Tag Archives: Taste of the South Mag

Banana Pudding Poke Cake

Banana Pudding Poke Cake

It’s not a secret: I LOVE banana pudding and frankly, anything else that even halfway resembles it. It’s been this way since childhood. So when I receive a cooking magazine in the mail and one of its featured recipes is a banana pudding poke cake, it was imperative that I drop everything and bake it, immediately.

Banana Pudding Poke Cake

Oh. Wow. This is everything you think it’s going to be. A lovely cake moistened by vanilla pudding, sliced bananas, all underneath a light whipped cream frosting. And of course, those ‘Nilla wafers crumbled on top. It speaks for itself, really.

Banana Pudding Poke Cake

Banana Pudding Poke Cake

A perfect Indian summer treat! Enjoy!

Source: Taste of the South Magazine, May/June 2016


¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 cup whole buttermilk
½ cup mashed banana
½ tsp vanilla extract

1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp kosher salt
3 ½ cups whole milk, divided
8 large egg yolks
1 tbs unsalted butter
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

3 medium slightly underripe bananas, sliced
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2-4 tbs confectioners’ sugar
Whole and crushed vanilla wafers, for garnish

First, make the CAKE: preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with baking spray.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Add mashed banana and vanilla, beating just until combined. Pour into prepared baking dish, smoothing the top.
Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, then use a wooden spoon to poke holes in the warm cake.
While the cake is baking, make the PUDDING: in a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, and salt. Whisk in ½ cup milk and the egg yolks. In a large saucepan, place remaining 3 cups milk. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Whisk 1 cup hot milk mixture into egg mixture, pouring slowly and whisking constantly. Now whisk the egg mixture into remaining hot milk in the saucepan, again pouring slowly and whisking constantly. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once it is boiling, cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla, stirring until butter melts and is completely combined. Let cool 10 minutes (if it cools more than this, it’s fine).
Once the cake is out of the oven, rested, and poked, pour the pudding over the cake. Cover and refrigerate until chilled about 4 hours.
Meanwhile, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and whip more until stronger peaks form.
Uncover the cake, top all over with the sliced banana, then spread the whipped cream smoothly all over the banana. Sprinkle with crushed vanilla wafers and wedge whole wafers around the border of the cake, if desired.

Poppy Seed Chicken Skillet Casserole

Poppy Seed Chicken Skillet Casserole

I love the days when my cooking/food magazines show up in my mailbox. I get almost as excited as Billy Madison did when his pornos arrived, and I silently chant “Foodie magazine day! Foodie magazine day!” to myself, something I probably shouldn’t admit out loud. But, whatever.

Poppy Seed Chicken Skillet Casserole

So a couple months ago my Taste of the South magazine showed up, and this recipe immediately screamed “you must make me!!!” Because it was definitely winter then, and mild winter or not, a creamy baked chicken dish sounded heavenly, plus I was inexplicably giddy about the idea of garnishing the top with crushed Cheez-It* crackers that have been coated in melted butter.

Poppy Seed Chicken Skillet Casserole

Having grown up where I did, I feel almost positive that at some point I’d eaten a poppy seed chicken casserole during childhood – it just sounded so familiar. But I’m quite certain that the one(s) I ate did not have crushed cheese crackers on the top, because I think I would have remembered that! As I’ll likely remember this one, always.

poppy seed chicken skillet casserole

It lived up to my high hopes and drooling anticipation, with lusciously creamy chicken studded with soft mushrooms, and totally complemented by crunchy, familiar cheese cracker crumbs. A perfect mid-winter, cozy supper. I highly recommend. Enjoy!

Poppy Seed Chicken Skillet Casserole

Source: Taste of the South Magazine, January/February 2016

½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup chopped cremini mushrooms (can also use white button if you prefer)
½ cup chopped yellow onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup whole milk
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 cups shredded cooked chicken (I used the entirety of a small store-bought rotisserie chicken)
1 tbs poppy seeds
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 cups crushed cheese crackers, such as Cheez-Its
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Place a 12” cast-iron skillet over medium heat and melt the stick of butter. Add mushrooms and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly for about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the chicken stock. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, 4-5 minutes. Whisk in the milk, then immediately shut off the heat and stir in the cream cheese until melted and smooth. Now stir in chicken, poppy seeds, salt, and pepper.
In a small bowl, stir together the crushed cheese crackers and melted butter. Smooth out the chicken mixture in the skillet, then sprinkle the crushed cracker mixture over the top evenly.
Bake until bubbly, 25-30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

* I mention Cheez-Its simply because that is what I used. This post is not sponsored or paid for by a third party in any way.

Pecan Pie Cake

Pecan Pie Cake

While I’m all about pies for Thanksgiving, the Christmas season always screams “CAKE!!!” to me. Not sure why, probably some unexplored childhood thing lying deep in my subconscious; whatever it is, it bothers no one, myself included, so I’ll likely keep baking cakes every December.

Much of the time the month of December is harried and I want simple cakes that can be thrown together quickly and still taste amazing (such a cake coming to you tomorrow!). But the holiday season does deserve at least one real show-stopper of a cake, doesn’t it? Obviously I think so.

Pecan Pie Cake

Here we have pecan pie being transformed into a very tall, generously frosted layer cake here. Let me warn/tell you, this baby is RICH! Like, I only ate three bites at a time, rich. Like, make sure there are at least twenty teeth brushings between your last bite of this cake and your next dentist’s appointment. This is most definitely a once-a-year-only cake, but for that one time a year, it is so worth it.

Pecan Pie Cake

It tastes just as advertised – all the flavors and textures of pecan pie, but it’s clearly cake! Extremely delicious and festive, and totally worth the effort. Your family and guests will think so anyways. Enjoy!

Pecan Pie Cake

Source: Taste of the South Special Collector’s Issue: Southern Christmas, December 2015


1 ½ cups toasted pecans, finely chopped
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk
1 tbs vanilla extract
Coarsely chopped pecans for garnish

1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup dark corn syrup (you can substitute 1/3 cup light corn syrup and 1/3 cup sorghum syrup)
5 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup water
½ tsp salt
2 cups unsalted butter, softened and divided
7 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 to 3 tbs whole milk, as needed

First make the CAKE: preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper, then spray the parchment with cooking spray. Sprinkle ½ cup chopped pecans in each prepared pan.
In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed with a mixer until fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Scrape the side of the bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in thirds, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating until just combined after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Divided batter evenly among the prepared cake pans, smoothing the tops.
Bake until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pans completely.
Meanwhile, make the PECAN PIE FILLING: in a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, eggs, pecans, and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before using.
Now make the BROWN SUGAR FROSTING: in a small saucepan, bring brown sugar, 1/3 cup water, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves, approximately 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in ½ cup butter until it melts. Let cool completely.
In a large bowl, beat cooled brown sugar mixture and remaining 1 ½ cups softened butter at medium speed with a mixer until creamy. With mixer on low speed, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, beating until combined. If needed, add milk, 1 tbs at a time, until the frosting is spreadable consistency. I didn’t need any milk.
Assemble the cake: place one cake on a cake plate and spread half the Pecan Pie Filling on top. Top with a second layer of cake, then spread the remaining half of the Pecan Pie Filling on top. Place the third cake on top, and then frost the entire top and sides of the cake with the Brown Sugar Frosting. Sprinkle the top of the frosted cake with the chopped pecans for garnish, if desired.

Fig Glazed Pork and Okra Kabobs

Fig Glazed pork and okra kabobs 4918

Part of my motivation for food blogging in the first place is to document my love of trying new (to me) foods. Sometimes it’s a new ingredient, other times, a new technique. And then other times, it’s not a new ingredient, nor a new technique, but a technique I’ve never before applied to a certain ingredient.

fresh okra 4933

Fig Glazed Pork and Okra Kabobs 4907

Like this recipe I’m sharing today. I am no stranger to either okra or grilling, but never before last weekend had I ever put okra on a skewer and grilled it. But when I saw such a recipe in the latest issue of Taste of the South, I knew I had to add this notch to my culinary belt.

fig glazed pork and okra kabobs 4924

Clearly, I have been missing out. Not only do these pork and okra skewers look really cool, they also taste pretty darn good. The fig glaze is subtle, just a hint of sweet-and-spicy lacquered glaze. The okra gets charred and crispy at the edges, with the center still pleasantly mushy, and properly cooked okra should be. The pork was melt-in-your-mouth moist and so delicious.

Fig Glazed Pork and okra kabobs 4934

Try it, before the dumb weather won’t let us grill anymore!

Fig Glazed Pork and Okra kabobs 4940

{One Year Ago: Rosemary Skewered Chipotle Shrimp, Fried Green Tomato and Pimento Cheese Tart, Custard Tart with Wine-Poached Grapes}
{Two Years Ago: Roast Chicken with Honey Mustard Black Pepper Sauce and Hatch Chile Spoonbread, Hot and Sour Soup}

Source: adapted from Taste of the South Magazine, July/August 2014

5-6 figs, stemmed and chopped
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 heaping tsp whole grain mustard
1 scant tsp honey
Dash of hot sauce
2 lbs. pork tenderloin, silver skin removed
18 small to medium fresh okra, halved lengthwise
Wooden skewers, soaked in water for a few minutes

Preheat your grill to high heat.
Add the figs to a small saucepan, along with the balsamic vinegar and about ½ cup water. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let it go until the mixture is thickened and the figs are soft to the point of mushy. Use a potato masher to mash the figs and let the mixture thicken a little more. This whole process takes maybe 10 minutes. Shut off the heat and strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a small to medium mixing bowl. Use a large spoon to press on the solids to extract as much fig flavor as possible. Discard the solids. Add to the mixing bowl salt and pepper to taste, mustard, honey and hot sauce. Whisk to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Set aside.
Cut the pork tenderloin into nice chunks appropriate for the skewers. Thread the pork chunks and the halved okra pieces onto the skewers in whatever fashion suits your fancy – alternating, or by twosies, or randomized, or what have you. Season both sides of each skewer generously with salt and black pepper.
Wipe down your grill grate with a paper towel soaked in canola oil. Lay the skewers on the grill, trying to get them not too close together. Work in batches if you need to. Grill about 3-4 minutes per side. Brush one side with the fig glaze. Turn and grill for 1 minute. Brush the remaining side with fig glaze, turn and grill 1 minute more. Transfer the kabobs to a platter and serve immediately.