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TUSCAN BEAN SOUP&HOECAKES

Soul Soothing Soup Supper

Is there anything more welcoming on a cold winter night than a bowl of hot soup and cornbread? During the holiday season, there are times when we just want something familiar and comforting. What comes to mind first for me is white bean soup and hoecakes. I cannot think of anything I’d rather have right this minute!

I did not grow up on white beans or great northern beans, but it didn’t take long for me to learn to love them when I came to Tennessee! (Which doesn’t mean I love my Alabama black-eyed peas any less. I have plenty of bean love to go around.) White bean soup is a classic partially because of its reputation as a favorite at the US Senate cafeteria.

Tuscan White Bean Soup and Hot Water Hoecakes is a little riff on that theme, but with ingredients that pay homage to its Southern roots. This recipe calls for Italian sausage instead of the traditionally Southern country sausage or ham and the addition of kale or collards keeps it close to home.

You couldn’t find a better accompaniment for this soup than old-fashioned Hot Water Hoe Cakes. The name probably comes from field workers who made simple corn cakes on the blade of a hoe cooked over an open fire. Whatever the origin, these Hoe Cakes are the purest and one of the most delicious forms of our beloved cornbread.

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What Do You Call Turnip Green Broth?

I know it sounds country (and it is!), but turnip green broth is best known as pot likker. It is beloved in the South, both as a country meal staple and a delicacy. Pot likker is the broth or liquid made by cooking greens. I have also heard the term applied to the liquid from cooking beans, peas and other vegetables, but in my experience, pot likker usually refers to greens.

My mother cooked with the seasons, so when summer produce was over, we moved on to turnip greens and collards. The puddle of green liquid left on the plate or in the bowl, just naturally called for another piece of corn bread to dunk or crumble in the broth. I love it the taste, but was surprised to learn many years later that an Inn in Virginia served pot likker as an appetizer or soup in their elegant dining room!

The cooking liquid for greens is simply water seasoned with pork or ham hock, salt and red pepper. However, it is the greens that contribute the unique, earthy flavor we love.

To take this delicacy one step further, my friend Robyn at Add a Pinch has a delicious Pot Likker Soup on her blog. She has graciously given me permission to share it with you. Thanks, Robyn!

And, of course, good cornbread is needed to complete the experience – you can’t go wrong with the classic Martha White® Southern Cornbread .

Southern Bite - Apple Pie Muffins 9

Apple Pie Muffins

The following post was written by our friend Stacey at Southern Bite.

I love the simplicity of Martha White® Muffin Mixes. They’re the perfect solution to getting some great food on the table without a lot of hassle or expensive ingredients. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Martha White has a mix that is perfect. From the delicious breakfast muffins to classic cornbread, they have them all.

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Sometimes, though, I have a little extra time on my hands and want to make something even more special. I love that those same Martha White muffins mixes are the perfect launching pad to do just that. The perfect example of that is these amazingly delicious Apple Pie Muffins. With the addition of just a few ingredients, you’ll be putting something on the table that no one will believe started with a mix.

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These Apple Pie Muffins start with two pouches of Martha White® Apple Cider Flavored Muffin Mix.

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Combine the mix with 1 (21-ounce) can of apple pie filling, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and ¾ cup of milk.

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Stir the batter well until everything is moistened and incorporated.

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Spoon the batter equally into the wells of a 12-muffin pan that has been lined with paper liners. I like to use the liners, but you can make them without them and simply spray the pan with some nonstick cooking spray first.

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Make the topping by combining ½ cup of firmly packed brown sugar with 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour.

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Spoon the topping over the batter. It’s going to seem like a lot, but it works out perfectly in the end.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Serve warm.

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Apple Pie Muffins

Ingredients
2 (7-ounce) packages Martha White® Apple Cider Flavored Muffin Mix
1 (21-ounce) can apple pie filling
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ cup milk
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375°F and line the wells of a 12 muffin pan with paper liners (or spray each with non-stick cooking spray)

In a large bowl, combine the muffin mix, apple pie filling, oil, and milk. Stir until the ingredients are well mixed. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin wells.

Make the topping by stirring together the brown sugar and flour. Spoon the topping mixture evenly over the batter. Bake for 20 to 15 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and cooked through. Serve warm.

Makes 12 muffins

Next Day Dishes

We spend so much time thinking about the holiday meal that we’re sometimes in shock when we realize folks have to eat over the weekend, too. At most gatherings, there are usually plenty of leftovers and no one seems to mind turkey sandwiches and some of the side dishes. After a day or two, you might want to consider revamping the leftover turkey into something else.

I love the comforting flavors of creamed chicken or turkey. Combined with carrots, celery and onions in a rich creamy sauce, it just seems to remind me of home. My mother made chicken or turkey pie, with plenty of flakey homemade crust on top, but it has the same flavor profile. Creamed Chicken on Corn Meal Waffles adds a twist by serving the creamy chicken over crisp cornmeal waffles. Delicious! Of course, your leftover turkey may be substituted for the chicken.

If you are more in the mood for stew, Turkey and Smoked Sausage Stew with Cornmeal Sage Dumplings is a delicious answer. The same celery, carrots and onion perfectly complement the turkey. The addition of smoked sausage creates hearty depth of flavor. An easy-to-make drop dumpling, seasoned with sage, creates a heartwarming stew your family will love.

What are your favorite post-Thanksgiving leftover meals?

What Are You Thankful For This Year?

It is not unusual to hear someone say that Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday – and I agree. There is nothing better than a day that’s about gathering family and friends around the table to eat a delicious meal and give thanks.
What are you thankful for this year? I’m thankful for…

  • My family who had roots in the Southern soil, appreciated the land and used the bounty conscientiously.
  • For my mother who passed down to me the love of Southern food and cooking and so much more.
  • For my father, a great story teller, who kept us entertained and laughing. And for those who continue the tradition.
  • For the lessons about love and respect for others that were nurtured around the dinner table.
  • For my brothers and sisters who welcomed me – a late comer – into the family.
  • For a new generation – my sister’s great grandchild – to carry on family traditions.
  • For good friends who are there to share in joys and sorrows.
  • And I am very thankful for my wonderful husband Phil who grew up in a small West Tennessee town with a mother and grandmother who were great Southern cooks. My most enthusiastic supporter who has his own Southern stories to tell.

I would love to hear what you are thankful for this year; tell me about it in the comments section below. Happy Thanksgiving!