Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dinner with Savannah From Savannah

Come on in and make yourself at home!

If you stopped by yesterday, you saw the appetizer station that greeted guests when they stepped into the church lobby for our ladies book club meeting over the weekend. Our more formal approach to the appetizer table reflected the style of Victoria, a main character in our spring book selection, Savannah from Savannah by Denise Hildreth Jones. In contrast, the room where we shared dinner and discussion reflected the laid-back, youthful style of the book's heroine, Savannah.

Fresh daisies topped each table, further accessorized by items unique to Savannah's character.

Savannah was a budding newspaper reporter, so we wrapped our napkins around newspapers tied with twine, placed a rolled newspaper section on each table, and spread open newspapers across our potluck food table. Newsprint inspired a black-and-white color scheme, brightened with splashes of yellow and touches of green. One of the first things readers learn about Savannah is her passion for the Southern beverage of choice: Coca-Cola. So Teri Phillips arranged bouquets of fresh daisies in Coke glasses. Savannah loved flip-flops, so we positioned a pair on each table alongside the newspaper. We enjoy a great mix of ages in our book club, so the oldest lady at each table went home with the flowers and the youngest took the flip-flops. 


For this book club meeting, we developed a Southern menu plan and assigned several ladies to bring appetizers, bread, drinks and dessert. A basket of cornbread and honey butter topped each table, and we served Coke along with sweet tea, water and coffee. Guests were asked to bring a favorite Southern potluck dish. A few ladies questioned me the week before about what I meant by that, but since we worship in Montgomery, Ala., I told them it's what we always bring to fellowship meals. Several ladies shared their recipes, which we tucked under the plates. Find some of our potluck favorites below.

Homemade Cornbread
I made this cornbread for the gathering, a favorite recipe from deSha’s Restaurant in Lexington, Ky. One recipe yielded 24 corn muffins and a small rectangular casserole dish -- plenty for our group of nearly 30 ladies.
3 cups self-rising cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
6 eggs
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
3 cups sour cream
2 2/3 cups cream style corn
1 ¼ cups butter, softened
½ cup honey
For cornbread: Combine first 6 ingredients in order listed; mix well. Pour into greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. Makes 12 squares of cornbread.

For honey butter: Mix softened butter and honey together. Serve with warm cornbread.

Hash Brown Casserole
Kay Newman brought this delicious side dish. We knew each other by name, but met for the first time Friday night.

3/4 package frozen hash browns (2-pound size)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 carton sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 small box Velveeta cheese
4-5 green onions, chopped
Combine all ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Let set about 20 minutes before serving. May be prepared the day before and baked later, or freezes well.

Fresh Corn Casserole
Our table raved about this delicious corn dish prepared by Michelle Bond.

8 ears of corn (still in the husk)
⅔ cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter (salted)
½ teaspoons salt to taste
Ground pepper to taste
Remove the corn from the husks. In a large, deep bowl, slice off the kernels of corn. With the dull side of the knife (or a regular dinner knife), press and scrape the cob all the way down to remove all the bits of kernel and creamy milk inside. Add heavy cream, salt to taste, a generous amount of ground pepper and butter; mix well. Pour mixture into a baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes or until thoroughly warmed through.

Pineapple Casserole
Julie Knapp brought this delightful dish, a great accompaniment to any meal.

½ cup sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks, drained
3 Tbsp. pineapple juice
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
½ - 1 cup crushed buttery crackers
¼ cup melted butter
Mix flour and sugar with pineapple juice. Add pineapple chunks and cheese. Mix well and spoon into a greased 1 quart baking dish. Mix crushed crackers and butter together, and then spread over the pineapple mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. 4-6 servings

Chicken Casserole
This creamy, flavorful main dish from Donna Bentley hit the spot at our dinner.

2 cups died cooked chicken
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup cooked rice*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced onion
1/2 cup almonds
2 tablespoon butter
1 cup Ritz crackers
Combine all ingredients except butter and cracker crumbs. Place in casserole. Mix butter and crumbs, and sprinkle on top. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Chicken Spaghetti
Louise Jones contributed this dish, a great recipe to keep on-hand in the freezer for delivering to a sick friend or serving at family mealtime.
1 large bag of the thin spaghetti noodles
4 cooked chicken breasts (or if you are pressed for time, 1 precooked, whole rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)
1 pound Velveeta cheese
2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can Rotel tomatoes
8 ounces of shredded Mexican style cheese
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Shred chicken and set aside. Fill a large pot with water, and set it to boil. After the water is boiling, put in the noodles with a little bit of oil to make sure they don’t stick too much. Stir occasionally to keep them from attaching to the bottom of your pot, and cook just past al dente. Drain about half of the pasta water, then place back on a burner over low heat. Cut Velveeta Cheese into cubes, put in pot with noodles, and stir until melted. Then add cream of chicken soup, Rotel tomatoes and Italian seasoning; stir well. Pour shredded chicken into the noodle mixture,and simmer on low until all the cheese is melted. Then pour the entire pot into a 9×13 pan and sprinkle heavily with shredded cheese. Place the pan in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until all the cheese is melted on top and the sauce mixture is bubbling slightly. Let cool for about 10 minutes so the sauce will thicken up a bit and then serve.

Please go back for seconds, and stop back throughout the week to enjoy our book club desserts, devotional and discussion. And pop in Friday to find out our summer book selection!

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