Wilted Lettuce, I just had the best salad of the year so far…

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, May 25, 2012


You all know about my continuing obsession with Salad-In-A-Jar, and lately I’ve been eating Sam’s Spring Greens, hubby buys me two gigantic containers of it at a time.

And, I’m counting calories, and even though the bacon and dressing aren’t healthy, my salad came in at 350 calories, so that’s a good thing.  And the bacon fat is soooo satisfying! *wicked grin*

I took this huge, and I mean huge pile of greens, added chopped red onion, and meanwhile I sautéed 2 strips of bacon.  I measured 1 tablespoon of the drippings, added a packet of Splenda, salt, lots of cracked pepper, a tablespoon of white vinegar, brought it to a boil on the stove, put it in my favorite stainless steel bowl that was ma’s, then put a plate on top and let it sit for a bit to wilt.

Then I added the crumbled bacon, croutons and blue cheese crumbles and it was TO.DIE.FOR!!!

I’ve always adored wilted lettuce, and the only way this would have been better was if it would have had a chopped hardboiled egg added. But of course, if I would have doubled the bacon drippings and the vinegar it would have taken it to another level, but I didn’t do that…

Oh, SO good!!!

The best snack I’ve had in awhile…

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, April 30, 2012

fageI’ve been busy with other things lately, so I’ve been buying Fage Unflavored Greek Yogurt instead of making my own.  I know, bad girl, bad girl…

I seriously adore Greek Yogurt, seriously.  I eat it on baked potatoes, I make dips with it, I add Splenda and fresh berries, and now…

jifI’m eating it with Jif Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter, and it is totally awesome!  I take 1/2 or 23/ cup of Greek Yogurt, add 2 packets of Splenda, a tablespoon of Peanut butter, stir thoroughly and eat!  O.M.G. ladies, it you are a peanut butter person, you will love this.  Good for you, and under 200 calories.  It’s a great snack!  I’m also reading that you mix Greek Yogurt with Jello Cheesecake Pudding, the kind in the little four-packs.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m hearing it tastes like real cheesecake.  I’ll update you…

~ jan

Trisha Yearwood’s Brownies with Coconut Frosting

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, April 14, 2012

Brownies with Coconut Frosting                                                                   Photo:  Courtesy FoodNetwork

Trisha made these on her debut Cooking Show.  What’s not to love, brownies that are reminescent of German Chocolate Cake.  Oh my….


Cooking spray
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening, such as Crisco
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pam an 8x8 pan and set aside.

Melt chocolate and shortening, either in the microwave or over a double boiler.

Beat eggs, add sugar and combine, then stir in chocolate mixture that you’ve slightly cooled.

Sift together dry ingredients,  and by hand, stir in the chocolate/egg mixture.  Then stir in vanilla extract and nuts.

Don’t overbake, bake just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.  Cool slightly, spread with frosting and cut in squares.

Coconut Frosting:

1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
10 ounces fresh or frozen grated coconut, thawed
1 1/2 cups nuts (pecans, walnuts or almonds), finely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the evaporated milk, sugar and egg yolks in a saucepan. Stir with a wire whisk until the yolks are fully incorporated. Add the butter, melt, and bring to a simmer. Cook until the mixture thickens, 12 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the coconut, nuts and vanilla extract and let cool. Yield: 4 cups.

Trisha stirred the milk, sugar and egg yolks with the butter constantly.  She said don’t leave them, you have to constantly stir them for at least 12 minutes until they thicken.

Source:  Foodnetwork.com

Mounds Candy Bar Cake

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, March 30, 2012


My friend, Diane, gave me this recipe for Mounds Candy Bar Cake.  If you’re a Mounds lover, this ones for you!  It tastes exactly like the candy bar…

1 devil foods cake mix
make as directed and bake in 9 x 13 pan


mix in saucepan
1 cup sugar
24 regular marshmallows
1 cup milk
bring to boil and add 14 ounce ounces coconut

pour mixture over cake as soon as it comes out of oven and let cool


1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
6 oz. package of chocolate chips

put these ingredients in saucepan and bring to boil and stir in chocolate chips, top with mixture and refrigerate overnight.

Note:  Bring cake back to room temperature before cutting and serving for best results.  I found the frosting to be difficult to cut when it was cold, but after it warmed up a bit it was perfect.

Pioneer Woman’s Peanut Butter Sheet Cake

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, March 05, 2012


Pioneer Woman’s Peanut Butter Sheet Cake is truly wonderful, it’s a new family favorite at our house.  It’s the same basic recipe as our Texas Sheet cake that I’ve made for years, with peanut butter substituted for the chocolate.  I did tweak it a bit, and here are the results.



2 cups Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
2 sticks Butter
1 cup Water
1 cup Peanut Butter (I use Jif Extra Crunchy)
½ cups Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 whole Eggs

Icing Ingredients:

1 stick Butter
½ cups Peanut Butter
6 teaspoons Milk (this wasn’t enough milk, start with this amount and add more, a teaspoon at a time until you get the right consistency, it took me a few more teaspoons to make it smooth)
1 pound box Powdered Sugar (Sift this so that you get smooth frosting)


Mix sugar, baking soda, flour and salt in a large bowl and sit aside.

In a saucepan combine butter, water and peanut butter and bring to a boil.  Pour over flour mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk so that it doesn’t lump.

Temper the wet ingredients by first adding the milk, then lightly beat two eggs and add them to the mixture with the vanilla.

The original recipe tells you to bake this in a 10x15 cookie sheet with sides or a jelly roll pan for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

Our family loves thick cake so I bake it in a 9 x 13 pan, in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.  I would never bake a cake at 400 degrees, that’s just too hot.   If I baked this in jelly roll pan, I would still bake at 350 degrees and test after 20 minutes to see if it was done.

Icing Preparation:

Bring the butter, peanut butter and 6 teaspoons of milk to a boil in a saucepan.  Whisk in the sifted powdered sugar, and add additional milk, a teaspoon at a time until the icing is a creamy consistency.  Immediately pour the warm frosting over cooled cake.

Notes:  This cake is much better the 2nd day, even better the 3rd day, as it gets more moist as it ages in the covered cake pan.  I think I am going to make it using 1.5 cups of peanut butter in the cake batter next time to get a more intense peanut flavor, and hope that adding the extra half cup of peanut butter doesn’t mess with the consistency.

This would be amazing if you topped the icing with chopped peanuts or even better with chopped Reese Cups.  This is such a great recipe, it’s going into my Tried ‘n True Hall of Fame.

Mrs. Hullings Banana Cream Pie

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, February 29, 2012

This is simply the best banana cream pie you will ever eat.  I get lots of people inquiring about my post for Lawry’s Coconut Banana Cream Pie, and while it is simply amazing, Mrs. Hulling’s recipe knocks it out of the ballpark.  If you click on the image it will enlarge.  My mother wrote out this recipe from a newspaper years ago, and we’ve made it countless times.  This is a scrapbooked page I made using her handwriting.


Campbell’s Soup Frosted Meatloaf

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, February 29, 2012


A few years ago, my friend Veronica and I went to lunch at Red Geranium Restaurant in New Harmony, Indiana.

We were both dieting, as usual, and we ordered some silly rabbit food, and then we both positively salivated when the ladies at the next table were served thick pie shaped wedges of this wonderful meatloaf frosted with mashed potatoes.  We were just drooling!

Veronica was able to obtain the recipe from a friend, but now that dish is no longer on the menu and we have both regretted not eating it.  But we are going to make it, and when we do, we’re going to enjoy every delicious morsel of it and take pictures to document that we finally got to taste it.

The moral of this story, if you’re out with a girlfriend, forget the calories, if you really want something, just eat it!

~ jan

Make your own Greek Yogurt for a fraction of the cost of Fage!

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, February 29, 2012

I didn’t realize that Greek Yogurt was just yogurt with the whey extracted.  It sounds so exotic, but it’s a really simple process.  It takes no equipment, just some time and the results is wonderful!

Before I start this post, I have to give credit to Paula at Salad-in-a-Jar, I followed her techniques, and she made it so simple.

The first time is the hardest, but it’s really not that difficult, ladies.  I went to Amazon to price yogurt, 17.6 ounces of Fage Total Greek Yogurt is $6.99.

The weight of my yogurt was 18.8 ounces, and it cost me approximately $1.50 – I used a half a gallon of milk, and I paid $2.99 a gallon for the milk at Aldi’s.  Now I did have an initial investment of $1.69 for a tiny single-serve container of Fage Unflavored Yogurt, but I’m not counting that, because I will never have to buy this again, as I can save a couple of teaspoons of each batch when I make more.

To make yogurt you need a half a gallon of non-fat milk and 2 teaspoon of live yogurt culture.  Buy unflavored non-fat yogurt and look on the side of the container to make sure that it has live yogurt cultures.  I bought Fage, I’ve also heard that Dannon non-fat has live yogurt cultures, as well.

I have an 8 cup measuring bowl, so I poured 8 cups of milk into the bowl and put it in the microwave to heat to a temperature of 175-180 degrees.  This is much easier than doing it in a saucepan on the stove because you don’t have to constantly watch it.  Paula said that it took 17 minutes in her microwave, in mine it took 18 minutes, 20 seconds to reach a temperature of 175 degrees.

Big_Green_Egg_Digital_ThermometerI have a Polder Digital Thermometer which makes it really simple to tell what temperature your milk is, but a candy thermometer would work just as well. 

I started putting my thermometer into the microwave and testing at 16 minutes, I repeated this several times as I had never done this before and didn’t want it to get too hot.  The next time I do this I will know how long it takes and it will be much easier.

It looked like this when I took it out of the wave.



You need to let this sit and cool to a temperature of between 110-120 degrees, it will take about 30-45 minutes to reach this temperature.  I was anxious to get on with the process, patience is not a virtue for me, so as soon as the thermometer registered 120 degrees I was ready to proceed.  I whisked in 2 level teaspoons of the Fage Unflavored yogurt and went to the next step.

This is where it got tricky for me, I didn’t know how to keep my yogurt at 100 degrees.  I preheated my oven to 170, as low as my temperature allows, for less than a minute, and my temperature had already risen to 110 degrees, so I opened the door until it backed off to 100 degrees.  I left on my oven light, sealed my mixing bowl of yogurt with aluminum foil, wrapped it in a towel and put it in the oven to “ferment.”  Some ovens can be set to 100 degrees, if you’re one of the lucky ones that has that feature this would be much easier to regulate.

It takes anywhere from 6-12 hours to make yogurt, the longer you leave it, the more sour it gets, and I like it mild so I checked mine after 6 hours, and it wasn’t gelatinous, so I put it back into the oven and pulled it after 8 hours.  It still seemed thin, and I was pretty skeptical at this point, but I whisked it, covered it and put it in the refrigerator overnight. 

A lot of people ferment their yogurt overnight, but I made mine mid-day, as I didn’t know how to regulate the temperature.  I found that my oven stayed at a pretty consistent 105 degrees with the light on, occasionally it would start creeping up to 108 and I would panic and open the door until the temperature backed off to 100 degrees.  

This morning I took the yogurt out of the fridge, it still seemed runny, I didn’t whisk it again, I just poured it into my makeshift strainer.  You need a really fine mesh boullon strainer for yogurt, they are pricey $60 on Amazon, but you can pick them up for $30+ on eBay, but I don’t have one so I had to make my own.

I have a strainer that sits over the sink, it’s wide, so I think it takes less time to strain, I lined it with a tea towel, and then put several folded layers of paper towel on top of the towel, as I didn’t want to yogurt to touch the tea towel and let it strain.


I quickly realized that I didn’t actually need the towel, I used an old one, it looked icky, so I just removed it and it worked fine to let the yogurt drain on the layers of paper towel.  You can also use cheesecloth for this, but then you have to wash it, paper towel is easier, you just toss it.


You can see that the yogurt has gotten really thick, look at the difference between picture 1 and picture 2, I let it drain for almost 3 hours.

Then I put it in mother’s old stainless steel bowl, my very favorite thing in the kitchen, but you’ve all heard before about how much I love this old bowl, and you can see how thick this is.  You could slice it with a knife, it’s so thick.


Then I whisked it, and it turned into this fluffy, wonderful yogurt.  Some people add a bit of skim milk at this point to make it even creamier, but I want it really thick, so I didn’t add milk back in.


I’m going to have a scoop of this on a baked potato tonight with some fresh chives from my garden.  Oh so good!


I put it in my Ball jar and the finished product yielded a little over two cups.  I’m amazed by the fact that it reduces so much, but you’re taking out all of the liquid (whey) which some people use for different things, they use it instead of water for cookies veggies, for homemade bread, some people even water houseplants with it.


And here’s the weight, you’re probably thinking “this is a lot of work,” but it seriously isn’t, once you figure out how to do this, it’s going to be really simple.


If you’re interested in this, Paula has a video, explaining it all.  You can access it here.

Note:  Some recipes called for powdered milk to give added protein and make it richer.  I was going to put it in, but I noticed a notation on salad-in-a-jar website that said she no longer does this, as she likes the texture better without it, so I left it out.

It’s healthy, it’s good for your gut, it’s cheap, it’s totally natural, it’s Yogurt!!!!!!!

Happy Birthday sweet daughter-in-law…

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, February 21, 2012


John baked Deanna her Hershey’s Perfectly Perfect Chocolate Cake last night for her birthday today.  This is the ultimate chocolate cake, fudgy, moist, it’s the wonderful chocolate cake we all remember from our childhoods, and it is perfect!  My buddy V told me  about it a few years ago, I made it for the family, we we all adored it, and it’s now one of our favorites.

And tonight she requested Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Fried Steak with mashed potatoes, gravy and biscuits.  Oh, be still  my heartRed heart

Happy Birthday Deanna, I wish we were with you to celebrate wth you.  Your father-in-law is absolutely salivating at the thought of that chicken fried steak! 

The absolute WORLD’S BEST Poppyseed Dressing

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, February 10, 2012


This recipe is serious stuff, the thickest, yummiest, best salad dressing you will ever eat.  My friend Ramona gave the recipe to me years ago, and it’s delightful.  This dressing is nectar of the gods, pinkie swear it is.  You will love this!


I have modified this by using Splenda instead of sugar.   You can add nuts and fruit to your greens, strawberries, grapes, mandarin oranges, feta cheese, slices of grilled chicken breast is good, too, and it’s wonderful with just onion and mushrooms.  It’s the best salad dressing I’ve ever tasted.  Enjoy  ~ jan

Poppy seed dressing:
3/4 C. (sugar) Splenda -I cut this back a bit, i think 3/4 cup of Splenda is too sweet, so I use a heaping half cup of Splenda
1 t. dry mustard
1/2 C. chopped onion
1 t. salt
1/3 C. balsamic vinegar
1 C. mazola oil
1 1/2 T. poppy seeds - always store poppy seeds in fridge, they get rancid easily, if you have them open in your pantry they are probably rancid, throw them out and buy fresh.

To make dressing:

Whisk together all ingredients until you can no longer feel the sugar grains (because they have dissolved in the liquid) and the whisk leaves a trail in the thickened mixture.

Makes about 3 cups, so you will have leftover dressing.


It is the color of molasses, and after it’s refrigerated it’s as thick as molasses, it’s just incredible.

NOTE: When I make this, I find it necessary to blend dressing ingredients in my food processor to get the silky smooth, honey like consistency.  If you just whisk it, sometimes it’s a bit gritty.  I add my ingredients and just pour the oil thru the tube until it is incorporated, don’t overmix it or it will be foamy.  You can also do this in the blender, just don’t overblend it.  It should look like the above picture when it’s finished.


It fits perfectly in a pint jar.  I like to use jars because you can spoon out the amount you want, and since I’m a FoodSaver Fruit Jar Sealing Fanatic, I always seal mine in the fridge to keep it fresh.