The Rio Grande Valley of Texas is a warm and friendly cold weather destination. The residents and businesses are very glad to see the Winter Texans arrive; it’s their livelihood in many cases. The real money in Texas resides in Dallas, Houston, Austin or on the huge cattle ranches. The small valley cities may not be giant business and commerce centers, but they bustle with interesting restaurants, museums, bird watching opportunities, music and dancing.
I spend a couple of months each winter soaking up the South Texas ambiance and I love it. Quilters all over the world are also eaters; it seems to come with the love of comfort. It was no surprise to me that The Rio Grande Valley Quilt Guild in McAllen published Quilter’s Cuisine as a fund raiser in 2007. I bought my copy this winter at their annual quilt show.
Texas Two-Step Chicken
One and one-half cups Pace picante sauce (hot or mild)
Three tablespoons packed brown sugar
One tablespoon Dijon mustard
Four boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Three cups hot cooked rice
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Mix together the picante sauce, brown sugar and mustard. Place chicken in a 2-quart shallow baking dish. Pour picante mixture over the chicken. Bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken is done. Serve over rice. Yield: 2-4 servings.
One can (27 oz.) sauerkraut, rinsed, drained and squeezed dry
One pound deli-sliced corned beef, chopped
One can cream of mushroom soup
One bottle (8 oz.) thousand island salad dressing
One and one-quarter cups milk
One medium onion, chopped
One teaspoon dry mustard powder
Nine oven-ready lasagna noodles
One cup (4 oz.) shredded Swiss cheese
One-half cup plain bread crumbs
One tablespoon butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x12” baking dish with cooking spray. In a medium bowl combine sauerkraut and corned beef; mix well. In another bowl combine soup, dressing, milk, onion and mustard. Mix this well. Spread one-half cup soup mixture over bottom of the baking dish. Place 3 lasagna noodles over soup mixture. Top with half the corned beef mixture, then half the remaining soup mixture. Layer 3 more noodles, remaining corned beef mixture. Top with the 3 remaining noodles and the rest of the soup mixture. Sprinkle the Swiss cheese over the top, then the bread crumbs and drizzle with the melted butter. Cover with foil and bake 45-50 minutes until bubbly. Uncover and bake 5-10 minutes more or until golden. Allow to sit 5-10 minutes before cutting into 8-10 servings.
Mexican Fruit Cake
One cup chopped nuts
Two cups sugar
Two cups flour
Two teaspoons baking soda
One teaspoon vanilla
One can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple with juice
One stick butter, room temperature
One package (8 oz.) cream cheese
One and one-half cups powdered sugar
One teaspoon vanilla
One tablespoon lemon juice
Mix the wet ingredients for the cake together in a small bowl. Mix together the dry ingredients. Add the first mixture to the second and stir well. Bake at 350 degrees F. in a greased and floured 9x13” pan. Beat the icing ingredients together well. Frost the cooled cake and garnish with very finely-chopped nuts. Keep cake refrigerated but take out 1 hour before serving. Best if made one day ahead of serving.
Wintering in an area that has good people, warm winter weather and great food is a hard act to follow, but coming home is great too. Traveling always convinces me that food is enjoyed and valued everywhere. So are the textile arts.
And...that’s all she wrote.
Sandy Olson can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org