Wow Guests withThe Mid-Century Pineapple Cheese Ball (Easy Recipe)

North Carolina, USA

Once I had graduated from college and had my own home in the nineties while working as a TV reporter in the small town of Whiteville, N.C.,  I hosted a Christmas Eve party. This casual but dressy party became a holiday tradition, and many friends would pop in to wish my family Christmas cheer. 

At that stage of my life, it was more about wine than food. To put it simply, I did not cook until I had my first child at 37. One of the first things I learned to make was a Pineapple Cheese Ball from the First Presbyterian Church in Whiteville. I lived two houses directly behind the church, attended the church, and purchased the cookbook in 1994. It was the church's third cookbook to go to press. As I stated, I didn't cook much back then, but I loved to read cookbooks. Consider reading cookbooks like searching for recipes on Pinterest now. This was way before most people had the internet. Believe it or not, we had to rely on cookbooks, newspapers, and magazines to provide us with recipe ideas. 

The pastor's wife submitted a Pineapple Cheese Ball recipe for the book that caught my attention, and I took a big chance and made it for my annual Christmas Eve gathering that year. After that, I began making the cheeseball every year after people said they liked it. Then, in Christmas of 1999, I moved to Raleigh, the end of my holiday parties and famous cheeseball. 

I've not made the Pineapple Cheese Ball since 1998, but I'm bringing it back, baby!!! The cheese ball is being resurrected in 2022. 

Cheeseballs were at the height of their popularity in the forties during wartime for budget-friendly reasons. During my Southern upbringing, cheeseballs were fashionable for parties. But it was a simple ball of cheese covered in nuts. My kids are from the new cheeseball generation, where cheeseballs look like holiday trees, wreaths, and snowmen for holiday parties. 

I'm still that mid-century gal keeping it simple and cheesy. I could make it in the shape of a square for this next generation, toss some red bell peppers into the form of a bow, and call it the gift of Christmas past. Nah, that's too complicated! That's why it is a cheese ball. Simple and easy. 

Pineapple Cheese Ball with nuts and crackers

Pineapple Cheese Ball

1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened

1 small can of crushed pineapple, drained

1/4 cup of finely chopped green peppers

2 TBS of finely chopped onion

2 cups pecans

2 tsp seasoned salt (Lawry's)

2 oz grated cheese

Mix all of the ingredients together except 1/2 of the pecans. Form into a ball. Chill the cheese ball before rolling it in the remaining pecans, then roll the ball in the pecans. Chill before serving. It can be served with crackers or gingersnaps. 

To modernize this cheese ball recipe for our post-Covid years, make two dozen small balls for individual servings with crackers. 

Individual size cheese balls

Cupola House Wassail Recipe from Edenton, NC

North Carolina, USA

 Updated: Dec. 2022

I've always been a fan of the holiday drink called Wassail, which is made with a hot mulled cider base, and Russian Tea or Spiced tea with a tea base. They are similar in taste and are great on a cold winter's day.  However, the drink Wassil has rich English history, hence, the Christmas carol, "Here come a-wassailing!! Wassailing is an English yuletide drinking tradition where people go door-to-door to spread holiday cheer and good wishes in the new year. 

Edenton is North Carolina's second oldest town, founded in 1722. It has a fabulous recipe for Wassail. It will be a delight for your holidays, too. 

An Image of wassail in silver punch bowl and historic cupola house in Edenton, NC

Cupola House Wassail Recipe

1-gallon apple cider
2 (12-ounce) cans of frozen lemonade
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1/3 teaspoon ground allspice
4 sticks cinnamon
5 dried apple rings
1/2 orange, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
1 quart of white wine

Mix the first five ingredients in a large pot. Heat to boiling and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Place fruit in the bottom of the punch bowl. Add wine. Pour cider mixture over fruit and wine. Serve. 

Historic Cupola House decorated for the holidays

I've had the pleasure of working with Visit Edenton this December, promoting it as a  #CountonMeNC travel-friendly destination in 2021. As North Carolina's first colonial capital, this charming town has been making holiday wassail for over 250 years. The Cupola House, one of the oldest British buildings in the United States, is known for its gardens and wassail. Cupola House Wassail is always served along with delightful cookies when the home is open yearly to the public for the Edenton's Candlelight Tour. 

The Georgian-style home was built-in 1758 for Frances Corbin, an agent for Lord Granville, one of the original eight proprietors given land by the British crown in the Carolinas. By 1918, the home was in disarray, and a group of Edenton volunteers, banned together under The Cupola House Association, purchased the home to preserve it. 

Before becoming the museum it is today, the house was the Chowan County library for forty-five years. In 1971, the house was designated as a Registered Historic National Landmark. 

Lady serving wassail at Cupola House in Edenton, NC

Edenton's Cupola House has seen many ships come and go in the Albemarle Sounds. The house is available for tour on one of the town's historic walking tours. In addition, the gardens are open to the public daily.


The Cupola House Wassail Recipe is printed in Recipes From St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Edenton, NC. I found a cookbook published in 1995 in my mother-in-law's storage unit. I brought it back to life in 2002 and have enjoyed many recipes from this collection. It's probably one of my favorite North Carolina cookbooks. 

Two glass-mugs filled with hot wassail

Learn more about this historic North Carolina town to plan your delightful distancing getaway  to Edenton, NC 

hot cider drink with wine and spices

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Holidays in Raleigh, NC: The Iconic Angus Barn is a Southern Tradition for Families

Raleigh, NC, USA
Updated: December 2022

Magical Holidays at the Angus Barn in Raleigh

When you drive down Highway 70 between Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina, you will spot an iconic red barn that has created pure holiday magic in the Triangle for families for over 50 years.

And holiday decorations at the Angus Barn, a premier steakhouse in Raleigh, get better and better every year. It's like N.C.'s mountain's Biltmore Estate for the eastern part of North Carolina, just on a smaller scale.

The famous iconic Angus Barn in Raleigh, NC

The exterior of Angus Barn twinkles as soon as you see it. It's surrounded by car lots and commercial businesses on a bustling highway. However, despite the hustle and bustle, the Angus Barn still projects that same holiday magic of yesteryear. When this restaurant was first established in 1960 in Raleigh, it was located in the country. Seriously, the country! The country where you would see barns in rural North Carolina. I have photos of my parents dressed up and attending business Christmas parties. Even though Raleigh's Angus Barn is spread among urban sprawl on Highway 70,  it is one of Raleigh's most iconic places to visit, especially during the holidays.

The Angus Barn maintains its country roots with a rustic, elegant interior. But, this is no country Cracker Barrel, even though the Angus Barn Country Store sells its famous cheese and crackers. But, of course, Angus Barn elves are modern now and ship everywhere, so non-Southerners can taste what's so great about Raleigh's destination. With most entrees priced above $30 and a children's menu starting at $14, it's where many Southern families splurge during the holiday season.

Diners inside the Angus Barn love the Holiday Season

People flock here because it's an experience like none other. A purely magical, joyous experience for kids. To dine during regular dining times like 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, in December, you may need to make Angus Barn dinner reservations up to a year in advance. The Angus Barn extends its hours during the holiday season, though, and if you can sit down to eat dinner at 10:00 pm, you can snag a reservation during this busy time for the restaurant.

Inside the Angus Barn at the holidays

Dinner at the Angus Barn is steeped with tradition, and unlike most high-end steakhouses in America these days, they do not do that a-la-carte business of sharing a larger side with the table. Instead, your 14-ox "IronChef" Ribeye (Oh, yeah. There's that, too. Angus Barn Executive Chef Walter Royal won T.V.'s Iron Chef Competiton. He beat chef Cat Cora) comes with your choice of soup or salad and a side. Bread, homemade crackers, cheese, and fresh raw veggies are on the table for every Angus Barn diner to enjoy. Even for non-beef eaters, the Angus Barn menu has something for everyone to enjoy.

The Angus Barn is beautifully decorated during the Holiday Season

But, the view of the Angus Barn restaurant through the magic of a child's eye is where this eatery has its edge. Beautiful trees, appearances by Santa, and life-sized elves greet you at the door with homemade gingerbread cookies and hot cocoa. It's like North Carolina's own North Pole.

There is a toy box for kids, and the staff takes them into the kitchen to make their dessert sundae after dinner.

The only downside is for kids who are true steak lovers because the Angus Barn kid's menu has a variety of typical kid-like items, but the only steak choice for kids is a chopped hamburger steak. I've talked to many parents (you know, parents today have more sophisticated little foodies) who frequent this venue year after year, and they all have expressed their desire for a small filet option for kids. So, Angus Barn, are you listening? Unfortunately, one child is aging out of the Angus Barn kid's menu. He'll be 13 this month and has disliked any kid-type menu for years.

My son is one expensive date these days. But more and more elementary-school-aged children are eating fish and filet cuts of beef these days. So things have changed since the 60s.

And I must not forget the lady's parlor for little girls like mine. Liza remembered the bathroom experience more than anything. It's a fancy parlor; they have all these toiletries to powder your nose. It's a little girl's adult version of the blingy store Justice.

It's fancy inside Raleigh's Angus Barn Ladies Room. Kids love it.

Can I wait for a Table at the Angus Barn?

During the week, you may have more luck waiting for a table, but the wait is long. Good thing you have lots of holiday decor and elves to view while you wait for a table. However, the restaurant's Angus Barn Wild Turkey Lounge upstairs is a first-come, first-serve, no, reservation dining with a full-service menu. It is open in the early afternoon during the holidays with a special sandwich-type menu, and it typically has live music at night. This part of the restaurant is charming. 

Upstairs at the Wild Turkey Lounge inside the Angus Barn in Raleigh, NC

It is a sophisticated bar, so if you have older children like me who are used to dining in luxury hotels and do not have to dine off a kid's menu,  I will not hesitate to dine here in the late afternoon with them. Dining in the Wild Turkey Lounge offers elegance without the family bells and whistles downstairs. The Christmas season makes this lounge even more appealing.

Have you dined at the Angus Barn in Raleigh, N.C.?

The Angus Barn also has a Pavillion that hosts private parties. In December, parking is at a premium. It, of course, is free to look around the Angus Barn. The Angus Barn is closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.

The Angus Barn is decked out beautifully for the holidays in #Raleigh #NorthCarolina. It's great for kids and parents. #Holidays #Decor #Restaurants

The blog's local sponsor, Gladwell Orthodontics, made my time to write this post possible in Raleigh, N.C. 

I last visited the Angus Barn on my birthday after Christmas in 2017. All photos were taken by Leigh Powell Hines and are subject to copyright. 

Heavenly Hash: A Simple, Everyday Dessert with COOL WHIP

North Carolina, USA
Updated: November 27, 2022
The recipe was originally posted in 2013

chilled Fruit salad with Cool Whip

When you have had a blog as long as I have had now, it's fun to go back through your earlier work. This recipe is a modern twist on a similar recipe my Dad made during the holidays. There are many variations to this sweet salad. I always recommend using mandarin oranges. My dad always used fresh fruit. He passed away from a brain tumor in the spring of 2005. One of my last memories of him was the holiday of 2004 in my kitchen making this salad before we knew he had brain cancer. He would use apples, pecans, mandarin oranges, sweetened coconut, and crushed canned pineapple. He called it Ambrosia salad. Some recipes also call for sour cream; I do not know if he used this ingredient. The "Heavenly Hash" version I made did not use sour cream, which sometimes cuts the sweetness and gives it a tangy twist. 

I think for this holiday season, I will experiment and try to make it more like my Dad did and perhaps include a little bit of sour cream.  This salad can be served in many ways, but another twist is to layer fresh fruit on top for a decorated look. Have fun and experiment with it. I don't think you can go wrong, but you must use the brand Cool Whip.  No substitutions!!!

My grandmother certainly had a sweet tooth, and some of my fondest memories are of when I spent a week with her at her home in Durham, and we would whip up an easy dessert using COOL WHIP whipped topping. She had several in her recipe box, and the best part of cooking with her each summer is that I used to sneak a little finger-tasting of COOL WHIP before it was tossed in with the rest of the ingredients.

Cool Whip and Fruit Mixture

Fast forward thirty-five years, and I’m trying to make some of the same memories with my children that I made with my grandma. Unfortunately, my son never got to meet my dad or his great-grandmother, but he shares a quality they both had: He loves to cook (Or at least he did when he was younger, not necessarily true in 2022)

Unfortunately, I don’t have the recipe my father or grandmother used, but one of my church cookbooks had something very similar to my family’s recipe. My dad used mandarin oranges, but this recipe version uses pineapple only. The taste is old-fashioned, but I’m serving it with a modern, cosmopolitan twist.

Modern Twist on Heavenly Hash, Served with Chess Cookie and in a Cosmopolitan glass.

Hines Heavenly Hash (Sometimes Called Ambrosia) 

1 (8 oz) can pineapple tidbits, well-drained
2 cups COOL WHIP whipped cream, thawed
1 cup of sweetened coconut
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/4 cup chopped maraschino cherries
3 tablespoons milk

Mix all ingredients together. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Garnish with a Chess cookie.

This dessert needs to chill an hour before serving, so we make it in the afternoon, and then it’s ready that evening for dessert, or it can even be done as an afternoon treat on a Sunday as soon as it is prepared. 

It’s simple. It’s delicious!

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Recipe for Raleigh Kanki's Garlic Chicken Fried Rice in Honor of its 50th Birthday

Raleigh, NC, USA

North Carolinians have celebrated special occasions at Kanki Japanese House of Steaks and Sushi in the Raleigh area for 50 years. My husband celebrated birthdays there as a child. We started doing the same tradition for our son, who will be 17 at the end of the year. Some people don't even have a special occasion to dine there. Instead, they enjoy the hibachi menu after a day of shopping at Crabtree Valley. 50 years in business. That is quite a milestone in the restaurant industry. 

Kanki hibachi-style Rice

If you've never been to Kanki Japanese House of Steaks and Sushi, you dine at a table with others unless your dining party takes up an entire hibachi grill. A server takes your order then the chef prepares your food in front of you. Each chef always has their own personality. Kids clap. Parents take photos, and it's pretty magical when a young child sees the chef turn the grill into a huge flame. Personally, I always hope I get the Teppanyaki Chef with the "wee-wee" boy who puts out the fire. Of course, not everyone loves the wee-wee boy like my family does, but that silliness, along with the fabulous yum yum sauce and the fried rice, has always made this restaurant a favorite of mine. 

Now that my kids are older, they also want sushi and the hibachi entree. It was less costly when they ate the kid's meal. Those were some good times. I rarely choose anything else but my usual filet mignon and shrimp, with my filet, always being medium-rare. The chef always nods like it's the best choice and typically gives me extra rice because half of it is gone before he can put my shrimp and steak on my plate. I always have the good intention of taking some of it home, but the white sauce mixed with the fried rice, meat, seafood, and vegetables just tastes so darn good that I end up waddling out of the restaurant with about five pounds extra in my stomach. 

Kanki white sauce

Kanki has been locally owned and operated since its flagship location opened at Crabtree Valley Mall in 1972. Since then, Kanki has opened two additional locations - one in North Raleigh and one in Durham/Chapel Hill. Kanki is known for being the Triangle's favorite place for celebrations. Kanki is proud to have been voted "Best Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar in the Triangle" for more than 14 years!

Kanki Hibachi Grill

In honor of its 50th Anniversary, Corporate Chef Alex Cordova shared the home-chef version of fried rice with me. I'm thrilled to make this at home because I love Kanki's Fried Rice. This version is a complete meal with chicken. 

Garlic Chicken Fried Rice

Kanki Garlic Chicken Fried Rice Recipe


2 cups of steamed white rice (short or medium grain)
1/2 cup of diced chicken, cut small
1/8 cup of green onions
1/4 cup of chopped white onion
1/4 cup of chopped carrots
1 tablespoon of garlic-butter
Soy Sauce
Sesame Seeds 
Cooking Oil

Heat oil in a pan. Add chicken. Salt and Pepper. Cook until about 1/2 way cooked. 

Add carrots and onions. Toss well. Move the mixture to one side of the pan. Add additional oil. 

Crack egg. Move the pan away from direct heat and begin to scramble the egg. 

Once scrambled, mix egg and chicken together, then add the white rice. Mix. Toss for a minute or two.  

Add 1 tablespoon of garlic butter to the rice mixture. You can add a little more if you love the flavor. Continue to mix and make sure all tiny rice clumps are separated. Finally, add a little more salt and pepper to the rice. 

Continue to cook by mixing, tossing, and removing any rice clumps.

Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Continue to mix for another minute. Toss in some sesame seeds. You do this last for it to remain crunchy. Mix.  

Plate the garlic chicken fried rice in a bowl. Toss with more sesame seeds. 

From heating oil to mixing sesame is approximately a five-minute process. Kanki calls this a single serving, but more than likely, it would feed two people unless you wanted to eat two cups of rice.  

Oh my, I now realize how much rice I eat Kanki in person.

Happy 50th Kanki!! We are so glad to celebrate with you. 

Photo Credits: Carolina Stamey

Delicious and Easy Blackberry Pie Recipe from NC-Founded Tupelo Honey Cafe

North Carolina, USA
Updated and rewritten: August 2022
Originally Posted: April 2014 

This post was originally written before the popular restaurant Tupelo Honey Southern Kitchen and Bar opened near NC State in the Village District in Raleigh, NC. I attended a media event for the release of the restaurant's second cookbook: Tupelo Honey Cafe: New Southern Flavors from the Blue Ridge Mountains. The first-ever Tupelo Honey Cafe began in the Blue Ridge M mountains of Asheville, NC in 2000. Since then, the popular brunch and dinner restaurant has expanded into 13 additional Southern and not-so-Southern states. The award-winning Tupelo Honey brand operates four locations in North Carolina. Two locations in Asheville, one in Charlotte, and one in Raleigh at 425 Oberlin Road. All Tupelo Honey locations are under the direction of Executive Chef and Culinary VP Eric Gabrynowicz, who helped author the restaurant's third cookbook highlighting Southern Spirits and Small Plates. 

The first recipe I ever made from the cookbook was the restaurant's recipe for scrumptious Blackberry Pie.

Blackberry Pie Recipe from Tupelo Honey Cafe

Blackberries are in peak picking season in North Carolina from August to early September. The fruit grows best in Western North Carolina. I have many fond memories of picking fresh blackberries in my grandma's yard. Yes, God probably didn't intend for us to get the health benefits of the scrumptious berry in a sweet dessert, but who can resist a blackberry pie once in a while? Blackberries, in season in late summer, provide fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and antioxidants. When I don't buy directly from my NC-produce box or the farmer's market. I typically choose the Driscoll's brand in my local grocery store. Driscoll's website is also an excellent resource for all berry recipes. Berries can be used in many, many ways. Honestly, I'm obsessed now with Driscoll's recipe section and plan to try some of their recipes to get more berries in my family's diet. 

Blackberries have any many health benefits. The black berry can be used in many recipes. Benefits include Vitamin C, Fiber and Antioxidants

In its cookbook, Tupelo Honey has its own pie-crust recipe. Those who have been following me for years know that I rarely bake cakes, and pies, so it will not be a surprise when I tell you that I used storebought pie crust. However, I'm fond of the Pillsbury brand the most. So, other than making my own pie crust, I followed the recipe. 

HinesSightBlog Version of Tupelo Honey Cafe's Blackberry Pie Recipe 

7 cups of fresh blackberries ( I buy Driscoll's brand when at the grocery store the most)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon of Sugar (I use Sugar in the Raw)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
Tupelo Honey Pie Dough Recipe, page 205 in the cookbook (I use Pillsbury even though the recipe does not seem hard. It's easy for me to use storebought. Use directions on the box). 

Heat over to 375 degrees.

Toss blackberries with vanilla in a large bowl. Combine the 1/2 cup of Sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk to blend. Add to blackberries and toss gently to coat. 

Put your crust in a pie pan and mound the fruit mixture on top of the crust. 

Place the second pie crust on top of the fruit mixture and crimp the two crusts together.

The cookbook wants you to make 5 petal-shaped vents in the center of the top crust, forming a flower design. I'm sure I tried but failed miserably, so I put five vents in the crust. Brush the top crust with the egg wash mixture and sprinkle lightly with 1 teaspoon of Sugar. 

Place the pie on a baking sheet. Bake until the bottom crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling. If you douse your own crust, then bake for one hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. I would check the storebought crust at the 45-minute mark until ready and determine if done baking. If necessary, cover the edges with tinfoil if they begin wrapper-brown or loosely cover the pie in tinfoil if the center browns. 

Let the pie cool and serve it warm. If you are local to NC, I suggest getting some vanilla ice cream from the NC-State University-founded Howling Cow Creamery. The fabulous NC-made ice cream is also available in select Harris Teeter lo. PintsNorth Carolina and pints are sold at the creamery location off Lake Wheeler road in Raleigh. It's one of my 's favorite places to go for homemade ice cream. 

Delicious and Easy Blackberry Pie Recipe. Blackberry Pie Slice

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Creamy Chicken Alfredo and Spinach Soup Recipe in 20 Minutes or Less

Spring and Summer are when you want easy meals.  My family likes alfredo sauce so I always keep a jar in my pantry for quick meal ideas.  I made this soup in early spring and liked it.  However, I would substitute lasagna noodles for rotini pasta or pasta shells. 

Creamy Chicken Alfredo and Spinach Soup
Created by Epicure. Photo credit: Epicure


1 tsp oil
1 lb (450 g) ground chicken or chicken breasts 
1 jar of Alfredo Sauce or Alfredo sauce packet
2 cups hot water
5 lasagna noodles or pasta of your choice 
2 cups milk
4 cups of baby spinach

Toppings (optional): sliced cherry tomatoes, grated cheese


  1. In a large Multipurpose Pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Crumble in ground chicken. Cook, stirring often and breaking up chunks as needed.
  2. Add sauce mix and water; stir to combine. Cover; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once boiling, coarsely break in lasagna noodles. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until noodles are tender about 8 min. Stir occasionally. I am going to switch this out to rotini pasta or shells next time. 
  4. Stir in milk. Keep partially covered and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally for 2 min. If using jarred alfredo sauce, I would add some milk to reduce thickness so it is a soup consistency,  but you do not need to do the #2 step except to heat the sauce. 
  5. Remove from heat and stir in spinach until wilted.
  6. Add toppings just before serving, if desired.

Nutritional Information

Per serving (about 1 ½ cups): Calories 390, Fat 15 g (Saturated 5 g, Trans 0.3 g), Cholesterol 115 mg, Sodium 390 mg, Carbohydrate 33 g (Fiber 2 g, Sugars 3 g), Protein 31 g.

Pot of creamy  chicken alfredo soup with spinach. Garnished with cherry tomatoes and cheese

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