Neighborhood food experts share their most special recipes and secrets for whipping them up right

It’s not the brisk air, the carefully wrapped gifts or the warm hugs from family that make the holidays so special.

Nope — it’s the food. And behind every treasured recipe is a story, usually one involving family, friends and traditions.

Those who understand the value of great recipes — comforting creations made familiar after years of reunions, weddings and weekend trips — hold the secret to genuine holiday happiness.

Several Preston Hollow neighbors who possess such cherished recipes are sharing the stories behind their favorite recipes this month. Their recipes — already passed from generation to generation — could become new holiday traditions for your family this year.

Grandmother Virginia’s Chocolate Pie

From Susan Lee Sherman

It’s a dang-good dessert that’s so simple a sixth-grader can make it. Sherman’s recipe for chocolate meringue pie has been handed down in the family through five generations. “My grandmother always made this pie for all family gatherings: Thanksgiving, Christmas and for my mother’s birthday. It was her favorite,” Sherman says. Her son, Thomas, once made it for a sixth-grade class project. “My son called his great-grandmother, and asked her for a recipe that had been in our family for a long time,” she explains. “My son made the pie with very little help from me, and took it to school the next day. He was very proud to bring the pie to school because this has been in our family for almost 100 years.”

Click here to print the recipe card

Pie shell:

2 c flour
1/2 c shortening
4 Tbsp water

– Mix ingredients together, and roll out will a rolling pin. Place in pie pan, and bake at 350 degrees until brown.


4 eggs
1-2/3 c sugar
4 heaping Tbsp flour
3 rounded Tbsp cocoa
1-1/2 Tbsp butter
2 c milk
1-1/2 tsp vanilla

– Separate egg whites from yolks. Reserve whites for meringue

– Beat egg yolks, and mix milk, butter, flour, cocoa and sugar.

– Heat in a saucepan on stove until thick.

– Remove from stovetop, and add vanilla.

– Cook crust, and pour cooled chocolate into pie shell.


4 egg whites
Pinch baking powder
1 tsp water

– Fill a glass bowl with ice water, and put your beaters in the bowl.

– Once the beaters are cold, empty the ice water, add the above ingredients, and beat until stiff. Once mixture is stiff, add four rounded Tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla, beat this in, and then spread on top of pie.

– Bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes until the meringue is brown.

Noel Cookies

From Sandy Watson

In a 1952 issue of Better Homes and Gardens, Watson’s mother found a recipe that became her childhood favorite and, eventually, something of a family tradition.

“After my mom passed away last Mother’s Day, I wrote Better Homes to let them know how this recipe she introduced to our family has made a lasting memory down to her granddaughter. It was with pleasure that this past Christmas I had the privilege to make the Noel Cookies for her with love, wonderful conversation and a lovely glass of red wine.” It’s no Weight Watchers recipe, Watson adds, but one in which to utterly indulge. “Thank you, Mom, for the memories,” she says, “for the wonderful baking smells and for the bite of a Noel Cookie with a glass of milk.”

Click here to print the recipe card


6 c all-purpose sifted flour
1 lb Crisco (2-1/2 c)
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 Tbsp orange juice
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c chopped walnuts

– Mix basic recipe (flour, salt and Crisco) until pieces are about the size of peas.

– Store in a covered container if you wish (it will keep for weeks without refrigeration).

– Stir 2 cups of basic recipe with powdered sugar, orange juice, vanilla and walnuts.

– Blend well.

– Mold into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

– Roll in sifted powdered sugar while hot from oven.


From Severin Doebele

For Brian Doebele of Sparkman Club Estates, a Buccioloni recipe passed down through generations has an everlasting connection to an unlikely object — a rocking chair.

In the late-1800s, Brian’s great-great-grandfather emigrated from Germany and developed about 10-15 homes in the French Quarter in New Orleans, La. When relatives visited his home on Dauphine Street, Doebele’s great-grandmother, Severin, served the dish, made with pasta, rolled meat and vegetables.

When Brian was born in 1975, his grandmother Theola Doebele noticed a story about a recipe contest in the Beaumont Enterprise. The grand prize was a rocking chair, which she had to have for her first grandchild. Although she had never made Buccioloni before, Grandma Theola wrote down the recipe from memory, prepared it and entered it in the contest. Sure enough, she won first place and got her rocking chair, in which all the Doebele babies have been rocked, including Brian’s children.

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Tomato Sauce:

1 c cooking oil
1 c celery, chopped fine
1 c onion, chopped fine
1/2 c green pepper, chopped fine
2 3-oz cans tomato paste
2 Tbsp sugar
2 No. 2 cans whole tomatoes
2 6-oz cans tomato sauce
3 c water
3 Tbsp garlic, chopped fine
3 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning

– Use large kettle or Dutch oven. Heat 1/2 cup oil. Sauté chopped greens. Remove. Add remaining 1/2 cup oil. Slowly brown tomato paste until deep brown color develops. Add sugar and mix well. Add water. Blend. Add mashed tomatoes and tomato sauce while stirring constantly. Add garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper, Italian seasoning and sautéed greens. Allow sauce to simmer while preparing meat.


3 large round steaks cut 1/4-inch thick
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 c Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 onions sliced very thin
3 tomatoes sliced very thin
4 hard-boiled eggs sliced very thin
1/2 lb cooked ham sliced in very thin strips
6-8 anchovies
1 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 c cooking oil

– Trim bone, and remove excess fat from round steaks. Place on a large cutting board slightly overlapping the meat and patching the holes together. This will form a piece of meat about 14-by-20 inches. Salt and pepper lightly and pound meat with meat mallet. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the surface of the meat. Top this with alternate layers of onions, tomatoes, eggs, ham and anchovies. Sprinkle with garlic and Parmesan cheese. This preparation is now rolled into a tight roll. This must be handled in one operation and secured with skewers and tied tightly with cord to hold stuffing inside meat. Brown the roll in cooking oil in a large skillet. Turn carefully to brown on all sides and seal the meat. When brown, place in the simmering tomato sauce and cook uncovered for three hours, simmering very slowly. Remove Buccioloni from sauce. Let stand for 20 minutes while cooking spaghetti.


1 lb spaghetti

– Prepare as package directions indicate. Drain well.

– To serve, remove cord and skewers from meat. Place spaghetti on large platter. Top with sauce and Buccioloni.

Jubilee Jumbles

From Janet Scholl

Like many of us, Janet inherited her love of cooking from her mother and her grandmothers. “I remember Grandma and Grandpa’s house being the place to go on Saturday nights for a serious game of 42,” she says, reminiscing. “Grandma would make peanut patties, chocolate peanuts, fudge served with crackers, her famous banana ice cream, or some other tasty treat.” Later, when Janet’s parents would host Bible studies for local college students, her mother would always prepare one of the delicious desserts she learned to make from her own mother, including this holiday favorite.

Click here to print the recipe card


1/2 c soft shortening
1 c brown sugar (packed)
1/2 c white sugar
2 eggs
1 c undiluted Carnation evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
2-3/4 c sifted Gold Medal enriched flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c chopped walnuts

Burnt Butter Glaze:

2 Tbsp butter
2 c powdered sugar
1/4 c evaporated milk

– Sift the flour, salt and baking soda together.

– Thoroughly mix shortening, sugars and eggs.

– Stir in evaporated milk, vanilla and sifted mixture.

– Blend in the walnuts.

– Chill for one hour.

– Drop rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet.

– Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.


– Heat the butter until golden brown.

– Beat in powdered sugar and evaporated milk.

Option: add 1 c of moist shredded coconut.

– Frost cookies with glaze, and garnish with walnut halves. Makes about four dozen.