Regina Fortenberry is accustomed to cooking large batches of food every day.
Regina Fortenberry is accustomed to cooking large batches of food every day.
With her children grown and out of the house, family dinners have become an increasingly rare occurrence for Regina Fortenberry, though where would she find the time with her weekly large batch meals?

Fortenberry is the owner and director of the Stepping Stones Learning Center, a combination of preschool and daycare that promises to get children kindergarten ready through a Christian-based curriculum.

Fortenberry wears a number of hats including kicking out meals for their roughly 60 students with her head cook Shelbi Barnes.

“My husband says I don’t cook enough after our daughters have been out of the house, but I don’t know the I am there long enough to cook a full meal,” she said with a smile.

Meals at school include chicken and dumplings, tater tot casserole and healthy options like baked chicken strips.

Big batch cooking seems to be the name of her game recently. In addition to meals at school, Fortenberry contributes to regular potluck meals at her husband’s church. John Fortenberry is the pastor at Durant United Pentecostal, a 66-mile ride from their driveway in Neshoba County.

“We do a lot of camping,” she said, adding that they stay in an RV parked close to the church.

No Durant Pentecostal potluck is complete without a big pan of her signature squash dressing or one of her desserts.

“I really do love to cook,” Fortenberry said. “I lost my mother 30 years ago and she got me started cooking, but a lot of people have come into my life in the meantime and passed on various secrets and recipes so I have a lot of influences.”

These influences include Adell Clark, John’s grandmother.

“She is such a wonderful cook and really taught me a lot after my mom passed,” Fortenberry said.

Weekly at the church, members gather to cook a big batch of peanut brittle. Their peanut brittle is “semi-famous” and is sold at Williamsville. She said she is including the recipe in this issue of the Democrat but is confident not everyone will be able to replicate their signature treat.

“Not everyone can make peanut brittle. It takes a certain know-how, a certain touch,” Fortenberry said.


Durant United Pentecostal Church Famous Peanut Brittle

3 cups sugar

1 cup karo

2/3 cup water 

2 cups shelled raw peanuts

1tsp salt

¼ stick butter or margarine

1 heaping tlbs baking soda

Combine sugar, Karo, & water in a large pot.

Boil until syrup comes to a hairy string when holding stirring spoon up.

Stir in peanuts, salt & margarine

Cook until mixture becomes golden brown

   Take off heat and add baking soda

Stir well 

Pour into several round shallow buttered baking pans

Let cool. 

Remove from pans & enjoy


2 cups cooked diced yellow squash

2 cups crumbled cornbread

½ cup butter or margarine

1 10.75oz can of cream of chicken soup

1 egg beaten

1 large chopped onion

Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350

Mix all ingredients together 

Poor into greased 9 x 12 baking dish 

Bake until lightly browned approx. 30 – 45 min

Cheese Ball

2 8oz pk softened cream cheese

1 jar dried beef finely chopped

1 bunch green onion

2 tlbs accent

Mix all ingredients together

Shape into a ball

Chill until set approx. 1 hr.

Serve chilled with choice of crackers