Apple Chicken Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing

Chicken Salad with Apples & Lemon Dressing

Chicken Salad with Apples & Lemon Dressing

On occasion, I have opportunity to create recipes for all sorts of food companies.  Recipe development is my favorite thing to do of all the many things I do!  I have been fortunate to do this for LM Companies… a large produce distributor.  A while ago, they asked me to create some apple recipes for them… this tasty chicken salad is one of those.

For those of you who love chicken salad like me, I encourage you to make this one!  I’m all about simplicity in the kitchen, and you could even use rotisserie chicken for the cooked chicken in this recipe.

Do you make an “outside-the-box” chicken salad?  If so, please drop me a note if you’re willing to share it. I love seeing ways others make theirs!

Be sure to visit my new Aunt Dee Dee’s Kitchen online store, and like my FB communities at Wendy’s Home Economics and Aunt Dee Dee’s Kitchen too.

And be sure you subscribed to my blog while here too!


Chicken Salad with Apples & Lemon Dressing

We know you are going to love this vibrant apple chicken salad! The hint of lemon from the fresh juice and zest really make the flavors pop. Honey Crisp apples are perfect to complement the chicken and savory celery, while pairing nicely with the plump little sweet bites of raisins. So versatile, we suggest you enjoy on a variety of breads, or tucked into lettuce for fun little wraps. 

Course: Brunch, Dressings, Main Course, Salad, Supper
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken salad, honey crisp apples, lemon poppy seed dressing
Author: Wendy Perry
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken (about 1 pound)
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups Honey Crisp apple, cored and diced
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup chopped green onions, white and green parts
  • 1 8 ounce can diced water chestnuts, drained
Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (light)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • salt to taste
  1. Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl.

  2. Whisk together dressing ingredients.  Fold into the salad and stir until the salad is moist.

Recipe Notes

Salad can be served immediately, but is best if it sits several hours or overnight for flavors to marry.

Serve with assorted breads or as lettuce wraps.  We like this with raisin bread toasts.

Dilled Reuben Deviled Eggs

Reuben Deviled Eggs

Reuben Deviled Eggs

I don’t know about you, but I don’t recall ever meeting a deviled egg I didn’t like.  I’m not particularly fond of the white part… and either eat just the part of that holding the deviled part… or just the deviled itself!  It’s a texture thing for me… egg whites remind me of jello, which I cannot and do not eat!  Although I do love a good farm fresh boiled egg with shakers of salt and pepper. Go figure.

This is a “throw cook’n” recipe.  One where I cannot give you exact measurements because I simply throw stuff in to make it taste good.

Being that it’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, and I did cook a corned beef this weekend in my crock pot, I enjoy it in a lot of ways… and have had this one in my head for a while.  I will also point you to a recipe I threw together long ago, with horrible pics before I had a clue about food styling or photography.  This is a really tasty Cream of Reuben Soup... another way to use that corned beef.

Another St. Patrick’s Day dish is my version of colcannon… “Southern Colcannon.”  It was actually published in Our State Magazine years ago when I was house chef there… it’s a realllll good side dish for not only corned beef, but just about anything!  What’s not to love about greens (my cabbards or cabbage) and good ole North Carolina Sweet Potatoes?

St. Patrick’s Day is also a pretty momentous day for me too… as it is my Quit Smoking Anniversary!  I think this marks year 15 for me… my motivation?  My new little nephew when he was born, who is now SIXTEEN!  He was born in September, and I didn’t want him growing up smelling me and my house… nor seeing me smoking so he would think that was OK!
If you have tried to quit or want to… if I can quit after 26 years… You Can TOO!
It’s not easy. It’s HARD. But find your motivator and do it… read my story above… and just do it!

Till next time… (recipe below)









Reuben Deviled Eggs

Sliced boiled eggs in half and put yolks in bowl.
Add a bit of thousand island dressing (or mayo) and minced dill pickles.
Add some Bavarian Sauerkraut (seasoned and has caraway seeds!)
Stir in a little bit of coarse ground mustard… salt and pepper.
Mix together and fill egg whites.
Scatter with some fresh chopped dill.


Church Hot Dog Chili

Church Hot Dog Chili

Wendy’s Church Hot Dog Chili


Having grown up in rural North Carolina, of course I was raised in a small country southern Baptist church.  My grandma’s house was just feet across the front church yard… and my granddaddy’s country store just beside it, that later became my uncle’s pretty famous gun store. I met movie stars that literally came from California to buy guns there, and also met the man himself, Carbine Williams!  Mr. Carbine made it known to anybody who called him CarBEAN, that “beans are for eatin, my name is CarBINE” (rhymes with vine).  

Most of my daddy’s side of the family grew up in Pearce Baptist Church. My mama played the organ there for 36 years, right up to the Sunday before she died… before damned ovarian cancer took her away from us too fast… and way too young! I can barely go there now without crying, seeing that empty organ bench… and she’s been gone since 2002! 

We little ones ran up and down the big hall of the “annex building” where there were all kinds of suppers, reunions (if raining outdoors), church holiday plays, receptions of all sorts… and gospel singings.  Ms. Lela and Ms. Thettie Belle were the first Sunday school teachers I remember, in our fun room across from this big auditorium room… where I vividly remember “playing kitchen” in the little mini one there in the back corner of our Sunday school classroom. Later as we got older, we went up to Ms. Burma’s class.

As long as I can remember, there were hot dog events. Because they are inexpensive to put together and would raise a bunch of money, because everybody loves a good hot dog… and farmers would come from miles around to buy bags of them.  Best I remember, most of our Vacation Bible School weeks culminated with a hot dog roast!
Most church ladies have their own simple hot dog chili recipe, each delicious on their own way. 

I long ago shared a chili recipe from a local long-gone institution here in my little town of Zebulon… Kannon’s Hot Dogs… but that’s so different from basic ground beef chili for burgers and dogs and I wanted to create my own “church chili” recipe from my recollection.  

So without further adieu, here’s my version of memories of church hot dogs.  The church does occasionally still do hot dog sales… and if I’m around, try to run over and grab a couple!  There’s nothing like sitting on the church breezeway wall… donated by my grandparents/family long ago, feet dangling by the side, and enjoying a good ole hot dog and a drank!  Chatting with folks I haven’t seen in a spell…

I hope you’ll enjoy this chili, and if you have a good hot dog chili recipe, I’d love for you to share with me to add to my collection!

Church Hot Dog Chili

It's hard to beat a good ole hot dog. And the best are topped with simple homemade chili, fittin for dogs and burgers. All the way please... chili, mustard and chopped onions! And a dollop of slaw doesn't hurt either.

Course: Fun Food!, Main Course, Sauces, Supper
Cuisine: American, Gluten Free, Southern, Tailgating
Keyword: chili, church chili, hot dog chili
Author: Wendy Perry
  • 1 lb. ground beef (80/20)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste or 3 cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup ketchup (I prefer Heinz)
  • 2/3 cup water or beef bullion
  1. Heat skillet over medium high heat.  Add just enough oil to lightly coat.  Cook ground beef, crumbling with spoon as it cooks, until just barely done. (You want the beef to be tender and not dry out.)

  2. Remove meat with slotted spoon and add onions to skillet.  Cook onions just a couple of minutes to lightly brown, scraping up bits in pan.

  3. Tilt skillet and dab out excess oil with paper towel.  Add beef and remaining ingredients.  Stir to mix.  Turn to medium low heat, cover and slow simmer for about 10 minutes to let flavors blend.

Recipe Notes

This chili will freeze great... so make a bunch to stock up to have on hand when that hot dog crave'n comes a'calling! 

Look y’all… I baked!

Mimi's Mountain Mix Pizza at Wendy's Home Economics!

Mimi’s Mountain Mix Pizza at Wendy’s Home Economics!


Those of you who have been around here for a while know I’m not of the baking persuasion.  I much prefer just throwing stuff together for an outcome that doesn’t require measurements. It’s a challenge for me to write recipes as I do for products, companies and publications. I love doing that… and sometimes even create baked goods… surprising and impressing myself.

But since I know Lin at Mimi’s Mountain Mixes, #IcanBAKE! With confidence!!

Mimi’s mixes are perfect for folks like me… that are intimidated by flour… knead…. rise… etc.  For all her mixes, about the only thing required is to open the box, and pour in some beer… or if preferred, carbonated water.  It’s all about the fizz. 

I now offer Mimi’s products in my Aunt Dee Dee’s Kitchen store (most not on there yet but if local you can come by and pick up… till I finish recouping from a mini kitchen makeover and get site updated).  You can also get them at my friends’ place at the Crystal Coast.  Be sure to drop by and see Mary and Jeff at The Market at Cedar Point.

Aunt Dee Dee's Kitchen at The Market at Cedar Point

Aunt Dee Dee’s Kitchen at The Market at Cedar Point!

You’ll find most all of Mimi’s products and mine there too!  And I will be putting in a couple of local (to me) places in the coming weeks… and you can order from Mimi’s site too!
Mimi’s has the best Tavern (gluten free too) and Italian Tavern BreadPretzelsChocolate Molten Cake (in Aunt Dee Dee’s Black Forest Gift Bag with Cherry Preserves) and Ooey Gooey Chocolate (gluten free) Brownie Mix (da bomb y’all!)… and lots of other goodies too. 

So craving pizza tonight, I finally opened a box of Mimi’s pizza crust mix.  I shall conquer this. I shall make pizza dough!  And I DID!
Open Box. Warm 3/4 cup beer in micro. Add to mix with 1 tablespoon oil. Knead a little.
Flatten. Put on greased baking pan.  Bake at 450 for 5 mins, top, then 15 mins.*
Note… I was so excited how easy this was I forgot the “bake for 5 mins part” and it was still a nice thin crispy crust!

And I even halved the ball of dough after kneading, and only baked half… so I can make another pizza this week!

Making Pizza Crust with Mimi's Mountain Mixes in Aunt Dee Dee's Kitchen!

Making Pizza Crust with Mimi’s Mountain Mixes in Aunt Dee Dee’s Kitchen… added in a bit of Savory Spice Shop Salt Free Pizza and Pasta Sprinkle!

And…. now that my kitchen is all done over and so organized I can’t stand it… I easily grabbed a couple of Savory Spice Shop goodies to enhance my pizza (totally optional).  I shook some of the Salt Free Pizza and Pasta Sprinkle over the dough and incorporated that into it… (major yum factor).  There are Savorys all over the country… so find one near you if you can. But if not, you can order online!  

For toppings…
So I had 1/2 pound hot Bass Farm Sausage (an NC institution just down the road) and some sandwich ham slices, so I pinched the sausage  into little bitty pieces (like I do my “Wendy’s Spaghetti Sauce… finally on “paper!”), tore up the ham and threw into my toaster oven for about 10 minutes to cook while I was making the dough.

Toaster Oven Pizza Toppings Sausage and Ham

Toaster Oven Pizza Toppings… Bass Farm Sausage and Ham


















I pressed and pressed and pressed the dough (because I’m a thin crust pizza gal) until it was thin as could be, and pinched up a little “rim” around the edge to keep the sauce from running off.  Before I sauced it, I brushed it with some garlic oil (see how to easily roast at spaghetti link above).  

Well I didn’t have any sauce in the pantry… so I grabbed a jar of peach salsa and used that!  It was perfect… that little hint of sweet with the red pepper in my sausage.  I spread some of that over the crust (that I forgot to precook), then piled on grated Italian blend cheese.  Then I scattered on the ham/sausage mix and some diced onion.  I threw that baby in the hot oven and set timer for 10 minutes… and it was perfect!  The directions say (after the first 5 I forgot to do), to cook 15 minutes… that probably would be so if it I hadn’t spread my dough so thin.

I may never buy pizza again!  Homemade pizza… and a 2nd crust to boot for another day.  The great thing about making your own… first, you save a ton of money. Second, you just tip yourself, not delivery peep.  Third, if not delivered, you don’t have to get dressed to go get it.  And lastly, you can put what each person wants on their section of the pizza.  Or you can make 2 at the time by splitting the dough… eat one while it’s hot and while the 2nd one is baking to come out all hot when you’re done with the first and ready for another chunk!

Be sure to multi-task while in the kitchen. Do like I did…. when cooking other things, cook a pound or two of sausage or ground beef or whatever you like on your pizzas, cool, then freeze so when you want to mix up one of Mimi’s pizza crusts, your meat is cooked, and you can just scatter some of the cooked frozen meat “crumbles” onto it… and it will get nice and thawed and cooked while the pizza cooks.  And making your own is a great time to use up those partial pieces of bags of cheese that seem to accumulate too!  They drive me nuts… 

So let me know if you need pizza crust mix!  Or if around Cedar Point/EI/Swansboro/AB area, go by and get some at The Market at Cedar Point and tell Mary and Jeff I sent you…. and be sure to like their facebook page and IG, Mimi’s facebook page and IG… and mine too!  Here, and here!

I sure would appreciate you sharing this post and my newsletter with friends!  And thanks for shopping at Aunt Dee Dee’s Kitchen.  
Happy Pizza Making… and please teach a child to cook… starting with PIZZA!  You , and they, will make memories to last forever, and they will grow up and know how to feed themselves with real homemade food.

Homemade Pizza with Mimi's Mountain Mix!

Homemade Pizza with Mimi’s Mountain Mix in Aunt Dee Dee’s Kitchen!


(Disclaimer… these are not the best pictures!  The lighting in my kitchen at night just sucks.  But didn’t want to miss the moment to share this with y’all.)

Mimi’s Mountain Mixes is a Member of NC Specialty Foods Association!

Crispy Churro Cake Bites with chocolate hazelnut dip

Crispy Churro Cake Bites With chocolate hazelnut dip

Published in Carolina Country Magazine February 2021

Not being a big sweets eater, it’s sometimes challenging for me to come up with something I think those who are will love. My goal here was to create a dessert to complement and round out a Mexican/Southwestern menu… these tasty Carnitas Enchiladas Suiza and this zippy Sweet n’Spicy Chili Vinaigrette with pickle juice salad dressing. Churros came to mind.  So I said to myself, “self, how in the world can you do-over churros so they’re not like every other one out there?” 

So what are churros?  
fried dough…. cinnamon… sugar… and typically enjoyed with hot chocolate of Spanish/Portuguese origin.

I happened to have a sponge cake on hand at the time… months ago, and can’t even remember why now.  It was just sitting there screaming “do something with ME.”  So I thought about tearing it into pieces and doing some sort of cinnamon bread pudding thing, and pondered that for a bit.  But since I just love crispy crunchy stuff… I thought… “what would happen if I fried that cake?”

And I just went from that…  

This is what came to be.
Crispy, almost chewy “crust” on the outside yet tender inside… dusted with caramel candy and cinnamon sugar… and of course… something chocolate to dip those little nuggets in!

I declare this is good stuff.  Please do make some for those you love.  And come tell me all about it. I’d love pictures of your enjoyment.  


Crispy Churro Cake Bites With chocolate hazelnut dip

Look no further for a fun, finger food dessert to put smiles on faces! Keep cake pieces on hand in a freezer bag to fry in a flash for when you need “just a bite of something sweet.”

Course: Cakes, Dessert, Fun Food!, Sweet Treats
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake bites, chocolate, chocolate hazelnut, churros, crispy, hazelnut, nutella
Author: Wendy Perry
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 5.5 oz. bag hard caramel candies
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate morsels
  • several heaping tablespoons hazelnut spread (such as Nutella®)
  • 1 angel food cake (store bought)
  • 3-4 cups cooking oil (We liked the flavor from coconut oil.)
  1. Combine sugar and cinnamon.

  2. Grind caramel candies in food processor until “dust.”

  3. Heat and stir chocolate in microwave at 30-second intervals until melted, about 1½ minutes.

  4. Stir spread into warm chocolate.

  5. Cut cake into bite-sized cubes.

  6. Heat oil on medium high in 1-quart pot. Once hot, fry several cubes at the time, stirring constantly with slotted spoon until lightly browned (less than a minute per batch). Drain on paper towels.

  7. While warm, sprinkle cake bites with cinnamon-sugar and caramel candy dust. Serve with a bowl of hazelnut chocolate “dip!”

  8. Store any extra chocolate dip in the refrigerator and reheat at 30-second intervals to soften.

Sweet ’n’ Spicy Chili Vinaigrette with pickle juice

Sweet ’n’ Spicy Chili Vinaigrette With pickle juice

Sweet ’n’ Spicy Chili Vinaigrette with pickle juice

Published in Carolina Country Magazine February 2021

I love making vinaigrettes.  Mostly because they are fresh, free of all those things I can’t pronounce in bottled dressings, I can make a little at the time and have all it takes to make it in my pantry!  Folks should do this more… they are also budget friendly and you can easily tweak from your spice cabinet picks.  And you can use any sorts of oil, vinegars and even my favorite, pickle juice!  Because you do keep that don’t you?  As mentioned before, it’s just a terrible thing to pour out pickle juice.  

In the summertime, cut fresh cukes, tomatoes, onions, thinly sliced squash, radishes… just about any garden veggie, into a jar of pickle juice. You’ll have the best refrigerator pickles ever, fresh and made in a snap.

I made this to simply dress a simple green salad to enjoy alongside my Carnitas Enchiladas Suiza. It can also be used to marinate meat before grilling too.  Multi-FUNctional recipes… now that’s my kind of throw cooking.

So grab a jar out of the cabinet and make some.  Then come on over to my facebook community and show us what you did with this dressing. 

I invite you to visit my online shops too… Aunt Dee Dee’s Kitchen, and my Watkins 1898 store too. 

Sweet ’n’ Spicy Chili Vinaigrette with pickle juice

Drizzle this dressing over a simple salad along with my Carnitas Enchiladas Suiza or put it to work in a shredded cabbage slaw. Need a quick marinade for chicken or shrimp? This is your go-to! Keeps in the fridge for about a month.

Course: Condiments, Dressings, Salad
Cuisine: American, Gluten Free, No Cook, Southwestern
Keyword: pickle juice, salad dressing, vinaigrette
Servings: -1 makes about 1 1/4 cups
Author: Wendy Perry
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce (such as Texas Pete)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup grapeseed or light oil
  1. Put all ingredients into a jar, cover and shake. Best if at room temperature when serving.

Carnitas Enchiladas Suiza

Carnitas Enchiladas Suiza

Carnitas Enchiladas Suiza

Published in Carolina Country Magazine February 2021.

When you need a good “stick to the ribs” comforting recipe, give these Carnitas Enchiladas Suiza a try!  

Not sure what “carnita” means? Is that just pulled pork?
Kinda sorta.  Carnita means “little meat.” Pulled pork as well as carnitas are cooked slow… for several hours (crock pots or instant pots are ideal). To make carnitas, once the pork is done, shred with forks, then roast in hot oven until the meat gets crispy.  Some will cook in hot lard to get the crispy texture. I usually do that in my toaster oven, on the “toast” setting.  I cook the pork, then cool and bag to freeze. Then, when I want to make a batch of these enchiladas, I just take some out, and “toast” the meat at prep time. Toasting will crisp up the meat faster and give you the crispy outcome you want.  Great to do in air fryers too.

So what does “suiza” mean?  Swiss!
These enchiladas are cheesy and creamy like so many Swiss recipes.  

And how do pronounce it?  Just click right here.

Or another way to say it… damn good!  I used to make these years ago for personal chef clients because most found them to be kid-friendly for their picky eaters.  Cheese usually helps with them.

For smaller households, just make a batch and freeze for several meals.  You can make and package and bake off when ready to eat, or you can go ahead and bake, then package.  If you do that, you may want to add just a little milk, half-and-half or cream at heating time to moisten them up a bit.

If you don’t have time or think ahead to prepare pork, don’t be afraid to substitute… you can use chicken… some you cook or even pulled from a store-bought rotisserie chicken, or do as one Carolina Country reader did… she used BBQ she had on hand. I love that idea… using what you have.  

So enjoy… and come on over and join my FB community and find me on IG @culinaryadventuristwendy 

Don’t miss my new online store too… Aunt Dee Dee’s Kitchen!

And you can now get great Watkins 1868 tried and true products from my store there too.  

Chicken Enchiladas Suiza

This one needs a bit of planning ahead to cook the pork, but using one large butt yields lots of meat to freeze to make several batches of these easy, creamy Carnitas Enchiladas Suiza. Olé!

Course: Main Course, Supper
Cuisine: American, Mexican, Southwestern
Keyword: Carnitas, enchiladas, pork butt, suiza
Author: Wendy Perry
  • 4-5 pound pork butt
  • cooking oil
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium sweet onions, chopped
  • 1-2 jalapenos, seeded
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 16 ounce jars salsa verde
  • 2 7 ounce containers Mexican crema or sour cream
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 10 flour or corn tortillas
  • 4 cup shredded Oaxaca cheese or mozzarella
  1. Roast pork butt ahead of time in crockpot until fork tender. Remove and shred when done. Season with salt and pepper. This recipe needs about 1½ pounds cooked pork. Save the rest for future use.

  2. For carnitas, put shredded pork on baking pan and roast at 450 degrees, tossing about, until crispy, about 20 minutes. (I do this in a toaster oven using the toast feature.)

  3. Lightly coat large skillet with oil and heat over medium-high heat. Sauté garlic, onions and jalapeño about 5 minutes until tender and lightly browned. Stir in half the cilantro, cumin, salt, salsa verde and cream. Heat 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat and add zest and juice. Stir enough into pork to moisten.

  4. Spray 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Divide pork in the tortillas, top with a little shredded cheese, roll up and place seam side down. Pour remaining sauce over and scatter with remaining cheese.

  5. Bake at 400 for about 20–25 minutes until bubbly. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro and serve hot.

Salted Butterscotch Crème Brûlée

Salted Butterscotch Crème Brûlée

Published in Carolina Country Magazine December 2020

Without doubt, Crème Brûlée is my.favorite.dessert.  Oh, I have other favorites… like pig pick’n cake… just about any pie, and old fashioned warm-from-the-oven banana pudding, but Crème Brûlée gets top billing on my dessert list.  I can’t eat a lot of sweet stuff… but it’s a rare circumstance I forego it when I see on a menu where I’m eating.  Ordered with spoons for all at the table to share… because sometimes, one dab’ll do me!

I’ve had this idea in my head for a while, and thought when putting together my December recipes, this would be “the” dessert to pair with my  Savory Braised Oxtail Stew with Herbs and Prunes and Creamy Rosemary Parmesan Grits.

Just the name alone may cause some to tremble in culinary fear!  But in reality, brûlées are rather simple to make and are only custards of one name or the other.  And butterscotch?  Oh my.  Browning sugar and butter in cream… bestill me heart!  Balancing out with a bit of flakey salt that crunches right in with the brûlée is all the finishing touch needed for this creamy yumminess.  

So #BrûléeToday y’all!
And all the better when you get lucky and realize your sister still has your mama’s decades old custard cups to make them in…

And be sure to come on over to my FB home too… let’s chatabboutit!

Salted Butterscotch Crème Brûlée

Turning sugar, butter and cream into this browned, decadent custard is only made better by devouring it fireside in the dead of winter. Can be made up to four days ahead. Salted Butterscotch Crème Brûlée all around please!

Course: Dessert, Sweet Treats
Cuisine: American
Keyword: brulee, butterscotch, creme brulee, custard, flake salt
Servings: 8
Author: Wendy Perry
  • 1 large can evaporated milk
  • 12 ounces heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 7 large egg yolks, whisked
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • flaky salt
  1. In a heavy pot, bring milk, cream, sugar and butter to a boil. Reduce to medium heat. Watch closely, whisking often as it cooks. When lightly browned (about 15 minutes), remove from heat and let cool a bit. 

  2. Whisk yolks and vanilla together in a bowl. Slowly drizzle into cooled butterscotch mixture while whisking rapidly to temper and prevent “cooking” the egg.

  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place 8 custard cups into a large roasting pan(s). Ladle custard into cups, filling about ⅔ full. Fill roasting pan with hot tap water halfway up sides of the cups. Bake about 25 minutes until slightly “jiggly.” 

  4. Carefully remove cups onto a cooling rack, then put into refrigerator, covered until well chilled (at least 4 hours or overnight).

  5. Before serving, scatter 2–3 tablespoons of sugar over each custard. Using torch, or under preheated oven broiler, heat until golden brown, watching closely to avoid burning the sugar. Let sit (or chill) at least 30 minutes for sugar to harden. 

  6. Sprinkle with flaky salt and serve cold.

Creamy Rosemary Parmesan Grits

Creamy Rosemary Parmesan Grits

Creamy Rosemary Parmesan Grits

Published in Carolina Country Magazine December 2020

Oh grits, how I love thee.

There are few things more southern than the grit.  We know how to cook ’em every which way… dressed up, dressed down, and mostly just enjoyed nice and tender with lots of salt, black pepper and holding a puddle of butter!

When I launched my newest business last year, I knew grits (and country ham!) would be the starting point for my first fun themed gift box.
Side note: While I have your attention, I just must make sure you know all about that… Aunt Dee Dee’s Kitchen!  Boxes have been shipped hither and yon and it’s so fun getting pictures and messages from recipients, and also, from those who sent them.  So do be sure to take a few minutes to visit my online store (and also now appearing in some retail stores from central NC to our coast). And come on over and like my ADDK facebook community too.  Don’t miss my “…just add eggs!” breakfast box and the other boxes, and bags too!

Aunt Dee Dee's Kitchen "...just add eggs!" gift box!

“…just add eggs!” gift box from Aunt Dee Dee’s Kitchen!













OK… back on topic!
When I was creating the Savory Braised Oxtail Stew with Herbs and Prunes, I was pondering what to ladle the saucy dish with all that rich gravy over top of… and of course, grits was the first thing to pop into my mind.  Mashed potatoes would be good, but I decided something with a little more texture was needed… bingo ~ grits!

So while your oxtail stew is stew’n, cook yourself some creamy grits… till all nice and tender.  Your taste buds, and those you’re feeding, will thank you.

See you soon over on my FB page I hope…

And oh… don’t miss out on the dessert to pair with this meal… Salted Butterscotch Crème Brûlée!


Creamy Rosemary Parmesan Grits

Many long-lived mills here in North Carolina still stone grind the best grits. Slow cooked creamy grits pair well with so many dishes (and stand alone quite nicely, too). Seasoned with fresh rosemary and salty parmesan, enjoy them alongside our Savory Oxtail Stew.

Course: Brunch, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: creamy, grits, parmesan, rosemary
Servings: 8
Author: Wendy Perry
  • 1 cup stone ground grits
  • 4ish cups chicken broth
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
  • 1 heaping tablespoon white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup cream or half-and-half, optional
  1. Bring grits and broth to a boil. Add butter, rosemary, pepper and salt. Reduce to a slow simmer, cover and continue to cook about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until grits are tender. If they get too thick, add a little more broth or water.

  2. To finish, stir in salt to taste, plus Parmesan.

  3. For extra creaminess, blend in half-and-half or cream.

  4. Garnish with a bit of grated cheese and rosemary.

  5. Best if served immediately.

Recipe Notes

Helpful hint: If you have leftover grits, spread in a shallow dish and chill. Slice, dip in egg and breadcrumbs, and fry until crispy in oil or butter.




Savory Braised Oxtail Stew with Herbs and Prunes

Savory Braised Oxtail Stew with herbs and prunes

Savory Braised Oxtail Stew with herbs and prunes

Published in Carolina Country Magazine December 2020

Oxtails!?  What is that?  So many are unfamiliar with this cut of meat and shy away from purchasing and cooking… self included until recently.  I think in the recesses of my mind I remember eons ago doing something with oxtail… but I decided it was high time I just buy some and figure it out.

So what exactly are oxtails?

oxtail Wendy's Home Economics
Nope, we don’t see oxen roaming pastures these days now do we?  So why are their tails in our grocery meat coolers?
Basically, what we see is simply the tail of a cow.  Long ago, it actually was oxtail, but the name has carried over to cows.  So the tail of the cow, just as with pretty much every other part of the cow we eat, is also pretty tasty!  The tail, usually about 8-10 pounds, is skinned, then cut into pieces.  For those seeking out gelatinous cuts of meat for healthy eating reasons, here you go!  And because of the nature of the beast and bone, it takes well to slow cooking like this braised recipe I concocted.

Used to be that because it is boney and fatty, it was cheap and considered a discard of the animal for poor folks. Yet over time, gourmands have discovered this flavorful part of the bovine and has caused the price of it to rise.  I usually find it for around $7.99+/lb., which is pretty expensive considering the volume of bone and fat. But hey, we know meat near bones IS more flavorful and fat keeps it nice and moist.

This cut isn’t for everybody, but if you’ve never cooked oxtail and appreciate some fat and don’t mind a little bone, give this a try.  Much of the fat cooks out into the rich and creamy sauce. If you just can’t bring yourself to do oxtail… you can substitute another cut of beef that is suited for slow cooking and braising… a few suggestions would be chuck, shank, stew beef… and this recipe is perfect for short ribs!  Look for inexpensive cuts… those typically tend to be your best bets for stews and braises.

One last thing… the prune. Such an underappreciated fruit.  After all… prunes are nothing but dried plums!  You like plums, eh?  Some packagers started calling them “dried plums” years back… a marketing ploy since, for whatever reason, prunes got a bum rap and bad “reputation” in the culinary world.  They figured out, probably from some expensive market testing, that folks will buy dried plums, but not prunes!  They get lost in stews like this one… while giving the gravy a delectable richness and sweetness you won’t get from anything else.  They also help thicken the sauce… 

As for how to serve… well my favorite way is over creamy grits.  Like my Creamy Rosemary Parmesan Grits 
But this stew will do just fine spooned over mashed taters, even mashed sweet potatoes.  Or alongside risotto or orzo.  
Whatever suits YOUR fancy.  

At first glance, you might be intimidated by the recipe. Don’t be.  I promise the short amount of time it takes to pull it all together for a few slow cook’n hours will be worth the reward on the back end.  And be sure to pick up some nice crusty bread because this one has “Sop Me” written all over it.

PS… don’t forget dessert!  I fixed this Salted Butterscotch Crème Brûlée a day before to finish off this decadent yet peasant style meal.

Happy tail soppin y’all!  Do come on over and share your oxtail memories and experiences in my FB community!  

Savory Braised Oxtail Stew with Herbs and Prunes

Chilly winter days make us want to throw something hearty and comforting in a big ol’ pot and let it slowly simmer for hours, filling the house with the enticing smell of what’s to come. This stew is a bit spicy, subtly sweetened by the prunes, with many layers of flavor.

Course: Main Course, Stew, Supper
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: braised, oxtail, prunes, savory, stoup, stew, soup, state fair
Author: Wendy Perry
  • 3-4 lbs. oxtail
  • 1 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • several tablespoons oil
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4" pieces
  • 2 large jalapeno peppers with seeds, chopped
  • about a dozen cloves fresh garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup dry sherry (or more broth as sub)
  • 1 lb. box pitted prunes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • fresh parsley
  1. Dredge oxtail in flour and let stand about 15 minutes. Add oil to heavy skillet to about ¼-inch. Lightly brown oxtail over medium heat about 3 minutes on each side, making sure not to crowd while frying. Set aside.

  2. Dredge bacon in flour and fry in drippings; crumble and set aside.

  3. Sauté onions, carrots, jalapeños and garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Deglaze with Worcestershire and sherry.

  4. Add remaining ingredients (except parsley) and bring to a boil. Reduce to low, cover and simmer about 2 hours or until tender, stirring occasionally.

  5. Garnish with crumbled bacon and parsley.



Spirited Sweet Potato Hummus (plus 10!)

Spirited Sweet Potato Hummus


I’m not personally fond of chickpeas, the traditional hummus main ingredient.  Like my Butterbean Hummus, I like to play around with all sorts of other things to create my own… and you can too. 

North Carolina is the #1 sweet potato producing state… and we grow about 3 times that of the 2nd highest producer!  Around my parts, where sweet potatoes abound, we love to fix ’em every which way.  So with the Super Bowl on its way, what better time than now to throw together this quick and easy dip… while getting in the team spirit with my “spirited” sweet potato hummus.

You will definitely want to roast ’em with the garlic. Cooking good stuff is all about layering flavors, and most foods will always benefit from roasting… especially ones like sweet taters… the natural sugars caramelize throwing in a layer that takes this to another level of deliciousness.

Even if  you’re not a “bowler,” I highly suggest you make some!  It’s perfect for couch snacking on a chilly winter weekend on a movie binge… a quick bedtime snack… or late breakfast too.

PS… if you don’t have tahini or sesame seeds… just whirl all together without that!  You can sub peanut butter too… just throw cook’n at its finest!

And what’s the “plus 10?”  Why 10 other ways to enjoy this besides the usual of course!

  • spread inside wraps
  • smeared onto ham and cheese sliders
  • on sandwiches instead of mayo (especially delish on grilled chicken or turkey sandwiches)
  • tucked into tacos or on tostadas
  • swirled into noodles
  • dolloped on grilled chicken or pork chops
  • whirled into deviled eggs
  • thinned with broth for a creamy soup
  • smeared on toasted english muffins (especially cinnamon raisin)
  • whisked into your pancake batter

Whatever your fancy… do put this one on your “to do” list. 

And be sure you join us over on FB too…   

Spirited Sweet Potato Hummus
Course: Appetizer, Brunch, Fun Food!, Snack
Cuisine: American, Farmers Market, North Carolina Goodies, Southern, Summer Food
  • about 3 medium or 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, divided
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup or so tahini OR
  • 1 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • about 3/4 cup or so pine nuts (better if toasted!)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more if you like)
  • cumin, cinnamon, cilantro, freshly ground black pepper, rosemary or other favorites in your home
  • a splash of spiced rum, optional (but then it won't be "spirited!"
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Peel and cube sweet potatoes. Toss on large baking pan with most (or all)* the garlic cloves and oil. Move about every 10-15 minutes so that all sides get nice and caramelized. This will take 30-40ish minutes, depending on size of cubes.

  2. Once done, let cool slightly, then throw all, including the oil, into your food processor. Add remaining cloves of garlic, tahini or seeds, nuts, butter, salt and the seasoning or combination you like best. This is also the time to add a splash of rum if desired.

  3. Whirl until nice and creamy!

  4. Serve with your favorite dipper... pork rinds! crackers! pita chips! toast!

Recipe Notes

This recipe doesn't require exactness.  Just close to my suggested amounts will be just fine.  You know what you and those around you prefer for flavor, so add whatever herbs and spices suits y'alls fancy.  And also, even though it's hard to beat the roasted sweetness of pine nuts, this is a good dish to use bits and pieces of nuts in your pantry.  I just highly suggest giving them a quick toast in your oven (I use my toaster oven).  This will add yet another level of flavorful goodness. 

  • Be sure cubes are uniform in size so they roast at the same time.
  • *I like to use mostly roasted garlic because of the roasted sweetness, but also, I like to throw in just a couple of un-roasted for another layer of flavor too... whatever works for you


Wendy’s “Hospital Meatloaf”

Wendy's Hospital Meatloaf

Long ago, in one of my many culinary adventures… I managed a hospital kitchen.  Our big Wake County hospital had several satellite little community hospitals, and one was in Zebulon.  I really didn’t know what I was doing when I applied for the job… a transfer in the system. I had taken a “temp” job with WakeMed and that “temp” turned into 5 years as Admin. Asst. to all the ER docs… all the ER nursing staff and also,  the trauma center was born while I was there, so THAT got dumped on me too… I kept screaming “this is a 2-3 person job”  And after I got the job to manage the kitchen in Zebulon, they split it into 2 persons. 

Let me just say that working in the county’s emergency room was “something.”  I saw some of everything and then some. I wished I’d have kept notes to write some sort of “The Crazy Shit You See In The County Emergency Room” because it would be a doozie!

ok… so to meatloaf!

When I got to the kitchen in Zebulon, there were 3 of the kindest older ladies to show me the way.  On day one, I learned about the pureed diet when one of them had blended up some chicken… fried chicken.  A blob of it had been spooned into a little white plastic container that fit into our serving trays.  So I asked Frances “WHAT IS THAT?”  Because it looked like cat vomit.  Frances explained to me that she had pureed some fried chicken for a patient on dysphasia diet.  I surely hope I never get to that stage… but… instead of just serving patients there canned processed pureed foods and baby food, we pureed actual real food we cooked… so it would be tasty and they would eat, since that’s a big problem with elderly and folks in rehab, which was the majority of our patients.

We cooked great food there!  Even the head honchos in food service up at “Big Wake” would ask me… “what are you doing out there because our patients who have been there always want to be transferred there because of your food!”  We used a LOT of Ms. Dash since most docs put everybody on “low sodium.”  Which kept most of them from eating much.  I told my family that when I get that old, if I want same salt on my food, somebody had better bring me some damn salt! The restrictions were often silly when these folks had little time left… all they wanted was some salt on their food, but we couldn’t give it to them.  

Each day, we hung the lunch and supper menu on a board outside the kitchen where staff who wanted to eat could put their name.  The list was always longest on 2 days… fried chicken, and meatloaf.  

There in the kitchen was a scratched up old tin recipe box.  Tucked inside of it were mostly hand-written recipes they had cooked for years.  The cards had ragged edges, and food stains that made their mark as the cards were pulled out on cooking days and got drips and dribbles on them.  The meatloaf card was no exception, although after there a while, I didn’t need the card.  It was etched in my mind.  

This may be the best meatloaf I’ve ever eat.  Our staff and patients loved it too.  I should have shared it long ago… and I apologize for the terrible picture!  I forget to take good ones when I make it… cause I’m ready to dig in.  I made this one above, or what’s left of it, in my toaster oven, where I do most of my roasting/baking.  It does look rather greasy, and it is. Because I prefer 70/30 blend for this and most all my ground beef cooking.  It’s the fat folks!  That makes this meatloaf so moist, tender and juicy.  The oil can be easily dabbed out with paper towels… or poured off.  

So here it is. My “Hospital Meatloaf” recipe.  I have no idea where this recipe originally came from.  I worked there in late 80’s/early 90’s and it had been there years before I arrived.  It’s just plain and simple good meatloaf.  Make it and let me know what you think!

And come join us in my facebook community!

Wendy's "Hospital Meatloaf!"

This may be THE best meatloaf I've ever had. Make it! And let me know what you think...

Course: Main Course, Supper
Cuisine: American, Kid-Friendly, Southern
Keyword: meatloaf
Author: Wendy Perry
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (I prefer 70/30 for moistness but use your own preferred)
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I usually use Panko but any will do)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I just use ketchup)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I use ketchup)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar or molasses
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  1. Preheat oven to 325. (I make all the time in my toaster oven.)

  2. Combine all meatloaf ingredients together until well blended together. Mix gently, and remember, the more you "work" the meat, the chewier and tougher it will be.

  3. Put into baking pan and shape into loaf. **I make a 'well" in the middle where I can fill with sauce and leave edges around the top "exposed" to get that nice crunchy meatloaf top.

  4. Pour sauce into "well" and over all of the loaf edges.

  5. Bake about 1 hour until done.

Recipe Notes


  • I reserve a little of the sauce to pour over when I take out of the oven... or pass so folks can spoon over their chunks of meatloaf.  
  • I NEVER EVER cook meatloaf in a loaf pan!  If you do, you just won't get the nice little "crunch" on top like you will the way I cook.  Just make by hand in baking dish/tray and shape as noted with sauce in "well."  
  • Happy Meatloaf'n!



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