Texas Pecan Pie Bars

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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.

 

 

 

Cranberry Orange Butter

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We were so blessed to have every one of our sons, daughters-in-law, and granddaughters at Thanksgiving dinner this year!  I smile when I remember our first Thanksgiving after we were married (1964).  We were far away from family, living in Oregon, and I tried my hand at roasting a duck!  I have not put a duck on the table again in 50 years!  We had cranberry sauce, right out of the Ocean Spray can, just like my mother always did it.

As years went by, I learned how much better cranberry sauce that I made on top of my own stove tasted.  When our boys were growing up (and again now with our grandchildren) we enjoyed the children’s book Cranberry Thanksgiving, and added Cranberry Bread to our Thanksgiving favorites. When dried cranberries became available I found dozens of ways to use them, often subbing them for raisins in old recipes. This year we found a new treat with our old friend the cranberry, Cranberry Orange Butter.  It is not just for a holiday table.  It is wonderful added to pancakes, waffles, or oatmeal!

Cranberry Orange Butter

8 ounces butter softened (I used Kerrygold Irish but

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cranberries

zest of 1 orange

Let butter soften at room temperature, do not microwave. Place butter in bowl with cranberries and orange zest and blend with the back of a spoon until well mixed. Spread a large piece of plastic wrap out on the counter and put dollops of the mixture in a line. Roll into a log by holding the sides up and pulling back and forth, then with fingertips roll and smooth slightly.  Wrap with plastice wrap and place on a cookie sheet that will fit on a shelf of your refrigerator.  As soon as the butter hardens into shape, you can remove the cookie sheet and store the butter overnight or loinger.  When ready to serve, slice into rounds and place into butter plate or dish along with a butter knife or tongs.  Halve this recipe if you wish.  The smaller size roll is easier to shape.

Instead of cranberries, try freshly zested lemon,  chopped fresh rosemary or other herbs, or make a sweetened butter with a spoon or two of mashed raspberries or a spoon of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Thankful for Leftovers

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Wonton Soup, with (leftover) Kale

I was born in the 1940’s, and grew up in a family that always found a use for even a tablespoon of leftover food. Waste not, want not!  I have a fondness for leftovers, and creative ways to use them, as you might notice if you have read my blog in earlier years.  This year I mention some ingredients you may have collected to use for Thanksgiving cooking, as well as Big Bird and other menu items!

Turkey

Before you are tempted to toss that Thanksgiving turkey remains, slice off some to store in the refrigerator for sandwiches.  Then gather the meat left on all those bones, chop and put into Ziplocs to freeze.  This chopped turkey makes wonderful Tetrazzini or added to marinara, a delicious spaghetti sauce.  You can also use it with rice, broccoli and cheese for a hearty casserole. See links below for posts in past years which mention this.

CranberrySauce

Serve for breakfast with your favorite sausage and toast or biscuits. Better than jelly! Jellied cranberry sauce slices are great to top hot open face chicken or tuna sandwiches.

Mashed Potatoes

Extra mashed potatoes make great soup. Thin the mashed potatoes with milk, cream or broth and garnish with thinly sliced scallions.

You can also make fabulous fritters When I was growing up, my parents owned a small cafe.  I used to ask Daddy to make “fried mashed potatoes” when he had mashed potatoes on the menu. . Add flour and an egg to bind the mixture, fold in some chopped onions and shape it into patties. Daddy cooked them on his hot griddle.  An iron skillet heated with a small amount of cooking oil works just fine.  You can also add chopped ham or bacon bits..  If you want a crispier fritter, dip the potato patties in a mixture of bread crumbs and flour seasoned with salt and pepper.  This is also featured in a previous post, link below, along with a great potato pancake recipe.

Greens, such as Spinach, Kale, Chard

Even a small amount of remaining sauteed or fresh (if not dressed) greens can be a great addition to soups or omelets.  In the photo above, I combined frozen wontons with chicken broth, kale, and a bit of hoisin sauce for a delicious soup.

 


Mustard

Do you have a bit of mustard left in the jar?. Add some oil and vinegar and make vinaigrette by just shaking it up right in the jar. Or stir in a little bit of jam — ideally apricot, or a red-currant jelly — and use the mixture as a glaze for pork or chicken. This is especially nice if your mustard is a fancy one like Dijon.

 


Bread

Slice it and freeze it for morning toast,,make bread crumbs by pulsing the bread in a food processor, or make a batch of croutons. Just cut the bread up into chunks, toss with olive oil and a little salt and sauté in a pan or toast in a 400 degree oven. It’s also great for crunchy crostini. You can also keep it in the freezer for the next time you make cornbread dressing, to which I always add some torn up leftover sliced bread. Another use is not for eating – we save bread in the freezer for our grandchildren to take to the neighborhood lake to feed the ducks!

Buttermilk

Substitute buttermilk for regular milk in pancakes by adding a little baking soda and decreasing the baking powder just a little. Use it for marinating chicken for fried chicken — it both tenderizes and gives a little tang. Or try it in a salad dressing with a small amount of oil.  By the way, you can avoid having leftover buttermilk by purchasing powdered buttermilk which you can store in the frig so you can make exactly the amount you need every time.

 


Coconut Milk

Stir and freeze in ice cube trays for use in drinks and soups later. You can also substitute coconut milk for some or all of the water when you make rice – delicious!  (when I do this I add some toasted coconut flakes on top. . Or sub for butter to finish a sauce, stir a little into some broth along with cooked pasta.

 


  Pork

This is one of my favorite leftovers~  so much so that I often cook extra so I will be sure to have some!

 

Pork Fried Rice, Vietnamese Salad

Chop some plus any extra vegetables and make into a pasta sauce. Add a little broth, butter, and Parmesan, toss with hot cooked pasta and you’ve got an instant meal. Cooked pork also makes a great soft or crispy tacos,

 

Rice

Fried rice puts leftovers to delicious use and actually works better with cold cooked rice.

Mix the cooked rice with a little egg, some Fontina or your favorite cheese, add some seasonings and make rice cakes. Cook them in a little olive oil.

 

Tomato Paste

I often have leftover tomato paste.It can be frozen in ice cube trays  You’ll have it on hand for stirring into soups and stews.

 

Flour Tortillas

Extra corn or flour tortillas can be frozen in a Ziploc bag and used later for savory or dessert pizzas. Place the tortillas on a baking sheet, brush with a little oil and crisp them in the oven. Top with a bit of tomato sauce and cheese  to make an individual pizza. For dessert, brush with butter and brown sugar, bake until crisp and add  toppings

 

https://kitchenkeepers.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/lovely-leftovers-or-still-thankful/

https://kitchenkeepers.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/gourmet-leftovers/

 

Buttermilk Pecan Pie

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Our Thanksgiving dinner this year included both old and new recipes.  Pecan Pie has long been a family favorite, and we have made it in many ways and in different places. My mother’s and grandmother’s pecan pie usually involved the labor of love  called cracking and picking out pecans by hand, making the pies an even more special treat.  Many years ago, my mother-in-law had a large pecan tree in her back yard and would once in a while mail us a shoebox full of shelled pieces that she had picked up and picked out for us.  In recent years, I have bought them for use for holiday baking.  But this year, in keeping with our efforts to buy local produce, we bought our pecans through a school fund raiser that obtained them from a Fort Bend county producer.  They are fresh, delicious, and the Buttermilk Pecan Pies featured them well.

Our family’s old-time recipes usually involved using dark corn syrup and lots of pecans, resulting in a very sticky and sweet pie slice, but I have always liked the fillings made with eggs and milk that give a more custard filling.  The use of buttermilk in this recipe makes this pie delicious, and quintessentially Southern.  I adapted this recipe from one found in Texas the Beautiful  Cookbook,  edited by Elizabeth Germaine, with contributions by Ann Criswell, Food editor of the Houston Chronicle.  It is reprinted from the Corpus Christi Junior League cookbook, Fiesta.  Buttermilk pecan pie was a family recipe often prepared ba a career U.S. Navy chef for many dignitaries. during his military career, the chef refused to share the recipe, but when he retired he allowed it to be printed in a Navy newspaper.

1/2 cup butter

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 eggs

3 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup chopped pecans

pecan halves for decoration

1 (9 inch) pie crust

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, adding sugar gradually. Blend in vanilla and eggs, one at a time.  Combine flour and salt and add to this mixture gradually. Add buttermilk and mix.

Sprinkle chopped pecans in the bottom of unbaked pie crust and pour filling over them. Bake pie in preheated oven at 300 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.  When pie has baked for about 30 minutes, lay pecan halves in simple design on top, pressing slightly, then resume baking. Serve at room temperature.

010I am thankful for all the good help I had baking Buttermilk Pecan Pie!

Harvest Wild Rice Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette

 

 

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Although temperatures have only slightly dropped from triple digit summer heat, this time of year begins to whisper that Fall is just around the corner, and around here that means pumpkins!  Last year one of my Kitchen Keeper posts was titled Pumpkin Everything*  so it is not surprising we begin to make pumpkin bread and muffins as well as pies, cornbread and pumpkin bread pudding.  Thanksgiving 2012 I made a tasty pumpkin soup, and we have already decided that this wild rice dish will be part of our 2013 holiday table. It combines flavors that just sing Happy Thanksgiving:  green onions, celery, cranberries, and of course, pumpkin. It can be made ahead which is a bonus as well.

Very easy to prepare and ranking high in both nutrition and flavor, Wild Rice Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette is one more way to love cooking with pumpkins!  I like to double the vinaigrette ingredients so that I have leftover dressing to use for a spinach salad or chopped romaine with apples.  More than a side dish, this is a wonderful main dish that you can add to with some grilled chicken strips. This one truly is a Kitchen Keeper.

Harvest Wild Rice Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 (6 oz.) box long-grain and wild rice mix
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. dried thyme
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant.
  2. Prepare rice according to package directions; let cool completely (about 25 minutes). Stir in cranberries, celery, green onions, and toasted pecans.
  3. Whisk together canned pumpkin, next 5 ingredients, and 2 T. water. Gradually whisk in olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until blended.
  4. Pour vinaigrette over rice mixture; stir gently to coat. Cover and chill 2 to 24 hours. Serve at room temperature.

Recipe Source:  Southern Living, November 2009

Lovely Leftovers, or Still Thankful

One of the joys of preparing a family holiday meal is having leftovers.  OK, I know not everyone enjoys putting them away and then figuring out what to do with them.  And I do have a husband who does not complain about eating leftovers.   I really do like Thanksgiving leftovers, and thought it might be fun to look at some before pictures and then talk about how the remains were revisited. Some of the “leavings” went home with guests, but here’s how we took care of ours.

First, the bird!  I am the first to admit, the turkey was in the roaster a bit too long.  This was my first time using an electric turkey roaster but it won’t be the last.  No basting, shorter cooking time, and even though it was falling off the bone the meat was tender and moist. I rubbed it with olive oil and a Texas salt rub that had plenty of cayenne and paprika and stuffed it with slices of orange, Meyer lemon and fresh bay leaves, rosemary, and basil straight out of the garden.  I glazed the turkey with pomegranate jelly.  Honestly, there was not alot leftover.  We had enough for turkey sandwiches.  But usually I make turkey tetrazinni and turkey noodle soup.  Any that remains after a couple of days gets chopped up and stored in Ziploc bags in the freezer.  This can be used in just about any chicken recipe.

Fruit salad with cooked dressing is one dish we included this year that I remember my Mother always putting on the table for holiday meals. Our cornbread dressing is another.  In the 40’s and 50’s we never had turkey or pumpkin pie.  We had baked chicken and cornbread dressing and sweet potato pie.  We had alot of this leftover because the recipe makes alot and since it competes for dessert as a sweet, I think people “saved for dessert.”  That is OK, because I love it.  We have eaten it as a side with sandwiches but my favorite way of eating this leftover is for breakfast!  I will include this recipe.  The dressing is delicious drizzled over fresh fruit.  I included the cherries and marshmallows because that is the way Mother made it, but I prefer to omit them.

Our sons and their wives are good cooks, so we are fortunate to have their great contributions to our family gatherings.  My son Ben made our mac and cheese, green beans amandine, and the cranberry sauce, which he tells me he cooked by adding honey and some garam masala to fresh cranberries.  This was tasty spread on toast to make a bacon and egg breakfast sandwich.  The last 1/4 cup of cranberry sauce got whirled in the blender with Greek yogurt and orange juice to make a cranberry smoothie.  Son Sean made a beautiful berry pie and his wife, Teion, made Paula Deen’s pumpkin pie. And although we didn’t get to taste, son Jeremy made campfire turkey and dressing which they called from their camping spot to say turned out great.

Fruit Salad with Cooked Dressing   (just like Opal made it)

8 or 10 oranges, peeled, sectioned, each section cut into bite size

2 cans pineapple chunks, drained

1 jar Maraschino cherries, drained

1 cup of miniature marshmallows

1/2 pint whipping cream, whipped

Toss with cooked dressing and whipped cream and let set in refrigerator to chill.

Cooked Dressing

2 Tablespoons vinegar

4 Tablespoons sugar

2  whole eggs

2 Tablespoons butter

Combine and cook, stirring, until thick.  Cool before adding to fruit.

Williamsburg Pecan Bars

In 1984, I traveled with friends to Colonial Williamsburg.  We loved the living history lessons at every turn and enjoyed stopping by its inns and taverns for meals. The cookbook I purchased there has remained one of my favorites for nearly 30 years not only because it reminds me of travels and tastes of the past, but also for recipes that have become keepers for our family like  Christiana Campbells’ Tavern Spoon Bread, Chowning’s Brunswick Stew, Mrs. Randolph’s Frozen Lemonade, and Williamsburg Inn Pecan Bars.

Williamsburg Inn Pecan Bars

 The Williamsburg Cookbook, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1975

 3/4 cup butter

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 eggs

rind of one lemon

 Grease and flour two 9X9X2 inch pans.*   Cream butter and sugar; add eggs and lemon rind and beat well.  Sift together flour and baking powder; add to creamed mixture and beat well.  Chill dough until firm.  Press the dough in the bottom of the pans.  The dough will be about 1/8 inch thick.  Prick all over with a fork.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in a  375 degree oven until the dough looks half done.  Remove and follow instructions for Pecan Topping.

*  I make this in one larger pan.

Pecan Topping

 1 cup butter

1 cup honey

1 cup light brown sugar,packed

1/4 cup whipping cream

3 cups pecan, chopped

 

Put butter, sugar and honey  in a deep, heavy saucepan; boil and stir constantly for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat. Cool slighty and add cream and pecans, mix well.  Spread the topping evenly over the surface of the partially baked sugar dough with a buttered wooded spoon or flexible spatula. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes.  Cool and cut into 1 x 2 inch bars.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce

12 slices cinnamon-raisin bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 8 cups)

the newer caramel apple or pumpkin swirl breads work well, too!

4 eggs

1 cup milk

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2/3  cup  Pecan halves, or chopped if you prefer

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Place bread cubes in greased 13×9-inch baking dish.

Beat eggs, milk, pumpkin, brown sugar and vanilla with wire whisk or electric mixer until blended. Pour evenly over bread; sprinkle with pecans.

BAKE 45 min. or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm topped with Salted Caramel Sauce.

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 1/2 cup Half-and-half
  • Pinch Of  Sea Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla

Mix butter, brown sugar, half & half, and salt in  a small heavy pan over medium low heat. Cook, stirring,until mixture thickens. . Add vanilla and cook another minute to thicken further. Remove from heat,cool slightly, and pour sauce into a jar. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.  This is wonderful on ice cream, apple slices, pound cake, or drizzled on plain cheese cake!  Can be reheated in microwave and served in a small pitcher for guests to pour their own.