Festive Feast for the Holidays

Please post pictures of your dishes on Facebook and tag us @johnknoxvillage. Let’s create a virtual feast and spread the joy of the holidays with our extended online community.

Holiday Cheese Gougères

This is a simple holiday appetizer, great to snack on just before dinner, and goes very well with a glass of Champagne.


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese (and a little more to sprinkle on top)
  • ground black pepper
  • a pinch of nutmeg

Combine the water, milk, butter, and salt and boil.

Add the flour and stir with a spoon until a smooth dough forms. Stir over low heat until it dries out and pulls away from the side of the pan.

Scrape the dough into a bowl. Let cool for 3 minutes.

It is time now to incorporate the eggs (ONE BY ONE). This is very important. Add the first egg and mix it into the dough. At first, the mix may look gooey, but keep mixing until the dough forms again. Add the second egg and repeat the process until all the eggs have been incorporated.

Add the cheese, the pepper, and the nutmeg.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper on it.

Put the dough into a pastry bag with a ½ inch round tip and pipe tablespoon-size mounds onto the baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Sprinkle the cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown…Enjoy!

Mashed Potato Casserole

Sharalyn has lived at JKV since 2015. “Harry bought in for me as a wedding gift when we married in March of 2015.  I was still working & lived downtown Fort Lauderdale. We went between my townhouse and JKV.  I sold my townhouse of 23 years in November 2023 and became a full-time resident at JKV on November 13th with too many boxes, plastic tubs, furniture, clothes, and my cat.  I love it!!”



  • 8 Russet, Idaho or Yukon Gold potatoes 
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 Tablespoons of fresh chives
  • garlic salt to taste
  • white pepper to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter


Wash and peel the potatoes.  Cut into quarters and boil in water until soft. Drain the potatoes.  Add the potatoes to a mixing bowl. Mash the potatoes using a mixer while slowly adding the cream cheese and sour cream.  Season to taste with the garlic, salt and pepper.

Oil a medium rectangular casserole.  Spread the potato mixture evenly.  Drizzle with the melted butter and a sprinkle of paprika.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

It may be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated.  

It freezes well too, if you have any leftovers.  Doubtful you will!



Hot Cocoa Cupcakes

Yael has worked at JKV for over five years in various roles, from orchestrating activities to managing Google Ads. However, her true standout skills lie in the kitchen, where she’s renowned as the go-to expert baker!


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup strong black coffee or 2 tsp espresso powder or instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 cup boiling water, slightly cooled
  • 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (1 Tablespoon white vinegar plus enough milk to equal 1 cup)
  • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two standard-sized muffin pans with red or holiday-festive paper cupcake liners. 

Blend sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer on low speed.  

Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  The batter will be thin.  

Fill lined muffin cups ⅔ to ¾ of the way full.  Leave room for rising.  Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Cool for 10-15 minutes.  Remove from muffin pans and cool on a wire rack.  

While the cupcakes are cooling, clean out the mixer bowl and prepare the frosting:

Vanilla Frosting

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp milk

Combine butter, salt, and vanilla with an electric mixer in the mixer or a large bowl.  Mix on medium speed until the butter mixture is fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Turning the mixer off between each addition, add about a half cup of powdered sugar at a time, starting on low speed and increasing to medium speed once all the sugar has been incorporated.  


Add milk, one tablespoon at a time, while the mixer runs until the frosting is smooth and spreadable.


For decorating your Hot Cocoa Cupcakes, you will also need:

Mini marshmallows (approximately 75)

Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, approximately ⅓ cup

24 small mini candy canes, plus 10-12, crushed 


Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, frost each cupcake and turn it into a “mug” by hooking one small candy cane into the top along one of the edges. Place three mini marshmallows into the frosting, and sprinkle mini chocolate chips and crushed candy cane pieces over the top.


Makes 24-26 cupcakes.


Pro tip:

Feel free to frost the cupcakes using a butter knife, but for a true “whipped cream” look, use a pastry bag and a large star tip and squeeze frosting from the outer edges inward towards the center.