Monthly Archives: December 2017

Brussels Sprouts & Bacon Casserole

  • Food-pic-Brussels-Sprouts-&-Bacon-Casserole1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 1 pack (8 ounces) bacon
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated white Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 

Remove outer leaves and stems from Brussels sprouts. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add Brussels sprouts and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes; drain and coarsely chop. Cook bacon until crisp; drain and crumble into large chunks. In a large bowl, lightly toss together the sprouts, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and half of the bacon. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and add the sprout mixture, spreading evenly. Pour cream over mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Add breadcrumbs and remaining bacon (do not stir in). Cut butter into pieces and place over casserole. Bake about minutes until bubbly and golden brown. Makes 4-6 servings.

Fake It to Make It

Community Groups in Action

fake it to make itIt’s time for one of the year’s favorite fundraising events. Fake It to Make It, a lip sync challenge to raise funds for SafeHomes Inc., will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 26 at the Miller Theater.

SafeHomes offers support to victims of domestic violence through advocacy, education and awareness. Founded in 1979, the organization affects the lives of more than 2,000 individuals and their families each year. Offering services for women, men and children, SafeHomes can house up to 24 individuals at one time in its emergency shelter. The nonprofit also provides outreach programs to nonresidential victims.

Other services include a 24-hour crisis hotline, legal advocacy, a support group, counseling and life skills classes. The organization serves a 10-county area including Columbia, Richmond, Lincoln and McDuffie counties.

fake it to make it“SafeHomes has truly filled a real need for over 30 years to many who have been unfortunately abused and that require confidential and caring help,” says Phil Alexander, CallingPost founder.

Seven contestants will vie for the Lip Sync Championship. Each contestant will prepare two performances to wow the audience and to work toward a fundraising goal of $10,000 for SafeHomes’ Domestic Violence Center. A championship belt will be awarded to the judges’ choice winner, and a second belt will go to the top fundraiser.

“Fake It to Make It has allowed SafeHomes to connect with the community in a unique way by engaging community members to participate in raising funds for our mission, as well as to do fake it to make itsomething that is outside of their comfort zone and normal routine,” says Jennifer Frantom, development director.

Tickets for the show are $15, $30 or $50, and buyers can “credit” their ticket amount to one of the contestants at the time of purchase. For more information, visit

Frosty’s Brownie Peppermint Cake Pops

  • Frosty's-Brownie-Peppermint-Pops1 box brownie mix
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • Cake pop or lollipop sticks
  • Crushed peppermint pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare brownies according to directions for fudgy brownies; let cool completely. Remove brownies from pan and cut off edges. Mix brownies together with softened cream cheese. Using a cookie dough scoop, scoop into balls and roll with hands. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Combine chocolate chips and vegetable oil in a bowl. Microwave 45 seconds, then stir until smooth. (If not fully melted, microwave an additional 10 seconds.) Insert cake pop sticks and dip brownie balls into white chocolate. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint pieces. Let sit until chocolate is set.

The Reel Deal

Photos courtesy of the Clarks Hill Youth Fishing Team

Photos courtesy of the Clarks Hill Youth Fishing Team

A local high school fishing team is schooling its competition with its success. 

Some people might think of fishing as a relaxing sport. Don’t tell that to the members of the Clarks Hill Youth Fishing Team, however. They thrive on competing against other high school fishing teams across the state. 

The Clarks Hill team includes anglers from eight to 10 middle and high schools in areas including Columbia, Richmond and Burke counties, Lincolnton and Watkinsville. With one fifth grader on the team this year, their ages range from 10 to 18. 

“The team will take any kids that are not affiliated with a school team,” says Christy Gonsalves, team mom and executive. “We’ll take them from as far away as they’re willing to drive.”

Anglers have to try out for the team, and they must demonstrate certain skill sets including casting skills, the ability to tie a palomar knot and a fisherman’s knot and the ability to use a trolling motor on a boat. 

“We have a large group that loves fishing, and they’re really good at it,” says Gonsalves. “We’re in a great area for fishing.”

Mason-Peace,-Boat-Captain-Tommy-Stephenson-and-Blake-Stephenson-BASS-state-Champion-ship-,-qualified-for-the-Nationals-3.48.19-PMTeam member Logan Plueger, 14, a ninth-grader at Grovetown High School, started fishing at Clarks Hill Lake with his grandmother when he was 2 years old.

“I like trying to figure out how I’m going to catch the fish,” says Plueger, who has been on the team for three years. “I try to look at the patterns that the fish are biting and the baits that they’re biting. Some of the fish are easier to catch than others. Bass are harder to catch.”

Seasoned Champions
The season, which started in mid-September, runs through June. Tournaments typically begin at first light on Saturdays, and weigh-ins are at 3 or 4 p.m. “They stay on the boat all day,” Gonsalves says. “The boys get to travel all over Georgia and see different lakes.”

Each vessel consists of two anglers and a boat captain, and 140-plus pairs of fishermen compete in each event. They fish for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass, and the competitions are strictly catch-and-release.

Evan-Gonsalves-and-Corey-Yaden-were-happy-with-thier-catch-that-day-3.48.19-PMMembers of the fishing club compete in local, regional and national tournaments, including the Border Bass at Clarks Hill Lake in December. The Clarks Hill team, which was started five years ago, has had success on all levels of competition.

In April, for instance, the team won first place at the Georgia Bass Youth Top 6 State Championship on Lake Blackshear for the third year in a row. Team member Blake Stephenson took first place and caught the big fish; second place finisher Mason Peace also caught the No. 2 big fish; Evan Gonsalves came in fourth individually.

In June Peace and Stephenson finished seventh in the BASS Nation High School Fishing Classic at Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee, Georgia. They also qualified for the Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship on Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tennessee later that month. In fact, the club has sent two anglers to nationals four times.

Giving Back
Through tournament fishing, high school students can earn college scholarships and learn sportsmanship. High school teams also are required to do a conservation project each year. Last year, the Clarks Hill team made a fish habitat out of piping and dropped it in Clarks Hill Lake just off the new dock at Wildwood Park.

“There is so much they can get out of it,” says Gonsalves. “They learn patience and determination. They develop an appreciation and respect for the sport of fishing. They’re not just a fishing team. They give back to the community.”

sportsliteClarks Hill team members volunteer at the spring and fall Fish for Life Foundation fishing rodeos and at the fall Paralyzed Veterans of America tournament. They also help with the annual Toys for Tots holiday campaign.

“They go to Walmart, and each angler grabs a buggy and goes shopping for Toys for Tots,” says Gonsalves. “They get so excited about buying toys for kids they will never meet.”

Plueger enjoys shopping for others. “I get to help people and see how that affects their everyday lives,” he says. 

In addition to Plueger, Stephenson, Peace and Gonsalves, the 2017-18 team members are Nick Adams, Caleb Barrow, Brayden Batchelor, Logan Dixon, Fisher Faulkner, Gavin Gilbert, Jarvis Harden, Micah Holliman, Colton Hunt, Cole Langford, Caleb Medders, Cody Reeves, Dalton Reeves, Caleb Vakoc, Evan Vakoc, Corey Haden, Chris Shay and Kyle Salazar.

By Todd Beck

All is Bright

In The Home
All is Bright

Photography by Haley Lamb

From shiny gold balls and shimmering ribbons to whimsical themed Christmas trees, the holiday décor in this Magnolia Ridge home blends elegance and fun.

Most of the year, all is calm at the Evans home of Karen and Clarence Malcom. After all, they built their house nine years ago on three acres of tranquil wooded property in Magnolia Ridge. 

On Christmas, however, that heavenly peace turns into a flurry of activity when about 50 family members celebrate at their house with them. The Malcoms enjoy the holiday with their three children and seven grandchildren as well as Karen’s siblings (she’s one of five children) and their extended families. 

“Christmas is the only time of year the entire family can get together,” she says. 

Making the yuletide gay long before the guests arrive, however, Karen decks the halls with Christmas décor that ranges from the traditional to the whimsical.

“I love to decorate,” says Karen. “I like to try different things and see what works.” 

Front-Porch-2Gold Standard
Christmastime is evident at the Malcom home before visitors even cross the threshold through the front door. Wreaths with festive gold bows adorn the outside windows, and a trio of small trees strung with white lights sits in containers along the garage.

Two more wreaths with gold bows and gold poinsettias hang on the front doors that are surrounded with greenery all aglow with white lights. On the flagstone, covered front porch, two poinsettias sit in planters by the doors. A pair of decorated trees with red skirts guard arched windows. Three lighted decorative presents – one green, one red and one white – rest on the porch as if St. Nick has just stopped by as well. A bench, where a Christmas pillow rests on the seat, occupies each corner of the porch, and two wooden reindeer sit on the walkway that leads up the front porch steps.

The holiday finery continues inside with three large Christmas trees in different rooms in the house.

An elegantly decorated tree draped with red and gold ornaments stretches toward the two-story ceiling in the living room. “We call this my tree because I want it to look like this,” says Living-Room-Nativity-SceneKaren. Presents wrapped in gold paper and tied with red ribbon for the teenaged family members sit beneath the tree.

And the location of the tree in the center of the room doesn’t occur by happenstance. “A friend of mine told me that I built the living room around being able to put the tree in the middle of the room,” Karen says. “She was right.”

On the mantel above the gas fireplace, figures of Mary, Joseph and the Christ child are nestled in rows of greenery and gold balls. A full nativity sits atop a blanket of gold fabric on a table behind the couch.

Red oak flooring is found throughout the house, and an arched door to a hall leads to the master suite. The master bedroom, which features a four-poster bed, opens onto a covered porch. More touches of gold highlight the master bath décor, including gold balls in a white bowl by the tub and gold silk poinsettias and greenery in a vase by the tub.

Inside Track to Fun
If the living room reflects Karen’s personality, then the study is all Clarence. And Clarence, undoubtedly, is an avid NASCAR fan whose favorite drivers are the late Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

A NASCAR-themed tree is filled with auto racing-related ornaments, including balls bearing the number 3 and the number 8 in honor of the Earnhardts – Dale drove the No. 3 car and Dale Jr. once drove the No. 8 car, gas pump ornaments and racecar ornaments. Clarence also collects model cars, and part of his collection is parked on top of a tree skirt made of – what else? – black-and-white checkered fabric.

Dining-Area-2NASCAR stockings are draped on top of wing chairs covered in NASCAR-themed fabric. “I don’t think he’ll ever let me cover these chairs again,” Karen says.

French doors lead into the study, which has black trim around the room, and more of Clarence’s car collection is displayed in a curio cabinet. A Monopoly game table sits in one corner of the room, and a small jukebox stands in another corner. “My 5-year-old grandson loves the jukebox,” says Karen. “He loves to turn the lights on and off.”

The third tree in the house in the family room has an inside track to merriment as well. “This is a fun tree,” says Karen. “Any time we go to Disney World or Key West, we buy an ornament for this tree. It also has several ornaments that sing when you push a button.”

Packages swaddled in shiny lime green paper and bright red ribbons are piled under this tree to await the younger grandchildren on Christmas morning. Greenery brightens the arched TV opening above the mantel of the stacked stone fireplace. A red poinsettia guards the fireplace, and Santa figurines rest on the built-in bookshelves. 

The colorful, fun theme continues into the adjoining breakfast nook, where square red plates with lime green polka dots top the table that is tucked into a bay window. Ornaments dangle from the light fixture above the table.

Kitchen-1The kitchen, which also is connected to the family room and breakfast nook, showcases Karen’s creativity with its pale green ceiling and tri-colored cabinets.

“I didn’t want any white ceilings in the house. I wanted to paint the ceilings different colors,” says Karen.

The kitchen cabinets are a combination of walnut stain, old world finish and black paint. “I like all of the finishes, so our cabinet man said, ‘Let’s do all three,’” says Karen. 

Striped Christmas balls hang from the light fixture above the island, which features a walnut stain and a sink. Other cabinets and the hood above the stove feature a walnut stain. The kitchen also includes stainless steel appliances, a tumbled stone backsplash and granite countertops.

“This is where we live,” Karen says of the connected rooms. And the kitchen sees plenty of activity during the holidays. While everyone brings food to share, Karen says the best part of Christmas is spending time with her family and making her children’s favorite sweets.

“I always make a chocolate layered cake for my son,” she says. “One of my daughters loves plum cake, but two years ago we didn’t even cut the cake so I made her take it home.” 

Covered-Porch-1Outdoor Décor
Even if they don’t have a chance to enjoy all of their holiday desserts, the extended Malcom family always spends time outdoors during the holidays and all year round. And why wouldn’t they? From their covered back porch, the Malcoms can hear birds chirping or catch sight of deer, wild turkeys and red foxes.

“We love to be outside, so I do a lot of decorating outside,” says Karen.

The wraparound covered porch features tile flooring, and Christmas decorations include a round glass table topped with a red lantern, red ornaments and greenery. A small tree sits in the center of a wrought iron table. Greenery with strands of white lights is wrapped around the railing.

A lighted wreath with a red, a green and a gold ball adds Christmas cheer to the landing on the stairs leading to a lower covered porch that features elements of Key West, Florida.

The lower porch features a bead board ceiling that they installed themselves, terracotta tile flooring, colored lights laced in greenery on the railing, a bar that Clarence built, a TV, grills and prints on the wall by Key West artists.

“We go to Key West every year,” says Karen. “It’s laidback, relaxing and fun.”

Just like the holidays at the Malcom home. 

By Betsy Gilliland