Pecan Tarts

Growing up in the South gives you an appreciation for pecans. In the backyard of the house where we grew up, there stood a huge pecan tree that dropped it’s glorious pecans to the ground. Daddy would have us gather the pecans to shell them to include in Mama’s pecan pies; her chocolate cake with pecans pressed into the thick, buttercream icing; her divinity and turtle candy at Christmastime; and they are a must atop brownies. Oh wait, there’s also her Pecan Whiskey Cake at Christmastime that she would make in coffee cans to give as gifts to Daddy’s customers. We always had pecans in the freezer for such cooking needs, and often sent boxes of pecans to relatives for Christmas. All of these recipes are soon to be posted on our website so stay tuned and be sure to follow our blog, if you aren’t already, by clicking on the “Follow Us” icon on this webpage!

As much as we love our Mama’s Pecan Pie, we love these little bite sized Pecan Tarts, also referred to as Pecan Tassies by some. They have been carried to many a church potluck and we always receive great reviews and many requests for the recipe. A brown sugar pecan praline filling is spooned into tiny pie crust shells and baked. They are divine…especially if you are using a homemade pie crust. Try our Homemade Pie Crust by clicking HERE. If you are in a pinch for time, you can use a refrigerated pie crust such as Pillsbury Pie Crust in the red box. The ingredients come together in minutes and bake in no time at all.

Ingredients:

1 recipe of Mom’s Homemade Pie Crust, or, 1 box of refrigerated pie crust
Flour for rolling out your crust
1 1/2 cups chopped Pecans
2 tablespoon Melted Butter
3/4 cup packed Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract – try our Homemade Vanilla recipe by clicking HERE
Optional: a sprinkling of powdered sugar for the top of each tart

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a mini muffin tin (the one that yields 24 muffins) with a non-stick cooking spray.

Lightly flour a pastry board and roll out piecrust.

Use a circular cookie cutter or a flower shaped cookie cutter large enough to press into the mini muffin pan and cut dough out.

Fit dough into each muffin cup and prick the dough with a fork. Continue to cut dough out, press into muffin cups, and prick with a fork.

Melt butter in a microwavable dish in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, or until butter melts.

Add all filling ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl.

Fold ingredients together.

Gently fill each pie crust with a teaspoonful of pecan mixture about half full. The mixture will rise in the oven as they bake.

Bake for approximately 9 minutes, or until crusts are very lightly browned, and remove from oven.

Let set for 3 minutes and carefully remove from pan with a pointed knife.

Once cooled, lightly dust each with powdered sugar, if desired.

These are so easy to make but will look like you slaved for hours! They are wonderful topped with fresh whipped cream!

Aren’t a fan of pecans? You can use walnuts!

Yields approximately 40 tarts.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies

Our oldest sister learned to make these Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies in her Home Economics class in High School and taught the rest of the sisters how to make them. The cookies contain ingredients you probably already have on hand. Oatmeal, peanut butter, vanilla, sugar, and cocoa are combined to create a perfect, easy to make, no bake cookie!

The cookies are cooked on top of the stove so there is no need to heat up the house by turning on the oven. This was a good thing for us as we grew up in an old Victorian home built in the 1880’s and did not have central air conditioning. (See the “About Us” section of our blog for more information about our old house!) Once cooked, you drop the cookies by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Since our kitchen had countertops that wrapped around the whole room, we would have waxed paper lined up and down the countertops with cookies randomly dropped here and there on top of the waxed paper. Daddy got so tired of seeing waxed paper up and down out countertops that there was a time he enacted a “No Bake Cookie Ban” on these cookies! The ban was quickly lifted as once you taste these cookies, you will begin to crave them and will want to make them again and again!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Milk
2 cups Sugar
3 Tablespoons Cocoa
3 tablespoons Peanut Butter (smooth or chunky)
1/2 cup Butter
3 cups Oats
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract, or make our Homemade Vanilla Extract by clicking here

In a soup pot, combine milk, sugar, cocoa, butter, and peanut butter.

I almost forgot to add the butter to my pan!

Keep stirring mixture until butter is melted and ingredients are combined.

Bring mixture to a rolling boil and boil 1 minute. Do not stir.

Remove from heat. Stir in oats.

Add vanilla extract and stir.

Line 2 cookie sheets with waxed paper. Drop the mixture by tablespoon onto waxed paper and let set. For a larger cookie, use a 1/8 measuring cup.


My cookies are laid out on my cookie sheet…time to lick the bowl as the chocolaty mixture is too good not to be scraped clean and eaten!

You can put the cookies in the refrigerator for 15 minutes for a quicker set.

Note: In humid weather the cookies won’t setup properly so we add a few more tablespoons of oatmeal to the mixture and cook 30 seconds longer. Refrigerating them also seems to help on a humid day. As kids, if they didn’t set, we just ate them with a spoon off the waxed paper…hmmm….maybe that’s why Daddy banned them….
Enjoy!

Chocolate Caramel Layered Bars

When we were kids, Mama would make us dessert bars that we called “Hello Dollies”. They were one of our favorites! I have no idea where the name came from but the recipe was printed on the back of a can of Sweetened Condensed Milk. They called them “Magic Bars”. These layered bars start with a graham cracker crust, and then Sweetened Condensed Milk is drizzled onto it, before layering with Chocolate Chips, Butterscotch Chips, Coconut, and Pecans. The bars are rich and gooey and are SO GOOD!

Instead of making the original recipe, however, I replaced the Butterscotch Chips with Kraft’s Caramel Bits for a chocolatey caramel bar that is just as rich and gooey, and is SO GOOD!

I am in love with Kraft’s Caramel Bits! You don’t have to unwrap the caramel squares; they are formed into round balls and you literally just pour them out of the bag like chocolate chips into your desserts….that is, if they can last that long in your house as the second I buy them, my kids open the bag and start eating them! You can use them in this recipe or you can use unwrapped caramel squares.

Ingredients:

1 stick Butter
1 1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 cups Chocolate Chips
1 cup Caramel Bits (or if you prefer the original Hello Dollies recipe, add 1 cup Butterscotch Chips)
1 cup Coconut
1 cup Pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in a 13X9″ glass or ceramic pan.

You can put your glass or microwavable safe pan in your microwave to perform this step so you don’t have to dirty an extra dish but you will want to turn off your microwave’s turntable.

Ahhh…look at that melted butter…someone hand me a roll or a piece of bread…just kidding…kind of…back to the dessert bars at hand…

Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over the melted butter.

Using a fork, mix the butter and graham cracker crumbs together.

Press mixture into bottom of pan.

Drizzle Sweetened Condensed Milk over your graham cracker crust and spread with a knife.

Sprinkle Chocolate Chips over Sweetened Condensed Milk.

Sprinkle Caramel Bits on top.

Sprinkle Pecans on top.
Sprinkle Coconut on top.

Bake 25 minutes. Allow bars to fully cool before cutting them into bars as they bars are gooey right out of the oven but will firm up as they cool.

Enjoy!

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Mexican Wedding Cookies (also referred to by some as Snowball Cookies, Powdered Sugar Cookies, or Russian Teacakes)have been a family favorite of ours since we were kids.
The cookies are very easy to make and the ingredients, you most likely have on hand already, so these became a staple for us as it was something the girls could easily bake together for our family to enjoy. We have always rolled our dough into one inch balls but will often see them shaped into crescent moons. When we were too young to bake them ourselves, Mom would bake them and our little hands would have the job of rolling them in the powdered sugar.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar, plus 1/2 cup for rolling cookies in once they are baked
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup pecans, chopped

Combine butter, 1/4 cup powdered sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl.

With a wooden spoon, or your Kitchen-Aid Mixer, gradually stir in flour.

Stir in pecans.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Shape dough into one inch balls and place on your cookie sheet. The cookies will retain their shape and not spread out so you can put the cookies close together.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Be sure to watch them closely as they can easily burn on the bottom. The balls will hold their shape and not flatten while baking. To test for doneness, check that the bottom of the cookies have slightly started to brown.

Place the 1/2 cup of remaining powdered sugar in a bowl. Remove cookies from oven and while the cookies are still warm, gently roll them in the powdered sugar.


This recipe makes approximately 24 cookies. For our large family, we would double or triple the batch!

These cookies, while still warm, melt in your mouth and the kids love them!

Rhubarb Bars

Rhubarb…glorious rhubarb!

Rhubarb is traditionally not a southern food and years ago, you rarely saw it cross the Mason Dixon Line, unless you happened to be a transplant from the north or have Scandinavian roots.  My mother’s family migrated from Finland to Montana at the turn of the century.  My grandmother was born in a coal mining area of Montana and rhubarb grew right outside her back door so finding ways to cook rhubarb was a must!  Her grandmother would make wonderful rhubarb pies.  Her love for rhubarb was passed down to us via her tart rhubarb pies that we grew up eating, and today, we also make these rhubarb bars.

It is getting easier to find rhubarb in our  Texas grocery stores and if we see it we tend to stock up and freeze it when we can. If you haven’t tasted rhubarb before, the taste is similar to a cross between a crisp apple and a tart citrus.  The best rhubarb comes from the first crops in late winter to early spring.  In June and July, the fruit is more bitter and it loses it’s good tart taste.  Our family doesn’t use a lot of sugar when cooking rhubarb as we prefer to retain the tartness of the fruit.   If you prefer a sweeter bar, add an additional cup of sugar to the recipe.   These bars have a nice tartness to them with a crumbly topping.

Filling:

5 cups chopped rhubarb
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Wash rhubarb and slice the ends off and discard.  Chop rhubarb stalks.

In a sauce pot, add all ingredients. Photo below shows rhubarb mixed with sugar….YUM!

Slowly stir mixture until thickened.


Allow to cool.

Base:

1 1/2 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, crushed

Mix all ingredients together with a fork, or your hands, in a mixing bowl until crumbly.

Pat 3/4 of the mixture into a 13X9 baking pan.

Pour cooked rhubarb over the top and then sprinkle with the remaining crumbs over the top.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, or until browned on top.

Allow to cool and cut into bars.

Enjoy!