Decorating the Christmas tree has always been introspective for me. Aside from the standard ball ornaments, I have a special bag of sentimental ornaments I delicately wrap and unwrap each year, carefully peeling back the tissue paper to reveal the precious memories. Filled with stories of trips gone by and milestone occasions, the ornaments on my Christmas tree tell the stories of my life.
Nothing brings out the little kid in me like a blanket of freshly fallen snow. Add to that delicious food and quality time with my favorite person, and life is grand. My husband Kurt and I took a mini-Christmas vacation in early December to experience Candlelight Christmas Evenings at Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina, where we awoke to 10-inches of pure white, fluffy, undisturbed snow. Continue reading “Vacationing in a Winter Wonderland”
It’s officially holiday season, and if you’re like me, visions of green bean casserole, sweet potato soufflé and pumpkin pie have been dancing in your head. This time of year, I’m always itching to entertain–I spend my spare time planning what to bake and take to Thanksgiving dinner, and conjuring up a few seasonal parties of my own. Continue reading “Entertain with Ease this Holiday Season”
The Christmas holidays are a special time for giving, but the best gifts don’t always come from a department store. Give the gift of food! Today, I’ve rounded up three gift ideas from my kitchen that can be prettily packaged + a spectacular book recommendation authored by my friend, meditation and wellness teacher, Cassandra Bodzack. These thoughtful presents are Some Kinda Good, and are sure to be well received. Continue reading “Last Minute Gift Ideas for the Foodie in Your Life”
I’m very excited to share with you our new episode of Statesboro Cooks, highlighting my Holiday Inspired Menu Featuring Pastured Pork Tenderloin. In the 30-minute program, I host and serve as an executive producer with my friend, Tyson Davis. If you’re in the Statesboro area, you can catch the show on local cable, Channel 99, at 7:30 p.m. 7-days-a-week throughout the holidays. If not, check it out on YouTube at the link below! I hope you’ll make these recipes, and thank you for watching.
Statesboro Cooks is a Georgia Southern University multimedia communications team production. To see the previous episode I hosted, watch here.
It’s one of those appetizers that’s always present at family gatherings in the South, especially around the holidays. I’ve seen savory cheese balls and sweet cheese balls. There’s a variety of different recipes out there, but this one comes from Mama with a few of my own touches. I contributed this cheese ball to my office Christmas party and it was a hit! It has pops of red and green color for the holidays, and it’s versatile. You can add or take away whatever flavors you like. Spreadable and creamy, this cheese ball has crunch and sweet heat. It’s cold and satisfying.
The cheese ball comes together quickly and is edible right away, but has a more firm texture when chilled. I recommend making it a day ahead and letting it set up in the fridge overnight. If you’re short on time, 30 minutes to an hour will do.
- 1 8-oz block of cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 cup of pepper jack cheese, shredded
- A few jarred jalapeno peppers, chopped
- A tablespoon of jarred jalapeno pepper juice
- A handful of maraschino cherries, stems removed and chopped
- 1/2 of a green bell pepper, chopped
- 1/4 cup of chopped onion (I used purple for the color, but a sweet Vidalia onion would be great too)
- Dash of Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tablespoon of Braswell’s Green Pepper Jelly
- 1/4 cup of pepitas (Pumpkin seeds)
- Seasoned salt
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup Georgia pecans, toasted and chopped
Dry roast pecans in a saute pan over medium heat, flipping occasionally until fragrant and golden (5-10 minutes). Set aside. Using a hand mixer, blend the cheeses together until incorporated. Add in remaining ingredients, reserving the pecans for the outside, and season with seasoned salt and pepper. Blend on low-speed until everything is incorporated. Turn the mixture out onto plastic wrap and form it into a ball. Remove the plastic wrap and roll the ball in the chopped pecans until covered. Let chill. Serve with buttery crackers, like Ritz, toasted bread or even Scoops tortilla chips.
Note: If you’re using a food processor to chop your onion and bell pepper, be sure to drain any natural water from the vegetables before adding them to the mixture. Additional water will make your cheese ball runny, and you wouldn’t want that.
Serve the cheese ball on a round dish if you have one! It enhances the natural shape of the appetizer and is fun to surround with crackers. Presentation is everything! I served the cheese ball with snowflake-shaped crackers for a little Christmas cheer, but this recipe is wonderful year around with whatever kind of crackers you like. Enjoy!
At the end of a long dirt driveway lined by 26-year-old pine trees in Middle Georgia, sits The Old Home Place, where my family has celebrated “The Cookin’” each Christmas for more than 30 years. Continue reading “A Christmastime Family Tradition at The Old Home Place”
A well dressed table is like a well put together outfit. It makes the kitchen feel complete and invites conversation. Y’all know how I feel about Table Talk and Family Ties, and no holiday would suffice without a properly outfitted place to dine. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen some really over-the-top centerpieces, and just like Ina Garten says, “When people start talking about tablescapes, that makes me crazy.” My style is mindful of the budget and inspired by nature, with a few items from around the house. In this post, I’ll provide you with a few tips for creating a sophisticated and simple ambiance this holiday season, using my kitchen table as an example.
My table is square, so I used a long table runner right down the center of it. I gathered a few jars of varying heights from my cabinets, like jam and Mason jars, then staggered votive candles on either side of them down the length of the runner. Instead of purchasing flowers, which can be costly and require upkeep, I opted to trim a few stems from my holly berry plant in the yard. I divided the berries and some greenery among the jars. The berries cost me nothing, and they coordinate with my Christmas china and the table runner perfectly!
I layered some of my tree trimmings in between the candles and jars, then tucked in little red and gold ornaments to give the table that extra special touch. Pine cones or acorns would also be fun to include.
These are the most important things to remember about table decor:
1) Always use unscented candles. You don’t want artificial scents competing with the food.
2) Centerpieces should be conversation friendly. Use either low centerpieces like my jars or tall, slender and clear vases that don’t obstruct conversation. There’s nothing like sitting down to a meal and not being able to see the person across from you. Awkward.
3) Leave your guests with room to breathe. If you’re dining family style, be sure to leave room for casserole and side dishes, and the main course. An overcrowded table feels cramped and stressful.
How is your table decorated? What tips would you add to my list?
It’s officially holiday season. Let the menu and party planning begin! I’ve put together a holiday inspired meal including a classic combination of flavors, along with some of my family’s traditional recipes that are impressive on the table but simple to execute. These dishes are special enough for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, but delicious year ’round. Here’s what’s cookin’: Herb-Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Sautéed Cinnamon Apples, Mama’s Sweet Potato Casserole, Farm-Raised Green Beans and Grandma’s Made-from-Scratch Buttermilk Biscuits. We couldn’t celebrate the holidays without incorporating pumpkin, so for dessert, the Pumpkin Spice Trifle will make its debut appearance.
The star of this show is the Herb-Roasted Pork Tenderloin. This time of year, I think folks get ham and turkey’d out. So, now is a great time to allow pork to step into the limelight. To accomplish that gorgeous golden brown exterior and moist meat, I use a combination of dried and fresh herbs and Georgia olive oil. Season the meat liberally with kosher salt and black pepper. Drizzle it with olive oil, then massage in a healthy amount of fresh basil, fresh rosemary and about a two teaspoons of dried oregano. Here’s a tip: Cook the tenderloin in a 9 x 13 dish, and just before putting it in the oven, add about an inch of water to the pan. Roast the meat at 425 degrees for 25 minutes per pound. Another reason this tenderloin tastes amazing, is because it’s pasture-raised. This little piggie wasn’t given any antibiotics or steroids, and was free to roam and eat Georgia grass. The result is a much more nutritious animal that’s healthier to eat and healthier for our environment. Thanks to my friends at Hunter Cattle Company for raising it.
Nothing compliments pork like a side of delicious cinnamon apples sautéed in butter. This is as simple as it gets. Slice 5 to 6 medium apples about a 1/4 inch thick and saute in four tablespoons of unsalted butter. Allow them to cook down, then season with cinnamon and keep them warm. You don’t even have to peel them!
Green beans may be a popular side item, but served this way you can’t go wrong. My Farm-raised Green Beans also feature Hunter Cattle’s smoked bacon and sweet Vidalia onions and homegrown tomatoes from the Statesboro Mainstreet Farmers’ Market. Cook the bacon and set aside to drain on paper towels. Saute diced onion and tomato in the remaining bacon fat, season with salt & pepper and add to cooked green beans with a pat or two of butter. Top with crumbled bacon. On the left above, Mama’s Sweet Potato Casserole is a regular at every family function. It adds a wonderful pop of color to the plate. The topping, made of chopped pecans, brown sugar, flour and butter–is like candy.
After a mouth-watering meal, a 14-layer cake or heavy pie is overwhelming. My Pumpkin Spice Trifle hits the spot. Complimented by soft spice cake and crunchy gingersnap cookies, it’s like a pillow-y cloud of light fresh whipped cream and vanilla pudding bursting with fall flavors. Plus, it makes a stunning presentation.
For the complete recipes to these dishes and to watch me cook them in action, tune in to my next episode of Statesboro Cooks, premiering in mid-November on local cable Channel 99. Be sure to watch the show to discover my secret to the best buttermilk biscuits you ever tasted! For those outside of the area, I’ll be sure to post the episode right here on Some Kinda Good, so you can watch too. Wishing you and your family a very happy holiday season. Eat well!