By Debbi CovingtonDebbiHeadshot2014

Photos by
Susan DeLoach Photography

Do you like to cook and entertain? Want to do something special for your fiance? How about throwing a party for your groom and his best friends? Easy and fun, these simple recipes guarantee a successful event.

Plan your party during football, basketball or baseball season. If your fiance is into car racing, plan it on race day. Hopefully the weather will be beautiful so that you can set up some cornhole boards outside for the guys. Cornhole is all the rage in the south. It’s a lawn game where players toss bags filled with dried corn or dried beans in a raised platform with a hole in the far end. It’s very popular during tailgating season. Cornhole boards also make great gifts for groomsmen and ushers. The boys can watch the big game, play cornhole during half-time, feast on a delicious barbeque supper and spend quality time together just doing “man stuff.”

If you actually think about it, the groom gets the least amount of attention when it comes to wedding festivities. He doesn’t get a big diamond ring. He doesn’t get to have a shower or buy a trousseau. And, in most cases he’s wed in a rented tuxedo. Make this party all about HIM! You love him. He deserves to be spoiled a bit, too.

A barbeque is the perfect meal for an afternoon with friends. Make a tray of Pickled Pimento Cheese Canapes for the guys to snack on while they sip Carolina Marsh Tackys. If you don’t have time to put the canapes together, set out a bowl of Pickled Pimento Cheese with crackers or sturdy potato chips and let the guys serve themselves. When it’s time for supper, lay out a spread of Cornbread Salad, Herbed Parmesan Biscuits, Three Cheese Macaroni, Southern Pulled Pork Barbeque and Lemon Slaw. Everything can be made a day or two ahead and heated just before serving. A fun way to serve the barbeque is to set up a Rebel Yell station. Or, for a personal touch, you can put the yummy concoction together and pass them out to your fiance’s guests. They won’t even have to move from in front of the television if the game is getting exciting.

Groom’s cakes are a uniquely southern tradition. Typically the cake is decorated to represent something that the groom loves. I’ve seen then covered with peanut butter cups, decorated with miniature golf ball candies and even shaped like a guitar. Sometimes the cake is served along with the wedding cake. Most of the time it’s served at the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding. If a groom’s cake is not part of your wedding plan, this party is a great place to serve it. Everyone will love this delicious Malted Milk Ball Groom’s Cake. It, too, can be prepared a day or two before serving.

Add in a couple of your guy’s favorite appetizers, his favorite cocktail or beer and something special that you and he both like to eat or drink and you’ll have all the makings for a great event. The best part is that you’ll be creating a special memory just for him. Have fun

Pickled Pimento Cheese Canapes

Pickled Pimento Cheese tastes best if prepared a day in advance, allowing time for flavors to blend.

4 cups (16 ounces) shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced finely

4 tablespoons grated onion

1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos, drained

1/3 cup sweet pickle relish

1 cup mayonnaise, or enough to blend mixture smoothly

Crostini or water crackers

Mix first six ingredients together in a large bowl. Adjust amount of mayonnaise to make mixture spread easily. Spread cheese filling on crostini or serve with water crackers. Serves 12.

Carolina Marsh Tacky

Bourbon and ginger beer teamed with fresh lime — the perfect cocktail for a southern gentleman!

The Carolina Marsh Tacky is a rare breed of horse, native to the lowcountry of South Carolina. This recipe is adapted from another equestrian cocktail named the Kentucky Mule.

1½ ounces bourbon

½ ounce fresh lime juice

4 ounces cold ginger beer

Lime wedge

Fill a cocktail glass with ice. Add bourbon and lime juice; top with ginger beer. Garnish with fresh lime. Serves 1.

To make a pitcher: 1½ parts bourbon, ½ part fresh lime juice and 4 parts ginger beer

Cornbread Salad

In the South, we eat cornbread with everything. Count on a southerner to invent a salad made with cornbread! The name doesn’t give this delicious dish justice! Give it a try — it’s much better than you might think!

1 (16-ounce) package cornbread mix    

1 (1-ounce) package ranch dressing mix

1½ cups sour cream

1½ cups mayonnaise

2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained

3 ripe tomatoes, chopped

1 cup chopped green peppereveryday-Cornbread-Salad

1 cup chopped green onion 

2 (11-ounce) cans whole kernel corn, drained

10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese

Prepare cornbread according to package directions. Cool, crumble, and set aside. Whisk the dressing mix with the sour cream and mayonnaise. Crumble half of the cornbread in the bottom of a large serving dish. Top with half the beans. Layer with half of the tomatoes, green pepper, green onions, corn, bacon, and salad dressing mixture. Repeat the layers. Top with Cheddar cheese. Cover and chill at least 2 hours before serving. Serves 12.

Herbed Parmesan BiscuitsHerbed-Parmesan-Biscuits

These herb and butter biscuits are addictive!!

1 (16-ounce) can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

¾ stick butter, melted

½ teaspoon dill weed

1 teaspoon dried minced onion

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate biscuits and divide into quarters. Add dill weed, onion, parsley, and cheese to melted butter; mix well. Roll each biscuit piece in butter mixture to coat well and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden. Serves 4 to 6.

Three Cheese Macaroni

A new look at the ultimate southern comfort food! This dish never goes out of vogue. For everyday-Three-Cheese-Macaroniextra-special dinners, try using a different pasta shape.

1 (16-ounce) package elbow macaroni

¼ cup butter

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

½ cup milk

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup blue cheese crumbles

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon dried minced onion

½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon dry mustard

2 tablespoons butter, melted       

1/3 cup dry bread crumbs    

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Melt ¼ cup butter in a large heavy saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Cook 1 minute, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat. Stir in three cheeses, onion, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and dry mustard. Stir until cheese melts. Pour mixture over pasta and mix well. Place macaroni and cheese mixture in a lightly greased 2-quart casserole. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. In a small bowl combine melted butter with bread crumbs. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over macaroni and cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until casserole is bubbly and bread crumbs are toasted. Serves 6 to 8.

Southern Pulled Pork BBQ  (see top)

Oven cooking bags are available in your local grocery store on the aisle with aluminum foil and parchment paper. They’re great for baking ham and turkey, too!

1 large oven cooking bag

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

1 (3 to 4-pound) pork Boston butt pork roast


Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup bottled barbeque sauce

Hickory smoked salt (optional)

Assorted bottled barbeque sauces

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place an oven cooking bag in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Add 1 tablespoon flour to bag. Season pork with salt and pepper. Place pork in oven cooking bag; pour barbeque sauce over the meat. Seal bag with tie. Place pan in oven, allowing room for the bag to expand during cooking without touching the heating elements, walls or racks. The bag should not hang over the pan. Bake for 8 hours. Remove from oven and let meat rest in the cooking bag for 45 minutes. Remove pork from cooking bag and shred; discard fat, skin and bone. Season with hickory smoked salt, if desired. Serve with assorted bottled barbeque sauces. Serves 6 to 8.

Rebel Yell  (see top)

This is a fun idea for a groom’s party, rehearsal dinner or even for a wedding!

Pint-sized Mason jars

Three Cheese Macaroni

Southern Pulled Pork BBQ

Lemon Slaw

Layer pint-sized Mason jars with hot macaroni and cheese, warm barbeque and top with slaw. Any recipe for macaroni and cheese, barbeque and slaw will work – even store bought! The Mason jars will keep the food warm for about 45 minutes. Another option is to serve the barbeque and slaw with soft flour tortillas. Easy to prepare and fun to eat!

everyday-Lemon-SlawLemon Slaw

The bright flavor of fresh lemon pairs perfectly with tangy Southern BBQ!

1 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

2 (16-ounce) packages shredded coleslaw mix

Chopped fresh Italian parsley, to garnish

Combine mayonnaise with lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, sugar, salt and pepper in a small bowl until blended. Place coleslaw mix in a large bowl; pour dressing over and toss to coat. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley. Serves 6 to 8.

Malted Milk Ball Grooms Cake

One of the yummiest chocolate cakes I’ve ever eaten! Don’t let the whipped ganache frosting intimidate you. It’s actually very easy to make.

For the ganache frosting:

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 (12-ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the cake:

1 (15.25-ounce) dark chocolate cake mix


Vegetable oil


For the decoration:

1 pound dark chocolate covered malted milk balls

1 pound milk chocolate covered malted milk balls

Heat whipping cream in a microwave-safe bowl until cream begins to steam, but not boil. Whisk in chocolate chips until chips are melted and mixture is dark and well combined. Place bowl in refrigerator for 3 hours. In the meantime, prepare cake mix according to package directions, making two 8-inch layers. Cool cakes on a wire racks. When completely cool, split both layers making 4 cake rounds. Remove ganache from the refrigerator and beat with an electric mixer until frosting is light and fluffy. Place 1 cake layer, cut side up, on a serving platter and spread with frosting. Place the second layer, cut side down, and spread with frosting. Repeat with remaining two layers. Frost the top and sides of cake with clean, smooth strokes. Decorate cake with alternating dark and milk chocolate malted milk balls. Press candy firmly into frosting. Place cake, uncovered, in the refrigerator until the icing sets. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Serves 12.

The writer owns Catering by Debbi Covington and is the author of two cookbooks, Gold Medal Winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award, Celebrate Everything! and Dining Under the Carolina Moon. Debbi’s website address is www.cateringbydebbicovington.com. She may be reached at 525-0350 or by email at dbc@cateringbydebbicovington.com.