Happy Valentine’s Day

Pink and red, roses and chocolate – love is in the air! It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and the ladies of the River Road Recipes committee want to show our love for you by helping you plan the perfect Valentine’s Day party for the littlest loves in your life! While our thoughts typically turn to our significant others on Valentine’s Day, Valentine’s Day is a fun holiday for children, too! Pair our snack ideas with fun activities for the kids, like making “mailboxes” out of shoe boxes to receive home-made Valentine’s Day cards from friends or making heart-shaped crayons. Check out some fun craft ideas here!

Sparkling Cranberry Punch

This non-alcoholic punch is the perfect beverage for a kid-friendly Valentine’s Day party. The ginger ale adds a little sparkle, and the cranberries lend a festive hue for the occasion.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Ingredients

  • 1 large can jellied cranberry sauce
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups ginger ale
  • Clove-studded lemon slices

Directions

Crush cranberry sauce in can with fork and empty into saucepan. Beat with rotary beater. Add water and beat until sauce is melted. Add sugar and cool. Stir in lemon juice, extract, and 1 cup ginger ale. Just before serving, dilute with remaining 1/2 ginger ale and serve well iced in frosted glasses. Garnish with mint and clove-studded lemon circles. Serves 12 punch cups.

River Road Recipes I, p. 11

CHOCOLATE FUDGE TURTLES

Instead of store-bought candy, try our Chocolate Fudge Turtles from River Road Recipes I! Everyone is guaranteed to enjoy these delectable desserts, and they are made with the most important ingredient of all: love! You can find our easy, step-by-step recipe here!

Photo by Don Kadair.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Party Mix

To round out the sweetness, add some salt to your Valentine’s Day party snacks with this simple Party Mix. It’s a perennial favorite for children of all ages. Recipe here!

Photo by Don Kadair.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at River Road Recipes!

Throwback: RRR 50th Birthday Party

As our League members are no doubt aware, our first General Membership Meeting of 2017 is quickly approaching on February 7! Since we are celebrating the 85th birthday of the Junior League of Baton Rouge AND the 80th reprint of  River Road Recipes I: A Textbook of Louisiana Cuisine this year, we thought we would throw it back to our September 2009 General Membership Meeting, when we celebrated the 50th birthday of River Road Recipes I: A Textbook of Louisiana Cuisine!

Junior League members with special guest speaker, former Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden.

Junior League members with special guest speaker, former Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden.

With over 1.4 million copies sold since the original edition was printed in September 1959, River Road Recipes I is the oldest community cookbook still in print in the United States.

Ladies of the 2009-2010 RRR Committee showing up the special 50th Anniversary limited edition of River Road Recipes I.

Junior League members showing off the special 50th Anniversary limited edition cover of River Road Recipes I.

After so many decades of success, it’s hard to imagine that this historic cookbook almost never came to be. When the idea for a cookbook was first proposed by the original Junior League of Baton Rouge cookbook committee in 1957, the League’s financial advisors (incidentally, a group of men) strongly advised against it. “It was another generation, the men thought we couldn’t do anything,” Emily Robinson, chair of the the original cookbook committee, recalled in an interview with Country Roads Magazine in 2011.

Let them eat cake, or rather, humble pie! Years later, after witnessing the enduring success of River Road Recipes I, one of the financial advisors finally admitted to Robinson, “We gave you bad advice.”

Let them eat cake, or rather, humble pie! Years later, after witnessing the enduring success of River Road Recipes I, one of the financial advisors finally admitted to Robinson, “We gave you bad advice.”

 

The River Road Recipes I 50th birthday cake!

The River Road Recipes I 50th birthday cake!

Make sure you log in to your member home page through Digital Cheetah to RSVP for next week’s meeting if you haven’t already. Can’t wait to see you there!

Cheese Straws

Cheese straws are a perpetual crowd favorite at parties. The sharp cheddar cheese with the hint of red pepper make them an irresistible, savory snack for any event! They also make great gifts when placed in a decorative bag or tin. While the recipe calls for you to roll the dough thin and cut it into narrow strips, you can also place the dough in a cookie press to give them a decorative shape before baking.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 2/3 cups sifted flour
  • Dash red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Mix ingredients together well. Roll thin and cut in narrow strips. Bake in slow oven, 275°, until light brown. Makes about 4 dozen.

River Road Recipes I, p. 223

Bourbon Walnut Balls

These tasty treats are perfect for your next party or social! Easy and quick to make, these delicious Bourbon Walnut Balls will keep your guests coming back for more!

Photo by Don Kadair.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups (5 dozen) finely crushed vanilla wafers
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons white corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • Additional confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions

Mix well the wafer crumbs, cocoa, sugar, and nuts. Add corn syrup and bourbon. Blend well. Form into one-inch balls (in diameter). Roll each of these into the sifted sugar. Makes about 3 dozen.

River Road Recipes I, p. 229.

Pecan Pie

Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the occasional treat! Pecan pie for dessert is a Southern staple, and you simply cannot beat a warm slice of pecan pie on a chilly night. And for those not-so-chilly winter nights that we are oh-so-familiar with in the Deep South, a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side puts this favorite over the top!

Photo by Don Kadair.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 unbaked pie crust

Directions

Cream butter and sugar. Add remaining ingredients and pour into unbaked pie crust. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes and lower to 350° and cook for approximately one hour.

River Road Recipes I, p. 205

A History of Spinach Madeleine

It goes without saying that Spinach Madeleine is hands down one of the most famous recipes in the River Road Recipes cookbook series. In fact, Spinach Madeleine was named as one of the Century’s Best Recipes in an article that appeared in the Houston Chronicle in December 1999. For many Baton Rougeans, no holiday dinner would be complete without this delicious dish! In honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, we wanted to highlight the history of this iconic recipe.

The original Spinach Madeleine recipe is found on page 63 of River Road Recipes I: A Textbook of Louisiana Cuisine.

The original Spinach Madeleine recipe is found on page 63 of River Road Recipes I: A Textbook of Louisiana Cuisine.

The recipe’s creator, Madeline Nevell Reymond, created this legendary recipe by accident.  She was a young and inexperienced cook when she decided to use up a jalapeno cheese roll that she had in her refrigerator by adding it to a spinach dish she was preparing for a ladies’ luncheon.  The result was a dish that became one the most popular special-occasion vegetable dishes in Louisiana.  This is evidenced every year by the empty freezers in the grocery stores at Christmas time after all the frozen spinach packages have been snatched up.

spinach-madeline-rrr-i

When Kraft Foods decided to discontinue making the jalapeno cheese roll, which is called for in the recipe, hundreds of distraught cooks called Kraft Foods to protest.   The powers-at be at Kraft were amused by Louisiana’s devotion to their jalapeno cheese roll, but discontinued the product anyway.  Fortunately, the River Road Recipes committee developed a new version of Spinach Madeleine in 2000 so that cooks can still serve this outstanding dish. A lighter version of the recipe appears in River Road Recipes III: A Healthy Collection.

spinach-madeline-rrr-i-modern

The recipe is versatile and can be served alone or as a warm appetizer dip with toast points or crackers. Spinach Madeleine also freezes well, so it can be made in advance of hectic holiday dinners! To make sure you have this holiday classic at your Thanksgiving table this year, check out the recipe here!

Lemon Drop Cookies

This delicious, lemony dessert is found in River Road Recipes I on page 195. You can find lemon drops on the candy aisle of your grocery store or even at the gas station.

lemon-drop-cookies-1

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Level of Difficulty: Medium

Servings: 3 dozen cookies

KITCHEN TOOLS:

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Wooden spoon
  • Mixing bowl
  • Electric mixer (optional)
  • Food processor
  • Mortar and pestle (optional)
  • Sifter
  • Cookie sheet

INGREDIENTS:

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

  • 1/2 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely crushed lemon drops

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Gather kitchen tools and ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease cookie sheet. Using a food processor, process the lemon drops as much as possible. Use a mortar and pestle to grind the processed lemon drops further if necessary. Sift the flour.
Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Sifting the flour allows you to use less flour overall and makes for a lighter, fluffier cookie! Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Sifting the flour allows you to use less flour overall and makes for a lighter, fluffier cookie! Photo by Lauren De Witt.

2. Cream (mix) butter and sugar together using an electric mixer or by hand.

3. Add egg and lemon juice.

4. In a separate bowl, mix together the sifted flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon drops.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

5. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and mix together.

6. Drop by 1/2 teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet.

7. Bake about 10 minutes, until sides begin to brown.

8. Cool slightly and remove from pan.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Party Mix

This easy snack is found in River Road Recipes I on page 227. You can make this ahead of time and store in an airtight container – it will keep indefinitely! It also makes a great and easy gift for new neighbors, teachers, or any kind of little “thank you.” Just pour some of the party mix into a clear bag, tie off with a ribbon, and you are good to go!

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1.5 hours

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Servings: 20

KITCHEN TOOLS:

  • Measuring  spoons
  • Wooden spoon
  • Mixing bowl
  • Large roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet
  • Aluminum foil (optional)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 package Cheerios
  • 2 packages Rice Chex
  • 1 box “Slim Jim” stick pretzels
  • 3/4 pound butter (3 sticks)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Any kind of salted nuts (such as peanuts) (approximately 3 cups)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Gather kitchen tools and ingredients. Preheat oven to  250°. Break the pretzels in half. Using the microwave, melt the butter in a mixing bowl. Watch the butter carefully in the microwave as it can pop and make a mess!
  2. Pour the Cheerios and Rice Chex into a large roaster pan or rimmed cookie sheet and add the broken pretzels. Sprinkle with salt and garlic salt.
  3. Add the red pepper and Worcestershire sauce to the melted butter and mix.
  4. Pour the butter, red pepper, and Worcestershire sauce mixture over the cereals and pretzels.
  5. Cover the roasting pan (or use aluminum foil to cover if using a rimmed cookie sheet or if you do not have a lid) and bake at 250° for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 30 minutes longer.
  6. Mix in any kind of salted nuts.
  7. Cool and store in an airtight container until ready to serve!
Photo by Don Kadair.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Celebrating the 80th Reprint of the Original River Road Recipes!

This month we celebrate the 80th reprint of the cookbook that started it all: River Road Recipes: The Textbook of Louisiana Cuisine! With over 1.4 million copies sold since the original edition was printed in September 1959, River Road Recipes I is the oldest community cookbook still in print in the United States. 

An early promotional cover for River Road Recipes I. Copyright retained by East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

An early promotional cover for River Road Recipes I. Copyright retained by East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

Reflecting on the success of the River Road Recipes collection over the last 57 years, it’s hard to believe that the cookbook that is considered a staple in many kitchens not just in Louisiana, but throughout the country, almost never came to be. When the idea for a cookbook was first proposed by the original Junior League of Baton Rouge cookbook committee in 1957, the League’s financial advisors (incidentally, a group of men) strongly advised against it. “It was another generation, the men thought we couldn’t do anything,” Emily Robinson, chair of the the original cookbook committee, recalled in an interview with Country Roads Magazine in 2011. Despite the opposition, “we continued to collect, edit, and select the best recipes during taste-testing parties. We presented the layout of the cookbook to the board for permission to present it to the membership to adopt it as a money-making project. It still gives me a fright when I think how close we came to being voted down,” she said. Years later, after witnessing the enduring success of River Road Recipes I, one of the financial advisors finally admitted to Robinson, “We gave you bad advice.” “We showed you, didn’t we?” she quipped back. 

Testing the recipe for crabmeat casserole for River Road Recipes I. From left to right, Mrs. Lenton Sartain, Mrs. John Ferguson, and Mrs. John Gordon. Copyright retained by East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

Testing the recipe for crabmeat casserole for River Road Recipes I. From left to right, Mrs. Lenton Sartain, Mrs. John Ferguson, and Mrs. John Gordon. Copyright retained by East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

The reasons for the phenomenal success of River Road Recipes I are numerous, starting with the careful planning and meticulous editing of the first edition by the original cookbook committee.  “They were checked three times—every recipe that was in there. We didn’t hurry.  It took us a year and a half to do the cookbook,” Robinson recalled. 

Equally important to the book’s success was the determination that Junior League members had in promoting the cookbook. “When the book came out,” said Martha (Monkey) Bowlus, 1960 cookbook chairman, “every member was given ten copies to sell. Then they came back for another ten. When people wrote us that they couldn’t find file’ for the gumbo in their local stores, we mailed them a little pack of it. For years no member dared to go out of town, whether to New Orleans, New York, or Paris, without a copy of RRR in their suitcase. I have shown it to people in bookshops, department stores; supermarkets, and airplanes, and I still don’t travel without it.”

A promotion for a cinema event held at City Club of Baton Rouge on January 19, 1960, where selections from the newly published River Road Recipes I were served. Copyright retained by East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

A promotion for a cinema event held at City Club of Baton Rouge on January 20, 1960, where selections from the newly published River Road Recipes I were served. Copyright retained by East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

Some members were even downright cunning in their marketing methods! For example, Ann Arbour, who not only named the cookbook in 1959, was responsible, along with her sisters and her mother, for ensuring the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans sold the books in its gift shop. “[They would take] turns inquiring about a copy of River Road Recipes cookbook throughout their weekend stay. The clerk finally said, ‘This is about the sixth request I’ve had in only two days for that book. Can you tell me how I can purchase some?’” recalled Junior League member Julie Carville Jones in a speech given to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the book’s publication in 2010. 

Of course, no amount of editing or marketing could have made River Road Recipes I successful if it were not for the integrity of the recipes it contained — recipes that, in their own way, truly embody the spirit of the people of south Louisiana. “Not only are the recipes easy to follow and make, they’re just downright good,” said Janice Couvillion, a past chairman of the marketing committee for the River Road Recipes collection. “Everything we do in the South Louisiana is based on food. People can’t stand to see you not eating. Whether its a funeral or a football party, people will have food. I have pretty much traveled around the world, and I haven’t eaten better food than what we have here. People love to eat, and it shows in their cooking.”

Members of the 1969 River Road Recipes Cookbook Committee. From left to right, Barbara Bearden, Shirley Watson and Judy Powers. Copyright retained by East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

Members of the 1969 River Road Recipes Cookbook Committee. From left to right, Barbara Bearden, Shirley Watson and Judy Powers. Copyright retained by East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

In 1972, Junior League members began work on River Road Recipes II: A Second Helping with the hope of sustaining sales for the day that sales of River Road Recipes I began to drop off. Much to their surprise, however, that day never materialized. River Road Recipes I continues to outsell River Road Recipes II: A Second Helping, River Road Recipes III: A Healthy Collection, which debuted in 1994, and River Road Recipes IV: Warm Welcomes, published in 2004. 

The debut of River Road Recipes II: A Second Helping in 1974. From left to right, Mrs. Robert F. Arbour (President), Mrs. Edwin Edwards, Mrs. James Alexander (Cookbook Chair). Copyright retained by East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

The debut of River Road Recipes II: A Second Helping in 1972. From left to right, Mrs. Robert F. Arbour (President), Mrs. Edwin Edwards, Mrs. James Alexander (Cookbook Chair). Copyright retained by East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

The River Road Recipes cookbook collection has done far more than simply bring a national spotlight to the many culinary delights unique to south Louisiana, however. Together, sales of the River Road Recipes collection has earned well over $5,000,000 to fund projects sponsored or supported by Junior League in the Baton Rouge community. From providing diapers for needy infants, to putting smiles on the faces of sick children at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital and providing resources for families dealing with autism diagnoses, the positive impact this cookbook collection has had on our community cannot be overstated. You can learn more about the Junior League’s 2016-2017 community projects that are supported by our cookbook sales on the Junior League of Baton Rouge website and here on our blog!

This week, we invite you to celebrate with us by cooking up any one of our classic recipes found in River Road Recipes I. From the bottom of our hearts and the hearts of everyone in the Baton Rouge community, thank you for having us over for dinner the last 57 years. We cannot wait to see what the future for the River Road Recipes holds! 

Chocolate Fudge Turtles

This decadent dessert is found in River Road Recipes I on page 212. While fairly easy to make, this recipe is considered of medium difficulty due to the time involved. The majority of the ingredients, including the evaporated milk and the marshmallow creme, can be found on the baking aisle of your grocery store. To store your Chocolate Fudge Turtles, layer them between sheets of parchment paper to ensure they do not stick together.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes, plus at least 6 hours of refrigeration time

Level of Difficulty: Medium

Servings: 5 pounds of chocolate turtles

KITCHEN TOOLS:

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Wooden spoon
  • Spatula
  • Mixing bowl
  • Food processor or chopping knife and cutting board
  • Large pot
  • 9×13″ cake pan
  • Butter knife

INGREDIENTS:

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

  • 4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • One 8-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 3 packages chocolate chips
  • 5 ounces marshmallow creme
  • 1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 pound chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Gather kitchen tools and ingredients. Using a chopping knife and a cutting board, roughly chop one cup of pecans or use a food processor. Using extra butter, grease the 9×13″ cake pan.
Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

2.  Stir the sugar and evaporated milk together in a large pot. Bring the mixture to boil and boil gently for 9 minutes – make sure to watch carefully to ensure it does not boil over as the mixture becomes somewhat frothy. Stir occasionally.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

3.  Remove the mixture from the heat and add the chocolate chips, butter, marshmallow creme, and vanilla extract. Stir until well blended and until the chocolate bits are melted.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

4.  Add the nuts to the mixture and combine.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

5.  Pour the mixture into the buttered cake pan, using the spatula to scrape out the inside of the pot. Be sure to run water in your pot immediately after transferring the mixture to make for easier clean up!

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

6.  Refrigerate the mixture for at least 6 hours. After the mixture is cold all the way through, use the butter knife to cut into small squares for serving.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Photo by Don Kadair.