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Easy Pickin' Chicken Pie

Southern Tradition: Comforting Food

The term “comfort food” has become a popular topic lately. Comfort foods consist of those heartwarming recipes we remember from our childhood. A hearty soup, chicken and dumplings, chili and cornbread and many others that seem to soothe our souls after a hectic day.

But, I’m thinking about something a little different – the Southern tradition of sharing food with those we love. Food you take to a neighbor or friend who is going through a rough patch or perhaps someone who would appreciate a warm comforting meal. These may be the same things we refer to as comfort food, but could also be something you know to be a favorite food or a new recipe you want to share. In this case, it’s really then about bringing comfort to someone’s life.

The options are endless. Chicken dishes are always a good choice. I think about my mother’s chicken pie made with her wonderfully flaky homemade crust. If you want something a little simpler to make, but with the same satisfying flavor, Easy Pickin’ Chicken Pie is for you. Frozen vegetables, a can of soup and an easy buttery pour batter crust simplify the preparation.

Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins

Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins

The food you choose to share doesn’t have to be a main dish to be appreciated. Warm blueberry muffins with a cheesecake topping are hit by using this recipe Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins. Taking the time to visit when delivering your muffins will make your thoughtfulness even more appreciated.

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Breakfast for Supper

As a child, I can remember my mother cooking and serving what we called breakfast, dinner and supper. Dinner was the big meal served in the middle of the day. Suppers were simple and sometimes consisted of leftovers from dinner and a skillet of cornbread. In the summer we might have BLT’s or soup in the winter.

If there was nothing else to fall back on, she would cook breakfast items to be served for supper. Fresh hot biscuits, scrambled eggs and grits – pretty much anything she had on hand. We loved this meal! To me, breakfast at night just tastes especially delicious.

I think most people like breakfast food, but with busy schedules, we often don’t have time in the morning to eat a traditional breakfast. If you’ve never served your family breakfast for supper, give it a try.

Of course, there are all kinds of options.  Pancakes and waffles are more common than biscuits and eggs for supper, but they are certainly a great option. To make it quick and easy, try this recipe for Fruit Muffin Mix Pancakes. Let the kids pick the flavor; add milk and egg. You’re ready to cook!

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If want to go the biscuit route, there’s a shortcut for those, too. Drop biscuits are easy to make and delicious. Whip up this Martha White® “Hot Rize” Biscuit recipe, using an additional 2 tablespoons milk.  Drop dough by spoonsful onto to a baking pan and bake according to directions.

What’s your favorite breakfast for supper food?

 

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Scratch or Shortcut Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin quick breads like loaves and muffins are certainly a holiday favorite, but pumpkin has become a go-to muffin flavor all year round. The addition of pumpkin to any bread adds a depth of flavor and creates a dense moist texture. Canned pumpkin is convenient and works well in these recipes.

Perfect for a snack or breakfast treat, muffins are quick and easy to make from scratch or a mix. Here are a few tips to assure delicious muffins every time.

  • Standard method for scratch muffins is: mix dry ingredients in one bowl; mix liquids in another. Pour liquid into dry. Mix only until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix as it causes toughness.
  • Use shiny muffin pans, if available. Dark pans absorb heat, browning more on the bottom than on the top. For dark pans, reduce original temperature by 25°F.
  • Spray pan with no-stick cooking spray or line with paper liners.
  • Using an ice cream scoop simplifies filling cups.

Here are three delicious pumpkin muffin recipes you can make all year long.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins are made from scratch with self-rising flour. Press a cube of cream cheese into batter and sprinkle with streusel topping. Delicious!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins, made with chocolate chip muffin mix, are dressed-up with pumpkin, cinnamon and pecans.

Pumpkin and Sausage Corn Muffins are made with Sweet Yellow Cornbread Mix, pumpkin and cooked sausage –  a delicious sweet and savory twist.

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Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

Dulce de Leche Swirl Cheesecake

Sweet and Savory Cheesecakes for Brunch

I never tire of singing the praises of brunch – it’s a great way to entertain all the way around. It comes at a convenient time of the day, offers the opportunity to serve a variety of favorite foods and exudes a fun and festive aura. My brunches tend to lean more toward breakfast, simply because I love breakfast foods. But brunch menus also often include typical lunch foods, too.

Here are two cheesecake recipes sure to add a festive twist to a holiday brunch.  Both were past recipe contest winners and feature an easy-to-make crust made with a Martha White® muffin mix. Savory Apple Cinnamon Bacon Breakfast Cheesecake features savory cheesecake seasoned with bacon and sautéed onion. The crust has a slightly sweet twist from using the Martha White® Apple Cinnamon Flavored Muffin Mix. You could substitute with other muffin mix flavors like Blueberry, if you prefer.

Dulce de Leche Swirl Cheesecake is a dessert cheesecake that requires only six ingredients. The crust can be made with a Martha White® Apple Cider Flavored Muffin Mix or a Martha White® Cinnamon Sugar Flavored Muffin Mix and butter. The filling consists of Neufchatel or cream cheese, sugar and eggs, swirled with caramel topping.

Either recipe will add a festive touch to you holiday brunch whether it’s breakfast or lunch inspired.

What are your favorite brunch dishes?

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Holiday Hospitality – Southern Style

Southern hospitality is legendary. We are known for sharing our home and food with folks we love, as well as strangers who quickly become friends. There are various forms of hospitality – some have lavish parties, but many of us cook our own food and serve it in a homey style.

Interestingly, much of the same traditional food and recipes at appear at both. The revered country ham, little cheese straws and wafers, seafood in the coastal area and of course, little flakey biscuits make an appearance everywhere. Pecan and sweet potato pies, caramel, coconut and pound cakes only scratch the surface of the abundant desserts.

As I’ve mentioned before, my mother entertained often as she cooked. She had a few small appetizers, served at the holidays or for an occasional bridal or baby shower. Celery stuffed with a cream cheese and green olives mixture, little chicken salad and pimento cheese sandwiches, cut in triangles without the crust and delicious deviled eggs.

Blue Cheese and Cheddar Cheese Straws are always a favorite of mine. And I never pass up a chance to recommend little Cheesy Country Ham Biscuit Bites.  These are an easy-to-make version of the traditional Country Ham Biscuits and, of course little sweet potato pies or Tassies.

If you are having guests this year, think about your favorite family foods and include them on your menu. Here are some of my favorites. I would love to hear about your family favorites for entertaining.

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Fabulous Banana Bread Comes in Handy for the Holidays

Bananas are a Southern baking favorite. They contribute great flavor and moist texture to quick bread loaves, muffins, cakes, pancakes and other baked goods. Banana breads and desserts appeal to thrifty Southern cooks as overly ripe bananas are perfect for baking.

Although made throughout the year, banana bread loaves are especially popular during the holidays. It is a good idea to bake up a few loaves and stash in the freezer, because they will certainly come in handy in several ways. When I picture my mother’s banana bread, I always picture it wrapped in crumpled foil from continuous wrapping and unwrapping to have a little bite. It’s one of the many foods that tastes even better a day or two after baking.

Baked in large or small loaf pans, banana bread is a perfect little gift for neighbors and friends and comes in handy for unexpected guests. This bread is perfect to serve with a cup of coffee or tea. Don’t forget about little sandwiches on hand to add to your holiday buffet.

I never pass up the opportunity to recommend Aunt Lois’ Banana Nut Bread. This delicious recipe was shared with us many years ago by a friend and former coworker in the Martha White® Kitchen. It’s easy and absolutely delicious.

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Get a Jump Start on Cornbread Dressing

I love to talk about cornbread dressing every holiday season because, in the South, it is as beloved as the turkey. My sister always declared it to be her favorite dish on the holiday table! And I tend to agree with her.

Southern cornbread dressing – sometimes called stuffing by folks who didn’t grow up in the South – is not traditionally referred to as stuffing because it is not stuffed in the bird. We like to have a lot more dressing than would ever fit in a turkey, so we just bake it in a big pan. This method also results in a glorious side dish that is moist on the inside and wonderfully crisp on the outside.

If cornbread dressing will be on your holiday table, here’s a quick tip to make it a little easier.

You can make dressing in advance and freeze. Move the frozen dressing from the freezer to refrigerator at least 24 hours in advance and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. I find the freezing/thawing process a little tricky, so it may be just as easy to prepare all the ingredients – bake and freeze the cornbread and sautéed vegetables. Then the night before or the morning of, stir up the dressing and refrigerate until about 30 minutes before baking.

This Martha White® Cornbread Dressing is hard to beat, but if you would like to put a twist on your dressing this year, visit www.marthawhite.com for other delicious versions of this Southern favorite.