Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

You Can Make Pie Crust and Savory Pastry/(Vegan)/Chiffon

Thanksgiving is approaching in the United States and with Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, many people are in the mood for PIE.
Most people like pies. Many people dislike pie crust and even more hate or hesitate to try to make their own. We’re going to try to dispel both of those dislikes with a choice of several homemade pie crusts, which can be made vegan, and made ahead of time.

I am going to ask you to try more than one of these, as one person can have a completely different ‘touch’ from another and some just may not come out right for you, although one or another may very well become your signature crust. My mother made incredible Oil Pastry with which she made quite a name for herself. I, on the other hand, professional though I became, cannot do it justice. Maybe you will have better luck. However, I consider the other recipes fail-proof.

Done right, each of the pastries,(except the Graham cracker one), become flaky and fine. And most,(again, not the Graham cracker one), can be used for pot pies, meat pies, hand-held savories and appetizers, quiches, baked brie, etc. But I promise you, they are easier than you think and most are freezable.

You can’t crimp? My mother deftly did hers perfectly but I never had the patience to practice. I can’t take credit for the idea, but I have been cutting out edging with small cookie/pastry cutters for 30 years. Now, that is almost all you see on TV and in magazines. It is attractive and easy. Here is one example:

Use small cookie cutters to make easy, beautiful edging on your pies

Use small cookie cutters to make easy, beautiful edging on your pies

You can use any shape of cutter to suit the pie or occasion, (as I used shamrocks in the photo),be they leaves or apples for apple pie, leaves or pumpkins for …you get the idea. You can make egg-shaped ones around a pie for Easter, turkeys for Thanksgiving, dreidels for Hanukkah…again, use your imagination, but I suggest you have at least a small, all-purpose leaf-shaped cutter. With that, you can’t go wrong.
If you want a top crust, you can always use a bigger cutter and overlap the cut-outs.

Roll the crusts out to a consistent and thin round shape. You want to start in the middle and roll your way out, .Press gently at first and go from the middle outward. Roll on at least four directions.
There are mats you can buy to roll dough on, or you can use wax paper or parchment paper. If you use wax paper, you will have to put two sheets overlapping on the bottom; you can move one sheet around on top.This method is best used to the Oil Pastry.
For the others, I use a well-floured , large wooden cutting board. Be sure to flour your rolling pin. If it sticks to your pastry, rub all the stuck dough off with flour before attempting to roll again, or it will just keep sticking.(Do not wet the rolling pin until you clean it when you are finished.)
I inherited a marble rolling slab and matching rolling pin from my aunt. many people swear by them as they can be chilled so that pie crust, (and other dough), will not become loose or stick; it will be more delicate without the use of much added flour when the pastry is rolled. If you are that much into pastry, you won’t need my advice! If you need to read this, stick with added flour.

Move the crust carefully into the pie plate . This is best done by gently folding the dough into quarters and placing the folded point in the middle of the plate. If you use wax or parchment paper, you can invert the crust flat right over the plate. Do not stretch the crust; it will shrink as it bakes. Gather the over-hanging pastry up to the edge and crimp all the way around, then cut off the excess with a sharp knife .If you are going to cut shapes for the edges, cut all around the edge with a sharp knife, then re-roll the pastry a bit thicker and cut shapes. Overlap them around the edge. Press them together.(You may need to slightly dampen your fingers with water to get the cut-outs to stick together but do not over-wet the pastry.)

Before we get started on the recipes,, a couple of them will call for butter , margarine or shortening to be “cut into” flour. This means to incorporate the fat into the flour until it is evenly distributed; it should resemble corn meal. This is the best way to get a flaky crust and there are many ways to make it come about: with a pastry cutter, sometimes called a pastry blender:

A simple pastry cutter or pastry blender  helps make flaky crust

A simple pastry cutter or pastry blender helps make flaky crust

You can also use a fork, or two knives, (cutting through the flour with both hands simultaneously), or a food processor.

If you need a pre-cooked shell, that is, if you want to put a filling in it that does not need to be baked, you will need to weigh down the pie crust when you bake it to prevent it from shrinking a great deal and lifting up in the bottom. There are pie chains and pie weights you can buy, but generations of bakers have successfully used dried beans. Bake the pie shell at 350F until the desired shade of brown is obtained and when cool, remove the beans, weights or chain.
There are also pie guards available, but I use aluminum foil, in strips, placed lightly over the edges of my pies for the first half of the bake-time. This keeps the top edges of the crust from over-cooking and possibly burning while the rest of the pie bakes , and the crust browns on the bottom.

I prefer to use clear glass,(baking glass, that is Pyrex , tempered glass, etc), to make sure that I can see if the pie is browning on the bottom.

Oil Pastry:

This recipe is the one my mother always used and everyone raved. This one can easily be made vegan.

½ cup + 1 Tbsp. cooking oil (*see note)
¼ cup milk [can be almond or rice]
2 cups flour
½ tsp. salt

Measure oil and milk into one container; do not try to mix.
Mix the flour and salt; add the oil and milk quickly and mix thoroughly.
This pastry is best rolled between sheets of waxed paper, or can be rolled using extra flour, which will make it a bit tougher. This makes a delicate crust, but can easily be patched.

*Note: My mother always used vegetable oil. Unless you plan on using this for savory (non-sweet) fillings, please do not use Extra Virgin Olive Oil; it is too ‘olivy’. My personal opinion is that grapeseed oil is too oily for this recipe and canola oil is not oily enough . Nut oils would be a good alternative, especially for sweet pies.
Please see the post just preceding this one on Oils.

“No-Fail” Pie Crust

A friend of mine offered me this recipe and a ‘frisbee’ of one. The recipe makes 4 crusts and she would make a flattened ball ,(her “frisbees”), wrap and freeze the ones she did not use; and so do I.

4+ cups of flour, spooned gently into measuring cups
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 ¾ cups vegetable shortening [* see Note]
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 egg ( or your favorite vegan egg replacer…use prepared replacer mixed thickly or extra finely ground flaxseed .This will alter the consistency of the crust, which is quite elastic with egg)
½ cup water.

Stir together flour, sugar and salt. Cut in shortening. Mix the water, egg or egg substitute and vinegar into the flour mixture all at once. Mix thoroughly and divide into fourths. Wrap and chill before using, or freeze in an air-tight bag.
This pastry is too soft to use without pre-chilling. Roll carefully after chilling on well –floured board.

*NOTE: Use pure vegetable shortening, not lard or ‘pre-creamed’ shortening that contains animal fat. If you are concerned about hydrogenated fats, there are non-hydrogenated shortenings on the market, although they are expensive. I found them perfectly suitable , although they make a softer crust that becomes ‘loose’ faster. Chill well.

Old World Crust
This crust is easy and forgiving, you don’t even have to use a pie plate. This is the best choice here for savory fillings. I use this recipe for everything from Rustic Tarts to pot pies to Baked Brie en Croute,(recipe will be in an upcoming series on Appetizers.) For tarts, I sprinkle the inside of the pastry with sugar and then sprinkle a bit on the top before I bake them:

! cup of flour
6 oz cold butter (or margarine for vegan)
1 oz. cream (rice-based or coconut can be used; coconut good for tarts)
½ tsp salt
[egg wash, (beaten egg) to brush on the outside, if you’d like, or brush with melted butter or margarine]
Cut or process the butter into t he flour; add egg and salt. Can be rolled on floured board and used immediately. (This one you will want to roll a little thicker than the others.)

The above recipe can be enriched with a bit of sour cream, mascarpone and /or silken tofu; more flour may be needed.

If you wish to use the above recipes for non-sweet fillings, you can add cracked pepper and/or herbs that compliment the rest of the recipe. Use a light hand in adding extra flavors, however.

Now, here is a recipe that is almost a NON-recipe. Graham-cracker crust is so easy, you’ll be amazed. Vegan Graham crackers are available and with the use of margarine, you are on your way.

Graham Cracker Pastry Crust

I packet (8) Graham crackers, crushed, (Use a food processor or place the crackers in a plastic bag and roll with a rolling pin until they are crumbs)
or use 1 ½ cups Graham cracker crumbs
[Vegan Graham crackers are available]
½ cup melted butter or margarine

That’s it. Mix these. You’re done.
(You may use cinnamon Graham crackers if you feel it will compliment your filling)

This can be pressed into the bottom and sides of a pie plate or in the bottom of a baking dish. If you need to bake your filling,(custard, pumpkin, etc.), then fill and bake. If you are going to use a non-baked filling,(whipped cream filling, pudding, ice cream, etc.) then pre-bake the crust @ 325F for 15-20 minutes; watch that it does not burn. There is, of course, no reason to weigh this crust down.

Although Graham cracker crust is unsuitable for fruit pies, you can add a layer of fruit or filling over a layer of custard or other thicker layer. Graham cracker crust is THE choice for chilled and ice cream pies.
Homemade Pie for the Non-baker
Here is a dessert that can stand alone or can be placed in a pre-baked Graham or other crust. Trust me, it’s a hit.

Chiffon is an easy, homemde dessert that can stand alone or make a delicious chilled pie

Chiffon is an easy, homemade dessert that can stand alone or make a delicious chilled pie

Chiffon

1 package, (regular size), flavored gelatin [Strawberry or strawberry-banana is a favorite in my family, as is peach, but any favorite flavor will do; lime is refreshing.]
1 cup boiling water
3 ounces of Neufchatel (low fat) or regular cream cheese, softened
1 cup whipping cream
1 Tbsp sugar

Add the gelatin to the boiling water and mix well to dissolve. DO NOT ADD ANY MORE WATER; it will be double-strength. Immediately add the softened cream cheese and dissolve. You can use a beater for this. Chill until thick and semi-set.[If it becomes solid, you can microwave it for 30 seconds on high or place in a basin of hot water. Beat with a mixer until smooth]. Whip the cream with sugar until it is very stiff. When the gelatin is chilled and semi-set, add the whipped cream to it. Do not add the whipped cream to the mixture when it is thin and cold.
Fold the cream in gently with a flat spoon or spatula. Now it can be placed in your pie crust and chilled,(or in a serving bowl, in individual bowls or shaped in a gelatin mold. To mold, chill it until very firm and set. Place it in a basin of warm water for a few minutes and invert unto your serving plate.)

If you are still unconvinced that you can make a homemade pie, or just need something nice but fast, try something like this:

Individual homemade 'pies' like this one made quite an impression with little effort.

Individual homemade ‘pies’ like this one made quite an impression with little effort.

Homemade Pie for the Non-baker

Although I used brandy snifters, believe me, they are just as good in any other type of container, including clear plastic cups.

Pie in a Cup
All you do is place a prepared Graham cracker crust layer, place custard, fruit curd, pudding, etc. over the crumb mixture. Add fruit or berries if desired. You may top with whipped cream or other topping.
Some suggestions:
Apple, pear, peach slices cooked with honey,(or sugar),ginger and or cinnamon. Add or top with crushed nuts.
Or use pie filling. Add vanilla and/or nuts.(Almond is good in cherry filling)
Cooked or fresh berries with custard.
Whip cream cheese , mascarpone or silken tofu with fruit curd or pie filling. Top with more filling or curd.
Lemon or other fruit curd with whipped cream or ice cream.
Ice cream and whipped cream layered and frozen.

Chiffon

(All of these will work in a Graham cracker pie crust, as well).

You have made individual pies and you will make an impression.

Sliced fruit , a sprinkling of sugar, a bit of butter and you have a  beautiful dessert made with easy Old World Pastry

Sliced fruit , a sprinkling of sugar, a bit of butter and you have a beautiful dessert made with easy Old World Pastry

Rustic Tarts

One recipe Old World Pastry

1 ½ cups thinly sliced pears or apples
3 tsp. butter or margarine
add’l Tbsp melted butter or margarine
1 Tbsp. Sugar,(can be coconut sugar)
beaten egg for egg wash, if desired
1/8 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, if desired

Roll the dough to a consistent thinness of 1/8 inch ,(no thinner).
Place on a buttered baking sheet or pie plate, (or line with buttered parchment paper.)
Place sliced fruit in the middle, add nuts, if using. Sprinkle with the sugar and dot with the 3 tsp. butter.
Gently bring the sides up to almost meet in the middle and press close to the filling.
Brush with beaten egg or melted butter or margarine.
Sprinkle with sugar.
Back @350F for approx ½ hour or until browned.

I hope all of you who celebrate have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Any questions?

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Servingware

It’s the end of the year and time to think about new beginnings. I resolve to try my best to kick this old blog up a notch, do more writing/submitting , try being more creative in all areas , put more effort into other people’s projects…and the decluttering will be in continuous motion!

I found an opening to a post I had been planning to make, actually, it had planned to be a chapter in my book: On Dishware

Another food-blogger recently introduced a friend on Facebook. The friend wants to start a food blog herself and asked for advice. One concern was what kind of dishes should she chose. My advice? If you are going to buy dishes, I suggest they be plain, preferably, white. I have found out the hard way that not all foods look good or show up well on colorful plates.

I have several types of dishes for everyday, since, dishes break. I have some of these and some of those and a set of another. I have a set of stoneware that I use for “good’ dishes. They are so much a part of holidays that when I tried to retire them to everyday use, my son,(a grown man) , insisted that I not do so; I had to go out and buy another set.
I also have my mother’s set of real china, which has seldom been used; it looks pretty in my china cabinet, but I need to pull that out again . I just haven’t had a real dinner party in some time, it’s been mostly family with kids,(so I use the stoneware!) and most often, I serve buffet-style.

Also, both sets are blue. The stoneware is blue-on-blue patterned and the china is white with gray and grayish-blue flowers. This was fine when my dining room walls had blue in the wallpaper, but now, I have gone to browns and beige and , well, it just seems a bit ‘off’, since they both looked striking with either my blue or white tablecloths; those colors contrast a bit with the more subdued browns. I have had the dish sets for more years than I have lived in the house, so the match with the décor had been a fluke. Do take into consideration redecorating when picking dishware, unless you have the funds to replace everything,(and you don’t become sentimentally attached to dish sets like my son!)

When I was a teenager, I accompanied my sister and  my mother to shop for ‘holiday dishes’. We were in need of a set to use when family gathered at our house for holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. The department store Mom chose had an enormous selection of dishware and china. She immediately dismissed the high-end priced ones,(by necessity), and the most impractical or the very wrong colors,(she disliked strong patterns, garish colors, and pink).She quickly chose three styles and weighed the benefits of all…and talked, and changed her mind and discussed…this went on for hours. My mother let the patient young man who was our salesman leave us several times to make other sales while she ‘decided’. We learned about the man’s wife, his children,(two daughters, I recall), where he lived and his education. We learned of his dreams and aspirations and finally, my mother decided on a lovely set  in off-white, beige, taupe and brown, with leaves , fruit, acorns and nuts.Its name was  “Random Harvest”. My sister still has many of the pieces, but after all that deliberation, Mom still chose a pattern that was only truly suitable for Thanksgiving!

Holiday–themed dishes are darling, I will be the first to admit. I have many, for almost every holiday; but I have to resist buying any more. I am a recovering post-holiday sale addict. I mean it seriously; it is at dangerous levels. I have bought things I did not need and really could not afford, but they were all so cute and up to 75% off! Now I now stay out of stores after holidays. I will admit for recently ‘falling off the wagon’. I was at a charity thrift store, the kind where I drop things off in donation and to try to declutter but then I go in and buy more things to take out. Anyway, they had THE cutest new set of Easter mugs!( Hey, the money went to feed the needy! And my grandkids will only be little for so long.)
Easter MugsCan you blame me?
The biggest problem, (besides the expense), is where to store seasonal dishes. They take up room, they are often ‘cute-shaped’ so they don’t stack well. Placed in boxes, they are easily broken because they are moved around, heavy things are stacked on them or, if your temperatures fluctuate a great deal, the dishware can easily crack when stored in an unheated garage or storage area. If you do need to store them outside the house or in an attic or basement, you have to find them in cold or hot weather, lug them in, make sure no bugs are in the boxes, wash them…then where do they go until you use them? And there is always the heartbreak of finding out too late that the dishes are ornamental and were not meant for food use,(either the paint or the ceramic has lead or other toxic residue), or that the pattern has come off in the dishwasher. (Lead levels are also a concern when considering crystal or metal serving-ware. Use these only for dry foods and line with a napkin, or line with plastic for moist foods.)

So what do I suggest? What I use more often than not? Glass serving-ware. Many people like silver services; if you have them, fine; go for it for your fancier occasions. No one knows when or why being served on silver platters became standard, but science has learned that silver has an antibacterial effect; it inhibits bacteria and keeps food fresher longer. Most of us don’t have silver and since it isn’t appropriate for casual serving, I also love to use, (and recommend), wood and baskets, in wood, cane, bamboo, straw, or metal.Glass serving-ware

[Examples of some of my serving glassware and crystal]

Glass, with baskets, wood with baskets, these are all you need to set a lovely table for any occasion, be it sit down, buffet or just snacks, and they go with any of your sets of dishes, glass, ceramic or china. They are useful for any holiday or any celebration, sports event or no special occasion. Do you want more of a holiday theme? Use holiday linens, or even paperware, or better yet, mix and match linens/paperware. Mix and match colors: red and browns for Thanksgiving, red and green for Christmas, red for Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July or many festive occasions, green for St.Patrick’s Day ,Earth Day or mix it with any pastels for Easter. With limited funds, try to at least find large, white or beige fabric napkins to line your baskets and wooden bowls when you serve breads, crackers and other dry items. You can add another color or paper napkin layered over the white. If storage is a problem or funds really are low, you can buy large white paper napkins and spread out the more expensive and colorful holiday/event-themed paper napkins this way, as well.
If you are handy with a sewing machine, you can run-up some different colored or holiday-colored liners and napkins, but that is not necessary.

And even if your funds are VERY limited, glass serving-ware is always available in thrift stores. Matching sets are not important; glass goes with glass and glass goes with everything. The same with wood and baskets, just be sure that you can thoroughly clean and sanitize any used item.(Some baskets will fall apart in your dishwasher. At the very least, you must immerse them in a bleach and cleaner solution or spray them with a kitchen cleaner that contains bleach or other antibacterial cleaner. Rinse thoroughly and dry in sunlight. The same applies to used wooden vessels.)

Metal basketsBaskets

[Some metal and natural baskets with wooden servingware]

See, it is easy to set a nice table with what you can easily have on hand for any holiday, or get-together, from a full meal to snacks, without stress, with confidence and pride.

Any questions?

Caramel Whipped Cream…and More/Food Gift Idea

Serendipity: the discovery of something valuable by happenstance, unexpectedly, without searching for it.
That’s what happened this weekend. I hope all of you who celebrate Thanksgiving had a great holiday, even if it was simply quiet peaceful for you.( I read that even a fellow blogger in Ireland got in on the spirit with a turkey and trimmings!)

 

 

My husband and I had a great Thanksgiving with my cousin who came in from out-of-state with her husband and two kids. We gathered at my sister’s with her two daughters, son-in-law, grandson; my brother, our two sons, a son’s girlfriend and our three grandkids. We missed our daughter-in-law, who had last her father a couple of weeks ago, and her sister had a baby a couple of days before, but we readily accepted that her family needed her presence.

The next day , my cousin & family and we with our grandson, went over to my sister’s to see her, her daughter and my brother; I took a buffet over to her place…(I won’t even attempt to go into the dynamics of why they just didn’t come to my place.)

I’ll be putting up more about the foods over the holiday, but two new and concurrent discoveries are dancing in my mind.

Despite the fact that we had homemade pumpkin, pecan and apple pies at my sister’s house, made by my former restaurant/bakery partner,(my niece Jennifer), along with her incredible cherry-nut bread and biscotti-to-die-for, my sister had made two kinds of pound cake and a small batch of cookies. I had Banana Bread, Corn Muffins, Chocolate Chip Muffins, Blueberry Muffins and Pineapple-Coconut mini Cakes. I also had Greek Yogurt Cake, Greek Apple Cake,(no,I’m not Greek; those recipes, more and the story of them will be future posts), but I caught my cousin eating a store-brand chocolate chip cookie from the stash I bought to keep the grandkids happy while I painted the walls before the guest arrived. I knew I had Lemon-Pecan Shortbread cookies in the freezer,(which can stand alone), and I also had some of my Basic Cut-Out Cookies there, uniced, but out they came.

I had mentioned around the thanksgiving table that I had seen a fantastic idea in another blog; Cookie Dip. At Kitchen Addiction they made a Ginger Cookie and a Pumpkin Dip; you could go as basic or as sweet as you’d like. What a wonderful idea! [See it here: http://www.a-kitchen-addiction.com/soft-baked-ginger-cookies-with-pumpkin-pie-dip/%5D

Since I did not have the time to hunt-down the recipe,(it is one a zillion I have bookmarked), and did not know if I had the time or the ingredients, I decided to quickly whip cream with a little caramel sauce.( I almost always have a jar of Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch Caramel in my fridge.) It was delicious and everyone loved the dip the cookies.

Caramel Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon thick caramel or butterscotch topping
Place in a bowl and whip.

Could it be easier?

Instead of caramel, you could use honey, or a little sugar, with a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg or a small amount (1/2 tsp.) vanilla, almond or other extract of your choice.

Now, for the serendipitous part:

With all the talking and visiting and food on the buffet, I lost track of the whipped cream dip. If you are only used to using whipped cream in a can, well-whipped cream will last for a couple of days in your refrigerator. [No one is allowed to use the words Cool Whip to me when speaking of food, especially in a recipe. It has no business in anyone’s life and I will not tolerate it…do you hear me????!!! Ok,I’m cool now.]
If whipped cream starts to loosen in texture, it can be re-whipped quickly. I actually have a little hand-held plunger device that ‘whips ‘ and serves cream, but I had forgotten all about it. The cream stores in it and you can re-plunge it if it starts to separate. I am glad I not remembered it because…you’ll see.

When I started to close things down, I saw that the whip cream had started to ‘weep'(separate),I felt the bottom of the bowl and it was still cool, but not cold. I put the cream into a jar and being groggy from excitement, work and too much food, I shook it, thinking it would likely get into a whipped-like state again.

Are you ahead of me? Do you know what happens to cream that is shaken? It churns.
I found myself with a solid lump, surrounded by thin milk. I had caramel butter and buttermilk…and they were delicious.

I have made flavored butters by softening sticks of butter and adding roasted peppers and/or spices; when my sister made broccoli that was very doused in butter ,I made a stick of broccoli butter as a joke,(she used it). But I may try my hand at more flavors using this method. The texture of this was out-of-this-world!

Caramel Butter:
Same as for Caramel Whipped Cream, but let stand until the chill is off and whip or shake vigorously in a wide-mouthed jar until you have a solid lump.(If you put it in a narrow-mouthed jar, you won’t be able to get it out.)
Pour off the milk,( add to regular milk or put it in your coffee; you’ll thank me.)

Take a clean kitchen towel and press all the remaining liquid from the butter.
I considered pressing the butter into a mold;(most of our ancestors had butter molds and the antique ones are quite collectible). I was going to use a silicone candy mold, a seashell or even a small, deep cookie cutter but I didn’t. I kept the small amount I had accidentally made from the left-over whipped cream and made it into a flattened ball and chilled it.

And, after letting it sit at room temperature to spreading consistency, the flavor really came out and it was wonderful with a cup of tea, a Cornbread Muffin and Whole wheat crackers:

Caramel Butter is easy, delicious and makes a lovely gift.

This would make an excellent homemade gift for those with little confidence in their abilities. (Keep reading here, People; I’m here to help.) Team it with a batch of muffins, an assortment of nice crackers, (with tea, in a basket would be lovely; with a nice teacup, even better); or even a package of good-quality muffin mix and you there you have something nice to give.

Feel free to freeze the butter before giving, if you think it will not become immediately refrigerated, or if you are traveling with the gift.

Let me know if you give this a try. I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised. I sure was!

Cranberry Chicken

A quick post here today; I am pleased to share a new recipe that I am pleased with myself for inventing…
I am also very pleased that my quick explanation of the first Thanksgiving went over so well with those to whom it was unfamiliar. Glad to help and I always enjoy hearing from all of you!

After many years of making my Cranberry Relish,

, and eating it as it is, as a side dish or with cereals, I got a sudden inspiration yesterday morning and ran with it. I present to you:

Cranberry Chicken

It is simple, you can use up left-over relish and left-over cranberry sauce. It makes an impressive presentation. It would also be a nice alternative on a Thanksgiving buffet, or a nice dinner the day or weekend after Thanksgiving…and if you are somewhere where you do not celebrate Thanksgiving…here you go! It is something a little fancier, but not any harder, than many recipes.

Give it a try; I think you’ll be pleased!

Cranberry Chicken (for two; feel free to easily multiply the ingredients for more)

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3/4 cup recipe Cranberry Relish(prior post)

2 Tbsp. oil {corn, peanut, canola or olive,[not extra virgin]

4 Tbsp. canned jellied cranberry sauce

1 Tbsp liquid { orange juice, water or brandy, which I used (alcohol will cook off with heat)

1  cup prepared rice

Preheat oven to 375F

Baste the bottom and sides of a deep baking dish with the oil.

Cut carefully into the chicken breasts to make a pocket, cutting in the middle, but not in half. Fill the cavities with ¼ cup (each) of the Cranberry Relish; place in baking dish.(There should be some relish left over; set aside).

Mix the jellied cranberry sauce with the liquid to as smooth a thick liquid as possible. Baste the chicken breast with the mixture,(reserve some).

Cover the chicken and bake for about 25 minutes or until just cooked through.(Check for doneness; do not over or under cook). Remove the chicken from the oven and move to a shallow pan.

Add rice to the pan drippings.

Place the left-over relish on the top of each breast and spoon the remaining cranberry glaze mixture over the relish and exposed meat. Place under the oven broiler for about two minutes, watching that it does not burn or dry out.

Serve with the rice,(which is now infused with the cranberry baste  and chicken flavors), and vegetables of your choice.

Lynn Shurr/Dressings;Cajun,Sage, Vegan;Stuffed Pork

I have another treat for you with yet another author guest-blogging! Perfect for the Thanksgiving season, Lynn Shurr has offered to spice up your dinner plates with an easy Cajun-style dressing recipe.
Whether you call it dressing or stuffing,(some people are very picky about that word),it is generally eaten in the U.S. at Thanksgiving, roasted inside our traditional turkeys. It is often the favorite part of the meal,(next to the pies).
After I let you meet Lynn and see her easy recipe, you will see my family’s traditional dressing, which can be stuffed in a turkey or chicken, or a modified version for stuffed pork,(chops or loin).I will even give you a vegan version, all of which can baked and eaten as side dishes.
So without further ado….here’s Lynn! Welcome!

I “met” Tonette on FaceBook through a mutual friend, Jeff Salter. We have authorship in common. She likes to cook. I like to eat. And we sort of look alike.
Writing under the name Lynn Shurr (www.lynnshurr.com), I have lived in Cajun Country for over thirty years, but was born and raised in Pennsylvania. I came to Lafayette, Louisiana, to take a job as a reference/interlibrary loan librarian. Eight years later, I left to run a library system thirty miles south of there. On my farewell cake, the staff wrote, “She tasted bayou water”, a way of saying I liked it here and planned to stay. That was very true. I loved the people, the customs, and the food (a little too much). No one does fried better than a Cajun. Oh, those jumbo shrimp in a light, flaky batter and deep fried, juicy turkeys for Thanksgiving. But, did I learn to cook Cajun? Not really. These folks are “from scratch” chefs, and I never had the time. Great local restaurants supply me with all I could want from alligator pasta to zydeco beans.
Though I don’t cook them, delicious imaginary meals show up in all my books which usually take place in New Orleans or Cajun Country. The newly published Queen of the Mardi Gras Ball, a 1920’s historical, contains a description of a Christmas Eve Reveillon feast. In the mystery/romance, Mardi Gras Madness, the young woman lives over a deli specializing in muffuletta sandwiches and hot boudin sausage. She worries about gaining weight, and no wonder!
However, I have learned even Cajun cooks sometimes take shortcuts, and I have used this recipe from a friend often. Rice dressing goes well with meat, fowl, or seafood, but takes over an hour to cook. A note at the end of the more simple recipe says, “This recipe is really good when you don’t feel like making dressing from scratch”. In other words, my kind of cooking. Tonette, sorry about the canned soup!

EASY RICE DRESSING (Cajun Style)

1 pound ground beef
1 cup uncooked rice (do not use instant rice)
1 can cream of mushroom soup or any cream soup
1 can French onion soup

Combine all ingredients very well. Line casserole dish with foil. Empty contents into dish. Place foil tightly on top of dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes. Serve. C’est bon!

Canned is OK when we need to enjoy the family and friends, Lynn! That’s what it’s all about here; as a matter of fact,I will have a recipe below using canned cream of celery soup. If one has the time and inclination, they can make French Onion and Cream Soups, but gee, I don’t expect that to happen a lot! One day I will put up a recipe for homemade cream soups…but not today.
(BTW, we have more in common; my mother is from Pennsylvania and I spent many fun-filled summers there!)

I hope you will enjoy Lynn’s recipe and her books. Lynn is also and artist…she’s a lady of many talents.We might be able to persuade her to come back and share Football Party recipes and ideas in the near future.

 

My family’s traditional Sage Dressing was usually made with giblets, that is, chicken and turkey gizzards and hearts, cooked by simmering them with turkey necks and the liver, parsley, onion and celery, with plenty of salt and a little pepper. Cooked for at least 6 hours,(or for 12 in a slow cooker), this yields a rich broth with can be added to the dressing, used to make the turkey gravy and/or used to make wonderful Turkey Noodle or Rice soup, with or without left-over turkey meat, with or without added fresh, frozen or canned vegetables,(discard the ‘spent’ onions and celery; our  pets usually get to eat the liver). The meat of turkey necks is unique and very tasty; if you have not tried it, it is worth the effort to remove it from the bones.(If it  does not come off readily, you haven’t cooked your broth long enough). The meat isn’t pretty,(dark and in long strings), but it is delicious; family members have been know to fight over it or at least be disappointed when they don’t get any.If you don’t like the idea of giblets, you can mince the neck meat and add it to the dressing
However, most of the family now omits the meat from the dressing. Feel free to try to either way.

Traditional Sage Dressing

2 Tbs. butter or margarine
1 large onion, minced
3 lg. ribs of celery, minced
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. celery salt
1 Tbs. ground marjoram
2 Tbs. rubbed or ground sage
1 tsp. gr. pepper (preferably white)
¼ cup milk
1/2 cup turkey broth { chicken broth or chicken bullion can be substituted
2 cups minced giblets(optional)
6+ cups cubed white or light wheat bread{Amount will depend on the texture of your bread and the firmness you desire

Melt the butter or margarine. On medium heat, sauté the onion and celery with the herbs and seasonings until tender. Add the milk and the giblets,(if using). Simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir in bread cubes. Place in turkey or chicken cavity and bake. (Cut the recipe in half for a chicken).

The texture will depend on your individual taste.I prefer mine firmer,some like it moister.Remember that baked within the bird,it will become moister, (and tastier), from the meat juices.Add more bread  or more brothto your taste, and adjust the seasonings.Fell free to add more ground sage at this point.

As a side dish, place the dressing in a baking dish that has been oiled or buttered. Dot top with butter. Cover and bake for one-half hour, remove top and bake another 20 minutes.(If you like it very moist, do not remove the cover). This can be microwaved for 20 minutes on high, but remember, it will not firm -up; make it basically the texture you want before microwaving.

Vegan Version: Use margarine and vegetable broth; omit milk,(or use almond, rice or soy milk).
These can be baked, wrapped well and frozen. One is sitting in my freezer as we speak, wrapped in foil and in a zipper close plastic bag.

Make the standard version for Stuffed Pork by first slicing 6 thick-cut pork chops or pork loin sections, (at least ¾ of an inch thick), almost half-way through. Then sear .To sear, heat butter or margarine to very hot,(do not burn butter; add a little peanut or other vegetable oil).DOT NOT COOK THROUGH; and just brown the chops on the outside. Remove from heat right away and keep warm.
Make a half-measure recipe of the standard traditional Sage Dressing, (without giblets and broth):
Increase the amount of pepper. (Option: omit the sage and add ½ tsp. thyme.)
Dressing needs to be dry. Place dressing in the cavities of the pork chops. Place flat in buttered baking pan,(preferably lined with foil or parchment; if there is extra dressing, place it along side of the chops). Mix 1 can of Cream of Celery soup with equal amount of water,(preferably from deglazing the pan) and pour over the chops. [Deglaze the pork-searing pan by adding 2/3 cup boiling water,(unless you happen to have pork broth), and scraping away all the browned particles; use with the soup.] Bake at 375F for about one hour, 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chops. Bone-in chops will take longer, but they will remain moister. This can also be made by layering thin chops or loin slices with dressing in between, but it is hard to sear without over-cooking the chops which can make them tough and dry.
This can be microwaved for about 20 minutes on High Power.
Please check the pork for doneness by cutting a section; it must not be pink at all.

Cutting the bread cubes was the job for we kids on Christmas and Thanksgiving Eve. Even the littlest was kept busy with a butter knife, cutting away at the slices of bread and filling a large pot with it. My mother always made the largest turkey she could get her hands on, never less than 23 pounds, so we cut a LOT of bread.(She once found one that was 34 + for Thanksgiving and a 36+ lb one for Christmas. Even though the oven was large, it would not completely shut. It took my strong uncle to barely lift it out of the oven, hot and stuffed). Since the dressing is cooked on the stove, she would ask us if we’d like pieces of the covered bread, the pieces that she deemed to large to do the finish product justice. Even though we always ate well, we had been smelling the dressing cooking and the soup and all sorts of goodies for days, so yes!, we wanted the dressing. After a couple of years my brother caught on and used to tell me to purposely make some bread pieces too big so that she would pull more out and give them to us!

Pumpkin Bread

Autumn is here when I am, and this year has been beautiful! Although here can’t compare to many parts of the world for colors of the leaves, we have had a good sampling of color. We had rains last month and mostly dry weather the last tow weeks which helped the colors come out and stay Today I drove through every-color leaf blowing over my car and the road; it was wonderful . Today is sunny and warm with a breeze, but it has already been cold at times, so it is time for baking, roasting, stews and soups.

With Halloween coming, Fall and Harvest Festivals going and Thanksgiving on its way,(at least here in them U.S.A.; Canada had theirs and the rest of you, bear with us!), pumpkins are on our minds. It seems everyone has pumpkin recipes up. My cousin’s son ate pumpkin pie practically the whole time he was here last Thanksgiving. One blog posted a pumpkin pancake recipe which I may try on him this year. ( I even saw a recipe for Pumpkin Caramels…I have to find time to try those!) In the U.S.,(where pumpkins were originally found), pumpkins are usually eaten as pumpkin pie. I am going to continue with the sweet pumpkin theme and post a recipe for Pumpkin Bread that is a staple at my house. I hope you try it.

For those of you around the world who may not know, Thanksgiving is celebrated in Canada on the second Monday in October and on the third Thursday of November in the U.S. Many people consider the day before through Sunday in the US as the Thanksgiving holiday ‘season’. People of all faiths or no faith celebrate it at least as a day of, well, of food, friends & family!

So now, for a fellow blogger, Lisa, who requested it, and for all of you:

Pumpkin Bread
This can be made in 2 traditional loaf pans, several more in mini loaf pans, in muffin tins, in a 9X9 square pan, or in a bundt/tube pan .Baking times will vary.

¾ cup butter or margarine, softened (6 oz)
2 cups of granulated sugar
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups or 1 lb. \plain cooked pumpkin OR
one 15 oz can of cooked pumpkin,(NOT pumpkin pie mix)

1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger } ground spices
1 ½ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
OR
Approx. 1 ½ Tbs. pumpkin pie spice

2 cups all-purpose flour (Sifted … If you do not have a sifter, use a mesh sieve to shake the flour into a bowl and then measure it.)

Butter and flour the pans, (or use baking spray). Preheat oven to 325F.
With electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and eggs until light .Add the salt, baking powder and baking soda; mix well; add the spices, mix. Scrape sides and bottom of mixer bowl and continue to mix thoroughly.
Add the sited flour alternately with the pumpkin puree. Mix thoroughly, again, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again.
Put into baking vessels, filling only 2/3 full,(any extra can go into a smaller baking vessel).Push the batter slightly away from the middle; it will tend to ‘hump up’ too much otherwise. Bake until done in the middle,(test the middle with a toothpick or thin knife blade, when it comes out clean, it’s done).Large pans may take 40+ minutes; muffins about 25 min.

This can be served alone, or with a drizzle of

Icing

1 Tbs. meringue powder or dried egg whites
¼ cup water
2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
(it will be thin; if it is too thin, add more sugar)
You can add spices, vanilla extract or brandy to this. You can sprinkle the top with nuts before drizzling the icing , which is especially nice if served as a bundt cake, a loaf or individual cakes.

OR
You can bake it well, and slice the bread to make

Tea Sandwiches

fill with a cream cheese filling:

3 ounces of cream cheese, softened
mix with
1 Tbs. softened butter
1-2 Tbs. confectioner’s sugar

Add: ground nuts, vanilla, any of the spices included in the bread recipe, 1 Tablespoon of pumpkin puree and /or 2 Tbs. ground dates
Mix or match