ABERDEEN • Every Sunday, anywhere from 20 to 30 people join Leigh Mobley and her family for lunch at their Aberdeen home.
“In all the time we’ve been doing Sunday lunch, we’ve never run out of food even though I never know how many are coming,” said Mobley, 50. “It’s a God thing.”
Sunday lunch started after Mobley’s oldest daughter, Elise, was killed in an automobile accident in 2011. She was 16.
“I told my husband years ago that I’d cook more if I had a nicer kitchen,” Mobley said. “My husband built me this big kitchen after my daughter died to make me feel better.”
It didn’t make Mobley feel better – time did that – but about four years ago she got to a point where she felt she could move on with her life.
“We had a preacher whose wife didn’t join him in Aberdeen at first and I invited him here for lunch,” she said. “That made me realize how many people at church didn’t have anywhere to go on Sundays or anybody to eat with. So my husband and I started inviting them – pretty soon we got us a core group of 20 to 30.”
Mobley has a running Sunday lunch menu going in a Steno notebook so she can keep up with what she cooks each week and to make sure she doesn’t leave anybody off her to-go-plate list.
“Some of the ladies who used to come a lot got sick, so I fix to-go plates for eight ladies and somebody from Sunday lunch delivers them,” she said.
Mobley, a retired district administrator who spent the last six years of her career at Tupelo High School, still does some consulting work. But her main job these days is being a wife to Keith, her husband of almost 28 years, and mother to Caroline, 18, and Analee, 16. Mobley’s mother, Gwynne Lee Barrett, also lives with the family.
“I’ve always liked to cook, although Mother does not like to cook and never has,” Mobley said. “So I just dabbled. I just got in there and figured it out. I also got a lot of recipes from my mother-in-law so I could cook the dishes my husband likes.”
Twice a year, the Mobleys host a group of Wounded Warriors in their home for a weekend of hunting, food and fellowship and once a year, she invites their wives and caregivers to come eat.
But Sunday lunch is what keeps her going.
“One week we might have ham, sweet potato casserole, broccoli casserole, mac and cheese, potato salad, a mixed green salad and biscuits,” she said. “One week we might have white chicken chili over rice with a salad and Texas toast. The menu depends on how much time I have and how much money I have.”
SPEEDY OATMEAL COOKIES
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup raisins
In a mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, butter and egg and stir until smooth. Add flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, vanilla, nuts and raisins and stir until smooth. Drop by tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet, pressing out flat. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.
PARTY PORK TENDERLOIN SANDWICHES
1/2 stick butter
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin
Cavender’s Greek seasoning
Dale’s steak seasoning
15 to 20 dinner rolls, warmed
Melt butter in an oven-proof skillet on top of the stove. Coat pork with Cavender’s and Dale’s and brown in the melted butter. Put top on skillet, place in the oven and cook at 350 degrees until desired doneness, about 40 minutes. Let pork rest 5 to 10 minutes, then slice in 1/4-inch slices. Cut dinner rolls in half and place a slice in each. Good served with mayo and/or mustard, slaw or white queso dip.
APPLE CASHEW SALAD
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bunch romaine lettuce, torn
1 cup salted cashews
2 medium apples, cut in bite-size pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight lid and shake to combine.
For the salad, in a large serving bowl, combine lettuce, cashews, apples and cranberries. When ready to serve, dress the salad (you won’t need all the dressing).
Note: Blueberry juice-infused cranberries can be used; pears can substitute for apples; sweet apples like Honey Crisp and Pink Lady work best.
NANA’S MACARONI AND CHEESE
1 (16-ounce) package elbow macaroni
4 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup milk
Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain. To the drained macaroni, add 2 cups cheese, soup and mayonnaise and stir to combine. Pour mixture into a greased casserole. Sprinkle remaining 2 cups of cheese on top and pour milk over all. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and cheese has melted.
FANNIE’S ASPARAGUS CASSEROLE
2 tablespoons plus 1 stick butter, divided
2 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 (15-ounce) can Green Giant asparagus spears
Salt and pepper
1 sleeve saltine crackers
5 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Melt 2 tablespoons butter on the stove and add flour. Add milk and the juice from the can of asparagus can (will be about 1 cup). Stir constantly and cook until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Crush saltine crackers, melt remaining 1 stick butter, and mix the two together. Layer half the buttered cracker crumbs in the bottom of a deep baking dish that’s been greased. Top with half the asparagus, half the eggs and half the cheese. Pour half the white sauce on top. Top with remaining asparagus, eggs and cheese. Pour remaining white sauce over all. Top with remaining buttered crackers.
Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly, about 30 minutes. Remove cover and brown crackers on top.
BREAKFAST CINNAMON CRESCENTS
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
8 large marshmallows
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 can crescent rolls, separated in 8 triangles
Combine cinnamon and sugar with a fork in a shallow dish. Roll a marshmallow in melted butter, then in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Wrap each marshmallow tightly in a crescent roll, sealing all the edges. Place in a well-greased muffin tin. Drizzle any remaining butter over the top of each crescent roll and sprinkle with any remaining cinnamon-sugar. Bake at 375 degrees until done, about 15 to 20 minutes. It’s OK is the marshmallow oozes out some.