Super Southern Summer Finds: Brock’s Picks

Summer heat is here, and the fat red tomatoes are ready in some places. Some of them are already ready, and I have enjoyed a few that I purchased from a farmer’s market up in north Mississippi where my sister and her husband live. These tomatoes were so fresh and enjoyable. I have been slicing them up, making crispy bacon and tomato sandwiches on fresh white bread. I say white bread because a bacon and tomato sandwich is just not good on wheat bread in my opinion. I suppose it’s just a southern thing! Ha! And of course, you can’t have a fresh bacon and tomato sandwich without lots of fresh Blue Plate mayonnaise slathered all over the bread. Oh my goodness—what a southern treat! Not healthy, but heavenly! Here’s to good southern treats! This week, it’s all about southern finds. I have a buttery chicken and dumplings casserole, a summer candy bar freezer dessert and my mother’s famous mandarin orange cake for you! A trio of recipes you will want to reserve and cut out for your recipe files at home! I hope you will love these recipes as much as I do. Stay cool, and enjoy readers!

Chicken and Dumplings Casserole

Note: This recipe is a delicious spin on the original chicken and dumplings that we all grew up with here in the south! This one’s a keeper for your recipe files. Enjoy it with some fresh southern style green beans, some hot rolls, and some good sweet tea!

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 tsp. lemon pepper

2 Tbsp. oil

1 tsp. pepper

1 stick of butter, plus half stick more

2 cups Bisquick

2 cups milk

2 cups chicken stock (from boiled chicken)

1 can cream of chicken soup

Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil chicken breasts with oil and lemon pepper. When building the layered casserole, do not mix the layers. Layer 1-In 13×9 casserole dish, melt 1 stick of butter. Spread shredded chicken over butter, saving stock. Sprinkle black pepper over this layer. Layer 2-In small bowl, mix milk and Bisquick. Slowly pour over chicken. Layer 3-In medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups of the chicken stock, and soup. Once blended, slowly pour over the Bisquick layer. Pour half a stick of melted butter on top of all this. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 50-60 min.

Summer Candy Bar Freezer Dessert

Note: This freezer dessert is perfect to serve at any party or function and is ideal for the hot summer days in the south! The butter pecan ice cream makes this dessert truly a treat!

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 cup crushed saltines (about 30 crackers)

1 stick butter, melted

2 cups cold milk

2 pkg. (3.4 oz each) instant vanilla pudding mix

4 cups butter pecan ice cream, softened

8 oz. Cool Whip, thawed

1 Butterfinger candy bar, chopped

In a large bowl, combine the cracker crumbs and butter. Pat three-fourths of the mixture into an ungreased 13×9 dish. Cover and refrigerate. With electric mixer, beat milk and pudding mixes for 2 min or until thickened. Stir in ice cream until blended. Spread over crust. Spread Cool Whip over pudding layer. In a small bowl, combine chopped candy bar and remaining crumb mixture. Sprinkle over dessert. Cover and freeze for at least 2 hours.

Mama’s Mandarin Orange Cake

Note: This one has been tweaked a little from the original recipe. And this recipe is better, of course! We enjoy experimenting with recipes, so I think Mother has this one down. It is delectably divine!!! This cake is heavenly. Here is her recipe! I begged and pleaded for it!

Cake:

One and one half boxes Duncan Hines butter recipe golden yellow cake mixes

5 large eggs *

Three fourths cup Wesson oil

1 (15 oz) can mandarin oranges with juice (reserve 5 or 6 for decoration on top of cake)

Icing:

1 lg. can crushed Dole Pineapple, well drained

1 small box instant vanilla Jell-O pudding mix

16 oz. thawed Cool Whip

For cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients well with electric mixer. Pour equal amounts into 3 well-greased and floured cake pans. Bake for 18 min. Remove layers and let set for a few min. Take layers out of pans and let them chill before icing the cake. Chilling overnight in freezer wrapped in foil is preferred. For icing, by hand, mix pineapple with pudding mix. Fold in Cool Whip. Let icing set for 2 hours in refrigerator before icing cake. It will frost easier. After chilling, frost the top, sides and between layers of cake. Decorate with 5-6 mandarin orange segments. Refrigerate cake until ready to serve. Cut and enjoy. *About the eggs—using larger eggs (ex. XL or jumbo) makes cake layers flatter and more dense. We only use large eggs, not jumbo or x large eggs, because the cake layers tend to become flatter if you do this. This is a good rule for bakers. Only use LARGE eggs when baking layers for cakes.

Editor’s note:

Editor’s note: Brock Wetherly Rogers, an experienced Southern food writer, overseas traveler, educator, and passionate student of the culinary & pastry arts, resides in Louisville. E-mail him at brockrogers1@gmail.com or find him on Facebook.