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Seasonal dishes bring flavor to summer

FRANKLIN LIVING—

Summertime in the South is for grilling, barbecuing, fish fries and wonderfully fresh meals from the garden. For Amy McCollum, it’s also an opportunity to spend more time cooking with her daughters. Here are a few of her favorite recipes to tempt the tastebuds.

Southern Fried Catfish

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound catfish filets, cut in strips
  • 1 1/2 cups fine cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay
  • 1 quart vegetable oil, for deep frying

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix buttermilk, water, salt and pepper.
  2. Pour mixture into a flat pan large enough to hold the fillets.
  3. Spread fish in one layer over bottom of pan, turning to coat each side, and set aside to marinate.
  4. In a 2-gallon resealable plastic bag, combine the cornmeal, flour and seafood seasoning.
  5. Add fish to the bag, a few fillets at a time, and tumble gently to coat evenly.
  6. Heat oil in deep fryer to 365 degrees.
  7. Deep-fry fillets until golden brown. Fish should be slightly crisp on the outside and moist and flaky inside.
  8. Drain on paper towels.

Southern Squash Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 6 yellow squash, about 2 pounds, sliced (about 6 cups total)
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup crushed butter crackers (e.g., 18 Ritz crackers)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add squash, onion and bell pepper to the skillet, cooking and stirring for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  4. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise.
  6. Stir the egg mixture into the squash mixture.
  7. Transfer the squash mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  8. In a separate bowl, combine crushed crackers with remaining tablespoon of melted butter.
  9. Sprinkle buttered cracker crumbs over top of casserole.
  10. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until casserole is set and topping is golden brown.

Southern Baked Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 large cans Bush’s Southern Pit Barbecue Baked Beans
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 small sweet onion, finely diced and cooked
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, finely diced and cooked
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 slices bacon, halved (to top baked beans, optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Cook ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. Chop as it is cooking so the meat is in very small pieces. Drain and set meat aside.
  3. In a medium baking dish, combine the cooked ground beef, onion and green bell pepper with all remaining ingredients. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  4. Top the beans with the uncooked bacon and place into oven.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes. Stir halfway through the baking time.
  6. Remove, discard the bacon and let stand for five minutes before serving.

Best-Ever Deviled Eggs

I always use dill relish, but some people prefer the sweet. Sprinkling paprika on top is a tradition passed down from my grandma. 

Ingredients

  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2-3 tablespoons dill or sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • dash of fresh black pepper
  • garnish: paprika

Instructions

  1. Place eggs in the bottom of a saucepan.
  2. Add enough cool water to cover eggs.
  3. Bring to a boil; cover, remove saucepan from heat, and let stand 15 minutes.
  4. After 15 minutes, drain the water, and then fill the saucepan with cold water and ice. Allow to sit for five minutes.
  5. Tap each egg firmly on the counter until cracks form all over the shell. Peel under cold running water.
  6. Slice eggs in half lengthwise and carefully remove yolks.
  7. Mash yolks with mayonnaise.
  8. Add relish, mustard, salt, and pepper and stir well.
  9. Carefully spoon the yolk mixture into the egg whites.
  10. Sprinkle with a bit of paprika.

Squash Dressing

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked, mashed squash, well drained
  • 2 cups cornbread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 stick margarine, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Moisten cornbread crumbs with a small amount of squash liquid.
  2. Combine all ingredients and spread into a greased casserole dish.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned.

Jalapeño Hushpuppies

This recipe yields about 12-15 hushpuppies, depending on the scoop size. High smoke point is one of the main reasons peanut oil is preferred over frying oil. Because of its relatively higher saturated fatty acid content, peanut oil is more stable than many other regular vegetable oils. You can leave out the jalapeños if you don’t want spicy hushpuppies.   

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup self-rising  flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped jalapeño peppers, to taste
  • oil for frying, preferably peanut oil

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the eggs and milk in a large bowl.
  2. Add the wet ingredients to the cornmeal, flour and salt.
  3. Add the onion and jalapeños. Stir until incorporated and the batter is thick.
  4. In a heavy-bottomed pot such as a Dutch oven, or deep fryer, heat enough oil to come halfway up the sides of the pot to 360 degrees.
  5. Working in batches, drop about 1 tablespoon of batter – I use a cookie dough scoop – at a time into the oil. Dip the scoop in water between hushpuppies to help the batter slide right off.
  6. Be careful not to overcrowd the pot, as this will bring the temperature of the oil down too quickly.   
  7. Fry the hushpuppies until golden brown on all sides, turning in the oil for even cooking, about five minutes.
  8. Transfer the hushpuppies to a paper towel-lined dish and sprinkle with salt, if desired, while hot.

Lemon-Lime Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 package lemon Jell-O
  • 1 package lime Jell-O
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 small can crushed pineapple
  • 24 large marshmallows
  • 8 oz. package cream cheese

Instructions

  1. Pour two cups of boiling water over lemon and lime Jell-O mixes and add all the marshmallows.
  2. Stir until the Jell-O is dissolved and the marshmallows are melted.
  3. Chill until thickened.
  4. Mash the cream cheese with the vinegar
  5. Mix cream cheese mixture with pineapple and pecans.
  6. When the Jell-O is thickened, combine with cream cheese mixture.
  7. Chill until firm.

Homemade Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. can of evaporated milk
  • 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vanilla flavoring
  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • Ice
  • Rock salt

Instructions

  1. Cream sweetened condensed milk with sugar.
  2. Add half the can of evaporated milk and mix. Mix in other half of can.
  3. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Add a small amount of milk.
  5. Pour mixture into ice cream freezer and fill to half-inch below the fill line with remaining milk.
  6. Add 2 inches of ice.
  7. Add salt and finish filling with ice.

Amy Dolan McCollum is retired from 27 years in education. She holds a home economics degree from the University of Montevallo. The last 13 years of her career she served as the Child Nutrition Program director for Franklin County Schools and as the Family and Consumer Science teacher at Phil Campbell High School. She is married to Tim McCollum, and they have five children – Leah and Lara Gunderman, Anna Gunderman Pressnell and Adam and Brendon McCollum – and one granddaughter, Brooklyn McCollum.

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