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:
Visit our website to view all our baking essentials.
My primary reason for learning how to make Creamy Almond Milk is to add flavor to coffee. I really enjoy adding creamer to my coffee. For years, my creamer of choice was half and half. However, in an effort to reduce calories, I decided to try some alternatives. First, I tried soy milk and really enjoy the taste, but became increasingly more concerned about the list of ingredients. Next, I tried Almond Milk. The taste was acceptable, but after a few days I noticed a rash developing. The rash disappeared after I discontinued drinking the almond milk. This was puzzling because, I consume almonds almost daily without any skin issues. After investigating the ingredients, I decided the possible cause was due to the preservatives and other unpronounceable ingredients.
A few days later, a friend mentioned that she makes her own and explained the simple steps to make creamy almond milk. With just a couple of personal tweaks, I decided on this very basic recipe. The difference in flavor is amazing. It gives my coffee a wonderful almond, vanilla flavor. Occasionally, I even use it in place of milk for cereal and oatmeal.
Here are the quick and easy, step-by-step directions for making Creamy Almond Milk.
You will need:
1 cup raw almonds (preferably organic)
3 cups filtered water (plus more for soaking almonds)
1 Tbsp. vanilla (I only use JR Watkins Original Double Strength Vanilla)
1-2 Tbsp. raw honey (completely optional but, really good)
Cover the Almonds in filtered water and soak for 24 hours or at least overnight. The almonds will swell and soften slightly as they absorb some of the water. This will make a creamy almond milk with less grit. After soaking, rinse and place in a blender.
Pour three cups of filtered water over the almonds and set the blender to the puree setting.
Puree in blender until thick and creamy.
Drain the almond mixture using a stainless steel double mesh strainer, lined with a nut bag. You will need to stir occasionally to enable most of the milk to drain.
Squeeze excess milk from the bag. Pour the milk, vanilla and honey into the blender.
Blend for about 30 seconds to a minute, just enough to combine the ingredients. Pour into a glass pitcher and place in the refrigerator.
The Creamy Almond Milk will stay fresh for 3-4 days.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do. Please leave a comment to share how you use almond milk and different variations you like to use.
Use the remaining almond mixture to make almond meal.
Heat the oven on its lowest setting. Spread the leftover almond meal on a lined baking sheet and place in the heated oven until thoroughly dry. Pour dried almond meal in a blender and process until fine.
Use the almond meal in cookies, cakes, bread or a variety of other recipes. It is especially delicious when used as breading for chicken strips.
Here are some of the culinary tools I use to prepare Creamy Almond Milk.
Simply click the image to learn more about each product:
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.
This Perfect Burger Press by Progressive Int’l. makes it quick and easy to make hamburgers, turkey burgers or veggie burgers. The three-piece set includes a comfort grip pusher, dimple insert and non-skid base. The dimple insert enables the burger to cook more evenly.
Garlic Asiago Cheddar Burger
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. JR Watkins Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. JR Watkins Smoked Paprika
1/2 tsp. JR Watkins Chipotle
1/2 tsp. JR Watkins Granulated Black Pepper
1/2 tsp. JR Watkins Coarse Sea Salt
2/3 cup Asaigo cheese, grated
2/3 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
In a small bowl, mix dry ingredients until combined.
In a large bowl, gently combine ground beef, minced garlic and spices. Don’t over work the ground beef or, the burger will be tough. Divide into 6 balls and form patties using the Perfect Burger Press.
Cook burgers on a hot grill to desired doneness. Top with a mound of Asiago and Cheddar. These burgers are just as delicious cooked indoors on an indoor George Foreman type of grill.
Here are some of our favorite tools for preparing perfect burgers:
Plump, sweet strawberries are such a healthful treat. One cup has only 50 calories and they’re a good source of vitamins A & C, potassium, folate and fiber. Utilizing the following method for cleaning and storing fresh strawberries helps to prolong the freshness so, you can enjoy every last berry.
Normally, we have to purchase twice the amount we need because, we typically eat half of the berries before we have a chance to use them in recipes.
Fill a large bowl or basin with 8 cups cold water and stir in one cup of apple cider vinegar. Carefully pour strawberries into water/vinegar mixture and gently swish to make sure all berries are wet. Allow to set 5 minutes, swishing gently every couple of minutes.
Place strawberries on a dishtowel or paper towels to dry. Discard any berries that show signs of mold and remove any bruised berries. They will cause the other berries to break down sooner. Blot lightly with another dishtowel or allow to air dry.
Place a paper towel in bottom of storage container to absorb any moisture, fill with berries and place in refrigerator.
This is the best method we’ve found to clean and store fresh strawberries. The vinegar helps to kill bacteria and reduce mold yet, the flavor of the berry is not affected.
This water/vinegar method is good for cleaning most fruit and vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower probably need to set 10 minutes. If you get into the habit of soaking your produce as soon as you get it home from the market, you’ll be able to enjoy it whenever you need it for cooking or for a healthful snack.
Here are some culinary tools we like for preparing fresh strawberries:
This was the easiest stuffed burger I have ever assembled. I was able to easily fill the the burger with my favorite ingredients without making a mess. The filling stayed inside the burger while grilling and the cheese was deliciously melted as you can see from the image.
My husband stuffed his burger with swiss cheese, diced onions and mushrooms. I preferred a little attitude with my stuffed burger, so I filled mine with pepper jack cheese, diced jalapeños and caramelized onions for sweetness.
If stuffed burgers are not your thing. The set includes a removable indention tool to allow you to prepare traditional patties.
Prepare your favorite filling ingredients and set aside. Divide your ground meat into approximately 2-inch balls. You want the patties to completely encase your stuffing to prevent the filling from oozing out during grilling. If they’re too large, the patty will be too thick. With just a little practice, you will be able to make the perfect size to fit your personal preference. You will need two patties for each burger.
Press the indention tool into the patties, add stuffing and season with your favorite spices. Every member of the family will enjoy creating their own variations. Plan a burger night with lots of filling options.
The final step is to grill your burgers. If the weather is warm, we prefer to grill outdoors. During cool or rainy weather, we grill indoors using a George Foreman type grill. To add a smoky flavor when cooking indoors, I like to combine a little Liquid Smoke with barbecue sauce and baste liberally onto the burgers before grilling.
Grilled Bacon Mushroom Swiss
5 pounds lean ground beef
10 slices bacon, chopped and cooked (not crispy)
5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. liquid smoke
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
JR Watkins Coarse Sea Salt and JR Watkins Granulated Black Pepper
2 cups finely diced onion
2 cups finely diced baby bella mushrooms
3 cups shredded Baby Swiss
JR Watkins Steak and Chop Seasoning Grinder (optional)
1. Preheat a grill for high heat. When the grill is hot, lightly oil the grate.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, bacon, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, garlic, salt and pepper until well blended. Make 20 balls. Prepare and fill patties as instructed above, distributing the onions, mushrooms and cheese evenly. Make sure to enclose the filling and seal all of the edges of the patties together tightly. Liberally grind the Steak and Chop seasoning over the prepared patties.
3. Grill the patties for 8 to 10 minutes per side, or until meat is done according to your preference and cheese in the center is melted. Serve on a toasted bun with your favorite toppings and dressing.
PREP 15 mins
COOK 15 mins
READY IN 30 mins
Substitute the beef with ground turkey or chicken and fill with a mixture of grated carrots, grated parsnips, finely diced bell pepper and feta.
Here are a few links to our favorite kitchen gadgets for preparing stuffed burgers:
Have you ever stuffed your burgers? Please leave a comment below and share your most delicious burger recipe with us.
Recently, I had the opportunity to test and review the Oxo Swivel Peeler and Paring Knife Set. I already knew of the quality and the excellent grip of Oxo peelers so, I wasn’t surprised that it would become my favorite. However, I was surprised when I asked my husband to try using it, to see how he would react. He rarely helps me prepare meals unless he is the official taste tester. As he quietly peeled the potatoes I became anxious to hear his opinion. After he completed his task, he simply said he liked it. Since then however, every time I mention that I need to peel vegetables, he quickly volunteers to do it for me. He will hunt for the Oxo Swivel Peeler and doesn’t want to use any other peeler. Now, I keep it in a small utensil crock so he can find it easily. He loves how the handle is easy for him to hold and the tip makes it simple to remove imperfections in potatoes and fruit.
The Paring Knife has very sharp blades and cut through a ripe kiwi without crushing it. Most of my paring knives are not as sharp so, I have to take precautions when cleaning it to avoid cutting my hands. It cuts through fruit and veggies very easily. Of course the famous handle grip is comfortable and reduces hand fatigue when there’s a lot of produce to prepare.
Every year, I collect some of my favorite products to give as gifts for birthdays, wedding showers and Christmas. This set will definitely be in my collection. The set is a great value costing less than $15.00!