Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tasty Thursday - Southern Party Specialties

This past Saturday I was in a baking mood, and since I'd been craving cheese straws for a while, I broke down and made some. I also decided to make some lemon bars for dessert for our picnic on Sunday. For these recipes, I pulled out my old copy of "League Legacy", a cookbook published in 1985 by the Service League of Cherokee County, Georgia to celebrate fifty years of their association. This is a great cookbook, just packed full of good old southern favorites. As you can tell by the picture, my copy is well used!

First up, the cheese straws. Now, when I was in my teens, I went to every wedding I could get an invitation to, NOT because of the actual wedding, but because inevitably there would be cheese straws on the reception food table! I love these things, that's why I rarely make them without a really good excuse!

1, 2, 3 Cheese Straws
Submitted by Jeweldine Chambers
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  1. One pound sharp cheddar cheese. (I used 1/2 lb. sharp and 1/2 lb. extra sharp)
  2. Two sticks (1 cup) margarine, softened (see below for my trick to soften margarine quicker)
  3. Three cups all purpose flour
  4. Several dashes cayenne (red) pepper (I used about 1/8 teaspoon)

Cream together cheese and margarine. Add flour and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Force through cookie press, using the star design, onto greased cookie sheet. Make into long strips and break into shorter ones later. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes until lightly browned. Do not overcook.

* My tips for this recipe: 1) Don't use pre-shredded cheese, shred your own cheese! It only takes a couple of minutes, and really does make a difference in the flavor and texture of the cheese straws. 2) If you don't want to bake all the recipe at once, the dough freezes well for up to two months. Allow to thaw fully before pressing.

How many times have you ever made a recipe that called for softened butter, margarine or cream cheese, and all you had was straight from the refrigerator and ice cold??? I have done that so many times, and it's quite frustrating. But I found this trick a few years ago and it works very well.

Simply place the cold butter, etc. on a metal cake pan, turned upside down on the counter. Every 5 to 10 minutes, turn the package 1/4 turn. The cold ingredients should be soft enough to use in 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the room temperature. What actually happens, is the metal pulls the cold away from the food, and helps it to soften faster. This is also great for thawing frozen meats like ground beef, chicken breasts or pork chops.

And on to the lemon bars!

Lemon Bars
submitted by Jane Wofford
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar

Cream 1 cup flour, butte and confectioners sugar. Press mixture into a greased 8 or 9 inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, allow to cool while you make the filling.

  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (I also added zest of one lemon for extra lemony goodness!)
  • 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Mix eggs, sugar, salt and lemon juice. Add 2 tablespoons flour and baking powder. Mix well. Pour over cool crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with additional confectioners sugar while hot. Cool, then place in refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Cut into bars. Makes 1 dozen.

If you've never had lemon bars, and love lemon, you really should try these - they are so delicious!!!

Any southern party, tea, wedding shower, etc. wouldn't be the same without one or both of these delicious treats! Enjoy, Becky


Nita in South Carolina said...

Wedding and shower food is the best food ever! I am partial to the sausage-cheese-bisquick balls myself :)

Anonymous said...

Some of my all time favorites and both are something I CANNOT stop eating once I start! Thanks for the great tip too.

K-Sue said...

I am so hungry now! I also ove the chese "cookies" that use similar ingredients, but add Rice Crispies. Extra sharp cheddar? Girl after my own heart.

Leslie said...

Two great recipes to have, thanks, they both look delicious.