Home Instead staff shows love and caring

By Lucie R. Willsie

April 23, 2014

Some of the folks who work at Home Instead Senior Care created their favorite dishes recently.

These seven cooks and/or bakers are: Sharon Bledsoe, staff coordinator; Angela Allen, office manager; Kim Atkins-Bruner, RN, aide supervisor; Van Lankford, owner; Crissy Prevette, general manager; Sheryl Gilliam, account manager; and Candy Jones, office clerk/caregiver.

Atkins-Bruner, a huge lover of cooking, created two recipes: the Wildberry Almond Coffee Cake and the Southwestern Cornbread Salad.

“I’ve taken both of these dishes several places,” she said, adding she has received many compliments for them as well. “I’ve been asked for the recipes several times. I always take home empty bowls.”

Atkins-Bruner has been making the coffee cake recipe for about eight years, as she recalls, the salad for about five. She got the cake recipe right off the box of the Martha White Muffin Mix and the salad recipe from a cooking magazine.

“I’ve always loved to cook … Since I was 6 years old,” she said. The first dish she remembers making is creamed potatoes because she loved them. “My mom taught me.”

Her best cooking tip is to always use the highest quality of ingredients possible.

Bledsoe made the Quick and Easy Taco Salad.

“I don’t cook … I don’t care nothing about cooking,” she admitted. “But, I love to eat.”

That’s why she made this salad because it is quick and easy and all it takes is to mix ingredients together in layers. Bledsoe got it from a lady at her church.

“All it takes is some cutting up and cooking of the meat,” she said. “Fifteen minutes, that’s all. It’s a good meal.”

Prevette also made her Cheesy Chicken Casserole because she thinks it also is easy and simple to make.

“It feeds a lot of people and is good the next day, too,” she explained.

Prevette has been cooking about 21 years. She learned how to cook after she got married. When she wanted to cook something, she would call her mom and ask how.

She has two tips for the cooks out there. One is that the longer you simmer sauces or soups, the better they taste. Just remember not to cook the potatoes until 20 minutes before you want to serve the dish or they will become way too mushy. The second tip of hers is about cooking spaghetti sauce. Instead of adding sugar, try grating carrots extremely fine and adding them instead. Carrots are sweet, with a natural sugar, are are healthier than cane sugar.

Allen, who has been cooking since she was 10 years old, said the first thing she remembers cooking was mac and cheese, and the second was a cake. She recently made the “spicier” tasting Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Sauce. She made this dish because it is quick to make.

“Also, it’s almost like eating a hot wing on a bun,” she said. “But you don’t get as messy.”

If the sauce is a tad too hot for your tastes, it’s easy to add ranch dressing or even blue cheese or the like to tone down the heat. If you want it even hotter, you can use the entire bottle of hot sauce.

Jones made the No-Bake Baked Beans.

“The recipe has been in my family for many years,” she said. She has been making this dish for the past 30 years, ever since she first became married. “I can’t go to a family event without these beans coming with me.”

Her grandma first taught her how to make homemade cornbread as her first cooking project when she was just 10.

Her cooking tip is: “The longer I simmer them, the better they are … and they are even better the next day.”

Lankford made the Broccoli Salad.

“But my wife is the real cook of the family,” he revealed.

This was the first time he actually made this particular dish himself, getting it from fellow cook at the office, Atkins-Bruner, although he has been learning more about cooking, off and on, for the past seven years or so.

“It’s something I always wanted to do,” he said. His family insists he makes a special Halloween Cake every year. He is also known for his Banana Split cake, made by grinding up graham crackers mixed with a little butter and putting them at the bottom of a bowl, and then putting alternate layers of pudding, bananas, and whipped cream on top of the graham cracker layers, and sprinkling ground up pecans on the top of these layers.

His best tip for cooks out there is that cooking is a labor of love. At least, “that’s what motivates me,” he added.

Gilliam, who has been cooking for 15 years, made the Pineapple Casserole because it is simple and easy to make and doesn’t use a lot of ingredients.

“It’s the easiest dish in the world to make,” she added.

She first starting cooking by watching her mother cook, but really didn’t expand her cooking expertise until after she got married.

“I got the recipe from a lady at the Senior Center,” she added. “It’s a big hit at events.”

Her best tip for cooks is to keep it simple and easy.

Among many other services, Home Instead provides assistance to folks with daily activities that aren’t as easy for them as it used to be, allowing them to continue to live in their own homes. Some of the specific help Home Instead can provide include: respite care, monitoring diet, assist with walking, writing letters, prepare grocery lists, mail bills, care for Alzheimer’s Disease, escort to appointments, pickup prescriptions, assist with laundry, and other personal services, such as help with eating, dressing, bathing, etc. The company is located at 172 W. Independence Blvd. and can be reached at 789-4472.






2 packs of Martha White Wildberry muffin mix

1 cup of sour cream

4 Tablespoons of white sugar

½ cup of milk

1 small bag of toasted almonds


1 cup of powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons of milk

Almond flavoring, to taste


Preheat the oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit. Mix all of the muffin ingredients together (except the almonds)until all lumps are gone. Spray the pan with cooking spray. Pour the muffin mixture into pan. Cook until slightly brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool. Place roasted almonds evenly over the top of the coffee cake. Drizzle prepared icing back and forth over the cake and almonds until all the almonds are covered. Put into the refrigerator for 10 minutes so the icing can set. (Chef’s Note: You may substitute with any flavor of Martha White muffin mix you like.)




1 (6 ounce) Mexican cornbread mix

1 small head of shredded Romaine lettuce

3 medium-sized Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced into small pieces

1 (15 ounce) can of black beans, rinsed and drained

6 slices of cooked crumbled bacon

1 (15 ounce) can of Mexi corn with red and green peppers

1 (1 ounce) Ranch dressing mix

1 (8 ounce) four-cheese blend of Mexican cheese

5 green onions, cut into small pieces


Prepare the corn bread as directed. Allow to cool and crumble the cornbread. Prepare the dressing as directed. Layer the cornbread, lettuce and remaining ingredients in the order listed above. Repeat with a second layer. Save most of the cheese for the last layer. Top with green onions. Cover and chill for 2 hours.




1 pound of hamburger

1 package of Taco dry mix

1 small head of shredded iceberg lettuce

2 medium chopped tomatoes

1 small thinly sliced onion

1 can of light red kidney beans, drained

1 bag of Doritos, coarsely crumbled

1000 Island dressing


Brown the hamburger and add the dry taco mix. Cook according to directions. Allow hamburger mix to cool. In a large bowl, mix the lettuce, tomatoes, and onion. Add the kidney beans and mix. Add the cooled hamburger mixture and stir lightly. Top with the coarsely crumbled Doritos. Drizzle 1000 dressing on top of the Doritos.




4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 (10.5 ounce) can of cream of mushroom soup

1 (26 ounce) can of chicken soup

1 teaspoon of black pepper

1 1/2 cup of Instant Brown Rice

2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese

2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

6 ounces of French fried onions


Preheat the oven to 375-degrees Fahrenheit. Boil the chicken until done. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Combine the chicken, soups, black pepper and rice in a casserole dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the dish and stir in the mozzarella cheese. Bake for 5 more minutes. Remove the dish and top with the cheddar cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted. Remove the dish again. Top with the French fried onions. Bake until the onions are hot. Remove and let stand for 5 minutes. (Chef’s Note: Serve with a salad and French bread.)




2 Tablespoons of butter

1 Tablespoon of minced garlic

10 boneless skinless chicken tenderloins

1 ½ bottles of Franks Red Hot Wing Sauce

½ bottle of Texas Pete Hot Sauce

1 packet of Hidden Valley Ranch, prepared as directed

1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch, dry mix only

1 pack of slider buns

1 glass of iced water


Turn the crock pot on low and add the minced garlic and butter to melt. When the butter has melted, add the wing sauce, hot sauce and one packet of ranch dry mix. Stir together. Add in the chicken. Make sure the chicken is covered with the sauce. Cook on low for 2 to 2 ½ hours. Prepare the other Hidden Valley packet as directed. Once cooked, take a fork and shred your chicken. Add the chicken to a slider bun, drizzle with the sauce from the crock pot and add a spoon of ranch dressing. (Chef’s Note: Grab a glass of milk, the sauce is going to be “warm.”)




1 pound of hamburger

1 onion, cut up in the meat

1 green pepper, cut up in the meat

1 cup of ketchup

1/4 cup of A-1 Sauce

A large can of pork and beans

Hot sauce, to taste


Brown the ground beef. Drain. Combine the pork and beans and all the sauces into a large pot and mix well. Add the hamburger mixture to the mixture in the pot. Mix well and simmer until well blended.





1 head of broccoli — Cut florets into bite size pieces

6 to 8 slices of cooked crumbled bacon

½ cup of coarsely chopped red onion

½ cup of dried cranberries

8 ounces of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, large shred

1 small bag of roasted almonds

Salt and pepper to taste


1 cup of mayonnaise

¼ cup of white sugar

2 Tablespoons of white vinegar


Toss the first 7 ingredients of the salad together. Separately, mix the dressing ingredients together and then pour it over the broccoli mixture.




2 (20 ounce) cans of pineapple chunks, drained

6 Tablespoons of juice (from the pineapple chunks)

1 cup of sugar

6 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1 handful of finely shredded cheddar cheese

1 stick of light butter

1 sleeve of Ritz-Style crackers, crushed


Mix the flour, sugar and juice in a bowl and combine well. Add the cheese and pineapple chunks to the mixture and stir together until all the pineapple is coated. Spoon the mixture into a greased casserole dish. Combine the butter and crackers to make a crumble topping and add it on top. Bake 20 to 30 minutes at 350-degrees Fahrenheit or until golden brown.

Lucie R. Willsie can be reached at 336-719-1930 or on Twitter at LucieRWillsie.