Thanksgiving Pies- The Old & The New

Pies are a staple on my Thanksgiving menu. They have been since I was a child and I continue to enjoy making, eating and sharing them every year. Our family always made pumpkin and chocolate pudding pie. I have added some fruit pies including apple to my menu. This year I am considering adding something new.

Whether you are a pie connoisseur or a newbie to the crust and filling world, tips and tricks are always helpful.

The Pampered Chef website has some fantastic decorating tips.

https://www.pamperedchef.com/pws/lorrainezecchini/creative-pie-crust-designs

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I especially love that little turkey made with circle and heart shaped cutters! That will be on our pumpkin pie this year. Click the link above for some tips.

I will be making Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Pecan Pie recipe this year and I will be testing it this weekend. Have you ever made this type of pie? I can’t see how such delicious ingredients can go wrong! Here is the recipe:

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http://www.marthastewart.com/341293/chocolate-pecan-pie

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 recipe Basic Pie Crust, rolled and fit into a 9-inch pie plate
  • 1 cup pecans

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lowest position. In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water, melt chocolate, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes (or melt chocolate in microwave). Set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl, stir together (do not whisk) eggs, corn syrup, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stirring constantly, gradually add melted chocolate. Pour filling into prepared crust; place pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange pecans in one even layer over filling.

  3. Bake just until set (filling should jiggle slightly when pie plate is tapped), 50 to 60 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool completely on a wire rack, at least 4 hours (or up to overnight) before serving.

I’ll post my review of the pie I bake on Wednesday 11/11/15

What desserts do you serve on Thanksgiving? Do you have any useful tips or tricks to share? Please comment and share!!!

A Meal Fit for Fall

I LOVE glazed meats. They look spectacular, have a wonderful deep flavor when cooked properly and based on those two things make you feel like an accomplished chef when you serve the meal. I often look for recipes that aren’t loaded with sweeteners and allow flavors to develop and concentrate slowly. The internet makes for a phenomenal recipe database but as I have mentioned in a previous post, testing recipes is a must unless you have a reliable go to source. I search often, collect my promising possibilities.

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Mustard Balsamic Baked Chicken and Vegetable from Joyful Healthy Eats

The Mustard Balsamic Baked Chicken and Vegetables recipe in the post is one of those finds. The image on the site alone was enough to tempt to to try it. Now keep in mind, this recipe takes awhile- the chicken NEEDS to marinate and it cooks for over an hour. But good things come to those who wait.

After it bakes- the coloring, taste and texture of the chicken skin id divine. The first time I made this I was a little disappointed in the vegetables but I threw them in a bag with a 1/2 tsp of melted butter, a clove of garlic and salt/pepper- shook them up and let them sit for five minuted before adding them to the baking dish. It was the perfect addition in my family’s opinion.

I baked this in my stoneware. I am an independent consultant for Pampered Chef and have the pleasure or sharing their products. This is one of those time when I can joyously share how fantastic the Stone baked this meal. You can get your own here:

Pampered Chef Large White Baker

Warm Cinnamon Rolls

Test Kitchen

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Do you test recipes before you serve them to your family or guests? Do you practice cooking before major holiday meals? I didn’t do this until recently. Here’s why I do now.

I love cooking and I truly enjoying trying new recipes, ingredients, cooking methods/skills and cookware. This all seems very fun and interesting- except I am not a professional or trained cook. So I make mistakes. A lot. I also didn’t grow up with a diverse meal menu or ingredient list. So between failing at prepping or cooking something properly or simply not liking the taste or texture on an ingredient/recipe , my family and I have found ourselves chowing down on take out many a night.

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This is where recipe testing has come in to play. I like to test at least one recipe a week now. I get to cut batches into pieces- say in half or thirds, and this allows me to try things as suggested, switch out ingredients or tweak flavors to my liking. My kids love it because they get to try all different things in little snack size portions and be my little critics. They get a kick out of telling me their opinions and then seeing their ideas on the weekly menu and the table the following week. I get to share my trials and successes with my friends and family and we all get to experience new recipes and we can trust the final recipe this way. There have been times where I have followed a great sounding recipes to a tee and it has come out terribly be it in taste or cooking result. When that was all I had prepared for a meal, we were at a loss. Many folks think that adding a meal to our grocery list that is just for testing may be wasting money but in actuality it is improving my palette, my cooking skills and saving us from trips to fast food restaurants. It also gets my kids involved in the cooking process, has expanded their meal repertoire and has helped their ability to express themselves well by allowing them to explain their opinions and ideas with me. My friends love getting samples of things I’ve tested, giving me their thoughts and getting well tested recipes to use for their own cooking.

When it comes to holiday cooking testing a new recipe or a course you have never prepared in the past is a must, in my opinion. Not having delicious food to present on a special day is incredibly disappointing as is leaving your guests and family hungry while you fix, redo or wait on a meal that you didn’t prepare for properly. I remember the first time I made Thanksgiving dinner, I served it two hours late because I wasn’t aware of how to defrost the turkey properly and all of the side dishes were soggy, dried out or over cooked by the time I finally got diner on the table. I have a very understanding supportive family, but I was really upset to have failed at something that my mother had done so well my whole life. Practicing preparing my even best loved family recipes has built my confidence in the kitchen.

Recipe testing has become a weekly thing now and I enjoy it immensely. I have begun a weekly email with weekly menu plans with tested and approved recipes that have helped over fifty home cooks on the email list plan their meals with confidence.

Do you test recipes often? Do you test or practice recipes for special occasions? Share your tips and thoughts in the comments!

Redbox…a wonderful option for DVD rental

I rarely get to sit down and watch grown up movie anymore and going to the movie theater is insanely expensive. So when I figured out this Redboox thing I was very excited. It is reasonably priced- only $1.50/day, releases new/newish movies every Tuesday and has a good amount of locations in our area. They carry a few children’s movies every month and my husband and I can usually find movies we will both enjoy. I truly appreciate that I can return the movies to ANY Redbox kiosk. The downside is the number of times I overpay for movies because I fail to return them the following day and the fact that I all too often get a movie that I never find the time to sit down to watch the DVD. I drive myself (and my husband) crazy when I do this.

Now here is what I truly love about it- you can sign up for texts, emails, the app and visit the website for phenomenal discounts and freebies all month long. There have been times when we rented four times in a month and would’ve paid nothing had I returned the DVDs on time. The other thing I have been impressed with is their customer service in regards to scratched, unviewable, wrong, or missing DVDs. They have easily refunded the rental and explained what to do with the movies upon return. After calling or contacting customer service online you simply return the movie at the kiosk and report the problem. It is VERY easy.

Redbox also carries video games and while my husband has taken advantage of that once or twice and we have rented a game or two for our children, we don’t know much about their selection or quality.

I prefer Redbox to Netflix when it comes to watching movies. Our families do not watch movies on our tablets or phones nor do we have the need to watch specific movies on multiple TV’s in our home. The cost of all the services they offer simply doesn’t work for us. We still keep a low cost plan ($4.99/mo) with Netflix because I do occasionally enjoy downloading a movie on our Wii for the kids or especially when we have overnight guests. The fact that it is instantly available to us on those occasions is wonderful. My main concern with Netflix is that I don’t like the mandatory monthly charge regardless of whether we rent or not. I can see how this option is beneficial to families who rent often. I’m sure it saves them a TON of money. We prefer the one time charge with Redbox.

How about you and your household? Do you rent movies or video games often? What resources do you use and how do you feel about the different options?

http://www.redbox.com                  www.netflix.com