A Few of My Favorite Things with Katina Holland

Thanksgiving Desserts


Thanksgiving is next Thursday.  With it being right around the corner, I want to take the opportunity this week to count my blessings so to speak.  Merriam-Webster defines a blessing as a thing conducive to happiness or welfare.  It is so much more abstract than that though and difficult to truly define.  It’s the sun shining.  It’s a smile on someone’s face.  It’s a friendly gesture from the person walking by.  There are so many things that I am thankful for and if you, as my readers, will allow me to get personal with you I want to share some with you.

Family is one of my biggest blessings.  I am blessed to have my immediate family all close enough we can get together for the holiday, but it’s more than that.  We all live right here in Okmulgee.  I can visit my sister if it strikes my fancy at 7 p.m. and it’s only a four minute drive.  Of course, if I do visit my sister, I had better be prepared to be there for a while.  I love her, but man she can talk your ear off.  Kidding aside, she has always been there for me even in the middle of the night.  I know if something were to happen and I needed her, she would be there and she would save her questions for later to get to me quicker.  She has three beautiful boys that probably don’t want me to call them beautiful, but their souls shine with a light that can only be heavenly and it is beautiful to see.  They were my light at the darkest point in my life.  When I responded to little else, those boys and their love and antics could always get my mind off of my issues.  Now, they are older and still blessings just in other ways.  They love to help out and are quick to volunteer if something is needed.

My parents are a huge blessing and a large part of the reason I am the woman I am today.  My Mom has always supported me and helped guide me.  She used to make cakes too and she is a sounding board when I need ideas or just need to talk about what I am doing.  However, she is so much more.  A confidant and a friend, she is a life raft on turbulent seas and kept me from drowning when my seas were at their worst.  If Mom is my life raft, Dad is my rock.  Dad never hesitates to show his love, always happy to lean in for a kiss and hug.  He taught me how to drive a nail and how to put up a pen for the birds we always had.  Dad also showed me there can be strength in owning your weaknesses. He kept me anchored in a time that I was so gone I didn’t even realize I was lost.  

My wonderful in-laws still love me.  After my husband passed, it could have been easy for them to simply forget about me.  They still included me in family events and get-togethers though.  We had game nights and my mother-in-law made my costumes for a couple years.  We don’t do things much anymore, but I know they still care.  

While I am speaking of my husband, I must say he is my blessing as well.  Yes he has passed, but not a day goes by that I don’t think of him.  While my parents help mold me, my husband finished the job by showing who I could be.  I would not be who I am today without the love of that man.  His encouragement and support brought me out of my shell in a way that no one else was able to accomplish.  In losing him, I garnered even more appreciation of the love he gave me.  I was able to eventually go back to my life after his passing because of the strength he gave me to begin with.  Losing him was devastating, but the blessing of his love is what pulled me through and I am thankful.  

I am also blessed by my work family. I have an awesome general manager who encouraged me to even begin this column and has allowed me to write freely and is always there to listen when I need an ear. I have a friend in another office and we have so much in common it is scary sometimes.  She makes me laugh if the days are rough and I am so blessed by it.  The boss’s wife is quick witted and funny and I enjoy talking to her. Our editor happily puts my column in the paper and helps with the headline sometimes. Aside from that, he’s such a nice man to know and has a great heart. There are so many things I could list for everyone but if I list everything the editor may start telling me to not write so much.  Regardless, I love the people I work with and that is a blessing.  

I have wonderful friends.  I am blessed to have a roof over my head.  I am thankful to have food on the table.  And God makes it all possible.  His is the ultimate blessing and for that I am eternally blessed and thankful.  So, look around you and know that even the trials and loss and hurts are all blessings. Be thankful this season and count your blessings.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13. 

This week I am going to share desserts from my table.  We all like pie, although I will admit, for the most part, not much dessert actually gets eaten during our dinner.  We are all too full from the other good food!  But come later in the evening, we go scrounging, looking for something to satisfy that sweet tooth.  That is why I like having the sweets on the table.  These recipes are similar to the traditional pies and desserts that are on most tables, but they have little twists that make them different.  Make your grocery list and meet me in the kitchen for some sweet trimmings to go with that turkey. 

Butterfinger Pie

¼ cup of milk

20 large marshmallows

6 Butterfingers

1 8oz container of whipped topping

1 graham cracker crust

Freeze Butterfingers 3 hours or overnight.  Place Butterfingers in blender or food processor two at a time and pulse until crushed.  If you have no blender, place one Butterfinger at a time in a plastic baggie and crush with a rolling pin or hammer.  If you are crushing in advance to use later, place crumbs in a bowl and return to freezer. Melt marshmallows in milk in a 3 qt saucepan over a low heat.  Once marshmallows are completely melted, allow to cool to room temp but not cool completely.  Add 1 heaping cup of whipped topping and ¾ cup of crushed Butterfinger.  Pour mixture into graham cracker crust. Top with remaining whipped topping.  Sprinkle top with Butterfingers to taste. Refrigerate overnight to set.  Keep refrigerated and serve cold.

Not sure when we started making this recipe, but I have made it for years.


No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened

1 cup canned pumpkin

½ cup sugar

½ tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 8oz container whipped topping

1 graham cracker pie crust

Beat cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar and pumpkin pie spice with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.  Gently stir in 2 ½ cups of whipped topping.  Spoon into pie crust. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Serve with remaining topping if desired.  Refrigerate any leftover cheesecake.

Recipe adapted from kraft.com.


Cinnamon Apple Pie

I like a good apple pie and I can make it from scratch, but this recipe allows me to short cut the pie so I can concentrate on the other parts of the meal.  It is a real time saver. 


1 refrigerated pie crust

1 Tbsp unsalted sweet cream butter, melted

2 tsps ground cinnamon


2 21oz cans Apple Fruit Filling, I get mine at Walmart on the baking aisle right under all the graham cracker ready-made crusts

8 Tbsps butter, at room temperature

1 cup flour

1 cup light brown sugar


½ cup powdered sugar

½ tsp vanilla bean paste

¼ tsp cinnamon

2 tsps milk

Preheat oven to 400°F.   Unroll pie crust on lightly floured surface.   Brush with butter and sprinkle evenly with cinnamon.   Roll up tightly and slice into 1/2-inch rounds, like miniature cinnamon rolls.   Then press evenly into bottom and sides of 9-inch pie plate, making sure there are no spaces between the rolls.  Pour 2 cans of Lucky Leaf Premium Apple Fruit Filling on top of the crust.   Combine butter, flour and brown sugar in a large bowl and form into crumbles using a pastry blender.   Sprinkle crumbles over apple filling.   Bake until top and crust are golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 40-45 minutes (cover top/crust with foil if necessary).   Remove from oven and cool.   Whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and milk in small bowl to form icing (add more sugar or milk to reach desired consistency).   Drizzle over cooled pie.

Recipe adapted luckyleaf.com


Chocolate Pecan Pie

I think chocolate makes everything better.

1 refrigerated pie crust

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup unsalted sweet cream butter, melted 

1 cup corn syrup

2 Tbsps bourbon, if desired

¼ tsp salt

3 eggs

1 cup pecan halves or broken pecans 

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375°F.  Unroll pie crust and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of pie plate if necessary. Fold and roll pastry under, even with plate; flute as desired. In large bowl, beat sugar, butter, corn syrup, bourbon, ¼ tsp salt and the eggs with hand beater. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips. Pour into pastry-lined pie plate. Cover edge with 2- to 3-inch strip of foil to prevent excess browning; remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking.  Bake pie 40 to 50 minutes or until set. Cool at least 30 minutes before serving. 

Recipe adapted from bettycrocker.com.


Sweet Potato Casserole

Yes I consider this a dessert.  It is too sweet to really be considered part of dinner. This version is an alternate to the marshmallow top casserole which is way too sweet for me.

4 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

½ cup white sugar 

2 eggs, beaten 

¼ tsp salt 

7 Tbsps unsalted sweet cream butter, softened and separated 

½ cup milk 

½ tsp vanilla bean paste

½ cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup flour

½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Put sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan with water to cover. Cook over medium high heat until tender; drain and mash. In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, white sugar, eggs, salt, 4 Tbsps butter, milk and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Transfer to a 9x13 inch baking dish. In medium bowl, mix the brown sugar and flour. Cut in the 3 Tbsps butter until the mixture is coarse. Stir in the pecans. Sprinkle the mixture over the sweet potato mixture. Bake 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly brown. 

Recipe from allrecipes.com


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