TV Dinners

By Diane DeVaughn Stokes

I used to love to go out to dinner, and still do, but nowadays I actually prefer cooking at home. It’s such an adventure! And even though I own more than thirty cookbooks, I enjoy being creative and whipping up a new dish from the “windmills of my mind,” to use a phase from a song of yesteryear.

My grandmother gave me my love of cooking as she tenderly prepared everything with loving hands and heart. But some of my best lessons have come from chefs I have interviewed on my TV shows over the past forty-five years. They taught me so many tricks of the trade and, most of all, how to prep and have all the ingredients ready to go so they could prepare the dish in the ten minute segment they were allotted on the air, with the finished product ready to present at the end of the show.

One of the craziest recipes that I still make regularly I learned from Donna Bundrick with the South Carolina Department of Agriculture. This dessert was called “Peach Enchiladas,” made with two packages of crescent rolls, two sticks of butter, four firm peaches peeled and quartered, ¾ cup of sugar, one teaspoon of cinnamon and the magic ingredient is one 12oz. can of Mountain Dew.

Yes, I know what you are thinking ‘cause I thought the same thing. This can’t possibly be good, but in fact it is awesomely delicious. Topped with vanilla ice cream, it is a true winner every single time, and no one ever guesses what is in it!

To make it, first grease a large baking dish, a 10” x 12” or 9” by 12.” Melt butter and add sugar and cinnamon. Then, unroll crescent rolls and place a peach quarter, or a few slices, in each triangle, rolling from large end to small. Pour butter over rolls placed in dish and pour on the Mountain Dew. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. I have even cut this recipe in half for a smaller group.

From other chefs I learned that you could substitute milk and a teaspoon of vinegar for buttermilk in a recipe. Use beef base or chicken base instead of bouillon for richer recipes. Always keep cream cheese and pepper jelly in the refrigerator for unexpected guests, and crackers in the pantry. All vegetables are wonderful roasted in the oven with olive oil and kosher salt. Use cornstarch to thicken gravy, as it will not lump up like flour. I could go on all day. My job has given me a great unexpected culinary education.

Most of all, I learned that some of the best meals are quick ones, and you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen to wow your dinner guests. My TV chefs taught me to make the best Chicken Bog, Frogmore Stew and the most delicious Shrimp and Grits you have ever tasted. I lovingly call these recipes TV dinners since I learned how to cook them on TV, but they are far from the Turkey and Salisbury Steak TV dinners of days gone by.

Thanks to all those wonderful culinary experts who braved live, local TV to share their skills with me and my viewers. When the Food Network comes calling, I know I’ll be ready!

About this writer

  • Diane DeVaughn Stokes

    Diane DeVaughn Stokes

    Diane DeVaughn Stokes is the President of Stages Video Productions, Host and Producer for TV show “Inside Out” on HTC, and EASY Radio Host weekdays noon to 3pm. Her passions include food, travel and theater. You can reach her at diane@stagesvideo.com

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One Response to “TV Dinners”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    Diane, I will definitely try that Mountain Dew recipe. Cooking really does take us back. I enjoyed your piece.

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