Wintry Green Salad Recipe - A Delicious Holiday Side to Dazzle the In-Laws

North Carolina, USA
Updated: December 23, 2023. After almost 13 years of blogging, I'm doing my best to update old content. It's not an easy task at all. I decided to update this post because I've been assigned "a green salad" for Christmas Eve dinner. This wintry green salad is easy to make and if you choose not to make your own dressing, it works well with any storebought dressing, too. 

Great Holiday Side Salad with Citrus and Cranberries. Easy to assemble and delicious.

I have been making this Wintry Green salad for a few years now. It's really easy, and it offers a great simple side to an evening meal, or serve it for lunch with chicken salad. The Mandarin oranges and cranberries make it colorful, and worthy for entertaining.

I had it on the menu for my tree-trimming meal last month, and my Mother-in-Law loved it so much that she requested it for our Christmas Eve gathering. I don't think you can go wrong with this salad. I have, however, cut the sugar amounts for the dressing from the original recipe, which was published in the 2003 Jr. Guild of Rocky Mount Cookbook, "A Dash of Down East." 

Wintry Green Salad with Citrus and Cranberries

Wintry Green Salad with Citrus and Cranberries

1-11 oz can of Mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup almonds, toasted
8 to 10 cups mixed salad greens

Sesame Cider Dressing:

1/3 cup sugar (Original recipe calls for 1/2 cup sugar)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
1 1/2 teaspoons of minced onions
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil

Combine all dressing ingredients except oil in a bowl. Gradually whisk in oil.
Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl. Toss with dressing just before serving.

Be sure to visit all my favorite recipes in the HinesSight Blog Recipe section.

The Perfect Holiday Entree - The Beginner's Guide to Cooking a Beef Rib Roast

North Carolina, USA
Updated: December 2023. I saw my Mom this morning, and she asked me about cooking a Christmas rib roast. It was like Christmas De Ja Vu. I would not commit, but it got me thinking about this post I wrote in 2017. It may be time for a rib roast this holiday. We'll see, but after reading more cookbooks than I can count, the rib roast recipe I've posted below. My holiday looks a little different these days. I'm now a parent to teens.  This post was originally written in December 2017, 

Unlock the secret to the perfect boneless rib roast with our beginner-friendly guide. Learn the essential techniques and tips that will turn you into a boneless rib roast master in no time. Say goodbye to dry or tough roasts and prepare to impress your guests with juicy, tender results.

A week or two before the holidays, my Mom hinted that she would like prime rib by sending me online recipes every other day. The recipes would casually be slipped into my Facebook messages. This particular holiday marked our 12th Christmas without Dad. He used to make bone-in-prime every holiday. I had never made a rib roast before. 

"Learn the basics of perfectly cooking a rib roast with our beginner's guide. Our step-by-step instructions will guide you through the whole process to help you get the perfect result every time. Get an unforgettable dining experience - cook a perfect rib roast today!"

I read the recipes she sent, and they frightened me a little.  I would never commit to her, and still, two days before this Christmas, I still did not know what I would prepare for our holiday dinner. I pulled countless recipe books from my pantry and thought I might attempt some beef or pork tenderloin. When I went grocery shopping, I took two cookbooks to Lowes Food, and they sat in the cart while I looked at meat. There was not a beef tenderloin in sight for less than $80.

My wallet spoke up.  Boneless ribeye roasts were on a significant sale. A four-pound boneless ribeye roast was marked down from $52 to $32. I flipped through my cookbooks, surfed the internet on Lowes's free Wi-Fi, and decided to try it. It would be my meat entree and sides of corn pudding, macaroni and cheese, southern butterbeans, green beans, and rolls.

Delicious Dates Stuffed with Manchego Cheese (Quick and Easy Appetizer)

North Carolina, USA
This is an appetizer where you can't eat just one.  It's one of my favorite holiday appetizers using dates and manchego cheese.  It's easy and a fabulous combination of sweet and savory. Fontina cheese would be a good substitute if you can't find manchego. 

Enjoy the perfect combination of sweet and savory with these Dates Stuffed with Manchego Cheese. This easy and flavorful dish is crowd favorite

Manchego Cheese is from the La Mancha region of Spain. I was first introduced to it on a trip there decades ago. It's made from the Manchega breed of Sheep.  It's a semi-soft cheese with a mild, nutty, fruity, sweet, and tangy flavor. For me, that just translates into delicious.  Medjool dates are soft dates also known to have health benefits for your heart, brain and gut. You usually find them in the produce section of your grocery store, especially this time of year. I also like to purchase them locally at specialty stores such as Sassool in Cary or Neomonde in Raleigh.  Fontina Cheese is an alpine-style cheese more readily available in most markets. 

Dates Stuffed with Manchego and Topped with Pistachios and Honey

Dates stuffed with Manchego Cheese and Topped with Pistachios and Honey.


1 pound of Medjool Dates (approximately 30 dates)
6 ounces of Manchego cheese, cut into  1" X  1/2" strips
3-4 ounces of pistachios, salted and roasted
Drizzle of honey


Toast pistachios for 10-15 minutes in the oven at 325 degrees. Pull them out when they smell "toasty."

Use a paring knife, and make a slit down the center of one date.

Tuck a cheese strip inside the date, and repeat the same process for all 30 dates. Increase the to 350 degrees.

Place in a baking dish and warm in a 350-degree oven.

Remove from oven after cheese melts. Approximately 10 minutes.

Let it cool for 5 minutes, then drizzle it with honey and pistachios.

Dates are higher in calories so this is certainly not a low-calorie appetizer, but so worth it when you indulge. 

Easy and Quick Appetizer that is perfect for fall with Dates and Manchego Cheesetopped with Pistachios and Honey. #Entertaining #Appetizers #ManchegoCheese


You can also create a cheese board with grapes, olives, extra pistachios, and crackers. And don't worry about a fancy cracker---Ritz-Crackers work fine and pair well with this cheese.  Multigrain crackers are also a good choice. 

Manchego also pairs with certain jams, which can be another appetizer using this cheese. Red Pepper,  Hot Pepper jelly, or gourmet fig jam on a cracker topped with a piece of fontina cheese is delicious. 

Save More with Beautycounter: Unleash the Power of Clean Beauty

North Carolina, USA

Beautycounter, the leading clean beauty since 2013, has worked at its core mission to get safer beauty into the hands of everyone by changing beauty regulations and selling its inventory online, in person in Beautycounter branded stores, the retail chain Ulta, and in your communities through Brand Advocates.

Beautycounter Gift Set of Three Bestselling Creams

I've been a fan of the beauty brand since 2016,  when I tried my very first product, a luxurious eye cream using plant-based ingredients. Since then, that same eye cream that I continue to use and endorse has been reformulated, improved, and repackaged to rival top brands made in France that give the same anti-aging benefits as retinol but without some of the nagging side effects. You can buy the Countertime 

Ultra Renewal Eye Cream at Ulta if you like to see and feel textures before buying or if you need it 

ASAP.  I get it. My daughter loves to shop at both Ulta and Sephora, and because of that I've branched out through the years with products simply because they caught my eye in the store. 

No doubt, it's the season for holiday sales. I have a great opportunity for you to SAVE big time when you stock up on your own staples, and don't miss the already value-priced Gift Sets when you buy products through my brand advocate link on the blog. Beautycounter's holiday are packaged so they can go right in a gift bag, or just put a cute ribbon around the package. When you shop my link, I reward you with future free products through rewards. 

Beautcounter Mascara and Lip Gift Set

This is how you SAVE on Beautycounter. 
      1. For All product orders over $50, you will receive $7 in reward dollars. (That's the cost of your shipping back toward free full-size products.

      2. For All product orders over $150, you will receive an additional  $5 in reward dollars per each additional $100. That means if you order $250 in products, you will receive $10 in rewards plus the $7 for the first tier of rewards. 

      3. All Beautycounter products purchased under $50 will receive $3 in reward dollars. 

The following are some of my favorite products you will not be able to find in Ulta.

Beautycounter Lip Jellies Gift Set

  • Lashes & Lips Duo - - This gift contains a mini mascara and transforming lipstick (sheer lipstick that appears as a shade of sheer pink unique to your lips - think mood ring for your lips. 

  • Polish & Plump Facial Trio - This gift set contains Mighty Plump + Cleansing Balm + AHA Mask. This is the perfect trio for winter skincare, and it's seriously a steal for 3 of the best products Beautycounter makes.  I adore the Mighty Plump cream and use it as my daily moisturizer.  It's also not available in Ulta stores. 

  • Main Squeeze Lip Jellies -This is Beautycounter's top-selling gift this holiday season. Break them up and add a Starbucks GC for your girlfriends, or give this gift as it is.  They are the perfect stocking stuffers.  

  • Mini Beyond Gloss ($68 value)  I never really liked lip gloss until I tried Beautycounter's brand. It's not sticky, and at the same time, it moisturizes with the perfect shine.  I love this size for my purse. This set comes in four new shades. 

  • Goodnight and Glow Duo ($87 value). I will never stop buying the overnight resurfacing peel; now they make one for the body. This duo will wow; it's like a face-lift in a bottle. 

Do yourself a favor, and buy my favorite lip balm for yourself.  I promise you will love it. 

I also support Beautycounter's mission to spread awareness about learning what ingredients you put on your skin. Beautycounter is not an inexpensive brand, but a little bit of product goes a long way. These are some tips on saving money and getting the most out of your cosmetic and skincare budget. 

Here are a few tips to save money while purchasing Beautycounter's holiday gift sets:

1. Watch out for promotions: Beautycounter often runs special promotions during the holiday season. They may offer discounts, free shipping, or even gift-with-purchase deals. When you shop through me, you get this special access.

2. Beautycounter's gift sets are a fantastic way to get multiple products at a lower price compared to buying them individually. Look for sets that include your desired products and compare the cost savings to buying each item separately.

3. Take advantage of limited edition sets: Beautycounter releases limited-edition holiday sets annually. These sets are often priced lower than the combined cost of individual products. Grabbing these sets can be an excellent way to save money while trying out new products or stocking up on your favorites.

4. If you have friends or family members who also love Beautycounter, consider splitting the cost of a gift set. This way, you can enjoy the savings together while gifting each other something special.

5. Plan ahead and budget: Set a budget for your holiday shopping, including the amount you plan to spend on Beautycounter products. By planning ahead, you can allocate your funds wisely and avoid overspending. I also help you save by giving you reward dollars back. You can also pay using the Klarna app, which divides up your purchases into smaller amounts without interest. It's a game-changer.


Leigh Powell Hines is a Brand Advocate with Beautycounter and has been affiliated with the brand since 2016. If you would like to host your online pop-up or fundraiser, please fill out this contact form.   Leigh gives back up to 30 percent of all sales for group fundraising. 

Get the inside scoop on saving big on Beautycounter's clean beauty products this holiday season. Discover top-rated items that you won't find at Ulta and learn how to leverage exclusive brand advocate rewards for maximum savings.

A Classic Southern Sweet Potato Souffle Recipe from Historic Beaufort, N.C.

Updated November 7, 2023

If you are looking for an easy, southern holiday side, then I have the perfect recipe for you. It's not different from a casserole, but it is without marshmallows, which causes it to have the souffle name.  It will work great for any time of the year, but it screams the holidays because sweet potatoes are in season in North Carolina. This dish pairs well with the traditional holiday turkey or ham.  However, it is also divine with pork tenderloin. 

sweet potato casserole

Sweet Potato Souffle dish that is perfect for the holidays. #Holidays #SideDishes #SweetPotatoes

I've used this recipe for the holidays several times through the years.  This sweet potato classic dish was published in the St. Paul's Episcopal Church Cookbook, with the last print edition in 2004. I bought the cookbook that year in Beaufort, N.C.  

I used to go down to the historic home tour every year before kids and strollers entered our lives. Beaufort is the third oldest town in North Carolina and a favorite place of mine.  It's been a long time since updating the blog's travel guide on the area, but Liza and I spent a few days there with family this summer. It's a lovely town to walk in, with lots of coastal charm. 

Beautiful, historic Beaufort, N.C. with its beautiful boats.

The waterfront views and trees are just grand in this coastal village. 

Huge trees line the Beaufort waterfront.

I typically stay with my father-in-law when in town, but the city boasts a pet-friendly boutique hotel on the water called the Beaufort Hotel.  My family dined at the restaurant on-site during my last visit in June, and two items off the menu have me wanting to eat at 34° North Restaurant on each visit. They have delicious crabcakes and "out of this world., the best thing you will put in your mouth ever," which is not listed on its website. It's called the Atlantic Beach Pie. 

The homes are charming and always beautifully decorated. The Inn on Turner is a lovely boutique inn with four suites in the historic district a block or two off the waterway.  Innkeepers Kim and Jon speak my language with their focus on "Wellness Travel and Slow Travel" in beautiful surroundings. We've followed each other on social media for years, and guests rave about their experiences there. 

If you want a little taste of Beaufort in your own home, then give this sweet potato souffle recipe a try. 

This is a classic, traditional recipe that can be used for years. I have just one warning. It has lots of Sugar, but it's tasty.  I sometimes cut the sugar somewhat. 

North Carolina is a top producing Sweet Potato state

Sweet Potato Souffle Recipe from Historic Beaufort, N.C. 


3 cups of cooked, mashed sweet potatoes ( I baked my sweet potatoes in the oven for a few hours. Peeled them then smashed them quickly for this recipe)
1 cup sugar ( I used Sugar in the Raw)
1/4 cup butter, melted 
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup milk

Mix these ingredients until well blended and pour into a baking dish.

Sweet Potato Souffle Topping:

1 cup brown Sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix brown Sugar, butter, flour, and nuts. Sprinkle on sweet potato mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Sweet Potato Souffle with Pecan Topping

Southerners know a classic holiday dish when they find one. With sweet potatoes, sugars and pecans, this classic holiday recipe will delight your guests.

A Travel Guide to Historic Beaufort, N.C.


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