For as long as I can remember, my favorite pie was Southern Pecan Pie. I remember when I was a child, my family visited our Uncle and his family for Christmas. Their kitchen was huge and they had the most kitchen gadgets and appliances I had ever seen. It was fascinating to observe how my favorite dishes were prepared, especially the pies! I desperately wanted to help but, was told I was too young. That day I made a resolution to myself to learn how to bake pies.
A few years later, my grandmother began to teach me how to bake. She always insisted on using JR Watkins extracts for her baked goods. I didn’t realize how much of a flavor difference it made until I tried using other brands. Even though I carefully followed my grandmother’s recipes, my baked goods never tasted as good as hers, then I realized why she was so adamant to use JR Watkins extracts and spices. Their extracts are true to flavor and don’t have an aftertaste like other brands. Granny’s secret ingredient is now my secret ingredient.
Today, my family is grateful for my commitment to learn the art of baking pies. Recently, my husband had a craving for Southern Pecan Pie. An hour later his pie was cooling on the rack. The following is our favorite recipe to achieve the rich buttery filling that makes Southern Pecan Pie so decadent.
Prep Time: 10 min. Cook Time: 45-50 min. Serves: 8-10 Difficulty: Easy
9-inch unbaked pie crust
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. JR Watkins Original Double Strength Vanilla
1/2 tsp. JR Watkins Butter Extract
1 heaping cup pecan halves
Heat oven to 350ºF. Prepare pie crust and place in the refrigerator.
In a large bowl, combine corn syrup, sugar, eggs, butter, salt, butter extract and vanilla; mix well. Pour filling into cold, unbaked pie crust (remember, cold crust plus hot oven equals flaky crust); sprinkle with pecan halves. Cover with pie crust shield to prevent over-browning of the crust.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until center is set. (Toothpick will come out clean when pie is “done”). You can remove the pie crust shield for the last 5 minutes if necessary. Allow to cool completely before serving.
How do you like to top your Southern Pecan Pie? Do you prefer a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream?
Do you have a fond memory of how you learned to bake? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Here are some items we find useful when baking:
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So, what’s the difference between an ordinary kitchen gadget and gourmet cooking utensils? The cost? Some gourmet cooking utensils can be quite expensive, but not always. Are they utensils that only professional chefs have access to? That’s not typically the case either. Let’s take a look at the whisk, one of the most common utensils found in most every kitchen. Are whisks considered gourmet cooking utensils?
Technically a whisk refers to a utensil used in a rapid, sweeping motion for the purpose of moving an item. In the kitchen, our intention is to move ingredients. Whisks are vital for incorporating air into eggs and batters or blending ingredients to a smooth consistency. While most kitchens have a basic whisk for whipping up scrambled eggs, others are stocked with several types designed for more specific purposes. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular styles.
A basic Balloon Whisk is designed for general all-purpose whipping. Most popular sizes range from a mini 6- inch, up to 13-inches. Commonly used for eggs, pancake batter, roux, dressing and a variety of other applications. The rounded structure conforms perfectly to the shape of mixing bowls. Generally, a 9-inch size is sufficient for many purposes and every kitchen should include at least one of these.
An Aerator Cage Whisk is similar to a balloon whisk except, its unique design includes a large head and an additional wire cage inside which contains a metal ball. It is used for heavy whipping and thoroughly blends thicker batters, culminating in an extra-smooth texture.
The Danish Dough Whisk has a unique design, which at first glance, doesn’t appear to be very useful. However, it has become essential in my kitchen for mixing sourdough starter, incorporating delicate ingredients into batter and mixing dough for cookies or biscuits. It requires fewer strokes to accomplish incredible results.
A Flat Whisk is routinely used to prepare a roux or sauce in a skillet. It is formed to efficiently sweep across the surface of your skillet while stirring to prevent lumps. This results in a smoother roux or sauce.
The Coil Wire Whisk is constructed with an individual wire, coiled into a balloon shape. It’s primarily used for liquids or beating eggs. Simply place it in a bowl and pump the handle up and down to distribute liquids. This springing action whips and fluffs batters.
The peculiar style of the Sauce Master consists of a main loop encased in a wire that is coiled around it. It is wonderful for preparing sauces, gravy, pudding, gelatin and batters. The long handle and angle allow it to be used in deep pots or bowls. The whisk head covers more surface than a traditional balloon whisk.
The Saucinator is an extraordinary whisk similar to the Sauce Master, with a few notable improvements. The heat resistant silicone coil covers more pan surface to prevent scorching and will not damage your cookware. The coil that extends up the handle performs like an additional whisk. Your sauce, gravy, pudding or batter will be even smoother. The silicone construction makes it easier to clean. It is available in a large size for deeper pots and a small size for saucepans. It’s another essential whisk in my kitchen.
The Flat Coil Whip bears a resemblance to the Master Sauce Whisk and Saucinator. However, it is smaller at only about 8-inches and the head isn’t quite as angled. It does have many handy capabilities. Its small, slender size enables it to fit easily into small containers to quickly whip up an egg wash for pastries, incorporate milk into eggs for light and fluffy scrambled eggs, mix cornstarch with water for a thickener or anytime you need to mix a small amount of liquid ingredients quickly and easily.
A Granny Fork, efficiently incorporates eggs, butter or other liquids with dry ingredients. It has slightly offset stainless steel tines and a sturdy soft grip handle. Due to its size, it can also be used to shred meat, mix together meatloaf or for cookie dough. Although, not usually thought of as a whisk, it can function as one in many instances.
The Rotary Beater Whisk is a throwback to a time before electric mixers. It brings back memories when, as a child, I was not allowed to operate the electric mixer. I have always loved to experiment in the kitchen so, I didn’t allow that minor restriction deter me. The rotary beater would be my alternative. At my young age, the rotary beater seemed so awkward to handle. I always ended up with a mess to clean and usually didn’t achieve the results I was striving for. It was a dream come true when I finally saved up enough money from babysitting to buy my own electric hand mixer. I still keep a rotary whisk, more for sentimental reasons than practical purposes. Even now it seems a little awkward to use, but you never know, I might get the hang of it someday.
In conclusion, all kitchen gadgets, regardless of how common, are considered to be gourmet cooking utensils when they’re used to prepare a gourmet dish. What do you think? Do you remember a time when you were excited to receive a new kitchen utensil? Leave a comment and share with us.
In our home, we consume nuts in some form or fashion almost daily. Frequently, we toss a few almonds, walnuts or pecans in our morning smoothie or breakfast waffles, prepare trail mix with a variety of nuts for on-the-go energy, roll chicken strips with a mixture of nuts, coconut and corn flakes for a delicious, crunchy coating, entertain with Sweet, Salty, Spicy Party Nuts or serve Green Beans Almondine as a side dish for dinner. Many times, we will grab a few almonds or walnuts to ease hunger while waiting for dinner. Sometimes, we add a few chopped nuts with our coffee grounds to add a rich and nutty flavor. Taken in moderation, nuts are a healthful addition for anyone who doesn’t have nut allergies.
When I was a child, my mother worked in a little shop in downtown Dallas. There was a Plantar’s store across the street where they roasted their fresh nuts all day. We could smell the intense nutty aroma as each batch was nearing completion. One of my fondest memories was when I would purchase a bag of hot, freshly roasted peanuts or almonds. The sweet taste of the warm nut meat was and still is one of my favorite comfort foods.
I’m sure your family has a few favorite methods of preparing and consuming nuts. Here are a few tasty recipes we enjoy.
Chocolate Almond Smoothie
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tbsp. raw honey, warmed slightly
2 tbsp. natural peanut butter
1 medium banana (I use a ripe frozen banana)
1 1/2 tbsp. cocoa powder
Place all the ingredients into a blender, pulse a few times and then process on high until smooth. If you don’t have a frozen banana, you might consider adding a few ice cubes to make it cold.
Occasionally, I will soak 1/4 cup of rolled oats in 1/4 cup of the almond milk overnight. In the morning, I will combine the other 1/4 cup of almond milk, the soaked oatmeal and the rest of the ingredients and then process as usual. If the smoothie is too thick, add a little more almond milk.
Basic Trail Mix
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup craisins
1/2 cup M&M’s
This is the basic mix we usually start with and then we’ll add additional ingredients like coconut, dried blueberries, granola chunks, walnuts, pecans, pistachios or a variety of other nuts and dried fruit. This trail mix is very versatile and provides energy for busy days or exercising.
Coconutty Chicken Strips
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
2/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes
2/3 cup crushed cornflakes
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1 tsp. Watkins Poultry Seasoning
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, cut in 1-inch wide strips
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Put coconut milk in a small bowl, and set aside. In a shallow pie plate, combine coconut, cornflakes, pecans and poultry seasoning.
Dip chicken strips in coconut milk to cover, then roll in coconut mixture. Place strips on wire rack sprayed with Watkins Cooking Spray. Place wire rack on a baking sheet. Spray top of chicken. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350, and bake 15 more minutes. Check that coating browns but does not burn. If desired, broil 2 minutes for an even crunchier top.
Note: We like a little kick to our strips so, we add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. Watkins Cayenne Powder and/or up to 1/2 tsp. Watkins Crushed Red Pepper Flakes to the coconut mixture.
1 (18 oz.) jar apricot preserves (such as SMUCKER’S® Apricot Preserves)
1 cup crushed pineapple
4 tsp. prepared horseradish
Mix apricot preserves and horseradish in a bowl; stir in pineapple. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Adapted from recipes found on Allrecipes.com
Sweet, Salty, Spicy Party Nuts
1 cup raw walnut halves
1 cup raw pecan halves
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup unsalted, dry roasted cashews
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp JR Watkins Purest Black Pepper
1/4 tsp JR Watkins Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp JR Watkins Ground Cayenne Pepper
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp butter
Preheat oven to 350º F (175º C). Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper lightly coated with JR Watkins Cooking Spray.
Place walnuts, pecans, almonds and cashews in a large bowl, set aside. Combine salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne; add to nuts and toss to coat.
Heat sugar, water and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter is melted. Cook for 1 minute and remove from heat. Slowly pour butter mixture over the bowl of nuts and stir to coat.
Transfer nuts to the prepared baking sheet and spread into a single layer.
Bake nuts in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Stir nuts until the warm syrup coats every nut. Spread into a single layer, return to oven and bake until nuts are sticky and roasted, about 6 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.
Adapted from a recipe found on Allrecipes.com
Green Beans Almondine
1 lb. fresh or frozen green beans
2 tbsp Watkins Original Grapeseed Oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1-2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup slivered almonds
Watkins Purest Ground Black Pepper
Watkins Course Sea Salt
Remove any stem or strings from green beans; rinse and drain. Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet on med. heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent; add garlic and green beans. Toss until evenly coated. Reduce heat to low, cover and gently simmer until green beans are al dente, approx. 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with almonds and transfer to a serving dish.
Here are a few suggestions you may find useful:
You can trust JR Watkins superior quality Extracts and Spices for excellent results in cooking and baking. It’s my Granny’s secret ingredient!