Pig Pick’n Banana Pudding… and an ode to my fave birthday cake (& missing Ms. Ethel!)

Pig Pick'n Banana Pudding

Published in Carolina Country Magazine November 2018

Lort.  So today is my birthday.
My favorite cake… Pig Pick’n Cake!  
So I came here to share my Pig Pick’n Banana Pudding recipe on my facebook page to celebrate.  I do love some good banana pudding too (will post that one of these days)… yet when I got here, I realized, as I often do… I never put the recipe here once it published in Carolina Country Magazine!  

One of these days, I’ll share my pig pick’n’ cake too… a cake that by most accounts has its roots here in North Carolina.  Served as a dessert at pig pick’ns over the years… I have surmised that the creamy sweet citrusy cake was created to balance out all the delectable grease consumed from picking the pig!
In any case, it’s damn good.
And will forever be my personal favorite!  My first pig pick’n cake was made by my Ma Hocutt decades ago… this southern cake favorite has been around a long longgggg time… like me!!  lol

My “other mother” Ms. Ethel made sure the last few years of her life I didn’t have to make my own birthday cake.  She always made me a pig pick’n cake… like this one!  

eating my pig picking birthday cake















She called me over to her house…  the eve before my birthday! As usual, I was puttering around, in one of my favorite house dresses… not planning to need to go anywhere!  She sounded rather urgent, so I jumped in the car and got right over there.  Bless her heart, she’d just finished making my birthday cake… thought hadn’t even crossed my mind since my birthdays tend to be uneventful.  So there I was, unbrushed hair… house dressed… enjoying MY birthday cake my buddy fixed for me.  I surely do miss her… and nobody, self included, has made me a birthday cake she’s she’s been gone.

Birthday with Ms. Ethel and Wendy











So without much fanfare… here’s a really yummy recipe… to celebrate my birthday.  A tasty combination of 2 of my faves, all in one!  Birthday or not, make some for yourself.  Just because, or when you need an easy-to-throw-together crowd pleaser when you’ve got a bunch of folks to feed at your next gathering.  Guaranteed to please!  

If you need a little help hosting your own pig pick’n… find my tips here at Carolina Country Magazine.  


Pig Pick’n Banana Pudding

No pig pick’n is complete without banana pudding and pig pick’n cake. (And pig pick'n cake is my FAVE cake too!) I decided to make the ultimate dessert and combine the two. Assemble early in the day so the wafers have time to soak up the creamy pudding goodness!

Course: Cakes, Dessert, Sweet Treats
Cuisine: Southern, Southern Desserts
Keyword: banana pudding, cake, pig pickin,
Author: Wendy Perry
  • 1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
  • 2 full cans milk
  • 1 5 ounce box instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 8 ounce cream cheese, softened and divided in half
  • 1 orange, zested and juices
  • 2 11 ounce boxes vanilla wafers
  • 5-6 medium bananas
  • 1 20 ounce can pineapple tidbits drained
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 3 11 ounce cans mandarin orange segments, drained
  1. Put milk into deep bowl and mix in pudding. Let stand 5 minutes. Using mixer, blend in half of the cream cheese and orange juice.

  2. Put one bag of wafers in bottom of 13" x 9" deep dish bowl. Slice half the bananas over wafers. Scatter with half of the pineapple tidbits. Repeat layers. 

  3. Pour pudding mixture over and gently shake so it will ooze into layers. 

  4. For topping, whip cream, remaining cream cheese and sugar until stiff peaks form. Add milk, extract, pineapple, 2 cans of orange segments and whip just enough to blend all together.

  5. Cover layered pudding with topping and garnish with remaining orange segments and orange zest.

  6. Chill several hours before serving.

Don’t throw away those watermelon rinds!

Wait! Don’t throw that watermelon rind away…






















I’m a product of my grandma. And her attic.  My Ma Hocutt was a depression era baby, so of course she found it hard to throw anything away! She kept every Parkay margarine container, Cool Whip tub and Duke’s mayonnaise jar.  Before she died, we did some attic cleaning. She was downstairs in her chair and had no idea we were flinging decades of jars, mostly gallon vinegar jars from pickling, out the attic window.  When my brother in law got to the dump with the THIRD truck bed full, the man at the dump asked where all those JARS were coming from!  She’d have probably died that day had she known what we were up to.

I’m not THAT bad, but be it containers, or food, I find it difficult to throw stuff away and always stop to think… “what can THIS be?”  I have a friend whose brother-in-law gets a lot of soup from me. He swears I make the best soups.  However, he knows no two will be the same. It just depends on what I have in my freezer soup pot that’s accumulated or what I’ve cooked that week I’m tired of eating… be it beef roast… BBQ chicken or assorted veggies, including slaw. YES, I do throw that in soup if I have some. It’s just cabbage y’all. And cabbage makes any soup better. That little bit of mayo in it will be lost in a big pot of soup… and hey… everything, even slaw dressing, is just “another layer of flavor.”  When I tell folks I throw slaw into my soup… they are flabbergasted! 

So as I’ve been enjoying watermelons this summer, mostly Bogue Sound Watermelons (they are one of my social media clients), I have been saving some rind.  I wanted to make some more of my Sweet n’Hot Watermelon Rind Pepper Relish. That’s some good stuff.. and so easy to make! 

I brought home a load of melons last week from the area for friends with one condition… they save the rind for me!  So I ended up with a bunch, and actually am freezing some to see how that works to play with this winter, and for when jars can be found. With covid having folks stuck at home that have never canned in their life now canning… along with all the usual summer canners, jars have become a hot commodity and folks are bartering (self included) with friends who have some stashed away!

Because the rind is so crispy and actually tasty, I pondered how I could use some without any processing… what this “throw cooker” could do simply. With things I have on hand.  This “recipe” is surprisingly delicious!  If you’ve never nibbled on it, the rind is sorta like cucumbers… and when sliced thin, could stand in for cukes!  And y’all know I love using NC products… and love all the sunflower oils from my friend Lee at Carolina Gold Oils

So… I grabbed a bottle of one I have lined up beside my stove.  I think any would do, but decided the Mediterranean would probably be best.  So here’s all you have to do…

Put some thinly sliced watermelon rind in a bowl.  Leave a little red “meat” on there for pretty color.  Drizzle with the oil… and dust with some flaky salt! (I use Maldon.)  Ta.Da. 

Watermelon rind has lots of great nutritional value too!  Take a look here... and here!
Low in calories… not many carbs… and you can even use like root veggies and throw in stews and soups.  

That’s it.  Keep nice and cold in the fridge for nibbling… serve with cold beer, wine, champagne, cocktails… or sweet tea!  If you are having tacos, chop it up and spoon over them or do the same on hot dogs… scatter over a salad… just think outside the box and how you can use this tasty treat… just don’t throw that rind away!
Be like my grandma with this… and other things… imagine new ways to reuse stuff… in or outside your kitchen. (But best not to store in your attic!  LOL)

So once you’ve made some of this… or want to share some of your favorite ways to reuse stuff.. come over to my facebook page and do tell!  

Hot and Sour Soup With Rotisserie Chicken & crispy wonton noodles

Hot and Sour Soup with Rotisserie Chicken

Hot and Sour Soup with Rotisserie Chicken


Published in Carolina Country Magazine September 2020

I do love hot and sour soup… GOOD hot and sour soup. There are some out there… and some too, that look good, but are tasteless!  Void of tasting like anything it should taste like.  

Making authentic hot and sour soup can be cumbersome which keeps folks from making it.  Finding some of the dried mushrooms called for can be an adventure… not to mention expensive.  I’ve wanted to create my own recipe for a long time, and finally decided to just get in the kitchen and do it.

I do love the convenience of using rotisserie chicken in recipes.  Like in my chicken pot pie and chicken pot pie soup!
And in the summertime, when tomatoes are plentiful and at the peak of perfection, I use rotisserie chicken in my Italian Rotisserie Chicken Salad Stuffed Tomatoes!

I looked at a lot of recipes but no one was what I like or wanted to make. So I just pulled ingredients out from my pantry I thought needed to be used… and started throwing together.  My first batch ended up just right! 

If, like me, you love some good hot and sour soup… I hope you will give this recipe a try.  Adjust to suit your taste if need be.  Just throw some together. And be sure not to skip making the crunchy crispy noodles on top. Nothing but thinly sliced wonton wrappers, thrown into some hot oil for about 30 seconds.  A whole pack will make a bunch… and they will keep for a couple of weeks in an airtight container… although so crunchy good for nibbling they won’t last THAT long!  

Be sure to come over to my FB page and tell about making some… or just to hang out and have fun too!

Hot and Sour Soup with Rotisserie Chicken and Crispy Wonton Noodles

Some recipes for hot and soup soup can take hours and require hard-to-find ingredients. This simple version takes only 30 minutes from prep to table when using time-saving rotisserie chicken.

Course: Soup
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: Asian, hot and sour soup, quick, rotisserie chicken, soup
Author: Wendy Perry
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skinned, deboned and chopped
  • 8 cups chicken broth (See "Easy Chicken Broth" below.)
  • 1 8 ounce carton shiitake (or portabella) mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1 8 ounce can bamboo shoots, drained and sliced thin
  • 1 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 5 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper paste (located in produce section in tube)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste (located in produce section in tube)
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons soup broth
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 eggs beaten in bowl
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 package wonton wrappers, sliced into thin strips and fried about 2 minutes
  1. Heat the chicken in the broth until warm over medium heat. Add mushrooms, bamboo shoots, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, pastes, pepper and brown sugar. Simmer about 5 minutes for flavors to infuse.

  2. Ladle tablespoons of soup broth into small bowl. Cool, then whisk in cornstarch. Stir slurry into soup. Continue cooking the soup 7–8 minutes until thickened.

  3. Slowly whirl eggs into soup. Remove from heat and serve.

  4. Garnish with chopped green onions and crispy fried wonton wrapper strips.

Recipe Notes

Easy chicken broth

Use rotisserie chicken bones and skin to make flavorful broth. Just throw into stock pot (or crockpot on low overnight) and add about 3 quarts water. Bring to boil, then simmer for an hour or two. If on hand, add vegetable scraps like onion skins, celery tops and herbs. Drain and use stock for this soup or freeze for others.

…the banana sandwich

…the banana sandwich




I do declare, I think some of us who were raised here in the south were fed banana sandwiches right along with, or instead of, pablum!  For as long as my old mind can remember, I ate them. Loved them. Had one for supper last night.  Only to see that today is National Banana Lovers Day!  

Seemed to be a mighty fine day to write about it.  The meal when nothing else suits ya.
The simple banana sandwich.

The freshest softest white bread.
Slathered on both sides with Duke’s Mayonnaise only.
Slapped together, and for this gal… washed down with a glass of real cold milk!

To many of us, if it ain’t Duke’s, it ain’t mayonnaise. And it ain’t fit to eat.  It’s just that simple.

I was raised on the stuff.  Heck, my nephew Wyatt and I even “starred” in several Duke’s mayonnaise commercials a few years back. We are still somewhat “famous” around here for those.  You can click over here and see them! And one of these days, I’ll get around to writing a whole post here about that wondermous culinary adventure…

Duke's Mayonnaise TV Commercial










Wyatt Reid making Duke's Mayonnaise Commercial

Wyatt getting all done for his Duke’s TV commercials…





Hair Spray! Wyatt Reid and his Duke's Mayo TV commercial debut

All tv stahs have to endure hair spray! Having fun filming Duke’s Mayonnaise TV Commercials!



































I was also honored to have been invited to Duke’s 100th Anniversary in 2017 down in Greenville, SC where my hero, Eugenia Duke, created the best condiment ever!

Duke's Mayonnaise 200th Birthday Gala

Having fun at the Kitchen Sink Tomato Sandwich Photo Booth!



















So back to the banana sandwich.

Before going further, I need to point out that there are 2, sometimes 3, ways to put the banana onto the Duke’s that’s on the bread.

Some slice theirs the “long” way… while some (self included) want ours in nice little rounds.  And I’ve even seen folks who mash theirs up and spread on the bread!  With a little sugar in it!  Nope. Not for this gal on a banana sandwich! 

The farthest I’ve gone outside the basic is to occasionally tuck some salty potato chips in there. And every now and then… some peanut butter too!  

This sandwich, with roots in the depression era when food was scarce, has survived over the years. Thrived!  That says something about what a treat we southerners consider it to be.  One of my most favorite comfort food meals is this… a round sliced banana sandwich… preferably on white bread… with both sides painted with Duke’s… with a side of crispy crunchy fried chicken!  

Laugh. Turn your nose up. Do what you will. But until you’ve come to the table with us and enjoyed this generational favorite… you just don’t know what you’re missing!

Fix yourself a banana sandwich and come on over to my facebook hangout and tell us how you slice yours… what you like to eat ’em with… or if you’re a banana sandwich virgin…
are you on #TeamBananaSandwich yet?

And P.S…. don’t forget to subscribe to my blog before you go make that sandwich!! 

banana sandwich fried chicken

…a most rare occasion! No white bread for my banana sandwich… had to settle for THAT! lol But my fave pairing of fried chicken made it all better.

Wendy’s Pork and Shrimp Egg Rolls

Wendy's Pork & Shrimp Egg Rolls

Published in Carolina Country September 2020

Long ago, in my mid teens, my sweet Aunt Andrea was one of the first folks who recognized my desire to COOK… although she and my uncle lived way up in Michigan!  I remember eating my first Chinese food on visits up to see them when I was a little girl… flying there on Piedmont Airlines and earning my little stewardess wings on every trip… unheard of now, “back in the day” children like me were allowed… actually encouraged, to wait on other passengers… hand out food trays, and help pick them up.  Unimaginable these days!  Somewhere tucked away in a box are some of those “wings” I earned… way back then.

Those first experiences with Chinese food left much to be desired for me. I suppose, even as that little girl of 5ish, I had started developing a “refined palate” because they would order for us and I thought that was the most boring BLAND food I’d ever eat.  They must have thought they needed to ease us into that exotic cuisine, and turns out (after chatting about it over the years) they were ordering me, mama and my grandma Moo Goo Gai Pan and wonton soup.  Can you get any more plain Jane that that?  That “soup” was nothing more than a bowl of wannabe broth… with a thing floating it in.  That thing, I later learned, was a wonton.  As my daddy would say about the soup years later at the Kanki, they waved a picture of a chicken over that bowl and called it
soup!”  LOL
He wasn’t on the Michigan trips, or he’d have said the same about that too.

Fast forward a decade. When I was about 15, Aunt Andrea sent me a box book set about Chinese cooking.  The big book is all about the various regions of China and the foods of each. Tucked inside the box, a little spiral bound cookbook where I found a recipe for homemade egg rolls.  Thinking back, I cannot even remember where mama found egg roll wrappers for me to make them since we didn’t really even know what Asian/Chinese food was back then and I certainly don’t think they had those at the Piggly Wiggly!  But I do remember making them… 

For the longest time, my friends would just be amazed that I MADE egg rolls!  Some begged me to make them some… some still do.  While some figured out they really are easy to make and took to make’n for themselves.  I encourage you to do that too.  You can make my recipe as is… or tweak it to your like’n.  Use other ground meat. Omit the shrimp or add more!  That’s the beauty of egg rolls.  You can roll, wrap and deep fry just about anything.

I make collard and chow chow rolls… BBQ & Slaw rolls… apple pie rolls and blueberry too… served with a dollop of ice cream on the side. Keep wrappers on hand and roll up whatever you have leftover in your fridge… everything is better deep fried and dipped in peach and pepper jelly jam, eh?

Once you make some, snap a pic and share it over in my facebook community!  Or come over and ask me any questions you might have.


Wendy's Pork & Shrimp Egg Rolls

Don’t be intimidated — egg rolls are so easy to make. If you want low carb, skip the wrappers and enjoy in a bowl. Serve with duck sauce or peach jam mixed with hot pepper jelly.

Course: Appetizer, Fun Food!, Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Keyword: Asian, egg rolls, pork, shrimp, wraps
Author: Wendy Perry
Cornstarch Slurry
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2-3 tablespoons water
Egg Roll Filling
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 pounds ground pork, cooked and crumbled
  • 6 cups shredded cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 2 bunches green onions, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1-2 pounds small shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons everything bagel mix
Wrap & Roll
  • 1 package egg roll wrappers
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • cooking oil for frying (peanut preferred)
  1. Whisk the cornstarch mix together. Set aside.

  2. Heat oil to medium high in wok or large heavy pot.

  3. Add cooked pork and stir with garlic for a minute. Add cabbage, carrots, onion and celery. Cook about 3 minutes, stirring until crisp-tender. Throw in the shrimp, sesame oil and everything bagel mix. Give the cornstarch mix a stir and pour it in, stirring to glaze mixture.

  4. Set aside to cool.

  5. To wrap, place wrappers with one corner pointing towards you. Put 2 tablespoons of filling across wrapper. Fold bottom corner over filling; fold 2 sides in; then roll to close. Brush edges with egg wash to seal. Fry in medium hot oil until crisp brown, about 3 minutes.


Mandarin Orange Upside-Down Cake











Published in Carolina Country Magazine September 2020

If you’re looking for a really moist cake that is gluten free too, look no further.  The perfect dessert for an Asian meal (see my Hot and Sour Rotisserie Chicken Soup and Pork and Shrimp Egg Rolls), this upside downer is a nice side to a cup of hot tea or coffee.  A bit unusual (yep you cook the whole thing!), I’m pretty sure this might become a favorite.  I hope you will give it a try and let me know what you think.  Come on over and join us at my facebook community and share with everyone…

Mandarin Orange Upside-Down Cake

This gluten-free Mandarin Orange Upside Down Cake is the perfect citrus dessert for a savory Asian meal, but it’s also the ideal pairing with a cup of tea or coffee.

Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Cakes, Dessert, Sweet Treats
Cuisine: Asian, Southern Desserts
Keyword: gluten free, mandarin,, orange,, upside down cake,
Author: Wendy Perry
  • 6 mandarin oranges, washed
  • 2 cups almond meal (I prefer texture of Trader Joe's "meal," not flour)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon butter flavoring
  • pinch salt
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 15 ounce can mandarin oranges (or equal amount fresh), drained and patted dry
  • 1 1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds or combination
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  1. Wash whole mandarin oranges and cover with water in a sauce pot. Simmer for 1 hour until tender. Once oranges have cooled, cut in half and remove any seeds. Purée in food processor, rind and all. This can be done ahead of time.

  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line bottom of 9" springform pan with parchment. Grease sides.

  3. Combine puréed orange, almond meal, sugar, vanilla, butter flavoring and salt. Stir in slightly beaten eggs.

  4. Pour butter over parchment paper. Scatter with mandarin orange slices and almonds. Pour batter over and spread to sides. Bake about 45–50 minutes.

  5. Remove cake from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Flip onto cake plate.

  6. Scatter with brown sugar and cover loosely with foil so sugar will melt.


Pairing a couple of my NC favorite foods… Mimi’s Mountain Mixes & Carolina Gold Oils

Orange-y Everything Beer Bread with Mediterranean Dipping Oil

Orange-y Everything Beer Bread with Mediterranean Dipping Oil

Now those that follow me here know my fondness for talking about and cooking with my favorite North Carolina made and produced food and beverage goodies.  Today, I offer you a twofer. With my tweaks… Mimi’s ORANGE-Y Everything Old Tavern Beer Bread… dipped in Carolina Gold Sunflower Mediterranean Oil… a perfect pairing for nibbling or adding to a charcuterie tray…

Keep reading!

Mimi's Mountain Mixes

I met “Mimi” (aka Lin) years ago when she was doing her first #GotToBeNC Festival. We were “neighbors” that weekend, and I knew from tasting her simply made breads and pretzels AND by the crowd lined up to sample she would soon make a name for Mimi’s Mountain Mixes. They had brought a LOT of samples for day one but ran out early in the day (of 3 days!). With the addition of a little oven in their space, they just couldn’t make more fast enough over there!! 

Well y’all, she did just that… made a name for herself, and soon I started seeing her boxes of mix here and there. I’m so glad fate put us beside each other that weekend.  I use her mixes often as y’all also know here I’m THE non-baker, so when I can have scrumptious bread with just the addition of a beer or club soda, I’m there.  You can’t believe how damn good and EASY this stuff is!  You’ve GOT to get some if you haven’t yet.  I usually pick mine up locally at Lowes Foods on the NC product shelf, but you can take a look at her web page and see where else to find Lin’s mixes. In addition to this Old Tavern Beer Bread Mix, she also has soft pretzel mix,  Italian Herb Beer Bread Mix, Cinnamon Spice Beer Coffee Cake Mix, Bodacious Beer Biscuit Mix, Delectable Beer Donut Mix, Red Pepper Chili Beer Bread Mix, Spice Beer Pancake Mix, and Ooey Gooey Beer Fudge Brownie Mix!  Some are even gluten free!!  (Not all products are available at every location.)  I promise you will LOVE this stuff…

NOW… as for the wondermous Carolina Gold Oil

I’ve been buying this for a while and called eastern North Carolina sunflower farmer Lee Britt a couple of months back to chat and tell him how much I love his oils.  I have made a few other things with them I’ll be sharing soon too… 

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting 5th Generation farmer Lee and his daddy of R. Britt Farms at their little processing facility in Harrellsville, NC!



















Read more about Lee, his family and Carolina Gold Oils here in NC Farm Bureau’s North Carolina Field & Family Magazine
and Farm Flavor.

Lee grows acres and acres of sunflowers in Hertford County that are cold-pressed into the beautiful gold oil… great for sauteing and cooking. 

Read about cooking, health benefits and more with sunflower oil HERE!

Sunflower fields

Along with the non-GMO gluten free Carolina Gold, he offers 4 Carolina Gold dipping oils… Cajun (I made the BEST fresh corn salad with that one last week), Garlic, Italian, and Mediterranean that I enjoyed with Mimi’s Orange Everything bread.  What a perfect match!  

So how did I tweak Mimi’s bread mix?  I’m not a big beer drinker but recently found an orange infused beer that I love… being the orange-y loving gal that I am.  Those that are out and about with me know I want orange in my tea… NOOOO lemon please!  The only beer I had on hand the day I took a notion to make this twofer was an orange beer… and I always keep an orange or two on hand, so I added some orange zest, but that’s not necessary… just another little layer of added flavor! I just made according to Mimi’s instructions… and add some of my own Everything Bagel Mix  (optional) in bottom of a bundt pan before pouring in the batter. (You would usually use a loaf pan, but I had to do something different!)  That’s all.

Y’all!  The orange in this was just right!  In the bread AND with the herbs and seasonings in the Mediterranean Dipping Oil! For those that don’t have orange beer on hand, just use any beer, regular or orange scented club soda/seltzer. I think you will get the same goodness… although I do think beer gives Lin’s mixes a deeper richer taste.  When done, just flip out onto a cooling rack… slice or pinch off pieces and dip into any of Lee’s oils!
Oh.My.GOODness.  What a perfect pairing of these two North Carolina goodies!

So look out for both Mimi’s Mountain Mixes and Lee’s Carolina Gold Oil when out and about. If you’d like some but can’t find, check their web pages or drop me a note and I’ll see what I can do to help out.  I do hope you will enjoy both… and come back here or to my fun facebook community and tell all about it!


No-Churn Cantaloupe & Coconut Ice Cream With vanilla bean

No Churn Cantaloupe & Coconut Ice Cream with vanilla bean

No Churn Cantaloupe & Coconut Ice Cream with vanilla bean

Published in Carolina Country Magazine July 2020

No cooking ice cream for this gal!  I’m a simple throw cooker, and created this yummy summer treat for my throw cook’n brothers and sisters.  Just a little planning ahead is the most “work” needed for this sweet and creamy frozen treat.  It’s too hot to even write a long blog post or ask you to read one, so today, short… and sweet!

Just make some. And come add your 2 cents worth on my facebook post… 

No Churn Cantaloupe & Coconut Ice Cream with vanilla bean

Nothing says summer like the combination of sweet, ripe cantaloupe and creamy coconut. Close your eyes and you might even think you’ve landed on a tropical island. No need to pull out the ice cream freezer for this one. Fun to make as popsicles too!

Course: Dessert, Fun Food!, Sweet Treats
Cuisine: American, Garden Goodies, No Cook, Southern Desserts
Keyword: cantaloupe, coconut, dessert, ice cream, no churn, vanilla bean
Author: Wendy Perry
  • 1 can (13.5 ounce) full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 can (11.6 ounce) sweetened, condensed coconut milk*
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
  • 2 cups roughly chopped ripe cantaloupe pulp with juice
  • Toasted coconut, optional
  1. Put the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

  2. Remove coconut fat solids from the chilled can of milk and place in deep mixing bowl for about 20 minutes. (Save the liquid for use in smoothies, muffins, oatmeal or cocktail mixes.) Whip with mixer until fluffy.

  3. Blend in coconut milk, condensed milk and vanilla bean. Fold in cantaloupe. Pour into loaf pan or bowl and freeze. Garnish with toasted coconut at serving time.

Recipe Notes

*You can sub regular condensed milk if you don't find condensed coconut milk (I buy that at Walmart.)

Deviled Crab Hushpuppy Waffle & Pickled Seafood Medley ~ The New Southern Seafood Platter in Our State Magazine

... a southern seafood platter twist!

Deviled Crab Hushpuppy Waffle and Pickled Seafood Medley

Published in Our State Magazine May 2015

A few years back, when I was at Our State Magazine, the idea was tossed about to create a newfangled version of the seafood platter. Now we all know that our traditional seafood platter will always take top billing, but it was fun to imagine something outside the box.  Hence… these 2 ideas.

First up, my Crab Hushpuppy Waffle!  This is really quite delicious. It’s basically deviled crab, fried crispy in a waffle form.  I have made these waffles several times since creation, and always enjoy them; y’all know I love any things crispy. They are nice with a creamy sauce for you Ranch Dressing folks… or with something a little sweet and spicy too, like a hot pepper jelly.  These are fun to make ahead for a crowd… and pair nicely with cold beer.  You can make/freeze and heat up in your oven or quickly in toaster oven for your gatherings. Serve with one of the above ideas, or with cocktail or tarter sauce.

Next up… Pickled Seafood Medley ~ a sort of ceviche! This one is for those who enjoy raw/pickled fish and seafoods.  I like on occasion, but not my personal first choice.

I hope you will enjoy these… do come and join in the conversation on my fun facebook community!

Deviled Crab Hushpuppy Waffle

Fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside, this is the best crab hush puppy you’ve never had — no frying necessary.

Course: Appetizer, Breads & Cornbreads, Brunch, Fun Food!, Main Course, Side Dish, Supper
Cuisine: American, Seafood, Southern
Keyword: crispy, deviled crab, fish tacos, watermelon, pico de gallo, seafood, hushpuppy, waffle, waffle iron
Author: Wendy Perry
  • 2 cups hushpuppy mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil (I like Carolina Gold Oils)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely diced sweet onion
  • 1 cup club soda or seltzer
  • 1/2 cup cooked lump crabmeat
  1. In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients. In another bowl, stir together remaining ingredients except crab.

  2. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir to blend. Gently fold in crab. Let mixture sit for 10 minutes while the waffle iron heats.

  3. Preheat waffle iron on highest setting. Once heated, grease the iron with cooking spray to prevent sticking. 

  4. Spoon mixture onto hot iron, spreading into a thin layer with the back of a spoon. Close iron and check at 5 minutes. Cooking times will vary depending on waffle irons. 

  5. For softer, cake-like waffles, remove and keep warm in oven when lightly browned (about 5 minutes). For crispier waffles, spread batter thinner and cook longer, until a dark chestnut brown (about 10 minutes).

Recipe Notes

When making for a crowd, preheat oven and baking pan to 250º. As waffles are done, place on baking pan in warm oven. Waffles can be made ahead of time, frozen, and heated in the oven or toaster oven.


Pickled Seafood Medley

North Carolina flavors — peaches, pickles, and local seafood — get the South American treatment in this Southern twist on ceviche.

Course: Brunch, Main Course, Supper
Cuisine: American, No Cook, North Carolina Goodies, Summer Food
Keyword: ceviche, fish, mahi, north carolina seafood, scallops,, seafood, seafood cocktail, shrimp, snapper, tuna, watermelon rind pickles
Author: Wendy Perry
  • 2 pounds resh fish and shellfish, such as medium cleaned shrimp, bay scallops, squid, and firm fish (such as tuna, snapper, mahimahi, or sea bass), rinsed and cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup pickle juice
  • 2 tablespoons local honey
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon  pickling spice, tied in cheesecloth
  • 1/2 cup diced watermelon rind pickle
  • 1/2 cup okra pickle, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large peach, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium jalapeño pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  1. In a nonreactive (glass or stainless steel)bowl, combine lime juice, pineapple juice, pickle juice, honey, salt, pepper, and pickling spices to create a brine.

  2. Put fish and seafood into large nonreactive bowl. Pour brine over seafood. Cover and refrigerate for 8-12 hours, until the seafood is firm and opaque. The brine will “cook” the seafood, but if preferred, blanch before adding the brine.

  3. About 2 hours before serving, stir in pickles, vegetables, fruit, and parsley. Serve chilled and keep cool.

Recipe Notes

Always use fresh, clean seafood. Choose fish that’s mild and not too strong-tasting

Spicy Citrus Seafood Cocktail With NC wild-caught shrimp

Spicy Citrus NC Seafood Cocktail

Spicy Citrus NC Seafood Cocktail

Published in Carolina Country Magazine July 2020

Who has time or desire to do much cooking during the lazy hazy hot days of North Carolina summer?  Not me! Y’all, this seafood cocktail is light… so full of flavor with just a hint of fresh citrus, and only a little bit of fuss when it comes to cook’n. Loaded with a bounty of fresh seafood from our coast, you can enjoy this for a late morning brunch… for lunch… or right out of a jar in your porch swing watching the sun set!  

This is one of those recipes where specifics and exactness isn’t important — you know, throw cook’n!  Use all of one seafood or whatever combo you like. Go with your favorite vegetables and what’s in season.  Add veggies you like to my recipe… as The Frugal Gourmet Chef Jeff Smith would say…

“Omit and substitute! That’s how recipes should be written. Please don’t ever get so hung up on published recipes that you forget that you can omit and substitute.”

And in keeping with my North Carolina company ingredients, I chose North Carolina’s Bruce Julian’s Blood Mary Mix to finish out my recipe!  Just round up what you need and throw together some of my seafood cocktail… soon!  You’ll be so glad you did… and so will your company.

And while you’re at it, be sure to make some of my Savory Bay Crackers with browned butter too.  Followed up with a little dish of my No-Churn Cantaloupe & Coconut Ice Cream.

Come on over, and hang out with us in my fun facebook community too, where you will find this and lots of other goodies.

Spicy Citrus North Carolina Seafood Cocktail

Light and spicy... with just the right hint of fresh citrus, the seafood cocktail features all sorts of North Carolina goodness!

Course: Appetizer, Brunch, Fun Food!, Main Course, Snack, Supper
Cuisine: American, Farmers Market, Garden Goodies, Gluten Free, Mexican, North Carolina Goodies, Seafood, Southern, Summer Food, Tailgating
Keyword: bloody mary mix, bruce julian, crab, got to be nc, grilled salad, romaine, southwestern, north carolina shrimp, lobster, mexican seafood cocktail, north carolina seafood, seafood cocktail, spicy
Author: Wendy Perry
Spicy Sauce
  • 2 quarts favorite Bloody Mary mix* or V8
  • 1 bunch radishes, roughly chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1-2 tablespoons horseradish
  • 4 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • zest of 1 lemon, lime, orange and juice of ½ each, Cut the remaining halves into wedges for guests to squeeze into their cocktails
  • cracked black pepper
Seafood Mixture
  • 2 pounds wild-caught North Carolina shrimp, peeled, cooked and cooled
  • 1 pound bay scallops
  • 6 small lobster tails
  • 2 firm avocados, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 pound lump crab meat
  • cilantro
  1. Combine and chill the spicy sauce ingredients.

  2. A few minutes before serving, add about four pounds of cooked shellfish of your choice (or use our suggestions above) and gently stir in the avocados and cilantro.

  3. Sprinkle with crabmeat and more cilantro.

Recipe Notes

*I used NC’s Bruce Julian Bloody Mary Mix.


Savory Bay Crackers with browned butter

Savory Bay Crackers with Browned Butter!

Published in Carolina Country Magazine July 2020

Sometimes, you just need a little “something something” to go alongside a dish.  My Savory Bay Crackers with browned butter are that “something.”  I created them to enjoy with my Spicy Citrus North Carolina Seafood Cocktail, but they are just right for serving with soups, stews, chowders… or just plain ole nibbling.

You can use one kind of cracker… or do like I did. Use some of those packages of this, that and the other from my pantry shelf. Actually, I kinda prefer having a variety like this instead of just one or the other.  And don’t they look snazzy all jumbled up like that?  

They will keep just fine for a spell too, as long as you keep them stored in an airtight container.  And they are real good with a bit o’butter smeared on top.  Tasty with cream cheese and pepper jelly as well.

No matter how you want to eat them, just make some.  And come along on over to my fun facebook community where you will find this and all sorts of other stuff.

Savory Bay Crackers with browned butter

Browning the butter releases a whole new depth of toasty, buttery flavor in these crackers. Seasoned with a touch of Old Bay, they keep perfect company with our Seafood Cocktail — and with soups, salads or as a snack. 

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Tailgating
Author: Wendy Perry
  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 16 ounces crackers (like saltines, crispy round and club-type)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons old bay seasoning
  1. For the browned butter, heat butter over medium heat in a heavy bottomed sauce pan, whisking and watching closely as it melts. Continue heating for about 6–7 minutes until butter smells toasty and has turned golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside. Cool to room temperature.

  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  3. Combine seasoning mix and add to browned butter. Stir to mix well.

  4. Put crackers in a large bowl. Pour seasoned butter over crackers, and gently toss with hands for about two minutes to make sure the crackers are well coated. Put in a large baking pan (I used a foil, lasagna-sized pan). Toast in oven for about 25 minutes, gently stirring every few minutes. Let cool before storing.

  5. Keep in airtight container up to a week.

No-Churn Cantaloupe & Coconut Ice Cream With vanilla bean

No Churn Cantaloupe & Coconut Ice Cream with vanilla bean!

Published in Carolina Country Magazine July 2020

Keeping with the little to no cook’n theme for hot North Carolina summertime, this creamy coconutty ice cream with cantaloupe fits the bill.  No cooking OR churning here… just a little thinking ahead to make a day, or days, ahead of time to just stir and throw in the freezer.  If you have never enjoyed cantaloupe this way, I hope you will give it a try.  It pairs so well with coconut… and the vanilla bean is a quiet layer of flavor that rounds it out.

I’ll just leave it at that. Simple post. Simple dessert. To enjoy with this simple meal of my Spicy Citrus North Carolina Seafood Cocktail with Savory Bay Crackers with browned butter.  Whether enjoying on a beach vacation, or at home on your porch… simply delish!

Be sure to come on over and hang out with us in my fun facebook neighborhood too!

No-Churn Cantaloupe & Coconut Ice Cream With vanilla bean

Nothing says summer like the combination of sweet, ripe cantaloupe and creamy coconut. Close your eyes and you might even think you’ve landed on a tropical island. No need to pull out the ice cream freezer for this one. Fun to make as popsicles too!

Course: Dessert, Sweet Treats
Cuisine: American, Farmers Market, Garden Goodies, Gluten Free, No Cook, North Carolina Goodies, Southern Desserts, Summer Food
Keyword: cantaloupe, coconut, ice cream, no churn, vanilla bean
Author: Wendy Perry
  • 1 can (13.5 oz.) full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 can (11.6 oz.) sweetened, condensed coconut milk*
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
  • 2 cups roughly chopped ripe cantaloupe pulp with juice
  • toasted coconut, optional
  1. Put the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

  2. Remove coconut fat solids from the chilled can of milk and place in deep mixing bowl for about 20 minutes. (Save the liquid for use in smoothies, muffins, oatmeal or cocktail mixes.) Whip with mixer until fluffy.

  3. Blend in coconut milk, condensed milk and vanilla bean. Fold in cantaloupe. Pour into loaf pan or bowl and freeze.

  4. Garnish with toasted coconut at serving time.

Recipe Notes

*You can sub regular condensed milk

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