Some of my fondest memories growing up were the smells coming from my grandmother’s kitchen. We were always so excited after Halloween because we knew that she was going to be baking in her kitchen from Thanksgiving until New Years. I have been replicating some of those very recipes for years now because just one whiff transports me back in time in just a matter of seconds.
I remember as a little boy the happiness I felt for the first pie or cookie she took out of the oven. The pure anticipation was almost too much to handle!
All of those tradtions I think are so important to pass down to my children. I want to see their excitement when they come home from school and smell pralines as they walk up the drive way. I want to hear their joy when I ask them to help me roll out the cookie dough to make Christmas stars. To me, Traditions are an integral part of growing up and I feel it is my responsibility to keep the magic alive!
I thought it being almost Thanksgiving, I would share three of my most precious dessert recipes that are a huge hit with my loved ones. I sincerely hope you enjoy them as they are a piece of my family as a gift to your family. ❤
Southern Pecan Pralines-
Pralines are a staple in the south. The way they crumble and melt in your mouth ensures them to be a unique addition to any dessert spread.
There are many different variations and over the years I have perfected my very own.
Pralines can also be pretty tricky. There is a certain technique to ensure these treats are perfect. Not allowing the mixture to cool long enough makes them sticky and not the consistency that you are looking for..
Making sure you have all the necessary utensils are very important.
A few of them are:
My wooden spoon I have had for years and it is key to scraping the bottoms of pots so you do not damage the surfaces. When using your wooden spoon make sure you designate either sweet or savory dishes for its lifespan because certain foods seep into the wood.
2 quart sauce pan-
It is important that it is non stick, light weight and
easy to handle.
When making anything like pralines, fudge, caramel, etc. a candy thermometer is critical. It gives you a fail proof reading, letting you know when exactly your treats are ready for the next step.
A silpat is a rubber mat that is used instead of parchment or wax paper. They are reusable and much more efficient and are much cheaper over time than the others.
My silpat has come in handy for years!
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
(helps prevent crystallization of mixture)
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (high quality)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 – 2 cups of chopped pecans
(depending on how much you like them)
Butter the sides of sauce pan.
Place sugars, salt, corn syrup, sour cream and
butter into pan.
Over medium heat stir consistently with wooden spoon until mixture comes to a boil.
Add your candy thermometer to the side of your pan and continue to cook, until your reach exactly 240 degrees, stirring occasionally.
Cooling the mixture:
You can either do “cold water test” which is where you take some of the mixture onto a spoon and dip it into cold water, it should flatten down when you press it.
Or you can let the mixture cool for about 5-6 minutes.
Once cooled add vanilla and nuts.
Beat for 2 minutes with your wooden spoon until
mixture loses its glossy shine.
When the mixture is no longer shiny -VERY QUICKLY- drop spoonfuls down on your silpat. This is a very fast process and the quicker you get the mixture out of the pot and onto your mat, the better your pralines will look.
It takes just a few minutes for them to cool.
The smell of your kitchen right now isnthe stuff traditions are made from!
Don’t worry If your pralines did not come out pretty.
Its ok! It takes many times to perfect your technique.
Practice makes perfect!
If they came out beautiful, congratulations!
Either way, I’m sure they will disappear in a matter or hours!
Meyer Lemon Star Cookies
I have had Meyer lemon trees for years. A Meyer lemon is a hybrid of an orange and a lemon. They are sour with just a hint of sweet and they add just the right amount of tartness to a variety of dishes whether savory or sweet.
I have found that with my cookies, the lemon icing really serves the punch I am looking for.
It is not at all mandatory to have Meyer lemons for this recipe. You actually could omit lemons all together if you aren’t a lemon fan. The icing is the only component that has lemon juice.
The cookie itself holds up beautifully for up to a week. They are soft and make the best holiday cookies.
Getting started, make sure you have your necessary utinsils:
-mixer (either Kitchen Aid or hand mixer)
-large mixing bowl
-2 cookie sheets
1 1/2 cups butter softened
2 cups of white sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract (good quality)
5 cups of all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 Meyer lemon
1 box of confectioners sugar
Yellow food coloring
In a large bowl or kitchen aid cream together butter and sugar until smooth.
Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Stir in baking powder and salt, and
add cup by cup of flour.
Once all is mixed together and dough forms, wrap in plastic wrap and let sit over night in refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (200 degrees Celsius)
Place silpats on cookie sheets.
Roll out dough on floured surface to about 1/2 inch thick.
Cut into stars or desired shapes and place on silpat spaced about 1 inch appart.
Bake about 9-11 minutes.
You do NOT want crispy cookies.
Light and fluffy cookies are ideal.
Let cool for about 3 hours.
Pour confectioners sugar in a bowl
juice half a lemon.
You want a thick icing, the consistency like you would see on top of cinnamon roll.
If you need more liquid, juice other half of lemon frugally
If you are not using lemon juice, replace with 2 % milk.
Add 3 drops yellow food coloring.
mix together very well until you have a brilliant yellow color.
Spread icing generously and let sit for about 20 minutes.
Love is written in the stars, and so are my star cookies! Enjoy! ✨⭐️
Yields: about 32
Chocolate Meringue Pie
Of all the recipes and delicious treats I bake in the kitchen this is the holy grail. My mamaw used to bake this for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays but she would often surprise us throughout the year on our birthdays.
The rich and silky, smooth texture that marries with the buttery crust along with the light and airy meringue make this my number one favorite dessert of all time.
Getting started make sure you have all your necessary
-2 quart sauce pan
-Kitchen Aid mixer or hand mixer
-sieve (used for straining chocolate)
-small bowl (for egg whites)
Ingredients: (pie filling)
4 egg yolks
2 cups of white sugar
1/4 cup of all purpose flour
4 tablespoons of cocoa powder
1 (12oz) can of evaperated milk
1 nine inch pie shell- store bought is fine
1/4 cup butter
Quarter teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla (good quality)
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 tablespoon of sugar
In a sauce pan add your cocoa, flour, salt, evaporated milk, vanilla, and butter. Mix together over low-medium heat. Add your egg yolks individually and keep stiring with your wooden spoon until your butter has completely melted. Make sure your flame is not too hot, as the yolks will cooked and your custard will be ruined.
Once butter is melted turn flame off. Place pie shell onto cookie sheet. Pour mixture through sieve into your pie shell leaving all impurities behind, giving you a beautiful silk custard.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.
After baking cycle is complete, test your pie with a slight shake. You want your finished product to jiggle and not ripple. You can also touch the outer edge of your pie with your finger and if it is soft and your finger comes away clean, then your custard is completely baked.
Set aside and begin meringue mixture.
In your mixing bowl add your egg whites, cream of tarter, and sugar- whip on high speed.
Beat mixture until very stiff peaks.
Beat until you get an iridescent like mixture.
Once meringue is completed pour over custard using your rubber spatula. Using upward motion as you dollop gives you the pointed effect that meringue pies are known for.
Place pie back in oven for another 7-10
minutes giving the light brown tint to the meringue.
Once completed, Let your pie cool for at least 2-3 hours.
In this hectic time for our country, some of the most productive things we can do is to find our passions. Teaching our children new things and hearing their laughter as we watch them will not only help you pass the time in an unsettling world but will build and strengthen your own relationships and maybe even start new traditions.
I hope you are able to create new traditions with the ones you care most about.
What are your favorite traditions for Thanksgiving and Christmas? I would love hear them! Comment below and let me know.
I hope y’all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Try to listen to all of the laughter a little closer this year.
You can follow my family’s journey on
Instagram @ nolapapa