Cajun Fried Okra with Heirloom Tomatoes and Ranch Dressing

Cajun Fried Okra with Heirloom Tomatoes and Ranch Dressing highlight two summer favorites: okra and tomatoes. Okra is fried until crisp and gets a little kick from the Cajun seasoning. Ripe tomatoes provide a temperature contrast the hot okra. Ranch … Continue reading

Broiled Balsamic Tomato and Parmesan Sandwich

Broiled Balsamic Tomato and Parmesan Sandwich Fresh tomatoes are coming in from Doc’s garden and we enjoy eating them for lunch. Broiled Balsamic Tomato and Parmesan Sandwich has an Italian flavor profile. The bread is first toasted until crunchy … Continue reading

Funfetti Cookie Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Icing Swirls

If you are a fan of Funfetti cake then you will love this Funfetti Cookie Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Icing Swirls! It is the perfect dessert for children’s birthday or school parties. It is kid friendly because slices of the … Continue reading

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Filling with Ranchero Sauce Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Filling with Ranchero Sauce Chicken enchiladas have a distinct, delicious flavor. This recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Filling with Ranchero Sauce tastes exactly like restaurant style chicken enchilada filling. The flavor base is ranchero … Continue reading

Wilted Lettuce and Bacon Salad

My Dad used to grow leaf lettuce and green onions in his garden each spring. He had 3 garden plots in our side yard. I always thought it was odd that he didn’t plow the whole area. I now know … Continue reading

Cuban Farro Bowl with Chicken and Citrus Dressing

Cuban Farro Bowl is the perfect way to use today’s leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. Cook farro the night before and place it in a microwaveable container then layer protein, vegetables, and/or beans on top. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next … Continue reading

Italian Zucchini and Tomatoes

This is a very simple side dish. Doc says it tastes “clean” because you can taste the flavors of the zucchini, tomatoes and onions individually. I roast the zucchini and onions before adding them to the tomatoes to prevent them … Continue reading

Santa Is On His Way!

My cousin, Whitney, and her son, Patrick, were making their annual Christmas list this week. She’s an innovative mother and takes pictures of the toys Patrick wants with her cell phone then emails them to the North Pole! Patrick loves LEGOs and wants sets that cost between $50.00 and $100.00. She was taking pictures of numerous LEGO sets as they were going down the toy aisle. This was their conversation.

Whitney: “Patrick, I need you to tell me what your favorite LEGOs sets are because Santa won’t bring all of them.”
Patrick gives her a puzzled look and says, “Why Not? He’s Santa!”
Whitney: “I give Santa a budget every year. He can only spend the budgeted amount of money.”
Patrick: “Wow mom, you have Santa on a tight leash!”

Here’s hoping Santa isn’t on too tight a leash at your house this year! Merry Christmas!

It has been my pleasure to create recipes for you this year. Thank you for taking the time to comment on my posts. I am grateful for all the kind words and encouragement.

Published in The News and Neighbor on December 24, 2014

Hello world!

Hello! I am so glad you decided to visit my food blog!  My name is Mary Duke. (Yes, it’s a double name like Mary Jane or Billy Jo. I’m just happy my mother didn’t name me “Bubba!”) I’m a wife, mother, retired registered dietitian, friend, and volunteer…and I write a food column called Mary Duke Cooks! Sassy Southern for our community newspaper in East Tennessee, The News and Neighbor.

You may be wondering why I chose Sassy Southern. Let me explain. Being “sassy” in the south is not being rude, it’s an attitude of confidence. It’s meeting life head on with your head held high facing whatever life throws at you with just a little bit of spunk. Being southern is more than being born in a certain part of the country. Anyone can have southern traits. If you can be the chairperson of a 72 hour fundraising event while maintaining a smile and not killing anyone, you’re on the right track. If you write thank you notes, appreciate people for who they truly are, and overlook their faults, you may be more southern than you think. So, if you take some sassy-ness and add a little bit of warmth and genuine hospitality – you have Sassy Southern!

Each week Mary Duke Cooks! Sassy Southern will have a weekly recipe sometimes with a humorous and yet unbelievable story. (My friends say, “You can’t make this stuff up. Truth is stranger than fiction!”) There will be a variety of recipes to explore including tailgating, recipes for kids, teachers’ gifts, decadent desserts, easy appetizers, and foods to entertain with and impress your friends! I will share recipes for the food I grew up with (comfort food) and the multicultural and fusion food I love now.

If you really love delicious food and are passionate about eating and cooking like I am, then this blog is for you. You’re welcome to visit anytime!