Alabama Living Magazine -- By

Cook of the Month: Jean Estes, Tallapoosa River EC

Jean Estes is known throughout Chambers County for her homemade cakes, but don’t expect to see any of those recipes in the pages of Alabama Living. “I sell my cakes and  don’t share those recipes,” says the Wadley resident who’s been cooking since childhood. “I cooked my first cake when I was 9 years old.” Her grandmother taught her how to make a white cake with chocolate icing and she hasn’t stopped cooking since. Her prize-winning biscuit recipe, which uses yeast, is one she is happy to share. “This is the recipe I use when I do catering,” she says. “That sugar activates the yeast.” She got the original recipe from a friend but adds, “I changed the ingredients around to suit me. I make up my own recipes.” And White Lily flour is a must for all her recipes, she adds. She calls this recipe “Jean-O’s Yeast Biscuits” because that’s the name her nieces gave her years ago.  Retired from Russell Corp. in Lafayette, she also worked for the Chambers County Board of Education at Five Points Elementary School, where she baked cakes and cookies. Now she stays busy catering meals and weddings, and her kitchen is busiest during November and December when she bakes up to 60 cakes.

Jean-O’s Yeast Biscuits

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 package yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5-6 cups White Lily self-rising flour, sifted
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup Crisco vegetable oil

Mix pack of yeast and warm water in a small bowl. Mix well and then, stirring well, add sugar. Set aside. In large mixing bowl put flour. Add buttermilk, oil and yeast mixture, stirring well. Pour onto a floured cloth or mat. Work a little bit of flour into the dough until not sticky. Flatten to about ½-inch thick and cut biscuits out. Place onto a well-greased cast iron pan and bake at 425 degrees until golden brown. You do not have to use all the dough. It will keep 7 days in refrigerator in an airtight container to bake biscuits another day.

Flaky Pesto Biscuit Bites

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 can flaky biscuits
  • 3 tablespoons store-bought pesto sauce
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place whole stick of butter, all the cheese and pesto sauce on a baking sheet and bake until butter is melted, a few minutes. Stir pesto sauce into cheese/butter mixture. Separate the biscuits and cut each biscuit into fourths. Roll the biscuit pieces in the melted butter mixture until coated. Bake for 8-12 minutes. Serve with a side of marinara sauce if desired.

Robbie Vantrease, Cullman EC

Bunny Biscuits

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour, white or wheat
  • 1/4 cup carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli, finely chopped (or “riced” broccoli)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a food processor, puree the yogurt, milk, butter, egg, baking powder and salt. Add the flour and veggies. Pulse until combined. Using all the batter, spoon 12 dollops onto a cookie sheet and arrange each into a bunny shape (round face + long ears is easiest). Or just keep them in circles. They will still be Bunny Biscuits, since rabbits eat vegetables! Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Baking time will depend on how many biscuits you make and how big you want them to be. If you make mini-bunnies, check them after 15 minutes.

Robin O’Sullivan, Wiregrass EC

Cream Biscuits

  • 1½ cups self-rising flour
  • ½ pint whipping cream
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder

 Mix all ingredients quickly. Knead slightly. Cut and bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Makes small biscuits used by caterers or regular size biscuits for breakfast. If making small biscuits for shower or parties, add meat or cheese to biscuit. 

LaCretia Bevel, North Alabama EC

Mayonnaise Biscuits

  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2/3 cup milk

Combine ingredients. Spoon into greased muffin tins. Bake at 425 degrees until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Yield: 6 biscuits. May be doubled, tripled, etc. for larger number of servings. Works extremely well in stoneware muffin pans.

Sherry Phillips, Central Alabama EC

Monkey Bread

  • 3 10-count cans of biscuits
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 stick oleo
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • ½ cup nuts, optional

Combine cinnamon and sugar. Quarter biscuits. Roll quartered biscuits in cinnamon and sugar mixture. Place biscuits in a greased Bundt pan. Melt oleo; add brown sugar and water. Boil 2 minutes and pour over biscuits. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Optional: place nuts in the bottom of pan before adding biscuits.

Wanda Monk, Cullman EC

4 Ingredient Biscuits

  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • ½ cup milk

Mix flour and baking powder; cut in cream cheese to form crumbly mixture. Pour in milk, stirring until dough holds together. Pat dough about ¾-inch thick on floured surface. Cut out 10-12 biscuits with a cookie cutter or the top of a glass. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Cook’s note: use only regular cream cheese as the light variety will produce a lumpy biscuit. Also, try different add-ins like grated cheese, grated orange zest or lemon peel, dried cranberries, raisins or miniature chocolate chips.

Peggy W. Key, North Alabama EC

The Buttered Home

Did you know that biscuit dough is really a very versatile dough? You can use it to make so many other great things. We love to mix some up and make these beautiful, old-fashioned hand pies. Mix up your biscuit dough, cut them out with a large cutter and add your favorite pie filling and you have a delicious treat with very little effort. While traditional hand pies are normally fried, we make them a teeny, tiny bit healthier by baking them. They come out perfect every single time! For more recipes like this, head over to

Old-Fashioned Hand Pies

Photo by The Buttered Home
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1/3 cup ice water
  • 1 egg and about a tablespoon of water (for egg wash)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup fruit filling of choice

For glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons milk

Mix flour, salt and butter until it looks like small peas. Add in the cold water until a loose dough is formed. Press it together on a floured board and form to a disc. Roll out your dough, fold over itself and in half and roll out again. Do this fold method two more times and roll out your dough to 1/4-inch thickness.

Cut with a large cutter and spoon in fruit filling. Seal edges with a fork and use a small knife to vent each hand pie. Brush with a little egg wash and bake for 20-30 minutes at 375 degrees. You can sprinkle them with powdered sugar or make a glaze by mixing the confectioners’ sugar with milk, or just leave them plain!


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