TUPELO • One of many perks of retirement for Susan Denham-Collins is that she will get to spend extra time within the kitchen.
Denham-Collins, 58, labored as a federal investigator for many of her profession and spent the final 5 years in outreach. She retired in December 2019.
“I in all probability cook dinner 5 occasions per week now,” she mentioned. “Earlier than I retired, I could have cooked a couple of times per week.”
Denham-Collins was born and raised in Vicksburg. She attended Hinds Group School and the College of Southern Mississippi, after which labored in Oklahoma Metropolis and Washington, D.C., earlier than shifting to Tupelo in 1991.
“I actually like cooking,” she mentioned. “My earliest reminiscence of cooking with out an excessive amount of help was making scrambled eggs once I was about 7. Rising up, I’d get dinner began once I was in fifth or sixth grade. I cherished going by my mom’s recipe books, her cookbooks. Mom cherished it as a result of she actually wasn’t into cooking.”
Denham-Collins mentioned numerous her early recipes got here from her grandmothers, who had been good cooks, however not essentially wholesome cooks.
“I grew up on biscuits made with Crisco, and every little thing was fried,” she mentioned. “I cook dinner lots more healthy than I did once I first began. I take advantage of olive oil, I’ve an air-fryer and I make and eat a number of salads.”
Earlier than COVID-19, Denham-Collins and her second husband, Scott, used to get pleasure from entertaining of their residence.
“We’d have folks over for meals and wine,” she mentioned. “We actually miss that. We additionally miss touring. We’ve been overseas eight occasions since we married – the Cayman Islands, Italy, Eire, St. Lucia. Even when we may journey now, we wouldn’t. It’s simply too scary.”
Denham-Collins, who has one daughter and one granddaughter, typically employs themes when she cooks. For a small feast, she would possibly go along with an Italian vibe and serve fried ravioli with sizzling pepper jelly and marinara, a Greek salad, lasagna, French inexperienced beans and a chocolate eclair cake. For a easy weeknight meal, she would possibly go along with a Southern theme and make beef roast, fried okra and butterbeans.
In her spare time, she enjoys adorning, flower-arranging and repurposing previous furnishings.
“When the children had been at school, I’d at all times volunteer for issues the place I may do the adorning,” she mentioned. “I’d love to assist somebody with catering on a part-time foundation, however I don’t suppose I’d need to be all in.”
JOYCE JOHNSTON’S BROWNIES
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 (16-ounce) field confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons evaporated milk
For the brownies, mix all elements and pour right into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Bake at 325 levels for half-hour. Let cool.
For the frosting, mix all elements till easy. If frosting appears too thick, skinny with a bit of extra milk. Unfold on cooled brownies. Reduce into squares.
SAUSAGE RO-TEL BAKE
2 cans refrigerated crescent dough sheets, divided
2 kilos delicate floor sausage
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Spray a 9×13-inch dish with cooking spray. Unroll one can of crescent dough and place in pan. Bake at 350 levels for 10 minutes.
In a non-stick skillet cook dinner the sausage till it’s brown and crumbly. Drain on paper towels. Place sausage again in skillet and add tomatoes and cream cheese, stirring till cheese is melted.
Pour sausage combination over partially cooked crescent dough. Place the second roll of crescent dough over the sausage combination and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake at 350 levels for 20 minutes or till golden brown on prime. That is good as a breakfast casserole, or it may be lower in small squares and served as an appetizer.
JALAPENO CHEDDAR CORNBREAD
1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1 cup self-rising corn meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
2 jalapeno peppers, seeds eliminated and chopped
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
Whisk collectively flour, corn meal, baking powder and salt. Put aside.
In a medium bowl, mix softened butter and sugar. Add eggs and buttermilk, then stir in jalapenos. Combine within the dry elements.
Warmth oil in a cast-iron skillet. Pour batter in and prime with grated cheese. Bake at 375 levels for half-hour. The highest of the cornbread needs to be golden brown. Good served with chili.
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 cups frozen peas with carrots
4 kilos peeled, diced Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 stick butter, chopped
1/2 cup half-and-half or milk
1/2 cup grated Gouda cheese
1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese
Warmth oil in a big skillet. Add onion and cook dinner till comfortable. Add garlic and floor spherical. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, garlic salt and garlic powder. Prepare dinner till meat is completed. Drain on paper towels.
Place meat combination again in pan, add frozen greens and tomato soup and let simmer. Pour meat combination right into a 9×13-inch casserole.
Cowl potatoes with water and produce to a boil. Prepare dinner for 20 minutes or till fork tender. Drain the potatoes, then add butter, cream cheese, half-and-half, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cream the potatoes with a masher or a mixer.
Spoon mashed potatoes over meat combination. High with grated Gouda and Cheddar cheeses. Bake at 350 levels for half-hour.
CHOCOLATE ECLAIR CAKE
1 massive field on the spot vanilla or French vanilla pudding combine
1 can milk chocolate frosting
Recent raspberries, for garnish
In a deep sq. dish, put a layer of graham crackers, breaking them to suit as wanted.
Mix pudding and milk and blend in response to instructions on the field. Fold within the whipped topping.
Spoon a layer of pudding combination over graham crackers. Proceed layering graham crackers and pudding combination till all is used, ending with a layer of graham crackers.
Warmth frosting within the microwave for 30 seconds, then take away and stir. Pour excessive layer of graham crackers. Garnish with raspberries. Refrigerate in a single day or at the least 3 to 4 hours earlier than serving.