Inspiration for Your Christmas Table Décor

wpid-20131216_201900.jpgA 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.

wpid-20131216_202122.jpgMy 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!

wpid-20131216_201937.jpgI 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. 

wpid-20131216_202055.jpgDon’t forget Santa and Mrs. Claus! My festive salt and pepper shakers make an appearance every year after Thanksgiving. “He sees you when your sleeping, he knows when you’re awake…”

wpid-20131216_201953.jpgThese 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. 

wpid-PhotoGrid_1387246024119.jpgThe only thing that will make this table better is good food and good company. After all, that’s what it’s all about!

How is your table decorated? What tips would you add to my list?

wpid-20131209_193349.jpgHappy entertaining and Merry Christmas y’all, from me and Ewok.

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Explore A Taste of Tybee January 17-26

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Image courtesy of VisitTybee.com.

Seafood on the Georgia coast with good company gets me more excited than a child on Christmas morning. Moreover, restaurants that want to show off their menu offerings at affordable prices are that much more enticing. Tybee Island Restaurant Week begins this Friday, and I can’t imagine a better way to enjoy a little taste of Tybee, from beer battered oysters at North Beach Bar and Grill or Killer Key Lime Pie at Fannie’s on the Beach to homemade pizza at Huc-A-Poos Bites and Booze. Why not join in the fun at perhaps the most laid-back destination on the Southeastern seacoast?

Fantastic place, I'd go back again!
North Beach Bar and Grill is offering a free dessert course and coffee during Tybee Island Restaurant Week!
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Image courtesy of VisitTybee.com.

From January 17 – 26, 2014, each participating restaurant will offer 3-course, prix fixe dinner menus for $25-$30 per person (not including tax and gratuity). “Prix fixe” simply means the chefs have predetermined a few of the most delicious selections to showcase in each category–appetizer, entrée and dessert. You choose whatever suits your palate, then sit back and enjoy the experience. It’s a fantastic time to explore a new restaurant and experience variety in a wallet-friendly way. On my list of places to stop? Tybee Island Social Club and Coco’s Sunset Grille. Bacon wrapped scallops or fried strawberries, anyone? Yes, please!

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The Crab Shack is known for its famous Lowcountry Boil.

As it turns out, many of the restaurants I’ve reviewed right here on “Some Kinda Good™”are participating! Check them out below:

The Crab Shack – “Where Friendship and Fine Food Collide”
Huc-A-Poos Bites and Booze – “A Heavenly Vibe at Huc-A-Poos Bites and Booze”
Sting Ray’s Seafood – “White Zinfandel and Wild Georgia Shrimp”
North Beach Grill – “Pastured Poultry Week: So God Made a Farmer”

"The Federale"  at Huc-A-Poos: Mexican pizza with grilled chicken, red onions, bell peppers, fresh tomatoes and jalapenos.
“The Federale” at Huc-A-Poos: Mexican pizza with grilled chicken, red onions, bell peppers, fresh tomatoes and jalapenos.
The Wild Georgia Shrimp at Sting Ray's Seafood are caught and served fresh from the Atlantic.
The Wild Georgia Shrimp at Sting Ray’s Seafood are caught and served fresh from the Atlantic.

Get a complete list of participating restaurants, including the restaurant week menus by visiting this page on the Tybee Island Restaurant Week website. See you on the coast!

A Holiday Menu Featuring Pastured Pork Tenderloin

wpid-20131030_222638.jpgIt’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.
wpid-20131030_222643.jpgThe 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.

wpid-20131030_222647.jpgNothing 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!

wpid-20131030_222657.jpgGreen 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.

wpid-20131030_222650.jpgFinally, no meal would be complete without Southern, made-from-scratch Buttermilk Biscuits. With a dollop of blackberry jam, bread never tasted so good.

wpid-IMG_20131101_110403.jpgAfter 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!