated

2 Tbsp. vinegar

1 tsp. sugar

½ tsp. cayenne

2 cloves garlic, minced

Wrap each chop with one slice bacon, securing with a toothpick. Place chops in casserole dish in a single layer. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chops. Cover with foil and bake at 325 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours hours. Turn once after 40 minutes.

Chicken with Honey Soy Sauce

Dish is easy to assemble, and the sauce is tasty.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup catsup

1/4 cup honey

2 cloves garlic, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sauce ingredients. Place chicken in a shallow baking pan. Pour sauce over chicken. Bake for 1 hour.

To prepare ahead, pour sauce over chicken, over and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Easy Cheeseburger Pie

Angie Shuman

1 lb. lean ground beef

Sliced green onions

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

½ cup Bisquick mix

1 cup milk

2 eggs

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Brown ground beef and onion in skillet. Spread in 9-inch pie plate. Sprinkle with cheese.

In a small bowl, stir remaining ingredients with fork until blended. Pour into pie plate.

Bake about 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Taco Casserole

Hattie Lett

1 lb. ground beef or venison

1 clove garlic, minced

1 onion, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

16 oz. can refried fat free refried beans

4 oz. can sliced black olives, drained

4 oz. can diced green chilies, not drained

16 oz. jar taco sauce

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Brown meat with chopped onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Coat 9 x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Layer refried beans and then cooked meat in dish. Next, layer green chilies, half of sliced olives, taco sauce and cheese. Garnish with remaining olives.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

Easy Mexican Stack-Up

Starla Haynes

Good for a crowd. This is easy to double or triple.

Brown 1 lb. ground chuck with a pkg. of taco seasonings but instead of adding water with the seasonings, add a can of diced tomatoes.

Place the cooked beef in a dish, and place the following items in separate dishes for everyone to build their own “stack.” 


Small Fritos

Shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, grated cheese

Chopped pecans and coconut 

The last two toppings of chopped pecans and coconut are a surprise but add a unique taste to the dish.

Lime Chicken Tacos

Heather Cummings

1 ½ lb. boneless chicken breast, cubed

Olive oil

1/8 cup red wine vinegar

½ lime, squeezed

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

2 green onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. dried oregano

10 – 6-inch flour tortillas

Shredded lettuce

1 tomato, diced

¼ cup Monterey Jack cheese

½ cup salsa

Sauté chicken in olive oil. Add vinegar, lime, salt, pepper, green onion, garlic and oregano. Simmer 10 minutes. Place in warm tortillas and top with tomatoes, lettuce, Monterey jack cheese and salsa.

Mary Ann’s Shrimp and Rice

10 oz. can Campbell’s cream of shrimp soup

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. butter or oil
½ small onion, grated
¼ cup celery, chopped
½ cup milk or more if needed
1 to 2 lbs. cooked shrimp
1 ½ Tbsp. fresh parsley
1 ½ cups cooked rice or more

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp. nutmeg
Paprika, optional
Sliced almonds to garnish, optional
Combine soup and mayonnaise. Sauté onion and celery in butter; add to mixture. Add milk and seasonings. Stir in cooked shrimp and rice. Top with paprika and almonds if desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until heated through. Can assemble a day ahead. Serves 6.


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