Coca Cola Cake

Here in the south, we refer to our soft drinks as “Coke” and it doesn’t matter what type of soft drink it is….Root Beer, Dr. Pepper,  Pepsi, or Coca Cola….it is all called Coke to us.  We wouldn’t think of referring to it as “Pop” or “Soda Pop” down here in the south!

Coca Cola Cake is a sheet cake made with the real thing….Coca Cola!  It is a southern favorite that dates back to the 1950’s and has often been a church pot luck favorite here in the south.  The chocolate cake itself is made with the iconic drink, cocoa, and includes marshmallows….what’s not to love?  The icing even includes Coke!

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup Coca-Cola

1 ½ cups small marshmallows

½ cups butter or margarine

½ cups vegetable oil

3 tablespoons cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ cups buttermilk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cups butter

3 tablespoons cocoa

6 tablespoons Coca-Cola

1 box (16-ounces) confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, sift the sugar and flour together and add your marshmallows and set aside.  In a saucepan, mix the butter, oil, cocoa and Coca-Cola. Bring mixture to a boil and pour over your dry ingredients.  Mix together and set aside.  In a separate bowl, stir baking soda into buttermilk and add your eggs and vanilla extract.  Combine this mixture with your other combined ingredients you just set aside and  pour into a well-greased 9- by-13-inch pan.  Bake cake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and frost immediately.

Coca-Cola Cake Frosting

To make frosting, combine the 1/2 cup butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa and 6 tablespoons ofCoca-Cola in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and pour over confectioners’ sugar, blending well. Add vanilla extract and pecans. Spread over hot cake. When cool, cut into squares and serve.

Pecan Tarts

Growing up in the South gives you an appreciation for pecans. In the backyard of the house where we grew up, there stood a huge pecan tree that dropped it’s glorious pecans to the ground. Daddy would have us gather the pecans to shell them to include in Mama’s pecan pies; her chocolate cake with pecans pressed into the thick, buttercream icing; her divinity and turtle candy at Christmastime; and they are a must atop brownies. Oh wait, there’s also her Pecan Whiskey Cake at Christmastime that she would make in coffee cans to give as gifts to Daddy’s customers. We always had pecans in the freezer for such cooking needs, and often sent boxes of pecans to relatives for Christmas. All of these recipes are soon to be posted on our website so stay tuned and be sure to follow our blog, if you aren’t already, by clicking on the “Follow Us” icon on this webpage!

As much as we love our Mama’s Pecan Pie, we love these little bite sized Pecan Tarts, also referred to as Pecan Tassies by some. They have been carried to many a church potluck and we always receive great reviews and many requests for the recipe. A brown sugar pecan praline filling is spooned into tiny pie crust shells and baked. They are divine…especially if you are using a homemade pie crust. Try our Homemade Pie Crust by clicking HERE. If you are in a pinch for time, you can use a refrigerated pie crust such as Pillsbury Pie Crust in the red box. The ingredients come together in minutes and bake in no time at all.

Ingredients:

1 recipe of Mom’s Homemade Pie Crust, or, 1 box of refrigerated pie crust
Flour for rolling out your crust
1 1/2 cups chopped Pecans
2 tablespoon Melted Butter
3/4 cup packed Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract – try our Homemade Vanilla recipe by clicking HERE
Optional: a sprinkling of powdered sugar for the top of each tart

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a mini muffin tin (the one that yields 24 muffins) with a non-stick cooking spray.

Lightly flour a pastry board and roll out piecrust.

Use a circular cookie cutter or a flower shaped cookie cutter large enough to press into the mini muffin pan and cut dough out.

Fit dough into each muffin cup and prick the dough with a fork. Continue to cut dough out, press into muffin cups, and prick with a fork.

Melt butter in a microwavable dish in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, or until butter melts.

Add all filling ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl.

Fold ingredients together.

Gently fill each pie crust with a teaspoonful of pecan mixture about half full. The mixture will rise in the oven as they bake.

Bake for approximately 9 minutes, or until crusts are very lightly browned, and remove from oven.

Let set for 3 minutes and carefully remove from pan with a pointed knife.

Once cooled, lightly dust each with powdered sugar, if desired.

These are so easy to make but will look like you slaved for hours! They are wonderful topped with fresh whipped cream!

Aren’t a fan of pecans? You can use walnuts!

Yields approximately 40 tarts.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies

Our oldest sister learned to make these Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies in her Home Economics class in High School and taught the rest of the sisters how to make them. The cookies contain ingredients you probably already have on hand. Oatmeal, peanut butter, vanilla, sugar, and cocoa are combined to create a perfect, easy to make, no bake cookie!

The cookies are cooked on top of the stove so there is no need to heat up the house by turning on the oven. This was a good thing for us as we grew up in an old Victorian home built in the 1880’s and did not have central air conditioning. (See the “About Us” section of our blog for more information about our old house!) Once cooked, you drop the cookies by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Since our kitchen had countertops that wrapped around the whole room, we would have waxed paper lined up and down the countertops with cookies randomly dropped here and there on top of the waxed paper. Daddy got so tired of seeing waxed paper up and down out countertops that there was a time he enacted a “No Bake Cookie Ban” on these cookies! The ban was quickly lifted as once you taste these cookies, you will begin to crave them and will want to make them again and again!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Milk
2 cups Sugar
3 Tablespoons Cocoa
3 tablespoons Peanut Butter (smooth or chunky)
1/2 cup Butter
3 cups Oats
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract, or make our Homemade Vanilla Extract by clicking here

In a soup pot, combine milk, sugar, cocoa, butter, and peanut butter.

I almost forgot to add the butter to my pan!

Keep stirring mixture until butter is melted and ingredients are combined.

Bring mixture to a rolling boil and boil 1 minute. Do not stir.

Remove from heat. Stir in oats.

Add vanilla extract and stir.

Line 2 cookie sheets with waxed paper. Drop the mixture by tablespoon onto waxed paper and let set. For a larger cookie, use a 1/8 measuring cup.


My cookies are laid out on my cookie sheet…time to lick the bowl as the chocolaty mixture is too good not to be scraped clean and eaten!

You can put the cookies in the refrigerator for 15 minutes for a quicker set.

Note: In humid weather the cookies won’t setup properly so we add a few more tablespoons of oatmeal to the mixture and cook 30 seconds longer. Refrigerating them also seems to help on a humid day. As kids, if they didn’t set, we just ate them with a spoon off the waxed paper…hmmm….maybe that’s why Daddy banned them….
Enjoy!

Chocolate Caramel Layered Bars

When we were kids, Mama would make us dessert bars that we called “Hello Dollies”. They were one of our favorites! I have no idea where the name came from but the recipe was printed on the back of a can of Sweetened Condensed Milk. They called them “Magic Bars”. These layered bars start with a graham cracker crust, and then Sweetened Condensed Milk is drizzled onto it, before layering with Chocolate Chips, Butterscotch Chips, Coconut, and Pecans. The bars are rich and gooey and are SO GOOD!

Instead of making the original recipe, however, I replaced the Butterscotch Chips with Kraft’s Caramel Bits for a chocolatey caramel bar that is just as rich and gooey, and is SO GOOD!

I am in love with Kraft’s Caramel Bits! You don’t have to unwrap the caramel squares; they are formed into round balls and you literally just pour them out of the bag like chocolate chips into your desserts….that is, if they can last that long in your house as the second I buy them, my kids open the bag and start eating them! You can use them in this recipe or you can use unwrapped caramel squares.

Ingredients:

1 stick Butter
1 1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 cups Chocolate Chips
1 cup Caramel Bits (or if you prefer the original Hello Dollies recipe, add 1 cup Butterscotch Chips)
1 cup Coconut
1 cup Pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in a 13X9″ glass or ceramic pan.

You can put your glass or microwavable safe pan in your microwave to perform this step so you don’t have to dirty an extra dish but you will want to turn off your microwave’s turntable.

Ahhh…look at that melted butter…someone hand me a roll or a piece of bread…just kidding…kind of…back to the dessert bars at hand…

Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over the melted butter.

Using a fork, mix the butter and graham cracker crumbs together.

Press mixture into bottom of pan.

Drizzle Sweetened Condensed Milk over your graham cracker crust and spread with a knife.

Sprinkle Chocolate Chips over Sweetened Condensed Milk.

Sprinkle Caramel Bits on top.

Sprinkle Pecans on top.
Sprinkle Coconut on top.

Bake 25 minutes. Allow bars to fully cool before cutting them into bars as they bars are gooey right out of the oven but will firm up as they cool.

Enjoy!

Hamburger Pie

There are some foods that remind me of home…this is one of them…it is pure comfort food. This meat and potatoes dish was a staple of ours while growing up. Ground beef is cooked with onion and seasoned with lots of pepper and Tabasco Sauce. The meat mixture is then topped with creamy mashed potatoes and shredded Cheddar Cheese and baked in a heavy cast iron skillet in the oven until the cheese is melted on top. This is SO GOOD! Mama would always serve it with green beans. I can picture her in our old kitchen in the house where we grew up taking her piping hot cast iron skillet out of her Wolf Stove and setting it before seven hungry kids. This was our favorite and there wouldn’t be a drop left when we were finished!

Ingredients:

2 pounds Hamburger Meat
1 Chopped Onion
Tabasco
6-8 Potatoes
1 cup Milk, or more to reach desired consistency
1 stick Butter
8 ounces Cheddar Cheese
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prep your ingredients by chopping your onion; peeling and cutting your potatoes into large chunks; and grating the Cheddar Cheese.

Place potatoes in a stockpot and fill pot to cover potatoes.

Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender.

Test for doneness by pricking them with a fork to ensure they are tender.

Drain water from pot.

Add the stick of butter to the potatoes….oh yes, a whole stick….

Mash the potatoes with the butter.

Add milk and continue mashing until desired consistency.

Add salt and pepper. We like our mashed potatoes well seasoned with a lot of pepper!

Place hamburger meat and chopped onion in your cast iron skillet. You can cook this while your potatoes are boiling.

Cook your hamburger meat and chopped onion together until browned. Drain grease from pan.

Add several dashes of this stuff…don’t be shy…

You want to taste the Tabasco with each bite so we start with 6-8 drops and then adjust the seasoning by adding more as needed.

Add salt and pepper to taste….we like a lot off pepper!

Now you are ready to layer your meat, potatoes, and cheese.

Leave your meat in the cast iron skillet and drop large spoonfuls of mashed potatoes onto the top of the meat.

Use the back of a spoon to spread the potatoes evenly over the meat.

Sprinkle Cheddar Cheese on top of the potatoes.

Bake in the oven until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve with a side of green beans, or vegetable of your choice.

Want a lower calorie version? You can make this dish “lighter” by using reduced fat ground beef or use ground turkey. You can substitute reduced fat milk and reduced fat cheese.

Enjoy!

Fruit Cocktail Cake

When I think of a Fruit Cocktail Cake, I think of an old fashioned, “take to a church potluck” cake. This cake has been around as long as we can remember. Lisa’s mother-in-law is known to bring this cake to family get togethers and it is quickly devoured!

When trying to come up with ideas to take to a church function this past week, I immediately thought of this cake and set about making 5 cakes! The result? The cakes were devoured! I received many requests for the recipe and had several older ladies tell me, “Oh, I remember this cake…I used to make it…it is SO GOOD!”.

A can of Fruit Cocktail is blended into the cake batter and baked. The icing is a gooey coconut pecan icing that soaks into the cake making it extremely moist. It is hard to decide if it is better served warm, just as soon as the warm icing is poured over the top of the cake, or if it is better the next day where the flavors have had time to combine…it is hard to say as the cake never lasts with our big crowd more than one day!

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups Self-Rising Flour
2 large Eggs
1 teaspoon Homemade Vanilla
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1 (15 ounce) can Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup, undrained

Icing Ingredients:
1 stick Unsalted Butter
1 cup Sweetened Coconut Flakes
1 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Homemade Vanilla
1 cup Evaporated Milk
1 cup Chopped Pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9X13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl add the first 4 cake ingredients.

Add a can of Fruit Cocktail.

Gently mix as you want the fruit to remain chunky.

Pour cake batter into a 13X9 baking dish.

With a wooden spoon or spatula, spread cake batter evenly in your pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Take a fork and poke several holes in the cake to allow the Icing to seep into the cake.

Combine all icing ingredients in a saucepan and heat on the stove, stirring constantly, until mixture boils for 1 minute.

Remove from stove and pour mixture over the top of the warm cake. This icing is so good, you’ll definitely want to scrape every bit out of the pan and into your mouth prior to washing the saucepan!

Be sure to spread the coconut and pecans evenly over the cake and allow the icing to evenly top your cake.

Once you spread the icing evenly over your cake, it will look like this!

You can immediately slice the cake and eat it warm (our preference!)

Or you can let the cake cool and let the icing continue to soak into the cake (also a great option!).

Enjoy!

Graham Cracker Praline Bars

Proceed with Caution: These Are Addictive!!!

Graham crackers are topped with a caramelized brown-sugar-butter-mixture and sliced almonds…crispy, with a praline taste….easy to make, few ingredients, and SO GOOD!

Ingredients:

1 box Graham Crackers – you will use 12 crackers per batch
1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar
1 stick Butter (1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon Vanilla or try our Homemade Vanilla by clicking here
1/2 cup sliced Almonds or chopped Pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Take each rectangular graham cracker and break it into smaller rectangles along the scored lines. Since you are using 12 graham crackers, you’ll have 48 mini rectangles.

Line a 15.5 X 10 inch cookie sheets with foil (for easier cleanup) and lay out the graham crackers side by side on the cookie sheets.

Place brown sugar and butter in a saucepan.

Heat brown sugar and butter to boiling.

Boil 1 minute while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour sugar mixture over crackers.

Here’s what the mixture should look like poured over your crackers. At this point you are probably thinking…seriously? This will taste good? Trust me…..it is good!!!! The praline mixture will seep down into the graham cookies making them into a buttery praline cookie!

Spread evenly. I used a mini spatula and it worked great.

Sprinkle with sliced almonds or chopped pecans.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until bubbly. Do not overbake.

Allow to slightly cool and cut between each bar with a knife to separate them where needed.

Allow them to fully cool before storing them in a covered tin.

Layered Cornbread

In the small town where we grew up, there is a lady who makes the best southern cornbread, but with a twist – a layered cornbread that is out of this world! She was known for her good down home country cooking.  She shared this recipe with Mom and it quickly became a family favorite that we’ve made now for many years!  

Let’s start with the cornmeal – you can grind your own, buy your own, but DO NOT use the sweet cornbread mix! It will not taste the same! When we were kids, Mom would grind dried corn into meal to make the cornbread using her Atlas Grist Mill that sat on a shelf in the screened in back porch that wrapped around our old, victorian home.

The recipe calls for “Rat” Cheese, which always made us laugh as kids. It is referring to Sharp Cheddar Cheese – the Cheddar Cheese wrapped in the red rind. We used to get ours at Sonny’s Grocery Store, a store that was 2 blocks from our old house, at the butcher counter, and Sonny would cut us off a big slab of it. While at Central Market, I found a wedge of red rind cheese that was actually labeled “Rat Cheese” and had to buy it to use in this recipe! It still puts a grin on my face!

The cornbread is made in a seasoned cast iron skillet, is baked in the oven, and is layered between the cornbread is ground beef, onion, Sharp Cheddar Cheese, and jalapenos before being baked in the oven.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups Yellow Cornmeal
2 Eggs, well beaten
1 cup Milk (The recipe calls it “Sweet Milk”)
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 teaspoon Salt
1 can Cream Style Yellow Corn
1/4 cup Bacon Drippings (or oil)
1 pound Ground Beef
1 large Onion
1 pound “Rat” Cheese (Sharp Cheddar)
1 small can of Pickled Jalapenos – we like it spicy so we used 5 pickled jalapenos, chopped

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Grate your cheese and chop your jalapenos and onion and set aside.

Cook ground beef in a skillet until done and drain on a paper towel.

Grease a large cast iron skillet and heat. Sprinkle a very thin layer of cornmeal in skillet and let brown slightly.

Pour 1/2 batter in the skillet.

Sprinkle cheese over the top of the batter.

Sprinkle ground beef over the top of the cheese.

Sprinkle chopped onion and jalapenos over the top of the beef.

Pour remaining batter on top.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 to 60 minutes.

Enjoy!!

Homemade Salsa

We live in the South where Salsa is abundant and eaten with everything. Grocery stores carry about 50 different varieties so why would we make it homemade?….because it tastes SO MUCH BETTER! Plus, if you have fresh tomatoes on hand, it is a great way to use your fresh ingredients from your garden. What do you do if…gasp…you can’t find ripe, fragrant, tomatoes in the grocery store as they are out of season? Skip the fresh tomatoes and use 3 cans of diced tomatoes, drained.

When we posted the recipe for Texas Caviar, we shared that we recently had a family reunion with 50 plus people. Our dilemna in this hot, Texas, summer heat is refrigeration. Especially when feeding that large of a crowd! We made several quart jars of our Homemade Salsa a few days before our event and served it with several quart jars of our Texas Caviar and tortilla chips and kept it simple, yet good!

Ingredients:

6-7 Tomatoes (or you can use 3 cans of diced tomatoes, drained)
1 Medium Purple Onion
1 Large Jalapeno, with seeds and membrane
1 Bunch of Cilantro
1 Lime
1 Clove Garlic
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
pinch of salt



Add all ingredients (except the lime) to your food processer and pulse it several times. We prefer it thick and chunky but you will want to pulse it enough times to thoroughly chop the ingredients.

Cut lime in half and squeeze each half into the salsa. Pulse for a few seconds to incorporate.

You can serve the salsa with chips, tortillas, mix it with avocados to make guacamole, serve it over chicken with shredded cheese, serve it over eggs, etc.

I prefer it on a chip!

Pimiento Cheese

Pimiento cheese is a staple here in the South. True Southern pimiento cheese is not found near the eggs in the grocery store. It is not found pre-made in a tub as many of this generation may think. True Southern pimiento cheese is homemade with a recipe that was passed down from your relatives and evokes memories of your youth.

During the Depression, it became popular as cheese was used as a cheaper source of protein. Around the 1940’s it was used as a filling lunch for mill workers. They could eat the sandwiches without leaving the line. It was the ideal lunch bucket item for the farmers. Southern soda fountains served it on toast. Pimiento cheese was also a high brow dish in the South with tea trays at parties overflowing with crustless bread filled with pimiento cheese and cut into finger sized slices. Southern grandmothers kept a bowl full of pimiento cheese in their refrigerators.

Pimiento cheese is very easy to make. In its simplest form starts with sharp cheddar cheese, pimientos, and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, and then it can vary on what is added from there. Pre-shredded cheese is a no-no! The cheese must be freshly grated…no shortcuts! We like a spicy bite to our pimiento cheese and prefer to add diced jalapenos and cilantro to the mix.

As teenagers and college students, the girls would work markets for Daddy at the Dallas Apparel Mart, which required working long hours showing his clothing lines to stores across the U.S. This pimiento cheese was consumed in large quantities, as in between clients, we would race into the back room to have a pimiento cheese foldover sandwich, which is comprised of a slice of fresh bread slathered with thick pimiento cheese and folded over. Our customers soon caught on and they too would want a sandwich so this pimiento cheese was made and consumed in mass quantities!

Ingredients:

2 pounds Sharp Cheddar Cheese, coarsely grated
3 Hard Boiled Eggs, grated
1 large Onion, grated
3 4-ounce jars of Pimientos with juice
2 cups Hellmann’s Mayonnaise
3 tablespoons prepared Mustard
3 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Celery Salt
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
Optional: 1 finely diced Jalapeno (with seeds) and 1 bunch of chopped Cilantro

First, you will need to prep your ingredients. Boil eggs and allow to cool. Next, grate your cheese, eggs, and onion.

Place cheese, eggs, and onion in a large mixing bowl.

Add remaining ingredients to the bowl.

Thoroughly combine all ingredients. I have made the pimento cheese the spicy way – adding the jalapenos and cilantro to the bowl on the left – and the non-spicy way – leaving out the jalapenos and cilantro to the bowl on the right. The Grandkids aren’t partial to the heat caused by jalapenos but the rest of the family likes the heat!

Chill pimiento cheese thoroughly.

Pimento cheese is great served with fresh bread, on crackers, or with celery.

Here is a photo of the spicy pimiento cheese spread on fresh Rye bread….YUM!

Here is a photo of the “no jalapenos added” pimiento cheese spread on fresh Rye bread….

Try it and you will NEVER go back to store bought Pimiento Cheese!