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Kristin Chenoweth’s Holiday ‘Grits’

Popular star of stage, screen and television Kristin Chenoweth shares a delicious Southern recipe that is a family holiday tradition .

Actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth

Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that besides performing in theater, in movies and on TV, I love to eat. Cooking, not so much. I try, but my kitchen forays are mostly limited to cutting open a bag of lettuce and sprinkling on a handful of croutons.

The real pro in the kitchen is my mom. From Thanksgiving to Christmas she was nonstop at her stove back home in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, the little town where I grew up, just outside Tulsa. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and all the fixings you’d expect in the heartland are on the menu. Twice.

Our Christmas traditions never get old. Mom has this tall ceramic tree she made years ago when the hobby seemed to go viral. Her loving creation sits in the middle of our dining room table and on each bough of the tree is a slender candle. My parents, brother and I each light one and say what we are most thankful for. Some are tear-inducing. Like when my dad said the thing he was most thankful for was “how my kids live their lives,” and how extremely proud of us he was.

On Christmas Eve, we do it all over again, and then we read the story from the Bible about the birth of Jesus. Time for services at First Baptist Church in Norman, where my parents now live. We open one gift that night, but the rest of the gifts wait for Christmas morning.


Okay. Now the feast. Thanksgiving all over again and it includes something we Chenoweths call “grits.” Oh my gosh, it’s so much more than that! For almost 50 years Mom has been making this recipe passed down from Grandma.

She knew good eats. It’s a concoction of sausage, egg, cheese and hominy grits, all baked to a golden brown, topped with a sprinkle of paprika. Red for Christmas. No one can resist. To compensate, we all wear our holiday expandable waistbands!

I’ve had to spend a lot of Thanksgivings and Christmases in New York, performing in shows. Mom knew how much I missed home. One Thanksgiving when I was in Wicked she flew out to have the holiday here with me. My New York apartment had your typical teeny-tiny kitchen. New Yorkers don’t cook! They eat out! How on earth could Mom put together a big heartland meal?

Ha! She whipped up a dinner for eight friends and me, complete with “grits.” It was delicious. Or as I like to say, Chenolicious! With food like that, my friends wondered how I could have ever left Broken Arrow. I am thankful that, in a pinch, Mom brings it to Broadway.



1 lb. hot bulk sausage ¼ lb. cheddar cheese
1 c. hominy grits ¼ tsp. garlic powder
4 c. boiling water ½ c. milk
1 tsp. salt 3 eggs, slightly beaten
½ c. margarine paprika


1. Fry sausage, drain in strainer and then on paper towels.

2. Cook grits in boiling salted water over direct heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.

3. Add margarine, cheese and garlic powder. Stir until melted and removed from heat.

4. Add milk, eggs and sausage. Mix thoroughly and pour in a 9×13-inch greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with paprika for color. Bake at 350° for 30-45 minutes.

Serves 6-10.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 350; Fat: 25g; Cholesterol: 115mg; Sodium: 740mg; Total Carbohydrates: 17g; Dietary Fiber: 1g; Sugars: 1g; Protein: 14g.

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