The New Year, a New Start

By Rhonda Woods

Hello everyone!

I hope you, your family and friends have had a wonderful Christmas. Ours was hectic, as usual, but odd at the same time.  We all knew something was missing, yet went through all the motions for our family, especially the children who did not notice our loss of happiness. I have tried to recall last Christmas, but it is pretty much is a blur.

By the time this is posted, we will have reached one year since the passing of my sweet husband on January 4. So much has happened in a year.  Through the good and bad times, trials and blessings, the one thing that remains unwavering is God.  He has never left me.  He has let me pour my heart out to Him on innumerable days and nights.  He has answered my prayers, allowed me rest and calmed my anxiety. I know the emptiness and uncertainty I have felt almost daily will part slowly like dark clouds that reveal the beauty of bright days ahead. God has a plan for my life and I am looking forward to opening my eyes and heart to His will. My faith and hope is for many changes, a new start, a new chapter and happiness.

Food brings happiness to many.  Sometimes it is a particular food that comforts us.  I like to think of the feeling you get from eating a comfort food as your “Ratatouille” moment.  If you’ve seen the movie, it’s the moment the food critic take a bite of the dish, Ratatouille, commonly know as a peasant dish made of root vegetables, was served.  One bite and he reminisced of his childhood and a version of this favorite dish made by his mother to comfort him. One of my comfort foods is Pound Cake, Chocolate Pound Cake, to be exact.  My great-grandmother “Doodle” made the best pound cake.  my grandsonThe texture was smooth and dense.  Lemon, AKA “Wemen” Pound Cake, as my grandson would say as a young child, (one of my favorite pictures of him).  It is still is his favorite.  We will celebrate his birthday in January with a family meal, most likely Nana’s Big Lasagna, Salad, Garlic Bread and, of course Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Icing Drizzle.

I have used several pound cake recipes using all butter, half butter and half Butter Flavored Crisco, and all Butter Flavored Crisco.  When I baked wedding cakes, pound cake was used for sturdy stacking of the decorated tiers. All butter will result in a shorter cake due to the amount of water in butter, while more height can be achieved with all Butter Flavored Crisco.  Pound Cake was named due to the ingredients being weighed by the pound.  The three pound cake recipes I have made the most are South American Pound Cake that uses all Butter Flavored Crisco, Lemon, Orange and Vanilla Extracts, Chocolate Pound Cake, and most recently, Million Dollar Pound Cake. Now don’t think I left out an ingredient when you read this recipe.  I thought so, myself the first time I made it.  It uses no chemical leavener; baking powder or baking soda.  The leaving comes from the half dozen eggs, a natural leavener.  The amount of milk is not a misprint either..  Go ahead and try this one and you’ll add it to your favorite recipes, also.

As your start the new year and resolve to lose weight by dieting, just remember, “It’s not what you eat, but how much of what your eat!”.

May God bless you and your family as he continues to bless ours,

Chef Woods

 

Million Dollar Pound Cake

1-10″ Tube Pan

 

4 c.plain flour

3 c. sugar

1 lb. butter, room temperature

2 t. Lemon Extract (or your favorite flavor)

6 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 c. milk, room temperature

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.,

Prepare the tube pan by greasing, flouring and lining the bottom with parchment or waxed paper (I call this” insurance”, as it insures the cake will come out of the pan!”

Sift flour and set aside.

Cream sugar, butter and extract until light and fluffy.  This will take 3-5 minutes and when a small amount is rubbed between your fingers, does not feel grainy because the sugar has been dissolved in the fat (butter).

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until smooth after each one.

Add sifted flour and milk, alternately, and then mix on medium speed for 1 minute.

Spoon and spread he cake batter evenly into the prepared tube pan.

Bake for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until the cake tests done.

Remove from oven and let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes before removing from the pan.

Store the completely cooled cake at room temperature in an airtight container or the cake may be wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months.

 

 

 

Reminiscing and Ginger Bread Houses

By Rhonda Woods

Oh, Christmas, you are only a few days away.  The children are excited for Santa to come.  Parents and grandparents are trying to find all the items on their sweet little lists. Some people go all out with decorations, while some, like me, keep it simple (barely getting the tree up). Secret Santa, playing the White Elephant gift exchange game (not sure where that name came from) and holiday music on every station.  Calendars are filled with special events, cantatas, drive through light shows, and of course, food…lots of food.  Pace yourself and forgo the fancy fitted frocks.  Opt for “eating pants”, as we say, you know the ones that allow a little room in the waist for “I just want a little taste”…of everything!

Last Christmas was the beginning of what I think will be a tradition in my family.  With my sweet husband in the hospital, I had no time to shop or even think about gift giving.  Talking about it, we decided to give each of our children and their spouses a set amount of money to purchase a special gift for themselves, and their children.  The instructions that came with the money was specific.  They must wrap their own gifts and place them under our tree to be opened on Christmas day in front of us, thus surprising us with the gifts they chose.  Worked great, but I must admit, with all that was going on, it was a blur.  Shopping has never been a favorite for me.  Hard to believe, right?  Now, keep in mind, I’m no Scrooge or Grinch, I just can’t seem to get into the “Christmas Spirit”, especially this year.

My mama was reminiscing about the foods we enjoyed on Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house as we were making our newer version of fruitcake last Saturday.  Now, Fruit Cake was something my mama and her grandmother made every year…early, like right after Thanksgiving! They would wrap them in cloth, place them in tins, and occasionally brush with some blackberry wine to “keep them moist”!  My sweet husband would say, “That’ll go good with my coffee in the morning”.   She told us about how they would go downtown in Columbia to Silvers on Main Street to purchase the candied fruits, not in the containers like today, but weighed by the clerk at the counter from bins. Mama also reminded us about the deli meats, cheeses, mustard, Kosher pickles and breads that were purchased from Groucho’s Deli in Five Points and served at my grandmothers house.  The food list went on describing things like celery stuffed with a cheese spread, olives, nuts, and deviled eggs.  We will honor her requests for all of these and more at our family Christmas gathering this year.

So, as we race through the last few day of school before Winter Break, my students are making Gingerbread Houses.  It’s a process and a lesson in patience.   Each one rolls and cuts the house parts from the cookie dough.  I bake them, and then the patience part comes into play when they assemble them using royal icing.  Each students customizes their house with a variety of candies and other edible decorations. I’m looking forward to seeing their final projects.

With limited time to spare these busy days, I have included a few quick and easy sweet treats, dips and spreads for you to try.  Merry Christmas Ya’ll!

May God bless you and your family as He continues to bless ours,

Chef Woods

Appetizers and Dips

Zesty Crab Cakes

Squares

Spinach Dip

Roasted Red Pepper Remoulade Sauce

Quick Fudge with Nuts

Pimento Cheese

Double layer fudge

Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Orange Glazed Pecans

Thankful and Blessed

By Rhonda Woods

Hello everyone!

Cooler weather is moving in and Thanksgiving is a few days away.  Our family celebrates this gathering a little differently than most do.  Thanksgiving is generally held a week earlier, at my home or my sister’s. Somewhere to host the crowd. Most of the family travel to their extended families on Turkey Day or spend the long weekend camping.  This year, we celebrated even earlier, on Sunday, November 4 for both Thanksgiving and to honor my mama’s birthday.  All the counter tops in my kitchen were full of traditional and favorite dishes brought by the “designated” family members.  The birthday girl had requested a 6-Layer Coconut Raspberry Cake, which was topped by a large number of candles!  The Happy Birthday song was sung by close to thirty relatives and three of her great-granddaughters sitting on “Granny’s” lap anxiously awaiting the end of the song.  This is followed by the children plucking the candles from the cake to suck the frosting off the bottom of each one!  What a sight!  As I looked around the room, I could not help but be amazed at the growth of our family.  I joke and say, I was the one that started the whole mess, as the firstborn. Mama is pictured here with my children who are the parents of her five great grandchildren.  As her health deteriorates, it was important to celebrate her birthday with many of her favorite foods, laughter and lots of love.

The memories of my sweet husband and other family members who were not there with us brought back the “rain”.  The sting of reality. For a brief time, all was good as I buzzed around doing what I do best, cooking in my kitchen, my comfort zone.  Dressing, Herb Turkey Breasts, Southern Seasoned Butter Beans  Pistachio Salad, Butterscotch Haystacks, Sweet Tea, Cranberry Sauce and the birthday cake were my contributions to the feast.

My Mother-in-law and my Sweet HusbandSo, I am adding my often-requested Dressing, also called Stuffing, recipe which was adapted from my mother-in-law’s recipe (pictured with my husband).  I am also adding some casserole favorites that I hope you will enjoy on your Thanksgiving table… or counter tops, as is tradition in our family. Some people ask what is the difference between Dressing and Stuffing.  Well, Dressing is baked in a pan and Stuffing is cooked inside the turkey as it bakes.  I could just hear my sweet husband asking about leftovers as we would get ready to “make a plate” to reheat for supper.

May God bless you and your family as He has blessed ours,

Chef Woods

 

Thanksgiving Recipes

Classic Green Bean Casserole

Corn Casserole

Macaroni and cheese with crumb topping

Pineapple Casserole

Praline Sweet Potato Casserole

Stuffing

 

Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall

By Tina Michelle Cameron

Well, my 6-week healthy eating and working out is not going as planned. I have lost 6 lbs and zero inches. I am disappointed in myself—again. I have not been walking and have used my new stationary bike only three times. I am stressed with school, overly fatigued and no energy. And, have no self-control when it comes to Halloween candy! I am one that stress eats, happy eats and in general have a very sweet tooth. There, I said it—all my excuses. When I usually get started on a “diet”, I am focused and usually obsessed about it, but, if I slip up, well, I slip up in a big way. I was keeping track of everything that went in my mouth and well, after 2 weeks of that along with my brain saying, I’ll log it in when I get up tomorrow or when I get home and one day leads to two, then 3 weeks of no logging my intake.

So, starting November 1st, 2018, I will once again, begin my one thousandth diet and I have promised myself to start keeping my food journal logged in on my phone as well as a daily exercise program. I am beyond upset and disappointed with myself—again. I am tired of being tired, tired of being overweight and unhealthy and tired of staring at the cute clothes in my closet that I cannot fit in. I am like Oprah in that I have a whole range of sizes. I am in disgust at my body, my thighs especially and my sagging skin.

I will once again try the Keto diet. My goal for now is to lose 10 lbs by January 31st, 2019.  I think that is a doable goal. If you would like to join me, please email me at tmcameron@crimson.ua.edu. I do better if I have a partner to keep me in line.

I will keep you guys posted once a month on how I am doing and would love to hear from you all. So, in the meantime, please feel free to send me any advice, recipes or workout regimens. I am posting one of my favorite recipes from Weight Watchers for those that like Little Debbie Snack Cakes or chocolate cupcakes.

Recipe for chocolate cupcakesWeight-Watchers-Chocolate-Cupcakes-Post4

1 can pumpkin and 1 box Devil’s food cake mix.

Mix both ingredients, bake as ordered on cake box to make the cupcakes, refrigerate after baking, they last for 5 days. You can also slice open and place a tablespoon of fat-free cool whip in it and reheat for about 10 seconds in microwave. Yum-yum—enjoy!! Depending on the size and quantity they are 2 to 5 points each.

2-Ingredient-Chocolate-Pumpkin-Muffins-and-Cookies

 

Fall Soup Recipes

By Rhonda Woods

20181020_162851My “rain” has ceased for a while and I am glad!  I was blessed to spend some time with my three oldest granddaughters this past weekend, ages 5, 4, and 2.  Car seats were 3-wide in the back seat of the pick-up truck and we were 4-wide in the king-sized bed.  Too funny!  I am amazed at the things they say and the knowledge they have gained in the short period of time they have been in this crazy world.  I was especially blessed to spend time with the 2 year-old (pictured enjoying a “kiki”).  20181020_185908Due to my sweet husband’s illness, we missed spending time with her most of those 2 years.  With the grace of God, I will not let those sweet moments slip by again with any of my “little blessings”.

So, how about this cooler weather….it finally feels like Fall!  This time of the year, my first year students are studying Stocks, Soups and Sauces, which means “SOUP WEEK”!!!!  This is a coveted week by our faculty/staff as we make a variety of soups and chowders with cups of these favorites sold by the bagful!

FB_IMG_1540412222774My sweet husband’s favorites were the Ham and Potato Chowder and the Taco Soup/Chili.  He made his “hunting club” version of the Taco Chili using ground venison.  It was always a huge hit for the hunters and my grandson (pictured with his Pop and big gobbler) and served with some cast iron skillet corn bread at the end of a long hunting day.  No matter which you choose, soups and chowders are comfort foods for everyone.

The trick to quick soup-making is the French term “Mise en place” which means to put in place or to have all of your pre-preparations done, such as peeling, dicing and measuring before you begin to prepare the soup.  This is time-saving and helps prevent mistakes.  Think of it as a Food Network or Cooking Channel food show.  The chef or personality has everything prepared or measured and ready to cook for their show laid out just within reach.

May God bless you and your family as He has blessed ours.

Chef Woods

Soup Recipes

Chicken Corn Chowder

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

Ham & potato chowder

Minestrone Soup

Split Pea Soup.

Taco Soup

White Chicken Chili

Two Gluten Free Desserts to Please Everyone

By Rachel Sircy

Last month I wrote about how I like to do gluten free meatloaf freezer meals. This time I thought that it would be good to write about a scenario that many gluten free people are familiar with: what to make for dessert when you have people coming to dinner.

So, imagine that you have invited guests for dinner and you really don’t have the time or inclination to cook a big complicated dinner. Of course, you still want to lay out a good spread, but what do you do? Remember, you have your gluten free mini-meatloaves that are in your freezer, just waiting to be defrosted and cooked. These are the mini-meatloaves that I made in that post last month and all I did to them this time was put the freezer bag that they’re in in the sink to defrost for a few hours. These meatloaves hadn’t been in the freezer a terribly long time and since they’re so small, they defrosted quickly. To cook them, just place them in a muffin pan (the muffin tins work like tiny loaf pans to insulate the meatloaf). Or, you can do like I do and arrange them like little meat cookies on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Really, I’ve tried both ways and arranging them on a sheet pan seems to leave them just as moist as the muffin pan, and it’s less mess to clean up later. I top them with a mixture of ketchup, honey and Worcestershire sauce (if you have the Simply…Gluten Free Quickmeals cookbook by Carol Kicinski. They take about 30 minutes to bake.

For sides, you can opt for a salad or green peas. The thing about frozen green peas is that they’re nutritious, delicious, and basically, I put them in a saucepan with enough water to cover and I boil them for only a minute or two until they are heated through. I then strain them and add a pinch of salt or maybe some butter or sometimes nothing at all.

The real bugbear of having a dinner party if you’re gluten free is finding a dessert that suits everyone. If you have to be gluten free, you know what an absolute bummer it is to watch everyone else at a party eating a really fabulous dessert and then being apologetically offered a consolation prize like a packet of Sixlets or something. I know that some people actually like Sixlets, but really? When other people are eating cake? Come on!

Don’t do this to yourself at your own get-together. If you’re going to spend time and energy on one thing at your own party, make it dessert. And, for those of us who really don’t like to spend a whole lot of time and energy and who just don’t have a whole lot of money to spend, here are two crowd-pleasers that are super cheap to make and not that difficult. All of the ingredients you would need to make these desserts are things that you probably already have in your pantry: peanut butter, cocoa powder, eggs, milk, cornstarch, etc. There are no fancy or expensive ingredients that you need to buy, which makes them perfect for those of us who are gluten free and on a tight budget.

  1. Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies:

Okay, so after writing that post about allergy bullying, I do want to point out that those of us with a gluten intolerance should be especially mindful of anyone with a food allergy or intolerance. I mean, we know how it feels, so we should go out of our way to make sure our guests are safe and comfortable. Don’t serve this if you’re not sure if anyone you’ve invited over has an allergy. Alternately, you could try to make this recipe with soy butter or sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter. I have not tried either of those options, but I assume they would work as long as they’re the same consistency as the peanut butter.

All that being said, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like these cookies.

This recipe is one I’ve shared before. I think that years ago I got it off of the Gluten Free Girl website, but my mom said that this was the first cookie she ever made in Home Ec class in seventh grade. So, you probably have this recipe somewhere in your recipe catalog at home or you’ve made it before:

Pic 3

1 Cup Peanut Butter (or allergy free alternative)

1 Cup Granulated Sugar

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 Egg

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the peanut butter and the sugar with an electric hand mixer. Beat in the baking powder, thoroughly. Beat in the egg. Roll the dough into balls using a teaspoon to measure (these cookies are better when they’re small). Roll in more granulated sugar (optional) and place on a cookie sheet about two inches apart. Press down on each cookie with the tines of a fork to make a crisscross pattern.

Bake for 10 minutes and remove cookie sheets from oven. Let cookies rest on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then move to a plate or cooling rack. Try not to eat every single one.

  1. Homemade (Chocolate) Pudding:

Homemade pudding is an easily adaptable recipe that you can really wow people with. I think that – at least among the people I know who are my age – homemade pudding means that you opened the box of pudding mix yourself and added the cold milk. But pudding made from scratch is one of the best things you’ll ever eat. Two summers ago, my mom took some old bananas that she thought she should use or trash and made some banana pudding that was so good we ate it all straight out of the saucepan before it even had a chance to cool.

Pudding is also a pretty allergy friendly dessert and it lends itself to the idea of a bar.  You can easily set up a pudding bar by laying out crushed gluten free cookies, whipped cream, chocolate chips, etc. And the homemade stuff tends to be so rich that a little goes a long way.

My favorite recipe for Chocolate Pudding is Tyler Florence’s. This is me making it here:

You can find the chocolate pudding recipe on the Food Network Website here: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/chocolate-pudding-recipe-1947756

 

Time for Fall Muffins!

By Rhonda Woods

Hello Everyone!  Whew….we made it through the “Hurdicane” as my granddaughter said! So blessed have been prepared and not have been in the path of destruction.  Please continue to pray for those who were.  🙏

20108503_10209856353749446_6815868200570077530_nSo, who is ready for some Fall recipes, not to mention some Fall weather!  When I think Fall, I think of quick comfort foods, such as muffins.  We prepare a variety of muffin recipes in class and my granddaughters love to making muffins in my kitchen.  Quick to mix and bake, as the name “Quick Breads” implies.

There are a variety of quick breads, including pancakes, biscuits, scones and muffins. The mixing method for making muffins is called the “muffin method” or “dump method” because all of the dry ingredients, including a chemical leavener (baking powder or baking soda-careful they cannot be used interchangeably as they will result in a failed recipe) are combined in a large bowl and the liquid ingredients are combined in a smaller bowl.  The liquid mixture is then “dumped” into the dry ingredients and mixed just until moistened.  Over mixing muffin batters causes “tunnels” or trapped air bubbles that try to work their way out during baking leaving tunnel-looking formations in the finished product.  This does not effect the taste.  For uniform sized muffins, a portion scoop is the tool of choice.  Remember, “looks the same, cooks/bakes the same”.  My granddaughters love to use portion scoops…of course with my help guiding the batter into the paper lined muffin/cupcake pans…oh, what fun we have!

OK, enough teaching!  Let’s get to some of my favorite muffin recipes.  I hope you will enjoy making these, and perhaps with your little ones, too. Zucchini, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Crumb Topped Pumpkin Pecan, Apple Butter, and Lemon Poppy Seed muffins are the top pics for today’s blog.  *Note, the format for the recipes are in “Standardize Format”.  This is how recipes used in foodservice are written.

May God Bless you and your family, as He continues to bless ours,

Chef Woods

Recipes

Apple Butter Muffins

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

Crumb Topped Pumpkin Pecan Muffins

Crumb Topping

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Zucchini Muffins