Rea enjoys cooking for gatherings
For Brandy Rea, her favorite aspect of cooking is being able to bring everyone together.
“If you feed them, they will come,” Rea said. “If people know we’re cooking something, it’s easy to bring them out. And that’s what I enjoy most about it.”
Rea was born in Jackson but has lived in Philadelphia since she was in fourth grade. Outside of cooking she works as assistant director of the Wesley House in Philadelphia, and enjoys spending time with her husband Richard and her children, Spencer, Brendan, and Meagan.
“I got into cooking by watching my mother and grandmother cook and I wanted to be a part of that,” Rea said. “I was around four or five years old when I started and I would help my grandmother roll out dough for biscuits and also helped her with cornbread.”
Rea said as she got older she started experimenting with more dishes such as lasagna and fried chicken tenders, just the way her mother makes them.
“Nowadays, I still like to make lasagna, but I also make dishes like enchilada chicken rollups with my husband and other Southern comfort foods,” Rea said.
“My mother still has to do the biscuits and cornbread, though, since I can never do it like she can. I like to make her fudge, too. She makes it at Christmas and it’s the only time she makes it. I follow that and typically only make it at Christmas as well.”
She said cooking brings people together and she enjoys cooking for work potlucks and church events.
“Having people together is what I enjoy about cooking the most,” Rea said.
1 stick butter
2 cups sugar
5 oz. evaporated milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 jar marshmallow crème
12 oz bag of milk chocolate chips
1 ½ cups chopped pecans (optional)
In a heavy saucepan, boil butter, sugar, and milk over medium heat to a rolling boil or until a soft ball forms in a cup of cold water (usually after about 5 minutes).
Remove mixture from stove and add chocolate chips, marshmallow crème, vanilla, and pecans. Mix well and pour on a slightly buttered deep dish to cool.
Slice and serve after cooling and hardening.
CHICKEN ENCHILADA DIP ROLL-UPS / PINWHEELS
16 ounces softened cream cheese
1 ½ cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 tsp garlic, finely minced
1 ½ tsps chili powder
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste
3 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
10 ounces Rotel, drained-save the juice separately
Green onions (optional)
Mix the cheeses together. Add all remaining ingredients, including the saved Rotel juice.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but overnight works best. Spread mixture onto tortillas, roll, then slice into pieces. It is suggested that the tortillas slice better if wrapped in saran wrap and refrigerated for about an hour first. These are best served for things like tailgating at an MSU football game.
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 to 3 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
Pepper to taste
Green onion (if preferred)
Place cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle Cavender’s seasoning all over the cream cheese and slowly mix in the shredded sharp cheddar cheese and pepper.
Continue to mix until cream cheese and shredded cheese is blended together. Taste to decide if more Cavender’s is needed. Shape into a ball shape and place on the dish. The cheese ball can be covered with crushed pecans for a more formal presentation.
Serve with crackers of choice (Ritz crackers or Club style crackers).