Watkins loves to help people by cooking
Terry Watkins loves sharing things she cares about, and cooking for her family and friends is no exception.
“Cooking has always been a passion, but when I found out people were shut in and sick during COVID, I would cook for them,” Watkins said. “I would meet them in parking lots and sit the food on their car and wait for them to come out and get it. You have to learn to adapt, but I love sharing things with people I care about. It’s important to show kindness to anyone you possibly can.”
Watkins was born and raised in Columbus, but relocated to Philadelphia with her husband Michael in 1994 and took a sales manager position at the Silver Star Casino. She recalled being one of the first employees hired.
Watkins still works at Pearl River Resort and enjoys spending time with her husband, her son Nicholas, and her grandson Logan.
Watkins said her grandmother originally inspired her to cook.
“My grandmother was a really special lady and cooked every day for the entire family,” Watkins said. “Everyone who worked in town would go to her house for lunch. She had vegetables and amazing fried chicken. Her banana budding was extra special, along with peach and apple cobblers.”
Watkins added that her mother also loved to bake and would make cookies and candies around the Christmas holidays for all of her relatives, along with vanilla and chocolate pound cakes.
“What really got me cooking was COVID,” Watkins said. “When things shut down I started cooking to supplement my income when I was off work. I would make casseroles and cakes and cookies; I was baking like crazy. I even had to buy an extra fridge.”
Watkins said she was very blessed because not only would family members buy her dishes from her, but she also had clients from the Resort who were taking care of family members who were scared of the pandemic, so they would buy casseroles from her to feed their family while everyone was shut in.
She said one of her favorite casseroles to make is her Mexican casserole, which is very popular.
“I have a lady in Meridian who calls me and asks about the Mexican casseroles all the time and I’ll cook them,” Watkins said. “I also like making chicken spaghetti, regular spaghetti, and we have a lot of breakfast casseroles, like my grits casserole which has ham and cheese.”
Watkins said she also enjoys baking and considers it one of her special passions.
“I make a white whiskey fruit cake, and even people who don’t like fruit cake love it,” she said. “Nothing says Christmas to me like old-fashioned sugar cookies. I make sure all my co-workers have some kind of baked goods during the holidays, and that’s any holiday, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or even Mardi Gras. I want to make sure we celebrate even the little things in life.”
“Pound cakes are pretty special in my family due to sweet memories like my mother having a slice of pound cake each morning, which helped keep her alive,” she said. “She had to have her sweets because the disease she had made it where she couldn’t really talk or swallow, but she could at least eat the pound cake.”
8-10 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. dried basil
1 ½ cups of cheese (sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and shredded parmesan)
1 cup mayo
Salt and pepper
A dash of Tobasco
1 frozen deep dish pie crust
Chop up the Roma tomatoes and mix in the basil and salt and pepper. Put the mixture in the fridge overnight to blend.
Bake pie crust as instructed and mix up the cheeses and mayo. Sprinkle in a little dried basil and a dash of Tabasco or to your taste. Drain the liquid from the tomatoes and place in the pie crust. Top with the cheese mixture and spread over the top to cover the pie.
Bake at 350 degrees in the oven for 30 minutes or until the top looks melted and crusted over.
1 lb. hamburger
1 can Rotel
1 can Ranch Style Beans
1 can Whole Kernel corn
1 can Cream of Mushroom or Chicken Soup
1 can of green chilies
½ cup onion
½ cup bell pepper
4-6 round soft corn tortillas (torn up)
16 oz pkg. sharp cheddar cheese or Mexican Blend cheddar
Scramble the hamburger with onion and bell pepper. Drain, and add green chilies, beans, Rotel, and corn on the stovetop in pan heat until really warm.
In an 8 x 10 pan, tear pieces of the corn tortillas into small pieces to cover the pan. Add the meat mixture. Layer with cheese and more corn tortillas. Heat at 350 degrees until hot for around 30 minutes.
CHOCOLATE POUND CAKE
3 sticks butter, room temperature
3 cups sugar
1 room temp 8 oz cream cheese
6 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups plain flour
½ cup cocoa or more to taste
Dash of salt
1 tbsp. Vanilla
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Mix butter, cream cheese, sugar, and eggs. Add in flour and cocoa. Pour the batter into a fluted pan or bundt pan, and cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes.