I wouldn’t say my family was trailer trash, we never actually lived in a trailer, but my mother sure cooked like we were. She had every cookbook put out by a food company. Campbell’s, Kraft, Birdseye, Betty Crocker. Her cookbook shelf was like a directory of Fortune 500 companies. Her “secret” chocolate cake recipe was a box of Duncan Hine’s mix and a can of Campbell’s tomato soup.

My mother didn’t so much cook as assemble. I learned to cook as a matter of self-defense. Still some of those dishes are damn tasty and around the holidays I always make at least one of them. Here are my mother’s favorites, cut them out and paste them on 3” x 5” index cards.

Don’t Be Crabby, Dinner’s Almost Ready Dip

1 can crab meat
1 can shrimp
1 lb. Velveeta
Pimentos from the bottom of an olive jar (optional)

Open and drain the cans of shrimp and crab. Melt Velveeta over low heat. When the Velveeta is melted, stir in the crab and shrimp (and pimentos, if desired). Serve warm with Ritz Crackers.

Green Bean Casserole

2 cans Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 large bags (16 oz each) frozen green beans
1 large or two small cans of French's French Fried Onions

Combine soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper. Toss in green beans and ¾ of the onions, place in a large casserole dish. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the bean mixture, to blend and sprinkle with the remaining onions. Bake for 5 minutes, or until the onions are golden brown.

Dr. Pepper Sweet Taters

Sweet potatoes or yams
2 liter bottle of Dr. Pepper
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel the sweet potatoes or yams, Cut or slice into large pieces. Place in a large baking dish and pour in enough Dr. Pepper to cover the potatoes, save remaining. Add two cinnamon sticks. Bake covered with foil at 350 for 40 minutes. Uncover and pour the liquid into a saucepan. Return potatoes to oven. Add brown sugar to liquid from potatoes; add remaining soda to bring to a quantity of 2 cups if necessary. Simmer 30 minutes until reduced by half. Stir in butter. Remove potatoes from oven. At this point you can either mash them, adding the Dr. Pepper syrup or you may transfer the potatoes to a baking dish and pour the syrup over, adding salt and pepper as desired. Top with marshmallows if you wanna be fancy.

White Castle Stuffing

3 dozen White Castle Sliders
12 slices white bread
2 Tablespoons poultry seasoning
1 can of chicken broth

Remove pickles from sandwiches and chop up. Cut white bread in small pieces. Mix together in a large bowl with poultry seasoning, adding enough broth to make it moist. Stuff inside turkey and bake the rest in a casserole.

Parmesan Rolls

2 tubes of biscuit rolls
1 stick softened butter
1 can Kraft Parmesan cheese

Remove rolls from tube, spread one side of each with softened butter. Pour cheese into a bowl. Place buttered side of the biscuit in the cheese a press lightly. Place on a baking sheet, cheese side up. Cook according to biscuit tube directions.

Country Turkey

1 turkey
1 lb. of bacon

Wash turkey inside and out. Add stuffing (see recipe above) Make a ring of crumpled aluminum foil and place in the bottom of an aluminum foil turkey pan. Put the turkey on the ring of foil. Remove strips of bacon from package and drape/wrap around the turkey. Roast, according to package directions, in a pre-heated 375° oven until the juices of the thigh run clear when stuck with a fork.

Easy-Peasy Pineapple Cheesecake

2 packages cheesecake flavor instant pudding
2 containers Cool Whip
2 cans crushed pineapple
Graham-cracker pie shell.

Mix first three ingredients. Pour into pie shell and chill overnight.