But beyond the classic family favorites, the book is balanced with quirkier, more inspiring dishes such as Southern-style crab cakes from the brunch section, pork-stuffed tamales, Vadalia onion canapés, and cinnamon roll bread pudding topped with whipped vanilla bean creme.
I tried several recipes from the cookbook. First I made the three-cheese macaroni casserole, which I served with meatballs, and a salad for a weeknight meal. I've tried many macaroni and cheese recipes – from Martha Stewart's take, to the recipe that comes on the back of the box of pasta – and this one, quick to assemble and on the cheesier end of things, may be a contender for my all-time favorite. I also made the black bean chili recipe. A bit doubtful at first, I put my trust in Ms. Wohlford and the packet of El Paso chili seasoning called for in her recipe. In about 30 minutes I had a pot of perfectly seasoned, just spicy enough chili. I served it with a classic side from my Southern family – Jiffy corn muffins made from the box.
But for a true test of the book, I chose two recipes from one of the longest sections, invited a few friends over, and saw how "The Sweet Magnolias Cookbook" fared for Sunday brunch. I made crustless broccoli and three-cheese quiche, and cranberry-orange scones with orange glaze; I modified both slightly and prepared them partially ahead of time. Paired with a quick fruit salad, and a side of bacon, brunch was a success! And "The Sweet Magnolias Cookbook" has officially earned it's spot next to my "Southern Living" cookbooks.
Crustless broccoli and three-cheese quiche
2 cups milk
4 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup biscuit baking mix (such as Bisquick)
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped, steamed crisp-tender broccoli
1 cup canned French-fried onions (optional, see instructions)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.