Desserts are Johnston's favorite to cook

ALICE ORTIZ/BUY AT PHOTOS.MONROECOUNTYJOURNAL.COMAnnelle Johnston's pecan pie cake towers over the old Better Homes and Garden Cookbook she is holding as the newer one lies on the table.

AMORY – Growing up, Annelle Johnston remembers sitting on a cabinet or a stool watching her mother cook.

“I guess the first thing I cooked was two-flavor fudge at Christmas as gifts for my teachers,” said Johnston. “I'm sure my mother had to help me since I was only 12 years old.”

She was close to 14 when her mother went to work, and she would sometimes cook supper.

“My mother was a good cook and my two sisters and I learned from her. I still have my mother's old Better Homes & Garden cookbook, which I have had to tape up. I have a newer Better Homes & Garden cookbook, and it is my favorite.”

Johnston said desserts were her favorite to cook, and she cooks with real butter.

Dishes people usually request from her include chicken spaghetti and chocolate meringue pie. There can't be a family gathering without her having Mama's cheesy potatoes.

“The doctor's office likes my banana pudding,” she said. “I found the pecan pie cake recipe on the Internet and now that's a favorite place to look for new recipes.”

Johnston is trying to perfect her grandmother's chicken pot pie. It is different from any chicken pot pie recipe she has seen in that it is made with a bottom and top crust, meat and sliced boiled eggs in the middle and nothing else. What gives her the biggest problem is the liquid mixture.

In addition to cooking, she makes quilts, sews, does crafts and her favorite all-time hobby is reading.

Chicken and Spaghetti

1 hen, cooked, de-boned and cut up

1 1/2 cups onions, diced

1 1/2 cups celery, diced

1 cup bell pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic

1 can tomato paste

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 small can sliced mushrooms

3 – 8 oz. pkgs. of spaghetti

Cook onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic in chicken broth until tender. Cook spaghetti in chicken broth until done. Add pimento, sugar, mushrooms and tomato paste to mixture.

Simmer together, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

Note: I add a can of Rotel tomatoes and a can of tomato puree to mine. Serve with grated cheese, green salad and rolls. You have some good eating and one of our all-time favorites.

Cheesy Potatoes

6 medium potatoes

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded mild cheddar cheese

1/2 cup milk

2 Tbsp. butter

8 oz. sour cream

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

Butter

Paprika

Cook whole potatoes in boiling salted water about 30 minutes or until tender. Cool. Peel and grate potatoes.

Melt butter and combine with sour cream, salt, pepper, milk, cheese, and stir in potatoes.

Pour into greased 2-quart casserole, dot with butter, and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Makes 6 servings.

Festive Sweet Potatoes

3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1 tsp. Vanilla

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup flaked coconut

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 cup chopped pecans

Combine first six ingredients, mixing well. Spoon into lightly greased 8-inch square dish.

Combine remaining ingredients; sprinkle over top of sweet potatoes. Bake at 375 degrees or until golden brown.

Makes 6 servings.

Chocolate Pie

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 cup sugar

3 Tbsp. cocoa

3 Tbsp. Butter

2 cups milk

3 slightly beaten egg yolks

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla

3 egg whites

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

6 Tbsp. sugar

Mix cornstarch, sugar, cocoa and salt; add milk, egg yolks and butter. Cook over medium heat until it boils and thickens, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour into baked pie crust. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff. Gradually add sugar and beat well. Top pie with meringue and brown.

Pecan Pie Cake

Pecan Pie Filling

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

3/4 cup dark corn syrup

1/3 cup cornstarch

4 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups Half and Half

1/8 tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. butter

1 tsp. real vanilla extract

Whisk together the first six ingredients in a heavy 3-quart saucepan until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, and boil for 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from heat; whisk in butter and vanilla. Place a sheet of wax paper directly on surface of mixture to prevent a film from forming, and chill at least 4 hours.

Pecan Pie Cake

3 cups finely chopped pecans, toasted and divided

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/2 cup shortening

2 cups sugar

5 large eggs, separated

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup dark corn syrup, for brushing cake layers before done

Sprinkle 2 cups of pecans evenly into generously buttered 9-inch round cake pans; shake to coat bottoms and side of pans. Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

Combine flour and baking soda. Add to butter mixture alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in remaining 1 cup of pecans. Beat egg whites at medium speed until stiff peaks form, and fold one-third egg whites into batter. Fold in remaining egg whites (DO NOT over mix). Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. I always set time to go off 5 minutes before to be safe. Silly oven!

Check for doneness with toothpick inserted in center. Cool in pans on wire racks for about 10 minutes, then invert onto wire racks. Put some wax paper down under the wire racks. Trust me, you will be glad you did.! Brush the tops and sides of layers with corn syrup and cool completely. (See, aren't you glad you listened?)

Spread half of pecan pie filling on one layer, pecan side up. Place second layer, pecan side up, on filling, and spread with remaining filling. Top with remaining layer, pecan side up.

Margarette's Banana Pudding Supreme

8 oz. cream cheese

14 oz. can of Eagle Brand milk

2 cups milk

6 oz. pkg. instant pudding mix

8 oz. carton thawed Cool whip

6 sliced bananas

12 oz. box of vanilla wafers

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Stir in Eagle Brand, pudding mix and milk. Fold in half of Cool Whip. Layer cookies, pudding mixture and bananas in dish. Top with remaining Cool Whip and chill.

Italian Cream Cake

1 cup softened buttered

2 cups sugar

5 large eggs, separated

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup chopped pecans

1 1/3 cups coconut

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

Grease three 9-inch round cake pans; line with wax paper. Grease and flour wax paper. Set aside. Beat butter until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Combine flour and soda; add to butter mixture, alternately with buttermilk beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix at low speed after each addition until blended.

Stir in pecans, coconut and vanilla. Beat egg whites at high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until stiff peaks form. Gently form egg whites into batter. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until done. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove from pans and peel off wax paper. Cool layers completely on wire racks.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 1/2 – 8 oz. block cream cheese, softened

3/4 cups butter, softened

1 lb. box powdered sugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla. Spread between layers and sides of cake.

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