Toasted Pecan Pie from Hometown Cooking

Even though we just celebrated Thanksgiving, and I have plenty for which to be thankful, this will be a short post this week.


I’m getting ready for Christmas.


Every year it arrives so quickly, and every year I’m not ready in time, even after swearing that I will start earlier the next year. (And I imagine that I’m not alone.)

But it never happens…except for this year.

I want to spend time with my family in the days leading up to Christmas...baking cookies, making candy, eating pie (wait till you see what I have planned for this next Sunday!), sledding, drinking hot cocoa, (or dreaming of sledding while drinking hot cocoa, since we probably won’t have any snow by then), shoveling snow, building snow forts, (again, just dreaming), reading Christmas stories, watching Christmas movies, helping my kids make their Christmas presents…all the fun stuff that makes the season bright.

What I will not be doing this year is what I do every year...staying up until 2 a.m. on Christmas Eve wrapping presents because I waited until the last minute. (Literally. I’m still wrapping presents after Santa lays a finger aside his nose, gives a wink – or is it a nod? – and up the chimney he rises.)
I have a good start. I spent much of this weekend shopping and running errands, so I’m ahead of the game, and I want to keep it that way.

So, I’m sharing the recipe for the Toasted Pecan Pie that I made for Thanksgiving. (My mom also made a delicious traditional pumpkin pie. I’ll have to share the recipe with you sometime.)

For now, I’m off to do more shopping and prepping for Christmas. Only 29 days left!

Hoping you had a happy Thanksgiving!

Yours in pie,


My 4-year-old daughter couldn't wait to eat this pie and started with the crust.
This is my favorite pecan pie. Well, just barely, after diving into the Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie I made last week to celebrate my son’s birthday. This pie is so yummy! I entered it in the Iowa State Fair in 2004 and took first place in the pecan pie class. Toasting the pecans brings out their flavor and gives them a nice crunch, and the added buttery, maple pecan topping really puts this pie over the top!

I found this recipe more than ten years ago, in the August 2001 issue of Hometown Cooking Magazine, and it’s been my favorite pecan pie ever since. Hometown Cooking is also my favorite cooking magazine. Or I should say, was. It’s no longer published. It ran from October 1999 until its last issue in August 2002. I know because I have every issue. (Yes, still. And they are not going anywhere.) Each issue featured the best hometown cooks from across the country and their favorite recipes, and highlighted the community cookbooks which featured those recipes. The magazine was such a great source of delicious tried-and-true dishes, which were also tested in the kitchens at Better Homes & Gardens. (Meredith Corporation published both magazines.)

So while you make and enjoy this tried-and-true Toasted Pecan Pie, I’ll be scanning recipes and catching up on old issues of Hometown Cooking – after I finish my Christmas shopping!

Toasted Pecan Pie
from Hometown Cooking Magazine, August 2001

Pastry for single-crust 9-inch pie

4 slightly beaten eggs

1 c. sugar

2/3 c. light corn syrup

1/3 c. pure maple syrup

¼ c. butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla

1/8 tsp. salt

¾ c. pecan halves, toasted and chopped

¾ c. pecan halves, toasted

3 T. sugar

3 T. pure maple syrup

1 T. butter

For filling:
Combine eggs, 1 c. sugar, corn syrup, 1/3 c. maple syrup, ¼ c. melted butter, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Stir in ¾ c. chopped pecans. Pour filling into prepared pastry shell. Cover edge of pie with foil to prevent overbrowning. Bake pie in 350° oven for 45-50 minutes, until knife inserted off-center comes out clean.

For topping:
Combine ¾ c. pecan halves, 3 T. sugar, 3 T. maple syrup, and 1 T. butter in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on 100% power (high) for 1 ½ minutes; stir. Spoon the topping over the warm, baked pie. Cool completely on wire rack.

To toast pecans:
Spread pecan halves in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Bake in 350° oven for 5-10 minutes or until light golden brown, watching carefully and stirring once or twice to prevent burning.

Special note: The magazine gives nutrition information for each recipe. This recipe was divided into 12 servings, and I don’t think I’ve ever cut a pie into that many slices! Even so, I’m not going to freak you out with the fact that this pie has 453 calories per serving (that’s 1/12th of the pie)…just enjoy it before you set your New Year’s resolutions.



Turning 7, and Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie

I think I may have experienced my worst nightmare.
(Probably not really, but it feels like it at the moment.)
My son, my first-born, my Buggy-love, turned 7 over the weekend.

I know. It doesn’t sound like that big of a deal. It’s not like he turned one….or five….or sixteen. It’s not one of the big birthdays. But yet, it is.

It’s monumental. Because he’s not one anymore, when he was still my baby. He’s not five anymore, ready to start kindergarten. (And thank God, he’s not sixteen. I know we have a few years to go, but I already predict that he should not…I repeat…not be given keys to a car. Perhaps ever. Because he is, without a doubt, his father’s son.)
It’s monumental because he’s changed.

He’s taller, for one…..smarter…..even more handsome. And he’s lived a little more life, which means he wants more independence. So, he’s testing the waters…..a lot more than he used to. (A lot more than I’m used to.)

But to deal with it, while not ignoring it, I’m choosing to focus on the positive changes that come with his age. For instance, when he’s not pushing her around, he steps in as the protective big brother to his little sister. (Though she’s quite capable of sticking up for herself, thank you very much.)

He also expresses a greater compassion for others, especially for those who have less than he does. For his birthday party, he asked his friends to not bring him gifts, but instead to bring new, unwrapped toys that he can collect and donate to our local Toys for Tots for this Christmas gift-giving season.
And, he continues to make us laugh in new, unexpected ways. As a family, we rounded out his birthday by going out for pizza. He sat next to his dad on the inside of the booth, and when he was ready to head to the restroom to clean up, he proceeded to slide under the table to get out. My husband quickly stopped him, and this is how the conversation went:
My husband: “Whoa. What are you doing?”
My son: “Going to the bathroom.”
My husband: “You’re seven now. Are you going to be a little boy or a big boy?”
My son: “A big boy, so I’m going to go wash my hands and face.”
My husband: “How do you think a big boy would get out of the booth?”
My son: “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. I’ll climb over the back.”
Nightmare’s over.
Yep. With table manners like those, I don’t think he’ll be leaving us for a looooong time.
(And that’s alright with me!)
Yours in pie,
My son loves pie. Loves it. So he’s really enjoying the fact that he gets to have pie every week, now that I’m making pie a lot more often. I really haven’t been too adventurous, I’m kind of a pie purist and just like more traditional pies. I had not yet tried adding chocolate to pecan pie, and when I came across this recipe from Laurie at cookin’ up north, I knew it was time to start. Laurie says this is “hands down [her] favorite pie ever”, and I thought the chocolate chips would make having pie a little more special for my son on his birthday. This pie is definitely deliciously rich, like eating a chocolate chip cookie with, um...pecan pie. (Does that mean it has twice the calories, or half the calories of each?)
As listed below, Laurie’s recipe calls for filling an unbaked crust, so of course, thinking the bottom may not get golden and flaky, I first partially pre-baked the crust, then filled it. I wish I had just baked it once, as Laurie did. While the crust tasted fine, had a nice texture and was done on the bottom, partially pre-baking it created some avenues for seepage of the filling, which also allowed some of the filling to spill over the edge of the pie plate from underneath the crust…and all over the bottom of my oven. Next time I will save a step and just fill an unbaked crust…as the recipe calls for!
Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie
3 eggs
1 c. light corn syrup
½ c. sugar
¼ c. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. pecan halves
¾ c. chocolate chips

Combine eggs, corn syrup, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla in bowl. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips. Pour filling into pastry-lined pie plate. Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes until done. Cool completely on wire rack.

I shared this recipe on:

Check out all the great recipes at this Linky Party!


Bringing Flaky Back

Before I tell you how I brought flaky back, don't forget to check back next week for the Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie I will be making to celebrate my son’s birthday. I don’t have a recipe to share with you this week because I didn’t make a pie this week.

Instead, I spent the weekend with my sister in Rochester, Minnesota, at the North Central Hearts at Home Conference. Hearts at Home is a Christian-oriented resource for moms whose mission, according to their website, is to “encourage, educate, and equip every mom in every season of motherhood using Christian values to strengthen families.” The conference was beyond uplifting and inspiring, with keynotes from Dr. Juli Slattery, formerly of Focus on the Family, and my personal favorites, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. (You might remember me sharing with you that my dad could feed their whole family with his massive vegetable garden.) They certainly fulfilled their mission.

Last night after putting the kids to bed, because I was not home to cook all weekend, my husband and I shared some Chinese take-out for a late dinner. After devouring the lo mein, egg rolls, and crab rangoon, I cracked open my fortune cookie: “I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it.”

Huh. Whaddya know.

I thought it was interesting timing, considering the weekend I spent learning more about my job as a mom. Not that I don’t know how to be a mom already. But I always want to improve and learn anything I can that will help me do it better.

As a teacher, I approached my job in the same way. I was in a constant search for a better way to help my individual students learn in their individual ways, and the best way to figure that out was simply by doing it.

I’m a firm believer that the search for meaning is innate. We are born with a desire to make sense of life and everything in it. It’s what drives us deep within, whether we do that by making connections, asking questions, inferring, etc. Whatever our strategy, whatever the context, our ultimate goal is to make sense of the situation. And one powerful tool for doing so is analogy.

Analogy is the vehicle that gets us from what we already know to what we need to know. It’s a tool I used multiple times in each lesson as a reading teacher. And I’ve found it can be used effectively in pie baking as well.

I’m not sure you’ve noticed in the photos, but for a while, my pie crusts were not very flaky. They were lacking the quality I’m accustomed to producing, and I didn’t understand why. So I began to investigate. I didn’t do it simply by researching methods other pie bakers were successfully using. I did it by changing and testing my own methods.

What I first realized was that the quality of my crusts began changing shortly after I switched from using store-bought commercial lard to locally-produced lard, the kind without all the preservatives and hydrogenation. But I knew it couldn’t be the lard itself that was causing the lack of flakiness. So I began adjusting one step at a time, from the amount of water I was using, to how much mixing of the dough I was doing, to the time the dough spent chilling. Then I thought about the amount of lard I was using.

When using store-bought lard, which comes in one-pound blocks, rather than measuring by volume in a measuring cup, I would just use half the block, or eight ounces, which I figured was about one cup, the amount I use for making my pie crust recipe. When I switched to using locally-produced lard, which comes in a large tub, I had to measure the lard by scooping it into a measuring cup.

Here’s where the analogy comes in.

Several years ago, I drove four hours north to take a bread-baking class at a popular kitchen shop in Minneapolis. (Back then, I had not yet learned about the value of time, or of gas.) I don’t really spend much time baking bread these days. I tend to let my bread machine do most of the work for me, so I can spend my time baking pies. (Maybe someday someone will invent a pie-baking machine.) Even so, I did get something valuable out of the class, which recently came in very handy while I was working to regain the quality of my pie crusts.

What if I measured the lard by weight, rather than by volume?

In the bread-baking class, I learned that the flour should always be measured by weighing it, to ensure that the same amount of flour was used every time, for consistent results. I realized when measuring the locally-produced lard that I probably was getting some variation each time since what actually made it into the measuring cup could vary. Perhaps my pie crust no longer had enough fat to make it flaky because I wasn’t measuring the amount I was previously using.

So I started weighing my lard with a kitchen scale, instead of using a measuring cup. And it worked.

It all made sense, and I brought flaky back.

The moral of the story? The next time you want to learn something new or improve what you are already doing, just consider what you are already doing, do it differently, and do that which you cannot do.

Make sense of that.

Yours in pie,




Send Me Your Favorite Pie Recipes!

Yesterday I received an invitation in my inbox from Farm Flavor to join their group board on Pinterest, “Favorite Holiday Recipes”, and pin some pie recipes from my blog. If you’re not familiar with Farm Flavor, they feature recipes in their magazines and on their websites, with a goal of educating readers by connecting food and farm. Their publications include Tennessee Home & Farm, My Indiana Home, and Illinois Partners.

That got me thinking about sharing pie recipes -- specifically, you sharing your recipes with me. And with the other person who reads my blog. (Thanks, Mom.)

So, I want your favorite pie recipes. They don’t have to be for the holidays, or for Sunday. Any day of the week or time of year will do. And they don't have to be only dessert pies. Savory pies are certainly warranted, and I'll take any recipe with "pie" in the name. (Unless it's for a mud pie that actually contains mud. I'll leave that pie-making to my kids.) Be sure to include the type of crust used or a recipe for it.

It doesn’t matter how you got the recipes, whether you developed them yourself, received them from a friend, found them in a cookbook or online, or used a very old-fashioned method -- clipping them from the pages of a magazine or newspaper. Just give credit to the source if you can, and if you made any changes to the recipe, as Evelyn Birkby says, I want the changes. Give me the recipe the way you make it.

I will try to make some of the pies eventually and feature them here on Pie on Sunday. To get your recipes to me, you have two options:

·        Post the recipe(s) in a comment at the bottom of this post. (Please post a new comment for each recipe.)

·        Email the recipe(s) to me at: pieonsunday@gmail.com.

I can’t wait to get your recipes! And if you get a chance, stop in at Farm Flavor’s website (they have a ton of great recipes, among other things) or check out all the recipe pins from various food bloggers on their “Favorite Holiday Recipes” board on Pinterest.

Yours in pie,




Not Too Late for Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie

Better late than never.

That’s what “they” always say, but I wonder if “they” considered that it might not always be true. Think about it…

What if an ambulance or the police showed up two hours after you made a 911 call, at least for a call other than one your two-year-old made while experimenting with the phone? (I may or may not have stared dumbfounded at an officer at my front door at 7 a.m. one Saturday morning.) Or, what if you made it to the airport three minutes after your plane left the runway? (Well, I guess you could get another flight.) Or, what if you’re an expectant mother who has gone into labor and is waiting on the anesthesiologist to give you an epidural? (Yesterday would have been too late in that case.)

Fortunately, it’s always better late than never for pie. (Unless you hired a caterer to serve pie instead of cake to 300 wedding guests and the caterer had your wedding as the following Saturday on his schedule. And, you found out at your reception.)

We did have our pie on Sunday this week. It’s what was in the pie that was better late than never…

It seems like I’m always a month behind when it comes to pumpkin season. In September, when everyone is bursting at the seams to crank up the apple peeler/corer/slicer and whip out 30 batches of applesauce in addition to caramel apples, apple cakes, apple crisps, apple pie bars, and of course, apple pie, I’m trying to catch up with the end of summer. (I mean, did you read about my dad’s tomatoes? It’s November, and I still have a few sitting on my counter!)

I don’t usually get to any significant apple recipes until after I make my first trip to the orchard. It was the first weekend in October when I made Caramel Apple-Pecan Pie. That’s when everyone else began whipping out their pumpkin recipes. Now, there is no way I could ever wait until November for pumpkin bars, and I baked a pan of my favorite recipe while it was still October. But there is something about pumpkin pie that says I have to wait until November. It’s meant for Thanksgiving.

So, in keeping with my odd schedule rule, I made pumpkin pie for Sunday, the first one in November. I’m glad I did because it really got me excited for Thanksgiving.

Break out the Pilgrim hats! Is it too soon for turkey?

It’s been several years since I made a pumpkin pie. I think the last time I did it was a not-so-classic version. While I really love traditional pumpkin pie, this Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie from Midwest Living Magazine was a tasty, gentle variation.

Now...since you’ve all moved on from pumpkin season and are busy prepping for making Christmas candy, I’m going to enjoy my pre-Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.

Yours in pie,

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie
from Midwest Living Magazine

1 15-oz. can pumpkin

¾ cup sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 5-oz. can (2/3-cup) evaporated milk

1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

½ tsp. vanilla

Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry. Trim overhang to an even 1 inch all the way around. Tuck the crust under and flute the edges high. Do not prick pastry.

In a medium bowl, combine pumpkin, 3/4 cup sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add 2 eggs; beat lightly with a fork just until combined. Gradually beat in evaporated milk.

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and 1/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add 1 egg and vanilla. Beat until combined.

Transfer cream cheese mixture to the pastry-lined pie plate. Place the pie plate on the oven rack. Carefully pour pumpkin mixture over cream cheese mixture. To prevent overbrowning, cover the edge of the pie with foil.

Bake in a 425°F oven for 15 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes more or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean, removing foil during the last 15 minutes of baking. Cool on a wire rack. Cover and store in the refrigerator within 2 hours.