Kristie Johnson
Kristie Johnson
Last week was exciting for Kristie Johnson as she hosted the grand opening of her business, Goodness & Grace Beauty Bar, off west Beacon Street.

A Rankin County native, she has been in Philadelphia for about a year.

Kristie graduated from Pearl High School and went on to cosmetology school.

She worked in the Madison/Ridgeland area for seven or eight years before moving to Olive Branch. She worked there about 10 years before moving to Brandon.

Her fiance Mark Stroud owns Tobacco World in Philadelphia.

The couple plans a Feb. 17 wedding.

Mark rented the historic Ellis Theater where he proposed to his bride-to-be in August.

The night included a video “The Story of Us” and a vocalist singing “Mark’s Got a Question for You.”

“It was a total surprise,” Kristie said. “All our family and friends were there.”

Before opening her own business, Kristie commuted to Jackson each day.

“The Lord just blessed us in opening Goodness & Grace,” she said. “Mark had ownership of this building but there were no empty spaces. Then he got a letter that the tenants were moving out in June. I happened to be closing on my house in June. Everything literally just came together.”

Kristie loves Philadelphia especially its people.

“It has that hometown feeling,” she said. “It reminds me of Mayberry.”

She appreciates the good, honest values she sees in folks here.

“There are a lot of different cultures and everyone comes together and loves each other.  It’s back the way it should be with hometown goodness.”

Goodness & Grace provides hair and nail care, facial waxing, makeup and spray tanning.

In their free time, Kristie and Mark like to spend time with friends and family.  They enjoy picnics in the park and star gazing at night.

Baking is Kristie’s passion. Her specialty is gourmet cakeballs which she used to sell at the Farmer’s Market in Jackson at her mother’s booth.

“It was a side job as I was a single mother,” she said.

Her daughter, Destinee Johnson, attends Bible college in Florida.

Being a businessman, what little free time Mark has is spent with Kristie and family.

“He likes the little things in life like picnicking, star gazing and being outdoors,” she said. “He likes to take care of us.”

Kristie has shared her grandmother’s recipe for pecan pie and her recipe for cakeballs among others.

Pecan Pie

(In loving memory of Annette Magee, my grandmother)

3 eggs, well beaten

1 cup light Karo

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup oleo

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans

1 pie shell

Beat oleo and sugar and add eggs. Add Karo and vanilla and then pecans.  Put in pie shell and bake at 320 degrees for 45 minutes.


1 box cake mix, any flavor

1 can of buttercream frosting

2 bags of Wilton’s Candy Melts

Bake cake according to directions on box. Let cool.Crumble cake into large mixing bowl. Add one tablespoon of frosting at a time and mix until moist enough to form a ball.

Be careful not to get them too moist.

Place balls in freezer for 45 minutes. Afterward, melt candy melts in the microwave according to package directions. Dip balls and place on wax paper. Drizzle candy for decorations. Candy will get hard. Eat and enjoy!



2 1/4 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour

1 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 365 degrees. Mix flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. Mix butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla in large bowl. Add eggs one at a time. Gradually add flour mixture. Beat until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Roll dough into balls (about two tablespoons) Place two inches a part on pan and bake for 11 to 13 minutes.

Cheese Wafers

16 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese        

1 cup self-rising flour

2 sticks butter, melted        Dash of salt

1/2  teaspoon red pepper (for hot wafers, add more)

2 cup Rice Crisp cereal     

Mix flour and cheese in large bowl. Pour in melted butter. Add cereal, red pepper and salt. Knead by hand until well blended. Roll into small balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with fork and bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes.

Cream Cheese


2   8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup cooked grits, cooled

2 tablespoons green onions, chopped

1/4 cup black olives, chopped

1/4 cup finely diced bell pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Dash of pepper

8 extra-large flour tortillas

Salsa for dipping

In a food processor or mixing bowl, blend or beat cream cheese and grits until creamy. Stir in onion, black olives, bell pepper, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Spread thin layer of the mixture on tortilla shells. Tightly roll up tortillas. Wrap individually in plastic wrap. Place all in refrigerator at least 3 hours or overnight. To serve, cut into 3/4 inch slices.  Makes 45-60 roll-ups.

Creamy Spinach & Red Pepper dip

10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (in package)

1/3 cup chopped roasted red peppers

Triscuits, wheat thins, or corn chips for dipping

Mix all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until chilled.  If using Triscuits, place 1-2 tablespoons of dip on each. Makes 1-1/2 cups of dip.

Mandy’s Lite

Strawberry Cake

1 box strawberry cake mix

12 oz. diet cherry dr. pepper soda

2 cups strawberries

1/4 cup Splenda

1 large Cool Whip, thawed

Mix cake mix and Dr. Pepper in mixing bowl until well blended. Pour into 13X9 lightly greased baking pan and bake at 350 degrees as directed on cake mix box.  While cake is baking, cut off strawberry tops and wash. Place strawberries and Splenda in blender or food processor; blend until creamy. Straight out of the oven, poke holes in cake and spread strawberry mixture over warm cake. Cover and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes and then take out and top with Cool Whip. Its best to freeze for an hour or so before serving. Won’t believe it’s diet cake!

Easy Chicken & Ritz Casserole

1 roll of Ritz crackers

4 tablespoons butter

8-ounce tub of sour cream

8-ounce can of cream of chicken soup

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 package shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. In a large pot, boil the chicken until cooked and floating. While the chicken is boiling, in a medium bowl, combine sour cream and soup and mix thoroughly. Put mixture in the bottom of a small rectangular casserole dish.

After the chicken is done, cut into bite-size pieces. Place on top of mixture in dish. Add shredded cheese on top of the chicken. Crush Ritz crackers and pour over cheese. Pour the melted butter over the top of the dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Chicken Rotel

2   8-ounce packages of cream cheese, thawed

1 can of diced Rotel

1 package of Tyson fully cooked oven roasted diced chicken breast

1 large bag of Tortillas scoops

In microwavable large bowl, mix cream cheese and rotel. Heat for 3 minutes in microwave. Stir in chicken  and heat until melted. Also can be made in Crock Pot.  

Cheddar Cornbread

1-1/2 cups yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup unbleached white flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon chili powder and/or Cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup cooked grits

3 tablespoons melted butter or oil

2 tablespoons honey

1-2 eggs

1-1/2 cups of buttermilk or plain yogurt

1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

(Optional additional ingredients) Sliced green chilies, jalapenos, sweet red peppers, minced onions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease 8-inch baking pan.  Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl. In blender or food processor, blend grits, butter, eggs, and buttermilk or yogurt until creamy. Stir in cheese and optional ingredients now. Combine mixtures. Do not over mix.

 Pour into pan and bake 35-40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Serves 8-12.