Cooking with Lady Smokey: Holiday Feasting

Fruits and vegetables

We live in Nashville which is a half day’s drive from my family and in close proximity to many other destinations. In fact, Tennessee borders 8 other states. We have lots of friends who are musicians and artists who travel for work. Because of this, we get many visitors which is always fun. I love to cook for visitors. It is nice to have things prepared ahead of time so we don’t have to eat out all the time. These 2 new quick breads are perfect for house guests this time of year.

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Pecan Bread
makes 1 large loaf

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (I keep it frozen and then use a microplane to grate)
  • ½ cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350°F. In a bowl, stir together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda. Mix the pumpkin puree, melted butter, eggs, buttermilk, and spices together. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and then stir in the nuts. Pour into a well-buttered 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until the center of the loaf comes out clean when a cake tester (or toothpick) is inserted. Turn the loaf out of the pan and let cool on a rack.

Cranberry Bread

Cranberry Rosemary Walnut Bread
makes 1 large loaf

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup White Lily all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¾ cup cane sugar
  • ¼ brown sugar
  • ¼ cup melted butter, cooled
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped fresh (or frozen) cranberries


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour loaf pan. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, nuts, and rosemary. In a mixing bowl, mix eggs and sugar until combined. Add buttermilk, butter, and vanilla. Slowly add flour mixture to wet ingredients and stir with a spatula until just combined. Add cranberries. Bake 50-60 minutes until the center of the loaf comes out clean when a cake tester (or toothpick) is inserted. Turn the loaf out of the pan and let cool on a rack.


The holidays are right around the corner so I thought an autumn pie post might be necessary right about now! Pie seems to be the super star dessert this time of year- a perfect ending to to a big family meal, a welcome addition to a gathering of close friends, or a nice surprise at any potluck. Here are the ones on my short list this year.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- Please don’t use a store bought crust. The key to a good pie is in the crust! And, it is super easy to make your own. If you use a store bought crust, your pie will not taste as good and let’s face it, everyone will know you didn’t make it from scratch. By making your own crust, you can use better quality ingredients and really, it takes only a few more minutes. Try it- you’ll be so happy you did. Here’s my basic pie dough recipe that I learned long ago from our friend Britt who was a pastry chef in Seattle and now resides in Idaho. I changed it a bit. Here’s how it goes…

Pie Dough Balls

Pie Dough
(Makes a double crust for a ten inch pie, or 2 ten inch tart shells.)

  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose White Lily flour
  • 8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted organic butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 6-8 tablespoons ice water


Place flour, butter, and salt in a big bowl. Use your fingers to gently break down the butter and incorporate it into the flour. Be gentle- your objective is to make the butter into little crumbs or grains while mixing it with the flour, not to mush it all together. Do not over mix. Slow down. The largest pieces of butter should be the size of grains of rice. Sprinkle with 6 T of ice water. Make your hand into a claw as if you are trying to grab a basketball one handed, and using your rigid claw hand, stir dough briefly until the liquid is incorporated. Squeeze a handful of dough in your palm. It should have just enough moisture to stay together. If it seems dry and crumbly, add more water a teaspoon at a time until you can squeeze it into a ball that doesn’t crumble when broken apart. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Roll out onto floured surface as quickly as you can. Balls of dough can be stored in fridge for a week or so or you can also freeze them.

Pecan Pie

I am not normally a huge fan of pecan pie however, I have noticed that most people are. It is a traditional Southern favorite! I found Edna Lewis’ recipe quite tasty. I made a few changes and came up with this version. Bourbon takes it over the edge. And I think Bourbon (in moderation, of course) is an essential part of every holiday. Honestly, it goes very nicely with all those yummy fall food flavors.

Bourbon Pecan Pie

Bourbon Pecan Pie

  • 1 dough ball
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup granulated cane sugar
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup unsalted melted butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ¼ cups coarsely chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 375. Roll out the dough ball and place in pie plate. Scallop the edges. Mix together eggs, sugar, syrup, butter, bourbon, vanilla, and salt until well blended. Using a fork, prick the sides and bottom of the pie shell at ½ inch intervals. Spread the pecans on the bottom of the pastry and pour the egg mixture over them. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, until just set but still slightly loose in the center. The pie will finish setting as it cools. Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack before serving.


This pumpkin pie is something I came up with last year but I liked it so much, I’ve been thinking about it again and wanted to add to this little collection. I think the pecan crumble top really makes it special.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crumble Top

  • 1 dough ball
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tsp freshly ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot (or cornstarch)
  • 1 1/2 cups of roasted pumpkin, pureed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1 cup coconut milk


for crumble top:

  • 1 cup pecans, toasted & ground
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup cane sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the pumpkin open and into four wedges, clean the seeds out (I roasted them up with a little salt for a yummy snack!), cut the strings out and rub the inside with a little olive oil and place face down in a baking dish. Bake for about an hour, until the pumpkin is tender when forked. Once cooled, scoop out the flesh and mix well in a blender or food processor. Set aside.

Pumpkin Collage

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out the dough ball and place in pie plate. Scallop the edges. Stir together brown sugar, salt, arrowroot. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and eggs and mix well. Then, add the coconut milk. Pour into the unbaked pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn oven down to 350 degrees for another 40 minutes (set timer for 20 minutes, though, as you will need to add the crumble top!).


Make the crumble top. Ground roasted pecans in a food processor or chop very finely. You can add the other ingredients to the food processor or mix by hand. Be very careful and open oven door and quickly crumble the topping over the pumpkin pie. Bake for the remainder 20 minutes or until pie is set.


This next pie is quite different and it is always nice to throw an unexpected flavor into the traditional mix, I think. My friend Brad comes over every year right before Christmas so we can bake pies together to take to friends. He helped me come up with this one.

Apple Gruyere Pie

Pear Apple Gruyere Pie

  • 2 dough balls (use recipe above and mix in 1 cup grated cave-aged Gruyere before adding the ice water)
  • 5-7 apples and pears, pealed, and sliced thin
  • 1 cup raw cane sugar
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup (+ 1 cup for dough balls) cave-aged Gruyere cheese
  • 1 egg white


Roll out dough ball and place in pie plate. Mix pears with sugar, flour, cinnamon and pour into pie shell. Sprinkle the Gruyere on top. Roll out second dough ball and lay on top of pie. Trim edges and use your index fingers and thumb to pinch edge. Cut a few slits in top to let air escape while pie bakes. Brush top of pie with egg white. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and then lower oven temperature to 350 and bake for another 35 minutes.


To throw a little variety into the dessert menu, here’s a new cookie recipe I’ve been working on.


Oatmeal Apricot Shortbread

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup finely chopped dried apricots
  • 1 Tbsp raw cane sugar + 1 Tbsp more ww flour


Heat oven to 350. Mix first 4 dry ingredients together. Cut butter into ½” pieces. With your hands, gently mix butter to form a dough. Add vanilla and apricots and keep mixing until the dough sticks together and is well blended. Toss the extra flour and sugar onto a dough board or clean surface. Roll dough out to ¼”- ½”. Cut with a small biscuit cutter. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.


As you bake, you might want to take a listen to the latest album from Alabaman, Jason Isbell. I can’t stop listening to his song, Alabama Pines. This song makes me like Alabama even more than I already do. Here’s the video that our friend James made. It’s awesome!

Happy baking and may you enjoy your Thanksgiving feast, wherever you are!

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