NEW ALBANY • You might say Denia McCord snagged her husband, Chris, because she could cook. The two met 32 years ago when both were working at Cooper Tire.

“On our first date, he took me out to a restaurant to see how much I ate,” McCord said. “On our second date, I made him supper. He says that was to see if I could cook. On the third date, he gave me a ring.”

The couple, who live in the Liberty community outside New Albany, dated three months and married in 1989. They have two children and six grandchildren.

“Chris got saved in 1998 and surrendered to preaching in 2000,” she said. He’s the pastor at Limestone Baptist Church in Nettleton, and she’s a homemaker.

As early as McCord can remember, she was in the kitchen with her mother, the late Jo Ann Roberson, who was featured as a Cook of the Week in 2013.

“Mother could get in there and throw anything together with nothing,” said McCord, 57. “She didn’t use measurements, and I don’t either. I’ve got three bowls I use. I just know how much of each ingredient to put in each bowl.”

McCord said she doesn’t cook with a lot of spices, and she doesn’t consider herself a fancy cook.

“I’m just a plain Jane,” she said. “When Chris and I first married, he wouldn’t eat a casserole. He wanted peas and okra. Now, he’ll eat just about anything.”

Her first job was at Jimbo’s restaurant in New Albany, when she was 15. She’s also worked at Ecru Fish and Steak, in the cafeteria at Ingomar School, and at George’s, Bryant’s Fish and Steak, and Western Sizzlin in New Albany.

“Every place I’ve worked, I’ve learned a new recipe,” McCord said. “But I don’t share those with people.”

McCord likes to make cakes, pies, candies and casseroles for family, friends and neighbors. And every year for Christmas, she gives each church family at Limestone their choice of one of her specialties.

“My church gave me a KitchenAid mixer because I bake them cakes each year,” she said.

At home, McCord only cooks about once a week – but she cooks big.

“I don’t know how to do a small amount,” she said. “I’ll cook all sorts of vegetables – green beans, sweet potatoes, slaw – to eat on during the week. Then I might make different meats, like grilled chicken or hamburger steaks or meatloaf. I love to do cabbage wrapped in bacon with garlic salt and butter. You bake that in the oven. It’s so good.”

Because she doesn’t use many recipes, McCord often gets in the kitchen and just throws together whatever she’s got.

“Chris will say, ‘What is that?’ and I’ll say, ‘I don’t know.’ He’ll call it Denia’s Delight, though I’m not sure how delightful it is.”

More from Ginna Parsons:

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COOK OF THE WEEK: Wren homemaker likes to think outside the box


1 pound ground chuck

1/2 onion, chopped

Garlic salt

1 (14-ounce) jar pizza sauce

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

1 (8-count) can flaky biscuits

Place ground chuck and onion in a skillet. Season with garlic salt. Cook until meat is brown and crumbly and onion is tender. Drain.

Combine the meat mixture with the jar of pizza sauce and stir to mix. Pour into a greased 9x13-inch casserole. Sprinkle with Cheddar and Mozzarella cheeses.

Pull each biscuit apart into 2 or 3 rounds. Place on top of cheeses. Bake at 400 degrees until biscuits are browned, about 20 minutes.


1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 packet lemonade Kool-Aid

1 (8-ounce) tub whipped topping

1 regular graham cracker pie crust

In a bowl, mix sweetened condensed milk and lemonade powder. Fold in whipped topping. Pour into the crust. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


4 eggs

2 boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix

1 (16-ounce) container small-curd cottage cheese

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 sticks margarine, melted

1 (10-ounce) package frozen broccoli, thawed and chopped

1 to 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

In a 4-cup mixing bowl, beat eggs lightly. Add muffin mix, cottage cheese, onion, melted margarine, broccoli and cheese. Mix well. Pour into a 12x17-inch cookie sheet with a rim. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Note: If desired, put the cottage cheese and onion in a blender for a smoother consistency. If you want to cook the cornbread in a smaller pan, you’ll need to cook it longer. Recipe can easily be halved.


1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil, plus 1 tablespoon

2 cups self-rising corn meal

1 cup water

Place 1 tablespoon oil in an 8-inch cast iron skillet. In a bowl, combine corn meal, remaining 1/2 cup oil and water. Mix until well blended. Pour into skillet. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

Note: This recipe doesn’t contain milk or eggs.


2 sticks margarine

2 1/2 cups sugar, divided

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour

3/4 cup milk

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

3/4 cup hot water

Melt margarine in a 9x13-inch casserole. In a bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, flour and milk. Pour over the melted margarine. Do not stir. Combine remaining 1 cup sugar and cocoa powder and sprinkle over mixture. Do not stir. Pour hot water on top. Do not stir. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until browned.


1 pound ground chuck

1/2 onion, chopped

1 can cream of mushroom soup

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1 bag tater tots

Brown the ground chuck and onion. Drain. Add the cream of mushroom and stir to combine, Pour the beef mixture into a greased 9x13-inch casserole. Sprinkle with cheese. Top with tater tots. Bake at 400 degrees for at least 30 minutes.


1 pound ground chuck

1 can cream of mushroom soup

Divide the ground chuck into four portions and flatten each into a patty. Cook the patties in an oven-safe skillet until done. Pour the soup over all and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. Serve alongside vegetables.


2 sticks unsalted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, melt butter. Add both sugars and mix. Add eggs and vanilla and mix.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, and add to wet ingredients, mixing well. Fold in chocolate chips. Don’t overmix.

Drop by spoonful onto baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.


1 cup chopped pecans, divided

1 box butter pecan cake mix

1 tub coconut pecan frosting

3/4 cup oil

4 eggs

1 cup water

In a mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup chopped pecans, cake mix, frosting, oil, eggs and water.

Grease and flour a Bundt pan. Sprinkle the bottom with remaining 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Spoon batter into pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes.

DO YOU KNOW A GOOD COOK? Send your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, P.O. Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can call (662) 678-1581 or email them to

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