In the Mizzell-Metts-Branch clan, we have a great many birthdays in October, November and December. Too, we are continually getting together to watch football on television or to attend games. The way "time flies," we will be celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas, and be bringing in the New Year very soon. So, we will be spending a lot of time together and enjoying tables laden with covered dish meals and desserts galore. Through all of it, my family always adheres to the feeling that truly, the main ingredient that makes occasions special is LOVE. That said, I remind you all that when opportunities for fellowship present themselves, please just put obligations out of your mind for a while, relax and visit with your friends and family. Below are a few quick pie recipes that you can whip up to take to gatherings.

Five minute double layer chocolate pie

1-1/4 cups cold milk

2 packages (4-serving size) chocolate flavor instant pudding and pie filling

1 tub (8 ounces) frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed

1 ready-made graham cracker piecrust

In a large bowl, beat the milk and pudding mix with a wire whisk for one minute. Whisk in half of the whipped topping. Carefully spread this mixture evenly into the piecrust. Spread the remaining whipped topping over the top. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with a swirl of chocolate syrup or with lightly roasted, chopped pecans or walnuts. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve the pie.

Rich ‘n creamy Key Lime pie

1 pastry pie shell

2 large or extra-large eggs

14-1/2-ounces sweetened condensed milk

1-1/2 teaspoons finely shredded lime peel

1/3 cup lime juice

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake the pie shell for about 10 minutes, until very lightly browned. Turn the oven off. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until they are slightly thickened. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk, lime peel and lime juice. Gently pour this mixture into the pie shell. Chill for about an hour. Insert toothpicks halfway between the centers and edges of the pie and cover loosely with Saran wrap. Refrigerate for at least three more hours. You may choose to pipe some whipped cream on top or to add a dollop of whipped cream to individual slices as you serve the pie.

Quick ‘n easy banana cream pie

1 pastry pie shell

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

3 cups whole milk

4 large or extra-large eggs

1 tablespoon margarine or butter

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 medium, ripe bananas

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake the pie shell for about 10 minutes, until very lightly browned. Slice three medium bananas evenly into the bottom of the baked pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes on 350 degrees. Set aside to cool. Turn your oven off.

In a medium saucepan combine the sugar and the cornstarch. Gradually stir in the milk, and cook over medium-high heat – stirring continually – until the mixture is thick and bubbly. Reduce heat to low and cook and stir for two or three more minutes. Remove this mixture from the heat. In a small bowl, separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork. Gradually stir one cup of the hot filling into the yolks. Return all of this to the saucepan. Bring this filling to a gentle boil and cook and stir for about two minutes, stirring continually. Remove the filling from the heat. Stir in the margarine or butter and vanilla. Pour the hot filling on top of the bananas in the pie shell. Refrigerate for an hour. Then insert toothpicks halfway between the edges and center and loosely cover with Saran wrap. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve the pie. Some people prefer whipped topping with this pie – completely covered or decoratively piped.

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