As friendships often do, my friendship with Shirley and Roy Milligan began in the most unlikely of ways. Roy grew up in Morgantown, and some of you that have been around a while like me will remember the old Milligan homeplace over on what we used to call “The Branch.” And ever since that first meeting with Roy and Shirley, we have grown closer and closer and have shared and talked about many things. Early on, I learned that Shirley likes to cook, and as time has gone by, I have some real first-hand experience with the wonderful things she turns out in her kitchen! Shirley is originally from Cincinnati, and one of the first things she ever cooked for me was her delicious Cincinnati Chili, something I had long been eager to try. I had seen a canned version on the store shelves, but let me tell you, the real thing was worth holding out for! Since then I have enjoyed numerous things from Shirley’s South Carolina kitchen, and she is always kind and gracious to share her recipes with me. Soon after I had gotten the Earthquake Cake recipe and had made it, a friend of mine and I were talking about the name, and she said, “I think it was named Earthquake Cake because it is so good it causes you to quake all over!” If you’ve never made it you need to give it a try. I have also known people to make the cake with other flavors besides just chocolate, and I am told they are delicious as well. In fact, I made a strawberry version one time, and people loved it.

As I have gotten older, I have tried to approach each day with the expectation that something good will happen today, and it most always does. The day that I crossed paths with Shirley and Roy Milligan was a day that I will always remember of being one of the best! I hope you will enjoy some of Shirley’s recipes today. Stay in touch and remember, something good is going to happen today—be on the look out!

Earthquake Cake

Richard’s Note: Don’t let the simplicity of this cake fool you! It is really good, and if you have never made it, you should!

1 box German chocolate cake mix

1 & 1/2 cups pecans, chopped

1 & 1/2 cups coconut

1 box powdered sugar

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese

3/4 stick margarine or butter, softened

Grease a 9x13 pan. Put nuts and coconut in the bottom of the greased pan. Mix cake mix according to package directions on box and pour over the nuts and the coconut. Cream sugar, cream cheese and butter together. Spoon over cake mix. Just spoon it randomly over the top of the cake and do not spread. Bake at 325° for 45 minutes.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced

3 eggs

1/3 cup plain or vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup ground flax seeds (optional)

3/4 tsp. baking spice

1 & 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan (the larger size) with non-stick cooking spray and set it aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the bananas, eggs, yogurt, peanut butter, and the melted butter. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add the sugars and beat well. Add the flax seeds, baking soda, cinnamon and baking spice. Reduce to low speed and mix well. Add the flour and beat until blended. Pour into the loaf pan and bake at 350° for 65 to 75 minutes. Let cool 30 minutes in the pan before removing. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Fruit Cocktail Cake

1 & 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup salad oil

2 cups sifted flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking soda

1 medium can fruit cocktail and juice

1/2 cup coconut

Beat sugar, eggs, and oil together. Add flour, salt and baking soda. Add fruit cocktail and juice. Mix well. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9x13 pan. Sprinkle coconut over batter. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes. While hot spread with the frosting below.

Fruit Cocktail Cake Frosting

1 stick butter of margarine

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup coconut

1/2 cup chopped nuts

In saucepan place margarine, sugar, and evaporated milk. Bring to a boil. Boil one minute stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add vanilla, coconut and nuts. Spread or pour on cake while both are hot. Cake is good served hot or cold.

Norwegian Apricot Bars

Richard’s Note: Shirley says these are their favorite bars!

1 cup dried apricots


1 stick butter

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup flour


2 eggs

1 cup light brown sugar, well packed

1/2 cup flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1/3 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Rinse the apricots. Place in a saucepan and cover with water and bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain well. Cool and cut into small pieces. In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and flour. Blend together until crumbly. Press into the bottom of a greased 9-inch square pan. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. While the crust is baking, prepare the topping. Beat the eggs and add the brown sugar gradually. Add the flour, salt, baking powder and vanilla and mix well. Fold in the nuts and the apricots. Remove the crust from the oven. Spread the topping over the crust, return to the oven and bake for 30 minutes more. Cool and then cut into squares and sprinkle with powdered sugar. (Shirley’s Note: I sprinkle the bars while still in the pan when they cool off and before I cut them.)

Tangy Pork Chops from Shirley Milligan

4 pork chops (1/2 inch thick)

1/2 tsp. salt, optional

1/8 tsp. pepper

2 medium onions, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

1 large green pepper, chopped

1 (14 & 1/2 oz.) can stewed tomatoes

1/2 cup ketchup

2 Tbs. cider vinegar

2 Tbs. brown sugar

2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbs. lemon juice

1 beef bouillon cube

2 Tbs. cornstarch

2 Tbs. water

Hot cooked rice, optional

Place chops in slow cooker and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the onions, celery, green pepper and onions and tomatoes. Combine ketchup, sugar Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and bouillon cube. Pour over vegetables. Cover and cook on high or until thickened and chops have reached desired doneness.

Spaghetti Pie from Shirley Milligan

6 oz. spaghetti

2 Tbs. butter or margarine

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 cup cottage cheese

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper

1 (8 oz.) can tomatoes with liquid, cut up

1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and place in a bowl. Add butter, eggs, and parmesan and mix well. Spread over the bottom and up the sides of a greased 10-inch deep-dish pie plate. Spoon cottage cheese over crust. Set aside. In a skillet, brown the beef, onion and red pepper until beef is browned. Drain. Stir in tomatoes and tomato paste, sugar, oregano, and garlic salt. Spoon over cottage cheese. Bake uncovered at 350° for 20 minutes. Sprinkle mozzarella over top. Return to oven for five minutes or until cheese is melted. Cut into wedges and serve.

Chicken and Dumpling Casserole

Richard’s Note: This is another good recipe from Shirley Milligan. About them Roy says, “When she makes those dumplings, I always eat too much.” And I say: What better endorsement does it need! And I plan to try them soon!

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. pepper

4 cups chicken broth

1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen green peas

4 cups cubed cooked chicken

2 cups buttermilk biscuit mix

2 tsp. dried basil

2/3 cup milk

In a large saucepan, sauté onion, celery and garlic in butter until tender. Add flour, sugar, salt, basil pepper and broth and bring to a boil. Cook and stir one minute. Reduce heat and add peas and cook five minutes stirring constantly. Stir in chicken and pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish. For dumplings combine biscuit mix and basil in a bowl. Stir in milk with a fork until moistened. Drop by tablespoon onto casserole, 12 dumplings. Bake uncovered at 350° for 30 minutes. Cover and bake 10 minutes more or until dumplings are done.