Texas Pecan Pie Bars


Maddie helped with baking Pumpkin Pie and Pecan Pie Bars for our Thanksgiving feast. She is recently very interested in history, so it was fun to talk about the history surrounding this recipe. I found the recipe in a cookbook I bought over 30 years ago while visiting Colonial Williamsburg, a wonderful living history site. The Williamsburg Cookbook, compiled by Letha Booth, is one of my most favorite cookbooks. It is a collection of nearly 200 traditional and contemporary recipes adapted for home kitchens – a good way of remembering my trips to Colonial Williamsburg.  I have never tried a recipe from this collection that was not delicious. Not surprising, since many of these are served in different Inns there.  Christian Campbell’s Spoonbread and Chowning’s Tavern Brunswick Stew have become family favorites as well as Williamsburg Inn Pecan Bars. I adapt this recipe to include Texas pecans and Meyer Lemons grown in my back yard. Pecan pie in small bites!

Texas Pecan Pie Bars

      Bottom layer, or crust

3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

zest of 1 whole Meyer lemon

3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat overn to 375 degrees. With baking or cooking spray, coat 2 nine inch square baking pans.  Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, lemon zest and mix.  Add flour and baking powder and add to creamed mixtures.  Combine well. Pull dough into a ball and chill for 15 minutes to provide easier handling.  Divide in half and press each half into bottom of baking pan.  Bake 12 -15 minutes but remove from oven before browning. Add pecan topping which can be assembled while crust is baking.

        Pecan Topping

1 cup butter

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 cup honey

1/3 cup whipping cream

3 cups of pecans, chopped coarsely

Change oven setting to 350 degrees. Combine butter, sugar, and honey in a heavy saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cool 5 minutes, add cream and pecans and mix well.  Spread topping evenly over baked crust with a buttered wooden spoon.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Cool and cut into 1X2 inch bars.




Hot Cranberry Apple Salad


Our church Thanksgiving dinner is tonight. Turkeys and pans of dressing are volunteered for and prepared ahead of time, but those attending (it is one of our congregations favorite functions all year) bring salads, vegetables, and desserts.  I am bringing 2 salads.  One is Caprese in a bowl using the last of the season’s basil leaves along with c herry tomatoes and tiny mozarella balls. The other salad is a hot salad, one of our favorite dishes this time of year.  I first found a similar recipe in a church cookbook given to us by friends from that church many years ago.  It can be found with many variations online, but this is my old, tried and true way to make it.

Hot Cranberry Apple Salad

21/2 c.whole washed cranberries
3 c. chopped apples, no need to peel
1 c. sugar
1 c. quick oats
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/2 stick butter
In an 8X10 inch baking pan,.mix together apples, cranberries, and sugar mixture of oats, brown sugar, and nuts over top. Cut pats of butter to dot over all. Bake 1 hour at 325 degrees. Serve warm.


Roasted Salmon with Mustard Crust

IMG_3678This is one of the easiest ways to prepare fresh salmon.  Simply coat the top of fillets with whole grain mustard and olive oil and bake until a nice brown crust covers the top.  Sprinkle with chopped chives before serving.  Looks great and tastes even better! When I chose to make this last week, I did not have whole grain mustard in the pantry but I added a Tablespoon of whole brown mustard seeds to Dijon mustard for a substitute.  The result was so tasty I may just do it that way every time!  The mustard seeds toast and pop with flavor.

Roasted Salmon with Mustard Crust

4 wild caught salmon fillets

salt and pepper

1/4 cup whole grain mustard (or substitute with Dijon mustard and add whole mustard seeds)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Chopped chives

Preheat oven to 400° and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil coated with cooking spray. In a small bowl, stir together the mustard, olive oil and chives.

Sprinkle salmon fillets with salt and pepper and place them skin side down on the baking sheet. Spread the mustard mixture over the tops of the fillets, place in oven to roast for 6 minutes. Reset oven to Broil.   Broil the salmon 6 inches from the heat for 4-5minutes, until the mustard crust is browned and the salmon is almost cooked through. Using a spatula, carefully slide the salmon fillets off their skins to place on seving platter. Top with chopped chives.

Stuffed Baked Potato

IMG_3513While I don’t ordinarily think baked potatoes require a recipe, I include it because it is a simple supper that has long been a family favorite.  Advantages of baked potatoes for supper include ability to choose size of potatoes,  ease of preparation and the fact that family members can tailor the stuffing to their own preferences.  If I am making a pan of these for a bunch of people, I simply bake the potatoes and set them out along with bowls of a variety of toppings.  The photo here features a small baked potato with salt and pepper, butter, a sprinkle of grated cheddar, and crumbled bacon. Joe and I first enjoyed stuffed baked potatoes at a restaurant called Valian’s* on South Main in Houston 50 years ago!  We often have this for a meal along with a salad, but a baked potato is also a great side for grilled meats.

Stuffed Baked Potatoes

4 medium to large baking potatoes


Grated cheddar

4 strips bacon, cooked to crisp and crumbled

salt and black pe pper

chopped green onions or chives  (optional)

Note:  Many other ingredients can be used for potato toppings!  Try spooning chili or chopped broccoli into potatoes. Chopped barbeque brisket or pulled pork can also be delicious.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash potatoes and poke 2 or 3 vent holes in each with a fork. Oil or butter the skins, sprinkle with coarse salt and place on baking sheet. Bake potatoes in oven until done, about 1 hour. (Poke with a fork and if fork goes in easily they are done). Remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Cut a slit lengthwise and squeeze slightly to loosen pulp before adding butter, salt and pepper, cheese, and bacon.  Sprinkle chopped green onions or chives on top if desired.

*Valian’s Restaurant opened in Houston in 1955 but closed in 1980 and was also known for introducing “Pizza Pie” to Houston!