This may be an acquired taste, I couldn’t say. My dad grew up in Texas and eating okra is not strange to me. I’ve only been to Texas two or three times in my life and we did not have fried okra a lot while I was growing up. On one of the occasions we did visit Texas I remember being with Grandma and stopping by to visit my father’s cousin, Doris Marie. She was in the kitchen frying okra. I will never forget the smell, the look, the taste. Oh, my, it was mouth-watering. But I like mine better! Ha!

  • Ingredients (quantities are approximate)
  • 12 oz. package frozen sliced okra
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 3/4 cup corn meal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • LIBERAL amounts of salt and pepper
  • Oil for frying

Thaw the okra until it’s no longer frozen, but not quite all the way thawed. Sometimes I let it sit in a colander for a few hours, shaking it every once in awhile.

Heat about 1/2″ of oil in a large skillet. I’m not sure of the temp, 350 degrees? I just wait until it bubbles when I drop a pinch of corn meal into it.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the mostly-thawed okra.

In a flat dish (I use a pie plate), stir together the corn meal and flour and salt and pepper.

Lift a big handful of sliced okra from the bowl of egg and okra and place it into the corn meal mixture. Dredge the okra so that all the pieces are coated. Using your hands as a sieve, lift out the okra, and gently drop into the hot oil. Let it fry for a couple minutes. Using a slotted spoon, give it a stir. Stir every once in awhile until all the pieces are golden brown.

Once golden and crispy looking, remove from skillet into a paper-lined bowl using a slotted spoon. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat the procedure until all the okra is done. You may have to add more oil to the pan. For me, this is four batches. Do not overcrowd the okra or it won’t get crispy. Make sure to salt every batch.

NOTES: I don’t care for garlic salt on this. Just sayin’. Regular salt or seasoned salt will do. This kinda falls into the salty snack category if you have a hankerin’. This has a Cousin Pam thumbs-up rating even though she should not be eating fried foods, but who can resist . . .

This is a delicious no-churn ice cream made with the first fruit of summer: rhubarb. The recipe comes from Older Mommy Still Yummy.

  • Ingredients
  • 3 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups whipping cream, whipped

In a saucepan, stir together rhubarb and sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until rhubarb is tender and starts to fall apart. Remove from heat and let cool. Chill until cold. This may take a couple hours in the refrigerator.

Remove about 1/2 cup of rhubarb mixture and set aside. Mix together the remaining rhubarb mixture and the sweetened condensed milk. Fold in the whipping cream, about a third at a time until the whipping cream is well incorporated.

Pour into a freezer-safe dish or dishes. I like to use small plastic tubs, they’re about 1-1/2 cups each, because the ice cream freezes faster and I can give them away without giving it ALL away and takes up less space in the freezer as they’re used up. But you can put it into one large dish if you want. Once you’ve got the ice cream divvied up, take the remaining 1/2 cup rhubarb and dollop onto the top and then run a utensil through it to make swirls. This is the wow factor of the ice cream, that pop of rhubarb tartness. Super yummy!

Everyone knows how to make 7-Layer Bars, right? Well, in case you don’t, here are the instructions. This is the easiest, yummiest recipe to assuage that chocolate craving right now (or in thirty minutes anyway)!

  • Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
  • 1 cup (or 1 pack) of crushed graham crackers
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened . . . it does not matter)
  • 2 cups chips (chocolate, white chocolate, milk chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter, whatever kind you like or have on hand or a mixture . . . it does not matter)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup raw chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, whatever . . . it does not matter)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter in a 9×13″ pan. Tip the pan to make sure the bottom, and up the sides a little bit, is coated with melted butter. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs evenly over the melted butter on the bottom only of the pan. Sprinkle the shredded coconut over the crumbs. Sprinkle the chips over the coconut layer. Pour sweetened condensed milk over all. Sprinkle with nuts. Bake at 350 degrees F for thirty minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool if you can wait. Serve. Tastes great warm and melty or cold and less messy.

NOTE: What you see pictured here is two cups total of semi-sweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips. I had several bags with just a few chips left in them so I mixed it all together. I used sliced almonds for the nut component. The “usual” 7-Layer Bar would be semi-sweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and chopped walnuts. I’ve never used salted, roasted nuts before, but that might be good. If you used gluten-free graham cracker crumbs, this could be a gluten-free dish.

I’ve been trying to tweak this dish since I first had it at a family gathering. It was so, so good that I wanted to add it to my arsenal of gluten-free foods. You could go a lot of different ways with this to punch up the flavor. I’ve used canned diced green chiles here, but consider how bacon bits would be amazing.

  • Ingredients
  • 2 large russet potatoes, parboiled, then shredded
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 4 oz. can diced mild green chiles
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease or spray an 8×8″ baking dish with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, mix together the shredded potatoes, sour cream, 1 cup cheese, and chiles. Stir in a liberal amount of salt and add pepper to taste. Spread into the prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese over the top. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees F for 45-60 minutes. Serves 4.

NOTE: Parboiling was an interesting challenge as I had never done that before. It means to boil the potatoes whole, or in large pieces, until the outsides are tender, but the insides are still hard. Kinda tricky. They shred rather nicely, though. I used a hand shredder one time and then another time I used my Cuisinart shredder attachment. Either way is fine. The dish requires a generous amount of salt. The first time I tried this I didn’t use enough and the whole thing was rather, muh blah. The last time I made it using garlic sea salt. REALLY good! When I ate this at Easter dinner for the first time, Andrew and Sharon had added just a teensy bit of diced (I assume pickled) jalepeno. My husband thinks I’m killing him with spicy food, so I didn’t put any jalepenos in the potatoes. The baking time will depend upon how big and how parboiled the potatoes were to begin with. You want to make sure they’re very soft before removing the finished product from the oven. I served these with stove-top pork spare ribs in a type of barbecue sauce. The potato dish’s green chile component complimented the ribs nicely.

I have always enjoyed a good chicken sandwich, even more than a burger. This one is very flavorful. The recipe is based upon one found at buzzfeed.

  • Marinade ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh-ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6-8 chicken thigh fillets (boneless, skinless thigh meat)
  • Dredging ingredients
  • 2 crushed chicken bouillon cubes (or 2 tsp powder)
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh-ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Other ingredients
  • Oil for frying
  • Buns
  • Sandwich fixin’s of your choice, potentials to include: mayonnaise, ketchup, dill pickle chips, fresh tomato slices, lettuce, coleslaw, sliced onion, etc.

At least an hour ahead, or overnight, mix the marinade in a plastic bag and drop in the chicken. Let sit under refrigeration until ready to begin the cooking process.

In a pie tin mix together the dredging ingredients. Heat oil to 350 degrees in a deep fryer or a skillet. I use a skillet with about 1/2″ oil in it.

Remove each chicken piece from the marinade and dredge through the flour mixture until VERY well coated. Keep running it through and pressing the flour so it sticks to the meat. Gently lower the chicken pieces into the oil. Do not crowd the pan. In my wide skillet, I fry three pieces at a time. Let it fry for about four minutes and then turn the chicken over and fry another 4 minutes.

Remove from oil and lay on paper towels to absorb extra oil. Repeat until all the chicken has been cooked.

Make up the sandwiches. Serves 6-8 people.

Notes: The flavor from the bouillon cannot be overstated. It really makes a difference. I like using my homemade dill pickle chips as a condiment. Yeah! I haven’t tried this in Dad’s air fryer yet. Maybe next time I visit. I buy chicken thigh fillets from Costco and you can’t tell how many are in the package until you open them. This was two packages and it probably had ten fillets total. I didn’t run out of either buttermilk marinade or breading. I know in some places the chicken pieces are huge, so that might be a problem.

Corn on the cob and a chicken sandwich. What a great meal!

This recipe is from Ali at Alexandra’s Kitchen. I wish I had Alaska wild blueberries to use in this cake, but store-bought will have to do. It is delicious no matter what kind of blues you use.

  • Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • Zest of one large lemon
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (or paste)
  • 2 cups flour, divided
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8″ square baking dish (and use parchment paper if you so desire).

Remove a Tbsp. of sugar from a cup of it (use the Tbsp. later). Cream together butter, scant one cup sugar, and lemon zest in a mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in egg and vanilla until well mixed.

In a separate bowl whisk together 1-3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl toss the blueberries with the 1/4 cup remaining flour. Set aside.

Add half the flour/baking powder mixture to the mixer and give it a few turns to incorporate the flour. Pour in the buttermilk and stir until mixed. Stir in remaining flour mixture until just moistened. Pluck the set-aside blueberries out of the flour and, by hand, stir them into the batter. Discard any leftover flour from the blueberries. The batter is very, very thick. Dollop the batter into the prepared baking dish and smooth out the top as best you can. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. Remove cake from baking dish or serve from the dish. Good morning!

Notes: Ali says you can use different sizes of baking dishes, so you would reduce the cooking time depending upon the dish size. I use an 8″ square glass pan and it takes about 50 minutes to bake through. I always have buttermilk on hand, it has so many uses. If you do not have buttermilk there are ways to create a liquid that forces the correct chemical reaction in the cake as buttermilk. Ali talks about it at her site or you can do a search for “Buttermilk substitutes” for ideas.

I just love this. I could eat it a lot more than I do, but I realize that variety is the spice of life. Just sayin’. It’s really, really good.

  • Salad Ingredients
  • Lettuce, torn into pieces
  • Tomatoes, chopped
  • Bacon bits
  • Dressing Ingredients
  • Mayonnaise
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Lemon juice
  • Onion, very finely diced or shredded

Toss together lettuce, tomatoes, bacon bits in one large bowl or several smaller ones.

In a separate small bowl, mix together 1 part mayonnaise, about 2/3 part barbecue sauce, and a splash of lemon juice (enough to thin the dressing a bit). Stir in onions. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Note: Since I’m making this for only two people, I use about 1/4 cup mayonnaise and about 3 Tbsp. barbecue sauce and 1 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice with 1 Tbsp. or so of the onions. I like to use the SBJ Sauce, but any type of barbecue sauce will do. Yes, of course, I just throw it in until it looks like salad dressing.

Let me start by saying I do not have an air fryer. But my dad does. In another region of the world. When I’m at Dad’s, he cooks the chicken pieces in his air fryer. When I’m home, I fry them. Simple. It’s gluten-free, but you must check your soy sauce and ketchup to be sure it’s in compliance. I’ve made this dish several times now and it’s super yummy. Don’t miss my instructions on making squash bowls below this recipe. Have fun!

  • Ingredients
  • 1# boneless chicken, breast or thigh meat, cut into apx. 1″ chunks (okay to substitute pork)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Corn starch
  • Oil
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 onion, cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1 large bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
  • Sliced green onions, optional garnish

Sprinkle salt and pepper over the chicken pieces and then dredge the pieces through corn starch. If you’re using an air fryer, then you won’t need oil in order to cook the chicken. If you’re frying, then you’ll need the oil in a skillet. Use just enough oil to pan-fry the chicken to cook it through. This is not deep-fried.

While the chicken is cooking, stir together in a small bowl: sugar, vinegar, garlic, soy sauce, and ketchup. Set aside.

In a skillet with a little bit of oil, or in the skillet you cooked your chicken in, stir fry the onion and bell pepper until it softens. Stir in the pineapple and let it heat through. Stir in the sauce you set aside. Let it heat through. Stir in the cooked chicken. Let it heat through. Remove skillet from heat and sprinkle with green onion slices, if desired. Serve warm over rice or in squash bowls or however you like it.

NOTES: My sauce has always come out the correct consistency, but if yours is runny for some reason, then make a slurry of corn starch and water, then stir the slurry into the skillet over heat until the consistency is corrected.

Squash Bowls

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the bottom and the top off of an acorn squash, just so each side will sit upright on a baking dish after it’s sliced in half. Then slice the squash in half crosswise through the middle. Scoop out the seeds. Sprinkle a bit of olive oil on a baking dish. Rub each squash “bowl” with olive oil and set upright on the baking dish. Sprinkle each “bowl” with salt and pepper. I really like using the Hawaiian Volcano Sea Salt. It’s strong, but so is the squash. It works well. Sprinkle the “bowls” with a little more olive oil. Then, flip the “bowls” over so that the flesh is against the bottom of the dish and it’s skin-side up. Place in the oven, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Remove from heat, flip the bowls right side up, and check the flesh with a fork. It should be soft. Serve warm or cold. I usually roast mine in the afternoon and then let them sit, flesh side up, until time to serve with dinner. They fit right into a bowl and we fill them with Sweet and Sour Chicken or Pulled Pork or Chicken a la King or Egg Roll in a Bowl. Any kind of thick sauce should work.

Another recipe from my brother. I like how he just whips things up because he knows the basic idea of what should happen. He and I and my daughter and a friend were at our cabin in Delta Junction when he decided to make chocolate souffle. Please understand that at the cabin, the water comes off the roof into a cistern and is then piped into the house . . . when it works. Sometimes we just bring water from home in jugs because it’s easier. Electricity at the cabin (to run the water pump and a kitchen light) is provided by a couple small solar panels hooked to a couple car batteries. Other lighting is from kerosene lamps. The gas range is fueled by propane, a small tank like for a barbecue. The bathroom is a walk to the outhouse. Grey water for washing is thrown over the side of the deck. And he’s going to make a chocolate souffle. First, there wasn’t any chocolate powder or chocolate chips to be found among all the food left behind through several years. He handed a Ziploc of old M&Ms to the girls and told them to start pounding them with a hammer. He whipped up eggs and whatever else goes into a chocolate souffle, mixed it with the crushed M&Ms and we had the most delicious chocolate souffle I’ve ever eaten. That’s how my brother rolls. Anyway, this is his very tasty recipe for Caesar Salad.

  • Ingredients
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 anchovy fillets
  • 1 egg
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan, plus more to sprinkle at the end
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce
  • Croutons

In a very large wooden bowl, mash the garlic with a fork. Add anchovy fillets and mash into a paste with the garlic. Stir in the raw egg and the lemon juice. Mix thoroughly. Stir in olive oil and vinegar. Stir in Parmesan. Toss the Romaine into the mixture so it’s well coated with the dressing. Sprinkle Parmesan over all. Sprinkle with croutons. Serve.

Notes: This serves 4-6 depending upon how large a head of Romaine is used. If you’re concerned about using a raw egg, you can coddle it, but that’s a different subject. I use raw. This salad doesn’t save, so you really need to eat it when made. It’s really easy to make!

This started a looooong time ago as a recipe by Jenn Segel at onceuponachef.com. I have modified it in several ways to accommodate ingredients that I usually have on hand. The flavors are really bright.

  • Dressing ingredients
  • 1 oz. (1/8 cup) honey
  • 1 oz. salad oil
  • 1 oz. rice vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. siracha sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp. minced ginger root
  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced
  • Salad ingredients
  • 2 cups red cabbage, diced or shredded
  • 1 cup carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup roast peanuts

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients and set aside.

In a very large bowl stir together all salad ingredients, except the peanuts. Pour the dressing over and stir again. Sprinkle the peanuts on top. Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

Notes: I have used Napa cabbage, green cabbage, all colors of bell pepper. I use dry-roasted peanuts. I think last time I made this I used raspberry vinegar because I ran out of rice vinegar. Instead of garbanzo beans, Jenn calls for edamame. I barely know what that is, so I can’t tell you yay or nay. I use canned garbanzo beans and usually make hummus with the unused half-can. The recipe is very forgiving, do what you like. As I write this, tonight I’m going to serve it with Sweet and Sour Chicken in Acorn Squash Bowls. Again, the flavors of this chopped salad are really bright.