Category: holidays & breaks

Easter Brunch Asparagus Casserole

Easter Asparagus Brunch Casserole

This light and velvety asparagus casserole will be a favorite with the cheese lovers in your crowd for Easter brunch, or anytime. Other vegetables can be substituted or added, and have fun trying other cheeses too. You can even add in diced ham or bacon. Use this recipe as a base and spiff up to make it your own.

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Anytime is Deviled Egg time!

While recipe developer and food stylist at Our State Magazine, I was asked to give a classic deviled egg a North Carolina twist. These recipes inspired by our culture are fun to make and good to eat.

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Spiced Plum Cream Pie

Spiced Plum Cream Pie

Sometimes, a simple pie is all that’s needed to round out Easter lunch or a spring supper… or just to enjoy all by itself. Like this Spiced Cream Plum Pie. Not a plum fan? You can sub other fruits like summer peaches with the same tasty outcome!

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Cherry Chocolate Date Nut Truffles

Cherry Chocolate Date Nut Truffles

Fifteen minutes, a few pantry items, and a North Carolina wine are all it takes to make these bite-size treats. They’re almost as easy to make as they are to eat.

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Winter White Velvet Cake

Winter White Velvet Cake

January has me thinking “winter whites.” So I tweaked my GrandMa Perry’s Red Velvet Cake a little into this White Velvet version… served on my mama’s cake stand. I like to make it a day ahead and chill for cake to “ripen” and let all the flavor bloom and cake to moisten from the icing.

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Merry & Bright Holiday Cheerwine Punch… with fruit-filled ice ring

Merry & Bright Christmas Cheerwine Punch

Having friends over for a holiday supper? No need to fret over multiple beverages … punch to the rescue! Let your imagination loose as exact measurements are not necessary with this Cheerwine punch!

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Pork Tenderloin Sheet Pan Supper with Sweet Potatoes & Caramelized Onions

Pork Tenderloin Sliders & Sweet Potato Sheet Pan Supper

You won’t go wrong serving your holiday company this Peggy Rose’s pepper jelly glazed-Heritage Farm bacon wrapped NC pork tenderloin…. nestled among seasoned NC Sweet Potatoes!

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Gingerbread Banana Pudding With Molasses Whipped Cream

Gingerbread Banana Pudding

This southern favorite with a seasonal twist feeds quite a few folks, can be made ahead, and guests can self-serve. Find a fun, hinged, wide-mouth jar to make it in and wow your company!

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Molasses Ginger Crinkles

Molasses Ginger Crinkle Cookies

I love this perfectly spiced cookies… just the right touch of molasses and crispy crunch!

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Cinnamon Candy Apple Nut Brittle

Cinnamon Candy Apple Nut Brittle

Published in Carolina Country Magazine October 2019

YaY!  It’s finally NC State Fair week.  Most everyone loves the fair, for so many different reasons.  I have fond memories of fairs with friends during high school… fun dates… and taking my now 15-year-old nephew Wyatt in his younger years and loving every minute of glee in his little eyes and giggles on the kiddie rides and playing the games where he’d win a toy for $20 that we could buy at the dollar store.
Or a fish in a bag!! LOL 

Another enjoyable thing for me is to find a bench to plop down on… and just watch people.
You see some of the damndest things at the fair.  I’ll leave my thoughts and comments right there!

I have no idea what year it was… 15-20 or so ago, when I was first invited to be a judge for the daily cooking contests. By far, this may be my most favorite fair thing of all!  As a recipe creator myself, I always love sitting in that little room and seeing what will show up on the days I judge… and enjoy the camaraderie of those of us in that little room all tasting… oooh-ing and ahhh-ing… and sometimes saying “nope, can’t do that!”  I do admire all who enter their recipes, but some need to be sure and have a back up plan if they have aspirations of a culinary career.  

So… back to this recipe!  This is my final of 3 recipes to blog here I created for Carolina Country’s October 2019 fair-inspired recipes.  I had this idea in my head, and it took me a couple of times to get it like I wanted it… so I do hope you will enjoy.  My best advice for making this, as with most all candies, is to not make it on a humid day.  When creating and testing this candy apple brittle, it just fell that way in my schedule a couple of times.

Results = Total Sticky Pull-Your-Teeth-Out FAIL!

So when you’re missing fair time, and a good ole candy apple, give this a try.  It might help satisfy your craving just a bit.  It makes a pretty red Christmas red for your holiday festivities.  

I hope you’ll give it a try and come over and add your comments or questions on my facebook community.

…and hope you can make it to the NC State Fair next week too!

Cinnamon Candy Apple Nut Brittle

For those who might miss our NC State Fair, I stirred up something reminiscent of those iconic candy apples. My nut brittle will tickle your taste buds with its crunchy texture and candy apple flavor filled with toasty NC pecan pieces, plus a hint of cinnamon! Made in less than 10 minutes in your microwave.

Course: Fun Food!, Sweet Treats
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup toasted pecan pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons flakey or coarse ground sea salt, optional
Instructions
  1. Combine sugar and syrup in an 8-cup glass measuring cup. Microwave on high for 5–6 minutes until it reaches a rolling boil.

  2. Carefully remove and stir in ¼ teaspoon salt, butter, extract, spices and pecans. Microwave 1–2 minutes longer until boiling. Remove and quickly stir in food coloring and soda.

  3. Pour onto greased slab or cookie sheet and spread with back of spoon. Sprinkle with salt.

  4. Let the brittle cool at least 1 hour. Break into pieces and store in airtight container.

Recipe Notes

Variation: Unsalted roasted peanuts or other nuts can be substituted for the pecans.

Tip: Best not to make this (or most candy) on humid days. You may end up with chewy rather than crunchy brittle.

 

I ‘Cherry’ish You Rice Krispies Treats

Published in Carolina Country Magazine ~ February 2018

I do love cherries! Any kind of cherries, but most especially, maraschino cherries.  There’s just something about those bright red sweet little nuggets that take me back to my childhood in an instant.

I suppose my cherry affection is genetic. My Daddy Hocutt and Ma Hocutt, my mama’s mama and daddy, planted cherry trees in their back yard in Zebulon when they built their house back in the early 1950’s. It was only the 6th house built in the city limits best I remember them telling me. When I was born in 1958, they planted me a tree!  My Daddy Hocutt died when I was only 8 years old… he had a massive heart attack and they went off the side of a remote mountain road near Charlottesville, VA coming back from vacation in Washington, DC. He died then and there, and Ma Hocutt was torn all to pieces and was “invalid” the rest of her life until she died at 91.

Ok… so back to the story.  Every year, when the cherry trees would blossom, Daddy Hocutt would cover them with this gauze kinda cloth to keep the birds from eating our cherries!  He would let me help him do that. And I can remember waiting impatiently for “my” cherries to ripen so we could pull that cloth back and eat cherries until I had a stomach ache.  After he died, the trees all just wearied themselves away, but I do have a few short years of those memories.

We had a place in town called the Dairy Bar. One side served the BEST cheeseburgers, hot dogs… and milkshakes!  The other little room had a jukebox and bar stools where the cool teenagers would go hang out and dance. Daddy Hocutt would sometimes take me in there for burgers and a shake. 
Cherry Milkshakes!

Ma Hocutt loved a cherry milkshake too!  And after a few years of recovery from their accident, she was able to drive again. She would ride over the the Watkins Dairy Bar, just a few blocks from her house, and toot the horn. They knew she wasn’t able to get out and walk in to order, so they’d just make a cherry milkshake… and take it out to her!  If I went with her, I’d go in and order them… “2 cherry milkshakes please!”

They were in those big old waxed cups… white, with red lines around them and best I remember, hearts around the tops. And big ass straws! 
God I loved those things!  And to this day, still my favorite of all milkshakes, but it’s near’bout impossible to find a good cherry milkshake anymore!  

Did you know that Dairy Queen… yep, the Dairy Queen, doesn’t have cherries?
How in the hell can you have a proper sundae, or banana split, without a cherry on top?  Silliest thing I’ve ever heard tell of!  Cherries are a staple of such. 

Sooooo…  when coming up with ideas for the February issue of Carolina Country, my mind immediately went to cherries!  I also associate cherries with Valentine’s Day.  And I created some really yummy chocolate cherry truffles for Our State magazine years back too. I will have to throw those here on my blog soon too.

But for now, for my maraschino cherry brothers and sisters… I encourage you to make these rice krispie treats!  They are cherrylicious… fun to eat AND share. Grab some icing in those tubes and sprinkles and let your aspiring little culinarians get creative in decorating.
Y’all have a Happy Valentine’s Day too… I love you all for being here!

Wendy

I ‘Cherry’ish You Rice Krispies Treats
This twist on the tried-and-true Rice Krispies Treats® recipe is just in time to share with those you love on Valentine’s Day. It’s an easy recipe for the next generation of aspiring little chefs, too!
Course: Dessert, Fun Food!, Sweet Treats
Cuisine: American
Keyword: rice krispie treats
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 16 ounce bag mini marshmallows
  • 5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 16 ounce jar maraschino cherries, drained & chopped (save juice)
  • 8 cup Rice Krispies® cereal
  • 1 cup toasted almonds, crumbled
  • decorating icing and sprinkles
  • heart shaped cookie cutters
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a heavy pot over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, cherries and cereal.
  2. Using a buttered spatula, fold together until well combined. Pour out onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and spread to about 1-inch thickness. Cool.
  3. Cut, decorate and dust with toasted almonds.
Recipe Notes

VARIATIONS:
Very Cherry Vanilla Treats
Make basic recipe, stirring in 2 tablespoons of red cherry gelatin powder.

 

Black Forest Treats
Make basic recipe, substituting chocolate Rice Krispies cereal. Stir 1 cup of milk chocolate chips in with cereal.

 

Cherry Juice Goodness
Wait! Don’t pour out that delicious drained cherry juice leftover from this recipe. Use in frostings, whipped cream or cake batter. A splash makes your hot chocolate into “Chocolate Covered Cherry” hot chocolate and will turn your cola drinks into fun cherry ones. Use to make lemon or limeade cherry ice cubes, too. 

collards + cabbage + frost = “cabbards” time…. with Crispy Cornbread Cookies, Molasses Bacon Butter & Pot Likker

The time has just about come for the annual “cooking of the cabbards” to fill the freezer!  Like a squirrel stowing away acorns for the winter, I too, “get my cook’n on” once our local collards have had a good kissing o’ the frost.  Some think that’s just an old tale, but not this gal, lovingly called THE “Collard Queen” by those lucky enough to have had some bestowed uponst them by said ‘queen’ or have rubbed their full bellies after a sit’n at her table… served up with a side of Crispy Cornbread Cookies, some Molasses Butter, a warm cup of Pot Likker or cold buttermilk.  And don’t forget the farmers’ market treasures… including a menagerie of homemade chow chows destined to crown a heap’n helping of fall’s green ‘gold!’

So I’m in my kitchen a few days ago cooking cornbread cookies for this here post… setting up my photo shot, and about to savor the very last tidbit of my 2010 stash of cabbards I lucked up and found tucked into a back corner of the freezer when…”ding dong”… my doorbell rings.  My kitchen sidekick and 7YO nephew hollers…“Dee Dee, who is THAT?” (seeing as how it is mid-afternoon and we’re still in our loungy clothes  watching movies, blogging and eat’n).  I looked at him and said… “I have NO idea!” But I surely am hoping it’s somebody that won’t mind my receiving them in my ‘old lady house dress,’ (probably something akin to what my grandmas were wearing when they cooked collards) and Wyatt, running around in his ‘underdraws.’  I swing the door open, and there stands my cousin Mark… who I see fairly rarely, but usually when he drops by (less often than the proverbial blue moon), he has some sort of vegetable(s) gleaned from a nearby garden.  He leads me out to the back of his pick up truck (the preferred method of transportation for most of us country folk)… and what do I see…. THESE!  *C.O.L.L.A.R.D.S*

I’m not believing this… as mere seconds ago I’m in my kitchen, cooking up, photographing and in the middle of writing this very blog post about collards… when a big ole’ mess of them land on my front porch…  the weirdness of this timing is CRAYzee! And as delighted as I am about all this, I’m trying to factor in my head…  when in the world can I squeeze cabbard cook’n into this particular week’s schedule... with a TV show taping (see show video at My Carolina Today!) and a ginormous exciting photo shoot for Our State Magazine (where I’m so blessed to be food stylist and recipe developer…so subscribe if you don’t already, and buy holiday gift certificates too).  But never one to let a little thing like ‘limited hours in the day’ get in my way… a cabbard cook’n will commence!  I decided to just throw ’em in my big chest freezer till that can happen…something I have had to do before, and equates to that sweet kiss of frost… a BIG deep freeze kiss!

So without further ado, here is my much requested method for cooking collards (or in my case, “cabbards”).  These are sooo good, and worth every minute of effort it takes to get from the back end of a truck to your supper (and sometimes breakfast) plate.

Wendy’s Locally Famous Cabbards (Cabbage + Collards)

Wendy’s Cabbards

As THE “throw cooker” that I am (come see my Throw Cooking web page and recipes), I’m going to tell YOU how to throw these together… exactness is not important here!  These are the necessary ingredients and process.  I have, on occasion, cooked these in MASS to fill my freezer for the winter, but you can do any amounts that work for you.  A couple of years ago, I cooked 40 lbs. bacon and forget how many birds to have broth and bacon grease for 100 lbs. cabbage and 50 lbs. collards!  It took me quite some time to figure all this out, but because the collards ‘evaporate’ and disappear in the pot, I decided to see what happened if I added in some cabbage… and it makes the collards even better… sweeter… AND, the cabbage doesn’t disappear as much as the collards… so you end up with a whole lot more “cabbards” to store away and nobody but you knows this little secret, till NOW!

  • Chicken(s) or Hen(s)
  • Bacon (lots!)… more that you think… you need a goodly amount of rendered bacon grease
  • Collards… about 1/2 as much collards as cabbage (washed real good)
  • Cabbage… about twice as much cabbage as collards (washed real good)

EQUIPMENT:

  • BIG pot
  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Tongs
  • Time

Put some water in a big old pot and throw your chicken(s) or hen(s) in there.  Bring to rolling boil, then reduce heat and keep cook’n till you have some tender bird and a big ole’ pot of chicken stock.  Take that bird out and make yourself a mess ‘o chicken salad or freeze for cooking in other stuff, like Chicken Pot Pies or Brunswick Stew.

Get that big old cast iron skillet out and fry up a LOT of bacon.  Sometimes on cabbard cooking day I’m outside doing all that AND cooking up a ginormous amount of my “Almost Famous Brunswick Stew”-will post that soon if you ask!… so I invite folks to drop by and eat bacon sandwiches.  Put this bacon grease into a big can (coffee can works great).

Rough slice the cabbage.  Throw some in the pot of broth, alternating with handfuls of torn collard leaves.  As it wilts, keep adding more to the pot.  Let this cabbard mix boil and boil… the more ‘tenderer’ the better.

On a burner beside this pot, put your big iron skillet on med-hi and add (generously) some bacon grease.  With tongs, grab some of the cabbards and plop into the hot skillet, including some of the wondermous Pot Likker they produced.  Start chopping with long-handled veggie chopper… as they cook down and shrink as you chop, continue grabbing more cabbards with your tongs and continue this process, stirring around to incorporate the bacon grease.  Once these are really tender and chopped real good, dump into big bowl to cool before putting into containers and continue doing this until you’ve cooked all your cabbards.

Cool’n Cabbards

When packing into containers, I try to leave good head space and top off with some of the broth so when heating, that is there to give a little moisture while warming.

Serve with Cornbread Cookies with Molasses Butter and mug of Pot Likker or Cold Buttermilk.

Cornbread Cookies with Molasses Bacon Butter

Wendy’s Crispy Cornbread Cookies

It’s really easy to throw together these crispy crunchy Cornbread Cookies and they are the perfect sidekick for your Cabbards.

  • your favorite hushpuppy mix
  • finely diced onions (any kind…sweet, green, scallion, chive, etc.)
  • sugar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • lard

Mix hushpuppy mix according to package directions.  Add in onions and sugar to taste (you want these to be lightly sweetened and the sugar helps make them crispy too).  Grind in some pepper.  If your mix is really thick, add a little more water or milk/buttermilk, whatever you are using until thinner and pourable/spoonable.  I like to let my mixture sit about 10 minutes before cooking to adjust this consistency as it will thicken as it sits (but also, the flavors will marry a bit).

Heat thin amount of lard in cast iron skillet on med-high heat.  With a tablespoon, spoon into hot skillet and spread thin with back of spoon.  Fry until golden brown and flip; repeat on the other side.  Drain well on brown paper bag or paper towels.

Serve with Molasses Butter alongside Cabbards with mug of Pot Likker or Buttermillk.

MOLASSES BUTTER

  • Softened Butter
  • Molasses
  • Bacon Grease, optional
  • Cinnamon or Apple Pie Spice, optional

Drizzle some molasses over butter and swirl to blend.

VARIATIONS: To make Molasses Bacon Butter, stir in a bit of bacon grease.  A bit of cinnamon or apple pie spice is also tasty in Molasses Butter, depending on what you will be serving it with (especially great with pancakes, waffles or French Toast too)!

Enjoy y’all… and please throw me your comments below AND ‘share’ with all your friends!