Better with Butter

Alabama Living Magazine

Photos and styling by Brooke Echols

Cook of the Month: Wanda Monk, Cullman EC

Wanda Monk estimates she’s had her winning recipe for Vanilla Wafer Cake at least 40 years. She remembers making it and taking when her family would gather for meals at the home of her mother-in-law in Falkville. The recipe, which likely came from another family member, uses two sticks of butter, which gives it that extra-moist texture.

Vanilla Wafer Cake

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 11-ounce box vanilla wafers
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1½ cups pecans
  • 1 can flaked coconut
  • Crush vanilla wafers thoroughly. Beat butter and sugar together then add in eggs and beat. Mix in crushed vanilla wafers, pecans and coconut. Pour in a greased tube pan. Bake at 275 degrees for 1½ hours.

Buttery Puffs

  • 1 loaf French bread, unsliced, trim crust and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • ¼ pound sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 egg whites, beaten stiff
  • Use a double boiler to melt cream cheese and cheddar cheese into butter. Remove melted mixture from heat and let cool. Fold in 4 egg whites, beaten stiff. Dip bread cubes. Place on cookie sheet. Use parchment paper to save on mess! Refrigerate until cool, then freeze. When ready to eat, bake in 400 degree oven for 11 minutes. Watch them carefully as they will burn. 

Cook’s note: while a little labor intensive, these are worth it to have in the freezer for last minute appetizers.

Nancy Sites Sizemore, Baldwin EMC

Granny’s Rice Pilaf

  • 2 cups Uncle Ben’s regular long grain rice, not instant
  • 1 stick butter or margarine
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cans beef consommé soup
  • 2 cans water
  • 2 medium or 1 large can sliced mush- rooms or pieces and stems
  • 2 tablespoons oregano leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

In extra large saute pan, melt butter and add diced onion. When onion gets warm, add 2 cups uncooked rice. Saute butter, onion and rice, until rice is all golden brown. Add soup, water, drained mushrooms, oregano leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook 15-20 minutes or until rice is done. Do not stir once covered. Stir right before serving. 

Sandra Peppers, Marshall-DeKalb EC

Banana Nut Bread

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup ripe bananas, mashed 
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bread pan. Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat eggs and then bananas and lemon curd and add to sugar mixture. Add flour and baking soda and walnuts. Pour into bread pan. Bake for 1 hour.

Ruth Lewis, Wiregrass EC

Cinnamon Sticks

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 egg, divided
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Melt the butter. Beat yolk of egg in sugar and add to melted butter. Add flour and cinnamon. Grease a baking sheet well. With hand (well-greased) flatten out the dough all over the baking sheet. Put white of egg all over the dough (do not beat the white). Spoon any excess egg white after spreading on to the dough. Bake at 350 degrees for about one hour. Cut the “cookies” into rectangular “sticks.” Serve and enjoy this old-fashioned goodness.

Linda Missildine, Dixie EC

Sue Lee’s Perfect Cookies

  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 11/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 11/2 cup cake flour
  • 11/2 cup all-purpose flour (White Lily recommended)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (Redmond Real Salt recommended)
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars on high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add eggs and vanilla extract and beat for another minute. Mix dry ingredients: flours, baking soda and salt, in a separate bowl. Stir the chocolate chips in the dry ingredient mixture. Incorporate the wet mixture with the dry mixture, with a spatula, until dough forms. Scoop cookie dough onto parchment paper lined pan and bake for 10 minutes. 

Cook’s note: My secret to getting the perfect set of cookies, every time: When you start mixing the wet ingredients, if it is like a peanut butter consistency and it’s thick and heavy, then it’s not ready to mix the dry ingredients yet. You have to mix the butters and sugars on the highest speed until the texture is light and fluffy, like Cool Whip.

Sue Lee Phinney, Covington EC

The Buttered Home

When I started The Buttered Home in 2018, I wanted the name to reflect a style of cooking that was reminiscent of generations gone by. My great-aunt, grandmother and mother taught me many things. One of the best was the old-fashioned way of cooking: scratch-made recipes and techniques that were proven to be simple and always produced the best eating around. Thus, the Buttered Home was born. So, it is only natural that this month’s theme, “Better with Butter,” made me really excited! It was also hard to pick just one recipe to share. While we hope you enjoy these delicious Fresh Apple Biscuits, be sure to head to for even more “Better with Butter” recipes!

Fresh Apple Biscuits

  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 11/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup butter, cold and grated or cubed
  • ¼ cup apple, grated
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons half and half

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and peel one medium size apple. Slice several thin slices to reserve for top of biscuits for garnish. Grate the remainder of the apple and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour with 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, reserving the rest for the glaze, salt, sugar and nutmeg. Mix well. Add in grated or cubed cold butter. Mix to spread butter throughout and coat with the flour and seasoning.

Mix in grated apple well. Add buttermilk one half cup at a time, until a soft, shaggy dough forms. Turn dough out on a floured surface and form a ball and press dough together. Flatten out into a rectangle. Fold each end of dough over the center and then fold once more over itself. Do this “flatten and fold” method two more times to form layers for the biscuits. Flatten out again to 1 to 1½-inches thick. Cut with a 2-inch biscuit cutter.

Place biscuits in a cast iron skillet and top each one with reserved apple slice. Bake at 425 for 20 to 25 minutes until they reach your level of desired doneness. Allow to cool.

For the glaze: In a medium bowl, mix confectioners sugar, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of vanilla. Add half and half, one teaspoon at a time, until glaze thins to your preference. Drizzle over biscuits in the pan or set aside to drizzle on each serving.


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