Bless Your Spoon: Lunch with Bobbi Jeanne

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 4, 2024

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By Stephanie Williams Dean

Did you know that families who eat together are healthier and happier? Family mealtime is when everyone at home sits down together and enjoys a meal. Eating together helps build close relationships with one another. Food and meals create memories we never forget.

Recently, I traveled back home to Nashville. I jumped at the invite to go to my first cousin Bobbi Jeanne’s home for lunch. Our history always included family togetherness on many occasions either at our grandparent’s home or the home of her parents — Aunt Doodie and Uncle Felix. If you recall, I inherited Aunt Doodie’s entire recipe collection from my cousins for safekeeping.

I consider myself blessed to have a continued relationship with my extended family and share so many wonderful memories. Family means a lot to me, so I do my best to stay in touch. The time together gave us a chance to catch up on the recent passing of their sister, Bonnie Sue, the oldest of my cousins.

Bobbi Jeanne’s sister, my cousin, Becky, also came for lunch and we used the time to reminisce about the many hearty breakfasts, simple lunches and tasty dinners enjoyed together as a family when growing up. These are memories that have stuck with us throughout our lives. We’ve never forgotten them.

For lunch, Bobbi Jeanne served a delicious sampler of old-fashioned Southern favorites — a meat and three in the form of salads. A sweet and savory scoop of Dressed Chicken Salad with apples seasoned with a dressing was served on a red lettuce leaf.

With strong flavor combos, the chicken was perfectly matched with Fresh Fruit Salad tossed in freshly squeezed lime and chopped mint, a Bowtie Pasta Salad with julienned veggies, and Bobbi Jeanne’s frozen Cherry Dream Salad — one of my all-time Southern favorites! I love this salad whether chilled or frozen.

Topping it all off was our grandmother Mommee’s recipe for those hi-rise, melt in your mouth, Sweet Light Corn Muffins, with a real butter spread. Oh, the things we remember. Of course, a pitcher of old-fashioned, Sweet Tea Punch was always on the dining room table at Square Acres, my Granny’s home.

Let’s stay turned in and tuned in to our families. Reach out to them and stay in touch. Gather at your table. Turn off the TV and phones. It’s never too late to make new memories. God has given us so much, including our folks. Enjoy this lovely scripture from Psalm 104: 14-15 that reads,

You make the grass

For cattle and vegetables

for the people.

You make food grow

from the earth.

You give us wine

that makes happy hearts

And olive oil that

makes our faces shine.

You give us bread that

gives us strength.

Fresh Fruit Toss with Lime and Mint

• 3 cups honeydew melon balls

• 1 cup blueberries

• 1 cup blackberries

• 1 heaping Tbsp. chopped fresh mint

• 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice.

In a bowl, place melon balls, blueberries, blackberries, mint and lime juice. Toss to combine. Serve cold in bowls. You can combine your favorite fruits.

Bobbi Jeanne’s Cherry Dream Salad

• 15 ounces drained crushed pineapple

• 1 can cherry pie filling

• 1 can Eagle brand condensed milk

• 8 ounces Cool Whip

• 2 cups miniature marshmallows

In a bowl, combine drained crushed pineapple, pie filling and condensed milk. Mix well. Fold in Cool Whip and marshmallows and mix well.  Pour into a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish and freeze until ready to serve. You can also freeze individual salad servings in aluminum cupcake wrappers. Allow to thaw 20 minutes before serving.

Nashville’s Dressed Chicken Salad

• 3 cups diced cooked chicken

• 2 unpeeled, diced Granny Smith apples

• ½ juiced lemon

• 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

• 3 Tbsp. toasted almonds

• Red leafy lettuce

Seasoned Mayonnaise

• ½ cup light premium mayonnaise

• ¼ tsp. salt

• 1 Tbsp. white wine

• 1 tsp. oregano

• 1/8 tsp. white pepper

For the salad, in a bowl, combine the chunky diced chicken, diced apples, lemon juice and parsley. Add just enough seasoned mayonnaise to hold salad together and toss to mix well. For the seasoned mayonnaise, in a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, salt, white wine, oregano and white pepper. Chill while covered for several hours before serving. When serving, line salad plates with lettuce leaves. Add a scoop of chicken salad to each leaf. Sprinkle the salad tops with toasted almonds.

Becky’s Bow Tie Pasta Salad

• 2 cups uncooked bow-tie pasta

• 1 ½ cup cherry tomatoes

• 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

• ½ cup chopped green bell pepper

• 5 thinly sliced green onions

• 1 ½ cups Zesty Italian salad dressing

• ½ cup premium mayonnaise

• ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

• 1 small can sliced black olives

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and drain. Place pasta in a large bowl. Add tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, chopped peppers, sliced onions and Italian dressing. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese. Stir in black olives. Mix well. Gently fold the mayo mixture into the pasta mixture. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Granny’s Sweet Light Corn Muffins

• 1 beaten egg

• 1 cup sugar

• 2 cups self-rising cornmeal

• 1 cup self-rising flour

• ¼ cup Wesson oil

• 2 cups buttermilk

• 1/2 cup whole milk

In a mixer bowl, beat egg. Add sugar and mix well. Add cornmeal and flour while alternating with oil, buttermilk and whole milk. Mix well. Grease well and flour muffin tins. Sprinkle a little plain cornmeal in bottom of each muffin hole. Fill muffin holes 2/3 full and allow to sit 10 minutes before baking. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until tests done.

Blackberry Butter

• 1 stick softened salted butter

• 2 Tbsp. seedless blackberry jam

• 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans

In a mixer bowl, beat the softened butter, blackberry jam and pecans until blended. Pour in mold/s and chill for 8 hours.

Square Acres Sweet Tea Punch

• 1-gallon sweet tea

• 12 ounces thawed, frozen lemonade

• 12 ounces thawed frozen orange juice

• 12 ounces pineapple juice

Mix all ingredients together and chill.

Strawberry Cake and Cream

• 1 loaf-style pound cake/shortcakes

• 1 large vanilla instant pudding mix

• 1 ½ cup water

• 1 cup sweet condensed milk

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 12 ounces Cool Whip

• 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

• Extra strawberries

Slice the cake very thin and lay half the slices in bottom of a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. In a mixer bowl, combine pudding mix, water, milk and vanilla extract, and mix well. Fold in the Cool Whip. Pour half the pudding mixture over the cake. Evenly lay 2 cups of sliced strawberries on top. Repeat with a layer of cake and the remainder of the pudding mixture. Refrigerate 4 hours or until well chilled. Top each serving with extra strawberries.