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Favorite sweet potato pie recipes roll in

Easter is four days away.

This year is zooming by. Yes, Easter is early this year, but it seems like we just celebrated Christmas.

I know it's probably the age thing. I have got to get busy, or the Easter bunny will pass our house by. Lilly certainly wouldn't like that.

We did put a cross and some large Easter eggs in the yard. Lilly keeps checking to see if any of the eggs have been filled with candy or toys. The joy of being 3.

Her mom, my daughter, found a clever way of dyeing eggs using old silk ties, water and vinegar. The old ties are cut into squares, tied around a boiled egg with the colorful side toward the egg and tied with string. The tie eggs are then wrapped in white cloth and tied at the top, simmered on stove for 30 minutes in a solution of 4 cups water and1/4 cup vinegar. Elyssa, who made these for a work contest, used some of her late dad's ties, so the eggs had an even more special meaning to her.

Now the designs are colorful and different from ordinary Easter eggs. Per usual, Elyssa found this craft on YouTube.

This craft is sweet, but not as sweet as the sweet potato pie recipes readers have sent in for Melba DeLorey of Pascagoula, who requested them.

Carol Ryan shares her favorite sweet potato pie, which she has been making for 50 years, and says everyone always likes it. This pie is a bit different

from the regular recipes, as Ryan uses no nutmeg or cinnamon.

SWEET POTATO PIE

2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes (use fresh sweet potatoes and not canned ones for the best-tasting pie)

1 stick melted butter

2 cups sugar

3 tablespoons flour

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon lemon juice

12 ounces evaporated milk

Mash up sweet potatoes and put in a mixing bowl, beat until mixed up good and then add melted butter. Add sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla and lemon juice; mix again, then start adding the evaporated milk a little at a time until it is mixed really well.

I usually pre-bake a 10-inch pie crust for about 10 minutes on 350°, then pour filling in and bake about 50-60 minutes until set. This is for a 10-inch crust, so if using a 9-inch crust, you will have extra filling.

-- Submitted by Carol Ryan

Pattie Necaise of Ocean Springs starts her sweet potato pie by making a really good, from-scratch crust.

"I usually double the recipe and freeze one for later," she says. "Homemade crusts are so much better than store bought, and they are really not that hard to make."

FLAKY PASTRY

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening

2 to 2- 1/2 tablespoons ice water

In medium bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in the shortening. (I like to use a wire pastry cutter. The bladed one is harder to clean.) I cut in about half the shortening until it is real fine and the cut the second half in a little coarser. Sprinkle the water over the flour mix and stir it with a fork until it is mixed in.

Gather the dough into a ball. Roll it out on a floured surface until it is the diameter you need for your pie pan.

You can gently fold it over and place it in the pan or gently roll it onto the rolling pin to transfer it to the pan.

For the filling, Necaise uses coconut in her pie.

"You can leave out the coconut if you like, but it really gives it a nice flavor," she says.

SWEET POTATO PIE WITH COCONUT

1- 1/2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon each ginger and nutmeg

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup evaporated milk

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1/2 cup coconut

Unbaked pie shell

Whipped cream, optional

(You can add1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon coconut flavoring and/or top with more shredded coconut if you like.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In large bowl of mixer, mix sweet potatoes, sugar, salt and spices (and flavoring, if using that). Mix until well blended.

Add the eggs, milk and butter. Mix well and then stir in the coconut. Pour into pie shell.

Bake 35 minutes or until knife inserted into center of pie comes out clean. Cool and serve with whipped topping if desired. (I usually just serve it as is.)

Note: I usually bake the sweet potatoes, but you can cut them and boil them in water on the stove top, then drain the water. Slice them across, especially at the ends, to make sure you don't get any long fibers in the filling or collecting on the beaters.

-- Submitted by Pattie Necaise

"I use only Vardaman sweet potatoes, when available, in my sweet potato pie," Nancy Coon of Pascagoula said. "This is a really good pie."

SWEET POTATO PIE

2 pie crusts, unbaked

6 averaged-size sweet potatoes, baked

1 stick melted butter

2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons flour

3 eggs, beaten

1 small can Pet evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix potatoes, butter, sugar, flour, eggs, evaporated milk and vanilla. Pour mixture into unbaked pie crusts.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. (I usually add 1/2 cup marshmallow creme before baking.)

-- Submitted by Nancy Coon

More on pound cakes

Last week's recipe for Five Flavor Pound Cake omitted the amount of flour. It should be 3 cups.

Due to the number of different pound cake recipes readers have shared, I will print one this week and the German chocolate cake I promised last week. For a few weeks, readers will see at least one pound cake.

With all the sweet potato pie recipes, I though some readers might enjoy Ann Sharpton's sweet potato pound cake.

SWEET POTATO POUND CAKE

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter softened

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

2- 1/2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat cream cheese and butter until creamy. Gradually add sugar until fluffy. Add eggs ones at a time.

Add sweet potatoes and beat well. Combine dry ingredients and add gradually to cream mixture. Add vanilla.

Spoon into greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until tests done.

Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Then turn out onto wire rack. Cool completely for 1 hour.

Makes 1 tube cake or may be baked in 2 loaf pans.

-- Submitted by Ann Sharpton

Jackie Crawford of Pass Christian found this German chocolate cake recipe in "Great Flavors of Mississippi" cookbook and thought readers might like it. The cake uses a mix, but is topped with a homemade frosting.

GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE PECAN ICING

1 box German chocolate cake mix

1 teaspoon almond flavoring

Make cake according to package directions, adding almond flavoring to batter. Pour into a greased, floured 12-cup Bundt pan.

Bake 43 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven. Then, remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before icing.

CHOCOLATE PECAN ICING

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

1/4 cup cocoa

3/4 (12 ounces) of a 16-ounce package of powdered sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond flavoring

3/4 cup pecans, chopped

Combine butter, milk and cocoa in heavy saucepan, over medium heat, and bring to a good boil.

Remove from heat, stir in powdered sugar, extract, flavoring and pecans. Spread over warm cake.

Serves 20.

-- Submitted by Jackie Crawford

Best chicken-fried steak

A reader asked for an update on the restaurants or cafes that serve the best chicken-fried steaks on the Coast.

Readers, let me know your favorites and where they are located.

Andrea Yeager, can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net or Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535-4567.

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