Mini Pecan Tarts

This dessert is my sister’s specialty around Christmas time and my mother’s favorite.  Since these tasty little treats are bite-size, it makes them seem kind of guilt-free. 



  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup margarine, room temperature
  • 1 cup flour


  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans (plus more for topping)



  • Mix together the ingredients using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, if you’ve got one (you could also just use your hands)
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour
  • Break the egg, but do not beat, and then add in the sugar, melted butter, salt, vanilla and pecans – mix well
  • Place a small ball of dough into an ungreased mini muffin pan and press up and along the edges with your fingertips to form the crust of the tart
  • Place a spoonful of filling inside the crust and smooth it out – then top it off with a whole pecan
  • Bake at 325°F for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is slightly golden brown along the edges
*This is a small recipe – it only yields about 17-18 mini tarts


Maple Twist

This dessert is another one that can easily get away with being justified as a breakfast food.  It’s basically a glorified homemade cinnamon bun that looks really pretty (before it’s devoured).  It requires some time to make, but it definitely pays off.


  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast (1/4 oz.), dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp maple flavoring


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp maple flavoring
  • 1/4 cup of butter, melted
  • Optional: 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1  1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp maple flavoring (or 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract)
  • 2 – 3 tbsp milk
  • Optional: 1 -2 tbsp butter, melted


  • Mix together the dry ingredients: flour, salt and sugar
  • In a small sauce pan, warm the milk and add the butter to the warm milk – keep stirring until the butter has melted then let the mixture cool
  • Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of water and add 1 tbsp of maple flavoring to the water, set aside
  • Add the milk liquid, yeast liquid and lastly the beaten eggs to the dry ingredients
  • Knead the dough with your hands and add in flour a little bit at a time until the mixture is moist but not sticky
  • Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place in a warm place away from any drafts (I always put my dough in the closet that has all the equiment for the TV because it gets so warm in there!)
    • Allow the dough to rise for 1  1/2 – 2 hours (or until the dough has doubled in size)
    • If your dough isn’t rising, it’s probably because the surroundings aren’t warm enough
  • Divide the dough into 3 balls
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball into 12 in. circles
  • Fit one layer of dough onto a greased baking sheet
    • Mix the ingredients together using your hands, if you want, to get it really well blended
  • Brush the dough with melted butter and evenly sprinkle 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar filling on top
  • Continue the same steps with the remaining 2 layers of dough (end with the cinnamon sugar filling exposed)
  • Use a small juice glass to mark a 2 in. circle in the center of the dough (be careful NOT to cut through the dough)
  • Make cuts from the outside edge of the glass out to the edge of the dough
    • You want to end up with 16 pie shaped wedges – the best way to do this is cut the circle in half and then keep cutting each section in half until you get 16 wedges
  • Twist each wedge 4 or 5 times
    • Remove the glass once you’re done twisting
  • Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise again for about 1 hour
  • Bake at 325F for 22 minutes or until golden brown
    • Whisk together the ingredients and add more milk a little bit at a time until you reach your desired consistency
  • Drizzle the baked treat with the glaze while it’s still warm (but not too hot – about 5-10 minutes)

Cowboy Cookies

These cookies pretty much have everything but the kitchen sink in them…  the hint of cinnamon and chewy coconut make them really hard to resist.  


  • 1 cup shortening (i.e. Crisco – or you could substitute butter)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Feel free to use as many or as little of these ingredients as you want… I like to use all of them!

    • 1/2 cup pecans
    • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
    • 1 cup coconut


  • Using a mixer, cream the shortening and sugars
  • Add the eggs and vanilla
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon – then add them to the mixing bowl
  • Fold in the pecans, chocolate chips and coconut
  • Form the cookie dough into round dough balls as large as you desire and place on an ungreased cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart
  • Flatten the dough balls a bit with your fingertips
  • Bake at 375°F for 8-10 mins