Many of you know I have a charity group I head up called Visions of Hope.

Our main goal is to help others during hard times.

I always keep extra food and clothes so when I get a phone call saying someone needs food or a house burned or school started and a family needs something extra.

We aren’t a big group and I don’t go out and beg people to donate. When my supply gets low and I need things in a hurry I reach out to others through Facebook.

These past couple of weeks, I’ve had four or five families in need so my pantry is low. I got a call Thursday for someone who needed food with no transportation to go to a food bank so I reached out again and of course my friends answered. I’d like to say a big thank you to Wanda McLocklin, Latricia Carlyle and Shannon Dixon for donating food for this lady.

I know without a doubt if I’m having a rough week there are four ladies in my life that are going to be there for me with love and support with phone calls and text messages and an offer for lunch or something to brighten my pathway.

I wasn’t given any biological sisters but these four are as close as you can get to saying I have four of the best sisters anybody could ever have. And they are all great cooks, too. I’ve asked each of them to share a recipe with me that would remind me of them. Each one has their own style which makes them all special.

Sharon Davis and I have been friends since my son was in grammar school when he was at Statham Elementary School and she was his third-grade teacher and I was a class mom. She and I have fed many homeless and less fortunate people and we cheer on the “Dawgs” on Saturdays in Athens. She sent me a great tailgate recipe.

Hot Pizza Dip

Ingredients:

1 pkg. (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup pizza sauce

1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper

tortilla chips or breadsticks

Directions:

In a bowl combine cream cheese, Italian seasoning and garlic powder; spread on the bottom of a greased 9-inch pie plate. Combine cheeses; sprinkle half over the cream cheese layer. Top with the pizza sauce and peppers. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve warm with tortilla chips or bread sticks.

Helena Bond and I became friends through what then was a mutual friend that wanted us to do some charity work with him in Athens.

We realized from the beginning that we were meant to be friends and God has a way of bringing people together sometimes in spite of others trying to tear you apart.

Helena and I have done a lot of feeding and delivering goods to the needy in Winder and Athens. Helena has a big heart. Helena doesn’t sugar coat things. She speaks her mind, there is no beating around the bush with Helena. Things with her are as clear as black and white. She sent me a great recipe that I know I’m going to enjoy making for tailgates and family get-togethers.

Jalapeño Popper

Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:

2 slices thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled

6 large white mushrooms, stems removed and finely chopped (reserve caps, with gills for stuffing)

1/2 Tbsp. freshly minced garlic

1 or 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely diced

Pinch of salt

1 (3 ounce) pkg. cream cheese, softened

3 Tbsps. shredded cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Freshly chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Double line a baking sheet with foil. In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until well browned and beginning to crisp. Remove from skillet and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain. Allow bacon to cool and then crumble. Set aside until ready to use.

Wash and dry the mushrooms. Remove the stems (reserve the caps for stuffing) and finely chop them. Over medium heat, add the chopped mushrooms, 1/2 Tbsp. freshly minced garlic, diced jalapeño and a pinch of salt to the bacon drippings in the skillet. Cook, stirring until the mushrooms soften and release their juices. This will only take a few minutes. Use 1 jalapeño for less heat or 2 for more heat.

Remove from heat and transfer the mushroom mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the cream cheese, 3 Tbsps. cheddar cheese, and crumbled bacon into the bowl. Mix well to combine. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and give it a taste. Adjust the seasonings as needed. If it is not spicy enough for you, add one diced jalapeño.

Spoon the cheese mixture into the mushroom caps, distributing it evenly. Place each mushroom on the foil lined baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until you notice the mushrooms releasing their juices and the cheese is melted. They’ll start to smell great right about the time they are ready. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.

My sweet friend from Cleveland, Ga., Vicki Payne also has a heart of gold. We also met because of a mutual friend wanting us to work together with local needy and homeless people. Vicki takes care of all of her grand babies but always has time for others. She can cook like you remember your grandmother always did and crochet and sew. Not much she can’t do.

She sent me a recipe for a dish that is so good on a cold rainy night and I haven’t mastered making them, yet, but she is going to teach me how before this winter is over.

Old Fashioned

Chicken & Dumplings

5 or 6 chicken thighs or breasts

5 Tbsps. salted butter

1-1 1/2 Tbsps. table salt or to taste

1/2 tsp. ground pepper or to taste

3 chicken bouillon cubes

Directions:

Put the chicken into a large soup pot. Cover with water and add butter, salt and pepper. Cover, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and very gently simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour. When chicken is done, transfer it to a cutting board, leaving the broth in the pot. When chicken is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bone in small pieces and set aside.

Drop Dumplings:

3 cups self-rising flour

1 cup water or buttermilk (I like water better)

Directions:

Mix together and let rise for about 10/15 minutes. Add bouillon cubes to stock and bring back to a boil. Add chicken. Spoon drop the dumpling mixture in. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until dumplings are tender and broth thickens (they’ll puff up a bit), about 20 minutes. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as needed.

Ginger Gunter is another of my sisters that just happens to be married to my first cousin. I call her daughters, Maddie and Morgan, my nieces. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t text each other and talk to each other. This is a healthy salad recipe that is really good and filling.

Crunchy Ramen Salad

Ingredients:

1Tbsp. plus 1/2 cup olive oil, divided

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup sunflower kernels

2 pkgs. (14 ounces) cole slaw mix

12 green onions, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 medium, sweet red pepper, chopped

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

1/8 tsp. pepper

2 pkgs. (3 ounces each) chicken ramen noodles

Directions:

In a med skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. oil over medium heat. Add almonds and sunflower kernels. Cook until toasted, about 4 minutes. Cool.

In a large bowl, combine cole slaw mix, onions and red pepper. In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, sugar, pepper, contents of ramen seasoning packets and remaining oil. Pour over salad. Toss to coat. Refrigerate until serving. Break noodles into small pieces just before serving, stir in noodles, almonds and sunflower kernels.

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