Mobile Bay’s Top Recipes of 2014

Snacks + Drinks


Charles and Greg Parmenter love to serve these tried-and-true cheese straws from the late, lovely Velma Croom. Recipe featured in “Carnival Cuisine, ” February 2014.

3/4 pound extra sharp cheddar cheese (Cracker Barrel preferred)
1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Combine cheese and softened butter until well blended.
3. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne. Stir into cheese/butter mixture (by hand or in a mixer). This should form a big soft ball of dough.
4. Pack dough into a cookie press. Squeeze out cheese straws, flat side down, onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
5. Bake for 20 minutes. Watch carefully. Do not allow to brown.
6. Remove cheese straws from cookie sheet to cool on waxed paper. They will become crisp as they cool. Break into 3-inch pieces.
7. Once completely cool, keep in an air-tight container, layering with waxed paper to keep them from breaking. Makes approximately 7 dozen.

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Mississippi Planter’s Punch

The strong, sweet libation is renowned for tasting like a tropical ladylike beverage, while still packing a proverbial punch. Recipe featured in “Dinner and a Movie, ” September 2014.

3 ounces pineapple juice
2 ounces orange juice
2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce light rum
1 dash grenadine
1 dash angostura bitters
pineapple slices and cherries, for garnish

1. Shake together first 6 ingredients and pour over ice in a tall glass.
2. Garnish with pineapple and cherries. Makes 1 serving.

Frozen Iced Tea

This family friendly libation is a frosty version of the Southern staple. Freeze it in large Ziploc bags or a plastic container, and use it to chill your cooler while it slowly melts to slushy consistency. Featured in “Shipshape Eats, ” May 2014.

3 lemons
2 oranges
9 family-sized tea bags
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
3 cups sugar
1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice
fresh mint, for garnish
maraschino cherries, for garnish

1. Squeeze lemons and oranges.
2. Chill juices and reserve the lemon hulls.
3. Bring 2 quarts of water to a good boil; remove from heat.
4. Add tea bags, mint leaves and lemon hulls. Let mixture steep for 30 minutes.
5. Strain. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
6. When tea is thoroughly cooled, add lemon, orange and cherry juices, plus 1 1/2 quarts more cold water.
7. Stir well and freeze. When serving, garnish with fresh mint leaves and cherries. Makes 1 gallon.

Pomegranate Martinis

Gorgeous, ruby-hued pomegranate martinis make a marvelous aperitif at a holiday gathering. Recipe featured in “Cup of Cheer, ” December 2014.

2 cups vodka (Melanie likes Ketel One.)
1 cup Cointreau (or other orange liqueur)
1 cup cranberry juice cocktail
1/2 cup pomegranate juice (Melanie uses Pom Wonderful.)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
lime slices, for garnish
fresh pomegranate seeds,  for garnish

1. Combine vodka,  Cointreau, cranberry juice, pomegranate juice and lime juice in a large pitcher.
2. Fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice and pour in about 3/4 cup of the vodka mixture. Put top on shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds or more. Pour into chilled glass and garnish with lime and several pomegranate seeds. Repeat. Makes about 6 cocktails.

Appetizers + Sides


This recipe is especially pretty served in a hollowed out tomato or atop tomato slices. Recipe featured in “Season’s Pickings, ” June 2014.

1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 – 2 cups chopped cooked shrimp (Beth likes to sauté the shrimp in a little oil and garlic.)
1 cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 tablespoon minced jalapeños
4 large ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

1. Cook edamame according to package directions. Drain. Rinse with cold water. Drain again.
2. Combine edamame, shrimp, cannellini beans, onion and jalapeño pepper. Refrigerate.
3. Meanwhile, using a serrated knife, cut the top 1/3 off each tomato.
4. Working over a colander set over a bowl, gently squeeze each tomato to remove as many seeds as possible. Then, scoop out the tomato flesh, being careful not to break the tomato shell.
5. Dice the removed tomato flesh. Add to the refrigerated edamame and shrimp mixture.
6. Combine cilantro and the remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over the edamame mixture, and toss gently to combine.
7. Cover mixture and tomato shells, and chill for several hours or overnight.
8. When ready to serve, sprinkle a little salt and pepper inside the tomato shells, then spoon the salad into each shell. Serve 4.

Roasted Veggie Pasta Salad

This cool, colorful, vegetarian side is a great make-ahead dish. Recipe featured in “Between You and Meme, ” July 2014.

2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped bell peppers
2 cups chopped broccoli
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
2 cups chopped yellow squash
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons minced garlic
8 ounces whole grain pasta (Meme uses 100-percent whole-wheat penne.)
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with foil (for easy clean up).
2. Toss chopped onion, bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and squash together with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
3. Transfer to baking sheets and roast for 20 minutes.
4. Stir in garlic, and roast another 10 to 15 minutes, until veggies are lightly golden. Let cool.
5. Meanwhile, bring about 6 cups of water to a boil. Add pasta, stir, and reduce heat to a low boil. Cook until pasta is just barely cooked (approximately 8 minutes); do not overcook. Drain and set aside to cool.
6. Once cooled, toss together in a plastic or glass bowl with balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, salt and remaining olive oil. Add more salt or vinegar if needed. Makes approximately 8 cups. Serves 8 – 10.


Enjoy this creamy dish in its comfort-food glory, or lighten it up by substituting 2 percent milk and cutting back the cheese. Recipe featured in “All-American Gourmet, ” November 2014.

3 slices white bread, crusts removed
9 tablespoons unsalted butter,  melted and divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
8 ounces elbow macaroni
1/4 cup flour
3 cups whole milk
4 cups grated Gruyère cheese
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 large shallots, finely chopped
18 ounces baby spinach
8 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
1 3/4 cups crumbled feta (We used Elberta’s Sweet Home Farm.)

1. Tear bread into small pieces and put in food processor bowl. Pulse until finely ground.
2. In a small bowl combine breadcrumbs with 3 tablespoons melted butter.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta. Cook until cooked halfway through, about 3 minutes. Drain pasta, rinse with cold water, set aside.
4. Put remaining butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly add milk, still whisking, and cook 10 – 15 minutes until sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
5. Remove from heat. Stir in Gruyère, cinnamon and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add shallots. Cook, stirring often, for 3 – 4 minutes. Add spinach and scallions and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in cream mixture, dill and pasta.
7. Transfer mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture and feta over top. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8 – 10.


Southern Seafood Stuffing

This warm, savory seafood stuffing makes a glorious entrée or side dish. Charles and Greg like to serve it in individual ramekins as a filling,  pick-up party food. Recipe featured in “Carnival Cuisine, ” February 2014.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 pound crabmeat
1/2 pound medium shrimp,  peeled and deveined
1 (6-ounce) package cornbread stuffing (Stove Top preferred)
1/2 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup chicken broth

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
3. Add onion, celery, crabmeat and shrimp. Sauté for about 5 minutes,  until shrimp is opaque and vegetables are softened. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, stir together the stuffing mix, breadcrumbs and sugar. Mix in the seafood mixture. Stir in soup and a bit of chicken broth to moisten.
5. Spoon mixture into ramekins, and bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm. Serves 6.


Cheddar and Gouda join in melty goodness between pieces of sourdough. Conecuh sausage and onions sautéed in beer and Worcestershire sauce give the sandwich an added kick. Recipe featured in “The Big Cheese, ” March 2014.

olive oil
1/2 onion
1/4 cup beer
Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
Conecuh sausage
sourdough bread
cheddar, shredded
Gouda slices

1. In a skillet, heat olive oil, and sauté onion, beer, Worcestershire sauce and oregano.
2. Cook Conecuh sausage in a separate skillet.
3. Butter both sides of the bread and then cook.
4. Top one slice of bread with cheddar and Gouda. Add in the onions, oregano and sausage.
5. Top with other slice of bread and cook until cheese is well melted and both sides of the sandwich are golden brown. Makes 2.

Cranberry-Dijon Pork Chops

These succulent chops make an excellent entree for an autumn repast. Chakli Diggs, the talented owner of the ever-popular NoJa in Mobile’s downtown LoDa, created the recipe just for MB. Recipe featured in “Cranberry Jamming, ” November 2014.

1 medium apple, peeled,  cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dried cranberries or 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/8 teaspoon pepper
dash salt
dash ground nutmeg
1 – 2 teaspoons grape-seed oil
2 teaspoons butter
4 (4- to 6-ounce) pork chops (bone-in or out)

1. In a small bowl, combine the first 12 ingredients.
2. Then, coat a large frying pan with grape-seed oil, add butter and swirl pan to melt.
3. Add pork chops and brown over medium-high heat, for 3 – 4 minutes on each side.
4. Stir in fruit and herb mixture, bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 3 – 4 minutes on each side, until done or until a thermometer reads 145 degrees. Serves 4.


This entree combines the best of both worlds: Creole and Italian cuisine. Recipe featured in “Bachelor Chefs, ” October 2014.

1 pound spinach fettuccini
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
3/4 pound Andouille sausage, sliced
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons Creole Seasoning
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 – 2 cups Parmesan cheese

1. Put a gallon of water in a pot, add salt to taste and bring to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, approximately 10 – 12 minutes. Drain. Set aside.
2. Place tablespoon of olive oil in medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add shrimp and sear on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Add second tablespoon of olive oil to pan. Add sausage, onion, and bell peppers. Cook until vegetables begin caramelizing, about 5 minutes on medium heat.
4. Add the minced garlic, sauté for about 30 – 45 seconds. Add chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pan as you stir. Add diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the thyme and 2 tablespoons of the Creole seasoning and bay leaves. Cook for 3 minutes.
5. Add heavy cream. Cook for another 2 – 3 minutes.
6. Return shrimp and add pasta to pan, cook an additional 2 – 3 minutes.
7. Take off of heat. Remove both of the bay leaves. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese. Serves 4 – 6.

Lime-Ale Dog

Heat lovers will rave over this dog with jalapeño salsa and FBC brew. Recipe featured in “All-American Gourmet, ” November 2014.

1 pint red and yellow cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup diced green onions
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeds removed and finely diced
salt and black pepper, to taste
2 limes
1 ounce Fairhope Brewing Co. Everyday Ale beer
8 hot dogs
1 avocado, mashed
8 hot dog buns, split and toasted
1/2 cup shredded Sweet Home Farm Bama Jack cheese (May substitute Monterey Jack.)
Chipotle Ranch (see recipe below)

1. For salsa: In a medium bowl combine tomatoes, onions, cilantro and half the jalapeño. Season with
salt and pepper; set in refrigerator.
2. To prepare lime-ale cooking liquid, cut one lime in half; juice both halves, retaining halves. In a large skillet, combine beer, remaining jalapeño, lime juice and halves. Bring to simmer. Meanwhile, heat grill to medium.
3. Place hot dogs in lime-ale liquid. Simmer uncovered until plump, about 7 minutes. Remove hot dogs; discard cooking liquid and solids. Transfer dogs to grill. Cook until desired doneness.
4. Spread avocado in buns. Place hot dogs on top. Add salsa and cheese. Drizzle with Chipotle Ranch sauce. Cut remaining lime in wedges; serve alongside. Makes 8 hot dogs.


1 cup ranch dressing
2 tablespoons minced chipotles in adobe, or to taste

1. In a small bowl, combine dressing and chipotles. Store in refrigerator. Makes 1 cup.


Nutella & Banana Grilled Cheese

A twist on Elvis’ iconic PB & B, this melding of Nutella, mascarpone and sliced bananas on sourdough will have your kids saying, “Thank you, thank you very much.” Recipe featured in “The Big Cheese, ” March 2014.

2 slices sourdough bread
1 tablespoon Nutella hazelnut spread, plus extra for drizzle
1 tablespoon mascarpone cheese
1 banana, sliced

1. Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread.
2. On the opposite side of one slice, spread Nutella. On the opposite side of the other, spread the mascarpone. Add banana slices in between.
3. Cook in a skillet over medium heat until toasted and melty.
4. Warm extra Nutella in microwave a few seconds. Drizzle over sandwich. Makes 1.

Cranberry Macadamia Tarts

These sweet, petite treats are perfect pick-ups for holiday parties, family festivities or gift giving. Recipe featured in “Cranberry Jamming, ” November 2014.

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup flour
1 stick butter, softened
1 egg
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup finely chopped cranberries
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Beat the cream cheese, flour and butter together until well combined. Cover and chill for 1 hour.
3. In a medium bowl, beat together the egg, brown sugar, melted butter and vanilla. Add the cranberries and macadamia nuts.
4. Once the dough is chilled, divide it into 1-inch balls and press into ungreased mini-muffin tins. Fill each with a spoonful of the cranberry nut filling. Bake in the oven for about 18 -20 minutes. Makes approximately 2 dozen. staff

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