Eat, Drink & Be Merry

By Jessica Pleger
Photography by Lisa Taylor Hall

In the South we associate certain dishes with the Holidays. They are either family staples, recipes passed down from generation to generation or cultural traditions. I like to do Southern Fare with a Modern Flair so here are some traditional favorites with a twist. I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy a meal around the table with family and friends. Most of my favorite memories of the holiday season is gathered in the kitchen or around the dinner table. So, from my family to yours, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving” – Mother Teresa


1/3 cup salted butter
1 1⁄2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs separated whites from yolks, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
2 1⁄2 cups cake flour, spooned & leveled
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons red liquid food coloring

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil and flour three 9 by 1 1/2-inch round cake pans.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form (about 2 minutes) and set aside. Whisk cake flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside.

Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy and light. Add oil, vanilla, egg yolks, vinegar, and food coloring. Alternate adding flour and buttermilk. Fold in egg whites gently.

Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.

For Frosting: Beat butter and cream cheese with vanilla. Add powdered sugar. Beat 5-7 minutes. Frost cake, then refrigerate to set.

Notes: If desired, you can add chopped pecans between layers and on top of the cake.