By Ann Cipperly

As Christmas approaches, many of us are focused on the reason for the season more than ever. We are not busy planning or attending parties or other events. The dinner on Christmas day will be just for those who live in our home or a few family members who have been staying safe. Even with empty chairs at the table, plan to celebrate the birth of Christ with a special meal.

However small Christmas will be this year, it will be much grander than what my parents experienced growing up during the Depression years.

The seventh child in his family, my father was born when his mother was in her 40s and his father was 53 years old. When Dad was 7 years old, he came home from school to learn that his mother had severe rheumatoid arthritis and would never walk again. He began then to help take care of his parents.

Dad loved books but only had a few as a child since his parents were poor farmers. His favorite thing in life was school, and he skipped at least one grade. He regretted the days he had to work the farm and missed going to school.

Dad looked forward to Christmas. A few days before, his crippled mother would manage to get around in the kitchen enough to bake a chocolate cake. She placed the cake in a pie safe. Dad would walk by the cabinet several times a day thinking about how good that cake would be on Christmas day.

Christmas morning he woke up to find his gifts that he treasured. There were apples, oranges and nuts for his gifts, and this was the only time of year he had those. Dad would smile big, and his eyes would sparkle while telling stories of finding those delicious fruits and nuts on Christmas morning.

Years later, I realized Dad was happy with the meager gifts because he focused on what he had and not on what he did not have or get. He carried this attitude his entire life, and he taught us kids to be thankful to God for everything in our life, no matter how small.

This Christmas, I am carrying on Dad’s tradition of focusing on what we have and not that which we don’t have or what we are not able to do this year.

Recently, as I was putting apples in a wire basket on the kitchen island, I thought of Dad being so happy to have them at Christmas. We almost always have apples in the kitchen and don’t even think about them being anything special.

A great deal has changed since the Depression, but this year has been uncertain and caused many of us to stay home, realizing that every day is precious. Most of us have more stuff than we need, and we don’t even think about it.

This year more people in our community are hurting with the loss of loved ones or their job. Christmas will be very different from last year. Now is the time to think about giving more than ever this year to those in need.

Although we can’t have as many people in our homes now, we can think of those not able to cook much or who are lonely without any family. We can pack up covered plates to leave at their door.

 Whatever Christmas is like at your home this year, may you focus on the good things in your life and find peace and hope in celebrating the birth of Christ.

Mulled Christmas Cider

Hayley Welsh

Berry Women’s Club Cookbook

2-quart apple cider

1 ½ quart cranberry juice

½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

8 to 10 cinnamon sticks (3 inch)

10 to 15 whole allspice

20 to 25 whole cloves

Combine all ingredients in a 6-quart pot. Bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Strain; discard spices. Refrigerate cider until needed. Reheat for serving. Serve warm or well chilled. Makes 12 cups.

Christmas Tree Shaped Cheese Spread

Fran Plott

Cheese Spread:

2 pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar

1/4 cup minced onion

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic powder or more to taste

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp. salt

Mix all together and form a ball. Chill in refrigerator an hour or up to 3 days.

To make tree shape:

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or chopped fresh parsley

3 to 4 thinly sliced green bell pepper rings or chopped

Chopped red pepper

Roll cheese ball in chopped pecans or parsley, fully coating surface. Flatten the ball and form a triangle, turning the bottom points up and elongating the top point to make it look like a tree. Decorate the tree with green pepper strips and chopped red pieces or with chopped red and green peppers. Serve with crackers of choice.

Janet’s Christmas Wreath Appetizer

Kathryn W. Whetstone

Two 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

½ cup Miracle Whip (or other mayonnaise)

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Combine above and add:

10 crisply cooked bacon strips, cooled and crumbed

¼ cup sliced green onions

Chill. Can be frozen. If desired, shape into a wreath garnished heavily with parsley. Use pimento or red bell peppers to create a bow. Janet received recipe from Bette Walker.

Perfect Beef Tenderloin

Kathy Barrett

Sometimes Kathy will sprinkle a small amount of Dale’s sauce over the beef before baking.

Whole beef tenderloin

Salt and pepper to taste
Salt and pepper tenderloin. Cut in half if needed to fit pan. I usually use a broiler pan with rack. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Cook the tenderloin at 500 degrees for 5 minutes per pound. Example: for a 6-pound tenderloin, cook at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. 

Turn the oven off and leave for 2 hours – DO NOT OPEN OVEN DOOR. Note: If you cut tenderloin in half cook for 4 minutes per pound at 500 degrees then turn oven off.

Stuffed Baked Potatoes with Horseradish Cream

6 large baking potatoes

6 Tbsp. butter

½ cup sour cream

2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish, drained (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Horseradish Cream:

½ cup sour cream

2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish, drained

2 to 3 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped (or 2 tsp. dried)

Salt to taste

Bake potatoes in 400-degree oven for 1 hour or until fork tender; cool 10 minutes. Carefully slice top of each potato and scoop out pulp, leaving a wall of pulp around potato.

Mash pulp with butter, sour cream and horseradish; salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mashed potatoes back into shells. May be prepared a day ahead at this point. For a milder flavor, omit horseradish in stuffing.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake potatoes for 35 to 40 minutes. In a small bowl, combine Horseradish Cream ingredients (can be prepared day ahead). Remove potatoes from oven, place on serving platter; spoon cream topping on each. Garnish with additional fresh dill, if desired. Serves 6.

Gratin of Yukon Gold Potatoes with Bacon

Linda Letlow

Can make this a day ahead and reheat.

12 oz. bacon slices, chopped

2½ cups whipping cream

1½ cups whole milk

3 ½ lb. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

2 cups grated Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Butter a 13 x 9 baking dish. Cook bacon until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels and drain.

Mix cream and milk in a 4 cup measuring cup. Layer 1/3 of potatoes in baking dish, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper. Top potatoes with 1/3 cheese and 1/3 of bacon. Pour 1 cup cream mixture over. Repeat layering.

Top with remaining potatoes. Sprinkle with ½ tsp. salt, ½ tsp. pepper, remaining cheese and bacon. Pour remaining cream mixture over.

Bake gratin uncovered until potatoes are tender and cream mixture thickens, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. You can make this one-day ahead. Refrigerate and reheat covered with foil in a 375 oven for about 30 minutes.

Ronny’s Prime Rib Roast

Libba Herring

1 (8-10 lb.) boneless ribeye roast

Garlic slices

½ cup port wine

½ cup Dale’s steak sauce

½ cup olive oil

Dry rub:

¼ cup kosher salt

¼ cup coarse black pepper

¼ cup garlic powder

1/3 cup coarse oregano

4 garlic cloves (sliced into 8 pieces each)

For best results, the roast may be prepared the night before, but if not, at least 6 hours before cooking.

With fat side (convex) up, use a thin filet knife to make 4 punctures about 1-1 ½ inches deep per row. Alternate punctures on each row approximately 1 inch apart down the length of the roast inserting garlic slices as you work.

Mix wine and Dale’s, adding ¼ – ½ cup water to dilute slightly. Using an injector syringe, inject 1½ cups liquid into roast from topside. Wrap roast in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Remove from refrigerator and coat generously with olive oil. Sprinkle dry seasonings on in this order: salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano.

Roast uncovered at 450 in oven or on grill for 15 to 20 minutes, then reduce temp to 300, and roast for 2 ½ to 3 hours or until center registers 145 (medium rare). Ends of roast will be medium well. Remove from oven and cover with foil. Let roast rest for 15 minutes to absorb juices. Pour off remaining juice while slicing. This makes the au jus. Skim off fat from au jus, add water and bring to a boil in small pan. Serve with roast.

Southern Glazed Baked Ham

Amanda Wunderlich

1/2 cup Dr. Pepper (regular-not diet)

3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 spiral sliced bone-in half ham (7-10 lb.)

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer about 8 minutes until syrupy and measures 3/4 cup.

Bake ham according to directions on package and apply cooled glaze last 10 minutes.

With ham end up (largest part flat on the pan), apply half of glaze over ham. Cover with foil; return to oven for final 10 minutes.

Remove from oven. Carefully turn ham on its side, and brush with remaining glaze.

Slow Cooker Cranberry Pork Roast

Karen Anderson

2 1/3 lb. to 3 lb. boneless rolled pork loin (not a
16 oz. can jellied cranberry sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
Place pork roast in a slow cooker sprayed with Pam.
In a medium bowl, mash cranberry sauce, stir in sugar,
juice and spices. Pour over roast. Cover and cook
on low for 6 to 8 hours (I like 8). Don’t take lid off at all while it is cooking.

Helen Whatley’s Ambrosia

Kathryn W. Whetstone

20 navel oranges, peeled and sectioned

2 cups shredded coconut

1 ½ cup fresh pineapple chunks

3 oz. Maraschino cherries with juice

1 cup sugar or to taste

Combine and serve in crystal bowl.

Christmas Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

Amanda Wunderlich

2 bags mixed baby greens

1/2 pint fresh raspberries

1 small log goat cheese, crumbled

1 cup toasted walnuts

Combine ingredients in salad bowl. Serve with the vinaigrette.

Raspberry Vinaigrette:

3 Tbsp. raspberry jam

1/4 cup raspberry vinegar

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, finely minced

1 tsp. finely minced shallot

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup fresh raspberries
In a medium bowl, whisk together jam, vinegars, vanilla, sugar, thyme and shallot. Season liberally with salt and white pepper. While whisking, slowly add the oils, and whisk until the dressing thickens. Stir in the raspberries. This dressing is best if made at least 2 hours in advance, and will keep refrigerated up to one week. (Note: you can make the dressing in the blender for a smoother texture before adding the fresh raspberries.)

Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms

Trudy Baker

1½ lb. fresh mushrooms

¼ cup chopped onions

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 Tbsp. olive oil

¼ cup dry white wine

¼ cup soft breadcrumbs

14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

3 green onions, chopped

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

Rinse and pat mushrooms dry. Remove stems and chop; set mushroom caps aside.

Sauté mushroom stems, onion and garlic in hot oil in skillet over medium heat 5 minutes until onion is tender.

Add wine and cook 2 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Stir in breadcrumbs. Remove from heat; let cool.

Combine onion mixture, artichokes and next 5 ingredients. Spoon 1 tsp. into each mushroom cap. Place on a lightly greased rack on a roasting pan. Bake at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden. Makes 25 to 30.

Holiday Broccoli Ring

Nancy Whatley

Two 10-oz. pkgs. frozen broccoli flowerets

¼ cup chicken broth

3 Tbsp. butter

3 Tbsp. flour

1 cup sour cream

4 or 5 green onions, chopped

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

½ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. white pepper

½ tsp. grated nutmeg

½ cup slivered almonds

Green food coloring, optional

Sautéed mushrooms, optional

Cook broccoli until tender; drain. Place in blender with chicken broth; blend well. Do this in two batches with half of the broth each time.

Melt butter in a skillet and add flour. Add green onions and sour cream. Stir until thick; add eggs. Stir in cheese until melted. Add broccoli, seasonings and almonds. Add a little food coloring. Spoon into greased one-quart ring mold. Cool; wrap and freeze.

On day of serving, remove from freezer two hours ahead. Place mold in pan adding one to two inches boiling water. Bake at 350 degrees for 1½ hours. Insert knife to test if set. Remove mold from water. Let stand for 5 minutes and then unmold. Fill center with sautéed mushrooms, if desired.

Cream Cheese Coconut Pecan Pound Cake

Cora Reames

1½ cups butter, softened

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

3 cups sugar

6 large eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. salt

¼ cup milk

1½ tsp. vanilla

½ cup sweetened shredded coconut

1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Cream butter and cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth; slowly add sugar and beat at medium speed until mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until yellow disappears before adding another.

Sift together flour and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in coconut, pecans and vanilla. Pour batter into 12-cup greased and floured tube pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1½ hours or until long wooden pick comes out clean. Cool in cake pan on racks for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pan to cool completely on rack.


Mix together 2 cups powdered sugar, 3 to 4 Tbsp. milk and 1 tsp. vanilla, stirring until smooth. Add another tsp. of milk, if needed, until spreading consistency. Spoon over cake top.


Carol Dillard

This recipe was passed down from my mother. When I taught catering at Auburn University, this recipe was used on numerous occasions when we served a dinner. It was always a favorite among the guests, and it is also a family favorite!

6 egg whites

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Beat egg whites until stiff. Add cream of tartar and sugar.

Beat 6 egg yolks well.


1/2 cup sugar

4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

4 Tbsp. cocoa

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

Fold mixture into egg whites. Spread into a jellyroll pan that has been greased and lined with wax or parchment paper and then greased again. Bake 325 degrees for 25 minutes.

Turn onto a clean towel that has been generously dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Remove paper from cake and carefully roll the cake in the towel. More confectioners’ sugar may be added if cake seems to stick to the towel.

Let cake completely cool in the towel.


1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp. vanilla (can substitute 3 Tbsp. Kahlua or Amaretto)

When cake is completely cool, unroll and spread the above mixture over cake. Then carefully re-roll without the towel.

You may sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, pipe with whipped cream or sprinkle with sliced almonds or chocolate coffee beans. Refrigerate.

When ready to serve, slice 1/2 inch thick. If you have any leftovers, wrap well and freeze.

Birthday Cake for Jesus

Holly Muncie

This is a Christmas Eve tradition for us to make together as a family, and all of the kids help frost it.

1 white cake mix

1 cup whole milk

1 stick butter, melted

3 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tin with cupcake holders or prepare cake pans with Pam with flour.

Place all ingredients in mixing bowl. Beat on low for 1 minute; scrape sides. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Divide evenly among cupcake holders or cake pans.

Bake according to cake mix directions or until golden.

Remove from oven; cool in pan 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove and continue cooling on a rack. Do not frost until completely cool.

Vanilla Frosting:

1/2 cup solid Crisco

4 tsp. vanilla

6 cups powdered sugar

1/3 to 1/2 cup milk

Mix Crisco, vanilla, sugar, and 1/3 cup milk until smooth. Beat this for a long time to get it fluffy — you cannot over beat it. Add remaining milk, if needed. If it looks too thin, add more sugar. Too thick, add more milk. Mix in food coloring, if desired.

Pipe onto cupcakes with a star tip (32 or 1M) in a Ziploc or piping bag. Keep refrigerated for an hour or two before serving.