9 newsroom recipes from our family to yours

On Day 9 of our holiday countdown, we’re sharing 9 recipes from our newsroom
Updated: Dec. 21, 2018 at 4:09 PM CST
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EAST TEXAS (KLTV/KTRE) - One of the best parts of the holiday is sharing a meal with loved ones. So we gathered up all our favorite recipes from our newsroom to share with you this holiday season.

Mark Scirto’s sharing a traditional Italian Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs, Jeremy G. Butler’s Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookies lasted all of five minutes in our newsroom and and Hunter Sowards’ has a fudge that you’ll want to gorge yourself on.

And remember, we’ll be unveiling more magical ideas for desserts, dinner and side dishes throughout the month during our 12 Days of Christmas with East Texas Kitchen!

“I created this recipe using ingredients I love, and in colors that make it a fun ‘holiday soup’ idea,” says East Texas Kitchen Chef Stephanie “Mama Steph” Frazier. “It features fresh greens, mild, creamy white beans, bright tomatoes, and delicious flavor is added by using garlic, celery, and more. With all the nutrients in this soup, it’s a great one to keep in rotation during cold and flu season, too.”

Christmas Soup by Mama Steph

Christmas Soup by Mama Steph

Ingredients: About 3/4 pound of fresh turnip greens, kale, spinach, or arugula 1 quart chicken or vegetable broth 2 15-ounce cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed 15-ounce can diced tomatoes 2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 stalks celery, diced 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar


1. Place the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and then add the diced celery. Allow to saute for several minutes, until celery is tender.

2. Place the greens and broth in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Turn down just a bit, and allow to continually simmer.

3. Rinse the beans, and when greens have cooked down for 20 to 30 minutes, add them along with the remaining ingredients to the soup. Stir in, and allow to simmer for awhile to allow flavors to meld. I simmer for at least 15 minutes, and then check for the vegetables to be as tender as I prefer them. Add more broth or a bit of water if needed. 4. Season with salt and pepper before serving. Serve with garlic toast, sandwiches, or crackers. Enjoy!

These chocolate chip cheesecake cookies were a hit in our newsroom.

“The kiddo and I made these as an experiment,” says East Texas Now Anchor Jeremy G. Butler. “We weren’t sure how they were going to turn out but we’ll be making them again very, very soon.”

These chocolate chip cheesecake cookies were a hit in our newsroom.
These chocolate chip cheesecake cookies were a hit in our newsroom.(KLTV)


For the cookies:

  • 2.5 sticks softened, unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • For the cheesecake filling:
  • 12oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt


  • Preheat oven to 375 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Make Cheesecake filling
  • Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar and salt in small bowl. Mix well until mixture is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until slightly firm; about 30 minutes
  • Make Cookie Dough
  • Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy - about 2 minutes. Slowly beat in vanilla extract and eggs.
  • In separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Stir into butter/sugar mixture. Fold in chocolate chips.
  • Make Cookies
  • Scoop about a tablespoon of the cookie dough and flatten into a pancake like circle. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of the cheesecake filling into the center. Form another tablespoon of cookie dough into a flat circle and place on top of filling. Pinch the edges together to seal, then roll the filled dough into a ball.
  • Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly golden.

“I love this cornbread dressing because a) Southern cornbread (duh) and b) it’s a true family recipe,” says KLTV 7 Anchor Anissa Centers. “When most people talk about family recipes, they’re referencing recipes that have been in their families for generations. Those are great but for me this is a family recipe because it’s a recipe my husband and I found together years ago, when we started searching for a dressing that we both liked. That’s what marriage is supposed to be —a joining of people who choose to be family and who are willing to take the time to find ways to make one another happy, without sacrificing who you are, at your core. With that in mind, I introduce you to Miss Bettie’s Cornbread Dressing. P.S. for the sake of honesty, I admit that I use store bought biscuits.”


  • 3 pans cornbread (usually cooked in a 10 in iron skillet)
  • 6 to 8 biscuits (homemade... refrigerator biscuits would change the flavor)
  • 4 boiled eggs
  • 1 pkg. chicken breast tenders (bag actually, has a couple dozen in them)
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • oregano, to taste
  • basil, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup vermouth cooking wine
  • 4 celery stalks (use inner stalks for tenderness and best flavor)
  • 1 medium onion (Vidalia, if can be found)
  • 1/8 cup poultry seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Make three pans of cornbread, using your favorite cornbread recipe. Make one batch of biscuits.. Boil four eggs. Pour can of chicken broth in a large pot. Add chicken tenders, and fill the pan the rest of the way with water to cover the chicken. Add the 1/2 cup of vermouth (the kind you buy in the grocery store) and sprinkle in some oregano, basil, salt and pepper (however much you like). Stir it all up. Cook chicken tenders over medium heat until done. Save the broth after the chicken is cooked.

Run it through a strainer to get rid of the bits of foam and fat that accumulate while the chicken is cooking. Chop the celery and onion, and mash the eggs with a potato masher. Crumble the cornbread and biscuits into a very large container to have room for mixing. (If you use the disposable aluminum pan you won’t have to wash it!) Add the mashed eggs and the celery and onion to the bread mixture, and mix well. Tear the chicken tenders into bite sized pieces (throwing away and suspicious, rubbery bits).

Add the chicken to the mixture and mix well. Sprinkle poultry seasoning, black pepper and salt over mixture and mix well. Just before cooking, add enough chicken broth to THOROUGHLY moisten the mixture. Stir it up good to make sure the whole mixture gets wet! Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then check to see if brown. If not, continue to cook until top is slightly brown. (Time depends on quantity of dressing.)

“Growing up in Lockport, outside of Buffalo, New York, my family would gather every Sunday at my grandmother’s house after Sunday mass. There was always food cooking on the stove,” says KLTV 7 Chief Meteorologist Mark Scirto. “So much food, so much love, so many fond memories of days gone by. After my Nana died, my mother taught me to make this sauce and meatball recipe. Now, it is a staple at our Christmas Eve meal.”

  • 2 large cans whole tomatoes
  • 4 to 5  small cans of tomato paste
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  • garlic powder to taste
  • dried parsley to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 pounds of ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups Italian-style bread crumbs
  • Hot cooked spaghetti


Real Italian Spaghetti Sauce

Crush the tomatoes with the tomato paste in a large saucepan using a potato masher. Fill the tomato paste cans three-fourths full with water and stir into the saucepan. Cover the surface of the tomato mixture with Italian seasoning and add several shakes of garlic powder and dried parsley. Add salt, pepper and bay leaves and mix well. Cook over high heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

Mark’s Meatballs

Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add the onion and sauté until the onion is tender and starting to brown. Stir the onion and olive oil into the tomato sauce and reduce the heat. Combine the ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs, several shakes of garlic powder, a lot of Italian seasoning and dried parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well with clean hands. Shape into desired size.

Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add the meatballs and cook until browned on all sides. Add the meatballs and pan drippings to the spaghetti sauce. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6 to 8 hours, stirring every 20 to 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Skim the oil from the surface before serving, if desired. Serve over hot cooked spaghetti.

Tip: You may use bulk Italian sausage instead of ground beef in the meatballs and can also add Italian sausage to the sauce.

“There are sometimes added bonuses to being a reporter,” says KTRE Reporter Donna McCollum. “A few years ago I told the story of a Nacogdoches commercial home baker. Home bakers were facing strict laws that jeopardized their business. She baked up these cookies during the interview and sent some home with me. She also shared the 2006 Southern Living recipe. Fortunately, the restrictive laws never came to fruition allowing home bakers to share yummies with others. I like to bake these for my family when there’s time.”

White Chocolate-Dipped Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies

Prep Time: 46 Mins

Cook Time: 11 Mins

Yield: about 4 dozen


  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sweetened dried cranberries (we tested with Craisins)
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan pieces, toasted
  • 1 1/4 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats
  • 3 (4-ounce) white chocolate baking bars, coarsely chopped (we tested with Ghirardelli)
  • 3 tablespoons shortening

How to Make It

  • Step 1: Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugars, beating well. Add egg and vanilla, beating until blended.
  • Step 2: Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Stir in cranberries, pecans, and oats.
  • Step 3: Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls 2″ apart onto lightly greased baking sheets.
  • Step 4: Bake at 375° for 9 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Step 5: Microwave white chocolate and shortening in a medium-size microwave-safe bowl on HIGH 1 minute or until chocolate melts, stirring once. Dip half of each cookie into melted chocolate, letting excess drip back into bowl. Place dipped cookies on wax paper; let stand until firm.

“I love this recipe. It’s so perfect on a cold day. And, it’s even better when it’s straight out of the oven and lathered in good ol' butter,” says KLTV 7 Anchor Jennifer Kielman. “My son loves to help me bake in the kitchen. This is one of the first things he’s helped me with. Makes it special. It’s also delicious! So many people ask me for this recipe. I’m excited I get to share it with you.”

  • 4 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • Dash of cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease one loaf pan
  2. Mix sugar, oil, egg, vanilla, buttermilk, and bananas in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add in flour, soda, and salt.
  4. Pour into the pan.
  5. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes.
  6. Cool and remove from the pan.

“I heard about this recipe from a family friend,” says East Texas Now Anchor Lisa Wells. “It’s easy to prep and feeds quite a few people. We add a few more peppers than called for because my family likes a little spice! This is a great dish for food and fellowship with family not just over the Holiday’s, but anytime.”

  • 1 (4 pound) beef chuck roast
  • 1 (1 ounce) packet ranch dressing mix
  • (1 ounce) packet dry au jus mix
  • 5 pepperoncini peppers

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 8 hours

Ready in 8 hours 10 minutes


Place roast in a slow cooker. Form a pocket in the top of roast and place butter, pepperoncini peppers, ranch dressing mix, and au jus mix in the pocket. Cook on Low for 8 hours.

“This is a recipe my mother and I love making in big batches every holiday,” says KLTV 7 Anchor Erika Bazaldua. “It’s the perfect item to bring to parties, to add to any gift basket, or to have warm and ready on Christmas morning. But a word of caution, it’s addicting! Merry Christmas from the Bazalduas!”


  • 1 cup of butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup light Karo syrup 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1/2 tps. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • 4-5 bags of lightly buttered popcorn


  • Heat oven to 240 degrees. 
  • Heat butter, brown sugar, and syrup over stove until boil. Boil for five minutes. 
  • Add salt, baking soda, and vanilla extract. 
  • Pop 4-5 bags of popcorn and add to aluminum pan. Pour mixture over popcorn and stir. 
  • Heat in over for 1 hour, stirring and breaking up clumps every 15 minutes. 

“It’s not the holiday’s without walking into the kitchen and smelling a big pot of fudge on the stove,” says KTRE News Anchor Hunter Sowards. “I cant count how many Christmas’s the Sowards have spent feeling slightly sick to our stomach because of all the chocolate we’ve consumed. I wouldn’t trade a single moment of it for the world. My mother cannot cook very well (one of her very few flaws, haha!) — but we trust her with the fudge! If she can make it, you can too!”

  • 4 ½ cups of sugar 
  • 1 13 oz can of Pet milk
  • 1 stick + 1 tablespoon  butter
  • 1 stick + 1 tablespoon  margarine
  • 1 pound pecans, chopped 
  • 1 teas spoon vanilla
  • 18 oz semi-sweet  chocolate chips
  • 1 pound mini  marshmallows


  • Mix the first 4 ingredients well in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Boil for exactly 7 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Fold in remaining ingredients. Blend until chocolate and marshmallows are completely melted. 
  • Pour into buttered 3 quart pan.

Download the FREE East Texas Kitchen app today! Get hundreds of easy-to-make meals, recipes from local chefs and get access to video tutorials. Available in the Apple and Play stores.

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