Benton Academy recently hosted the State AA Basketball Tournament. I was responsible for the food in our hospitality room for all school coaches, administration and officials. It was quite an undertaking, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Sixteen schools were represented from across the state. I watched 16 games over the week — that’s about 25 hours or 64 quarters and one overtime. That is a lot of basketball. We even had an hour-long delay during a tornado warning.

I have had enough cooking and basketball to last me a while. I served about 100 deviled eggs, four cakes, four pies and more than 12 dozen cookies. Ham, brisket, tenderloin, fried chicken, fried catfish, chicken spaghetti, cavatina, Cajun macaroni and cheese, vegetables, salads, chip and dip, and — last but not least — sandwiches on the last day.

I was reading about the origin of basketball. The first game was played in 1892 on a court of the same size that is used now. The game lasted 30 minutes, and only one point was scored. A bushel peach basket served as the first goal. Every time someone scored, the referee had to climb on a ladder to get the ball so play could resume. Backboards were later added to keep the audience members from interfering with the game by handling the ball.

I certainly am glad the game has progressed to what it is now. We would still be there playing! I hope you will give this week’s recipes a try. Thanks for reading.

CHICKEN ENCHILADA RICE BAKE

2 cups instant rice

2 cups water

2 cups chopped, cooked chicken

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup whole corn kernels

1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

2 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce

½ cup chicken broth or water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray, and set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add instant rice, cover and turn off heat. Allow to stand for 10 minutes until all water is absorbed. In a large bowl, combine rice, chicken, beans, corn, tomatoes, 1½ cups cheese, enchilada sauce and chicken broth. Pour into baking dish, and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until bubbly and cheese has melted.

BACON GRITS CASSEROLE

1 pound bacon, cooked and chopped

6 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon ranch dressing mix

2 cups quick-cooking grits

12 ounces Velveeta, cubed

½ cup butter, cubed

½ cup milk

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray, and set aside. In a large saucepan, add chicken stock and ranch dressing mix. Bring to a boil. Slowly stir in grits and cook covered for five to seven minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and add Velveeta and butter. Stir well. Stir in milk and eggs until blended. Stir in half the cooked bacon. Transfer to baking dish, and top with shredded cheddar cheese and remaining bacon. Bake uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes.

SLOW COOKER RED BEANS & RICE

1 pound dried small red beans

1 pound smoked sausage, sliced

5 cups water

1 cup tomato sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons Creole/Cajun seasoning

½ cup finely chopped onion

½ cup finely chopped green pepper

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker, and cook on low for nine to 10 hours. Serve over prepared rice.

Contact Lee Ann Flemming at lafkitchen@hughes.net.

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