PHOTO GALLERY: Eating Our Way Through Asheville


My Top 5 Bites in Asheville (described in 3 words)!

This year on Fourth of July weekend we traded Florida beaches for Blue Ridge scenery in Asheville, North Carolina. We couldn’t get enough of the cool mountain temps, southern barbecue and farm-to-table eats.



#5 — Hummingbird Cake: Sweet. Moist. Sugar.
at Early Girl Eatery in Downtown Asheville




#4 — Smoked Trout Spread: Spicy. Creamy. Addictive.
at Edison Craft Ales + Kitchen in Omni Grove Park Inn





#3 — BBQ Sandwich: Meaty. Vinegary. Authentic.
at Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby, NC




#2 — Cheerwine Float: Sweet. Cold. American.
at Cook Out in Lincolnton, NC




#1 — Shoo Mercy Omelet: Southern. Cheesy. Stuffed.
at Tupelo Honey Café in South Asheville


Holly Jolly: Christmas Brunch Recipes

We hosted an early Christmas brunch with my side of the family last week, and everyone raved about all three of these recipes. The chocolate croissants were super easy, the shrimp and cheddar grits served as the ideal hearty-yet-light entrée, while the red velvet trifle stole the dessert show. Add in a few mimosas and you’re ready for some festive fun.

Wishing you and yours happy holidays!


Chocolate Croissants
Yields 16 croissants

2 cans (8-ounce) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Chocolate Croissants

Chocolate Croissants

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Separate crescent roll dough into 16 triangles. Sprinkle approximately 5-8 chocolate chips on top of each triangle. Press chips down lightly to get them to stick. Reserve remaining chocolate chips.

Roll up each crescent triangle and pinch ends, making sure chocolate doesn’t seep out once melted. Place on a cookie sheet and curve into croissant shape. Bake 12 to 17 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet and let cool for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining chocolate in the microwave, 10 minutes at a time. Drizzle over croissants and serve warm.



Shrimp and Creamy Cheddar Grits
This is my own variation of two different recipes that have been tripled to feed a crowd. Serves 6 brunch-size portions.

Shrimp and Cheddar Grits

Shrimp and Cheddar Grits

Ingredients for Shrimp
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ cups cooked ham, chopped (I used thick ham steaks, but you could also use tasso)
6 tablespoons chopped leek, white part only
6 tablespoons chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons chopped green bell pepper
40 medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 tablespoons white wine (I used Chardonnay)
3 cups heavy cream
¾ teaspoon black pepper
3 scallions, chopped, for garnish

In a large cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the ham and cook, stirring, until crisp, 7 to 9 minutes. Add the leek, onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until pink, 60 seconds or so. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.

Add the wine to the pan and cook for 30 seconds. Slowly add the cream and let reduce until thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Add the shrimp back into the sauce and serve over creamy cheddar grits. Garnish with scallions before serving.


Creamy Cheddar Cheese Grits
Makes 8 ½ cups

4 tablespoons butter
4 ½ cups milk
2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon hot sauce (I used Tabasco)
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 cups uncooked quick-cooking grits (not instant grits!)
1 (10-ounce) block sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated

Bring 2 tablespoons butter, next 4 ingredients, and 4 ½ cups water to a boil in a medium-size Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in grits, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons butter until melted. Serve immediately.




Red Velvet Trifle
Makes 10 Servings
One look at the photo of this beauty in my Southern Living Christmas Cookbook and I knew I had to make it. It looks gorgeous and tastes incredible! You can also prepare it overnight and assemble in the morning.

Red Velvet Trifle

Red Velvet Trifle

1 (18.25-ounce) package moist red velvet cake mix
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 pints fresh raspberries
Garnish: fresh mint sprigs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake batter as directed on box. Pour batter into a greased and floured 13- x 9-inch pan. Bake for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer 1 minute or until creamy. Add yogurt and next 2 ingredients. Beat 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Cover and chill.

Remove cake from oven. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan to a wire rack and cool completely (about 1 hour).

Invert cake onto a cutting board. Trim and discard edges of cake and then cut cake into 32 square pieces.

Arrange about one-third of cake pieces in a 3-quart trifle dish. Carefully spread one-third of chilled cream mixture over cake. Repeat layers 2 times, smoothing top layer of cream mixture over cake pieces. Top with raspberries and mint sprigs. Cover and chill 1 hour before serving.

Note: I prepared the cake and the cream cheese mixture the night before and assembled an hour before my guests arrived.


For more holiday recipes, check out our
Nice List: 12 Sweet Holiday Desserts.


PHOTO GALLERY: Eating Our Way Through New York City


My Top 5 Bites in New York City (described in 3 words!)

Veal Cutlet Parmigiana with Spaghetti at John’s of 12 Street

#5 – Veal Cutlet Parmigiana: Tender. Cheesy. Saucy.

John’s of 12th Street
302 E. 12th St.


Crab Meat Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) at Joe’s Shanghai Chinatown

#4 – Crab Meat Soup Dumplings: Hot. Delicate. Meaty.

Joe’s Shanghai Chinatown
9 Pell St.


Small regular pizza with extra grated cheese and pepperoni at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria

#3 – Pepperoni Pizza: Chewy. Tangy. Spicy.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria
1 Front St., Brooklyn


Montepulciano and Tiramisu at Grotto Azzurra Ristorante

#2 – Tiramisu: Creamy. Indulgent. Caffeine.

Grotto Azzurra Ristorante
177 Mulberry St.


The Classic Board with Everything Bagel at Russ & Daughters Café

#1 – The Classic Board with Everything Bagel: Simple. Authentic. Classic.

Russ & Daughters Café
127 Orchard St.


And because we had such a difficult time choosing just 5,
here are our honorable mentions:
New England Clam Chowder at Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant

New England Clam Chowder at Grand Central Oyster Bar

Pork & Veal Meatballs at The Lambs Club

Pork & Veal Meatballs at The Lambs Club

Cauliflower Goat Cheese Gratin at Bar Americain

Cauliflower Goat Cheese Gratin at Bar Americain