Monday, May 24, 2010

A Savannah Welcome

Hey, Y'all!

Friday night I hosted our congregation's quarterly ladies book club with friends Missy Jones and Teri Phillips. Our book selection for spring, Savannah from Savannah by Denise Hildreth Jones, took us to the quintessential Southern city of Savannah, Ga., for the evening. The book's central characters, mother and daughter Victoria and Savannah Phillips, inspired our decor.

Southern belle Victoria inspired our appetizer table, and we hope she would approve of our Savannah welcome. An heirloom lace tablecloth topped a round table laden with some of our favorite southern appetizers. A bountiful floral arrangement, pink hat and chintz teapot reflected Victoria's gracious southern style, and fresh gardenias dotted the tables with fragrant touches of spring. For a signature touch, Missy added a card that bore this simple message:

Welcome to Savannah!
Victoria Phillips
Savannah Chamber of Commerce

Several of us prepared appetizers for the evening, and a few of the crowd favorites are pictured above. Of course, we couldn't have a party in the Low Country without inviting the First Lady of Savannah, Paula Deen. Along with Paula's Shore Is Good Seafood Dip, we served Deviled Cheese Balls with Crackers, Pickled Okra Finger Sandwiches, Corn Salad and Southern Lemonade. Recipes follow, so keep these in mind for upcoming springtime celebrations.

Missy Jones’ (Almost Homemade) Southern Lemonade
This looked so refreshing with fresh lemon slices floating in Missy's crystal beverage dispenser. Our party gave me another opportunity to use Joe's late grandmother's crystal punch cups.
Large jar of Country Time lemonade
1 cup sugar
Fresh lemons, sliced thin
Using the measuring cup in the lid, measure out enough powder for 3 quarts of lemonade. Pour in pitcher. Add sugar. Slowly add 2 quarts of water, stirring until completely dissolved. Float thin slices of lemon in the pitcher or use as a garnish on the glass. Better the next day.

Corn Salad
Sharon Lyle brought this recipe, a favorite from the Our Table to Yours University Church of Christ cookbook. We served it at the book club with corn chips alongside, and it was the most talked about dish of the evening.
2 (15 ounce) cans whole kernel corn, drained
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
½ cup red onion, chopped
1 (10.5 ounce) bag coarsely crushed chili-cheese corn chips
Mix first five ingredients and chill. Stir in corn chips just before serving. Yield: 8 servings.

Shore Is Good Seafood Dip
I brought this dip recipe from Paula Deen’s The Lady & Sons, Too! cookbook.

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
Half of a 10 ¾ ounce can cream of shrimp soup (discard top half and use bottom part of soup)
1 cup mayonnaise
½ pound freshly grated Parmesan
6-ounce can crabmeat, picked free of any broken shells, drained
6 ounces shrimp, fresh or canned, drained
½ teaspoon white pepper
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, onion and celery, and saute for 2 minutes. In a bowl, combine the soup, mayonnaise, Parmesan, crabmeat, shrimp and pepper. Stir the sauteed vegetables inot the seafood mixture and spoon this mixture into a lightly greased 8 x 11-inch casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with toast points or crackers.

Deviled Cheese Balls
Can we ever have too many cheese ball variations in the South? Missy Jones brought this delicious version.

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese at room temperature
8-ounce block cream cheese at room temperature
4 ½ oounce can deviled ham
½ cup chopped green olives
½ cup finely chopped pecans
In a small bowl, blend together the cheddar and cream cheese. Beat in the ham and then stir in the olives. Refrigerate for at least two hours until firm enough to roll into a log. Shape into log and then roll in pecans. Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate until time to serve. Serve with assorted crackers.

Pickled Okra and Dill Pickle Sandwiches
Missy Jones also brought this pretty appetizer, perfect for showers, receptions and Southern celebrations of all kinds.

One loaf of sliced white bread – very fresh
8-ounce block cream cheese – very soft
Pickled okra
Dill pickles
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
Cut crust off of bread and roll flat with rolling pin. Spread each piece of bread with a thin layer of cream cheese. Place pickle or okra on bread and roll up like a cigar. Using your finger, lightly spread more cream cheese on outside of bread. Roll in parsley. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Thumbing through this cookbook I picked up as a souvenir during our family's trip to Savannah last spring gave us a lot of inspiration in planning our evening in Savannah. Find The Lady & Sons, Too!: A Whole Bunch of Recipes from Savannah discounted here.

Y'all come back tomorrow for Savannah-inspired dinner and decor!

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