Since it will soon be Cinco de mayo some of the recipes today have a south-of-the-border flavor. I always think it is fun to mark certain days with a recipe, kinda like I always make something with cherries in in on George Washington’s birthday! Cinco De mayo celebrates the end of French rule in Mexico, and had that not happened, history in this hemisphere could have taken a completely different turn! History lessons aside, you might enjoy serving up something with a touch of olé this week.

Someone asked me recently about making Southern Sweet Tea. Sometimes we take these simple things for granted, assuming everyone knows how. Here is how I do it. I like my tea rich and strong.

I fill a medium-sized pan about half full of water. I heat the water and three family-sized tea bags just to the boiling point. I leave the tea in the hot water for about five minutes to steep, but I sometimes leave them the better part of a day because I like it really strong. I then stir in the sugar, or other sweetener to taste. If using sugar, I most generally use just shy of a cup. Stir until dissolved. Finish filling the pan with cold water, enough to fill your tea pitcher. Allow to cool additionally if necessary and then pour into your half-gallon pitcher. Finish filling with cold water. I recently broke a good pitcher by pouring in tea that was too hot, so watch it. This tea can then be enjoyed over ice immediately!

Not long ago, Annie McCoy and I had a chat about squash dressing and I told her about an easy, no-egg, squash dressing concoction I had dreamed up, and during the chat she told me about her grandmother Mary Best Jerkin’s squash dressing which she happily shared with me.

I got two great strawberry recipes this week. Look for them! Make something good, stay safe, and let me hear from you!

There are several good recipes here today, but I’d love to share one of YOURS!

Both the strawberry recipes in the column today were sent to me and I am happily passing them along today.

Strawberry Pudding Squares from Yvonne Marler Mickel

In an 11x14 cake pan or casserole dish, line the bottom with plain graham crackers. May need to break to cover the whole bottom. Mix a large box of instant vanilla pudding accordingly to directions. Fold in an 8oz. thawed container of Cool Whip, and an 8 oz. can of Eagle Brand condensed milk. Fold well. Cover graham crackers with half of the pudding mix. Cover pudding layer with thinly sliced strawberries(I did not sweeten them.) I did drain them very well. Add another layer of Graham crackers, the rest of the pudding and another layer of berries. You could top with Cool Whip and a sprinkling of nuts, but I didn’t. Allow to chill for a few hours. The pudding will set up and the Graham crackers soften, allowing you to serve in nice squares. It would be perfect for a potluck.

Strawberry Sheet Cake

….is bursting with strawberry flavor and covered in a thick layer of fresh strawberry buttercream.

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 30 minutes

Total Time 45 minutes

Cake:

2 heaping cups sliced fresh strawberries

1 (16.5 oz.) box white cake mix

3 large eggs

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 (3-ounce) package strawberry gelatin

Lightly spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and preheat oven to 350°. Place two cups of strawberries in a blender or food processor and process until very finely chopped. Measure out one cup. Add cake mix, eggs, and vegetable oil to a mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to mix well. Mix in the one cup of strawberry puree and the (dry) strawberry gelatin. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool.

Strawberry Frosting:

2 cups sliced strawberries

1 cup butter, softened

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Process the remaining two cups strawberries in a blender or food processor until smooth. If you had leftover strawberries from making the cake batter, you can combine them.

Place strawberry puree in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally until thickened. You should have about one-third cup. Let cool completely. Use an electric mixer to beat butter until creamy. Beat in one cup of sugar and then half of the one-third cup of reduced strawberry puree. Beat in vanilla extract. Beat in another cup of confectioners’ sugar and remaining puree. Beat in final cup of confectioners’ sugar. Spread frosting on cooled cake. Servings 16.

Richard’s Simple Squash Dressing Concoction

3 to 4 cups cut up squash

1 diced onion

2 cups water (or chicken broth)

2 Tbs. chicken bouillon (may omit if using broth)

1 pkg. Stove Top dressing (I used the cranberry variety)

Salt and pepper as desired (go light on the salt if using bouillon)

Boil the squash and onions together in the water (or broth). Stir in the dressing mix, adding more liquid if necessary. Cover until ready to serve. (Note: I served this with a simple green salad for a light, simple supper, and it was actually pretty good!)

Squash Custard

1 & 1/2 cups squash (cooked and mashed)

1 cup sweet milk

3 eggs (beat well)

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. nutmeg

Bake in pie shell in 350° oven for one hour.

Old Virginia Spoon Bread

1 cup corn meal

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups water

2 tablespoons butter

3 eggs

1 cup cold water

Stir corn meal and salt into water. Bring to a boil. Cook one minute. Remove from heat; add melted butter. Beat and add eggs. Add ice cold milk. Pour into hot buttered 2-quart casserole dish. Bake for 25 minutes at 425°.

Never-Fail Corn Pudding

4 ears corn

3 Tbls. sugar

3 Tbs. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

Pepper

2 eggs, beaten

1 & 1/2 Tbs. butter, melted

1 cup milk

Cut corn off cob, scraping ears. Add sugar, flour, salt and pepper. Blend in beaten eggs, butter and milk. Bake in greased casserole at 325° for about one and one-half hours. Serves four.

Crab Meat Shrimp Casserole

3/4 cup celery, chopped

1/4 cup green pepper, chopped

1/4 cup onion, chopped

2 Tbs. butter

1 lb. crab meat

3/4 lb. shrimp

3/4 cup mayonnaise

Dash cayenne

Dash salt

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup buttered bread crumbs

Saute’ first three ingredients in butter. Add these to seafood. Then add rest of ingredients, topping with bread crumbs. Bake in 2-quart casserole for 45 minutes at 375°. Serves six to eight.

Blended Lemon Pie

Richard’s Note: You’ll probably never make an easier lemon pie than this one, and it is bursting with flavor! I got the recipe from a Pan Am flight attendant years ago, and it is a favorite.

1 lemon (seeded and cut into 8 pieces)—use the whole lemon, peel and all.

4 eggs

1 stick soft margarine

2 cups sugar

Blend eggs and lemon together in a blender. Add stick of margarine and sugar (one cup at a time). Pour into an unbaked 9-inch pie shell and bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

3 Envelope Roast

3 lb. beef roast such as chuck roast

1 envelope of dry Italian salad dressing mix

1 envelope of dry ranch salad dressing mix

1 envelope of dry brown gravy mix

2 cups water

Put the water in a measuring cup that is larger then the amount of water you are using. Now add and mix all three envelopes to the water. Mix until blended completely. Brown the roast (if desired). Add the meat to your cooker. Pour the water, salad dressing mixture over the roast. In the slow cooker cook it on high for about four hours on low about eight hours.

Rotel Chicken Mexican Casserole

3 split fryer breasts cooked and cubed

1 bag of tortilla chips crushed

1 can of Rotel

1 can Cream of Chicken soup

1 small can of chopped green chiles

1 lb. of Velvetta or American Cheese

Cook and dice your chicken. Mix together your Rotel, Soup, Green Chiles, and cubed Cheese. Heat this mixture in a microwave till melted and then add your chicken. In a Celebrating Home casserole dish, layer one-half your chips and one-half your cheese mixture. Repeat these layers and top with a few crushed chips. Bake at 350° until hot and bubbly.

Sloppy Joes

Some good buns and some slaw and you have supper!!

2 lbs. ground beef (I use ground round 85/15)

1 onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

2 or 3 celery stalks, chopped

1 (18 oz.) bottle ketchup

1 Tbs. yellow mustard

1 Tbs. vinegar

1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbs. brown sugar

Brown ground beef with the onions, drain if necessary. Add remaining ingredients, cover and simmer for one hour or until vegetables are soft. Stirring occasionally.

Quick Sloppy Joes

1 lb. ground beef

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. prepared yellow mustard

3/4 cup ketchup

3 tsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

In a skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef, onion, and green pepper; drain. Stir in the garlic powder, salt, pepper, mustard, ketchup, and brown sugar; mix thoroughly. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Fiesta Chicken Bake

This delicious Mexican-style recipe can be adjusted depending on the amount and kinds of chilies you use.

5 boneless cooked chicken breasts

2 cans cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1 (4 oz.) can green chilies

1 large onion chopped

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 cup grated Monterrey Jack cheese

2 Tbs. ground cumin

8 oz. sour cream

1 (13 oz.) bag tortilla chips

Cook the chicken and cut into cubes. Mix the chicken with all the other ingredients except the tortilla chips. Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously grease a 9x13 baking pan. Crumble the bag of chips. Stir three-fourth of the chips into the chicken mixture. Spread the mixture into the baking pan and then put the rest of the chips over the top. Bake for about 40 minutes. (Note: This is great served with warm tortillas, olives, tomatoes and anything else you like!)

Easy Red Chile Pasta (Pasta con Chile Rojo)

8 oz. fettucine cooked according to directions

10 oz. sliced chicken breast (deli is okay)

1 (8 oz.) bottle red chile taco sauce

3/4 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup sliced green onions

1 small can ripe olives, sliced

1 cup Mexican blend cheese

Combine cooked pasta with the chicken and chicken broth and heat through, stirring constantly. Place in serving dish. Top with onions, olives, and cheese.