We hosted a small gathering at our house on Monday to meet our new pastor. It’s always nice to have just a little something sweet for guests to nibble on, and this recipe for Praline Grahams is perfect. It is from a cookbook I have had for a long time — so long that the spine is falling apart. Southern Living Incredible Cookies is also the same book from whence my chocolate chip cookies come from.
For the Praline Grahams you can use regular, cinnamon or chocolate grahams crackers. Be sure to only use margarine, not butter, for best results with the syrupy coating.
12 whole graham crackers
3/4 cup margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 300.
Break graham crackers in half into squares. Arrange graham cracker squares with edges touching on a parchment paper lined jelly roll pan (or cookie sheet with sides).
Melt margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar and chopped pecans. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat. Working quickly, spread syrupy mixture evenly over graham crackers in pan.
Bake at 300 for 12 minutes. Remove from pan to cool completely on a wire rack. Yield: 2 dozen.
These travel well and make a great hostess gift or after dinner dessert.
Several years ago, my bestie shared her recipe for Blueberry Butterscotch Pie. Originally, it called for apples, but she put her twist on it by substituting blueberries and never looked back! This is one of Mr. Bee’s favorite desserts. I had a carton of blueberries and since there’s nothing like blueberries in the summertime, why not? It’s so easy and if you are looking for a sweet treat to take with you to a Memorial Day party this weekend — this is it!
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice (fresh is best)
1 pint of blueberries (I used more, so you don’t have to be exact)
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of flour
1 tsp of cinnamon
1/8 tsp of salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix the blueberries with the lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir. I let it set while I roll out my crust.
Place crust in a pie pan and fill with the blueberry mixture. Either cover the crust with strips of foil, or like me use a pie shield to prevent the crust from browning too much.
Bake for 20 minutes.
While filling is baking, prepare the butterscotch topping.
Melt morsels and butter over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat and add in salt and flour. Blend with a fork until it comes together. I then place the mixture in a bowl so it can cool and get crumbly. The longer it sits and cools the more it will come together as a crumble topping.
Take pie out of oven, sprinkle with crumble mixture and return to the oven for another 25 minutes. Watch your crust and if it starts to get too brown, add the pie shield back on.
Let it cool, if you can wait that long, and serve either warm or room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Me, I just scoop it out of the pan into a bowl and eat it like cobbler while it’s still warm.
Looking through Pinterest recently, I found a recipe from Tastes of Lizzy T for a Shirley Temple Cake! I loved this iconic drink when I was little. Mother and Daddy would order me this mocktail to enjoy as they visited with their friends over dinner. I always felt so special. In fact, I dare you to not smile when you sip one!
The origin of the Shirley Temple drink may have been invented by a bartender at Chasen’s, a restaurant in Beverly Hills, to serve then child actress Shirley Temple. Temple herself was not a fan of the drink, as she told Scott Simon in an NPR interview in 1986: “The saccharine sweet, icky drink? Yes, well… those were created in the probably middle 1930s by The Brown Derby Restaurant in Hollywood and I had nothing to do with it. But, all over the world, I am served that. People think it’s funny. I hate them. Too sweet!” Adding an ounce and a half of vodka or rum produces a “Dirty Shirley.” I wonder how Miss Temple would like that?
The cake is really yummy. It’s very much like a pound cake base with a citrus finish from the added 7Up and lemon extract. The maraschino cherries add a pretty touch. Find the recipe from my Pinterest Cake Board here.
Since I have made it, I will make a few suggestions of how I would modify the recipe for next time.
I would get a larger jar of cherries and chop them so they are more evenly distributed through the cake instead of just putting in whole cherries.
The recipe calls for you to pour the reserved juice over the cake once it’s removed from the cake pan. I would probably leave the cake in the pan, pour the juice over a hot cake, let it sit for about 10 minutes, then invert it onto your cake plate. I think this would allow the juice to absorb more into the cake.
Other than that, I think this is a winning recipe and would be perfect to have for a dinner or take to a pot luck. Add a dollop of whipped cream and a sprig of mint and it makes for a pretty presentation.
Spring and summer says strawberries. Storm Farms in Arlington is a great place to pick your own berries. And this link from DFW Child lists all the local farms for other produce and “farm to fork” inspiration.
I love this recipe from my sister for Strawberry Bread. It’s the perfect pink color, affords just the right touch of sweet to a salad plate, and is lovely with a cup of coffee or tea. And, since this recipe makes two loaves, you can share with a friend to make a beautiful gift wrapped in cellophane and a bow.
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups thawed, sliced frozen strawberries (a one-pound bag)
1 cup vegetable oil
1-1/4 cups chopped pecans (optional, I usually omit because I’m not a nut-in-my-bread person)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift together the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar. In separate bowl, combine eggs, strawberries and oil. Add wet ingredients to dry ones and combine. Add pecans (optional) and blend well. Pour into two loaf pans prepared with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Bake for 60-75 minutes or until bread tests done. Cool in pan 5 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar.
It’s yummy on its own, or sandwich two slices between soft cream cheese. To make it into a dessert, pile with fresh strawberries (just picked from the farm), a dollop of whipped cream and a sprig of mint. Strawberry Shortcake with a twist! Enjoy.
Warning: This is a high calorie blog post today. You might want to take a spin on your treadmill before reading…
One thing this blog will never be lacking is photos of bakeries. My bliss is to walk into a bakery, especially one that is aesthetically pleasing. My go-to spot when I am in Dallas is Bird Bakery. If you are ever in the Highland Park neighborhood, you must stop in for a delight for the eyes.
Bird bakes all the usual suspects – cupcakes, brownies, lemon bars, cookies and mini pies, merchandised beautifully on teared plates, cake pedestals and parchment lined trays. They also have a delicious sandwich, soup and salad menu.
I usually order their Bird cupcake — a vanilla cake with vanilla frosting in the loveliest shade of robin’s egg blue.
Your cupcakes are packaged up in the cutest egg cartons. Can you imagine receiving a gift of beautiful cupcakes presented in such a whimsical way?
My second favorite is their Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownie.
You can taste the subtle Mexican vanilla. Dense and very chocolately. It really is like a cup of cocoa!
I am sharing a brownie recipe today that Mr. Bee’s sister-in-law shared with me years ago. They are from a bakery in upstate New York. She once told me that even if the snow was 10-feet tall, she would still put on her snow boots and make her way to the bakery for these brownies. I make them as a special treat. They are super rich calling for 6 cups of chocolate chips, so they are not for the faint of heart. But boy, are they worth it.
Chocolate Chunk Brownies
Preheat oven to 325. Butter a 9×13 pan.
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water (I use coffee)
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup of butter
4 eggs, beaten
5 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped walnuts (I am not nutty, so I omit them)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Place sugar, water (or coffee), vanilla and butter in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat to melt butter. When melted, remove from heat and add chips and eggs (be sure to temper the eggs by adding a little of the warm chocolate liquid first to increase the temperature of the eggs before adding the entire pan of chocolate), stirring often until chips melt.
In a large mixing bowl, blend remaining ingredients — flour, baking powder, salt, nuts and the remaining cup of chocolate chips. Add the melted chocolate mixture and stir until well combined.
Pour into pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool completely before cutting. To get a clean cut for the brownies, chill first in the refrigerator. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
These are the perfect sweet to take to a potluck, your next girls night out, or when you are delivering a meal to an ailing friend. Enjoy!
Miss Bee’s 17th birthday was on Sunday. Two things she said she wanted to do 1) go to the mall with us and 2) make sugar cookies. I took this plan and ran with it! I mean how many more years will I get the chance to have her undivided attention…
She asked me to find a cake like sugar cookie recipe so I went to Pinterest (why do I even bother to have 100 cookbooks…) and found this one from Eighteen25. The dough is pretty standard, but it does call for sour cream.
The Best Sugar Cookies
2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 cup butter (softened)
1 tsp almond extract
6 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter (softened)
4 cups powdered sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp almond extract
¼ cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat sugar, sour cream, butter and eggs for 2 minutes.
Then, add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Mixture will still be sticky.
Cover and chill for 20-30 minutes.
Sprinkle flour on your work surface and roll out dough to about ¼ inch thick. (Note: the less flour you use, the softer your cookies will be.)
Bake 8-10 minutes.
Cream your butter until fluffy.
Add powdered sugar and beat until well blended.
Add remaining ingredients and beat on high until frosting is fluffy.
The dough rolls out beautifully and easily cuts into shapes.
Once baked, we tasted tested. Not a crispy cookie like my Old Fashioned Sugar Cookie recipe, but indeed more cake like as seen here…
The icing is buttery and next time I think I might use a cream cheese frosting recipe. I added red food coloring to tint the icing a dark pink.
And added sprinkles, because well, everything is better with sprinkles.
Check out my Pinterest board for other yummy cookie recipes. I hope your Valentine’s Day is sweet!
Today, January 23 is National Pie Day. The American Pie Council recognizes this day every year to support the history and heritage of pie. They encourage hosting pie parties for family, friends and neighbors.
Ideas for Celebrating:
The website has all sorts of fun ideas to celebrate with pie. Share the ultimate “comfort food” by giving the gift of pie to your local police or fire department and let these heroes know that you appreciate all they do for your community. If pie making is not in your schedule, stop by your favorite bakery or grocery store and bring home a gift of love and joy for the whole family. The coldest of January days will be warmed by a special pie dessert. Reach out to new neighbors you might not have met yet – it says you’re thoughtful. Has someone done a special favor for you? Acknowledge their kindness with the gift of pie. Spend time with your children and make a pie together. You’ll make great memories and your children will be so proud to serve the pie for dessert..
The American Pie Council has a wealth of information on their website including this fun downloadable packet for National Pi Day (another day of the year on March 14 — perfect for all the math teachers out there!).
Did you know pie has been around since they ancient Egyptians? The word “pie” was popular in the 14th century. Early pies were primarily meat-based. Pie came to America with the first English settlers. The most request pie is apple, followed by pumpkin then pecan. My personal favorite is Buttermilk…
Yesterday my lovely friend Susan Graas taught a class at Central Market on how to make her signature apple pie. It was such fun! She led the class step-by-step on how to make her flaky homemade double crust, to the delicious cinnamon sugar apple filling. Everyone went home with a pie to bake, a slice to enjoy there, sips of Prosecco and a fun kit with a pie server and recipe cards including her recipe.
Susan has a beautiful blog and is the quintessential homemaker. She sews most of all her own clothes including the cutest aprons, and raises chickens — June being the matriarch — that lay gorgeous blue and green eggs.
Susan has been featured on Bobby Flay’s Food Network series Dinner with Bobby where she and her friend Grace-Ann won the “Best Home Cook” episode filmed in Dallas. Susan has earned several blue ribbons from the State Fair of Texas and won “Best in Show” for her lemon cake.
Her grown son, James, was in the class yesterday and said his most favorite food his mother prepares is homemade beignets on Christmas morning, followed by her chicken pot pie (we might not want June and her fellow nesters to know this).
I am sharing Susan’s delicious pie recipe with you on the blog today. I hope you will treat your family with a homemade pie tonight!
In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt.
Add the butter and toss to coat with the flour, then flatten the bits of butter between your fingertips.
Add the Crisco, toss to coat with the flour mixture. Flatten into pieces a little bigger than the butter. Tip: Use the tips of your fingers!
Sprinkle 3/4 cups of the ice water over the flour mixture and gently toss to incorporate. Use a rubber spatula to push the dry fl0ur into the liquid, but do not stir mixture. Tip: Process of hydrating the flour without stirring is the secret!
The mixture is ready, when it holds together. Add as little water and handle as little as possible. Some dry patches and crumbs are okay. They will moisten as the dough rests.
Divide the dough into two balls, flatten into disks, and wrap well in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Tip: The dough can be frozen for up to a month, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
3/4 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
3 TBL cornstarch
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (plus more for sprinkling)
1/2 tsp salt
8 medium apples (about 3 lbs., peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 inch slices)
2 TBL lemon juice
2 TBL unsalted butter
Pie Dough (from recipe above)
All purpose flour for rolling
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt.
On a lightly floured surface, roll one disk of the dough into a 13″ circle. Then fit it into a 9″ pie dish. Roll the other disk into a 13″ circle.
Toss the apple with the lemon juice and sugar mixture.
Pour the apple mixture into the dish and dot with butter.
Cover the remaining dough circle, then trim the excess dough and flute as desired. Cut about a dozen slits all over the pie. Now sprinkle generously with sugar and cinnamon.
Place on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the juice begins to bubble through the slits, approximately 65-75 minutes. Cover the edge with 3″ strip of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning.
Transfer the pie to a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.
I am heading out tomorrow afternoon for my annual “Girls Gone Mild” church ladies retreat where about the only thing wild is the buffet of shame we put out. I found this recipe for brownies from the Pioneer Woman a few years ago. When I am feeling carefree about my calorie consumption, I will make a pan of these. However, you will NOT want to see yourself naked after eating these. Have a fab Friday!
1 box (18.5 Ounce) German Chocolate Cake Mix (I Used Duncan Hines)
1 cup Finely Chopped Pecans
1/3 cup Evaporated Milk
1/2 cup Evaporated Milk (additional)
1/2 cup Butter, Melted
60 whole Caramels, Unwrapped
1/3 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, chopped pecans, 1/3 cup evaporated milk, and melted butter. Stir together until totally combined. Mixture will be very thick.
Press half the mixture into a well-greased 9 x 9 inch square baking pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set aside.
In a double boiler (or a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water) melt caramels with additional 1/2 cup evaporated milk. When melted and combined, pour over brownie base. Sprinkle chocolate chips as evenly as you can over the caramel.
Turn out remaining brownie dough on work surface. Use your hands to press it into a large square a little smaller than the pan. Use a spatula to remove it from the surface, then set it on top of the caramel and chocolate chips.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for several hours. When ready to serve, generously sift powdered sugar over the surface of the brownies. Cut into either nine or twelve helpings, and carefully remove from the pan.
A few weeks ago Mother’s and my friend, Joan, served a chocolate meringue pie after a supper meeting. Joan reminds me of being with my mother. She has the prettiest smile and such a warm, loving demeanor. She’s also a great cook. I asked Joan if she’d be willing to teach me on occasion how to cook her fabulous recipes. First up was the pie. I tried one time to make meringue and it was runny and gross. Joan agreed, came over one morning and we walked step-by-step through her mother’s recipe. I made tons of notes in the margin so I can hopefully replicate this again on my own.
Joan’s mother used to cook the pie filling on the stove. However, once Amana invented the microwave and housewives all over the world started receiving these ginormous ovens for Christmas, including my mother, the microwave is how she cooks the chocolate custard.
We mixed sugar, salt, cornstarch, flour, cocoa and milk in a large 2 quart glass mixing bowl. Then, we popped it into the microwave for about 3 minutes.
We checked the custard after two minutes of cooking, whisked it some more, then put it back into the microwave for another three minutes.
While this was happening, I cracked two eggs (saving the white part for the meringue) into a bowl and whisked them. After the pudding had cooked for a total of five minutes we added a little of the hot mixture to the eggs. This is called “tempering” — here is a tutorial on how to do it. You never want to dump hot anything into eggs unless you want chunky cooked egg in your pie filling (probably in the 70’s this was popular, but not now unless you want your guests to hurl). Once the eggs had heated up some, we folded all the yolks into the pudding and put the mixture back into the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Then, we let it slightly cool on the counter for a few minutes before pouring it into the pie crust.
Side note: When we ate Joan’s pie for the first time at the supper meeting, we were all going on and on about how flaky and delicious her crust was. Joan could see we were on the verge of asking for the recipe and blurted out, “I didn’t make the crust! It came from Aldi!” Since we were in a church meeting…I think she felt Jesus would be a tad disappointed if she fibbed on the crust. Half the cost of Pillsbury, I may have to stock up on Aldi premade pie crust from now on.
We poured the filling — rich, thick and smelled like chocolate heaven — into a pre-baked pie shell. Now we made the meringue.
Basically, egg whites, cream of tartar, and sugar. We beat it with the standing mixer until it held a peak and it was glossy.
Then, topped the pie with clouds of more…heaven.
We popped it into the oven for about 10 minutes until the meringue was a golden brown.
It was gorgeous! I jumped up and down like a kindergartner I was so excited. I mean look at it!
Isn’t Joan adorable? I know Mother would have been so happy to hear us bustling around in the kitchen… and Daddy would be bursting at the seams to have a slice. It really was so much fun. The sweetest part of this recipe was the note written at the top by Joan about her mother Margaret Keith Jones.
“Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for JOY, all you upright in heart.” Psalm 32:11
If one word describes my mother, it would be JOY! She was filled with joy in her day to day living and was the happiest when those around her found joy. We all loved her chocolate pie, and I remember her well, standing at the stove beating it with a hand mixer and all of us, waiting to lick the pan and spoon. I have modified the recipe somewhat but I never make a chocolate pie that my mother is not standing there with me. Enjoy, Joan Morris.
I think both our mothers were with us in the kitchen that morning Joan, finding joy in watching us bake together.
Stay tuned for more of Joan’s School of Yum this spring!
My mother had the sweetest, kindest friends. They took a genuine interest in me all through my childhood. My parents would take me along to dinner parties and I could chat it up with anyone at the table. One of her friends was my favorite. Julia Johnson. She was like my personal playmate.
I would go and spend the day at her home and we’d cook and play cards, ride bikes and she had the most fantastic trail mix in a milk glass jar on her coffee table. She taught me how to shell pecans and make root beer floats. I loved eating her pineapple chess pie. She had the most beautiful toile wallpaper in her dining room. One summer, we all went on vacation together in our motor home to visit Julia’s family in the Carolina’s and Virginia. It was such fun.
I attended Julia’s 90th birthday a few years ago. You can read a sweet story about her birthday party here including the letter I wrote to her listing all the reasons why I thought she was the neatest grown-up ever.
One special recipe Julia taught me how to make were her famous spritz cookies. Every Christmas, without fail, we’d get a huge tin full of Christmas trees and cream cheese wreaths. At one point she had to include another small tin just for me because Daddy would eat most of them before I had the chance.
The dough is simple to make, requires just a brief chill. You will need a cookie press easily found in Walmart or Target. The press comes with about 10 different discs so you can change the shape. This is the tree disc.
1/2 cup shortening (solid like Crisco)
1/2 cup softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups of flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp almond extract
green food coloring
Preheat oven to 350. Grease cookie sheets with butter or non-stick spray
Mix all dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Cream shortening and butter for several minutes until light and fluffy. Add in sugar. Mix again. Add egg. Then, food coloring and extract.
A little at a time incorporate the dry mixture. Do not overmix.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.
After you have loaded your cookie sheet with dough shapes, bake for about 10 minutes or until edges turn slightly brown.
Makes about 3 dozen.
Not a Christmas goes by that I still don’t make these cookies. They don’t taste quite like Julia’s, but Miss Bee now has the tradition that these cookies are a must at Christmas.