For these recipes, I chose to call on three of the most influential people in my life — my mom, my grandmother, and my cousin/former youth pastor. Not only have I shared many meals and laughs with each of these family members, but they have also shared with me godly mentorship that has encouraged my walk with the Lord. This Christmas I am so thankful for each of these special people and for the wonderful gifts of faith, family and food.  




by Elizabeth McCaughn (my grandmother)


  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1 cup white corn syrup
  • 4 cups sugar


     In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar, corn syrup and water. Stir only until sugar has dissolved. Do not stir after this point. Cook syrup mixture until it reaches 255° F on a candy thermometer, bringing it to a hard ball consistency.

     While the syrup is cooking, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Once the sugar mixture reaches 255° F, carefully pour a slow steady stream of syrup into the stiffly beaten egg whites, beating constantly at high speed. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until mixture holds its shape, approximately 5 minutes. (Do not overmix or candy will get stiff and crumbly.) Stir in pecans.

     Using two spoons, drop the divinity in heaping teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper, using one spoon to push the candy off the other. If the candy becomes too stiff, add a few drops of hot water. You will need to work fast when making this type of candy. Let stand at room temperature until dry to the touch. Store between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container at room temperature.




by Stephanie Housley (my mom)


  • 1/4 cup seasoned salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 (4-pound) boneless pork loin, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


     Preheat oven to 400°. Place pork loin on a rack in a roasting pan.

     In a small bowl, stir together seasoned salt, garlic power and red pepper. Rub tenderloin with oil, and sprinkle with seasoning mixture.

     Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until browned. Transfer pork to roasting pan.

     Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 155°. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes before slicing.




by Bubba Holifield (cousin and former youth pastor)


  • 2 cans (8 count) crescent rolls 
  • 1 1.2 sticks margarine or butter 
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar 
  • 1 1/2 cups water 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 
  • 8 sweet potato patties, halved (can be found in frozen food aisle)
  • Cinnamon to taste 


     Spray a 9×13” pan with cooking spray. Roll one half of a sweet potato patty in each crescent roll, starting with the large end. Place in pan and sprinkle with cinnamon. Continue until all are in the pan. Combine sugar, water and butter in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Take off the heat and add vanilla. Pour over rolls. Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.


Anna Claire O’Cain is a Scott County native, former English teacher, and current grad student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Liberty University. She is married to her best friend, J.T., who is a teacher and youth pastor. Most of all, she is a believer who is passionate about serving God through missions and worship. Through MCL, she is able to use her love for writing to serve the Lord in a new way.