Home Cooking for the Holidays

Dr. Bullock prepares some BBQ at home
Sweet Potato Pies
Article by: Dr. Quintin Bullock, CCAC President

Seasons greetings! I hope all of the CCAC students reading this are enjoying a restorative Thanksgiving holiday break and are beginning to get excited about the start of the holiday season. I know I am!

As some of you may already know, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the food, I love the family togetherness and I love having a yearly reminder to reflect with gratitude on all of the things and people in my life for which I am deeply thankful.

It is with the spirit of the holiday in mind that I want to go ahead and share with you not one but two special Bullock family Thanksgiving recipes.

My grandmother (we called her Meme—pronounced “mee-mee” not “meem”) hosted nearly all of our family Thanksgiving dinners when I was growing up in Houston, Texas, and those big dinners around her table with all of my family are some of my most cherished holiday memories.

I am truly thankful to have had (and to have again this year) the opportunity to come together with my family and friends to share such a special meal, and the food that best reminds me of these wonderful memories is one of Meme's own recipes.

Meme’s Cranberry Gel Salad

  • 2 bags raw cranberries
  • 2 medium-sized apples
  • 2 medium-sized oranges (seedless if possible)
  • 4 boxes of strawberry gelatin mix
  • 1 1/2 c pecans, chopped
  • 3 c sugar
  • 4 c hot water
  • 4 c cold water


  • Remove apple cores and seeds and cut into smaller pieces; peel and remove seeds from oranges.
  • Using a food processor or blender, grind the cranberries, apples, oranges and nuts together until a rough, uniform consistency is reached.
  • Place this mixture in a large bowl and add the sugar and gelatin.
  • To this, add hot water and stir well. When incorporated, add cold water and stir again.
  • Pour into a casserole dish or gelatin mold of your choice and refrigerate 24 hours or until set.
  • Serve alongside turkey for maximum deliciousness. (optional)

Of course, we always end our holiday feast with dessert. So for the truly bold, I'd like to share with you my special holiday sweet potato pie recipe, as well as my very favorite recipe for the flakiest, most tender pie crust, that was kindly shared with me, with permission, by a family friend. Be forewarned—I measure my spices with intuition, not spoons. 

Never Fail Pie Crust (courtesy of F. Mock)

  • 3 c flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp cold water
  • 1 1/4 c shortening
  • 1 tsp vinegar


  • Mix the dry ingredients with the shortening using an electric mixer until crumbly.
  • Add egg, water and vinegar and mix until fully incorporated.
  • Roll out and line pie tins, using excess flour when necessary to prevent sticking.

QB’s Signature Sweet Potato Pie (makes two pies)

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 3 sticks of butter, softened or melted
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cans of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cap fulls vanilla extract
  • Spice Mix to Taste (These measurements are approximations—taste as you go to get it how you want it.)
    • 1 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp all spice


  • Boil potatoes until tender, drain, and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Mix in butter, then eggs, then add brown sugar, condensed milk, vanilla and spices and beat until smooth with an electric mixer.
  • Important: stop the beaters periodically to remove excess potato fibers from the beater heads. Remove as many of these fibers as you can for a smoother pie!
  • Pour mixture into two prepared pie crusts (see previous recipe)
  • Bake in preheated oven at 325 F until done, about 50-60 minutes.

If you try any of these out for yourself, be sure to tweet me a picture @QBpresCCAC and let me know how they turned out!

Have a wonderful holiday break, enjoy your time off with your friends and family and, if you haven’t already, be sure to register for your spring classes. I hope to see you all back here next week rested, energetic and ready to tackle finals week!

Related Stories