Down-home Cooking

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 30, 2016 12:01 am Updated: Dec. 2, 2016 11:10 am

QUINCY -- It's not unusual to find Jill Adams in the kitchen at the holiday season -- or any time of the year.

"I like to cook down-home foods," Adams said.

But "home" took on a wider meaning for the Quincy native who spent 22 years moving throughout Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, Hawaii and Germany with her husband Terry's Army career.

"I learned to cook from my mom a little, but mostly from moving in different places, having so many friends from so many different areas," Adams said. "I got a lot of my recipes from down South."

The whole family -- a married daughter in Quincy, a married daughter in England, a married son in Chicago and five grandchildren with another on the way -- all love cheese grits, a classic southern recipe from one of her husband's aunts.

Another favorite from her husband's family, crawfish etouffee, is served with rice. "It's pretty easy," Adams said. "I condensed it all into one pan."

A sister-in-law in Houston shared the recipe for chicken pie, a favorite of Adams' husband, to use leftover chicken. "It's so easy," she said. "The crust comes up to the top. It's really good."

An Army friend from Tennessee shared the recipe for Kentucky pie. "It's kind of like a chocolate chip cookie pie," Adams said, and the sopapilla cheesecake came from another of her husband's aunts.

"My mom cooked a lot. We had a lot of big parties when I was growing up," Adams said. "We always had shrimp a lot for the holidays and this Shrimp Dip. It's like cocktail sauce, but it has a little different twist to it."

Apricot Bars are Adams' own favorite, and popular for holiday cookie trays, but "my Mom always made these date balls at Christmas. I make them and it reminds me of her. They're real yummy."

With plenty of recipes to choose from for everything from main dishes to desserts, "sometimes I change them up a little," she said. "I measure, but it's like ‘Let's put a little of this, a little of that.' Everything's pretty much my own."

She passed on her tips to her kids, and now she's starting with the grandkids. "I always have said if you can read, you can cook. It's not that hard," she said. "Here's the recipe. Just do this, this and this, It's so easy."

Mom's Shrimp Dip

1 pint mayonnaise

1 bottle catsup

3 dashes Lea and Perrins sauce

garlic salt

minced onion

1/2 bottle horseradish

dash cayenne pepper

dash salt


Place shrimp on a cookie sheet. Toss with olive oil, seasoned pepper and fresh garlic. Roast at 425 F until shrimp are opaque.

Mix together remaining ingredients for dip, which makes enough for 10 pounds of shrimp.

Cheese Grits

2 cups raw grits

1 stick butter

1 cup half and half

chopped jalapenos to taste

1 tablespoon minced onions

6 ounces Velveeta cheese

Cook grits according to package directions. Add butter, half and half, jalapenos, onions and Velveeta. Mix well, and pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake at 325 F for 35 minutes. Serve hot.

Chicken Pie

deboned cooked chicken

1 cup flour

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 can mushroom soup

2 1/4 cups chicken broth

1 stick butter

chopped onions and celery, if desired

Cut up chicken, and put in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour melted butter over chicken. Combine flour, milk and baking powder in a mixing bowl, and pour over chicken. Heat broth, with chopped onions and celery, and soup; pour over top. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 375 F for 45 minutes to one hour.

Crawfish Etouffee

1/4 cup chopped onions

1/4 cup chopped celery

7 tablespoons vegetable oil

3/4 cup flour

3 cups seafood or chicken stock

2 sticks butter

2 pounds frozen crawfish tails

1 cup chopped green onions

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon thyme

4 cups cooked rice

For seasoning mix, combine salt, cayenne, pepper, basil and thyme in a small bowl.

In iron skillet or heavy pan, make a roux with flour and oil. Cook and stir constantly until roux is dark brown, not burnt, about four minutes. Remove from heat, and add vegetables and 1 tablespoon seasoning mix. Return to heat, and allow vegetables to soften. Add stock and 1 stick butter. Stir, then add crawfish, green onions, remaining butter and remaining seasoning. Cook for a few minutes until heated through and crawfish is done.

Serve over a scoop of rice. Add more cayenne pepper to taste.

NOTE: Adams said frozen crawfish tails can be found at Wal-Mart. If desired, substitute 2 pounds of shrimp for the crawfish.

Apricot Bars

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cups oats

3/4 cup butter

1 cup apricot jam

dash salt

Mix together butter, sugar and salt. Add oats, flour and baking powder. Pat two-thirds of mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Spread jam on top, and sprinkle with remaining dry mixture. Bake at 350 F about 35 minutes.

Let cool, then cut into bars. Makes about two dozen bars.

Date Balls

1 stick butter, melted

1 cup sugar

1 beaten egg

1 (eight-ounce) package dates, chopped

2 cups Rice Krispies


Combine butter, sugar, egg and dates in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not overcook mixture; finished balls should be chewy. Turn off heat, and add Rice Krispies. Cool slightly, then form into bite-size balls and roll in coconut.

Kentucky Pie

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup flour

2 eggs

1 stick melted butter

1 cup chopped pecans

6 ounces chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 (nine-inch) pie shell

Combine sugar, flour, eggs, melted butter, pecans, chocolate chips and vanilla. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 325 F for one hour.

Sopapilla Cheesecake

3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cans crescent rolls

1 stick butter, melted

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Roll out one can crescent roll dough, and place in the bottom of a greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan, pressing seams together. Spread cream cheese mixture on top. Top with second can of crescent roll dough. Pour butter over top. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over top. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.

Sign up for Email Alerts