Tag Archives: pecans

Tar Heel Pie

Tar Heel pie

It feels appropriate to revive the blog with a recipe called “Tar Heel Pie.” I imagine the name has something to do with its North Carolinian origins, if not its fudgey consistency that could be considered tar-like if you were into making such unappetizing comparisons. Basically, imagine a flaky pie crust. Now imagine that pie crust filled with a pecan-laden brownie. That’s Tar Heel pie. (And you thought that particular food fantasy would never be realized. Silly you!)

I know I tend to get hyperbolic with some regularity, but this pie, after only one baking attempt and three tastings, is officially in my top 5 favorite desserts of all time. If you are planning on inviting me to any kind of event in the next few months, I will likely bring this pie. If you are not planning on inviting me to your event, more for me.

My recipe came from my dear friend Nancie McDermott, who has written an entire book about Southern pies. Check out the recipe here — I followed the recipe exactly, so no reason to paste it here!

Rather than using a store-bought crust, which I couldn’t find in a form that involved real butter, I made my own. It’s totally unnecessary, but I had a rainy day to kill. What better way to spend it than whipping up some pastry dough?

Single Pie Crust
Makes one 9-inch pie crust
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup ice water

1) In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. You can then either cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, or grate in the butter using a cheese grater and mix into the flour and salt. (I typically freeze the butter first, then grate it, then freeze it again for a few minutes so that it stays really cold.)
3) Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
4) Roll dough out to fit a 9 inch pie plate. Place crust in pie plate. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Finish with a crimped or scalloped edge.

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Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting & Candied Pecans

sweet potato cupcakes

Hey friends.

I know it’s been awhile.

Hopefully some sweet potato cupcakes will appease you. (For now.)

plain cupcakes

They are quite delightful, these moist little muffins topped with creamy frosting and crunchy pecans.

single cupcake

I’m currently testing recipes for a friend’s wedding. This friend, to be exact. These passed the test. Remember last time I made cupcakes for a wedding? I vowed only to do one wedding every two years.

I’m a woman of my word, it turns out. Except when that word involves promising to write more. That kind of thing is best left to chance.

Anyway, I know I should be posting recipes that help people keep their New Year’s resolutions, not actively attempt to break them. Alas, one of those recipes is best left to another day.

The original recipe for these cupcakes comes from some sort of Food Network cupcake challenge, but I’ve modified it to suit my tastes. (And the happy couple, of course.)

If you make them yourself, let me know how they turn out!

Sweet Potato Cupcakes:
Makes 18 – 24 cupcakes
2 cups mashed and cooled sweet potatoes, or one 16-ounce can
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
Cinnamon sugar, if desired

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a few cupcake tins with paper liners.
2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and nutmeg. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and eggs. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients and then the sweet potato puree.
3) Fill cupcake tin cup three-quarters full of batter. Bake until the tops spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean — 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool.
4) Once cooled, frost the cupcakes with the frosting, top with candied pecans, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Brown Sugar Frosting:
Frosts 18 – 24 cupcakes
One 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1) Beat the cream cheese until creamy. Add the butter and beat until well incorporated.
2) Add the light brown sugar and beat until fluffy, then stir in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until combined. Add the vanilla extract until fully incorporated.

Candied Pecans:
Makes four cups
Canola/vegetable oil, for greasing
1 egg white
4 teaspoons water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound chopped pecans

1) Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with oil.
2) Beat the egg white in a bowl until frothy, then whisk water and the vanilla extract into the egg.
3) Stir the sugar, cinnamon and salt into the egg mixture, then stir in the chopped pecans until they’re fully coated.
4) Spread the pecans onto the baking sheet and bake in 20 minute intervals, stirring the pecans before placing them back in the oven. Continue baking for about an hour.
5) Allow the pecans to cool on the baking sheet.

Healthy Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

One day I was perusing Pinterest (addict that I am) when I came across a recipe for breakfast cookies. Read that again. Breakfast. Cookies. COOKIES YOU CAN EAT FOR BREAKFAST.

Naturally, I had to adapt them for my own. I added coconut for a little more sweetness, and nuts for crunch, but this recipe is easily altered to satisfy your tastes. I’m going to add peanut butter to mine next time. They make as good of a dessert as they do breakfast, too.

Healthy Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies:
Makes about 2 dozen
1 1/2 cups of rolled oats
2 ripe, mashed bananas
1 cup of unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1 tsp cinnamonto taste cinnamon
1/8 cup chopped pecans or almonds (optional)

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
2) Spoon out teaspoonfuls of batter onto a baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
3) Let cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Banana Bread and a Desperate Plea

Apparently I’m not yet over the concept of breakfast week. Or, more accurately, the bananas that ripened all too quickly in my pantry wanted in on the early-morning action.

Speaking of action, this blog has been seeing a lot of it recently. If you’re new here, or even if you’re an old friend, I’d love for you to leave a comment and tell me about yourself–why you’re here, what you like to eat, whether you live in the Triangle and want to be Real Life friends… let me know!

Pretty please?

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s. I added chocolate chips because there was no reason not to.

Banana Bread:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chocolate chips, if desired

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9–inch loaf pan and set aside. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl for several minutes, until fluffy. Add eggs and beat to combine.
2) In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Add bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir in nuts (and chocolate chips, if you want) and pour into prepared pan.
3) Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of bread cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes, then place on a rack to cool.