Living in a small town in West Texas, we will use any excuse to have get-togethers. The church is a big part of our lives and we like to have pot luck dinners often. Everything is homemade and delicious. There are always wonderful vegetables dishes, can you imagine five different kinds of squash dishes~beautiful salads, and always hot rolls. We usually have a smoked brisket from HEB and that is the only thing bought-and-brought, the rest of the meal is built around this. The dessert table will have everything from cherry cheese cake, to pies and cobblers, and cookies, everyone brings their favorite recipe. ( the Women of the Church published a cookbook a few years ago ‘Passed and Present 1903-2003′. First Presbyterian Church of Eldorado, Texas) The dinning tables are covered with linen cloths and there will be a beautiful centerpiece on each table. We make dinners for family funerals, or when the kids graduate from school, Thanksgiving and Christmas, then dinners for no special reason. There are big hamburger picnics at ‘Church on the Waters’ at Clear Creek on the Powell Ranch to end the summer. (sometime a baptism too) When it is announced that we are having a pot luck luncheon, I get my ire up, it is not a luncheon, it is a full fledged dinner. Eldorado has the finest cooks in the world, we celebrate every occasion with our very best. And as always “Thank You Lord for our church family”.
Chocolate Chip Cookies are easy to make and most people love them. I borrowed this recipe from Elizabeth’s cooking site ‘My Home Cooking’ check it out, some great recipes, and lots of detailed instructions. She built it as a school project 10 years ago when she was fifteen and it has been running ever since. This is a simpler version of her cookies but the results are the same. Homemade cookies are great to take on a trip, then all you need is to find a Starbucks~)
I got this recipe from my friend Christy Brown. It is one of the very best. She told me later that she only made it once but it is listed in my recipes as Christy Brown’s Famous Chicken Pasta. I serve it with hot rolls or French Bread and a big vegetable salad, it is all you need for a great company meal. Make a list of the ingredients and pick them up at the store so you will always be ready. This recipe serves six or more~
6 oz. cooked egg noodles (med. size)
3 c cooked chicken
1 can Cream of Celery Soup
1 can Pet Milk
½ tsp salt (or to taste)
½ can black olives, cut in halves
1 c diced celery
1 c Longhorn Cheddar cheese
¼ c pimentos
1 small can green chilies
1 small can water chestnuts
1 c toasted slivered almonds (save half for topping)
Mix these ingredients and put in a Pyrex baking dish
that has been sprayed with Pam.
Top with remaining almonds and some buttered breadcrumbs.
Heat in 325 oven, loosely covered with foil for 15 min.
then remove foil and heat another 15 minutes or until it is bubbling hot.
This is the recipe for the soft, creamy, chewy pecan pralines. It takes a little longer to make then than the sugary ones. I like all kinds of pralines so these are are worth it. You need a candy thermometer if you are going to have success every time. Wal Mart has them and they are not expensive. This is another one of Grandmother Montgomery’s candy recipes, she made a date loaf candy that was wonderful and something she called ‘fork candy’. She made pot of clear syrupy candy and poured it over pecans in a platter. Then the kids each got a fork to scoop it up and enjoy. Candy making isn’t just for Christmas time, you can make it all year and it might be even better when there aren’t so many sweets at once. Try this one, you will love it~
When our kids were coming to the river for vacation, I was busy for days clearing brush, mowing and getting ready for them. I always made River Tacos that first evening, I cooked the chili the day before, shredded the cheese, and chopped the onions. Then on the big day, the last thing to do was soft fry the tortillas and cut up the salad. When they drove up, there was lots of sweet hugging and squealing, time to love each other and relax for a few minutes. For supper all I had to do was pour the bubbling hot chili over the salad and we ate. It was a wonderful, easy and delicious meal. Even now when I fix River Tacos, I remember that excitement I felt while waiting for my precious kids.
1 lb. very lean ground meat
3 T Gephardt chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground oregano
3 c water
Brown meat in skillet with spices, then add water. Cover and cook on med heat for 25 minutes. Skim off all the grease.
Mix together in nice serving bowl
3 c. lettuce, shred fine
3 tomatoes, cut in small cubes
1 avocado, cut in cubes
½ a cucumber, chopped fine
½ bell pepper chopped fine
Soft fry corn tortillas, 4 or 5 for each person plus a few extras) Note: no short cuts here, you need to soft fry the tortillas, don’t just heat them in a microwave~
Heat about ½ c corn oil in skillet, fry tortillas, one at a time, only about 4 seconds on each side.
Drain on paper towels to get off all grease. (I put thick newspaper on the counter, top with three layers of paper towels, lay each tortilla on it as I fry it, and pat it to get all the grease off)
Stack and cover with a towel to keep warm.
Just before serving, heat chili bubbling hot, pour over salad.
Have some shredded cheese, chopped onions and sour cream dressing on the side.
Let everyone make their own by spooning taco salad onto warm tortilla and rolling it up. Messy but hey, pass the paper towels.
This is an unbelievably delicious meal.
When I was at UT in the early 50’s, I took an extra course ‘Home Economics for non Home Ec. majors’. I was wanting to learn the finer aspects of food preparation. For one assignment, we drew a recipe out of a bowl for what we would make that day. Mine was ‘Angel Food Cake’. Hum, I had made that cake many times, so ‘with a little attitude’ I told Mrs. Armstrong I would like to trade for something else, I wanted to learn something new~ not the same old cake I already knew how to make. No, she said I would need to make the recipe I had drawn. OK, I was pretty hacked but whipped it up, while I complained bitterly to my cooking partner. When we were all done we had to line our food up on a table for everyone to sample and critique. The Angel Food Cake just squatted there, barely three inches tall, a total failure. I was completely humiliated. (I could fill a page with times like these). Now skip to 60 years later. I never use a box cake mix with one exception~ Angel Food Cake. It comes out tall, and perfect every time. It makes a beautiful birthday cake, or delicious dessert with strawberries and (real) whipped cream. (for my famous old family recipe~look on the box)