Holiday Time

Only in the South: Celebrate the Arrival of 2020 with Unique New Year's Eve Drops (December 2019)

Log on to Cyber Monday Deals (December 2019)

Southern Hospitality Traveler's Favorite Things About October (October 2019)

Honor the Red, White and Blue in the South with Independence Day Celebrations (July 2019)

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler! Celebrating Mardi Gras 2019 (February 2019)

Pickle, Pelican or Peach: The Many Unique Ways the South Welcomes in the New Year (December 2018)

Get Into the Holiday Spirit with the 29th Annual Smoky Mountain Winterfest (November 2018)

17 Celebrations Honoring the Red, White and Blue (June 2018)

Celebrate Mom this Mother's Day with Getaways and Experiences (May 2018)

"Throw me Somethin' Mister!" Celebrating Mardi Gras 2018 (January 2018)

Beach Ball, Fleur-De-Lis, MoonPie: Unique New Year's Eve Drops in the South (December 2017)

25 Festive Events to Keep that Holiday Feeling Through the New Year (December 2017)

Awe-Inspiring Gingerbread Displays at Various Hotels and Resorts Around the South (December 2017)

Fun and Fireworks: 14 Events Celebrating Independence Day (June 2017)

Celebrate 2017 Mardi Gras in the South (February 2017)

Three Festive Ways to Avoid Going Stir Crazy Before the Holidays (December 2016)

30 Ways to Get Your "Jingle" On in the South (December 2016)

Five Ways to Experience the Holidays "Louisiana-Style" (December 2016)

"Brighten Up" Your Holidays with These Holiday Light Displays (November 2016)

Red, White, Blue and You: Fourth of July Celebrations in the South (July 2016)

Drops, Celebrations and More: Memorable Ways to Welcome in 2016 (December 2015)

Spark Your Holiday Spirit with the Many Events Happening Around the South (December 2015)

Six Places to Celebrate the Holiday Season (December 2015)

So Many Ways to Kick Off the Holiday Season in the South (November 2015)

14 Dazzling Holiday Light Displays Throughout the South to Enjoy Now (November 2015)

Celebrate the Holidays in Minden and North Louisiana with the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights (November 2015)

New Twist on an Old Favorite: Amping Up the Grilled Cheese (April 2015)

Celebrate National Soup Month Anytime with Recipes from Benchmark Resorts & Hotels (January 2015)

Move Over Ball Drop - This is How the South Welcomes in the New Year (December 2014)

Ways to Get Your Holiday On in the South (December 2014)

Liven Up Your Thanksgiving Meal with Some Myrtle Beach, S.C.-Style Comfort Foods (November 2014)

Warm Up the Days and the Nights with These Chili Recipes (October 2014)

Creating the Perfect Cheeseburger with Crawford Ker on National Cheeseburger Day (September 2014)

Celebrate National Martini Day with these Recipes (June 2014)

It's Great to be King...Celebrating Mardi Season with King Cake Creations (February 2014)

Celebrate Your Valentine with a Getaway (February 2014)

A MoonPie, Pickle, Red Stick and More...Welcoming in the New Year in the South (December 2013)

Celebrate the Holidays with a New Orleans' Reveillon Dinner (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide...Packages and Escapes (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Books (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Food and Beverage (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Made in the South (December 2013)

2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Experiences in the South (December 2013)

End Your Holiday Meal on a Sweet Note courtesy of Chef Sara Thomas (November 2013)

From Their Table to Yours: Holiday Recipes from The Carolina Inn (November 2013)

Firing Up the Grill: Tips and Recipes for a Successful and Tasty Grilling Season (May 2013)

Breakfast for Mom, Southern-Style (May 2013)

Mom-Worthy Hotels in the South (May 2013)

Talkin' Mardi Gras, Shreveport, La. Style (February 2013)

Southern Style: 13 Things You Must Do in 2013 (January 2013)

Holiday Joy: Tips for Creating the Perfect Gingerbread House (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Secret is in the Sauce at Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Make It Memorable and Give the Gift of an Experience (December 2012)

8 Reasons to Visit Louisiana’s Holiday Trail of Lights this Season (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Chef's Table at Emeril's Delmonico (December 2012)

Absolutely Southern Gift Guide: Simply Ballastone Cookbook (November 2012)

Treat Your Mom to One of These Eight Southern Destinations (May 2012)

Seeing Various Shades of Green: St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations in the South (March 2012)

It’s Mardi Gras Time in the South (February 2012)

Celebrate Elvis Presley’s Birthday in the South (January 2012)

A MoonPie, a Pickle, a Horseshoe and More: Ringing in the New Year Southern-Style (December 2011)

Celebrate the Holidays New Orleans-Style with a Reveillon Dinner (December 2011)

"Treat" Yourself this Holiday Season with (November 2011)

Holiday Fun in the South After Thanksgiving (November 2011)

Holiday Fun at Gaylord Opryland (November 2011)

Tours and Treats Along Virginia’s Inn to Inn Cookie Trail and Tour (November 2011)

Celebrating Milestones in the South (August 2010)

5 Activities that Add a "Sizzle" to Your Summer Vacation (June 2010)

Forget Gifts, Give Experiences This Mother’s Day (April 2010)

Celebrating Mardi Gras 2010 (February 2010)

Published: May 2013
Firing Up the Grill: Tips and Recipes for a Successful and Tasty Grilling Season  

It's that time of the year again - time to to fire up the grill and prepare an outdoor feast for your family and friends. Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of the grilling season. If your grilling isn't all what it could be or maybe you are looking for a few pointers to create a "wow"-ness factor, you've come to the right place. Read on for some tips and recipes to make your BBQ stand out.

Tips from “Pit Master” Andrew Evans, Chef & Owner, The BBQ Joint [Easton, Md.]

"Marinate large shrimp, shell on, with lemon peel, crushed garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, chopped Italian parsley and salt and pepper for 1 hour. Flash grill on a super hot grill. Serve with anything! "

"Grill Flat Iron steak after marinating in an IPA beer with onions for two hours.  Grill steak and onions together after seasoning with salt and pepper."

"Divide your grill in two with fire on one side. Put pieces of salmon on the side with no fire and hot smoke with apple chips at 250 degrees until 160 degrees internal."

And Robert St. John, Executive Chef, Purple Parrot Cafe [Hattiesburg, Miss.] and author of New South Grilling, adds,

"Never use lighter fluid or charcoal already soaked in lighter fluid. For the best-tasting grill food, use only pure hardwood lump charcoal."

"Barbecue sauce always goes on at the last minute, if at all."

"Don't pierce meat with a fork or knife to check if it's done. Learn how to grill by touch."

Every want to prepare your own Grilled Red Fish "on the Half-Shell"? Find out the secret of this signature dish of Ralph Brennan's Red Fish Grill from Ralph Brennan himself.

"The 'on the Half-Shell' cooking method, calls for grilling only on one side, with the scales and skin side down. The benefits of this increase the succulence and flavor. Baking or broiling does not achieve the same results, since the heat source must come from the bottom. Hickory chips impart sweetness, and soaking the hickory will increase the smoke flavor."

Barbecuing chicken? Haley Bittermann, Executive Chef, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group [New Orleans] recommends sous vide!

“It is often difficult to cook barbecue chicken evenly without burning the outside. To avoid that problem, remove the skin and sous vides the chicken first. It comes out tender, juicy, healthier (by removing the skin and you don't have to add any additional fat), and doesn't burn on the outside. Another benefit is that you can sous vide the chicken ahead of time during the day and leave it in the circulator until you are ready to grill.”

Flavor with sea salts, says Steven Marsella, Executive Chef, Heritage Grill [New Orleans]

“There are so many different types of salts and sea salts today that using them to finish grilled meats or vegetables can accent the flavors of what you are grilling. For example using a smoked sea salt to finish grilled salmon or chicken, truffle salt on grilled veal chops or grilled mushrooms, or fennel salt on shrimp.”

Matthew Britt, Executive Chef of Ceiba [Washington, DC] recommends kicking up your grilled with with Chipotle Lime Cilantro Oil Marinade

"I love grilling jumbo shrimp marinated with chipotle lime cilantro and oil.  Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a blender and purée. Coat the shrimp and grill. Serve with lime wedges and if you want to be extra fancy, you can skewer them with a sugar cane."

Spring Onions add an element to any dish, says Ian Schnoebelen, Executive Chef, Mariza [New Orleans]

“I love to grill spring onions and serve with meat, fish or by themselves.  Just toss with some extra virgin olive oil, lemon, and sea salt and throw on the grill!”

Ready to fire up your grill? Here's a few recipes for you to try.

Dr. Pepper Glazed Ham

courtesy of Robert St. John, New South Grilling

Yield: 10-14 servings


24 ounces Dr. Pepper

2 tablespoons Mayhaw Jelly (or Muscadine Jelly)

2 whole Bay leaves

2 tablespoons  Pickapeppa Sauce

1 teaspoons  Garlic, minced

2 tablespoons  Shallot, minced

5 whole  Cloves

1 whole Cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon  Fresh orange zest

.75 cup  Orange juice, freshly squeezed

2 teaspoons  Lemon zest

2 teaspoons  Lime zest

1 whole Cured smoked ham, 10-12 lbs.

1 teaspoon  Dry mustard

1 cup  Light brown sugar


Prepare grill for low heat cooking and soak 4 cups of wood chips.

Combine all ingredients for the glaze in a small saucepot. Place over medium heat and simmer 30 minutes.

Strain the liquid and discard the solids.

Return the mixture to the stove and reduce to 3/4 cup liquid. Place the ham on a v-shaped baking rack in a disposable roasting pan.

Using a paring knife, cut shallow slits in a criss-cross pattern on the top of the ham. Spoon two tablespoons of the glaze over the top of the ham. Combine the dry mustard and brown sugar, and press the mixture over the entire surface of the ham. Pour one cup of water into the bottom of the roasting pan.

Prepare the grill or smoker. Add wood chips to the charcoal as needed. Cook over  indirect medium heat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the glaze over the ham every 15-20 minutes until all of the glaze is gone. Cover as much of the surface of the ham as possible.

Allow the ham to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. If you don’t have an aluminum disposable roasting pan, use a roasting pan that has been completely lined with foil

Smoked White Fish with Brine

courtesy of Chef Andrew Evans, Owner, The BBQ Joint – Easton, MD


10-12  White fish fillets [or as much as desired]

4 cups Water

.5 cup Sea salt

.5 cup Sugar

2 each Lemons, halved and squeezed

2 each Bay leaves

To taste Crushed peppercorns

To taste Thyme, fresh

Italian Parsley, fresh

Oregano, fresh

Chervil, fresh


To create the brine, boil water to a simmer, add salt and sugar.  Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes. Add remaining ingredients.  Refrigerate to chill or until ready for use.

Clean the fish and soak in cold brine for 2-3 hours for small fish, and 6-10 hours for larger fish.

Once marinated, smoke for 1 hour at 225 degrees Fahrenheit with apple wood until reaching a 160-165 degree internal temperature.

Remove from smoker and serve warm or cold.

Grilled Redfish “On the Half-Shell” With Maitre D’Hotel Butter

courtesy of Ralph Brennan, Owner, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group and author of Ralph Brennan’s New Orleans Seafood Cookbook

Yields: 6 servings

Recommended alternate species: pompano, salmon, sea bass. If you’d like the fish to have a smokier flavor, soak the wood chips for at least four hours, or according to package directions, before grilling. Drain the chips just before using, but leave them dripping wet and add them after the fire is hot.


For brushing Salad Oil (not olive oil)

For brushing onto the grill rack and fish fillets

6 each Redfish Fillets

With skin and scales still attached on one side, each 6 to 8 ounces, neatly trimmed, including removing the “belly” if still attached

1 tablespoon Creole Seasoning

3 tablespoons Dry white wine, if grilling in batches


Clean the grill rack with a wire brush and preheat it until it is hot. Then add wet or dry hickory or other wood chips. Brush the rack with a thick wad of paper towels saturated in salad oil, holding the paper towels with long-handled tongs so you don’t burn yourself.

Place the fillets skin down on a work surface. Make sure the skinless sides are free of any loose scales. Brush the skinless sides with salad oil, and season each fillet evenly on the skinless side with .5 teaspoon Creole seasoning.

Once the grill is ready, place the fillets directly on it, skin side down, and cook until they are done, about five to eight minutes. The cooking time will vary according to the heat of the grill and the thickness of the fillets. (Watch closely so the fish does not overcook.) Do not turn over the fillets. Use a broad, large and sturdy spatula to lift each fillet from the grill at least once while cooking so it doesn’t stick excessively. To test for doneness, insert the tip of a knife into the thickest part of a fillet to separate the flesh a little to assess if it’s cooked all the way through.

If cooking the fillets in batches, transfer the cooked fillets, skin side down, to a heat-proof platter placed in a warm spot, and drizzle the fillets with white wine to keep them moist while grilling the remaining fish.

Serving Suggestion:  Once all the fillets are cooked, serve immediately, skin side down on heated dinner plates. Top the fillets with rounds of mâitre d’hôtel butter, using a total of 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of butter for each serving.

Maitre D’Hotel Butter

Yield: about 9 tablespoons

Note: In its classic French version, beurre maître d’hôtel contains simply butter, chopped parsley and lemon juice. But many New Orleans cooks like to add a few personal touches, such as garlic, thyme, shallots and even Herbsaint, the anisette liqueur that originated in the city.

Compound butters can provide a delightful finishing touch to an almost limitless number of dishes, especially grilled fish and poultry, and meats cooked in various ways. They also come in handy for finishing simple sauces and whenever you want to add a little extra flair to vegetables and starches.

Maître d’hôtel butter, like all compound butters, can be shaped into a log and rolled in parchment paper and plastic for storage in the refrigerator or freezer. When needed, it is sliced as you would slice a log of cookie dough.


.25 pound Unsalted Butter, left at room temperature until very soft

2 tablespoons Fresh Thyme Leaves, minced

2 tablespoons Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves, minced

1 tablespoon Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed

1.5 teaspoons Shallots, minced

1 teaspoon Garlic, minced

.25 teaspoon Kosher Salt

.5 teaspoon Black Pepper, freshly ground


Combine all ingredients together in a medium-size mixing bowl, whisking until well blended.

Serving Suggestion: Use immediately, or roll in waxed or parchment paper into a log that is about 5 inches long and 1.25 inches in diameter, then wrap the log snugly in plastic wrap. The butter will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or frozen for up to two months.

Cilantro Lime Marinade

Executive Chef Matthew Britt, Ceiba – Washington, DC

Yield: 2 cups


.5 can Chipotle in Adobo

.5 cup Lime Juice, fresh

2 each Garlic cloves

1 tablespoon Cilantro

1 teaspoon Salt

1 cup Olive Oil


Combine all ingredients in blender except oil and blend.

Slowly drizzle olive oil in to emulsify and reserve in the refrigerator to chill.

Enjoy the marinade over shrimp. It is best to coat the shrimp with the marinade roughly two hours prior to grilling to allow time for the flavor to set in.

For best results, season the marinated shrimp with salt and pepper and grill until cooked through. Serve with rice and lime wedges.

And of course, no barbecue is completed without a fabulous desert. Satisfy everyone’s sweet cravings with Chef Cory Bahr’s Banana Pudding.

Banana Pudding

Courtesy of Cory Bahr, Executive Chef, Cotton Restaurant

Yields: 8 servings

Banana Bread


4 ounces Unsalted Butter, softened

1 each Egg

2 each Egg Yolks

3 each Ripe Bananas, chopped

6 ounces Light Brown Sugar

1 tablespoon Steen’s Cane Syrup or Agave Nectar

1.3 cups All-Purpose Flour

.75 teaspoons Kosher Salt

.5 teaspoons Baking Soda

.25 teaspoons Baking Powder

.5 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon

.25 teaspoons Ground Ginger

For brushing Spiced Rum


Cream together butter, egg, egg yolks, bananas, brown sugar and cane syrup.

In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and ground ginger.

Combine the wet and dry mixtures until well blended. Pour batter into a greased 9 by 12 baking sheet. Bake in oven at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, turn onto a baking rack, and brush with your favorite spiced rum.

Salted Caramel Pudding


1 cup Heavy Cream

2 cups Whole Milk

1 each Bourbon Vanilla Bean, split and scraped

.25 cups Corn Starch

1.25 cups White Sugar

4 ounces Unsalted Butter, cubed

1 teaspoon Kosher Salt


Whisk together Heavy Cream, Milk, Vanilla Bean & Corn starch, and set aside.

Add sugar to a sauce pot placed on the stove over medium-high heat. Stir sugar constantly until a rich brown caramel has formed. Slowly add the milk mixture to the caramel, whisking constantly. Cook until mixture has thickened and is very smooth. Whisk in butter and season with salt. Set aside to cool.

Whipped Cream


1 cup Heavy Cream

.25 cups White Sugar

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract


Beat together all ingredients until desired consistency forms.


8 each Mason Jars
2 each Whole Bananas, Sliced


Cut the banana bread using a round cookie cutter so bread fits into the bottom of the major jar.

Layer bread with sliced bananas and 4 ounces of the caramel pudding. Top with whipped cream and garnish with fresh grated nutmeg.

Note: Puddings are better after one day, as the flavors blend together.

photos courtesy of Andrew Evans/BBQ Joint, New South Grilling, Red Fish/Ralph Brennan and Cory Bahr.