Happy National Southern Food Heritage Day!

October 11th is known as National Southern Food Heritage Day, and as many people know, southerners have quite a unique palate. Grits, Cheerwine, sweet tea, and hushpuppies are some of the more well-known southern foods and drinks. Yet, on National Southern Food Heritage Day, people throughout the South celebrate the dishes and treats that originated in our area, including the ones below.

  • King Cake: This special cake is a Mardi Gras tradition and not just in New Orleans. First appearing in 1870 and arriving in New Orleans from France, the king cake is a ring-shaped dessert topped with sugar and icing, in the colors of green, purple, and yellow. It is usually eaten on Fat Tuesday. Hidden inside the cake is a plastic baby doll. The person who finds it is “King for the Day” and is supposed to purchase next year’s cake or host a Fat Tuesday party. In addition, the baby doll symbolizes Jesus being visited by the three wise men on January 6th, which is also known as Holy Day, Epiphany, and the Twelfth Night.
  • Fried Foods(which can include any type of food): The South is known for fried green tomatoes, fried okra, fried fish, and just about fried anything. These battered delicacies come in a variety of different ways and can be made spicy. Other foods I have seen fried are butter, Oreos, and doughnuts. I would recommend trying these at your own discretion.
  • Pimento Cheese: According to Serious Eats website, pimento cheese originated in the 1870s with New York farmers. These New Yorkers started creating cream cheese, and Spain began sending canned red peppers or pimentos to the United States. In 1908, the two items appeared together in a Good Housekeeping recipe. Afterwards, the mixture became a hit, especially in the South. As a matter of fact, farmers in Georgia grew red peppers and sent them throughout the United States, adding to the craze. Over time, pimento cheese, which is also known as the “caviar of the South,” became a staple for many people below the Mason Dixon line. It is a mixture of pimentos, cream cheese, grated cheese, mayonnaise, peppers, and more. Pimento cheese is eaten on sandwiches, crackers, chips, or even on cheeseburgers.
  • Hummingbird Cake: This is another cake that is a tradition for many events. Ingredients include pineapple, banana, spices, pecans, and a cream cheese frosting. As for the hummingbird cake name, its history actually comes from Jamaica. Also known as the Doctor Bird Cake, this dessert is named after Jamaica’s national bird. It came to the United States in 1978 when it was printed in Southern Living with the recipe being written by L.H. Wiggins. Later that year, the cake won the Favorite Cake Award at the Kentucky State Fair. In 1990, Southern Living named the hummingbird cake its favorite recipe and the most requested recipe in the magazine’s history.
  • Boiled Peanuts: Remember the buckets of peanuts at Sagebrush Steakhouse or Texas Roadhouse? One can guess that these peanuts were boiled. Mainly popular in Georgia, boiled peanuts are a classic snack at baseball games, roadside stands, and restaurants. Historians believe this treat started in the Civil War after Union General William T. Sherman’s troops marched through Georgia. After the march, the South was depleted of resources and supplies for their troops. Peanuts became a main source of food, and when boiled over a fire with salt, soldiers discovered that the boiled peanuts would last up to seven days in their packs. Once the war ended, the love for boiled peanuts remained and continues to grow to this day.
  • Cheese Straws: Similar to breadsticks, cheese straws are the perfect southern appetizer and snack. Mainly consisting of flour, cheese, butter, and cayenne pepper, no one quite knows how cheese straws came to be, but some say it was created by a cook who mixed leftover biscuit dough and cheese together. Let’s just say no matter how this snack was invented, southerners are glad it was.
  • Charm Cakes: A Victorian-era tradition quickly grabbed the hearts of southerners and found its way into Southern weddings. Within charm cakes, little charms with significant meanings are attached to ribbon and hidden inside the cake. During a bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, or the actual wedding, each bridesmaid pulls out a charm. For example, the ring means you are the next to marry, seashell stands for eternal beauty, and a moon stands for opportunity.

Food is part of the South’s history and every family’s heritage. These timeless dishes are ones that most people in the South truly love and will continue to share with future generations.

Simple Southern Hush Puppies

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Hush puppies – one of my favorite Southern foods! Now, you can make them yourself using this simple recipe!

Ingredients: 

3/4 cup self rising flour
1 cup self rising corn meal (not mix)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 small onion, finely minced 
1 pinch garlic powder
1 pinch onion powder
1 pinch old bay seasoning
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
Canola oil for frying
Directions:
1. In large mixing bowl, mix together flour and cornmeal. Add egg, onion and spices. Add buttermilk and stir with fork just until blended. Mixture should be farily stiff. Add a little bit more buttermilk, if necessary.
2. Heat oil in deep fryer to 375 degrees. Drop dough by teaspoons into hot oil and fry until hush puppies rise to the top and are golden brown. Remove from fryer and drain on paper towels.
Enjoy!
xoxo,
Megan

Nana’s Homemade Mac and Cheese

macaroni-and-cheese

The last week before Christmas can be stressful and busy. There is last-minute shopping, baking treats for loved ones, and finalizing Christmas Eve and Day plans. While this time is enjoyable, you might not be thinking about your daily life practices, such as eating regular meals. Never fear, I have the perfect to-go dish for any pre-Christmas dinner – my Nana’s homemade mac and cheese (my favorite meal ever!)

Nana’s Homemade Mac and Cheese: 

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook macaroni for 9 minutes. Drain, cover, and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In medium saucepan, melt butter. Blend in flour, mustard, salt, and pepper.
  3. Cook until mixture is smooth and bubbly; gradually add in milk.
  4. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils; simmer 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Gradually mix in cheese. Stir over low heat until cheese is melted.
  6. Add pasta; mix together lightly and pour into 2-quart casserole.
  7. Bake 25 minutes.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

 

To Inspire and Motivate- My Mom

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

If you are like me, you are wondering how on earth will you find the right present for a woman who deserves the world. To honor my mother on this special day, I’m taking a look back at a previous post, written just for her.

For today’s “To Inspire and Motivate,” here is my letter “Dear Mom.”

—-

Dear Mom,

Recently, I have seen a lot of “Dear So and So” letters floating around the Internet. So, I decided to write one to my biggest supporter and hero, my mother. Below are the top five things she has taught me that I wanted to pass along in my “Dear Mom” letter (trust me, there are tons I have learned from her, but I’ll just share a few for now:) ).

Dear Mom,

What can I say? Thank you for being my biggest supporter and always being there for me. Thank you for teaching me that:

1. Everyone deserves love and respect–no matter what. End of story, no more explanation needed.

2. Over celebrate a person’s birthday.  Everyone deserves a special day, where the attention is on them.

3. It’s okay to be organized. Sometimes we need to have things colorized, alphabetized, sorted by size, etc.

4. Family comes before everything else. This is the group of people who will love and support you during the good and bad times. Family doesn’t have to be blood-related, they just have to be there for you and you need to be there for them.

5. It’s okay to break down and fall apart, as long as you get yourself back up. My mom never stops trying. She tackles everything life throws at her with class, charm, and gumption.

xoxo,

Megan

Cheerwine Cupcakes

I love this recipe for recipe Wednesday! And there is nothing more Southerner than a cup of ice cold Cheerwine. Don’t know what Cheerwine is?  The beverage is a cherry soft-drink, founded in North Carolina. Trust me, it is a must-try!

This soft-drink has multiple uses, including being made into quick and easy cupcakes!

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 12 ounces Cheerwine
  • 1/8 teaspoon cherry flavor
  • Maraschino cherries
Frosting: 
  • 4 cups Cheerwine
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2-3 cups of powdered confectioner sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line cupcake pans with liners and set aside
  2. Whisk together cake mix, Cheerwine, and cherry flavor. Pour into prepared pans and bake according to package instructions. Cool completely.
  3. In a saucepan, boil down the Cheerwine until it has reduced to 1/2 cup.
  4. In a mixer, cream butter and 2 cups of powdered sugar on medium speed. Slow speed to low and add Cheerwine reduction. Increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, adding additional sugar if needed.
  5. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes and top with maraschino cherries.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Megan

Operation: Remembering Veterans

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Every veteran has a story, lessons, and memorable events in history to share.

I have always been passionate about remembering veterans and giving them the respect they deserve. Back in high school, I completed my Gold Award in Girl Scouts. (The Gold Award is very similar to the Eagle Award in Boy Scouts.) For this project, I created tributes for veterans at a local senior citizens center. Each solider  and their family got a special scrapbook with the military story inside. In addition, I designed a memorial (pictured above) for the center. “Operation: Remembering Veterans” was inspired by my own grandfather’s World War II stories. 

To make a long story short, my point is that every veteran’s stories and experiences deserve to be remembered. These tales are part of history and once that person is gone, we can never get the stories back. 

My task for you is to write down and create a tribute for the special veteran(s) in your life. Make sure their story is available for many generations to come. Interview them, ask questions, and see if they have any mementos or pictures from their military time.

Don’t know a veteran? Go to a local nursing home, veterans’ hospital, or senior center and work with them there. Trust me, a simple “thank you” and a simple tribute, such as this, can go a long way. Plus, you can even get their story put into the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress. 

Remember the task? Good. Now, let’s get “Operation: Remember Veterans” going.

For more information on the Veterans History Project, visit: https://www.loc.gov/vets/.

Reasons Why I Love “Growing Up Southern”

IMG_3757(A Southern belle can never have too many bows, rights??)

My childhood can be described as summers spent outside, chasing fireflies and falls spent at the county fair, enjoying the simple things in life. There are many things I could pick out that I love about my childhood, yet, I always come back to my ultimate favorite-I was able to grow up in the South.

Growing up Southern is a privilege, in my opinion. Yes, I am a little bias, because this is the only place I’ve grown up. Growing up Southern is more than just celebrating the different seasons or food. Growing up Southern is about the people, manners, and lessons learned.

Here are 12 reasons why I love growing up in the South.

1: Respect for elders is one of the most important things.

2: Also, respect for your momma and daddy is crucial.

3: Almost every sentence should include a “ma’am” or “sir.”

4: It is better to overdress for any occasion. (Football games, church, you name it-overdress.)

5: Handwritten letters don’t go out of style.

6: Your family will always support you and will always be the most important thing in your life.

7: In the summer, curfews are dictated by lightning bugs.

8: Southern food is the best and you will learn how to cook your grandma’s recipes by the time you are 20.

9: There is no need to be in a rush for everything.

10: Southern hospitality is a way of life that you will master by the time you are also 20.

11: School is canceled when the first flakes of snowfall.

12: You wouldn’t want to grow up anywhere else but in the South.

xoxo,

Megan

Christmas in July, Final Day

Today is the last day of my Christmas in July extravaganza! Grab your family together and create a new tradition, all while enjoying some festive holiday tunes.

A Book A Day

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Place 24 wrapped books under the Christmas tree. These books can relate to the meaning of the holiday, favorites of your children, or any type of book you would like. Starting December 1 and going through the 24th, unwrap one of the books each night. Have fun and be creative with this exciting tradition!

Favorite Holiday Songs

Add some Christmas music to your holiday with some of my favorites.

1. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

2. “O Holy Night”

3. “The Christmas Song”

4. “White Christmas”

5. “Christmas in Dixie”

Until next time, have a fantastic Christmas in July! Seems the perfect time to say “Mele Kalikimaka!”

xoxo,

Megan

Going to Carolina in My Mind 

June 26

North Carolina-one of my favorite places in the world. Trust me, I could make you fall in love with everything Tarheel state related and here’s why:

1. We have the best of both worlds-beautiful mountains and beaches.
2. UNC v. Duke basketball rivalry is a can’t miss.
3. The Wright Brothers and the gift of aviation.
4. We have all four seasons.
5. BBQ–need I say more?
6. There is a city for all types of people.
7. There are TONS of places to have fun for a day-trip, such as Carowinds, The Biltmore Estate, and the Outer Banks.
8. We all know the wonderful taste of Cheerwine.
9. North Carolina is known as “The Hollywood of the East Coast.”
10. You can’t beat the music and musicians from the state. James Taylor, Scotty McCreery, Ben Folds….(the list goes on and on 🙂 )
xoxo,

Megan