Roxanna McCarty
Roxanna McCarty
Roxanna McCarty has only one person to thank for her love of cooking, Hugh Thomasson.

Roxanna, an administrative assistant and mother of 19-year-old Brandon, started work at Thomasson Company in 1994.

Two years later she was asked to work for Hugh Thomasson.

"Part of the job was to plan birthdays and events and prepare the food," she said. "I told him I didn't know how to cook. He said not to worry."

Three months later she held her first party and, according to Roxanna, it was "horrible."

She notes that before taking the job she only cooked simple foods from a can or a box.

"I'd never had to cook peas from scratch," she said with a laugh.

To better prepare for the next party, Roxanna sought advice from her coworkers.

"There are so many good cooks here at Thomasson," she said, "and they gave me a lot of good advice."

Recalling those early days Roxanna laughingly admitted that she went a few years without a stove.

"Susan Webb used to make fun of me for it," she said. "Mr. Thomasson's first request was for turnip greens."

Seventeen years later, Roxanna has perfected her cooking skills.

"People tell me that I must love cooking," she said. "Last year I made a full Thanksgiving meal. Now it's a part of me and what I do."

Thinking back on those early days, Roxanna regrets not learning to cook, especially from her grandmother, the late Johnnie Burton.

"I now see the need to keep recipes, especially family recipes, alive," she said. "I didn't realize how important it is."

She recalls two recipes her grandmother made: tea cakes and hot chocolate pudding.

"I loved her tea cakes but no one knows the recipe," she said. "My cousin, Richard Burkes, got the pudding recipe and makes in every year for Thanksgiving."

Roxanna has also started cooking more at home.

"Sundays are our cooking day," she said. "We'll cook breakfast before church or make lunch after."

Roxanna is also trying out new recipes and perfecting others.

"I'll try out recipes on my family and not every one is that great," she said. "I'm not that good at chicken pie."

She made a chicken pie before the Neshoba County Fair and most everyone found it enjoyable.

She especially likes to make Southern comfort foods.

"I make a loaded potato salad that's good with any meat," she said

Roxanna has shared a few of her recipes with our readers.

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

3 pounds small red potatoes

1/2 stick butter (thinly sliced)

2 green onions (chopped)

1 package Real bacon pieces

4 ounces sour cream

1 cup shredded cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 cup crushed garlic croutons

Cut your potatoes in halves or quarters (do not cube). Place in a pot of cold water (do not salt the water) to boil. When the potatoes are just tender enough to put a fork all the way through them take them off the heat and drain. Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add butter and sour cream and fold in gently. Next add all the rest of the ingredients (except for croutons) and fold in gently. Use the crushed croutons as a garnish on top for a bit more texture. This should be served warm.

Pasta Salad

1 box Garden Rotini

1 can medium black olives

1 package Hormel pepperoni

1 medium red onion (chopped)

1 medium bell pepper (chopped)

8 ounces shredded parmesan cheese

2 cups Zesty Italian salad dressing

Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare garden rotini as package suggest. Drain pasta and rinse. Add first 4 ingredients and fold in. Add Italian dressing and fold. Last add parmesan cheese and fold in. This can be served warm or cold.

Cora Rose Chicken

2 pounds chicken tenders

2 cups crushed Olive Garden brand croutons

Cooking spray

Heat oven to 350. Cut chicken tenders into bite size pieces. Spay cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place croutons in a gallon zip lock bag. Place a few pieces of chicken at a time into zip lock bag and shake to coat. Place pieces on cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake chicken in the oven for 20 minutes.

Crockpot Mac and Cheese

2 boxes of regular Kraft Mac and Cheese

1/2 cup milk

2 cups shredded cheese (Monterey jack)

1 1/2 cups half and half

1/2 stick butter plus 2 tables spoons (cut butter into slices)

Cooking spray

Prepare Kraft Mac and Cheese as per directions on the box. Add 2 tablespoons butter to box preparations and 1/2 cup milk. Spray crock pot with cooking spray. Place 1/2 of the mac and cheese in the bottom of the crock pot. Place a layer of the cheese on top of the mac and cheese then a layer of butter (repeat with the remaining ingredients). Place crock pot in refrigerator overnight. Take crock pot and put on low. Pour half and half over top using a butter knife to poke a few holes down through the layers. Cook on low for 3 - 4 hours.

Mexican Corn Bread

1 pounds ground beef

1 package taco seasoning

1 can Rotel tomatoes (this is only if you like it spicy)

1 can Mexican corn

2 cups shredded cheese (fiesta blend)

2 boxes jiffy corn muffin mix

2 eggs (this is to prepare muffin mix)

Cooking spray

Heat oven to 350. Spray large cast iron skillet with cooking spray.

Brown ground beef and drain. Add taco seasoning and 1/4 cup water and rotel tomatoes.

Simmer while mixing the corn muffin mix. Mix corn muffin mix according to the box (eggs and water).

Pour ½ of the corn muffin mix into the skillet. Next layer meat (it should be a bit soupy so pour this in gently so it rest on the muffin mix) then mexi corn then shredded cheese. Last pour the rest of the corn muffin mix on top of the layers.

Cook for 20 minutes or until the corn bread is golden brown.

Serve with refried beans and sour cream with fresh salsa.

Sweet Alabama Pecan Bread

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

4 eggs beaten

1 cup oil

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour

1 table spoon vanilla

2 cup pecans finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour 9x13 inch baking dish. Using a wooden spoon stir together sugar, brown sugar, eggs and oil in a medium bowl until smooth. Stir in flour and vanilla. Add pecans, then stir until evenly mixed. Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.