25 Days of Holiday Recipes: Pecan Bourbon Chocolate Pie

This series is turning into an ode to my favorite cooks.

When we first started, I told you that I’d been collecting favorite recipes for years. Writing this has not only been a walk through different stages in my life, it’s also been pure heaven to revisit the cooks who made these wonderful recipes.

Today’s recipe is no different. Catherine is a good friend by marriage — her marriage to one of my best friends from college. In her beautifully renovated Victorian kitchen, Catherine produces sublime food, especially desserts for her guests. And who can resist the combination of pecans, booze, and chocolate? Your guests and family will love this one!

Pecan Bourbon Chocolate Pie

Yield: 1 Pie

Pecan Bourbon Chocolate Pie


    Crust: Aunt Nancy’s Foolproof Piecrust
  • 4c flour
  • 1 3/4 c shortening or butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c water
  • Filling:
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 c packed dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 c light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 2 c pecans
  • 1 c chocolate chips


For the crust:

With fork, mix first 4 ingredients. In separate dish, beat remaining ingredients. Combine the two mixtures, stirring with fork until all ingredients are moistened. With hands, mold dough into ball. Chill at least 15 minutes before rolling into desired shape.

Dough can be left in refrigerator up to 3 days or can be frozen until ready to use.

Yield: Two 9" double crust pies and one 9" shell. This recipe requires a very deep pie pan and one half of the crust recipe.

For the filling:

In a large bowl, mix eggs, brown sugar, syrup, vanilla, salt, melted butter. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips. Pour filling into pie shell and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. The filling will puff up slightly and the center will still wiggle a bit.


25 Days of Holiday Recipes: Calico Baked Beans

Shopping. Work. Cleaning the house. Going to the church potluck. Everyone needs a go-to recipe that fits into your holiday lifestyle, and Calico Baked Beans is that recipe.

Having absolutely no resemblance to the yucky baked beans people usually bring to events, your crockpot will be filled with a sweet and savory meat and bean melange that is more like stew than like beans. A teaching colleague brought this dish to every school potluck and if I was in the last lunch group, I was lucky to get even a taste of this. People seem to just inhale it.

This recipe is also one that is easily modified depending on what your family likes or what is in the fridge that needs to be used up (Using up stuff in the fridge seems to be a common theme in my recipes). We didn’t have any barbecue sauce in the house so I threw in extra ketchup and some mesquite seasoning. It worked just fine. We also added some aging tomato salsa and seriously considered opening our brand new bottle of peach salsa from Trader Joe’s. That would have been a tasty addition to the mix, but seemed unnecessary. You could also use a Rotel tomato product with chilis if you like your food a little spicier. I also used ground turkey and pancetta rather than the ground beef and bacon — I don’t think anyone would know the difference and Music Man liked it better that way.

Try it for your next caroling party — it will be ready when you get home!

25 Days of Holiday Recipes: Calico Baked Beans

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 8 Servings

Serving Size: 1 cup


  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tbs. butter or margarine
  • 1 pound bacon, cooked, drained, in 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 tbs. prepared mustard
  • 2 tbs. molasses
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 16 oz. canned kidney beans, drained
  • 16 oz. canned lima beans, drained
  • 28 oz. canned pork and beans


In large skillet, brown beef and onion in butter. Drain well. Place in casserole with bacon.

In medium bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar, ketchup, barbecue sauce, mustard, molasses, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Add kidney beans, lima beans, and pork and beans to casserole. Pour sugar mixture on top. Blend well.

Cover casserole and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Uncover casserole and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

This casserole can be held, covered, in a low oven for 1 hour. It can also be baked and kept warm in a crockpot.


25 Days of Holiday Recipes: The Cosmopolitan

I have a wonderful group of friends, and at Christmas we love to party.

When Mama Kat posted this week’s prompts, it seemed the perfect time to share our favorite ladies’ drink, the Cosmopolitan. When the shaker and the triple sec come out, the men run the other way, but there’s nothing quite as pretty as a pink Cosmo shimmering in a beautiful martini glass.

The Cosmo has been used as a signature drink in the media, most famously as the drink of choice of Carrie Bradshaw and her girlfriends in Sex and the City.

And then there’s the Ozmopolitan,  “a cocktail mixed to mark the London launch of the musical ‘Wicked’, being a (green) version of ‘The Cosmopolitan'” according to Urban Dictionary.

2 parts Vodka (apple if available)
1 part Midori
1 part Lime Juice
1 part Lemon juice.

25 Days of Holiday Recipes: The Cosmopolitan

Yield: 1 serving


  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz triple sec or cointreau
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz cranberry juice


Shake vodka, triple sec, lime and cranberry juice vigorously in a shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass, garnish with a lime wedge on the rim, and serve.


According to wikipedia, there is no clear origin for the original recipe for a Cosmopolitan, but it seems to have surfaced in the 1970s as a fruitier version of the martini. I have to admit, I still love my dirty martinis, but sometimes, the Cosmopolitan is the right drink for the event, and will look beautiful at your holiday party. And just in case you want to match your drink, here’s an option from Maggie at Polyvore.



25 Days of Holiday Recipes: Cauliflower Cheddar Gratin

So much of what I cook is driven by what’s in the refrigerator that needs to be used.

I think most of us are like that. I commend the person who makes meal plans and shops for them, but that’s not us most of the time. I had been looking for a good use for the massive amount of cauliflower that we ended up with in the fridge, and then we went to a party where the hostess served this fabulous dish.

My search for a recipe was over, but I still needed a good aged cheddar. Luckily we have a local market that stocks wonderful cheeses, and we were able to find an Irish cheddar that was also low-fat. I was ready to plunge headlong into a vat of luscious cauliflower and cheese. MmMm good.

This recipe is perfect for a small party as one of your veggie dishes or it can be doubled or tripled for a larger group. I guarantee it will be gone if you take it to a church potluck supper and people will be begging you for the recipe!

Cauliflower Cheddar Gratin

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 Servings

Serving Size: About 1 cup

Calories per serving: 312 per serving

Fat per serving: 16 grams per serving


  • 1 large cauliflower head
  • 1 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 lb reduced-fat cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • 3 tablespoons plain flour
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp breadcrumbs (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard (Colman's)
  • Grated nutmeg
  • Salt and black pepper


Pre-heat oven to 450°F.

Trim the cauliflower & break into small florets. Boil in salted water for 10-15 minutes or until just tender. Drain in a colander and then place in an ovenproof baking dish. Chop the florets into smaller pieces. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour a small amount at a time and whisk until smooth. Add the milk and continue stirring continuously until the sauce thickens, boils and is smooth. Allow to simmer for a further 2 minutes. Add three-quarters of the grated cheese, mustard, a pinch of nutmeg and seasoning. Cook for further minute stirring well.

Pour the sauce over the cauliflower. Mix the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs together and sprinkle over the top. Put the casserole on a cookie sheet as it may bubble over. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 450F for about 15 to 25 minutes until golden brown and bubbling. Serve immediately.


Although this recipe uses lower-fat options whenever possible, it cannot be considered a low fat choice. Choosing a smaller serving size would lower the calorie count while still preserving the fabulous flavor of this dish.

Original Source



25 Days of Holiday Recipes: Coconut Layer Bars

Over the years, I’ve been collecting recipes from friends and family when I was especially interested in recreating something yummy that appeared on a table.

Coconut layer bars are one of those recipes — whenever they are brought to a church potluck or cookie walk, they just disappear. I’ve been holding onto this precious recipe for years and now I find that they are one of the easiest desserts to make that I’ve ever done.

You just have to get past the butter swimming in the bottom of your Pyrex pan and focus on the outcome. Gooey chocolate and crunchy coconut combined with the salty pleasure of the pecans.

Dessert doesn’t get much better than this.


Coconut Layer Bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 30 small bars

Coconut Layer Bars


  • 1 1/2 c butter or margarine
  • 2 c vanilla wafer crumbs or flour
  • 1 c chocolate or toffee pieces
  • 1/2 c chopped nuts
  • 1 c coconut flakes
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk


Melt butter in baking dish. I created the Stonehenge of butter since I don't think I have ever used this much better in a recipe and wanted to memorialize the moment.

Layer wafer crumbs, chocolate pieces, nuts and coconut over butter.

One box of vanilla wafers makes a little less than four cups of cookie crumbs. I roll them out in the bag using a wooden rolling pin -- it makes less crumbs on your cooking surface.

Since the recipe says you can use either cookies or flour, I combined the two together because I was making two pans.

Add the candy pieces -- I used a combination of semi-sweet chips and toffee bits.

Add the nuts. I used pecans because they have a sweet/salty taste that works well with the other ingredients.

Add the coconut.

Pour condensed milk over all the layers.

Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. They firm up while cooling, so let them cool completely before cutting into bars.


This whole recipe got started because I had some leftover coconut in the fridge that I wanted to use up. Check the bag to see how much you need — I should have, because now I have another unused bag in the fridge.

I guess I’ll have to make these again! Darn.

25 Days of Holiday Recipes: Rosemary Roasted Pork Loin

Doesn’t it sound like a fun job to work in a spices store?

I have recently been able to experience the world of Penzeys Spices — a place where cooking is kindness, and that kindness can change the world. Really. That’s what their job application page says and that’s been my experience when shopping at two different locations in the Chicagoland area. I am impressed and want everyone to consider shopping either in person or online at Penzeys — it’s a beautiful place to spend a holiday afternoon.

Although I stocked up at the store on whole nutmeg and sweet curry powder, I already had a lot of spices in my cupboard. I went through them and threw away a lot of old spices. I also moved them into glass jars rather than plastic. Penzey’s also sells glass reusable spice jars in several sizes which is good for the environment as well as not leeching plastics poisons into the spices. I also put some spices into small canning jars and yard-sale glass spice jars. I labeled them using my trusty Brother P-touch labeler and I was pretty darn happy. My alphabetized spice cabinet is looking sharp.

When I realized that I had a big rosemary bush on the patio that was not going to live through the winter, I started looking for recipes to use up some of that luscious rosemary goodness. I discovered that Penzeys’ web site has recipes linked up to the order pages for the different spices. I was in business with a recipe for Rosemary Roasted Pork Loin.

Rosemary Roasted Pork Loin

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 6 Servings

Serving Size: 4 oz.

Calories per serving: 170

Fat per serving: 6g

Rosemary Roasted Pork Loin



Heat oven to 450°. Rinse the roast and pat dry. In a small bowl, mix together the GARLIC, THYME, ROSEMARY, lemon juice, lemon zest, 1 TB. of the olive oil, salt and PEPPER.

Rub the seasoning all over pork loin.

Note: We bought a small 2 1/2 # center cut roast and cut it into two pieces. I put the second piece into a plastic bag and put half the marinade on the roast; we'll have this another meal since there's only two of us now in our empty nest.

Spread the remaining olive oil evenly over the bottom of a roasting pan. Place the pork in the pan. Roast at 450° for 30 minutes; lower the temperature to 350° and continue roasting for 30 minutes or until the internal temperature is 155°. Remove the pork to a cutting board; cover with foil and let stand 15 minutes or until the temperature reaches 160°. Slice and serve.

For gravy, save 2 cups of the water you cooked the potatoes in (assuming you're using the gravy for mashed potatoes; if not, 2 cups of water is fine). Remove the roast from the pan and drain off all but 2 TB. fat (if there is any). Place the pan on the stove top, pour in the potato water and let sit a few minutes. Scrape up browned bits from pan. Pour juice through a strainer into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and reduce liquid by 1/3. Reduce heat to medium low, taste and add salt to taste. Thicken with 1-2 tsp. ARROWROOT or cornstarch dissolved in 1 TB. water.


Cook time is variable from 60 - 75 minutes; use a meat thermometer.

Nutritional Information: Servings 10; Serving Size 4 oz. (103); Calories 170; Calories from fat 60; Total fat 6g; Cholesterol 70mg; Sodium 115mg; Carbohydrate 1g; Dietary Fiber 0g; Sugars 0g; Protein 25g.


Back to your travel dreams — Penzeys is a great place to take the relatives or to pick up a house gift. They have stores in twenty-seven states. The next time I have friends visiting the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park or shopping at the Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets in Kenosha, Wisconsin, I’m going to include a stop at Penzeys on our itineray.

Recipe courtesy of Penzeys Spices; links are to Penzeys and Oh, Olive for the garlic olive oil. I featured Oh, Olive here in a previous post.

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