I confess to fiddlin’ with all of today’s recipes and I’d never seen any one of them before in my life. I usually wait until I’ve made a recipe at least once.

I added the pinch of salt and the vanilla to the brownie cake. It’s more like a custard and only needs a dollop of whipped cream. I used my homemade chocolate sauce.

I made my own ranch dressing and changed tater tots to crispy potato crowns. If I’d had left over rotisserie chicken, I would have used it. I used Vidalia onions instead of scallions because I can have scallions year round. Vidalias are here, then gone.

I saw no rhyme nor reason to drain the flavorful drippings off the ground beef then add three tablespoons of water.

I always use the 80/20 ground beef, and it rarely has much left to drain off when cooked until it’s done.

Plain cheddar cheese was replaced by a delicious Mexican cheese blend. It’s a taco, for goodness sake! I over baked mine in an effort to get the crust brown and crisp. Lightly browned and a little softer crust would have been better. I ate them anyway. A dollop of sour cream, guacamole, diced tomatoes, diced jalapenos or sliced onion would only add to the yumminess.

Brownie cake

8 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup chocolate sauce

3 cups half and half

3 eggs

1 box brownie mix

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with Pam for baking.

Melt chocolate with syrup and one cup of the milk. Combine the brownie mix, salt, three eggs, melted butter, vanilla and remaining milk. Add one and one-fourth cups of the chocolate mixture to the batter. Blend well.

Pour mixture into the prepared pan. Pour the remaining chocolate mixture onto the top of the batter, very slowly. Bake 30-40 minutes or until the cake is set in the middle. Serve with lots of whipped cream.

Chocolate sauce

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 stick butter

3 cups sugar

1 can evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium sized, heavy saucepan, melt chocolate and butter over medium heat, stirring constantly. When completely melted, add sugar.

Stir to combine. It will not all stir in. Add milk. Stir until smooth. Stir constantly until mixture boils gently. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.

Use as needed. Refrigerate.

Chicken cheddar casserole

3 cups cooked, chopped chicken

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup ranch dressing, divided

2 cups shredded, sharp cheddar cheese, divided

3/4 cup sliced green onions, divided

2 bags crispy potato crowns

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with Pam.

In a large bowl, mix soup, one half cup of ranch dressing and one cup of cheese and about half the onions. Spread one bag of crowns in the bottom of the prepared dish. Add chicken to the soup mixture and stir well.

Spread chicken mixture over the crowns. Too with the second bag of crowns. Bake 50 minutes.

Top with the remaining cheese and return to the oven until the cheese is melted and lightly browned. Drizzle with remaining ranch dressing. Garnish with the remaining onions.

Ranch Dressing

2 cups mayonnaise

2 cups sour cream

2 cups whole buttermilk

8 tablespoons very finely minced onion

3-4 cloves garlic, grated

3 tablespoons dried parsley

2 teaspoons paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon Morton’s Nature’s Seasonings

1 teaspoon pepper

Mix in the order given. Cover, date and refrigerate.

I’ve found using the food processor or blender works very well.

Taco rounds

1/2 pound ground beef

1 Pillsbury refrigerated thin crust pizza dough

2 tablespoons taco seasoning

1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with Pam.

Cook beef, stirring to crumble until no pink shows. Add taco seasoning and cook about two minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

Place pizza dough on a lightly floured surface. Shape into a rectangle.

Spread beef evenly on the dough. Sprinkle cheese evenly over beef. Roll Into a neat cylinder. With a very sharp knife, cut into approximate one-inch rounds. place rounds on the prepared baking sheet. Top with additional cheese if desired. Bake 10-12 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Don’t over bake.

Miss Olivia Sipe is the owner of Miss Olivia’s Table in Maryville.

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