Mary's Bluegrass Pie
Mary's Bluegrass Pie

I haven’t slept well for the past several nights for two reasons. First, my 84-year-old aunt Mary, and the author of this recipe, is in the hospital. She is pretty sick with a bout of pneumonia and could potentially be in the hospital during what was always one of her favorite days to celebrate, The Kentucky Derby. It’s sad to see someone I care about weaken and grow sick, especially someone who gave of herself tirelessly for her family and in her work as an RN. Let’s hope she recovers and can return home.

I also haven’t slept because in my previous post I told you I was going to bake some pies to take to a Derby party and then I carelessly left you hanging – no recipe for the pies. So, in Mary’s honor, and in order that you have a recipe for pie, I give you this family recipe for “Mary’s Bluegrass Pie”. (I could get into a legal battle if I called this by it’s real name.) My sister in Baltimore swears by this recipe when she hosts her Derby parties.

If you want to get a little more fussy you can make small tartlets (or as Mary would say – piettes.) Press a small ball of unbaked pie dough into the cups of mini-muffin pans to form a crust. Then spoon a small amount of the filling into the mini-crusts. By that method the yield is about 48 piettes. Or you can make two 9-inch pies as described below.

Makes two 9-inch pies

Two 9-inch pie crusts, unbaked
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons flour
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup light corn syrup
pinch of salt
1/4 cup Kentucky bourbon
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup chocolate morsels (gotta love the old recipes and their wording. This means chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 9-inch pie pans with the prepared pie dough. Mix all remaining ingredients in a large bowl, stirring to blend well. Be sure your butter is sufficiently cooled so it doesn’t melt the chocolate morsels. Pour into the crusts. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the pies are set in the middle and the crust is golden brown. (The smaller piettes bake for about 20 minutes.)…

One Pan Brownies
One Pan Brownies

Makes one 11 x 7-inch pan of brownies

Chocolately, dark, and cakey these brownies are super easy to prepare. And believe me, they are just as easy as made-from-a-mix brownies and taste even better. An alternative name could be 1/2 cup brownies. Look at all the 1/2 cup measurements in the ingredient list! The rich taste of the brown sugar compliments the cocoa. I’ve used both light and dark brown sugar – so take your pick.

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 11 x 7-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Measure flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Whisk to blend and set aside.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Remove pan from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until well combined. Let cool to the touch. Stir in the eggs and vanilla until well blended. Using a rubber spatula fold in the flour mixture, chocolate chips, and nuts. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean. Be sure not to overbake. Cool on a rack. Have one or two before they’re gone. These don’t last long at my house.…

Chocolate-Chip Cherry Scones

One of my favorite things to do is bake on a weekend morning. I went on a scone kick last winter when a neighbor told me she wanted to start baking Raspberry White Chocolate Scones instead of paying $1.89 a piece for scone at a local specialty market. Her favorite variety was Raspberry White Chocolate, so I baked many variations and shared the goods with her. In addition to gaining a few pounds we realized the market was using a thaw and bake dough from Pillsbury. Because we don’t have access to commercial bakery ingredients my scones never tasted exactly the same, but we did pretty good.

This thick and hearty scone is quite tasty and even contains the whole-grain goodness of oatmeal. I have a thing for oats, but that’s a story for another day. Take some time early on a weekend morning to bake. If you don’t feel like scones try this yummy coffeecake. Your family will thank you. If you live alone, or somehow sense that your family can’t eat 16 scones, freeze the remaining scones in a heavy-duty zip-top bag or better yet – share the scones with your neighbors. It’s sort of like the new-fangled way to pass a cake over the back fence. Nothing says friendship like delivering a home-baked good to someone’s door.

Note: Dried cranberries can be substituted for the cherries, if desired. For Apricot White Chocolate scones substitute 1 cup chopped dried apricots for the cherries and white chocolate chips for the semi-sweet chips.

Makes 16 scones

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups oats
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 tablespoon cream or milk
2 tablespoons coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 375 °F. Have ready two large baking sheets covered with parchment paper or lightly greased. Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and oats in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or whisk the ingredients together in a large bowl. Add chopped butter, and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal. If not using a mixer, use two knives or a pastry blender to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is the size of small pebbles. Stir in the chocolate chips and dried cherries. Mix together the buttermilk and egg. Add to the flour mixture and mix just until combined to create a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface that has been dusted with flour. With lightly floured hands, pat mixture into a large circle that is about 1-inch thick all around. Cut into 16 wedges. Carefully transfer wedges to the baking sheets. Brush scones with the cream or milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until light golden brown about 25 to …

Nina's Coca-Cola Cake

Makes One 13×9-inch cake


Cake ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup Coca-Cola

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Frosting Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

6 tablespoons Coca-Cola

1 pound (1 box) confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts


Grease and flour a 13 x 9 x 2-inch cake pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Stir together the flour, sugar and baking soda in a small bowl. In a large saucepan, melt and stir together, until well blended, the vegetable oil, 1 stick butter, 4 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 1 cup Coca-Cola. Stir in the flour and sugar, mixing well. Add the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla extract. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the cake is set in the middle, and springs back when lightly pressed with your index finger. Cool on a rack. The cake can be frosted while still warm, if desired.

Meanwhile, prepare frosting by mixing and bringing to a slight boil, 1 stick butter, 4 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 6 tablespoons Coca-Cola. Remove from heat and immediately stir in confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Stir in nuts. The frosting may look thin, but it will set up when cooled. Immediately pour frosting on cake, and quickly spread the frosting with a spatula or knife. Allow cake to cool for several hours before serving.


Coca-Cola Cake

Warren grew up in a very brand loyal family. The canned soda served at his boyhood home was always a Coca-Cola product. No Pepsi or RC need apply, Coke was it. So why was I surprised when I asked him if I should make a pan of brownies for a picnic, and he said, “No, how about a Coca-Cola Cake.” Coca-Cola Cake? I’ve made many sheet cakes, but not this one. Quickly, I dialed the phone, and Nina read over the phone her trusty recipe for Coca-Cola cake. The recipe went together easily, and resulted in a moist and chocolately cake with fudge-like frosting. Perfect for picnics, barbecues or a pot-luck, this cake travels well, and fills the bill for a summer-time cake, of the most brand loyal kind.…