Washington puts effort into dishes
Melonie Washington’s favorite aspect of cooking is being able to put effort into something she loves while relieving stress.
“Cooking is a way for me to de-stress,” Washington said. “It’s a time for me to be one with myself while preparing food for my family and really put focus into something other than work.”
Washington was born and raised in Neshoba County and graduated from Neshoba Central High School. She owns Washington’s Cheer and Dance Academy, which has a spring recital coming up on May 13 at the Ellis Theatre, with her daughter Marlee, and enjoys spending time with her husband Mangold and her other daughter, Isley.
She said she comes from a big family of homemade cooks and learned to cook early on by watching her mother and other relatives make things from scratch.
“My mother taught me how to make cornbread, and I would make that while she was cooking the main dishes,” Washington said. “That was my obligation for each meal. I then learned how to make other things like spaghetti, various kinds of pastas, and a variety of vegetables. I also learned to pick, shell, and prepare veggies for storage since we had a personal garden while I was growing up.”
Washington said she enjoys cooking big meals, such as Sunday dinners, like pot roast, meat and potatoes, and all kinds of hearty meals.
“My favorite thing to make is pasta salad, and I’m always asked to bring that to functions,” Washington said. “During the week we’re pressed for time, so I like to prepare food that lasts throughout the whole week. I’m not big on desserts, but when I do make them, I’ll do banana pudding and lemon ice box pies.”
She said the only challenge she runs into while cooking is having to prepare something every day for her family and having enough time to get everything done.
“I can make anything, it’s just about having the time,” she said.
CHICKEN CAESAR PASTA SALAD
6 oz garden rotini pasta
1 lb. grilled, boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 cups Romaine lettuce (chopped)
1 medium cucumber
1/4 cup green onion (chopped)
2 cups cherry tomatoes (halved)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup croutons
Ken’s Caesar dressing to taste
Cook pasta and let cool. Chop the chicken into small chunks. In a large bowl toss together chicken, cooked pasta, lettuce, cucumber, green onions, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and croutons.
Drizzle with desired amount of salad dressing and toss to coat.
CROCK POT BEEF STROGANOFF
2 lbs. beef stew meat (cut into bite size pieces)
1 medium yellow onion
2 tbsps minced garlic
12 ounces fresh, sliced mushrooms
1 1/4 cup beef broth
1/2 cup onion powder
2 tbsps Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsps salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
6 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
10 ounces egg noodles
Layer the ingredients in the slow cooker in the following order: onions/garlic, mushrooms and beef.
In a small bowl, combine the broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and onion powder. Pour over the beef in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours or until the beef is tender.
Stir in the cream cheese until dissolved. Stir in the sour cream and chopped fresh parsley and heat through. Serve over hot egg noodles.
LEMON ICE BOX PIE
1 can sweetened condensed milk
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup lemon juice
9 inch graham cracker crust
In a large bowl, mix the condensed milk, cream cheese and lemon juice. Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust. Let chill for two hours and top with CoolWhip.