Friday, November 29, 2013

Pecan Pie Bites

When my girls were growing up our first house had a fantastic grove of pecan trees all over our yard.  We were the only young couple in a neighborhood of retired couples and they always said our girls brought it back to life.  For years when the leaves fell off our pecan trees it took an army to rake them up.  Every other year we had a huge crop of pecans to shell and share with our families and friends.  The one thing I always enjoyed was watching our older neighbors walk the street and pick the pecans that fell there.  An industrious few would hike a leg on the side of our yard and pick those pecans that fell close to the road!  I'd always just laugh and be proud they could still do it.  The neighbors sure walked a lot more during pecan season!
My middle daughter loved our pecans most of all and we constantly had to crack and shell them for her as she would beg for them saying, "Cons momma and daddy, more cons!"  I can still hear her saying that now. 
That first house was truly a blessing for our young family and we remodeled it all with our own hands and always enjoyed living there.  Each time I eat a pecan or make something with them, I'm reminded of those times and the first years of our marriage and our two oldest girls.  It doesn't seem that long ago now, but it's been over 16 years since we lived in that little gray house in Mitchell Addition.
I love, love making this easy dessert at the holidays!  It's honestly one of my families favorites that's they pick up as they walk by as we snack all day long! I really hope you'll try it.
Pecan Pie Bites
2 cups pecan, minced fine in a food processor

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine (I actually used a light version margarine with a butter flavor and it turned out great with fewer calories)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 sleeves of graham crackers broken in to fourths and placed on a wax paper lined cookie sheet
Melt butter or margarine in a Teflon sauce pan.  Hint:  you'll want to use a Teflon pan to prevent a sugar pan me...been there..done that...and if you don't have wax paper then use nonstick foil or foil sprayed lightly with oil. :o) 
Add to pecan mixture on the stove the sugar, vanilla and salt.  Bring to a low rolling boil (this is where your sugar, pecan mixture boils and gently pops in the middle of the pan as it cooks).  Cook on this low boil for eight minutes until mixture reaches candy stage and coats a spoon without dripping off quickly.  Stir this on and off as it cooks, scraping sides of the pan.  If you fire is too high you can easily burn this mixture. So adjust it and watch your mixture closely.
While pecan mixture is boiling, break graham crackers in fourths and place on a wax lined cookie sheet.
Once candied pecans are done, spoon immediately over the graham crackers trying to cover as much as possible. 
Cook in the oven on 375 for 30 minutes and allow to cool before serving.  Break into bite sized pieces,that about 2 inches by 2 inches and enjoy!! I like to place these in air proof cookie tins.  Layer each row between  wax paper and these will keep for up to one week nicely. 

Pecan Pie Bites are great as gifts for coworker and teachers, or just to take as a dessert that no one ever turns down!
Alise @ The Ranch Kitchen

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sweet Potato Pie

Sharing this wonderful looking Sweet Potato Pie today from my friend Karen Steelman Shirley who I've know for just a 'few' years!  Karen and I teach in the same district and her happy spirit and kind heart is truly a blessing to me and her students.  

She posted on Facebook how she made this pie and I asked her if it could be shared on my blog.  In our little hometown we have a pie contest each year with sweet potatoes that are judged simply on the flavor of this vitamin packed vegetable.  The intent is for the spice not to overpower the flavor and I think her family recipe does just that!  

I like to bake my sweet potatoes on a foil lined cookie sheet, tips cut off and spray their skins with just a bit of oil.  

This would be an excellent addition to your holiday table! 

Sweet Potato Pie

4 sweet potatoes, baked and mashed
1 2/3 cups evaporated milk
1/3 cup butter, softened
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
11/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 pie shells/crust, ready made

Bake four large sweet potatoes or yams in the oven on 250 degrees until soft to the touch (when you squeeze them they should feel like they will come apart).  This should allow you six cups of potatoes.  Mash them and add 1/3 cup butter that has been softened.  To this add 4 beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 2/3 cups evaporated milk and all spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and ground cloves). Mix all together and beat well with a mixer until smooth.  Pour into pie shells and bake on 425 approximately 45 minutes until done. This will make 2 - 9 inch pies.  

Thanks so much Karen Steelman Shirley for sharing this pie from your family member Dale Montgomery! 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Candy Corn Trash

Fall is my favorite time of the year. My favorite foods like sweet potatoes or yams as we call them are seasonal during this time of the year and I love fall desserts most of all!  

The other day as I was observing a teacher friend in her great classroom, I spied a good looking dessert!  It took all my will power not to dive into the bowl and continue watching her teach!  It was healthy, with just the right amount of chocolate and had my fall favorite candy corn candy mixed in it.  Have I told you how much I love candy corn...especially candy pumpkin corn?!! Well it's my favorite!  It's ALL over my house in little crystal bowls so I can snack on it throughout the season!

Later in the day, I shot this picture off my cell phone and asked for the recipe from another fellow teacher friend.  It's so easy she said! And it is...but that doesn't mean it's not good! I love cooking that isn't hard!

Come to find out its a 'dump recipe', meaning you throw in a little if this and a little of that and presto you have a fun, visually appealing dessert anyone would love!!  With that said, any combination of nuts or other candies would be great in this!  And if you can not find the popcorn described below, make your own and drizzle melted chocolate over the top of it before mixing with the other ingredients.

Thanks Nedra for the recipe and Gail for setting it in front of me!  I'm already planning how I will make this festive at Christmas!

Candy Corn Trash

Indiana Black and White Pop Corn (this batch was bought at a local Sam's Club and has chocolate on it)  
1 - 2 cups (1 bag) of Candy Corn
Fall colored M&M's
Reese's Peanut Butter M&M's

Mix all 4 bags together and enjoy! 

Happy Fall!