In the Kitchen: Thank you JLJ; You’re so much more than just a pretty face | The Northside Sun

2022-05-28 09:06:02 By : Ms. Kat Ding

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Scrolling through recent news stories, I noticed a story featuring a photo of well-dressed, poised, professional, and diverse women standing in front of a big check. People may smirk and sometimes roll their eyes at the different junior leagues or junior auxiliaries around the country, but I suggest that you think twice before doing so.  No white gloves or tea parties for these women. These are powerful organizations filed with committed volunteers. Their efforts result in huge impacts to communities they serve. 

Many of these women are not just leaders in the Junior League of Jackson (JLJ), but they are leaders in businesses, law firms, churches, school boards and parent organizations, county or city planning committees. Many organizations have leaders who were trained through the ranks of their local junior league or junior auxiliary.

The news story was about the Junior League of Jackson donating a half million dollars to the Mississippi Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at UMMC. This generous gift will help renovate and expand the facility and was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of monetary gifts to the Children’s Hospital at UMMC. The Junior League of Jackson has been a long-standing advocate and strong partner, financially as well as with hands-on volunteer efforts, at the hospital. I will go so far as to say that if it weren’t for the committed junior league volunteers, we might not have a children’s hospital in Jackson. This group of people organized and worked to build the first phase of the children’s wing of the hospital almost 30 years ago. These women can get it done. 

I am a proud sustaining member of the JLJ and I can honestly say that my active years in the league allowed me to participate in some of the most effective and efficient volunteer work of my life. I have been trying to think of any aspect of Jackson life the league has not impacted through their volunteer efforts. From rocking babies to serving the elderly, the league has been there to help some of Jackson’s most vulnerable. Food, shelter, clothing, education grants for teachers, tutoring, camps, books, toys, building, renovating, decorating, and all shared with a generous amount of love. 

JLJ has used hammers and nails, as well as hairspray and heels to make an impact in our community. The Mississippi Children’s Museum was a signature project of the league and the museum would not be the cornerstone the LeFleur’s Bluff Museum district without their efforts. 

Years ago, when I was working on a league project, I told someone just to give up and jump on board with what we were doing. I told him he was working with a bunch of women whose parents never told them “can’t.” We couldn’t or wouldn’t, understand our goals might not be achievable. When we put our minds to it, we got it done. We came, we saw, and we conquered . . . then we celebrated our accomplishments with really good food and a lot of good cookbooks. 

These classic southern cookbooks were another aspect of the league that I loved. We were often asked to prepare recipes from the cookbooks. The recipes in Southern Sideboards and Come On In! contain many of our family’s favorites. Pull out your old copies of these cookbooks and enjoy a classic.  

These are some of our favorites from Come On In!:

I can still remember the first time I had this dip. My husband and I were at a party in Fondren. We found this dip and tasted it; then proceeded to eat the entire bowl. Often, we will walk by that house and we still refer to it as the “Monterey Jack Salsa House.”

1 - 4 ounce can chopped green chilies 

1 - 3 1/2 ounce can chopped black olives 

2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded 

1/2 cup bottled Italian salad dressing 

Carefully mix or toss all ingredients and serve with tortilla chips. Best made a few hours before serving.

I am not a big fan of onions but make no mistake, this is one of the best dips you will ever taste. It is rich and gooey and so perfect. I have used sharp cheddar cheese (as directed in the recipe) but I have also substituted a combination of mozzarella and Parmesan and even pepper jack cheese. We prefer to serve it with Fritos.

3 large Vidalia onions, coarsely chopped 

1 cup mayonnaise (I have used half with good results)

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or other cheese of your choice 

Preheat oven to 375°. Sauté onions in butter, then blend with mayonnaise, cheese, Tabasco, and garlic. Pour into a well-greased casserole dish and bake at 375° for 25 minutes. Serve tortilla chips, Fritos, or crackers.

I cannot imagine the number of times I have made this salad. It is always a hit and I love the sweet and sour dressing. My father is a diabetic and oftentimes I will make the dressing using a sugar substitute, such as Splenda.  

Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients making sure that the sugar is completely dissolved.

1 cup walnuts, chopped (I’ve used every 

1 package Ramen noodles, uncooked, crushed or broken up with the flavor packet discarded 

1 bunch broccoli, coarsely chopped into small pieces 

1 head Romain lettuce, washed and torn into small pieces 

Brown walnuts and Ramen noodles in butter, cool on a paper towel. Mix noodles and walnuts with broccoli, lettuce, and onions. Toss with salad dressing.

This is good with any fruit salad, but can also be used as a dressing for greens or slaw.   Toss with fruit, lettuce or cabbage; any way it’s delicious. 

Thoroughly combine sugar, mustard, salt, celery seed, lemon juice, and vinegar until well blended slowly add oil and blend until thickened.  Chill thoroughly and serve over fruit, green salad or slaw.

Crunchy Catfish with Lemon Parsley Sauce

This was one of my children’s absolute favorite dinners. They loved the lemon parsley sauce and put it on everything on their plate.

1/2 cup crushed buttery flavored crackers 

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and simmer briefly. 

When ready to eat, preheat oven to 325°. Mix eggs and water. Combine crackers, cheese, and Greek seasoning. Dip catfish fillets in egg mixture and then seasoned cracker crumbs. Place on a well-greased pan and drizzle melted butter over the top. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with lemon parsley sauce.

Pork Roast with Red, Yellow, and Green Peppers

This is so easy and perfect for large gathering. 

1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped 

1 boneless pork loin roast, about 4 to 5 pounds

1 each: red, yellow, orange, and green bell pepper cut in 1-inch pieces 

salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onion, green bell pepper, celery, and garlic in butter and oil. Add salt, black pepper and Cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme, and mustard. 

With pork roast fat side up, make several large slits and stuff the vegetable mixture into the roast. Rub the surface of the roast with remaining vegetable mixture. Bake uncovered at 275° for three hours or until the internal temperature comes to 160°. 

Then raise the heat to 425 and continue baking until the top is slightly browned about 10 minutes more. Do not overcook. 

Allow roast to rest tented in foil while you prepare the peppers.  

In a separate pan, sauté bell pepper pieces in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.  

Serve roast on a large platter surrounded by sautéed peppers. This is fantastic with Lemon Dill Rice from Southern Sideboards

Asparagus with Caper Dill Sauce

This sauce or dressing is absolutely delicious over blanched asparagus or green beans but it is equally good chilled and tossed with cucumbers or radishes. It’s a great salad dressing as well.

1/4 cup fresh dill, minced or 1 tablespoon dried 

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

1-pound fresh asparagus or fresh green beans, blanched

Blend all ingredients except asparagus or beans. Chill at least one hour. 

When ready to eat, drizzle over vegetables.

Green Beans with Honey Cashew Sauce

I simply have “delicious” written beside this recipe. It is simple but the combination of salty, sweet and nutty make it extra special. 

1/2 cup coarsely chopped salted cashews 

1-pound fresh green beans, blanched and drained

Sauté cashews in butter over low heat for about five minutes. Add honey and cook one minute longer, stirring constantly, pour sauce over beans and tossed until well coated. Serve immediately.

Like many in our State, I find it difficult to put anything with the words LSU and “good” in the same sentence.  This is worth and is a delicious recipe. For some reason it was included in the side dish section of the cookbook and it is recommended as a side dish with pork. I’ve always considered it to be a dessert, almost exactly like bananas foster. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Those tigers just can’t seem to get anything right. Ha!!

1/2 cup raisins (omit, if desired)

Preheat oven to 350°. Line at the bottom of a heavily buttered casserole dish with half of the bananas. Sprinkle with brown sugar and brown sugar and dot with butter. Layer over with half of the raisins and half of the pecans. Sprinkle with more brown sugar and dot with more butter. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients except Brandy. 

Bake for 30 minutes. Poor Brandy over and serve immediately with either pork or ice cream. 

With blueberry season just around the corner, I promise it will be hard to find an easier or better recipe for your berries.  This is absolutely delicious. 

2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and drained 

1 pastry for a 9-inch pie shell, unbaked 

3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature 

3 tablespoons chopped pecans or walnuts (feel free to substitute oatmeal if someone has a nut allergy) 

For the pie: blend sour cream, flour, sugar, vanilla, salt, and egg until smooth. Fold in blueberries. Pour filling into pastry shell and bake for 25 minutes. Make the topping by thoroughly combining flour, butter, and nuts (if using.)  Sprinkle topping over pie and bake an additional 10 minutes. Chill overnight before serving.

This makes a wonderful and unexpected meal. If your group is supposed to sauerkraut, just simply omit it or serve it on the side. 

1 package dry yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons 

1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature 

6 ounces of thinly sliced corn beef deli meat 

4 ounces of thinly sliced Swiss cheese 

1 can sauerkraut, 8 ounces, well drained 

Dissolve the yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water until bubbly. Combine flour, remaining sugar, salt, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add dissolve yeast mixture and beat to make a soft dough. Kneed about four minutes and roll out into a 10 x 14“rectangle. 

Preheat oven to 400°. Place dough on a greased baking sheet and spoon dressing down the center. Topped with sliced corn beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut if using. Make cuts along the long side of the dough from filling to outer edge at about 1-inch intervals. Alternating the sides, fold strips across filling. 

Cover and allow to rise for about 30 minutes. Brush surface with the egg white and sprinkled with caraway seeds. Bake 25 minutes, then slice and serve warm.

1 pound or 16 ounces of white chocolate 

1 - 12-ounce jar chunky peanut butter 

1 pound or 16 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Combine white chocolate and peanut butter in the top of a double broiler. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cook stirring constantly until white chocolate and peanut butter melt. Line a 15 x 10“jelly roll pan with wax paper or parchment paper and spread peanut butter-white chocolate mixture in the pan. Pour melted semi-sweet chocolate over peanut butter mixture and swirl through with a knife. Chill until firm and then break or cut into one-to-1-inch pieces and store in the refrigerator.

These are so light and delicate you will not believe how many you can eat. 

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 

Preheat oven to 350°. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and powdered sugar for one minute. Sift together flour and cornstarch and add to the batter and continue mixing until dough is softened, about one minute. Drop batter by teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. The tops of the cookies will not brown. 

Prepare glaze by combining powdered sugar, butter, lemon juice, and zest. 

Remove cookies to rack and frost with glaze while still warm.

This is an all-time classic.  The mother of one of my high school best friends, Barbie Ellis, would make these on large cookie sheets, freeze them, stack them up, and store them in the freezer for us to heat up quickly when we come in from a night out. They were the perfect late-night snack, and bring back so many fun memories from high school. 

As an adult, I’ve made them often but I have to admit they are not the prettiest dish on the buffet. Kids normally love them and can pick off the olive if they don’t like them.

2 loaves party rye bread with seeds

Sliced or whole green olives with Pimento

Cook beef and sausage in a heavy skillet until done and drain off fat. While still warm, add cheese, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, oregano and stir over low heat until cheese is melted. Spread about 2 tablespoons of mixture on top of party rye bread slices and garnish with a green olive. Place on a cookie sheet and heat in a 350° oven and until hot and bubbly. 

You can place these on cookie sheets.  Freeze until firm and store in freezer until ready to bake.  

I have served this easy to prepare dish for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.  It is never a bad time to enjoy these tasty treats.

1 - 4 ounce can chopped green chilies 

1/2-pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated 

1/2-pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated 

Mix eggs, flour, salt, and milk and beat well.  Add remaining ingredients.  Mix well. 

Pour into a well-greased 8 x 12“baking dish and bake at 350° for about 35 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes and cut in tiny squares and serve.

1 tablespoon onion juice or grated onion 

1/2 pound of bacon, fried crisp and crumbled

Mix first eight ingredients in a jar and refrigerate overnight. Dressing will keep in the refrigerator up to one week. 

When ready to serve, shake dressing well and toss with spinach.  Add bacon, eggs and mushrooms and toss again.

1 - 10-ounce jar apricot preserves

Preheat oven to 350°. Cream butter and sugar until very fluffy beat in eggs, one at a time and mix well. Fold in sour cream and almond extract. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Fold into mixture. Place about a third of the mixture in a well-greased bunt pan (I use Baker’s Joy.) 

Sprinkle with half the almonds and spoon over half apricot preserves over the batter. Spoon on the rest of the batter. Add the remaining preserves and top with remaining almonds. 

Bake at 350° for one hour or until dawn. Cool on a rack.

This was a staple meal when my kids were growing up. We served it with pickles and mustard on the side.  May sound odd but I guess my kids never understood that they were eating quiche instead of some type of odd hamburger.

1 - 9-inch pastry shell, partially cooked 

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese 

1 cup whipping cream (I always use to half & half or milk) 

To prepare pie shell:   Preheat oven to 425°. Bake empty pie shell for about five minutes. Removed from oven and set aside.  

In a large skillet brown hamburger meat and chopped onions.  Drain off excess fat. Reserve a small amount of meat mixture and place remaining mixture in pie shell. Sprinkle cheese ever meat. Mix eggs, cream, and seasonings and pour over meat and cheese. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300° and bake 30 minutes longer. 

Sprinkle remaining meat on top and bake five minutes more. Let pie stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with pickles and mustard, if desired.  

One of my very first JLJ meetings, I was given a little bag of this rice mix. I followed the recipe instructions and couldn’t believe how easy it was to prepare.  

1 tablespoon dried grated lemon peel 

Combine all ingredients together a store in a jar until ready to use.

When ready to prepare: mix one cup portion of rice mixture with 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon olive oil or margarine. Bring to a boil and cover.  Simmer over very low heat until all liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes.

No one really serves crepes anymore, but we should. Occasionally, I will make homemade crepes for our family and they are really easy to prepare.  However, premade packs of crepes can be found in the refrigerator vegetable section of the grocery store. 

2 tablespoons butter for the sauce 

To prepare crêpes:  fold crepes in half and then in half again.  Arrange in overlapping layers in a buttered shallow flameproof dish. Sprinkle the crepes with sugar, lemon zest and dot with butter.

Broil crêpes until sugar is melted and bubbly. 

While crêpes are baking, make the sauce. In a saucepan, melt butter and add Brandy, liqueur, and lemon juice. Stir until well blended. Serve crepes with sauce poured over them.

Be careful in case the dish flames.

Kathryn McCraney served me this dish years ago and it has remained one of the best and easiest chili recipes that I have found.  I had never seen chili that was served with lime, sour cream, and rice. This is such a delicious in different version of traditional ground meat chili.  

3 pounds of boneless chuck cut into 1-inch cubes

2 - 13 3/4-ounce cans of beef broth 

1 - 15 1/2-ounce can jalapeño pinto beans, drained

2 limes, cut into wedges for garnish 

Heat oil in a heavy duty four-quart pot. Cook meat, stirring frequently until meat changes color but does not burn. Lower heat and stir in garlic. Combine chili powder, cumin, and flour. Sprinkle meat with the chili mixture. Stirring until it is evenly coated. Crumble dried oregano over meat.  Add broth and stir until liquid is well blended. Add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer covered for two hours, until meat is tender.  

Cool thoroughly, cover and refrigerate overnight.  Reheat chili slowly. Add beans and heat.  

When ready to serve, place a couple of tablespoons of rice in individual serving bowl bowls. Spoon chili over rice and add sour cream and cilantro to the top.  Garnish with the lime wedge.

Florence’s Toffee – Chocolate Squares

1 - 11 3/4-ounce package milk chocolate chips 

1 cup ground pecans or sliced almonds

Line a 10 x 15” pan with foil on bottoms and up sides. Line pans with separated rectangular graham crackers, side-by-side. Simmer together the sugar and the butter for about three minutes. Pour mixture quickly over crackers and bake and in a preheated 400° oven for five minutes. 

Remove from the oven. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top and spread evenly to cover as they melt. Sprinkle pecans or almonds over the top the chocolate. 

Chill and cut or break into squares.

There are so many more favorites in these books.  Minnie Porters Chicken and Dumplings, Shrimp Stroganoff, the recipe for Southern Cornbread Dressing is one of the best. Swiss enchiladas were a favorite for many years, Noodles Marmaduke. The Chicken Pot Pie recipe in Come on in, is basically perfection. You can serve it with puff pastry on top and it was good enough for a fancy dinner.  Herb Shrimp and Feta Casserole was a newlywed favorite of ours. We love Tomato Tart and still make that throughout the summer with fresh tomatoes and fresh basil.  There are so many more recipes that I want to include. Almost every page of my cookbook is splattered on, marked up or dog-eared. 

These days, I often simply Google search for a new recipe, but we should take time to go through these old Junior League cookbooks and savor in their goodness. Rediscover a classic.

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