Friday, December 27, 2013

Mrs. Vance's Abe Lincoln Pie


My family has a house on a lake in a very small town in Arkansas.  My great grandparents built the place in the late-1940's, and my dad has gone up there every summer of his life.  When my dad was a boy (1950's-ish) there was a one-room restaurant in the town called Vance's Villa.  Mrs. Vance, the proprietor, used her living room as the restaurant and cooked for patrons out of her kitchen.  This was her signature dessert - Abe Lincoln Pie.  Vance's Villa burned down in the late-1950's or early-1960's, but not before my grandmother coaxed the recipe for Abe Lincoln Pie out of Mrs. Vance.  My family has been making it ever since and it's my dad's favorite pie in the whole wide world.
Recipe Notes
Recipe makes 2 pies.  I recommend using a pre-made graham cracker crust (can be purchased in just about any grocery store).  My grandmother noted in her recipe that it is better to freeze the crusts before adding the custard filling.
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. milk
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 package plain gelatin (such as Knorr)
  • 1/4 c. cold water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 pint whipping cream, whipped until soft peaks form
  • Graham cracker crusts - 2
  • Unsweetened chocolate (for grating over the top)
1.  Beat sugar, milk, egg yolks, and salt lightly in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat.  Allow the mixture to thicken and then set aside.
2.  Dissolve gelatin packet into cold water in a small bowl.  When fully-dissolved, add to hot custard.
3.  Add 1 tsp. vanilla.
4.  Allow custard to cool completely.
5.  When cool, fold in three egg whites, beaten stiff.  Also fold in whipped cream.
6.  Pour into two cold crumb crusts.  Grate unsweetened chocolate over the top.
7.  Refrigerate until serving.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

M&M Cookie Bars

I made some of these to take to a Christmas gift exchange using holiday M&M's.  Boy, are these good!  Recipe credit to for the recipe.


Recipe Notes
You can use any M&M's of your choice, but these are great for a holiday theme (Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc.) when M&M's makes the color-themed M&M's.

  • 2-1/8 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 12 tbsp (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 c. brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 12 oz. bag M&M's candies, divided
1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2.  In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and egg yolk, continue mixing.
3.  Add the vanilla, salt, and baking soda.  Continue mixing.
4.  Add the flour and continue mixing.
5.  Add 1 c. of the M&M's.  Mix until just combined.
6.  Turn dough out into a greased 9x13 glass baking dish.  Press remaining M&M's into the dough.
7.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the tops of the bars are light golden brown.  Cool completely before cutting and serving.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Green Beans with Citrus & Pecans

This festive holiday side was recently featured in Southern Living.  I have two problems with the original recipe: 1) there is waaaaay too much vinaigrette called for in the original recipe (I ultimately used about 1/3 of the recipe) and 2) the original recipe says to chill and serve cold.  I like room temp or hot green beans, so I made mine accordingly.


Recipe Notes
Walnuts may also be substituted for the pecans.  I had never used cane syrup before.  I think that molasses can generally be substituted for the cane syrup here.

  • 1 shallot, diced small
  • 3/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. orange zest
  • 1/3 c. fresh orange juice
  • 1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. cane syrup
  • 2 lb. green beans or haricot verts (very thin green beans)
  • 2 oranges, sectioned
  • 1/2 c. chopped, toasted pecans
1.  Whisk together first six ingredients (through cane syrup) and add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.
2.  Cook green beans until crisp-tender and drain.
3.  Pat beans dry with paper towels.  Place beans and orange sections in a zip-top plastic bag.  Add vinaigrette (I would only recommend adding a few tbsp.) and seal bag.
4.  Turn bag several times to coat beans and oranges.
5.  Serve topped with pecans.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cran-Bourbon Cocktails

Got any cranberry sauce left over from Thanksgiving?  Make this cocktail!  Corey and I both loved it.  I found it in Cooking Light.  One recipe has 154 calories.


Recipe Notes
The original recipe calls for Cointreau, but any triple sec will do.  I do recommend using a good bourbon.

  • 2 tbsp. cranberry sauce
  • 2 tbsp. bourbon
  • 1 tbsp. triple sec
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice (about 1/2 of a small lemon)
1.  Place all ingredients into a shaker with ice.
2.  Shake vigorously for 15 seconds.  Strain into a glass and enjoy.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Quick & Easy Pulled Pork

This recent Southern Living recipe involves just three ingredients and a crock pot.  What could be better? 
Recipe Notes
Don't forget to spray the crock pot with cooking spray.  It will save you lots of cleaning time later.  The recipe calls for pork shoulder roast (Boston butt), but I used pork tenderloins.

  • 3 lb. pork shoulder roast or pork tenderloin
  • 1 can Coca Cola
  • 18-oz. bottle bbq sauce (I used Kraft Original)

1.  Spray crock pot lightly with cooking spray.
2.  Add pork to slow cooker.  Pour cola and bbq sauce over the top.
3.  Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.
4.  Remove pork and shred with two forks.
5.  Return to sauce after skimming off any residual fat.
6.  Enjoy over rice, mashed potatoes, or as a sandwich.


Honey Mustard Chicken

I found this recipe on Pinterest (courtesy of, but my mom made a version of this chicken growing up that I hadn't had in years.  The recent recipe posting called it "The World's Best Chicken", but I've always known it as Honey Mustard Chicken, so that's what you are getting here!  Serve this saucy chicken with white rice and a big salad. 
Recipe Notes
The original recipe calls for cooking the dish uncovered at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  I found it to work best to cook (covered with foil) for 35 minutes in a 400 degree oven, but my oven runs hot because it's a convection oven.
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 c. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 c. pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • Salt & pepper
  • Rosemary for serving (optional)
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, maple syrup, and vinegar.
3.  Grease a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Place chicken breasts in dish and season generously with salt and pepper.
4.  Pour mustard mixture over chicken (make sure each chicken breast is well-coated).
5.  Bake, covered, for 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven.