Entries in Martie Knows Parties (297)


Holiday Traditions: Southern Pecan Divinity Recipe

Another holiday tradition I grew up with is Pecan Divinity. I can remember standing on a kitchen chair at the counter, two teaspoons in hand, waiting for the moment my mom said "go" and I'd start dropping those little puffs of sugar onto the wax paper in front of me. Divinity is nothing but sugar and egg whites... it is hard to imagine that something so simple can be that delicious but there are a few tricks to getting it just right. If you notice in the photo, the ones on top are smooth and pretty- the ones on the bottom are more craggy. That is because I let the mixture cool too much before dropping the candy. You have to work quickly to get the pretty, silky looking texture.


1. Cook divinity on a day with no rain and no humidity. Let dry completely before storing. At least one hour.

2. Make sure you have an accurate candy thermometer. It is important to get it to exactly 260 degrees (hard ball stage) before you mix the sugar into the egg whites.

3. Work quickly. The candy looks best (somewhat shiny, not craggy) if you drop them while still hot. Once the candy cools off, it doesn't hold the shape as well and looks rough, not smooth on the exterior. It still tastes good, just doesn't look as pretty.



*You will need a candy thermometer for this recipe and wax or parchment paper. 

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup white Karo or light corn syrup

1/2 cup water

2 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Prepare two baking sheets with wax or parchment paper.

Add sugar, salt, syrup and water to a large heavy 2 quart saucepan.  Stir. Attach candy thermometer to the side of the pan but don't let it touch the bottom. Over medium high heat, cook the sugar mixture to the hard boil stage or 260 degrees. Don't stir it but you can swirl the pan around until the sugar dissolves, then just leave it alone. Watch the sugar carefully. It will take about 15 minutes to get to 260 degrees. While you are waiting, use a mixer to beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, beating constantly on high speed, about 4-5 minutes.

When the mixture reaches 260 degrees, remove it from the heat. With the mixer on the lowest setting, very slowly stream the hot sugar mixture into the egg whites. Then turn up the speed to high and beat constantly until the mixture holds its shape, about 5-6 minutes. Quickly fold in the pecans. Work rapidly and drop the candy by teaspoon onto the prepared baking sheet.

Let cool and dry at least one hour before storing the candy in an airtight container.




Holiday Traditions: Mom's (Addictive) Fruit Cake Cookie Recipe

One of my favorite holiday traditions with my mom was starting our holiday baking the day after Thanksgiving. We always made spiced fruit cake cookies but we'd have to buy the ingredients over a few weeks so we could afford them. I remember the anticipation of watching the shelf fill up with the candied fruit: pineapple, cherries (yes, even the green ones) and how excited I was when we finally got the last ingredient. I still love those cookies... and they hold so many memories for me. 

I know. You hate fruitcake. I'm pretty sure I don't like most of them but I promise you these gorgeous little fruitcake gems are so addictive and delicious, you will not want to wait a whole year to make them again. These are the same mugs we used for Christmas Eve cocoa way back then!


Makes about 6 dozen depending on how large you make them.


1 pound candied red cherries

1 pound candied pineapple

1 pound candied green cherries

6 cups pecans, roughly chopped

1 pound dates, chopped

2 tablespoons dark rum

3 cups plus 1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup Crisco shortening

1 cup granulated sugar

slight pinch kosher salt

3 teaspoons baking soda

3 tablespoons milk

4 eggs (room temperature)

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 teaspoon nutmeg


The day before: chop the dates into small pieces and put them in a glass bowl. Add rum. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit overnight to absorb the rum. You can leave this step out if you want but I find it makes the dates more delicious and the cookies have more flavor.  

Preheat oven to 375. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Get out 2-3 cooling racks.

Dice the candied fruit into small pieces and place in a very large bowl; I use the top of my cake carrier. Roughly chop the pecans and add to the fruit. Add the dates. Add one cup of the flour. Toss well to coat all of the pieces and break them up so they are not sticking together.

Next, whisk the baking soda into the milk and let it dissolve.

Mix the Crisco into the fruit. Add the remaining ingredients: sugar, remaining flour, salt, nutmeg, eggs, orange juice and milk with baking soda into the mixture.  Mix together with your hands but just until you no longer see the flour. Try not to over mix. The batter will be very dense. Use a small ice cream scoop or two teaspoons to drop the cookies onto the prepared pans, about 1 inch apart. 

Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on the wire cooling racks.

The batter is very dense.

My mom's original recipe for her Christmas CookiesFollow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest for more recipes and fun!


Metropolitan Cooking Show Houston Recipes: Butternut Squash Soup and Caramel Apple Crostata

I had such a great time at the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show this past weekend in Houston! American Idol winner Taylor Hicks and I were together again for this event and it was so much fun... a little singing and a lot of cooking in the Celebrity Theater. It was an Alabama meets Texas weekend since The University of Alabama played Texas A & M that Saturday in College Station, Texas. I think half the state of Alabama was in Texas... I was actually escorted across the Texas state line by four Alabama Football team buses along with four Alabama State Trooper vehicles... quite a welcome to the Lone Star state. During the show, I made my favorite fall recipes: a yummy Caramel Apple Crostata and delicious Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. The recipes are posted below!


I was also asked to come up on stage and make a cocktail recipe with none other than Paula Deen. It was her first pulic appearance in months so it was pretty incredible to be there and be part of it. No matter what anyone says of Paula Deen, it is my humble opinion that she got a raw deal from the media and from the public who did not take the time to find out the facts before they reacted and convicted Paula in the press. She asked the public for forgiveness for her words; who does not deserve that? Paula Deen remains an icon, a true steel magnolia. Paula's life story is inspiring. She gives me hope for my own food career. If you watched Food Network Star, you know that her story has always been an inspiration to me. We chatted a bit and made her cousin Johnnie's sangria recipe. I was very honored and grateful to her for the opportunity. The recipe is below... perfect for a wedding shower, a girl's night party... light and delicious but it packs a punch!

Cousin Johnnie's White Sangria with Peaches Recipe from Paula Deen

2 cups diced ripe peaches

1 bottle dry white wine, chilled (I would use Sauvignon Blanc)

3/4 cup brandy

3/4 cup Grand Marnier

1 tablespoon sugar

1 bottle Ginger Ale, chilled

Put the wine, brandy, Grand Marnier and sugar in a pitcher. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Put 1-2 teaspoons peaches in stemmed wine glasses. Fill half full with the wine mixture. Top off each glass with a little ginger ale.


Category: Soup

Difficulty: Easy

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Depending on portion size, this serves about 8

2 (4-5 pounds) large butternut squash, halved and seeded
2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 Tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
5-7 cups low-sodium chicken broth (depending on how thick you want the soup
¼ cup organic maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
½ teaspoon black pepper

Dash cayenne pepper (I use a couple of big dashes but I suggest you do one, taste and then another if you want more heat)
½ cup heavy cream (more if you like, and I always like!)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 425 F. Brush insides and outsides of squash halves with 1 T of oil and place, cut sides up, on a sheet pan or roasting pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until the squash is fork tender. Remove from oven and cool to touch.

Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot. Cook the onion until softened. Use a spoon to scoop out the squash from the peel and add to onion.  Stir in the first 4 cups of chicken broth a little at a time. Simmer, about 20 minutes, adding more chicken broth as necessary to keep the soup from becoming too thick.  Add the maple syrup, salt and both peppers. Whisk in the cream. Add parsley. If you like your soup with some texture, stop here.  I like this soup really smooth so I use an immersion blender to make it velvety before I add the heavy cream. Just before serving, stir in a tablespoon or two of butter. I find it makes the soup even more velvety and delicious.


Skill Level: Moderate

Category: Dessert

Prep Time: 20 minutes plus 1 hour chill time for the dough

Cook Time: 22-25 minutes

This may be my favorite recipe. You can’t believe how fast and easy you can make a pie; something I grew up eating after every meal. I have used just about everything inside of the crust but just make sure the dough is well chilled and the filling is not too juicy or it won’t hold together.



1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated or superfine sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 pound (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, diced

3 tablespoons ice water plus 1/2 teaspoon more,  if dough seems dry


11/2 pounds apples (3-4 large semi-tart apples work best)

1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground  allspice

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced into small pieces

Egg Wash

1 egg, beaten


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

For the pastry,place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine the dry ingredients. Add the butter, a little at a time, pulsing between additions until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once through the feed tube-stop the machine just before the dough becomes a solid mass. Turn the dough onto a well-floured board and form into a round. Don’t over handle or over mix because your dough will be tough. Wrap the round with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. When you are ready to make the crostata, flour the board and a rolling pin; roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Wrap it over the rolling pin and transfer it to a baking sheet.

For the filling, peel, core, and cut the apples. I like the look of slices- I usually slice a small apple into 8 slices. Put the apple into a bowl and toss with the lemon juice and the lemon zest. Next, add the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and allspice. Add the cold butter. Mix all of the ingredients together until the apples are well coated. Turn the apples out onto the crust, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border all the way around.  Gently fold the border over the apples to enclose the dough, pleating it to make a circle. Finish with the egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar before baking.

Bake the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the apples are tender. Allow to cool slightly. Just before serving, drizzle with caramel sauce; you can make it or purchase.



nocoupons 1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions: Put the sugar in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the sugar melts and turns a light golden brown color. Add the butter. Swirl the pan to incorporate the butter into the sugar. Watch carefully because it will burn. Bring to a boil until it becomes a light medium brown, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Sugar is very hot so be very careful. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the cream and the vanilla. Return to low heat and simmer until the sauce is smooth and thick. Serve it warm, or add another 1/4 cup of heavy cream and serve room temperature.

Serves 5-6 depending on how large you cut the slices.


Fresh Strawberry Sorbet Recipe


I simply am in love with ice cream and frozen treats of any kind, especially in the summer when fruit is juicy and ripe. Strawberry sorbet is so easy and so  refreshing. Use this recipe to make sorbet with fresh berries of any kind. If you use raspberries or blueberries, exchange the lime juice for lemon juice. Happy spinning!

Skill Level: Easy

Category: Dessert

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: Chill at least 2 hours before spinning.


2 pounds fresh strawberries, sliced and hulled

1 ¼ cup sugar

¾ cup water

2 tablespoons lime juice

Scant pinch kosher salt


Prepare an ice bath in a large heat-proof bowl.

Put the sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Cool by stirring over the ice bath. Set aside.

Puree the fruit in a blender or use a juicer if you have one. Strain to remove any seeds or pulp. Add the lime juice. Mix with the cooled simple syrup. Chill for an hour or more before spinning according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Put in plastic container in freezer to set before serving.


Celebrate National Cheesecake Day with No Bake Lemon Cheesecake with Two Berry Sauce

In celebration of National Cheesecake Day, try this super simple and really delicious cheesecake that only takes 30 minutes start to finish! Lemon and blueberries go so well together. Add this crunchy caramel topping and this is a can't miss favorite for dinner parties or when you just have that craving for something sweet.


8 graham crackers

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup each blackberries and blueberries or you can use strawberries, raspberries- whatever

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons Chambord liqueur- optional

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 cup whipping cream

½ cup sour cream

2 teaspoons lemon juice

½ teaspoon lemon zest

½ cup Confectioner’s sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

For the crust: Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whirr the graham crackers in a food processor until they are crumbs. Put 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 3 butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Swirl the pan so the sugar and butter melt together to make a caramel. Once it is melted and light golden brown, add the crumbled graham crackers and toss to coat. Remove from pan and spread on prepared pan. Set aside to cool.

For the sauce: Use the same pan. Add 1 cup blackberries and 1 cup blueberries. Sprinkle over 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Toss to coat. Cook over medium heat until the berries begin to break down and soften, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan from heat. Add Chambord. Stir together. Set aside to cool.

For the cheesecake: In a bowl, whip the whipping cream until stiff. Beat the cream cheese and sour cream with the Confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest. Beat until fluffy. Fold the whipping cream into the cream cheese mixture.

Line individual ramekins or a medium soufflé or round casserole with plastic wrap. 

Spoon the cheesecake into the ramekin and press it down to fill. Add a layer of the graham cracker crumbs on top. Wrap the sides of the plastic wrap over the top and chill for at least an hour.

To serve: sprinkle more graham crumbs on the plate. Remove the cheesecake from the ramekin and put it crumb side down onto the plate. Spoon over the berry sauce and garnish with a few more crumbs.