Be Southern this Christmas

Be Southern this Christmas

I am a Kentuckian now and although according to my family in Mississippi (the DEEP South) Kentucky cannot truly be considered completely Southern since the state remained neutral during the Civil War LOL! I figure I have the legitimacy of Mississippi blood flowing through my veins. Thus, I AM Southern! And with that in mind, here are a few fabulous holiday recipes with a special Southern twist.

Southern Christmas Fruitcake

*click for original website link

More cake than fruit and the added Grand Mariner makes it extra yummy. Might want to keep the cake away from the small ones. Mind you, this ain’t ya mamma’s fruitcake and certainly not the one you’ll find in the grocery store. This is the real deal and good enough to convert even the staunchest  anti-fruitcake member of the family!  ~Recipe from “Girl Raised in the South”  



  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest, cut in strips
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


  • 1/2 pound mixed dried fruits, such as blueberries, cranberries, cherries, raisins, and chopped apricots
  • 1/2 pound, (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 ounces almond paste
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup Grand Marnier, or other orange-flavored liqueur
  • 2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup bourbon


Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a medium-size heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the lemon zest and juice and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 2 minutes and remove from the heat.  Combine the dried fruits in a large mixing bowl. Pour the simple syrup over them, toss to coat and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain and reserve the syrup.

Cream the butter, sugar and almond paste together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle at low speed, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat until the mixture is fluffy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, mixing in between each addition on low speed and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add 1/4 cup of the Grand Marnier and mix to incorporate.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium-size mixing bowl and blend well. Add this mixture 1/2 cup at a time to the butter mixture with the mixer on low speed, each time mixing until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. The batter will be thick. Add the warm fruit and all of the nuts a little at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Lightly grease a bundt pan with butter or non-stick baking spray. Pour the batter into the pan and bake until golden brown and the top springs back when touched, about 45 to 50 minutes (turning the pan to ensure even browning after 30 minutes.)  Cool the cake for 20 minutes in the pan, then remove and continue to cool upside-down on wire racks.

Make tiny holes with a toothpick randomly on the rounded end of the cake. Combine the remaining simple syrup with the remaining 1/4 cup of Grand Marnier and the bourbon. Wrap the cake in a layer of cheesecloth and pour 1/4 cup of the syrup over the top of each cake. Store in a plastic zip bag for 3 or 4 days until the cake is slightly stale. Sprinkle syrup over cakes once every 2 to 3 days until all of the syrup is used. Let the cakes age for up to 3 weeks before eating.

For the Whiskey Sauce:

  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Combine 2 3/4 cups of the cream with the bourbon and sugar in a medium-size nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining 1/4 cup cream. Add this to the cream-and-bourbon mixture and simmer stirring often, until the mixture thickens, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve warm with the fruitcake. The sauce may be stored, after it has cooled, in an airtight container for 24 hours. When ready to serve, warm over low heat.

Home-Style Butterbeans

*click for original recipe website

These Southern-style butterbeans are flavored with bacon, brown sugar. and onion and offer the convenience of frozen butterbeans.



  • 5 bacon slices, diced
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 (16-oz.) package frozen butterbeans
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked pepper


Cook bacon and onion in a large Dutch oven over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes. Add brown sugar, and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Stir in butterbeans and butter until butter is melted and beans are thoroughly coated. Stir in 12 cups water.

Stir in 12 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 2 hours or until beans are very tender and liquid is thickened and just below top of beans. Stir in salt and pepper.

Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

This bread pudding recipe is based on one from the famed Bon Ton Cafe in New Orleans. The sauce is loaded with bourbon (the Bon Ton’s sauce has more bourbon in it), so you might want to use less.


Bread Pudding:

  • 1 loaf French bread, at least a day old, cut into 1-inch squares (about 6-7 cups)
  • 1 qt milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raisins (soaked an hour or two in 1/4 cup bourbon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Bourbon Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Kentucky bourbon whiskey


Preheat oven to 350°F. Place milk in a large mixing bowl and add the bread that has been cut into squares. Press the bread into the milk with your hands until all of the milk is absorbed. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the sugar, vanilla, allspice, and cinnamon. Pour over the bread and milk mixture. Add the bourbon soaked raisins and gently stir to combine.

Pour the melted butter into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan. Coat the bottom and the sides of the pan well with the butter. Pour the bread milk and egg mixture into the baking pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the liquid has set. The pudding is done when the edges start getting a bit brown and pull away from the edge of the pan. Can also make in individual ramekins.

While the bread pudding is cooking, make the bourbon sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan on low heat. Add the sugar and egg and whisk to blend well. Slowly cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, then remove from heat. Do not allow the mixture to simmer! (Or the sauce will curdle. If your sauce curdles, take it off the heat and smooth in a blender.) Whisk in bourbon to taste. Whisk again before serving. The sauce should be soft, creamy, and smooth.  Serve the bread pudding with bourbon whiskey sauce on the side; pour on to taste. Best fresh and eaten the day it is made.

Southern Collard Greens with Smoky Bacon

In order to make tender and flavorful greens, you must be patient. You have to give the collards time to really absorb all of the flavors in the pot, and the longer you cook the greens, the more tender they will be. The video below fabulously gives the details while showing the process. For southern collard greens, most the flavor comes from a smoked meat. There are many different smoked meats that you can use. Here are a few other smoked meats that you can use instead of the pound of bacon ends used for this recipe–

  • Two pounds of Turkey Bacon plus 1 tbsp of olive oil, chopped. Cook the same as written for the pork bacon.
  •  1 1/2  pound Smoked turkey wing or necks. Boil in 3 to 4 cups of water for 45 to one hour over medium high heat. Reserve water and use along with the recipe instead of the 2 cups of water.


  • 4 lbs collard greens, cleaned and cut
  • 1 lb bacon ends, chopped
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp seasoning salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, sliced (optional)
  • 2 to 3 tbsp of white distilled vinegar


Place the bacon ends in a pot, and place the pot over medium heat. Brown the bacon then add in the diced onions, and cook until the onions start to sweat. Add the minced garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the chicken broth, and turn the heat up to high and let boil for 20 minutes.

Pour in the 2 cups of water, and turn the heat down to medium. Start adding in the collard greens into the pot. Once all of the greens are in the pot, sprinkle in the seasoning salt and ground black pepper. Add in the sliced jalapeno, and the vinegar and stir the ingredients.

Cover the pot, and let simmer for 1 hour and 10 minutes over medium heat. Be sure to peak in and stir periodically.

Seafood Gumbo

Julia Reed Gumbo with french bread
*click for original recipe website

Simmering andouille with the stock lends the base a tasy depth; adding the seafood at the last minute means it’s perfectly cooked.

  • 1 pound fresh lump crabmeat
  • 3 pounds medium-size raw shrimp (with heads)
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons oil, divided
  • 2 pounds sliced okra, fresh or frozen & thawed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chopped green onions, divided
  • 1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can whole tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped, liquid reserved
  • 1 pt. oysters (between 2 dozen and 3 dozen)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Hot cooked long-grain rice


Pick crabmeat, removing any bits of shell. Remove shrimp shells and heads. Cover and refrigerate shrimp, and place shells and heads in a large stockpot. Add 8 cups water and a generous pinch of salt, and bring mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, 1 hour. Cool 30 minutes; pour stock through a fine wire-mesh strainer, and reserve for use in Step 4. Discard shells and heads.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, and add okra. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt, and sauté 10 minutes. Set aside okra, and wipe out skillet. Heat another tablespoon of oil in skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté andouille about 8 minutes or until brown. Set aside.

Heat remaining 3 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy pot over high heat. Add flour, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes or until roux is a medium-to-dark brown. Add yellow onions, celery, and bell pepper, and sauté 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften. Add garlic and 1/2 cup green onions, and cook 3 more minutes. Stir in tomato paste and next 7 ingredients. Stir in tomatoes and 1/3 cup of their liquid; gradually stir in shrimp stock. Add reserved sausage and okra. Bring to a boil over high heat, and cover. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 30 minutes.

Stir in shrimp and remaining green onions, and simmer 3 minutes. Stir in crabmeat, oysters, and parsley, and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat. Taste and add salt, if desired. Serve over rice.

Southern Brown Sugar Pie

Southern brown sugar pie is very similar to chess pie. The rich brown sugar flavor and caramelizing on top is just so good. It’s simple-looking, plain Jane, ho-hum. But watch out because there is a reason it’s the first dessert gone at holidays. The crispy caramelized crust on top… then the gooey brown sugar inside is so delicious. Amazing by itself, give it extra pizzazz with some whipped cream or butter pecan ice cream. It only has a few ingredients (ingredients often on hand anyway) so it’s perfect for a last-minute dessert too!


  • 1 pound light brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pie crust


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare pie pan with pie dough.
  3. Whisk together eggs and add in sugar, butter, and vanilla.
  4. Whisk together until combined well and smooth.
  5. Pour into pie pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Update: It might need longer. Check to see that pie is baked through (it will be gooey but it should be set all the way through).
  6. Note: You may need to put aluminum foil around pie crust edges to prevent them from getting too brown.


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Jeanne Garrett

Yeah, you should have bragging rights. Mississippi is the true south. Here in KY the Mason Dixon line vacillated back and forth like a teenage girl in love. We didn’t know who we were most of the time. Half my relatives were on one side and the other half on the opposite. Some branches of the family don’t speak to each other to this day. When they do get together it is usually over food like you have shown us. Food is the equalizer of people of all levels of society, socio-economical, race, or creed. Food brings people together. Thanks for sharing the recipes.

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