Many 4th's of my childhood were spent at my grandparent's house in Arlington, VA, near Washington D.C. The cousins would all gather in the side yard for a game of badminton or wiffle ball while the "grownups" prepared a 4th of July feast. Of course the night ended with a fabulous mini fireworks display hosted by the Uncles and Grandpa. We never made it down to the Washington Monument to watch the big fire works but many times we watched from favorite spots in town with a great view.
I love the 4th of July. I love decorating the shop with flags and buntings. I love the color red, I love sparklers, and I love cook-outs and all of the traditional southern dishes that are served at them! I love the sense of pride that surrounds this special day, filled with concerts, parades, family gatherings, and fireworks.
My grandpa was a WWII vet and a history/government teacher so he never missed an opportunity to educate us on historical happenings and he did his best to instill in us a love of our country. He was a patriot through and through.
Though my 4th of July celebrations have become a bit more simple and quiet as an adult, it is still fun to get together and reflect on the blessings of living in an independent nation. Whether we get invited to a barbeque at a friend's house or just hang out with whoever is home on Alder St., we always eat well! The meal always includes something off the grill, and of course potato salad. We southerners love our potato salad. There are so many delicious versions of this classic dish. I will confess to you that I have never been a fan of traditional, southern potato salad with pickle relish. I much prefer the more interesting versions full of extra veggies, unusual dressings, and maybe even a little blue cheese. Bacon ranch potato salad has quickly become one of my favorites, second only to my dad's famous potato salad.
We have tweaked this recipe over the years and it has become one of the most popular versions of potato salad that we serve in our café. Filled with boiled egg, celery, bacon, and ranch dressing, how can you go wrong? If you are looking for something new to try this 4th of July, head on over to our recipe archive and give this extra special potato salad a try.
You will also find many other delicious recipes, perfect for your summer gatherings. Happy cooking and Happy 4th of July!
You will find a great selection of cookbooks full of delicious southern recipes in our online store. Be sure to check them out while you are here!
We had such a pretty spring this year here in South Georgia and Matt and I found ourselves out on the patio almost every evening. The patio is always more fun with a cocktail so I decided to share a couple of my favorites with you. These two cocktails require simple ingredients that are easy to keep on hand and are quick to mix up for unexpected guests or impromptu porch parties. I purchased everything I needed at my local package store and my local Piggly Wiggly, definitely no fancy ingredients here!
I love champagne, therefore, I love champagne cocktails. They are so light and refreshing and bubbly. A champagne cocktail in a fancy glass will make you feel like you're at a party, even if you are home by yourself!
Let's start with the French 75. This cocktail contains: gin, champagne, simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, and a lemon slices for garnishing. This is my favorite cocktail for summer. The bubbles and the citrus fruit are a perfect combination on a warm, summer evening. You can check out my video below for the measurements and tools needed, or click HERE to find the recipe in our recipe archive.
Another delicious champagne cocktail is the Champagne Julep. It is a crisp and bubbly alternative to the classic mint julep and is every bit as good! For this drink you will need: simple syrup, champagne, sugar cubes, and fresh mint. I grew this mint in my little garden which makes it taste extra special to me!
Pictured here in a vintage champagne glass, this drink is traditionally served in a silver julep cup. See the video below for measurements and instructions.
If you love champagne, I hope you will take the time to try one of these delightful concoctions and let me know what you think. From my porch to yours, cheers to the start of a happy and healthy summer!
If you get excited about fun and unusual cocktails, these two bar books are full of good ideas, and they are available on our website! The French 75 recipe is from "Southern Cocktails" and I found the Champagne Julep, along with many other tempting libations in "A Spot at the Bar".
To get all of the details on the tools and ingredients you'll need to make these two cocktails, along with measurements, check out my video below!
After picking more berries than our arms can carry, we develop a game plan to make the most of our haul. We usually dip a good many of them in chocolate, make a few fresh strawberry milkshakes, whip up a cobbler or two, eat some with yogurt or cereal, and did I mention dip some in chocolate?
This year (after the initial chocolate dipping) I decided to recreate a Strawberry Crisp recipe that was shared with me a few years back by my friend Kaitlyn.
This recipe is so simple to make, and uses items that you probably have in your pantry already. It's a quick and delicious dessert that is sure to please a crowd.
The crunchy topping, made up of brown sugar, flour and oats create the perfect contrast to the soft strawberry center.
I've made this dessert twice already this season! The last time I made it, I decided to try baking it in ramekins. I love all desserts, but I especially love anything that is served individually. There is just something so fun about being presented your very own dish!
They baked so beautifully, and I think that they may have even tasted better than usual!
You should know that this Strawberry Crisp, however, should never be served without a scoop of ice cream on top.
If this Strawberry Crisp recipe doesn't get you excited about Strawberry season, I don't know what will! I hope you'll check it out and try it for yourself. If you live in the area, you should definitely visit Paulk Vineyards pick-your-own strawberry fields. If you don't, search your surrounding area and see if you can find one near you! Make a day of it, with your family and friends, and start a tradition of your own!
If you're looking for more fun ways to use fresh berries this year, check out our beautiful cookbook, Berries!
Here in the South, we love to call a dish a "salad." Think about it - Watergate Salad, pear salad, chicken salads, congealed salads, frozen salads, ham salad - what really makes a salad a salad? Maybe it just makes us feel better about eating it?
Possibly the most confusing "salad" we serve at our Cafe is a dish called "Hot Chicken Salad," which is really more of a casserole. Adding to the confusion is the fact that we keep these Hot Chicken Salads in the freezer for sale for customers to bake at home!
It may be confusing, but one thing is for sure - it is delicious! Creamy chicken and rice, dotted with celery, boiled eggs, and almonds, all baked together makes for comfort food at its finest. Its ingredient list is simple, making it perfect for a weekday dinner or covered dish supper, but it can also be dressed up for company with a few extra almonds on top. Pair it with a green salad (meaning one made with lettuce, but no judgment if it's a Watergate Salad), or green beans for an easy meal just about anyone will eat!
Since it is a comfort food dish that almost anyone will eat, it's perfect for taking to a church potluck or to someone's house who's just had a baby or death in the family. In fact, the recipe is enough to make two large (9x13) pans, so you can bake one for your family and one to share! Tara's blog post, A Little Food Goes a Long Way, tells just how much sharing food with our neighbors really means!
If there has been anything that I have experienced so far this summer, it is what it feels like to be hungry and hot! Now being 8 months pregnant, I have found myself in a current state of snacking, rather than eating large meals. While doing so, I have done my best to keep the snacks as healthy as possible. You know that's a hard task with the sweet tooth I have!
Here are a few favorite snacks that I thought any family would love--adults and kids alike! Great for hot summer days, or relaxing summer nights, make a few new memories in the kitchen (or backyard) this year!
Frozen Fruit Salad
This recipe was introduced to me by Mr. Terry, Roxie's dad! He brought in this delicious treat one day at lunch and I just fell in love with its refreshing flavor! This recipe can be made in individual servings or by the pan. Perfect for a summer dinner party or afternoon snack, you're going to love this Frozen Fruit Salad! Visit our Recipe Archive to find this recipe, along with other great recipes to try!
There is something magical about s'mores...or maybe it's just the campfire. Either way, I'll never turn them down! Making memories around a fire with friends and family is always fun. Whether you stick with the classic stack of graham crackers, hershey bars and roasted marshmallows, or you put a new spin on an old classic, you can't go wrong! (I found a delicious S'mores Bar recipe that is so fun, and easy to make.) My Nana always made a simple and yummy treat for us grandkids when we rustled up an appetite. She would lay out saltine crackers on a pan, smear a little peanut butter on each one, and top them with a few mini marshmallows--then pop them in the toaster oven until the marshmallows were perfectly toasted! It never failed, this simple treat would always make my night! Maybe the magic is actually in the marshmallows...
Homemade popsicles are also something we would make as kids, that seemed so fancy at the time! Even if it was something simple, like kool-aid, that my mom would pour in the molds, I felt like a summer princess eating my popsicle on the back steps. I'd savor every bite while the melted drops of juice stained the dirt. Now, there are endless possibilities for making your own pops. There are a million recipes ranging from using fresh fruit and yogurt (more healthy options) to fudge and ice-cream (a more indulgent choice). Whichever you choose, popsicles should be pressure-free, fun snacks! My personal favorite right now is a combination of homemade lemonade and fresh strawberries!
A simple trail mix is as classic as it gets when it comes to summer snacks. Whether your taking a week long road trip or a 30 minute grocery store run, a baggie of trail mix can save the day! Mix it up ahead of time for a quick snack on-the-go! Keep it as simple as you wish using cereals and pretzels, or shoot for a healthier option with dried fruits and nuts. Trail mix is a great way to get the kids involved in choosing a fun snack they'll love to munch on!
A slushie is another great way to sneak a little fruit into your daily diet, not to mention a quick way to cool down! I usually opt for a quick combination of frozen fruit, ice and a splash of juice when I'm on the run--but your options are once again endless! There is just something special about those tiny bits of chipped up ice that makes a simple drink all the more refreshing.
When it comes to summer nights, fresh popcorn is right up there on the list next to s'mores! Whether you make it over a campfire, or on the stove, this fresh and flavorful snack is always a winner! My roommate in college loved to make this quick and simple snack for us to have while we watched a movie or socialized. I just love all of the possibilities and flavor combinations--they're endless! Mary Claire's staple recipe was coconut oil, popcorn and salt. It is so light and such a guiltless snack when kept simple!
Be sure to check out our Southern Summer board on our Pinterest page for more great summer snack ideas! The possibilities are endless--so let loose and have a little fun with your food this summer!
Peach season is finally upon us, and we are taking advantage of it daily! We love this time of year, because not only is it our favorite fruit season here at The Southern Mercantile, but it is also our customer's favorite at The Cafe at Fourth and Cherry!
We love offering new seasonal specials and desserts to keep things interesting. Over the past few years, this Fresh Peach, Pecan and Grilled Chicken Salad has become a peach-season staple along with our Fresh Peach Cake and yummy Peach Beehives. All you have to do is take one look at it to know it is just screaming summer deliciousness!
Not only do we top this salad with fresh peaches, toasted pecans, craisins, red onion and feta cheese, but we also serve it with a fresh peach vinaigrette dressing that is to die for.
We love this recipe so much, we thought you might too! It would be perfect for your next summer dinner party. With fresh peaches and a homemade dressing, you're sure to impress! This recipe is always a crowd pleaser and it is super simple to make. We hope you'll decide to try it out and let us know what you think!
The origins of macaroni and cheese may not be southern, but like so many things, it has been perfected here. Although the box with the yellow "cheese" powder is certainly a staple for kids and college students, the homemade version is a mainstay on the Church covered dish table. There are many variations on the recipe, from different types of cheeses to the cooking method used.
We've chosen some of our favorite mac & cheese recipes to share with you. Which is the best? That depends on to whom and how you're serving it!
Baked Mac and Cheese
This baked version is perfect for delivering to someone's home, when there's been a birth or death in the family or someone's sick or shut-in. This cooking method provides the prettiest presentation, so it is often used when hosting others in your home for a meal.
Stovetop Mac and Cheese
This stovetop recipe is creamy and delicious for a meal at home with your family. It is a quick and easy side dish that uses ingredients most people keep on hand! This recipe has become a staple at Tara's house, making boxed versions a thing of the past.
Crockpot Mac and Cheese
Last, but certainly not least, crockpot macaroni and cheese makes dinnertime yummy and easy with just a little bit of work ahead of time. This is a great recipe to use if the other items on your menu require a little more attention. It is even perfect for Sunday dinner after church, since it only takes two hours to cook!
We've all tried countless Mac and Cheese recipes, and these are the ones we keep coming back to! Each are delicious and simple to cook. We hope you'll try one for yourself, maybe even for Easter dinner! Let us know what you think, and which ones are your favorite!
If you saw something in the photographs that caught your eye, be sure to shop our kitchen category for fun new finds!
Who doesn't love an iced sugar cookie? And the prettier it is, the better! Sugar cookies are a staple around here, so we are always looking for fun and creative ways to decorate them!
While dreaming up our Valentine's Day treats for our brick-and-mortar location, I was inspired by the marbling trend. I thought that if you could do it with paint and dye, why couldn't you do it with royal icing? I thought I'd give it a shot and share my tips and tricks with you!
Start with your favorite sugar cookie recipe. Make sure that it is a sturdy cookie-not a crumbly one! This will be important when you start to ice the cookies. If you don't have a favorite of your own, you can find our favorite sugar cookie recipe in our Recipe Archive! Roll, cut out, and bake your cookies. I chose a heart-shaped cookie cutter for Valentine's Day! Our sugar cookie recipe will make about 25 heart cookies per batch. Let them cool completely before icing.
Whip up your favorite royal icing recipe and separate it into two bowls. Choose two colors that you want to use and dye each bowl of icing using gel food coloring. I chose pink and white! If you choose to use a color other than white, just make sure that it blends with the other color you choose. (Examples: pink and purple, pink and red, blue and purple, orange and red, orange and yellow)
Take a spoon and zig zag the lighter color icing in the bowl with the darker color. Then take a toothpick and drag it going in the opposite direction to give the icing the marble effect.
Take the cookie and dip it face down in the icing. Make sure that you are holding the cookie as flat as possible to ensure an even coating of icing. Also, make sure that your finger tips don't get in the way! When you pull the cookie out of the icing, allow the excess to drip into the bowl. You can even give the cookie a little shake to get some of the extra icing off. Flip the cookie quickly to reveal your beautiful pattern! Each cookie will be unique--which is what makes this so fun!
I don't like the icing to run off the edge of my cookies, so while the icing is still wet I will wipe the sides if needed. If you need to fill in certain areas that didn't get an even coating of icing, you an do this with a toothpick while the icing is still wet. You can even do the marble technique on the cookie if you decide it needs a little extra color in one spot! Just drop a dab of icing and swirl it with your toothpick. I always let my cookies dry overnight to be sure that the icing has hardened completely.
If you love the idea of gifting special sugar cookies this Valentine's Day, we've put together a must-have kit for you! Our Valentine's Day Cookie Kit includes just what you'll need to put together 6 cute cookie boxes.
6 Cookie Boxes
6 Valentine's Day Gift Tags
Red and White Yarn
Valentine's Day Sprinkles
Heart-Shaped Cookie Cutter
The Southern Mercantile Sugar Cookie Recipe Card
We hope you enjoyed this how-to and we hope you'll give it a try! We'd love for you to tag us on Instagram or Facebook to share your Valentine's Day treats with us!
This week in The Cafe, we celebrated "Muscadine Week," serving dishes and desserts featuring fresh muscadines and Muscadine Jelly, Sauce, and Preserves from our friends at Paulk Vineyards (also known as one of Our Makers: Paulk's Pride). We even served the delicious Muscadine Apple Pie again!
If you've followed us for very long, you probably know that Jorjanne in particular has a special connection to muscadines, especially Paulk Vineyards and Paulk's Pride! If you don't remember, you can read her blog posts, "Muscadines, Grandma, & a Husband" or "Faithful in the Little Things" to see why they're so dear to her.
When we were planning our specials for Muscadine Week, we tried to think of something to serve with a simple PB&J, using Paulk's Pride Muscadine Jelly, of course, and chips. Now, we've told you before how much we love a congealed or fruit salad here in the South. (You can read more about that in our blog post, Fluff or Frozen?) We looked for a Muscadine Fluff recipe, but couldn't find one anywhere. We just couldn't believe it! So what else could we do but create one of our own?
After a few test batches, we finally decided on the perfect combination of sweet and creamy, cool and fluffy, with a little bit of crisp apples too! Since we used the Muscadine Sauce, we didn't need any other sugar or spices. It's a simple recipe, which makes it great to serve with just about anything. Take it to a potluck dinner or on a picnic, and impress folks with its sweet and savory flavor that makes a lovely transition from summer to fall.
If you decide to make our Muscadine Fluff, we'd love to hear what you think about the recipe. Comment below, or share a picture on Facebook or Instagram.
Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day. I love everything about it! I love starting my day off right; cooking up something delicious, and I especially love the syrupy sweetness that comes along with a breakfast menu. I am a tad picky when it comes to food, unfortunately, but with breakfast I can't go wrong! I love breakfast food so much so that it influenced the time we chose for our wedding ceremony. I was so excited to be able to feature a yummy breakfast spread at our reception!
I love the idea of "brunch" and I think whoever came up with it is genius. It's perfect for Saturdays, holidays and special occasions!
When hosting a shower, I love having them in the morning. Not only does it free up your afternoon/night, but it allows you to offer a fun variety of morning munchies. Everyone loves fruit, casseroles and muffins! You can do different things to dress up your breakfast menu, like having chocolate dipped strawberries! Not only are they pretty, but they're a delicious brunch dessert.
I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorite brunch recipes with you today! A few of them are ones I found on Pinterest, while some of them were shared by friends.
These Lemon Blueberry Muffins have to be one of my all-time favorites. They are so full of flavor and a fun play on the classic blueberry muffin. You'll never go wrong using fresh blueberries and lemon zest!
Lemon Blueberry Muffins by Gimme Some Oven.
At the last baby shower I hosted, I tried a new spin on a breakfast casserole! We wanted to serve muffins, and rather than serving a casserole made with more bread, we opted for a "Baked Omelet" recipe. It turned out to be delicious and it helped create a balanced menu!
I make this recipe from time to time for us to eat throughout the week. It's perfect for a quick morning meal with a bagel or slice of toast! It's also a great recipe to use if you're wondering what to do with the leftovers from a baked ham.
Baked Ham and Cheese Omelet by The Seasoned Mom.
One of my daily favorites would have to be yogurt with granola and fresh fruit. I love taking this snack on the go and I feel good knowing I made a healthy choice. We served this at our wedding, and I have served this at showers before--the guests love it! They can dress it up however they'd like! (My all-time favorite is vanilla yogurt with sliced strawberries, granola and chocolate chips. :)
*Also, my favorite brand yogurt is Dannon Light and Fit Vanilla.
Pancakes and waffles are great, but I love french toast. There is just something about the way the egg sinks into the bread, yet crisps up the edges! I could make it (and eat it) every morning....if I had time. We usually cook up french toast on Saturdays, when we're allowed to be a little lazy. I have recently ventured into the french toast casserole realm after having it at a friends house, and I love it too! The possibilities are endless. With a perfect pairing of added fruit or flavored syrups--it's quite the treat!
My friend, Kaitlyn, invited Phillip and I to her moms house for the weekend. The boys enjoyed an adventurous river trip while us girls relaxed and visited with family! We had the best time and were able to enjoy breakfast together on Sunday morning. Mrs. Redonna served a french toast casserole that we all just loved! She shared the recipe with me, and agreed for me to share it with you! She altered a bread pudding recipe to create this french toast delight, and boy is it delicious! Once we were home, I tried the recipe out myself! Click HERE to see the recipe!
Last, but not least, is the classic breakfast casserole. My mom serves breakfast casserole every Christmas morning, so it holds a special place in my heart. She cooks up a big pot of grits to serve alongside it, making an irresistible combination. I have even tried making breakfast casserole in muffin tins. The recipe I used called for english muffins--which created a sturdy base! They were perfect to make ahead and freeze for individual morning meals.
If you don't have a breakfast casserole recipe of your own that you love, try ours! (For a fun spin, use Maple Sausage!) Check out our Recipe Archive to see the recipe!
If you're looking for more brunch menu ideas--here are a few other favorites!
If you have a brunch favorite of your own, we'd love to know what it is! Send us the recipe to try for ourselves, or post a pic and tag us on social media! Meanwhile, take a look at what we have listed online to add a little southern soul to your next brunch.