11/04/2011 AT 2:00 PM ET
A lot has changed for Scotty McCreery in the six months since he won American Idol. But when he heads home to Garner, N.C., for Christmas, it’s what hasn’t changed that he’s most eager to revisit: candlelight Christmas Eve services at First Baptist Garner; mom Judy’s sausage balls; red foil-wrapped presents under the tree; and quality time with his family.
“It’ll be nice just being home,” says the 18-year-old singer, whose debut album Clear As Day topped the Billboard 200 chart. “I can’t wait.”
McCreery’s also looking forward to digging into the family’s annual Christmas feast, including Grandma Paquita’s flan, Grandma Janet’s broccoli cornbread and his mom’s banana pudding. (“She likes putting a lot of bananas in there,” says McCreery, “so sometimes I have to sneak in a couple extra [Nilla] wafers.”)
But the Idol champ says he isn’t the only one who gets to indulge in his favorite foods during the holidays at the McCreery home.
“We don’t eat too many cookies in my house,” he says, “but Santa always leaves happy!”
Broccoli Cornbread (see below)
Grandma Janet’s Broccoli Cornbread
Serves 8 to 10
1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cottage cheese, drained
1 tsp. salt
1 (8 ½ oz.) package corn muffin mix
½ cup butter or margarine, melted
1 small onion, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
2. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-in. baking pan. Pat broccoli dry on paper towels.
3. Stir together eggs, cottage cheese and salt. Add muffin mix, butter, onion and broccoli, stirring until just blended.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 400º for 25 to 35 minutes until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean.
5. Let stand 5 minutes before removing from pan. Serve when cooled.
Grandma Paquita’s Spanish Flan
Serves 8 to 10
2 cups sugar, divided
6 large eggs
2 (12 oz.) cans evaporated milk
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 325ºF.
2. Cook 1 cup sugar in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring as needed until sugar melts and turns light golden brown.
3. Quickly pour syrup into a 9-in. round cake pan. Tilt pan to evenly coat the bottom. Set aside.
4. Whisk together eggs and remaining sugar. Gradually whisk in milk, salt and vanilla. Pour mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into prepared cake pan. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil. Place in a roasting pan filled 1-in. deep with hot water.
5. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Remove pan from roasting pan. Uncover and cool on wire rack. Cover and chill 4 hours.
7. Run a knife around edges to loosen, then invert onto a large serving plate.