Born in Massachusetts, I was raised on fresh seafood and traditional New England dinners. But when I moved to the South 12 years ago, I was introduced to different foods that have deliciously expanded my cooking style.
The menu I am sharing—Grilled Country Ribs, Sweet Potato Biscuits, Triple-Cheese Macaroni and Classic Red Velvet Cake—reflects this! Y'all gotta love it!
I couldn't move down south and not learn how to cook ribs. So I struggled through dry ribs, tough ribs and even salty ribs until I finally came up with this tasty finger-lickin' recipe.
Prebaking the ribs before grilling them is the secret to their tenderness. The meat just falls off the bone. And I'm proud to say that even my Southern friends have given my barbecue sauce their stamp of approval.
My Triple-Cheese Macaroni really wows my family, which believes "the more cheese, the better!" This rich and creamy casserole is popular for any party or holiday meal and is great to take to a covered-dish buffet or cookout.
She Married a Southerner
Speaking of family, one of the greatest blessings that my move has brought me is my husband, Milton, and his family. I am stepmother to Milton II and twin brother and sister Lindsay and Alexandria.
They all like biscuits, which are a staple in the area. But plain biscuits can get a little boring after a while. So I started searching for something new and tasty to spice up Sunday dinner.
After tweaking the spices a bit, I finally came up with this version of Sweet Potato Biscuits. Everyone falls in love with their unique flavor. They are especially tasty with honey butter.
Classic Red Velvet Cake is my specialty dessert. This bright red cake has a mild chocolate flavor and sweet cream cheese icing. It is absolutely addictive!
I'd better not show up at a family event without bringing this eye-catching treat. In fact, I've been known to spend several days baking layer after layer to serve a crowd!
Cooking's in Her Genes
My mother, Jean P., and my grandmother took me under their wings and taught me all the basics of cooking. Even my father is excellent in the kitchen, making the best candy in town. He's been known to grill the most tender of steaks in the cold winter winds that blow off the Atlantic Ocean. So cooking comes second nature to me.
But as I mentioned earlier, I knew nothing about Southern cooking when I moved to North Carolina, and I had to adapt very quickly. I switched my Cream of Wheat for grits and spinach for collard greens. With fresh fish not as readily available, I learned how to fry chicken and make barbecue.
My mother-in-law, a great Southern cook, has shared some of her best recipes—like pound cake and carrot cake—which I treasure. It seems to me you can never get enough pointers or recipes!
Variety Spices Their Meals
Now Milton and I enjoy the best of both worlds—great New England Clam Chowda—(when I'm feeling homesick) and the good ol' Southern meals that I've learned how to cook quite well.
In my spare time, I enjoy making wedding and other cakes for friends and family. I like to go fishing with Milton, dabble at arranging flowers and grow a few fresh vegetables.
I am also a deacon at First United Presbyterian Church (where I helped write the church's cookbook), sing with a gospel choir and do volunteer work.
My mother introduced me to Taste of Home years ago when she was featured in an issue. Since then, I have loved the magazine and tried many of the favorite recipes from readers.
Now it's my turn, and I'm delighted to share this casual meal. Hopefully, it will have you and your family smacking your lips. Enjoy my favorite Southern fare!
Quick Tips from Katie
- When grilling meat, salt it after cooking. If you salt meat or poultry prior to grilling, the salt will draw out the moisture and make it dry.
- A bit of nonstick cooking spray on your grater prevents cheese from sticking to it.
- To help cakes rise higher, have all ingredients at room temperature.
- An easy way to butter corn on the cob is to use a slice of buttered bread.
- Instead of cooking fish in butter, use a little chicken broth—it is less fattening.
- To remove the odor of raw fish from your hands, squeeze a wedge of fresh lemon into your hands, rub your hands with the juice and rinse them well.
- When making meatballs, I shape the meat into a long roll and cut it into the size balls I prefer. It saves time!
- For lighter fluffier pancakes made from a mix, substitute carbonated water for the water called for in the mix.
- Place a fresh lettuce leaf on the surface of soup to remove some of the fat; discard the leaf before serving soup. A raw potato added to salty soup will absorb some extra salt.