Cooks Exchange

Unearthed from a pack rat’s stash: Recipes for easy meals and no-bake dessert

For several months after a major move, a Women of Wisdom sister wailed that she couldn’t find anything. She was still dealing with boxes, storage shed and all the junk that goes along with them. She couldn’t find all of her shoes or even pots and pans.

We all laughed at her antics.

Now, I understand and must ask forgiveness for laughing. Five months after our move we still are unpacking. We were trying to unpack only the basics.

The basics for me are more than the bare necessities, especially in the kitchen. I dislike not being able to find my favorite spatula or strainer. I especially dislike my electric range. After using a gas range for most of my life, I loathe this built-in electric one. Neither the range nor me have made peace with one another.

I view it as the gold dinosaur whose burners do not cook evenly and whose oven is too small. I have the burn scars to prove the latter.

My family and I spent time recently rooting through boxes, putting up dishes that I must have and storing those in an already full shed that even I know we don’t need. We worked hard; I am a task master when I really want something done. My granddaughter who usually asks for “one more movie” asked me, “Mamie, can I go to bed now. I am awfully tired.”

Normal for me, I unearthed treasures. My late mother-in-law was as much a pack rat about recipes and clippings as I am. I found a few meal ideas using refrigerated pie crusts that can be done quickly and a low-fat dessert from a cookbook that I hadn’t seen in a while, “Trinity Treasures.”

And a recipe is often included in the electric bill. Lately, we have been enjoying boiled crawfish, shrimp and crabs at graduation parties or dinner with friends. June’s bill uses those crawfish tails in crawfish cornbread.

Yes, these recipes are a mixed bag, but that’s what summer activities are, running from one event to another.

The only bad thing about these recipes is that I had to use my nemesis, my oven. Thank goodness for a no-bake dessert.


1 (15-ounce package) Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts

1 pound ground beef

1 (15-ounce) can spicy chili beans, undrained

1/2 cup salsa

6 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded lettuce

1/4 cup chopped tomato

Optional green onion slices, sour cream, black olives or chopped jalapenos

Unfold pie crust, place in 9-inch pie pan. Prick bottom and edges with fork; flute edge. Cut 13 (2-inch) triangle pieces from remaining crust, place around crust edge. Bake at 425 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes or until light golden brown.

In large skillet, brown ground beef, drain. Add chili beans, salsa and 1 cup of cheese; mix well. Cook over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Spoon meat mixture into baked shell. Top with remaining ingredients. Makes 16 servings. Prep time is about 20 minutes, and total time is 30 minutes.

— From 1999 Pillsbury pamphlet, “Crust Creations”


1 (15-ounce) package Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts

1/3 cup margarine or butter

1/3 chopped onion

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 cup chicken broth

2/3 cup milk

2 1/2 to 3 cups shredded chicken or turkey

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare pie crusts as directed on package for two-crust pie using a 9-inch pie pan.

In a medium saucepan, melt margarine over medium heat. Add onion; cook 2 minutes or until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until well blended. Gradually stir in broth and milk; cook, stirring constantly until bubbly and thickened.

Add chicken and mixed vegetables; remove from heat. Spoon chicken mixture into crust-lined pan. Top with second crust and flute; cut slits in several places.

Bake at 425 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings.

— From 1999 Pillsbury pamphlet, “Crust Creations”


2 cups yellow cornmeal

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon Creole seasoning

6 eggs

2/3 cup vegetable oil

1 yellow onion, finely diced

8 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated

1 can corn drained

2 pounds crawfish tail meat, finely chopped

1 small can chopped green chilies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Stir first 4 dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Beat in eggs and oil. Add rest of ingredients and mix well.

Pour batter into greased dish and bake 45 to 50 minutes, until firm and golden. Let cool a few minutes before cutting.

— From “Still Cooking: Southern Comfort Featuring Crock-Pot Favorites” by Linda Stone McCollum


2 cups angel food cake, cubed (I use store-bought.)

1 (8-ounce) sugar-free, fat-free lemon yogurt

1/4 (8-ounce) container light whipped topping, thawed

1/2 cup strawberries, sliced

1/2 cup blueberries

Fresh mint sprigs, optional

Place 1/2 cup cubed angel food cake in 4 dessert dishes. In a small mixing bowl, fold whipped topping into lemon yogurt. Place dollops of lemon mixture on top of angel food cake cubes.

Sprinkle with fresh berries and garnish with mint sprigs, if desired. Makes 4 (1/2 cup servings). Prep time: 15 minutes. Diabetic Exchanges: 1 starch.

— Deborah Colby, “Trinity Treasures”

Andrea Yeager can be reached at and Cooks Exchange, 205 DeBuys Road, Gulfport, MS 39507.