Principles of cooking are elemental for ‘One of Hardin County’s Finest Cooks’

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Food column by Nora Sweat

By Nora Sweat

It is an honor to introduce you to this week’s “One of Hardin County’s Finest Cooks.” Since I started this feature, I don’t believe I have ever had anyone as young as this lady.

She will be known by many children at two different schools. She is Melissa Kasey Case, principal at G.C. Burkhead Elementary School. We first met at John Hardin High School, where she first was a music teacher, then assistant principal while I was working at the Hardin County Schools Performing Arts Center. She left to become assistant principal at G.C. Burkhead and now is principal.

Melissa grew up on a farm in Big Spring, where they truly lived off the land. Naturally, country cooking is what she grew up on, and her dad would request brown beans and cornbread almost every night — to the point Melissa grew sick of them.

She told me: “My mom, Linda Kasey Johnson, and Mamaw, Alene Allgood, are both phenomenal country cooks and although I did not spend much time cooking with them because our kitchens were small, they were my inspiration.

“While in college, I would often find myself calling my mom for her recipes and I even started craving those brown beans and cornbread. While I love country cooking, I also like being adventurous and trying new food. My son, Mason, shares my love of trying new things, but his favorite meal I make is meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peach pie. My daughter, Madison, tends to be a little pickier, but among her favorites are my salmon patties (just like mom and mamaw made) and my quesadillas.

“I always loved my mamaw’s rolls, so when I started hosting Christmas and she said these were the best rolls she ever had, it made my Christmas,” she said.

Congratulations, Melissa. You certainly deserve this honor.

Nora Sweat, author of “Mama and Me,” is a native of Hardin County and a retired home economics, family and consumer science teacher. She can be reached at norasweat@thenewsenterprise.com or by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.

Mason’s favorite meatloaf

1 ½ lb. ground beef
1 medium sized onion, diced
1 egg
1 cup bread crumbs or panko
½ cup salsa
½ cup ketchup
1 tsp seasoned salt
½ tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients. Mix well and pack into a lightly greased 9-by-5-by-5-inch loaf pan.

Spread topping (recipe below) onto meatloaf and bake at 400 degrees for 1½ hours. Take out of oven and let sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting to hold its shape.

Combine all ingredients. Mix well and pack into a lightly greased 9-by-5-by-5-inch loaf pan.

Spread topping onto meatloaf and bake at 400 degrees for 1½ hours. Take out of oven and let sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting to hold its shape.

Chicken Quesadillas

1 large chicken breast (pounded to ½ inch thickness)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
6 slices of bacon
¼ cup sliced jalapenos
6 flour tortillas
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese
1 tsp southwest seasoning

Sprinkle chicken breast with southwest seasoning on both sides. Sauté chicken until cooked through. Once cooled, dice chicken into small pieces. Chop bacon into small pieces and fry in non-stick skillet.

Remove bacon from pan with slotted spoon and reserve two tablespoons of grease in pan.

Sauté diced vegetables in the same skillet about seven minutes or until tender. Load half of each tortilla with the chicken, bacon and vegetable mixture, then top with cheeses.

Fold each tortilla in half and heat in skillet on both sides until cheese has melted and tortilla is crisp. Cut into triangles and serve with guacamole and sour cream.

Orange Juice Rolls

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup scalded milk (cooled)
½ cup melted butter
2 eggs
¼ cup orange juice
5 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
Additional melted butter for dipping rolls in

Dissolve yeast in ¼ cup of warm water. Mix wet ingredients, then add yeast once it has proofed. Mix together all dry ingredients, then add wet mixture to the dry mixture.

Mix all ingredients together in stainless steel container and cover. Leave in refrigerator overnight (this will be real sticky dough)
The next day, set out dough and let it rise double. Then, punch down and knead dough on floured surface.

Roll out dough and cut with 2-inch biscuit cutter. Dip rolls in melted butter, fold in half and place in pan.

Let rise another hour, then bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until browned. Yield: 30 rolls.

Peach Pie with Crumb Topping

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 eggs
½ cup sour cream
½ tsp. salt
3 cups of peaches (fresh or frozen)
1 large pie crust

Mix the first six ingredients together and pour into pie crust. Top with crumb topping (recipe below) and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Crumb Topping

½ cup sugar
½ cup flour
½ stick cold butter

Make crumb topping by cutting ingredients together until they form crumbs. Put the topping on the pie.