Georgia native singer-songwriter Josh Kelley celebrates the joys of family on his new song "Busy Making Memories," which was inspired by his life at home with his wife, actress Katherine Heigl ("Grey's Anatomy," "Life as We Know It") and their children, daughters Naleigh Kelley and Adalaide Marie Hope Kelley and son Joshua Bishop Kelley Jr. (Josh Kelley is the older brother of Lady Antebellum singer Charles Kelley.)
"This song kind of came out of nowhere on Jan. 1 this year," Kelley tells Wide Open Country. "A lot of things were very fresh. Just my kids dancing around, and me wanting to kind of capture that moment of just being so present and being in their lives. It's been a very conscious, focused effort of mine over the past four years to be a present dad."
Kelley, who met Heigl while filming his music video for "Only You," will celebrate his 12th wedding anniversary on Dec. 23. And like many families around the world, the Kelley family will be gathered around the dinner table for classic winter comfort foods. In honor of his new song and video, the "Georgia Clay" and "Amazing" singer shares some of his family's favorite holiday recipes with Wide Open Country readers.
Read on below for Kelley family holiday favorites.
Nancy Heigl's Homemade German Spaetzle
"Katie and I had been dating less than two months before I was exposed to this amazing German dish that was passed down her family, and now perfected by her mother Nancy," Kelley says. "I immediately fell in love with spaetzle. There's something so comforting and nostalgic about these noodles. They're just the right size and consistency to be delicious just on there own or to be an amazing vehicle for flavors and sauces (like gravy). In my travels to Germany, I found out that it's considered a peasant dish and is more commonly found in the small, rural southern towns of Germany, much like similar dishes I had growing up in Augusta, Georgia. They are fairly simple to make and impossible not to love."
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole or 2% milk
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 Spaetzle press
In a large bowl whisk in the eggs and milk.
in a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and white pepper.
Next, add in the flour mix and work it in until you achieve a very elastic batter.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over max heat.
Take your spaetzle press and place it on the lid of the boiling pot.
Scoop a hefty portion of the batter into the spaetzle press, grab the handle and press the batter into the boiling water.
Once the noodles float to the top they are done.
My preference is using a large slotted or wire mesh spoon to remove the noodles from the boiling water to a bowl and mix with butter. You decide how much butter you want on your noodles.
An alternative traditional way they are served is by browning a few tablespoons of butter over medium to medium-high heat and adding the spaetzle in to give them a nice brown sear. It's up to you.
Research some German spaetzle gravy recipes to add to the noodles for a truly authentic down-home feel.
Aunt Evelyn's Ham N Cheese Pie
"Aunt Evelyn's Ham N Cheese pie has always been a big hit in my family. It's our staple for Christmas brunch, and we have it every year," Kelley says. "No kidding, every time I take a bite of this pie it takes me back to Christmas morning watching 'A Christmas Story' (for the 10th time) with my younger brother in our pajamas. 'You'll shoot your eye out!!!' Haha. Now that I am a husband and a father I get to relive that Ham N Cheese Pie Christmas Story movie moment every Christmas morning with my children. Hope you love this as much as I do. It's very easy to do and you can even make a few the night before and stick 'em in the fridge or freezer -- just in case you had a little too much fun on Christmas Eve."
1 cup cooked, diced ham
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/3 cup green onion chopped (I prefer red onion)
1/2 cup whole or 2% milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon cornstarch
9" pie crust
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Place pie crust in 9 -inch, round baking dish and blind bake the crust for 1 minute at 375 degrees.
Mix eggs, milk, mayonnaise and cornstarch in a large bowl making sure to beat the eggs all the way smooth.
Add chopped ham, grated cheese and the chopped onion to the bowl and mix all together well.
Pour the mix into the crust and bake in the oven for 45 minutes at 350 to 375 degrees depending on the power of your oven - I bake mine at 375 and it always turns out well.
* A little note from me, I also like to broil my pie for about a minute, watching to make sure you don't burn but just golden up the top crust a bit.
Mason Jar Buttermilk Biscuits
"Homemade biscuits were my gateway into the baking world. It all started because my daughter Naleigh asked for a McDonald's breakfast biscuit one morning years ago. I replied with, 'Girl, the closest McDonald's is over 30 minutes away.' After that statement, I thought to myself, 'it can't be that hard!' So I got on the internet and started researching how to make them," Kelley says. "There are many different theories on the best way to make them but the simple fact is, the more fat the better. Some people use heavy cream even. They're definitely easy to make and to make your own. Use my recipe as a guide but don't be afraid to play around and use your own instincts!! (I add shredded cheddar to mine now! Hint hint.)"
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of buttermilk
5-7 tablespoons of chilled diced butter
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
Preheat the oven to 425°.
Mix together in a bowl the flour salt sugar and baking powder. Mix in the chilled, diced butter. Slowly start mixing in the buttermilk. Use your hands to mix everything into a perfect moist ball of dough. Flatten the dough ball on a lightly floured surface. Fold the dough in half one time. Cut the half-inch dough with the mason jar top.
Place on baking sheet and put into oven for 13 minutes or until golden brown.
Brush melted butter on the top when finished and add a little bit of salt to the top if you want.
Now Watch: What 10 Country Stars are Eating This Holiday Season