Hooray – It’s Mississippi Day

I’m not sure which is more time consuming – writing the intro piece leading to the recipes, or selecting the recipes themselves. One thing I do know, going through the thousands and thousands of amazing dishes out there is so much fun!

Today is National Mississippi Day. Mississippi is often thought of a deep south, uneducated backwards state. Like many places, it’s history is a tapestry of not so proud moments woven between amazing change. To truly celebrate Mississippi, we need to embrace her past, warts and all. And to realize that lasting change takes time.

In 1964, the civil rights activists in Mississippi created the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to challenge the Democratic Party in Mississippi. Although hard to believe, the Democratic Party of Mississippi was a Whites Only party. Today the Democratic Party courts the black vote and few realize there was a time when people of color were not welcome.

The first state-funded university in the country to educate women was the Mississippi University for Women. Prior to that, the only higher learning for women were private. All that changed in 1884. However; the university first opened as the Mississippi Industrial Institute and College for the Education of White Girls. In 1920 the name was changed to Mississippi State College for Women, with a emphasis on collegiate rather than vocational education. Still it wasn’t integrated until 1966. Today, despite the name, both men and women of all races are eligible to attend. Progress. Slow but steady.

When most of us picture Mississippi, we visualize the Mississippi Delta, Bayous and the Gulf of Mexico. Yet 65% of Mississippi’s land is covered with trees. That’s just over 19 million acres of forest! Hickory and oak are two of the most common types of trees that grow throughout the state. The wood from these trees are transformed into strong furniture, durable flooring and so much more.

Two of Mississippi’s largest agricultural exports are timer and poultry. Just picture a beautiful wood cutting board to display our main course of Pecan Crusted Chicken Breasts. Sounds to me like it’s time to get cooking!

Although my Dad is an Okie from Oklahoma, he’s very southern. Growing up, whenever we got together with Dad’s side of the family, it seemed pecans were in nearly every dish. Because of this, I equated all things Southern with Pecans. It is this childhood notion that helped to form today’s amazing menu.

Mississippi Pecan Celebration
Starter –
Bacon-Pecan Stuffed Mushrooms

Salad –
Asparagus-Tomato Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Main Course –
Honey Mustard Pecan Crusted Chicken
Garlic-Rosemary Roasted New Potatoes

Dessert –
Muddy Mississippi Ribbon Pudding Pie

Bacon-Pecan Stuffed Mushrooms
6 strips Bacon
12 large fresh Brown Mushrooms
2 tablespoons Red Onion
1 cup Soft Breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped Pecans
2 tablespoons fresh Chives
4 tablespoons Butter, divided
2 tablespoons Canola Oil
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 tablespoons Beef Stock
2 tablespoons Sour Cream

Lay bacon strips in a stack. With a sharp knife, cut strips into thirds lengthwise, then dice the strips. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Scatter bacon into the skillet, brown, stirring frequently. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to drain. Reserve bacon drippings for another use. Wipe out the skillet, set aside.

Clean mushrooms, remove stems and set caps aside. Peel and finely mince onion, set aside. Cut crusts from 5 slices of bread. Place bread under the broiler for a minute or two to dry out slightly. Crumble bread into soft crumbs, set aside. Chop pecans. Mince chives.

Heat broiler.

In the skillet used for the bacon, heat 2 tablespoons butter and oil over medium-high heat. Add mushroom caps; cook 2 minutes on each side. Sprinkle with salt. Remove with tongs; drain on paper towels, stem side down.

In same pan, heat remaining butter over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir until tender. Remove from heat. Stir in breadcrumbs, crumbled bacon, chopped pecans, and beef stock. Fold in sour cream and chives, mix well. Spoon filling mixture into the mushroom caps.

Place on a broiler pan. Broil 5 inches from heat for about 2 minutes or until filling has browned.

Arrange on a serving platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Asparagus -Tomato Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Asparagus-Tomato Salad
1 bunch Asparagus
4 large Tomatoes
1/4 heaping cup fresh Basil, cut into ribbons

Remove the woody ends from the asparagus. Lay asparagus on a cutting board, tips even. Beginning at tips, cut trimmed asparagus into thirds.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil, add the asparagus and cook for 1 minute or until crisp-tender. Using a large slotted spoon or small strainer, pluck asparagus from the boiling water and immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Let asparagus remain in ice water for about a minute. Remove asparagus from ice water, place on paper towels to drain, folding more towels over top to absorb excess water.

Place blanched asparagus into a large bowl and set aside.

Cut tomatoes into bite-size pieces. Rinse, removing seeds and pulp. Pat dry with paper towels and place into bowl with asparagus.

Lay three or four basil leaves in a stack. Roll into a cigar shape. Cut width-wise into thin ribbons. Sprinkle over salad. Toss to combine. Chill well until ready to serve.

While salad is chilling, make dressing.

Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon Honey
1 large Garlic Clove, grated
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon White Pepper

In a small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard and honey.  Whisk together until the honey has dissolved.

Peel garlic clove, grate into the honey mixture. Season with salt and white pepper.

Pour dressing into a small container with a tight-fitting lid. Set aside until ready to serve.

When ready to “dress” salad, shake dressing well to emulsify. Drizzle over salad and toss to coat. Serve remaining dressing along side salad with a small spoon to drizzle as desired.

Honey Mustard Pecan Crusted Chicken
1 cup Pecans
1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
1-1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1-1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1-1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
Salt to taste
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons Dijon Mustard, divided
4 tablespoons Mayonnaise, divided
3-1/2 tablespoons Honey, divided
4 (6 oz) boneless Chicken Breasts
Cooking Spray
Parsley for garnish

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a 18 by 13-inch baking sheet with foil, place an oven safe cooling rack over on baking sheet and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Place pecans in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to finely chop the pecans. Place in a shallow dish, Add breadcrumbs, paprika, garlic and onion powders. Season with salt and pepper, whisk to blend. Set breading aside.

In a small mixing bowl stir together 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise and 1/2 tablespoon honey. Set aside.

Place chicken breast, one at a time, into a thick resealable plastic bag to protect the meat. With the flat side on a meat mallet, pound chicken to even the thickness of about 1/2-inch. Repeat with each breast. Lay breast out on a cutting board. Pat dry with paper towels, then brush with the honey-mustard mixture. Season with salt.

Transfer chicken one piece at a time into pecan breading mixture, honey mustard side down. Press firmly to get pecan mixture to adhere to the breast. Brush top side of chicken with honey mustard mixture, season with salt. Turn chicken over and press to coat. Place coated breast on the rack in the prepared baking pan. Repeat with remaining chicken. Leave a little space between each breast for heat circulation.

Scatter any remaining pecan mixture to tops of chicken; press down evenly. Spray the tops of the chicken with cooking spray to encourage browning.

Bake chicken in the oven until cooked through, about 22 minutes. Note: Should the pecans brown too quickly, cover breasts with foil and continue to cook.

Meanwhile in a clean small mixing bowl stir together remaining 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons mayonnaise and 3 tablespoons honey to create a sauce. Set aside until ready to use.

Remove chicken from the oven. Slice and fan out on individual plates or serving platter. Ladle with honey mustard sauce. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Garlic-Rosemary Roasted New Potatoes
2 lbs small Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 springs Fresh Rosemary
3 Garlic Cloves
Olive OIl as needed
Kosher Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
Rosemary Sprigs for garnish

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.

Wash and scrub potatoes. Cut potatoes in half and set aside on paper towels to dry.

Strip fresh rosemary needles from the sprigs, chop and set aside. Peel and finely mince garlic cloves. Set aside.

Place potatoes in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat well. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste. Add minced garlic with chopped rosemary. Toss to blend well.

Turn seasoned potatoes out onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, in the heated oven for about 35 minutes or until golden and crisp. Remove roasted potatoes from oven, garnish with rosemary sprigs, serve and enjoy.

Muddy Mississippi Ribbon Pudding Pie
4 cups cold Milk, divided
1 (1 oz) package Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
1 (1 oz) package Instant Butterscotch Pudding Mix
1 (1.4 oz) package Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix
1 (9-inch) Graham Cracker Crust
Whipped Dessert Topping (Cool Whip)
Chopped Pecans

In a chilled mixing bowl, whisk 1-1/3 cups milk and vanilla pudding mix for 2 minutes or until pudding thickens. Place in the refrigerator to chill.

In another bowl, whisk 1-1/3 cups milk and butterscotch pudding mix for 2 minutes or until pudding thickens. Place butterscotch pudding into the refrigerator to chill.

In a third bowl, whisk remaining 1-1/3 cups milk and chocolate pudding mix for 2 minutes or until thickened, set aside.

Fill Graham Cracker Crust with the vanilla pudding. Spread out smooth. Carefully spoon butterscotch pudding over the vanilla pudding, spread out smooth. Finish with the chocolate pudding, spread out smooth.

Chill pie in the refrigerator for about an hour to fully set.

When serving, garnish each slice with a dollop of whipped dessert topping and a scattering of chopped pecans.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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