A Taste of Tradition

By Lucy Morris
From quirky and fun to sentimental, traditions lend significance to all sorts of societal events. One especially notable time of year for tradition is the holidays! These locals have seasonal recipes they create each year for gatherings, gifts, and good times. Read on to learn the recipes and what makes them special.

My kids and I have been making Oreo balls as holiday treats for our friends, family, neighbors, and teachers for years now. We always use the same recipe, and the kids really enjoy helping!


Parul Patel

with Aleyna, Ishani, and Arjun

Oreo Balls
  • 1 (16 ounce) package Oreo cookies, crushed
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (24 ounce) package white almond chocolate bark
  • 1 (24 ounce) package chocolate almond bark
  • Candy melts (assorted colors)

Using a blender, mix Oreos and cream cheese together. Roll into walnut-sized balls, then let chill for an hour.

Melt approximately 3/4 package of white almond bark in a bowl. Stick a toothpick in an Oreo ball and dip it in the melted candy coating. Allow to harden on wax paper (about 15 minutes). Repeat process with 1/4 package of chocolate almond bark.

When Oreo balls are no longer sticky to the touch, decorate with drizzles of candy melts (choose color to coincide with the holiday). This can be done using a sandwich bag with a tiny hole cut in one corner to drizzle the melted bark.

Two Notes:

“Bark” is an artificial chocolate or vanilla candy coating that can be found at most grocery stores. You can also use chocolate chips and white chocolate chips if you don’t have almond bark, but almond bark tends to melt better and is easier to work with.

The easiest (and least messy!) way to make the “dough” is to simply toss the cookies in a blender and chop. Once they’re at a crumb-like consistency, add the cream cheese and use the mixer in a large bowl so they’re smooth. This way, they roll into a nice round ball and don’t have the big cookie chunks a mixer cannot crush.

Photos by
Lanewood Studio

This Strawberry Salad has been made in my family since my mother was a child, especially during the holidays, since it goes so well with turkey or ham. The recipe came out of a Church Recipe Book from the early ‘70s. The salad is a must have with our family every year!

Paula McDaniel

Strawberry Jello Salad
  • 2 3-oz. packages of strawberry Jello
  • 1 large package of frozen strawberries
  • 1 small can of crushed pineapple
  • 1 8-oz. package of cream cheese
  • 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla
  • 1/2 pint of whipped cream
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Mix Jello in boiling water. Reserve 1/4 cup of Jello for topping; keep at room temperature. Add the frozen strawberries and pineapple to the remaining Jello. Mix and congeal.

Topping: Mix the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla together. Whip the cream cheese mixture and whipped cream together with the 1/4 cup of reserved Jello, then spread it on the congealed Jello. Sprinkle walnuts on top.

Photos by Terry Henson

Pictured left to right:  Betty Whaley, Kim Coffey, Tyler Barton, Anna Blaire Barton, Lori Barton, & Bennett Barton

As far as we know, this recipe originated from the time of King George II of England. We have been making it in the family for over 80 years. We typically make it the weekend after Thanksgiving, one batch at a time, and store the crock in a cool place and stir every day until Christmas Eve when we can enjoy it together.

Kim Coffey


  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1 jigger white rum
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup half-and-half

Beat egg yolks well. Add sugar and beat together until fluffy. Slowly add bourbon and rum. Separately, beat egg whites until stiff but fluffy. Add to first mixture.

Whip whipping cream stiff and fold into mixture. Add half-and-half.

Store in a crock in a cool place. Stir twice daily for 4 weeks, then it’s fermented and ready to serve. After 4-week fermentation period, store in refrigerator.

Note: If making a large quantity, you must make one recipe at a time.

Photos by Terry Henson

Deviled Turkey has reigned at my family’s holiday dinners for more than three decades. The recipe originates from my sister Sharon’s mother-in-law. The bird is rubbed with a blend of 11 spices, refrigerated for 24 hours, and then roasted all day in a slow oven. If you ever prepare a deviled turkey, with that spicy aroma wafting through the house and friends and family salivating for their first bite, I’d bet money that you will throw away all your other turkey recipes.

Cindy Schlabach

Deviled Turkey

Large turkey (16-20 lbs.), fresh or thawed, with neck and giblets removed

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil or butter
  • 2 tbsp. dried sage
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 2 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 3-4 bay leaves, finely crumble
  • 1/3 tsp. salt per pound of turkey
  • 2 tbsp. black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. flour

Turkey: Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Set in a large roaster that has a cover (or make one using heavy duty tinfoil). Rub the olive oil or butter over the outside of the bird. Using a very sharp knife, make 6 slits, one inch long each, in the breast meat.

Combine all the spices and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Generously sprinkle first the underside of the turkey, and then flip it over, breast side up, and continue to coat everything with the rub. Throw a bit in the cavity and push a little into the slits in the breasts. Use all of the rub to totally coat the turkey. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Early Thanksgiving morning, preheat the oven to 275-300˚. Add a cup of water to the bottom of the roaster and bake, covered, for about 8 hours. After 4 hours in the oven, start basting the bird with the juices in the bottom of the pan. Baste at least every hour, and near the end of the time, every 30 minutes.

It seems like a long time to roast a turkey, but you want it so tender and moist that you barely need to slice it, and can instead simply pull the meat off the bone. You should be able to poke the breast meat with your finger and it gives freely, with very little firmness left.

If you have a smaller turkey, use a little less of the spices and bake for an hour or so less.

Gravy: Pour some of the broth back over the cut turkey. Strain 1-2 cups of the juices to make gravy. Mix a few spoonfuls of flour dissolved in half a cup of cold water. Add this mixture, a little at a time, to the juices, whisking vigorously.

Photos by Terry Henson

On a trip to the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy in 2008, we fell in love with limoncello, a drink made throughout the region. Lemon trees – and their fragrance – are everywhere!  After sharing our trip experience with our friends Bob and Diana Samples, they surprised us with “an old family recipe” for making it at home. We’ve been doing so every year since, giving bottles of limoncello to friends and co-workers as Christmas gifts.

Paul & Linda Rader


  • 12 Myers Lemons, peeled (peel with as little white left on the peel as possible)
  • 1 bottle of Gilbey’s Vodka (1,750 ml)
  • 5 & 1/2 cups sugar
  • 5 & 1/2 cups water
  • Put lemon peels in a glass gallon jar, and pour vodka over them. Let sit (a week or more is best).

Then prepare a solution (simple syrup) of water and sugar, 5 & 1/4 cups each, by combining and bringing to a boil. Let solution cool, then slowly add to the lemon vodka mix. Let sit a few more days, then strain through a cheesecloth into decorative bottles and cork.

Photos by Terry Henson

I began making this cheesecake several years ago for our holiday gatherings. I am always looking for ‘do ahead’ recipes to keep the chaos to a minimum once our friends and family arrive. This cheesecake can be made two days in advance, then finished with topping and garnish a few hours before anyone arrives. I love how this recipe gives a pop of color to the table with the fresh cranberries and chocolate crust. The zest provides a subtle citrus flavor which pairs in amazing ways with the Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla.

Becky Farmer

with Paul Farmer

Cranberry-Orange Cheesecake


  • 1 9-oz. box of chocolate graham crackers, broken into large pieces
  • 2 oz. Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips
  • 5-6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted


  • 4 8-oz. packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 & 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. orange zest (careful to zest only the orange part)
  • 1 tsp. Madagascar bourbon vanilla extract


  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch (dissolved in 1 tbsp. water)
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 tsp. grated orange zest

For crust: Preheat oven to 325˚. Finely grind graham crackers and chocolate in food processor. Slowly drizzle in butter; blend until moist clumps form. Press crumb mixture onto the bottom and 1 & 1/4 inches up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake until set, about 8-10 minutes, then cool completely.

For filling: Increase oven temperature to 350˚. Wrap two layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil around bottom and up the sides of the springform pan (to prevent water from getting in). Set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on a high setting until light (this incorporates air into the mix). Turn the mixer to a lower setting, then beat in the flour. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, just until blended, then add the orange zest and vanilla extract.

Pour filling into crust. Place springform pan in large roasting pan. Fill roasting pan with enough very hot water to come halfway up the springform pan. Bake until the filling is just set in the center, about 55-65 minutes. The center should still move slightly when it is finished baking. Remove the cake from water bath; transfer to rack and cool completely. Cover and chill overnight.

For topping: Stir sugar and water in medium saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium; add cornstarch mixture and bring to a gentle simmer. Add cranberries; cook until beginning to pop, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Stir in orange zest. Cool completely. Cover and chill overnight. 

To serve: Top the cheesecake with the cranberry mixture leaving approximately 1 inch around the edge. Place mint leaves and 3-4 thin strips of orange peel on top. Release the pan sides. When ready to serve, get a large container of hot water. Place a sharp knife in the water, then quickly dry the knife. Cut the cheesecake with the warm/hot blade. This will prevent the filling from sticking to the knife and make a prettier slice on the dessert plate.

Photos by Karen Culp

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