Orzo Soup


Orzo is a small, rice shaped pasta that can be found in almost any grocery store.  This soup lends itself to a lot of variations.

You can add more or less Orzo, according to your tastes.  Make it once and decide.

this recipe makes about 8 servings


1 medium onion, diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 rib celery, diced

1/2 cup orzo

1 chicken breast, diced (cooked or uncooked)

2 cans chicken broth and 1 can water or 1 1/2 quart homemade chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste

Parsley for garnish

1 TBS. olive oil


Cook the celery, carrots, and onion in olive oil until soft but not browned.  Add the chicken stock, chicken, and orzo.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.  Add salt, pepper and parsley.

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Japanese Spinach Salad

This is a wonderful addition to a light summertime meal, or knocking back a few rounds of sushi and sake.  It is best made with young, tender spinach.  Don’t even think about using frozen spinach.

Feeds Four people


1 lb. spinach, washed and free of stems.

4 TBS. white sesame seeds

1 tsp. sugar

2 tsp. soy

3 TBS. Dashi (soup stock) or chicken stock


Blanch spinach in salted boiling water just until wilted.  Drain and rinse in cold water immediately.  Gently press water from spinach. Toast sesame seeds under broiler until golden brown.  Put seeds in bowl, mix with sugar and crush with mortar or handle of a heavy knife.  Mix in the soy and dashi.  Pour over spinach and gently toss.  This is best served at room temperature in small bowls, or, for a dramatic effect, gently squeeze excess liquid out and roll in a Sudare mat (sushi roller) into a cylinder and top with white sesame seeds.

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Peanut Butter Pie


Not for the calorie counter! This is surprisingly light and tasty.  It is very easy to prepare and has always been a hit with my customers

This recipe yields 2 pies


8 oz. cream cheese

1 cup smooth peanut butter

16 oz. Cool Whip

1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 prepared 9 in. graham cracker crust


Cream together cream cheese, powdered sugar, and peanut butter

until smooth.  Fold in Cool Whip (reserved some to spread on top if desired).  Freeze over night.  Add shaved or curled chocolate before serving as garnish.


This came from my late mother in law, Emeline Houser from Mountain City Tennessee. Thank you, EM Em

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Chick-Fil-A (knockoff)


If you live outside of the South, you may not have heard of these. It originally started as the Dwarf House ( the first one is just a few miles from here) and their fried boneless chicken filet sandwiches were so popular, they started Chick-Fil-A franchises.  The word “Chick-Fil-A” is almost synonymous with a fried chicken filet sandwich around here.

Yield: 4 Filets


3 cups peanut oil

1 egg

1 cup milk

1 cup flour

2 1/2 TBS. powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. pepper

2 tsp. salt

2 chicken breasts, cut in half (pound slightly if they’re too thick)


Heat oil in pressure cooker to about 400o.  In small bowl, beat together milk and egg. In another bowl, mix sugar, flour, salt and pepper. Dip the chicken in the egg mixture, then the flour mixture.  Fry in pressure cooker. (time will vary according to size of chicken and temperature of oil.  I’d say around 10 minutes.


This comes from Theresa Tarone, and it is one of the best restaurant clone recipes I have tried.

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Cinnamon Rolls


These really are wonderful warm from the oven. They are nice and moist and not too sweet.


1-½ cups milk

½ cup warm water

2 tsp salt

6 cups flour

½ cup sugar

3 eggs

1 cup butter

2 packages dry, active yeast

Cinnamon and brown sugar to taste

1 cup of chopped walnuts(optional)

Frosting: mix enough water with 3/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar to form paste.


Scald 1-½ cups milk. Add two teaspoons of salt, ½ cup sugar and ½ cup butter. Separately, add two packages of yeast to ½ cup of warm water and let stand five minutes. Add to above mixture.

Add three beaten eggs and then three cups of flour. Mix. Add three more cups flour. Let rise to double bulk.

Roll out on floured board and spread with ½ cup melted butter. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon and then sprinkle nuts. Roll up.

Slice about 3/4 to 1-inch width. Place in greased pan. Let rise. Bake in a 350-degree oven for seven to ten minutes. Drizzle with powdered sugar frosting.


This recipe comes from my mother, Mary Negris of Bradenton Florida.  When she brings them to a family function, there is always a battle to see who gets the leftovers.

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Pot Roast (crock pot)


Want a good meal 30 minutes after you get home without calling Papa John?  This is it.  Almost everything can be done ahead of time. Remember, your crock pot is your friend, and you don’t have to tip your crock pot.

serves 4


1 2 – 4 lb. boneless  beef chuck roast, shoulder roast, blade roast, anything that is on sale

1 can beef broth

16 little Red New Potatoes, scrubbed (leave the peel on)

4 carrots, peeled and cut in thirds

2 ribs celery, cut in two inch pieces

1 medium onion, peeled

salt and pepper

red wine (cooking wine will do just fine)

olive oil

corn starch, dissolved in cold water

soy sauce

Worcestershire sauce



Heat a heavy fry pan. Add a small amount of olive oil and brown the roast well on all sides.  Remove roast from pan, pour off any fat and return to heat.  Add enough red wine to deglaze any tasty pan drippings. Place the roast, beef broth, pan dripping, and onion in the crock pot. Don’t worry if it looks like you  don’t have enough liquid.  Cover and put on low heat setting.  Prepare the carrots, potatoes and celery. Cover and put in the fridge till you get home. Now get out there and do something productive!!


Carefully remove the roast from the crock pot and wrap in aluminum foil.  Place in a warm oven till you are ready to eat.  Strain the liquid from the roast into a sauce pan.  Discard the onion, or chop it up and add it to the liquid if you like onions. Add the remaining vegetables, cover, and simmer over low heat until tender ( about 1/2 hour).  Add soy, Worcestershire, salt and pepper according to your taste. While simmering, slowly add cornstarch to thicken to your liking. Remove from heat.  Slice the roast in  thick slices and put on serving plate.  Arrange the vegetables around the meat and drizzle the gravy over the top.

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Italian Catfish


Many Southerners would consider it sacrilegious to fix catfish any other way than rolling in cornmeal and deep-frying. The whole purpose to this website is to preserve the traditions of family cooking, which sometimes evolves from multi-cultural backgrounds.

serves 4


2 8 oz. boneless catfish filets, cut in half

Italian seasoned bread crumbs from the store (UGGH!) or make your own



olive oil

fresh lemon slices

herb butter (optional)


Rinse filets and pat dry.  Dredge in flour, dip in milk, and roll in bread crumbs. Preheat oven to 350o.  Heat a fry pan that is oven proof (cast iron is my favorite).  Add enough olive oil to cover bottom of pan.  Place the filets in the hot oil and cook on one side till browned.  Carefully turn filets over and place pan in oven to cook remaining side (about 10 minutes). Remove from oven and transfer to serving dish.  Drizzle with fresh lemon juice and herb butter (optional).

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Jardiniere (Italian marinated vegetables)


As part of an Antipasto, or a good cold side dish or snack, this is one of my favorites.


2 stalks celery, cut in half lengthwise and then cut in 3-inch strips

2 carrots, scraped or peeled, cut in half lengthwise and then cut in 3 inch strips

1 green bell pepper (can use green, red, yellow, etc.) remove seeds and cut in half/inch strips

1 small onion, peeled and cut in thin strips

1 small eggplant, peeled, cut in half   (not lengthwise) and then cut in 1 inch strips

1 small box mushrooms, washed and left whole

1 can artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed

1/2 head fresh cauliflower divided into florets

 20 pepperoncini (Greek Peppers in jar)

20 green olives

6 small cloves garlic, crushed or 1 tsp garlic powder

1 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup olive oil

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt


Put all ingredients in large pot, bring to boil, cover and cook for 4 minutes, stir occasionally. Turn off the heat and leave covered in pot until cool. Jar, refrigerate and enjoy.


Mary Negris writes:

I first learned of this dish from an Italian cook while visiting Camp Woodhaven in Massachusetts. She was making jardinière and I knew from the aroma that I would love it even before I tasted it. I quickly wrote down the ingredients as she dictated what she had in the pot. It has been a special treat on our table for the past 40 years. When we have a family gathering, it is always requested by someone.

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Flan (Caramel Custard)


Almost every country has a variation of this dessert.  Although it looks intimidating to make, it is surprisingly easy. You can use almost anything as a mold, as long as it is oven-proof. Custard cups or coffee cups are the easiest, but I have made it in a bunt pan before, which looks quite dramatic when you turn it out. Read this recipe all the way through before you start.

This recipe yields 10 servings



1 qt. milk

8 eggs

1/4 tsp. salt

7 oz. sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Optional: rum or rum flavoring, bourbon, amaretto (be creative)


7 oz. sugar

1/4 c water


1) Heat the milk to the boiling  point

2) Beat the eggs. Add sugar and salt and mix thoroughly

3) Add the hot milk, stirring constantly

4) Add vanilla, and optional flavoring

5) Coat the inside of the cups or mold with caramelized sugar (SEE NOTE BELOW)

6) Pour the custard into the custard cups or molds.

7) Place the cups or molds in a pan of hot water.  The water should cover  the cups about halfway. Poach in a 325o oven for about 30 minutes (add about 30 minutes if it is a large mold)

8) To test for doneness, insert the tip of a knife into the custard near the edge.  If the knife comes out clean, remove the custard from the oven.  There will be enough heat left to set the custard.

9) Cool

10) Invert the custard onto a platter or individual dishes. The liquid caramel will flow down the sides.  If the custard has been thoroughly chilled, dip the cups/molds briefly in hot water, then turn out.


To caramelize sugar, heat 7 ounces of sugar over low heat in a heavy pan. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until melted.   Remove from heat and SLOWLY add 1/4 cup water ( adding it too fast could cause an explosive reaction) stirring constantly. Return to the heat and cook until mixture is golden brown.


I used this recipe for my “mystery box” test for my chef’s certification (like the Iron Chef competition, only with a lot less staff).  It was a hit then, and has been ever since.

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Egg Drop Soup


This is one of the quickest and easiest soups to make.  It is perfect if you are just starting to try Oriental cooking.

serves 4


2 cans chicken broth or 1 qt. Chinese chicken stock

3 eggs

3 TBS. corn starch dissolved in small amount of cold water

2 TBS. soy sauce

few drops yellow food coloring

2 green onions (scallions) sliced thin diagonally

sesame oil ( the dark amber kind found in the Oriental section of the grocery store, NOT the  stuff from the health food store)

salt and white pepper  to taste


Beat eggs slightly, just enough to break the yolks. Set aside.

Bring the chicken stock to a simmer.  Add the soy sauce, food color and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Add the corn starch slowly while stirring.  Use more or less, according to how thick you like your soup.  Remove pan from heat and slowly add the eggs to the soup using a gentle swirling motion with a large spoon.  The eggs will set and cook in the hot liquid.  Serve in soup bowls and garnish with  green onions and a few drops of sesame oil.

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