Bacon-Maple-Bourbon-Pecan Pie

Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas dinners deserve a grown-up dessert. That’s why we knew we had to try this recipe when we found it in the monthly newsletter that our realtors send to us. Of course, it wasn’t as fantastic as it could be so we modified it for some extra wow factor. The original recipe is for a Bacon-Maple-Walnut pie. The first thing we did was added the bourbon. We got this idea after watching a cooking show where bourbon was included in a couple different ways into desserts. The pie was great but we couldn’t help comparing it to a pecan pie, so we knew that was the next upgrade for this recipe. We are in Texas after all, so the pecan is always our nut of choice when it’s an option.

Since I mentioned them above and they’re the inspiration for this recipe, here’s the shout out to our realtors, Doug Jacobs & Jeff Mikeska, who sold us our house 18 years ago and still send us their newsletters and calendars. The newsletter they sent back in 2016 had this recipe in the holiday section. Of course, it caught our attention and we had to try it. I’ll also add that they’re great guys that we highly recommend them if you need a realtor in Austin.

Ingredients

Ingredients for the Pie Crust

  • 4 ounces of thin cut bacon strips
  • 5 tablespoons of vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of very cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

Ingredients for the Filling

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup of dark maple syrup (grade B or 2)
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of bourbon (go for the good stuff here!)
  • 2 cups of pecans – crushed or halves

Instructions

Instructions for the Crust

NOTE: we usually don’t get as much bacon fat from the bacon used for this recipe as the original recipe calls for. Therefore, we usually use some bacon fat that we have left over from earlier. In case you’re wondering, yes, we have a little container like my Granny used to have where we collect bacon fat anytime we cook bacon. If you don’t have as much as the recipe calls for and you don’t have your own backup reserve, go ahead and substitute with additional shortening.

  1. Fry your bacon in a skillet on medium heat until the bacon is crisp (about 3 to 5 minutes). Transfer the fried bacon to a paper towel.
  2. Save 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan (you’ll put this into the filling), then measure the rest of the left over bacon fat and put it into a heat-safe measuring cup. Let the bacon fat cool for 10 minutes. Then add enough shortening so that you get a total volume of 6 tablespoons (this is also 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons).
  3. Pour flour into a bowl and add the bacon fat from the measuring cup, cutting it in with a fork until it resembles coarse cornmeal.
  4. Mix the 2 tablespoons of cold water and the vinegar and then add it to the flour mixture until it forms a soft, non-sticky dough. Form the dough into a ball, dust with flour and roll into an 11 inch circle. Place the dough in a pie plate.

If you want an easy method to roll out your pie dough, check out this method using a recycled plastic bag: How to roll out pie dough using a plastic bag or wax paper
Instructions for the Filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Beat the eggs, maple syrup, sugars and vanilla extra into a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed. Mix in the reserved 2 tablespoons of bacon fat.
  2. Crumble the bacon into small pieces and put the crumbled bacon into the bowl. Stir in the pecans until incorporated and pour into the pie crust.

Bake pie at 350 degrees for 55 minutes, until puffy and brown. There should only be a slight jiggle in the center of the pie when it’s finished cooking. Let pie cool before slicing.

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Sunday Pot Roast Stew

Beef Stew in bowl

Pot Roast Beef Stew

Cold, wintry days scream for a hot stew at dinner time. This is the kind of stew that you get anxious as the bowl gets empty because you don’t want it to end. If I didn’t care about portion size or my waist size, I would have kept eating until this was all gone! This stew takes a little more time than we have to spend on week nights so it’s a great stew to make on a Sunday afternoon. Just put it all together and let it simmer until you’re ready to eat. We threw this together after looking for some recipes online. We couldn’t find a recipe that really matched what we wanted so we just picked the pieces we wanted to include in our stew. It really only takes about 1/2 hour to get the ingredients ready and cooked and then another 1 1/2 to 2 hours on a simmer.

I think of this recipe as having three steps. First you brown the meat. Then you get the vegetables cooked. Finally, you add the meat back to the vegetables and let the stew simmer for 2 hours.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of roast cut into cubes (sirloin or chuck roast)
  • 2 tablespoons of bacon fat or oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon of bacon fat
  • 3 carrots, unpeeled, cut into 1/4 inch discs
  • 1 large (or two medium) yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 turnip, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 12oz can of beer (we used Michelob Ultra)
  • 1 tablespoon smoke paprika

Directions

Heat the first 2 tablespoons of bacon fat or oil in a large dutch oven.

Start by cutting your roast into cubes and getting the meat ready to cook. Then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour. coat the meat thoroughly. Let it sit for a couple of minutes and the flour will be absorbed. Now, add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour and mix into the meat to give it a good coating.

Put the meat into the hot bacon fat or oil and brown for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally until the meat is browned on all sides. For example, while it was browning, we turned the meat every 2 minutes or so. Once browned, remove the meat into a heat-safe bowl. You could also brown this in 2 batches or use a big skillet where all the meat can be on one level. Our dutch oven didn’t allow us to have one layer so we had to mix it more than normal.

Stew beef browning in dutch oven

Stew beef browning in dutch oven.

Add the additional tablespoon of bacon fat to the dutch oven and let it melt. Once melted, add the carrots, onion, diced turnip and diced celery stalks. Cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables cook down for about 10 minutes.

Carrots, onion, celery carrots, onion, diced turnip and diced celery stalks cooking in the dutch oven.

Carrots, onion, celery carrots, onion, diced turnip and diced celery stalks cooking in the dutch oven.

Then, add the potatoes and garlic and gently fold into the other vegetables. Now add the thyme and rosemary and mix well.

All the vegetables and spices added to the dutch oven.

All the vegetables and spices added to the dutch oven.

Then add the meat back into the dutch oven and pour in the beef broth, beer and smoked paprika. Bring the mixture to a boil in the uncovered dutch oven.

The beef has been added to the vegetables and spices.

The beef has been added to the vegetables and spices.

Once you reach a boil, cover the pot and reduce for a simmer. Simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat and potatoes are tender.

The pot roast stew simmering in the dutch oven.

The pot roast stew simmering in the dutch oven.

Our Sunday Beef Stew

This is our beef stew after it has simmered for a couple of hours. As you can see, the liquid has thickened up and become a nice, rich, brown gravy.

Chipotle Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Soup

What do you do with an extra butternut squash, some pumpkin puree and some vegetables on a cold, grey winter day? Well, you make soup, of course!

I looked up some recipes online and they are all pretty much the same so we took some elements from different sources to add the flavors (and spice) that we like in our foods.

We served ours in a pumpkin bowl. The instructions for the pumpkin bowl are essentially the same as the one we used for the chicken pot pie in a pumpkin and the instructions are included below the instructions for the soup. We used a medium sized pie pumpkin, cut in half and then used each half as a bowl. You can also use a small pie pumpkin for each person, depending on what you have available.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 3 cups diced butternut squash
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 large stalks of celery, diced
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup sliced leeks (optional)
  • 3 chipotle peppers (from a can)
  • 1 tablespoon of the chipotle pepper sauce from the can
  • 1 15 oz can of packed pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie filling)
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley (for garnish)

Directions

In a large pot on medium heat, add the butter, butternut squash, diced onion, diced celery, diced carrots, and leeks. Saute this mixture for 10 minutes. Add the chipotle peppers, chipotle pepper sauce, pumpkin and chicken stock. Leave the heat on medium and allow this to simmer for 30 minutes, until all vegetables are soft.

pumpkin soup

Once the vegetables are soft, use an immersion blender to blend the soup. If you don’t have an immersion blender, allow the soup to cool and then use a regular blender.

Pumpkin soup in a pumpkin

Pumpkin bowls:

Ingredients:

  • 4 (2-pound) sugar pumpkins, preferably short and squat (or two larger ones cut in half with the bottoms trimmed so each side sits flat.)
  • 2 tablespoons melted
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. While it’s heating, slice the tops off the pumpkins. (Placing a pumpkin on a towel will help keep it from rolling around.) Scoop out the seeds, and save them, they are great after you toast them! Using a pastry brush, brush insides of pumpkins with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Season insides of pumpkins with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Place pumpkins on a baking sheet; cover tightly with foil. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes.

This pumpkin is ready to be filled. It has already been seasoned and gone through the initial coking.

This pumpkin is ready to be filled. It has already been seasoned and gone through the initial cooking.