Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chocolate Pecan Pie

This chocolate pecan pie is my favorite variation of the Southern classic, Pecan Pie. Several years ago when I was a Southern Living at Home consultant one of my hostesses served this pie at her home party and I fell in love! I prefer this over regular pecan pie any day. This is would be a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving feast!

Buon Appetito!

Bourbon-Chocolate Pecan Pie  

  • source:
  • yield: 9 inch pie
  • calories: 655
  • fat grams: 35.9

  • 1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts 
  • large eggs 
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar 
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels

  1. Fit piecrust into a 9-inch pieplate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp.
  2. Whisk together eggs, light corn syrup, and next 6 ingredients until mixture is smooth; stir in chopped pecans and morsels. Pour into piecrust.
  3. Bake on lowest oven rack at 350° for 1 hour or until set.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Shrimp Casserole

This yummy casserole is similar to many casseroles that I have cooked before.  It contains onions, celery, rice, canned creamed soups and meat.  The main difference is that this casserole includes shrimp.  I don't cook a lot of shrimp, but I really should.  Shrimp is a healthy low fat food and cooks super fast.  My family loves it.

Many Southern casseroles include canned cream of _____ soups.  These soups have been a staple in Southern kitchens for at least 50 years.  Nowadays they are getting a bad wrap.  Many people are snubbing their nose at the once kitchen staple.  The Real Food and Clean Eating movements have exposed the lack of nutritional value in processed foods including canned creamed soups.  Please understand, I am all for eating "real food" and cutting out processed ingredients.  While living in Italy, I was introduced to a whole new way of eating.  Real or whole food tastes much better than any processed food and our diets should consist mainly of these wonderful God given nutrients.  However, there are many delicious recipes like Poppy Seed ChickenChicken Pot Pie, my grandmother's cornbread dressing (which is the best in the world), and this delicious Shrimp Casserole that call for canned creamed soups.  So, in our family, we still enjoy these dishes once in a while.  I have cut way back on the amount of processed foods that I cook with, but I am not quite ready to jump on the soup bashing band wagon and dismiss this staple forever.

Buon Appetito!

Shrimp Casserole
yield: 8 servings
prep: 30
cook: 17
bake: 30
calories: 418
fat grams: 18.4

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain rice (I like using wild rice.)
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium-size raw shrimp 
  • 1/2 cup butter 
  • green bell pepper, chopped 
  • onion, chopped 
  • celery ribs, chopped 
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • green onions, chopped
  • (10 3/4-oz.) cans cream of shrimp soup, undiluted*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Cheddar-colby cheese blend 
  • 1/4 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs


  1. 1. Prepare rice according to package directions.
  2. 2. Peel shrimp, and devein, if desired.
  3. 3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add bell pepper and next 4 ingredients, and sauté 10 to 12 minutes or until tender. Stir in soup, shrimp, salt, and pepper; cook 3 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. (Do not overcook.)
  4. 4. Combine shrimp mixture and rice. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup shredded cheese and 1/4 cup breadcrumbs.
  5. 5. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  6. *2 (10 3/4-oz.) cans cream of celery soup, undiluted, may be substituted.
  7. Chicken-and-Rice Casserole: Substitute 3 cups chopped cooked chicken for shrimp and 2 (10 3/4-oz.) cans cream of chicken soup, undiluted, for cream of shrimp soup. Proceed with recipe as directed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mississippi Mud Cake Lightened

Today I'm going back to my roots, and I am not referring to my natural hair color.  I am talking about where I grew up.  I was born and raised in Mississippi.  Actually, I was born in Memphis, Tennessee but grew up just a stone's throw away in northern Mississippi.  I realize there are many stereotypes about Mississippi, but I wasn't raised in the country or on a farm.  We do wear shoes and must of us have all our teeth.  There are other stereotypes about Mississippi that are true like most people are friendly and hospitable, and we enjoy really great food.  I personally think the South has the best food culture in the country.  Of course, I realize I could be a little biased. 

Mississippi Mud Cake is a traditional Southern dish named after the mud from the banks of the Mississippi River.  It consists of chocolate cake topped with gooey marshmallows, decadent chocolate icing, and often pecans or walnuts.  It is believed that this dish was created by home cooks after World War II because it was made of simple ingredients that could be found at any supermarket and did not require any special cooking tools.  Sounds like a perfect everyday cooking recipe!

It is no secret that I love Southern Living recipes.  This recipe comes from the August 2007 issue.  I don't keep magazines for years, but I do like to keep recipes that look good, but sometimes it takes me a while before I actually make them. 

This cake was good, but a little dry and pretty fattening too.  So I decided to bake it again using the low fat version of a chocolate box cake mix.  It was really moist and much lower in fat and calories than the original.  Also, the cake mix is so much more convenient.  I hope you enjoy this Mississippi delight!

Buon Appetito ya'll!

Mississippi Mud Cake ~ Lightened
source: adapted from Southern Living
yields: 15 servings
prep: 15 minutes
bake: 40 minutes
calories: 441
fat: 16

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • Devil's food cake or chocolate box cake mix (plus ingredients required on box)
  • (10.5-oz.) bag miniature marshmallows

  • 1. Place pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • 2. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted.
  • 3. Mix box cake mix according to directions. Pour in a 9 x 13 inch pan. 
  • 4. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle evenly with miniature marshmallows; bake 8 to 10 more minutes or until golden brown. Drizzle warm cake with Chocolate Frosting*, and sprinkle evenly with toasted pecans.
*Chocolate Frosting
yields: 2 cups
prep: 10 minutes
cook: 5 minutes

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/3 cup milk
 1 (16 ounce) package powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Stir together first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until slightly thickened; remove from heat. Beat in powdered sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until smooth. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Figure Friendly Pumpkin Bread

Well, Pumpkin Palooza comes to an end today.  I hope you have enjoyed all the pumpkin goodness this week.

As I was deciding what recipe to share today, my mother's voice kept echoing in my head saying, "You have to make this Pumpkin Bread recipe! It is so good and would be great for the blog!"  She mentioned this bread several times in the past couple of weeks and even served it at my sister's baby shower last weekend so I thought I would be a good daughter and listen to my mother.

The original recipe comes from  The recipe looks amazing and I totally trust my mom that it tastes awesome too, but the recipe includes lots of oil and sugar so I thought I would tweak it and create a lighter version.  Instead of adding 1 cup of oil, I substituted 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce and for the 3 cups of sugar, substituted 2 1/2 cups honey.  Using honey in place of sugar will make the batter wetter so you can add an extra 1/4 cup flour.  I am not sure if it is necessary, but I added the extra flour and the bread turned out wonderful.  I also substituted unbleached flour for all-purpose flour.  After baking the bread, I lightly drizzled the top of the loaves with pure maple syrup.  This added a touch of sweetness and made the bread glisten.  All these adjustments are included in the figure friendly version at the end of the post.

The original recipe contains 210 calories and 8.2 grams of fat per serving and the figure friendly version contains 160 calories and 2.2 grams of fat per serving. I am sure you can do the math, but the lighter version saves you 50 calories and 6 grams of fat per serving. This recipe can be lightened further by leaving out the nuts making it 144 calories and .7 grams of fat per serving. So with a little tweaking many recipes can be lightened without sacrificing flavor or your waist line.

Buon Appetito!

Pumpkin Bread
prep: 15 minutes
bake: 1 hour (depending on size of loaf)
yield: 2 large or 4 small loaves (36 servings)
calories: 210
fat: 8.2

4 eggs

2/3 cup water

1 cup oil

1 can pumpkin pie filling

3 1/2 cups flour

3 cups sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cloves
¾ cup walnuts
Allspice and pumpkin pie spice sprinkled on top 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Beat eggs; add oil, water and pie filling. 
  3. Combine dry ingredients, and add to egg mixture.
  4. Bake in greased and floured bread pans.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour.

Figure Friendly Pumpkin Bread
prep: 15 minutes
bake: 1 hour (depending on size of loaves)
yields: 2 large or 4 small loaves (36 servings)
calories: 160
fat: 2.2

4 eggs

2/3 cup water

1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 can pumpkin pie filling

3 3/4 cups unbleached flour

2 1/4 cups honey
2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cloves
3/4 cup walnuts or pecans
All spice and pumpkin pie spice sprinkled on top, if desired
Pure Maple Syrup to drizzle on top after baking, if desired

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Beat eggs; add oil, water, pie filling, and honey. 
  3. Combine dry ingredients, and add to egg mixture.
  4. Bake in greased and floured bread pans.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour.