Braille Monitor                                                                 December 2006



This month's recipes have been contributed by members of the NFB of Louisiana. Here is the affiliate's introductory note:
As we gather to celebrate the holiday season, we are reminded of the love within our Federation family. The NFB of Louisiana has been truly touched by the generosity and love from members around the country. Thank you for helping us to continue our rebuilding. We hope you'll enjoy these regional and holiday recipes--from our family to yours.

Tijuana Casserole
by Neita Ghrigsby

Neita Ghrigsby, known to most of us as "Ms. Neita," went to work for the Louisiana Center for the Blind in Ruston, Louisiana, on December 1, 1985, about six weeks after the center opened, and has worked as office manager ever since.

She says, "My work is very rewarding, something that I look forward to doing every day, and it has given me many pleasant memories that I will always cherish. The NFB has changed my life in tremendous ways by giving me strength to battle some of my own weaknesses. It has provided me a bountiful host of lasting friendships with some of the best people in the world. I enjoy cooking and sharing time with my family, especially my three grandchildren, who are the light of my life."

1 small package flour tortillas
1 1/2 to 2 pounds ground meat, browned
1 large onion, chopped and browned with meat
2 cans ranch-style beans
2 cans condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can Ro-tel brand tomatoes with green peppers
1 8-ounce package grated American cheese
1 small jar Mexican Cheez-Whiz

Method: Brown meat and onions together and drain. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan ( I use a standard sheet-cake pan) with about half the tortillas torn into small pieces or just torn into smaller portions. Layer half the browned meat and onion mixture over the tortillas. Then add a layer of the beans and sprinkle half the grated cheese over the beans. Follow this with another layer of the torn tortillas, then the rest of the meat, the rest of the beans, and the rest of the cheese. Mix the undiluted soups together with the Ro-tel tomatoes with green peppers and the jar of Mexican Cheez Whiz. (I mix all of this together in a pan, which I then heat to allow the flavors to blend thoroughly.) Pour this mixture evenly over the contents of the pan. With knife or spatula cut into the casserole so that the soup mixture penetrates the casserole deeply. You may have to make several cuts to let as much as possible of the soup mixture mingle with the meat, bean, and tortilla mixture. If you like, you can top the casserole with extra grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for twenty to thirty minutes or until casserole is heated through and the tortillas have become soft. Serve with a salad for an enjoyable meal.

Molly's Potato Soup
by Kelly Womack

Kelly Womack is the academic skills instructor at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. Her patience, dedication, and creativity are prized by her students. Kelly is also responsible for coordinating the NFBL table at national convention.

1 stick butter
1 cup flour
2 cans chicken broth
2 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
3 cups milk
4 to 5 baked potatoes (skins removed), chopped very fine and mashed with masher, not mixer

Method: In a large, heavy pan melt the butter and slowly whisk in the flour. Continue stirring and heating till mixture is completely smooth. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Return to stove and heat through, continuing to stir as soup thickens so that lumps do not form.

Black Olive Dip
by Zena Pearcy

Zena Pearcy

Zena Pearcy is a longtime Federation leader. She currently serves as the treasurer of the North Central Chapter of the NFB of Louisiana and as a member of the state Scholarship Committee. She is the receptionist at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. Zena and Jeff Pearcy love to entertain. This is one of their most popular dips and is great at holiday gatherings.

1 8-ounce block cream cheese
1 cup real mayonnaise
1 small can chopped black olives
green onions to taste

Method: Let cream cheese come to room temperature, or heat it for about forty-five seconds in the microwave. Mix in mayo and black olives. Chop green onions fine. Use as much as you like; I usually use about 3 stalks. Gently combine cream cheese and olive mixtures until homogeneous. Serve immediately with tortilla chips, or chill in the refrigerator a couple of hours to develop the flavor before serving.

Texas Caviar
by Sandra Merchant Taboada

Dr. Sandy Taboada serves as secretary of the NFB of Louisiana and president of the state Parents of Blind Children Division. Her son Michael has participated in the NFB Science Academy and is excited about the upcoming Youth Slam. Sandy's tireless dedication to our movement is deeply appreciated.

1 can yellow or white corn, drained
1 can baby corn, drained and cut into small pieces
1 can hominy, drained
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1 green pepper, cut into small pieces
1 red pepper, cut into small pieces
1 orange pepper, cut into small pieces
1 yellow pepper, cut into small pieces
1 sweet onion, cut into small pieces
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 bottle Italian dressing

Method: Place all ingredients except dressing in a large bowl and mix well. Completely cover ingredients with Italian dressing. Let sit in refrigerator overnight. Drain excess dressing. Serve with tostada chips (ideally the scoopable ones).

Crock Pot Candy
by Arlene Hill

Arlene Hill

Arlene Hill has been a Federation leader for many years. She is a cane travel instructor at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. She has served in many capacities in the local chapter. She is enthusiastic about sharing our message with everyone she meets.

She says: "This recipe is a great and easy candy for Christmas or any time. My children used to love to help me make it, and we had fun giving it as gifts to friends. Be sure to layer each item in the crock pot exactly the way the recipe lists it."

16-ounce jar unsalted dry roasted peanuts
16-ounce jar salted dry roasted peanuts
12-ounce package chocolate chips
4-ounce chocolate candy bar broken into pieces
3 pounds white bark broken into pieces and spread on top (This is 2 planks.)

Method: Place all ingredients in crock pot order listed, cover crock pot and cook on low for three hours, do not lift the lid. I have a pot that cooks a bit on the high side, so I cook on keep warm, and it is just perfect. After three hours, turn crock pot off, let cool slightly, then with long-handled spoon mix completely and drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper and let cool. Makes about seventy pieces.

Holiday Nut Bread
by Arlene Hill

1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 eggs, beaten well
2 pounds English walnuts
2 pounds dates
1 pound Brazil nuts
18 ounces maraschino cherries, drained

Method: Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake at 325 degrees for one hour. Cool slightly in pan before removing to cool completely on rack.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
by Cathy Guillory

Cathy Guillory is the president of the Lake Area NFB of Louisiana. She was introduced to the Federation when she won a state NFB scholarship in the mid-1980's. She currently serves as president of the Lake Area Chapter. She is also an active leader in the Deaf-Blind Division. The Lake Area is home to some of Southern Louisiana's finest Cajun food. A rule of thumb for Cajun cooking is, "First you make a roux."

Cooking oil
One chicken, cut up
Smoked link sausage, cut into bite-size pieces
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped
Cajun seasoning to taste
1 bunch green onions, chopped
About 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Gumbo filé

Method: Fill a large soup pot half full of water and place over high heat. While the water is heating, make a roux by blending cooking oil and flour in a heavy skillet over low heat. The roux thickens the dish and gives it color. Use equal parts oil and flour. It's best to make more roux than you need because you can store any extra in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator to thicken gravy or soup later. You will probably need a cup or more of both oil and flour for the roux. Slowly add flour to the oil to make the roux the consistency of cake batter. Cook and stir constantly as the mixture becomes bubbly, being careful not to scorch the roux. Gradually the roux will darken and attain a nutty aroma. It will be the color of milk chocolate. At that point remove pan from heat and continue to stir because the oil is very hot and will continue to cook. Gradually spoon roux into the hot water, stirring briskly to dissolve each spoonful thoroughly. The liquid will thicken and darken in color. Then add chicken and sausage to the gumbo. If you brown the sausage and drain the fat before adding it to the pot, the gumbo will have less fat on top to skim later. After a few minutes add the onion and bell pepper. Add seasonings to taste. Simmer slowly until the chicken is cooked and falling off the bones and the onions and peppers have begun to disintegrate. Add green onions and parsley and remove from heat. Serve in soup bowls over rice with a pinch of gumbo filé on top of each serving. Potato salad is an ideal side dish.

Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip
by Pamela Allen

Pam Allen

Pam Allen is president of the NFB of Louisiana and treasurer of the National Federation of the Blind. She is also the executive director of the Louisiana Center for the Blind. Originally from Buffalo, New York, she says that this is one of her favorite recipes, a definite hit for holiday parties.

1 12.5-ounce can of chicken or 3 cooked and shredded chicken breasts
1 cup hot sauce
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup bleu cheese dressing
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Method: Sauté chicken and hot sauce until tender. Add cream cheese; stir until melted. Stir in bleu cheese dressing. Pour into casserole dish; sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes. Serve with celery sticks and tortilla chips.

Salmon Quiche
by Daphne Mitchell

Daphne Mitchell is president of the Caddo-Bossier Chapter of the NFB of Louisiana. She also serves on the affiliate's board and is employed as the coordinator of the Louisiana Bridges program, a mentoring program for blind youth and adults.

Deep-dish 9-inch pastry shell, unbaked
1 16-ounce can salmon
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 onion, minced
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
6 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon season salt
Black pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped broccoli or spinach (optional)

Method: Prick pastry shell all over with a fork and bake in a 450-degree oven for five minutes. Drain salmon liquid into a cup. Place salmon in a bowl, discard bones and skin, and flake salmon. Arrange salmon in the pastry shell and sprinkle it with lemon juice. Cook onion and broccoli or spinach in the butter until soft. Transfer to the pie crust and sprinkle with parsley. Mix the salmon liquid with eggs, milk, season salt, and pepper; pour over salmon. Bake quiche at 350 degrees for forty-five to fifty minutes or until set. Serve hot.

Mom's Delicious Banana Pudding
by Tolita Mitchell

Tolita Mitchell is Daphne's mother and an active member of her chapter.

1 large box instant vanilla pudding
1 large box banana instant pudding
7 to 8 medium bananas, sliced
1 tub whipped topping
2 bags vanilla wafers

Method: Pour contents of both packages of pudding and milk into a medium bowl. Prepare pudding according to box instructions and set aside. Crush enough cookies to make a cup of cookie crumbs (approximately a quarter of a bag) and reserve for later. Cover the bottom of a large rectangular dish or container with whole vanilla wafers. Place a layer of bananas on top of the cookies. Then ladle a portion of the pudding mixture over the bananas. Repeat these layers until all of the pudding mixture has been used. Generously cover top of dessert with whipped topping. Finish by sprinkling reserved cookie crumbs over the top of banana pudding. Allow the dessert to chill in the refrigerator for at least three to four hours before serving.

Taco Salad
by Kimberly Mitchell

Kim Mitchell is Daphne's sister and also a committed member of the NFB of Louisiana.

2 pounds ground beef or chuck
Package taco seasoning
1 large bag shredded cheddar cheese
1 large bag shredded lettuce
1 bottle green goddess salad dressing
1 can ranch beans
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 large bag Doritos, crushed
Green onion (optional)

Method: Season ground beef with taco seasoning and cumin. Cook in skillet until meat is browned. Remove from heat and drain. Set aside for a few minutes to cool. Reserve enough Dorito crumbs to sprinkle over top of salad. In a large bowl combine lettuce, ranch beans, cheese, diced tomatoes, meat, salad dressing, green onions, and Doritos. Mix together until well combined. Top with reserved crumbs. Let salad stand for five minutes before serving.

New Orleans Cuisine Beignets
by Jewel Ardoin

Jewel Ardoin is the adaptive technology instructor at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. She has served as treasurer of the North Central Chapter. A certified massage therapist, Jewel is known far and wide for her wonderful massages, a great fundraiser at Louisiana state conventions.

1 envelope active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 cup shortening
Vegetable oil for frying
Powdered sugar in a shaker or sifter

Method: Combine the yeast, water, and sugar in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. (You could also make this dough in a food processor or by hand with a bowl and wooden spoon). Let this mixture sit until frothy, about five minutes, then add the salt, egg, and evaporated milk. Mix on low speed, then add half the flour, until batter starts to come together. Add the shortening. When the shortening is incorporated, add the remaining flour, a little at a time, until most of it is incorporated. Turn the dough onto a floured board or counter to finish kneading by hand. Knead the dough, adding just enough flour to make a smooth, elastic ball. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl. Loosely cover and let rise in a warm place or overnight in the refrigerator. After the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down and turn it onto a floured surface. Roll into a rectangle about a half inch thick. With a very sharp knife held at a diagonal to the rectangle, cut dough into two-inch strips. Then cut dough into diamond shapes by making diagonal cuts perpendicular to the original cuts. Place the beignets on a floured baking sheet and allow to rise about forty minutes in a warm place (I place them in a barely warm oven). When the beignets have risen, heat two to three inches of vegetable oil in a large saucepan or electric frying pan to 350 to 360 degrees. Place two or three beignets in the hot oil at a time, being careful not to crush or deflate them. When they are golden brown, flip them over until golden brown on the other side. (They brown pretty quickly, so start checking them as soon as they go into the oil.) Remove to paper-towel-lined plates to drain. Serve warm topped with plenty of powdered sugar. Because the dough doesn't contain much sugar, you will want to sprinkle on a lot. Best served with café au lait. Enjoy! Makes about two dozen.

Mardi Gras King's Cake with Cream Cheese Filling
by Jewel Ardoin

1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups unsifted flour
1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated is best
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup warm milk
5 egg yolks
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons butter, cut in slices and softened
1 egg slightly beaten with a tablespoon of milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tiny plastic doll (not more than 1 inch tall)

Ingredients for cream cheese filling, optional:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A few drops of milk

Method: Pour the warm water into a small, shallow bowl and sprinkle yeast and two teaspoons sugar onto the surface. Allow the yeast and sugar to rest for three minutes, then mix thoroughly. Set bowl in a warm place for ten minutes, until yeast bubbles up. Combine 3 1/2 cups of flour, remaining sugar, nutmeg, and salt and sift into a large mixing bowl. Stir in lemon zest. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in yeast mixture and milk. Add egg yolks, and, using a wooden spoon, combine dry ingredients and yeast/milk mixture. When mixture is smooth, beat in eight tablespoons (one stick) butter, one tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat two minutes or until dough can be formed into a soft and somewhat sticky ball of dough. Place dough on floured surface and knead, gradually working in up to an additional cup of flour. When dough is no longer sticky, knead ten minutes more until shiny and elastic.

Using a pastry brush, coat the inside of a large bowl evenly with one tablespoon softened butter. Place dough ball in the bowl and rotate until the entire surface is buttered. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and allow dough to rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours or until it doubles in volume. Grease a large baking sheet with one tablespoon of butter and set aside. After the first rising, place the dough on a floured surface and punch it down with a heavy blow. The object is to remove all the air pockets. The dough can be rolled out and spread to within an inch of its edges with cream cheese filling, made by beating all filling ingredients together until smooth. Roll the dough jelly-roll-fashion and seal edges. Sprinkle on cinnamon. If you are not filling the cake, pat and shape the dough into a long rope or cylinder. Form a twist by folding the cylinder in half and pinching the ends together to seal. Then twist the dough. Form a ring with the completed twist and pinch the ends together.

Place the completed ring on the buttered baking sheet, cover it with a towel, and allow it to rise for forty-five minutes or until it doubles in volume. After the second rising, brush the top and sides of the cake with the egg and milk wash. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for twenty-five to thirty-five minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and hide the plastic baby inside the cake (or just place the doll on top to avoid having someone's biting into it).

Icing Ingredients: (This has two parts, so you can use either or both toppings.)
Colored sugar
Green, purple, and yellow coloring paste (sold with cake decorating supplies)
12 tablespoons (3/4 cup) sugar

Method: Divide sugar into three portions (for green, yellow, and purple icings). Add a tiny amount of the coloring paste to each quarter cup of sugar. Mix the sugar and colored paste between your palms for best results. Set aside.

Poured Icing Ingredients:
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
36 tablespoons (2 1/4 cups) water

Combine ingredients until smooth, adding more water if icing is too thick. Spoon icing over top of cake. Immediately sprinkle on colored sugars, alternating between the three colors. Serve in 2-to-3-inch slices.