Main Dishes

Best BLT Sandwich

After telling you of making BLT’s in Lisa Samson’s kitchen on our very first stop, it just naturally flows for us to have a recipe for a good ole’ BLT. Comfort food to me. Try a couple of these little tricks to make the next BLT you create delight anyone who joins you:

White bread, toasted (Your preference, and any of you whole wheat and grain fans, pick your fav.)
Home grown tomatoes, sliced
Duke’s mayonnaise (if you can find it!) Dollop small amount into a bowl.
Lettuce slices (again, your choice of greens)
Fresh basil, chopped and stirred into the mayonnaise This dish is best if it’s made the night before or the morning of the day you plan to eat it. Cover it with aluminum foil and refrigerate. Take it out of the frig one hour before you plan to cook it.
Avocados, sliced


  • Fry up some bacon, draining off the grease. Place on paper towel to absorb grease.
  • Chop the basil, stirring into the mayonnaise. (Amounts vary depending upon how many sandwiches you’re making and how much mayonnaise you like.)
  • Spread basil mayonnaise onto both sides of your toast. On one side of the toast, add a slice or two of lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and bacon. Close sandwich with other slice of toast. Enjoy!

Another version of this is to use guacamole as your spread. It makes the sandwich zestier and you can still use slices of avocado if you love avocados like I do!


Chicken Tetrazzini

(from Aletia Thompson)

Sweet Sister-friend! Oh my, my mouth is watering over this recipe… I’ve had this dish a few times at Aletia and Frank’s house, and at LT and Woody’s house. Not only am I delighted to receive this recipe to share with you, but it’s another fab tribute to the Butter Babes because of the large amounts of BUTTER, bien sur.

While there are a lot of ingredients, do not let them bog you down. If I can make this, anybody can. I guarantee your friends and family will request this over and over and over again. It’s definitely in the comfort food category. Plus, this would be a lovely dish to take to someone in need of a meal. (Maybe make it in two square pans instead of a 9 x 13: one for you and one for someone else.)

And now, from Aletia:

First Step:
1 box of pasta (I like using fettuccine noodles…make sure not to overcook them since you’ll be baking the dish in the oven for 25-35 min.)
3-4 Tablespoons of BUTTER
6-10 Portabella Mushrooms or Button Mushrooms, chopped very fine
Juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon salt

Second Step: Alfredo Sauce:
Freshly minced garlic
1 heaping Tablespoon of Chicken Base Bouillon (organic)
3-4 Tablespoons of BUTTER
3 Tablespoons of All-Purpose Flour
¼ teaspoon of Paprika
1 ½ teaspoon of Salt
¼ teaspoon of Pepper
1/8 teaspoon of Nutmeg (optional)
Dash of Onion Salt
Dash of Celery Salt
2 Cups of freshly grated Mozzarella Cheese
3 Tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Can Cream of Chicken with Herb Soup
2 ½ Cups of Chicken Broth
1 Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Roasted Organic Chickens (I usually pick these up at my local grocery, already roasted and ready to take home.)


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 25-35 minutes, leaving the aluminum foil on until the last five minutes of baking.

First Step:

  • Cook pasta in heavily salted water.
  • While pasta is cooking—I heat my iron skillet up and add 3-4 Tablespoons BUTTER.
  • When BUTTER is melted, I add my finely chopped mushrooms and cook on lower heat, adding ½ teaspoon salt and the lemon juice.
  • Continue stirring often while cooking on very low heat until pasta is ready and drained.
  • Add pasta to iron skillet with the BUTTER/mushroom/lemon sauce and mix thoroughly.
  • I generously add lemon/garlic pepper, covering with foil and set aside.

Second Step: Alfredo Sauce

  • Melt 3-4 Tablespoons BUTTER and remove from heat.
  • Stir in 3 Tablespoons flour until thoroughly mixed (3 minutes or so).
  • Put back on low heat and add all the spices (I usually mix together in a small bowl) to the BUTTER/flour rue.
  •  Add 2 ½ cups of chicken broth and turn up heat while whisking until thickened (5-10 minutes.) You can increase heat to medium high which helps thickening to occur faster.
  • Continue to whisk and add whipping cream.
  • Add 1 heaping teaspoon of chicken base bouillon, and garlic.
  • Add 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, 3 Tablespoons parmesan cheese.
  • Add 1 can cream of chicken soup and whisk until blended well on low heat.

Final Step:

  • Remove skin from the two chickens and pull meat off in bite-size pieces, adding it to the Alfredo Sauce.
  • Stir with spoon until well mixed.
  • Remove the aluminum foil from the pasta/mushroom/lemon mixture and slowly add to the warm Alfredo Sauce, mixing together. Add back into the casserole dish and cover with aluminum foil.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 25-35 minutes.
  • You can add some freshly grated Mozzarella Cheese on the top if you like. (Perhaps the amounts of cheese rival the BUTTER in this heavenly delight.)

Crack Up Over Pot Roast in a Crock Pot

(from Mary Lewis)

Mary’s a friend who has become family. Her daughter, Diana, and our son, John Jr., are married and have recently gifted us with our first grandchild. Claire Elizabeth is the first grandchild on both sides of her family, need I say more?

Mary’s not only a great cook, she’s hilarious as you’ll see when she tells you why this recipe is called “Cracked Up Crock-Pot Roast.”. Wait ‘til you hear why:

My son-in-law, John Jr., loves my crock-pot roast recipe so much that one day he wanted to give it a try. He said he had a crock-pot. This was prior to him marrying my daughter so I was not only impressed he wanted to try the recipe but that he owned a crock-pot. I never thought to ask what size his crock-pot was…

Well, John prepared the roast with all the ingredients one morning and then off to work he went. He came home from lunch and noticed the juice from the pot roast was all over the counter. He was puzzled because he didn’t add any water like the recipe said. So, he didn’t think much more about it.

That night, I asked him how the roast turned out and he said it was good but that the juices kept overflowing. I was puzzled by this. Then I asked him what size his crock-pot was and he said that it wasn’t quite as big as mine and I said that he probably got too big of a roast for his size pot. His key words here were “not quite as big as mine”. Remember that…

A while had passed and the next time I was over at his house, I asked to see his crock-pot. I CRACKED UP LAUGHING!! His “not quite as big as mine” crock-pot was actually a mini cheese fondue warmer!!! The thought of him shoving a 2-3 lb roast into this mini pot brought tears to my eyes. So, for Christmas that year, I gave him a FULL-SIZE crock-pot. I’ve never seen a man get so excited over a kitchen appliance for Christmas!

2-3 pound roast (I buy the sirloin tip roast because there’s less fat.)
1 packet of dry ranch dressing mix
1 packet of dry Au Jus mix
1 stick of BUTTER
1 jar of whole pepperoncini peppers, drained
1 large onion, thickly sliced (optional)
Carrots and potatoes may also be added


  • Place the roast in a LARGE (ha ha) crock-pot.
  • Cover the roast with the dry ranch and Au Jus packets.
  • Place the onion slices on the roast and then cover with the peppers. (Use as many as you like)
  • Place the stick of BUTTER on top.
  • Cook for 6-8 hrs on low.
  • I also add carrots and potatoes if you have enough room. DO NOT ADD ANY WATER.

It will make plenty of its own juice. Just ask my Son-in-Law!


One of Joe Daniels’ many favorite Italian dishes:

Homemade Meatballs and Spaghetti Sauce

(from Kathy Hampton Daniels and her son, Matt, affectionately known to us as Matt D.)

While Kathy could make this sauce in her sleep, her sweet son, Matt D, compiled an Italian cookbook for a school project when he was in high school. He aptly named it That’s Amore. Strongly suggesting he publish it, alas, he has not yet…this book may just be the impetus he needs.

I referenced Joe’s Italian heritage on our 2nd stop where you met the Ya-Yas. Since I talk about the Ya-Yas being “meatball friends” (see Bible Study questions), it seemed natural to use Carm’s meatball recipe. Carm was Joe’s Mother. Kathy’s made this recipe countless times for countless hungry souls, the Yas-n-Yos many time the beneficiaries. Matt D’s Italian heritage is so important to him especially after an epiphany he had in Italy. It’s not a coincidence his children call him “Bobo” which is “Daddy” in Italian. About this sauce Matt says, “This is a secret recipe and I actually had trouble putting this in my book. As a gift from me to you, I would like to present you with the passport to my heart: sauce and meatballs. This is no laughing matter. The five Daniels cousins have been known to frequently hide sauce and meatballs, and if you’re not in the family, fuhgettaboudit. There’s no way you’re getting within thirty feet of the pot.”

1 ½ pound of ground sirloin
2/3 cup bread crumbs
2/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 serving spoon of pepper
1 serving spoon of salt
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
7 eggs


  • Place sirloin in a large mixing bowl.
  • Cover with 2/3 cups of bread crumbs.
  • Add 2/3 cups of grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
  • Cover with a serving spoon of pepper, and then a serving spoon of salt.
  • Add one clove of finely chopped garlic.
  • Add the seven eggs.
  • Mix all of this well with your hands.
  • Fry in lard at medium to high heat. Do not burn.
  • Turn meatballs occasionally with a fork.
  • Change grease in the pan if it starts to burn or brown.
  • After frying the meatballs, add them to the tomato sauce.

Gram’s Sauce
3-4 pounds of pork loin end roast, bone-in
Trim fat from pork
1-2 Tablespoons of lard
1 clove of garlic
5 12-ounce cans of tomato paste


  • Brown garlic and take it out of the pot.
  • Brown pork on all sides.
  • Open five 12-ounce cans of tomato paste. Put tomato paste in with the meat. Add six 12-ounce cans of water. Mix well.
  • Lower heat to medium.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • If sauce starts to get thick, add more water.
  • Cook for 3 ½ to 4 hours.

Fun footnote: Matt reveals in his book Kathy’s all-time record is frying three hundred and twenty-one of Gram’s meatballs for a party she was having. WAY-2-GO, Kath!!!

And that, Sweet Sister-Friend, THAT’S AMORE.


Hot Brown Casserole-for-the-Soul

(From Nancy Tarrant, Owner of The Cheddar Box in St. Matthews, Louisville, KY)

Before we dive in, you must know this dish is hands down a favorite of everyone I know. I learned about it one day by accident when I was blowing into Cheddar Box to pick up something for dinner. (Hunting and gathering my primo talent, thanks to training from my friend, Judy, plus per Fannie Flagg’s Mother’s advice which she reports has served her well: “Oh no, darling…you must never learn to cook or clean or they will expect you to do to it!”)

A gal in front of me was ordering a few servings of the Hot Brown Casserole. I had no idea this was available, much less in any number of servings you’d like.

Well worth the experiment, I ordered two servings for John and me for dinner that night. Oh my, the sauce alone is so good, you can almost feel it clogging your arteries going down. This was a very bad discovery!

I’m now in the habit of ordering entire 9 x 13 casseroles to feed a crowd for dinner or lunch. The Butter Babes, in particular, are forever fans.

Nancy Tarrant, Cheddar Box’ owner, and I are not only friends, we have a funny thing in common. She lives in a darling cape cod up the street from her store which happens to be the very first home John and I lived in. We brought our first baby home there. There’s just something special about your first home.

Nancy bought the house from the owner who bought it from us. One thing we realized, after the fact, was we’d forgotten to remove and replace a brass duck doorknocker (say that fast five times) which had been a wedding gift we’d hung on the front door.

It was too late to ask the owners for it, but once we learned years down the road that Nancy had bought it, John mentioned the doorknocker to her. Next thing we knew she had it waiting for me the next time I stopped in her store. We now have it on the front door of John’s Man Cave. So dear of Nancy.

Those of you living in Louisville know you can’t go wrong with any dish you try from the Cheddar Box. It’s the best go-to-venue this cooking impaired gal could have in her hunting and gathering arsenal.

Nancy makes all of us look good for guests which is a treasured gift. Read on, now, for one of the best recipes your friends and family will begin begging for once you serve it:

For a 9 x 13 Casserole:
2 pounds of roasted turkey, sliced thin
12 slices of bacon, fried and cut into small pieces
6 slices of toasted white bread (She uses Pepperidge Farm’s white bread)
Sliced tomatoes – enough to cover the top, maybe 2 or 3 whole tomatoes…
1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese (She suggests aged New York cheddar, not Wisconsin)

Cheese Sauce (TO-DIE-FOR, TRUST ME!!!):
¼ pound of BUTTER
1 Tablespoon chicken base paste (or chicken bouillon cube)
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of black pepper
1 ½ quarts heavy cream
3 cups grated cheddar cheese


  • Melt BUTTER over medium heat.
  • Add flour and chicken base paste. Whisk until fully incorporated. Cook for about 5 minutes. Don’t brown.
  • Add cream and salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.
  • Once the mixture has come to a boil, remove from heat and gradually add the 3 cups of cheddar cheese.
  • Allow to cool overnight.

To assemble:

Many of you from Louisville may remember Harper’s Restaurant. We went a lot when it was open. It was a fun place to take our boys or to meet up with friends, with really good, affordable food. Diane somehow got their recipe for a killer pasta dish (do not count the number of cheeses in this and do not consider the potential calories. Just indulge one night. Whoever you serve will think you’re wonderful.)

  • Place slices of toast into a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
  • Layer turkey over the toast
  • Spread cheese sauce over the turkey
  • Top with sliced tomatoes
  • Sprinkle 1 ½ cups of cheddar cheese over the top of the tomatoes
  • Sprinkle bacon pieces over the top of the cheddar cheese
  • Bake at 350 degrees 30-45 minutes. Let rest for about 20 minutes before cutting.


***You cannot begin to fathom how many friends you’ll make from serving this dish!!!***


Pasta with Italian Sausage and Bacon

(Killer Sauce = Crowd Pleaser! This is also from Diane Carter)

This is Diane’s version of it:

½ cup fresh grated Romano cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup shredded provolone cheese
½ cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
¼ cup ricotta cheese
½ cup shredded fontina cheese
2 cups heavy cream
½ Tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup canned tomatoes drained and diced
2 heaping Tablespoons of fresh chopped basil
1 pound of ground Italian sausage
1 pound of bacon, diced into small pieces
2-3 roma tomatoes, diced, for top of dish
1 pound of penne pasta
½ cup of breadcrumbs


  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • Place all cheeses (yes, there are SIX!) in a mixing bowl.
  • Add cream, salt, diced tomato, and basil. Stir together and set aside.
  • In a skillet, add sausage and diced bacon, frying ‘til bacon is crisp and sausage is browned.
  • Drain grease and allow meat to cool on a paper towel.
  • Blend together the cooked penne, sauce and meats in a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
  • Top with ½ cup diced tomatoes and ½ cup of breadcrumbs.
  • Bake @ 400 degrees (unless your oven runs hot like mine does, try 375 degrees) for 20-30 minutes ‘til nice and brown.


Two Equally Tasty Variations on Grilled Salmon

This first recipe is from our neat-n-fun neighbors in Naples, Florida. They hail from Chicago, but wisely winter in Naples. When we visit, we have nearly daily morning coffee sessions and solve many of everyone’s woes. Their names are Shelley and Ron Holt. Ron is one heck of a griller.

The first time he served this salmon, we begged mercilessly for the recipe. Everyone we’ve made this for, including six for six of our kids adore this recipe and then they beg for the recipe.

This is a marinade, while the second variation is a dry rub. Again, if John and I can make this work, you can too. Done deal.

Fool Proof Marinade:
2/3 cup maple syrup
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons salad oil
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
Garlic to taste
2 pounds of salmon will give you 4 ample servings


  • 1 cedar grilling plank (**you should soak this at least one hour or more prior to grilling**)
  • Mix up the marinade in a bowl.
  • Slice the two pounds of salmon, keeping the skin on, into 4 or more serving size pieces.
  • Using a large baggie, place the salmon in, skin side down. Pour marinade over the salmon and marinate about an hour.
  • Honey for drizzling
  • Fire up the grill, getting it to be on high heat, 500 or more degrees.
  • Cover a grilling dish with aluminum foil.
  • Place salmon on foil, skin side down.
  • Grill for 14 minutes. No more. No less.


Delectable Dry Rub:
Our YaYa, Denise, served the Yas –n-Yos this salmon dish one night. We loved it so much, we all marched out the next day, purchasing the ingredients for the rub plus enough cedar planks to build a tree house.

Denise also taught us that while the recipe for the rub is only enough for four servings, if you keep doubling it up to make a bunch, it keeps well in a plastic container. Then when you’re ready to grill again, just pull out that container of the rub and you’re ready to go.

Dry Rub:
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin (Denise uses half this amount because her hub’s not too wild about cumin. Personal preference.)
½ teaspoon black pepper (Here in Kentucky, bourbon smoked salt, pepper, cayenne, and then some are hot commodities. They are all wonderful. I use them on just about everything, just FYI.)

4 6-ounce salmon filets


  • Preheat grill to medium-low heat, about 350 degrees.
  • In a small mixing bowl, pour in all of the rub ingredients.
  • Rinse salmon off, and pat dry.
  • Sprinkle rub ingredients all over the salmon and set aside.
  • Place the pre-soaked cedar plank on the grill, close the lid, and heat for 3 minutes. (Be sure to keep an eye on the plank as we’ve all torched a few.)
  • Using tongs, turn the plank over and place the salmon on the heated side of the plank. Close the grill lid and grill for 12-15 minutes or until desired doneness.
  • Remove the planked salmon and drizzle with desired amount of honey. (Do not forget the honey! I did one time and it just wasn’t the same. By the time I realized it, it was too late.)
  • Serve immediately.

Footnote: The combo’ of the spices and the honey is what sets this recipe apart. People go bonkers. Just try it!