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June 2012
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Holiday Traditions

from Vicki Hunkler

I agree with the old adages, "Laughter is the best medicine" and "Home is where the heart is," but my favorite is "A good friend is hard to find ... and impossible to forget." I never underestimate the importance of friends. When we are young, we can share the silliest or the most traumatic moments with them, and when we are older, we know they are there for the happiest and saddest days.

So what does all this have to do with good food? Sometimes we associate certain foods with memories and special people. I never eat fried chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes, for example, without thinking about my mother, who was a great cook. Her specialty was comfort food and she never used a recipe.

I still associate my Aunt Mary Lou's house with the aroma of chicken and dumplins. It was always a treat when my cousin, Peggy, brought us her chocolate meringue pie, still my favorite dessert. My Aunt Robbie walked me to the local bakery on Saturdays when I was a little girl â I can still remember how wonderful it smelled and the pastries still make my mouth water.

This brings me to my long-time friend Milidean Sawyer, who makes the best zucchini bread I've ever put in my mouth. She says it was first published in the faculty cookbook "What's Cooking at Tilghman?" in 1979. What could be better than sitting down with a good friend and sharing old stories about fun times while munching on this bread? It's always the season to treasure your friends, but this Thanksgiving make more by passing a loaf of Mili's bread around!

Mili's Zucchini Bread

n 3 beaten eggs  

n 1 cup oil

n 2 cups sugar

n 2 cups grated zucchini

n 2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp soda

n 1/2 tsp baking powder

n 1 tsp salt

n 1 tsp cinnamon 

n 1/2 cup chopped pecans

n 3 cups flour

Beat eggs, add oil, sugar, and zucchini and mix well. (Don't drain the zucchini after grating.) Mix the dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Add nuts. Bake in 2 or 3 small loaf pans at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Bake time is determined by pan size, but don't overcook. These freeze well.

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Curried Dried Fruit Relish & Mincemeat Cake

from Pat Brockenborough

Curried Dried Fruit Relish

n 1 package (11 ounce) dried apricots

n 1 cup raisins

n 1 tablespoons instant minced onion

n 1 tablespoon curry powder

n 1/4 teaspoon salt

n 1/4 cup sugar

n 2 cups boiling water

n 3 teabags

n 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

In a medium bowl snip apricots into 5 or 6 pieces each; toss with raisins and onion. Sprinkle with mixture of curry powder, salt and sugar. In a small bowl pour boiling water over teabags; cover and brew 10 minutes; discard teabags. Pour tea and vinegar over fruit. Cool. Marinate covered in regrigerator for at least 18 hours, stirring once or twice.

This relish keeps well in refrigerator for several weeks, although I have kept is refrigerated for several months.

Mincemeat Cake

n 1 (28 ounce) jar mincemeat

n 1 (15 ounce) box raisins

n 2 cups chopped pecans

n 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

n 1/2 cup margarine, melted

n 2 cups sugar

n 3 eggs separated

n 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

n 1/4 cup water

n 3 cups all-purpose flour

Combine mincemeat, raisins, pecans, and vanilla; set aside. Combine melted butter, sugar and egg yolks; beat well. Dissolve baking soda in water and add to butter mixture. Stir in flour and mincemeat mixture.

Beat egg whites until stiff; fold into mincemeat mixture.

Line bottom of a 10-inch tube pan with heavy brown paper; grease paper and sides of pan. Spoon mixture into prepared pan .Bake at 275 degrees F. fojr 2 hours and 10 minutes or until cake tests done.

Cool cake slightly. Remove from pan and remove paper. Cool thoroughly. Wrap in aluminum foil and store in a cool place several weeks before serving.

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Sweet Roll Tree

from Jenna Wise

n 5 cans cinnamon rolls â “ can use more or less

n 1 can white frosting

n Green cake color to add to frosting from the beginning (or green granulated sugar sprinkles to add to the finished product)

n Festive cake decorations â “ mini redhots, others

n Birthday candles

Bake rolls according to package directions. Make plan of how you can stack the baked rolls into a Christmas tree shape. (Perhaps 9 on bottom, then 7, 6, 4, 3 and 1, on top â “ adjusting the arrangement of rolls used as desired. Always smiling and having fun all the time, of course!

While rolls are baking, mix the icing from the cinnamon roll packages and extra can of icing. (You really will need that extra can of icing to make the tree stick together.) Add green food color to icing to make LIGHT green color or use white icing and sprinkle with green granulated sugar sparkles after tree is finished.

Ice the rolls while still on the pans. Then, assemble the tree with the iced Cinnamon Rolls. Trim the tree with candies and brightly-colored sprinkles, placing candles on the end of the tree branches.

Gather everyone around, light the candles, and sing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" or some other favorite carol. Instant tradition!

I hope someone in your family always wants to make a Sweet Roll Tree in your family like they do in mine. Note: It really does not matter if the tree is lopsided or leans â “ it usually does. Your family will still love it. We always eat our Sweet Roll Tree with Sausage Pie, another Wise family tradition.

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Holiday Rum Cake

from Minjah Miller


n 1 cup chopped pecans or 1 cup chopped walnuts

n 1 package yellow cake mix (cake mix only, do not add other ingredients listed on the box)

n 1 package vanilla instant pudding mix

n 4 eggs

n 1⁠2 cup cold water

n 1⁠2 cup cooking oil

n 1⁠2 cup dark rum

Sprinkle nuts over bottom of greased 10 inch tube pan or 12 cup bundt pan.

Stir together cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, oil and rum. Pour batter over nuts.

Bake at 325 in oven for 1 hour and cool 10 minutes in pan. Invert onto serving plate and prick top.


n 1⁠2 cup butter

n 1⁠4 cup water

n 1 cup sugar

n 1⁠2 cup dark rum

Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum.

Brush glaze evenly over top and sides of cake. Allow cake to absorb glaze. Repeat until glaze is used up.

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Game Day Cheese Dip

from Johnny Blazina

Typically, you wouldn't find Chicago Bears fans talking cheese on game day, but when it comes to pre-game snacking, the Blazina brothers' Chicago Cheese Dip is worth mentioning! It's a family tradition, as brothers Lee, Johnny, and Joey, along with the rest of the Blazina bunch gather at their parents' home every Sunday afternoon to watch their beloved Bears battle it out on the gridiron. And no matter what the outcome on the football field, this recipe is always a winner!


n 1 (16 oz) Block of Queso Blanco Velveeta Cheese, (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)

n 1 (10 oz) Can of Rotell, (undrained)

n 1/2 lb. Hot & Spicy Pork Sausage (Browned and Drained)

n 1/2 lb. Ground Beef (Browned and Drained)

n Just a Bit of minced Jalapeño


n Place in crock pot till cheese is melted, stir and serve.

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Easy Cinnamon Cider

from Harold Leath


1 gallon apple juice

1 package Red Hots candy


n Heat Red Hots in a pan with apple juice and serve in your favorite cups with holiday napkins.

Simple. Also good served ice cold.

Yes! That's it. My secret is out. My delicious cider is not cider at all. It is the cheap-stuff apple juice, because using real cider will make this delicious drink too thick-- and not taste quite as good.

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Date Nut Loaf & Boiled Custard

from Leigh Landini Wright

In the age of Pinterest as a recipe collection, I still turn to the scraps of paper and notecards that line the bottom of a storage basket in my home office. Many of them have faded, and others contain hard-to-read handwriting from an age where people wrote in cursive.

I treasure these scraps and notecards. My grandmother scrawled recipes on those scraps and notecards. Many of her recipes don't have exact measurements, and most of them in today's world would not be considered "healthy" at all. Whole milk. Butter. Eggs. Cream. All those good things.We didn't think about these issues then. 

I spent hours in the kitchen with my grandmother as I grew up. At Christmastime, she made boiled custard, candy, cakes and date nut loafs to take to potlucks or give to neighbors. Plus, we kept some for ourselves. Some for Christmas and more often than not, several containers of boiled custard and loaves of date nut loaf for later in the freezer. 

On boiled custard day, it seemed as if the kitchen became an assembly line with all the ingredients lined up on the counter. I'm sure I sneaked a few marshmallows as I helped to cut them up. Once she had the mixture cooking and it cooled, she ladled the boiled custard out into canning jars and glass jars for storage. 

When I dug through her recipe collection for this article, I found several cards with boiled custard recipes. All had the same basic ingredients - eggs, milk, sugar and marshmallows, but in varying quantities. I chose one that I think won't make enough to feed a small country, but she did have one recipe that called for 18 eggs and three quarts of milk. I'm pretty sure that has to be the recipe she used when she made enough for a church event or to give to friends, neighbors or relatives.

The date nut loaf goes with boiled custard, or at least I remember that we often had them at the same time. In today's health-conscious world, someone would tell us that those two together have too much sugar. But at the time, we did not care. They are delicious. A  warning: the date-nut loaf is sticky and messy to make, but the reward comes with the taste. 

Ingredients and Instructions: 

Date Nut Loaf

n 1/2 pound marshmallows

n 1/2 cup whipping cream

n 1/2 cup pecans, chopped

n 1/2 pound dates, chopped

n 1/2 pound graham crackers, crushed

n Maraschino cherries, chopped

Roll the graham crackers into a fine dust. Whip the cream and cut the marshmallows into small pieces (my mom and I used kitchen shears) and put into cream. Let stand for awhile. 

Cut dates and nuts into small pieces. Chop the cherries and add to the mixture. Add to cream and then add half of the cracker crumbs. Mix together. Roll into loaf and then roll in the remaining cracker crumbs. Refrigerate to store. 

Boiled custard

n 1 quart milk

n 3/4 cup sugar

n 1 T. flour

n 5 marshmallows

n 4 whole eggs

Warm milk and mix with eggs. Put in sugar and flour. Cook until it coats the spoon and then add marshmallows and melt.

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