BY Cole Dittmer

You can blame it on the anticipation of succulent turkeys and hams the seasonal decorations adorning department stores months in advance the incessant barrage of Christmas tunes on the radio or that small twinkle of childhood that emerges from its dormancy in late November. Regardless of the cause the holiday season sneaks up on you and before you know it your cheeks are as rosy with holiday cheer as St. Nick himself.

As a side effect of this effervescent Christmas cheer parties can spring up out of thin air so fast that it leaves your head spinninga flurry of phone calls texts and a few hours later your best friends and their children are on their way over to your house and you havent even thought about what to feed them.

In dire straits like these it is best to have someone who knows the ropes of entertaining someone who can whip up creative dishes to keep guests happy and full. Thats when any of the cookbooks from local organizations like the Cape Fear Garden Club Harbor Island Garden Club Junior League of Wilmington and the Cape Fear Medical Alliance can come in handy.

Cape Fear Medical Alliance

If it isnt broken dont fix itbut maybe just tweak it a littlethis could be the motto for the Cape Fear Medical Alliances regional cookbook A Cooks Tour of the Azalea Coast which was first published in 1982 and has remained largely unchanged for 30 years. When the cookbook was first published in 1982 it was packed full of more than 200 pages of gastronomic delights specific to the lower Cape Fear region. As the explanatory passage on the inside cover of the book reveals however revisions have been made to the cookbook to highlight health conscious recipes and to support healthier cooking. Proceeds from the sales of the cookbook help to fund the many charitable organizations the alliance supports like Habitat for Humanity the Open Doors Foundation and Pinwheels and Promises. A Cooks Tour of the Azalea Coast can be purchased at various local retailers such as Temptations Two Sisters Bookery as well as online at the alliances website

Cranberry Cream Salad

4 cups cranberries raw
1 cup crushed pineapple drained
16 oz. miniature marshmallows
1 cups sugar
pint whipping cream whipped
cup walnuts chopped (optional)
Salt to taste


Grind cranberries and combine with drained pineapple. Mix with sugar salt marshmallows and nuts. Whip cream and fold into other ingredients. Refrigerating overnight in covered bowl is recommended but not necessary. Serves 12-15.

Jezebel Sauce

1 (18-oz.) jar of pineapple preserves
1 (10-oz.) jar apple jelly
cup vinegar
1 TB black peppercorns coarsely ground
1 t dry mustard
1 t cayenne pepper
1/8 t salt


Mix pineapple preserves and apple jelly with vinegar. Add black peppercorns coarsely ground or cracked with a hammer. Add mustard cayenne pepper and salt. Serve over cream cheese with crackers or melba toast.

Junior League of Wilmington

The Junior League of Wilmingtons newest cookbook Seaboard to Sideboard Entertains is the organizations second award-winning cookbook and was given the USA Best Books of 2011 award for regional cookbooks. Seaboard to Sideboard Entertains is an exceptional guide for knowing what to prepare for the various different events a southern host might experience. From the Holiday Flotilla Party section in December to the Porch Party chapter for May Seaboard to Sideboard Entertains provides scrumptiously appropriate recipes for each occasion. The cookbook was carefully crafted with the efforts of many volunteers and all proceeds support educational and mentoring programs for area children. In addition to the recipes printed below other delectable offerings from the book include dishes like the peanut and edamame stew baked shrimp and artichoke dip. Seaboard to Sideboard Entertains is available online at or at various local merchants.

Chocolate Rolo Cookies


1 (2-layer) package German chocolate cake mix
cup water
1 egg
3 TB vegetable oil
1 (12-oz.) package of Rolo candies


Combine the cake mix water egg and oil in a bowl and mix well. Spray your fingers with nonstick cooking spray and shape the mixture by teaspoonfuls into balls. Place one candy in each ball and reshape into a ball. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Pumpkin Biscuits with Maple Ham


4 cups all purpose flour
2 t baking powder
2 t salt
2 t ginger
t pepper
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cups pumpkin puree
2 TB honey
cup vanilla yogurt
2 TB low-fat milk
24 pieces maple ham
Pumpkin butter


Mix the flour baking powder salt ginger and pepper in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or with two knives until crumbly. Mix the pumpkin and honey in a bowl. Stir into the floured mixture just until combined. Mix the yogurt and milk in a small bowl. Add to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until the mixture clings together. Roll the dough -inch thick on a floured surface. Cut with a large pumpkin or maple leaf cookie cutter. Place 1 inch apart on a greased nonstick baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with the ham and pumpkin butter.

Cape Fear Garden Club

Begun as a way to showcase all of the uniquely delicious dishes that were consistently brought to the annual “Christmas Tea” event the Cape Fear Garden Clubs A Christmas Tea cookbook contains a wide variety of sweet and savory finger food style recipes. The chairperson of the clubs cookbook committee Bonnie Faler says that she just knew if she gathered the recipes from all of the teas that it would make a fantastic cookbook. “The book was published last September and we are in our second printing now so it has been a big success for us ” Faler says. A Christmas Tea can be purchased at Dragonflies or The Sterling House.

Sweet Potato Rounds


2-3 narrow sweet potatoes
1 (8-oz.) package of feta or goat cheese softened
cup olive oil
1 jar whole roasted red peppers


Spray cookie sheet with vegetable spray. Cut potatoes crosswise into -inch rounds. Arrange rounds in one layer on cookie sheet spray with vegetable spray and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until done. Cool. Mix olive oil with cheese. Put a small dollop of cheese mixture on each potato round. Cut drained peppers into small pieces enough to top rounds. Place pepper pieces on top or beside cheese. Refrigerate. Can be prepared 2-3 days in advance.

Rum Raisin Clusters


1 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
cup whipping cream
1 TB rum
1 cups raisins
cup pecans toasted and chopped
Optional topping: 2 oz. white chocolate baking bar or white chocolate chips


Combine chocolate chips and cream in a small saucepan. Cook on low until chocolate melts. Stir in rum. Add raisins and pecans. Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls into paper candy cups. Melt white chocolate and drizzle on top. Chill until firm. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes 36 clusters.

Harbor Island Garden Club

Now in its 60th year of existence the Harbor Island Garden Club has assembled a collection of the finest recipes from its entire membership for its inaugural cookbook Harbor Island Celebrates! Available in December at a variety of locations around Wrightsville Beach like The Fishermans Wife and Motts Channel Seafood Harbor Island Celebrates! contains recipes for seafood dishes land food dishes beverages and dessertsmost of which have been handed down through multiple generations of Wrightsville Beachers. The garden clubs president Allison Long says that she hopes this will make a great go-to cookbook for everyday use. All of the proceeds from the cookbook will fund the construction of the childrens interactive fountain that the Harbor Island Garden club plans to build in the picturesque Harbor Way Gardens.

BLT-Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes


20 cherry tomatoes
lb. bacon cooked and crumbled
cup mayonnaise 
1/3 cup chopped green onion
3 TB parmesan cheese


Cut a thin slice off of each tomato top. Scoop out the insides and drain upside down on a paper towel. In a small bowl combine all other ingredients. Spoon the mixture into the tomatoes. Chill. Just before serving garnish with freshly chopped basil or parsley.

Peanut Butter Delights


4 TB cocoa
cup milk
2 cups sugar
1 stick margarine
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups oatmeal


Combine cocoa milk sugar and margarine. Boil on high heat stirring the entire time for
2 1/2 -3 minutes. Turn off heat and remove pan from burner. Immediately add peanut butter and stir well. Add oatmeal and stir well. While hot drop onto wax paper in the shape of cookies. Let cool until hardened.