Heirloom Eats

Stir-Fried Fajitas

by Ashley Davenport

My husband’s mother, Susan F. Davenport, inherited this zesty recipe from her mother, Hollice Funkhouser. These fajitas were one of Ward’s favorite birthday dinners growing up and even as he got older. Susan was a great cook, but Mexican dishes were her specialty. We now create the dish together as a family, passing down a recipe to our children that originated with their great-grandmother.


Ingredients:

2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. seasoned salt
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless
skinless chicken, cut into strips
2 to 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup sliced onion
1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup sliced red or green bell pepper
8 flour tortillas, warmed
2 avocados, sliced
sour cream
salsa

Whisk garlic, seasoned salt, cumin, chili powder, red pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice together in a bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for two hours or longer. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the sliced onion, green onions, and bell pepper and stir-fry until light brown. Remove from skillet and keep warm. Sauté chicken in the skillet for four minutes or until almost cooked through. Return vegetables to the skillet. Stir-fry until heated through. Spoon into the tortillas and top with avocados, sour cream, and salsa.

Photos by Rich Smith.

Banana Pudding

by Debbie Ingram

At least a century old, if not more, this recipe was passed down from my grandmother, Helen Roddy. My mother, Margaret Bryson, grew up eating this style of banana pudding and she assumes the recipe came from Centralia, Missouri, where my grandmother was raised. I haven’t been able to locate a single other banana pudding recipe that uses a glaze instead of pudding. I didn’t know that banana pudding was supposed to use actual pudding until I went to college in the mid-’70s!


Ingredients:

1 box vanilla wafers
4 to 5 bananas, sliced
1 Tbsp. butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp. flour
dash of salt

Layer vanilla wafers and bananas in a serving dish. Combine other ingredients in a saucepan. Stir constantly on medium heat until the glaze is ‘runny’ thick. Pour over vanilla wafers and bananas. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Photos by Rich Smith.

Curried Chicken

by Laura Hartman

Curried chicken was a staple in the home of my grandmother, Inez Cheshire. She would always fix it for friends coming home from the hospital or anyone in need of a meal. I remember watching her cook the whole chicken and letting me help assemble the ingredients when I was a child. My mother, Carole Thau, has also made this dish on many occasions. Every time my mother and I prepare it, we pull out our recipe card in my grandmother’s precise cursive handwriting. Even though she passed away five years ago, I can still hear her sweet Southern accent giving me advice.


Curried Chicken:

1 whole chicken or 8 chicken parts (best if both white and dark meat are used)
1 pkg. broccoli florets, cooked for five minutes
3 cups white sauce (recipe below)
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. curry powder
3/4 package Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing
1/2 stick butter

White Sauce:

6 Tbsp. butter
6 Tbsp. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
dash white pepper
3 cups milk

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Blend in flour, salt, and dash of white pepper. Add milk all at once. Cook quickly, stirring constantly with a whisk until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove sauce from heat when it bubbles.

Cook and chop chicken (rotisserie chicken from grocery store may be used). Place chicken in bottom of baking dish. Place florets over chicken. Mix white sauce, lemon juice, and curry powder. Spread over chicken and broccoli and top with stuffing.

Pour melted butter over all. Bake 30 minutes or until bubbly at 350 degrees.

Photos by Med Dement.

Stuffed Mushrooms

by Charles Sanford

During holidays growing up, my family would alternate going to Virginia to spend time with my dad’s family and to Memphis to spend time with my mom’s family. When we would go to Memphis, we’d always make these stuffed mushrooms with my grandmother, who passed down the recipe. Now my parents throw a Christmas party every year, and I always make these – they’re a huge hit. Some people claim they don’t like mushrooms, but after a little eggnog, they venture out and give them a try. They can never figure out how I tricked them into liking mushrooms. As any good cook will tell you, there’s a secret to making anything taste good: butter, garlic, and cheese.


Ingredients:

12 button or cremini mushrooms, scrubbed clean
3 Tbsp. butter
1 clove garlic
1 package chopped spinach (or 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach chopped, wilted, and strained)
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. fresh parmesan cheese, grated
dash of Tabasco
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. seasoned salt

Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Melt butter with garlic over low heat. Toss the mushrooms in the mixture, once melted. Line a casserole dish with the mushrooms.

In a pan, heat spinach over low heat to warm, then drain away the excess moisture. Mix the spinach with the mayonnaise, parmesan, Tabasco, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and seasoned salt.

Fill the mushroom caps with the spinach mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or a little longer
if your mushrooms are large.

Photos by Rich Smith.

Buttermilk Pie

by Joshua Brooks

This pie has been in my family for many generations, but the crust recipe was changed and reworked by my great-grandmother Opal during the Depression. Her recipe actually called for lard (instead of Crisco), and is pretty bare bones, which reflects the change in times and the improvisation people made during that particular era. Every time I make and eat this pie, I remember how it feels to be close to family and friends. My great-grandmother is no longer with us, and my family is geographically scattered now, but eating and sharing this pie with others always makes me remember special times growing up, and I love sharing that feeling with close friends and family today. No holiday would be complete for me without a buttermilk pie.


Crust:

3/4 cup Crisco
1/4 cup boiling water
1 Tbsp. milk
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. salt        

Put Crisco in mixing bowl. Add boiling water and milk, breaking up shortening with a fork. Tilt bowl and with rapid across-the-bowl strokes, whip with fork until mixture is smooth and thick like sour cream. Sift flour and salt together into Crisco mixture. Stir quickly.

Pick up mixture and work into a smooth dough. Roll out between two sheets of wax paper and transfer to pie dish. Pre-bake in 350 degree oven for around 10 minutes. Makes two crusts.

Filling:

1/2 cup margarine
2 cups sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp. vanilla
pinch of nutmeg

Mix margarine and sugar together. Add flour. Beat eggs in a separate bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and nutmeg. Pour into two pie crusts and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Photos by Rich Smith.

Crawfish Casserole

by Lucy and Billy Gates

Lucy’s mother was born and raised in DeRidder, Louisiana and was served this creole dish by a longtime friend of hers. Soon after, she had to get the recipe for herself! Since then, we’ve often made it together for family during the holidays. It’s different enough to be unique and novel, but the ingredients are familiar enough to appeal to even the pickiest eaters, like our children Wills and Isie. My version has an extra spicy kick. We serve it with a side of sour cream or crème fraiche.


Ingredients:

1 stick and 3 Tbsp. butter
8 oz. cream cheese, cubed
1 medium Vidalia or sweet onion, diced
1 medium bell pepper, diced
8 oz. can sliced mushrooms
2 pounds crawfish or shrimp
3 cups cooked white rice
10 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
1 Tbsp. garlic powder or
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. paprika or red pepper
1/4 tsp. black or white pepper
1 1/2 cups of thinly sliced Velveeta
1 cup fried onion rings

Combine and melt one stick of butter and cream cheese in skillet or microwave.

In a separate large heavy pot melt three tablespoons of butter and add diced onions and diced peppers. Cook over low to medium heat for seven to 10 minutes or until tender. Once tender, add mushrooms and crawfish (or shrimp) and cook an additional three minutes over low to medium heat.

Finally, thoroughly combine melted butter and cream cheese mixture, cooked white rice, cream of mushroom soup, garlic, and pepper to the pot containing diced onions, diced peppers, mushrooms, and crawfish (or shrimp).

Pour the contents of the pot into a large greased casserole dish. Top with thinly sliced Velveeta and fried onion rings. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Photos by Rich Smith.

Barbecue Brisket

by Rosa Wrenn

My sister served this dish to my mother and me around 50 years ago when we were visiting her in England. We loved the brisket and had to get the recipe from her so we could recreate it at home. It has been a staple at family gatherings and for entertaining friends ever since. Serving this dish creates such a warm, relaxing atmosphere around a dinner table that guests seem to linger a little longer just enjoying conversation.


Ingredients:

1 fresh beef brisket (4-6 lbs.), boneless
2 Tbsp. liquid smoke
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. onion salt
2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
1 cup barbecue sauce (hickory smoke)

Mix together everything except barbecue sauce and marinate brisket overnight. Scrape marinade off the next day. Turn brisket over and replace marinade on the other side. Cook in a tightly covered pan at 250 degrees for five hours. Remove cover, pour off grease, and spread barbecue sauce on top. Cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. 

Photos by Lanewood Studio.

Cheese Straws

by Laurel Powell

Cheese straws are a family favorite of both my family and my husband’s. When we got married we made hundreds of cheese straws for our guests’ welcome baskets, and we combined and tested all the family recipes we had to hone in on which was our favorite. The recipe we came up with is a combination of my husband’s grandmother’s recipe and his great-grandmother’s recipe. I have great memories of making these with my mother and mother-in-law before the wedding, and I’ve made them dozens of times since. Entertaining is part of Southern culture, and to me having these treats for showers, dinner parties, and family gatherings keeps the memories and spirit of our ancestors and a bygone era alive.


Ingredients:

1 stick melted butter
1 lb. extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated at room temperature
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Place butter and cheese in mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, and mix. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cayenne and slowly add them in to the mixing bowl, while continuing to mix the cheese and butter.

Cover a cookie sheet in parchment paper. Use a pastry press to make lines of dough (straws). Bake 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees until light brown. Cool for two minutes on pan, and then place straws on a wire rack to continue to cool.

Photos by Rich Smith.
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