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Bacon Ranch Pull Apart Bread!

 
 
If you love bread and cheese like I do, this is going to be right up your alley.  This takes a simple loaf of French bread and some cheese and a few other things and makes a loaf of yummilicious goodness! This is so good with pasta dishes...spaghetti, lasagna or with soups.  It also makes a great casual party appetizer.  Here is all you need for this:

1 loaf French bread (can use sourdough or Italian)
1/ 2 cup butter, melted
1/2 packet of dry Ranch dressing mix
8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup of real bacon bits or you can use bacon cooked crisp and crumbled


Place the bread on a sheet of foil and cut it in about 1 inch squares, but not all the way through.  Just cut down about 3/4 of an inch.   I just cut on the diagonal, because my bread already had the baker's cuts going one way like that.   If your bread is smooth, you can just cut straight across horizontally and vertically.


Mix the dry ranch dressing mix with the melted butter.  Pull the bread slightly apart and pour the butter mixture over and down into the cuts.

 
 

 Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese and the mozzarella cheese and push some of it down into the cuts of the bread.   Finish by sprinkling bacon evenly over the top.   Cover loosely with foil and place in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Uncover and increase the oven temperature to 425 and allow to bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheese just starts to brown. 
 
 
You can garnish with some sliced green onions or chives or serve just as it is, piping hot from the oven.  Just pull this off in big chunks.  I will warn that it is addictive!
 
 
 


Peach Fried Pies!

 
 
 This recipe for fried pies is one from another of my aunts, Aunt Lassie.  For those who are new to "Sweet Tea and Cornbread", my mother has five sisters and they are all really good southern cooks, so I not only get recipes from them, they actually cook them up for me to photograph sometimes also, which is great!   

Aunt Lassie is next to the oldest of my mother's sisters and she is quite a character.  I am not allowed to tell you how much of a character, because Mama won't let me, but let's just say she was always the life of the party and still tries to be. She would be the first to say so!  She never meets a stranger, that is for sure and no matter what the adversity of life, has not let it get her down! 
 
The first thing I always think about concerning Aunt Lassie's cooking is how fast she always was in the kitchen.  She used to be like a five foot tall tornado when she got started cooking.  I remember us going to visit her one time, sort of unannounced.  She and her husband were remodeling an old Victorian era house and collecting antiques for it and we went to see it one afternoon. 
 
We had no plans to stay for dinner, but she insisted.  She said I have a good roast thawed out and I will fix that.  It was already like three or four o'clock or so, and I was thinking, there is no way we are eating before seven or eight o'clock.   So, we went to the kitchen to start dinner and she got out this pressure cooker and seasoned up that roast and threw it in there and got out some vegetables, peeled potatoes and started some tea.  She was moving around in that kitchen like a whirlwind.  Within, what must have been less than an hour and a half, we sat down to a full dinner and it was delicious.  When we left, I told Mama I had never seen anybody cook that fast in my life.   She just laughed and said Aunt Lassie had always been fast like that and that cooking in restaurants and such made you get much faster out of necessity.
 
Aunt Lassie also loves kitchen gadgets.  That must be where I get it from.  When we sat down to write up this recipe, she told me she had a food processor before anyone in this area even knew what one was...lol.   The even funnier thing is, she is still using it.   I think she said she saw it at a Montgomery Ward store in either Houston or Dallas, TX.  years ago and she said, I have to have one of those and she bought it and brought it home.   She says it's one of the best kitchen appliances they ever invented.
 
I have posted my mother's fried pies on the site already, but since we used fresh apples for those and not dried fruit, I wanted to also post one with dried fruit.  This recipe is just a bit different overall.   Here is what you will need:
 
3 (6oz.) pkgs. dried peaches (could use dried apricots also)
1  1/4 cups sugar
4 Tbs. butter
1 tsp. vanilla 
1 tsp. cinnamon
1  1/2 cups self rising flour
1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup milk
shortening or oil for frying
 
Place the dried fruit in a saucepan with just enough water to cover it.  Add the sugar, butter, vanilla and cinnamon.   Simmer, uncovered for about 40 minutes. Once cooked down allow it to cool and then it's best to refrigerate and get it good and cold.   Once cold, Aunt Lassie said she puts the mixture in her food processor and pulses it just a second.  Now you know why I told you the food processor story.   Don't over do it with the food processor though, or you will have peach sauce.  You can also just mash the peaches up with a potato masher while they are warm and before you refrigerate them. 
 
To make your pastry, cut the shortening into the flour, like you would for biscuit dough.  Gradually add the milk to make a soft dough.   It might take a bit more or less milk than the 1/3 cup, just add it a little at a time until the right consistency.    Now, you can roll and cut the pie circles from here or you can refrigerate this dough and get it good and cold and then roll.  It is easier to work with cold.   
 
If you will just cut the dough in equal portions like this and then roll each portion, you will get pies that are all about the same. 
 
 Rolls each portion on a floured surface and then use a saucer or something similar in size to cut out a perfectly round circle.  Place about 1/3 cup filling in the center of each one and fold over.  Using the tines of a fork press to seal all the way around.  Make sure they are sealed well. 
 
 
In a large skillet heat some shortening or oil, place two to three pies in the hot oil and cook just until well browned on each side.  Aunt Lassie says she pricks the pies with a fork as they cook to allow some of the steam to escape.
 
Serve plain or with a sprinkle of powdered sugar!  They are yummy!
 


Fresh Strawberry Crisp!


It's strawberry season here in Kentucky and you just can't have enough recipes to use them while they are so good and fresh and locally grown.  This recipe is so easy, you won't believe it, but it is absolutely delicious.   A crisp is really just an easy version of a cobbler that 's just a little, well, crispier.  

Here is what you need for this one:

6 cups of fresh strawberries, capped and sliced
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup quick cooking oats, not instant
1 cup butter, melted (2 sticks)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lay the sliced strawberries in an 11"x7" dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.  

In a bowl, mix the cake mix, oats, and sugar.  sprinkle evenly over the strawberries.  Pour the melted butter evenly over the dry mixture. 


Place in the oven and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour.  The top should be browned.


This is best served slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream!  


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