If I were going to pick one thing out of this column today and make it, I might have a hard time picking because I rounded up some of my favorites today to share with you and I hope you will find something today that you want to try. I often think that food memories are some of the best ones there are because they often are a direct connection to happy times, people we love and days we want to remember. If you are one of those people who like to cook for people, you may not realize it, but you are making life-time memories not only for yourself but also for them as well. Food does not have to be “fancy” to be special. It is the love that goes into it and the love and memories that surround it that cause it to be remembered with a smile and often a tear. So, in many ways, I think of a recipe collection as a treasure chest, and I know many of you know just what I am talking about.

Make this a good week and happy cooking!

Pecan Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Richard’s Note: I got this recipe long ago from a special lady who is now gone, but I recall sweet memories of her every time I make it. It is quite rich and buttery, perfect for a special occasion!

3 sticks butter

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese

3 cup sugar

6 eggs

3 cup cake flour

2 Tbs. vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans

Mix butter, cream cheese and sugar thoroughly. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Sift flour and add to the creamed mixture. Add vanilla and pecans. Place batter in a 9-inch tube pan. Bake at 300° for one to one and one-half hours.

Mountain Dew Apple Dumplings

Richard’s Note: Despite its simplicity, this is one of the best pans of apple dumplings you will make. You can substitute Sprite just as well in this recipe, which is what I usually do. Also, instead of the crescent roll dough, I usually use a bought, roll-out pie crust and cut it up and wrap my apple pieces.

2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored

2 (10 oz.) cans refrigerated crescent roll dough

1 cup butter

1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 (12 fl. oz.) can or bottle Mountain Dew

Heat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Cut each apple into eight wedges and set aside. Separate the crescent roll dough into triangles. Roll each apple wedge in crescent roll dough starting at the smallest end. Pinch to seal and place in the baking dish. Melt butter in a small saucepan and stir in the sugar and cinnamon. Pour over the apple dumplings. Pour Mountain Dew over the dumplings. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Orange “Kiss Me Cake”

Richard’s Note: This recipe has been around a long time. Make it and you’ll see why. It is packed with flavor with just the right taste of citrus!

1 (6 oz.) can frozen orange juice

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup margarine

1 tsp. soda

1 tsp. salt

2 eggs

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup walnuts (1/4 for top)

Combine one-half cup orange juice with sugar, margarine, and eggs. Add flour (with soda and salt). Add milk and raisins. Beat at slow speed for 30 seconds. Beat three minutes at medium speed. Bake 350° for 40 to 45 minutes while warm drizzle boil orange juice with one-third cup sugar. one teaspoon cinnamon.

Princess Chicken and Cashew Waldorf Salad

Richard’s Note: This recipe is one of the most requested from Princess Cruise Lines!

2 & 1/2 oz. cashews

2 cups roasted chicken cut in bite-size pieces

1 Granny Smith apple; cored, peeled and chopped

2 celery stalks, sliced diagonally

1/2 small onion, chopped

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup plain yogurt

1/3 cup coconut milk

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp. grated lemon zest

1 pinch grated nutmeg

Salt and white pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Place cashews on a dry baking sheet in a single even layer. Bake in the oven for about five minutes until cashews are toasted and lightly browned. Remove from oven. Cool completely before adding to salad. Reserve two tablespoons cashews for garnish. Stir together mayonnaise, yogurt and coconut milk in a small bowl. Add Worcestershire sauce, nutmeg, and lemon zest and blend well. Add salt and pepper to taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. In a medium bowl, combine chicken, apple, celery, onion and toasted cashews. Pour the mayonnaise mixture on top and mix well.

Johnny’s Slaw

3 lbs cabbage shredded

2 large Bell peppers

2 large Sweet onions

1 tsp. salt

1 cup sugar

1 cup of vinegar

1/2 cup oil

1 tsp. celery seed

1 tsp. dry mustard

* Large hot peppers

Mix the first four ingredients and pour the sugar over the top and let set. Next mix and bring to a boil the last four ingredients and pour over cabbage and refrigerate.

*Hot slaw: add the four large hot peppers. This slaw will keep for four weeks in the refrigerator.

Best Coconut Pie Ever

Richard’s Note: This recipe is from my friend Kitty Baxter!

4 eggs

1 Tbs. flour

1 Tbs. coconut flavoring

1 cup cold water

2 cans condensed milk

1 (14 oz.) bag shredded coconut

2 unbaked pie shells

Preheat oven to 350°. Beat eggs. Combine with other ingredients and pour into pie shells. Bake one and one-half hours until golden brown. Easy and yummy!

Green Bean and Dumpling Soup

Richard’s Note: This soup is very popular old-timey favorite. If you use fresh beans, top, tail, and snap them, then cook them in the water for 10 to 15 minutes before adding the potato. If it’s late in the gardening season, try to include some green shell beans, which taste great in this soup.

Dumpling batter (recipe follows)

1 (14.5 oz.) can cut green beans

2 cup peeled, cubed potato

3 cup water

1 tsp. salt

1 onion, chopped

3 Tbs. butter

3 Tbs. flour

3/4 cup sour cream

1/4 tsp. ground pepper

Mix the batter for the dumplings and set aside. Place the beans with their liquid in a large kettle. Add the potato, water, salt, and onion. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until potato is about half done. With a teaspoon, drop small dumplings into the soup, wetting the spoon after each addition, cook five to 10 minutes more, until the dumplings are done. In a heavy skillet, melt the butter, then whisk the flour into it. Cook, stirring all the while, until the roux is light brown. Pour some of the liquid from the beans and potatoes into the skillet and whisk it into the roux until smooth. Stir the mixture into the soup pot and bring the soup to a boil. Remove the soup from the heat, add the sour cream, the pepper, and more salt, if needed.

Dumplings:

Make a dough by mixing together three eggs slightly beaten; two tablespoons water; one and one-half cup flour; and one teaspoon salt

Leaf Lettuce with Cream Dressing

Richard’s Note: This is one of my Grandma Ishman’s old Pennsylvania recipes. It is light and delicious and just perfect for dressing up those greens without lots of oil!

Leaf lettuce

1/2 cup half-and half

2 to 3 Tbs. vinegar

2 Tbs. sugar

Generous pinch of salt

Ground black pepper

Chopped green onions of chives

Wash and dry as much leaf lettuce as your family will eat in a meal. Tear the lettuce into pieces, putting them into a large serving bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cream, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper (freshly ground is best). If you prefer a dressing that’s not so sweet, add more vinegar or cut back on the sugar. Pour the dressing over the lettuce, garnish with the green onion or chives, and serve.