The fifth annual "Save a Heartbeat with Your Sweetheart" Valentine's benefit is set for Thursday, Feb. 13 starting after 5 p.m.
Ministers and other volunteers from the community will serve as waiters and waitresses at participating restaurants with all tips and donations going to the Center for Pregnancy Choices of East Central Mississippi.
Restaurants include Penn's, City Limits, Firehouse Barbecue, Dickey's Barbecue, Laredo and Ronnie's Steak and Grill.
All donations are tax deductible.
Officials with the center are excited about this year's event, especially its executive director, Pauline Karcher.
The local pastors serving as waiters are a big draw to the annual event.
"It's very lovely that they do this," Pauline said, thanking them for their generosity. "They have been wonderful."
Patrons are encouraged to support more than one restaurant by having a salad or appetizer at one, the main entree at another and a dessert at another, similar to a progressive dinner.
Pauline and her husband Ken live in Decatur where he is head football coach at East Central Community College.
A native of New York, Mississippi is Pauline's 13th state in which to reside. Ken is from Pittsburg, Penn. The two met in New Orleans where both attended Tulane University.
A former NFL quarterback, Ken was named head football coach at EC in January 2013.
Decatur is the smallest town in which the two have lived since their marriage. Ken's NFL and coaching careers have sent them to numerous states.
Pauline enjoys the quaint town of Decatur. She tells friends and family that it consists of three gas stations and a Subway!
She thinks of Philadelphia as the "big city."
The Karchers live in a house on campus where Pauline enjoys walking around the beautiful lake surrounding the EC campus.
She also enjoys playing tennis and working out each day.
A lover of books, she frequents the public library in Decatur though she is usually the only person there.
The Karchers have four children: Austin, lives in Birmingham where he teaches and coaches; Kelly, lives in Georgia and is a teacher and coach; Katie, is a senior at Mississippi State University where she is studying exercise science; and Clay, 17, is dually enrolled in Newton County Schools and ECCC.
Pauline has shared several recipes with our readers, some are hers, others were given to her by friends.
She admits that she's never had a passion for cooking, though her husband loves to cook.
"I have friends who are spectacular at cooking and they love it. I've never had a passion for cooking," she said.
CHEESY BAKED ZITI
1/2 pound dried ziti
15 or 16 ounces ricotta cheese (part skim)
3 cups (or 12 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
3 cups (or a 26-ounce jar) spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add the ziti. Cook until tender, about 8 minutes, drain the pasta. Place the ziti in a large bowl. Mix with the ricotta and half of the mozzarella. Grease a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish. Spread half of the spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the pan. Add the ziti mixture and cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan and the remaining mozzarella. Bake uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes, until the casserole bubbles on the edges.
1 can flaky canned biscuits
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated swiss cheese
1/2 teaspoon chopped green onions
1/2 cup real bacon bits
1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained and patted dry
1/8 teaspoon basil
Divide each biscuit into 3 pieces. Press into mini-muffin tins. Combine remaining ingredients and fill each muffin. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
1//2 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup butter
1 can cream of chicken soup (undiluted)
1 cup cornflake crumbs
2 pounds frozen hash browns
16 ounces sour cream
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
Sauté onions in butter until transparent. Add soup, potatoes and sour cream. Spoon into greased 9x13 inch baking dish.
Combine cheese and cornflakes; spread over potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
SQUASH AND SPINACH CASSEROLE
5 or 6 medium yellow squash, sliced
1/2 bag baby spinach
1 stick butter
1 cup grated cheese (fiesta blend)
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 teaspoon dill seed
salt and pepper
Cook onion in butter until clear. Add squash and a little water. Salt and pepper to taste. Add dill seed. Cook until nearly done - add spinach and cook until done. Add sour cream. Pour into baking dish sprayed with Pam. Sprinkle cheese on top. Cook at 350 for 20-30 minutes, until cheese is melted and mixture bubbles.
WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) white chocolate morsels
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by well-rounded teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until centers are set. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
TO DIE FOR BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture. To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.
BRAISED BALSAMIC CHICKEN
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Season chicken breasts with ground black pepper and garlic salt. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet and brown the onion and seasoned chicken breasts.
Pour tomatoes and balsamic vinegar over chicken and season with basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme. Simmer until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear, about 15 minutes.
4 pounds pork ribs, cut into serving-size pieces (I use baby back ribs)
1 medium onion, quartered
2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
dash cayenne pepper
In a large kettle or Dutch oven, place the ribs and onion; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add enough water to cover ribs; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 90 minutes or until tender; drain.
Combine all sauce ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.
Arrange ribs on a grill (or a rack in a broiler pan). Brush with sauce. Grill for 5 minutes each side, brushing frequently with sauce.
CHICKEN DIVAN RECIPE
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup mayo
1 teaspoon curry (I like curry, so I usually double this)
1 teaspoon lemon juice (or you may substitute 1 tablespoon sherry)
4 - 6 chicken breasts, cooked and sliced
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 (10 oz.) package chopped broccoli
Cook broccoli first and drain. Mix top 5 ingredients well. Lay broccoli in bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Arrange chicken over it and cover with mixture. Put cheese on top and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. (May serve over rice to stretch recipe.)