Chestnuts roasting on an open fire may be the most famously melodic mention of classic winter treats but, as Jack Frost begins to nip at our collective noses, Cherokee residents don’t have to break into song to find tasty holiday-inspired dishes with a dash of nostalgia and just the right amount of cheer. We asked three locals what festive fare took them on a stroll down memory lane, and Isham Colosetti, Mini Brown and Tracye Busbee delivered family recipes so good even Santa himself would be happy to see them set out by the chimney in place of milk and cookies.
By Meredith Pruden // Photos by Katherine Frye
Although Isham Colosetti cooks holiday meals with his wife these days, it was his mother and maternal grandparents who first imparted a love of cooking and fresh ingredients to him. Thankfully for us, his mother also graced him with the recipe for her rich and creamy Holiday Whipped Potatoes. He still has her handwritten copy in his cookbook today.
“This was my mom’s recipe, but I do it a little differently,” he said. “I’ve been having them since I was a kid and always take them to holiday parties.”
Colosetti lives in Woodstock with his wife, Karen, and step daughter, Erin.
HOLIDAY WHIPPED POTATOES
Courtesy of Isham Colosetti
10 medium red potatoes
8 ounces cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 cup sour cream
chives to taste
2 cloves garlic
Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
Cube potatoes and boil until soft.
Slice garlic and brown in pat of butter.
Drain potatoes, and add cream cheese, butter and sour cream.
Add to pot and stir.
Scoop into baking dish, and bake until brown. About 20-30 minutes.
How do you know when you’ve got the best pound cake in town? Winning the bake off at an annual fundraiser was the first hint, but Busbee really knew she had a stunner when friends and family began marking their holiday calendars to make sure they got ahold of one.
“It’s a recipe I’ve developed and refined over time,” she said. “I have to make several every year because people start calling when they know it’s time.”
Busbee, who learned to bake cooking alongside her mother as a child, lives in Canton with her husband, Mark, and son, Mason. Her eldest son, Alex, is in college.
FIVE FLAVOR HOLIDAY POUND CAKE
Courtesy of Tracye Busbee
3 cups all-purpose flour — sifted once
1 teaspoon baking powder — sifted with flour
3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 cup of milk
5 extra large eggs
1 teaspoon each of the following extracts: vanilla, orange, lemon, banana and rum
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Sift flour and baking powder together once.
Cream butter and sugar together until smooth.
Mix flour mixture, milk and eggs together, alternating milk and eggs (one egg at a time).
Add extracts one at a time, and mix each with a wooden spoon.
Once all extracts have been added, mix all ingredients together for 3 minutes.
Pour batter into a bundt pan that has been oiled and floured.
Place pan in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes or until done.
Allow cake to rest on wire rack for 15 minutes.
Transfer cake to a plate, and allow to cool before adding glaze.
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon of one of the extracts above
1-2 tablespoons milk
Mix all ingredients together using a wire whisk, adding milk gradually until the desired consistency is achieved.
Drizzle mixture over cooled cake.
Test cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick. If toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done.
For Mini Brown, it just isn’t the holidays without her mother’s Banana Pudding.
“My mom gave me this recipe, and I’ve been making it for 17 years now for any major event,” she said. “Every time I make it, it’s a huge hit.”
She even won a dessert contest with it once, which isn’t surprising when you hear her niece, Violet’s, description of this refined take on a classic.
“It’s the best in the world,” Violet said. “If you haven’t tried it, it’s like you’re missing a part of life.”
Out of the mouth of babes. Brown lives in Canton with her daughter and sous chef, Ellie, and son, Ethan.
Courtesy of Mini Brown
1 box French vanilla pudding
8 ounces cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
8 ounces whipped cream
5 bananas (or more to taste)
2 bags Pepperidge Farms Chessman cookies (can also use Butterscotch flavor Chessman)
Make pudding according to package directions, and set aside.
Combine cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk in separate bowl.
Place cookies in single layer in bottom of 9×13 glass baking dish.
Slice bananas, and layer on top of cookies.
Fold the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk into the pudding.
Fold in the whipped cream.
Pour over bananas already in dish, and spread evenly.
Add a top layer of cookies.
Let rest in fridge for at least an hour.