Thanksgiving Menu–Autumn, Tomato, Bean and Vegetable Soups

My Thanksgiving menu always includes soup. Velvety Vegetable Soup has been my go-to meal starter for years, but last year I changed it up by serving Roasted Autumn Vegetable Soup. It was delicious! Friday, when the house is full and lunch includes more visitors, I’ve paired Roasted Tomato Soup and Tuscan Rosemary White Bean Soup with paninis and cheese and cracker platters.

Wishing you a healthy and happy Thanksgiving! Hope it’s filled with family, friends and some time to relax.

Thanksgiving Menu–Apple, Pumpkin & Pecan Pies

Apple Pie with Basket Weave Crust.

One of the reasons I love Thanksgiving holiday food so much is that I love pie, especially if it’s pumpkin, apple or pecan! Want the recipes to some of my favorite desserts? Click on the links to find out my tried and true recipes for Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie. I’ve posted recipes for Pecan Pie in the past, but pecans burn easily making getting the recipe right a bit finicky. I’m ready to try a new one. The link below connects to a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Happy baking, hon!

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Bite-Size Pumpkin Pies!

Thanksgiving tradition in our home calls for Apple and Pumpkin Pies so, in addition to baking Mini Apple Pies, I baked bite-size Pumpkin Pies. Referencing Sally’s Baking Addiction, the recipe below combines hers and mine. Shhh–don’t tell. I couldn’t wait until Thanksgiving to try one. Hon, it was delicious!

Warm holiday wishes to you and your family.

Before baking and after.

Tips:

  • Grease or line mini muffin cups in two 24-count mini muffin pans.
  • Use a 2.5 inch cookie cutter or a 1/3 cup measuring cup to cut dough into small circles.
  • Sally’s Baking Addiction says, “These mini pumpkin pies are dough heavy– lots of crust in each bite. The filling really has to stand out, so we’ll use flavorful brown sugar and extra pumpkin pie spice.”
  • SBA also suggests using a touch of black pepper. “No one will know it’s there– all they’ll taste is a delightfully spiced flavor.”

Ingredients:

  • 2 unbaked pie crusts (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 (16oz) can cooked pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy creamer
  • small pinch black pepper (optional – see note)

Directions:

  1. Prepare pumpkin pie filling by beating 2 eggs, then adding remaining ingredients and mixing thoroughly.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°.
  3. Roll pie crusts to 1/8″ thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using a 2.5-inch cookie cutter (or 1/3 cup measuring cup), shape mini crusts. Re-roll any scrap pieces of pie dough as needed to cut out the circles.
  4. Place the small circles of dough into greased or lined 24-count mini muffin pan(s). Press the dough flat into the bottom of the crevice and up the sides.
  5. Evenly spoon cold filling into each unbaked crust, filling to the top.
  6. Bake mini pies until the center is just about set and edges are lightly browned, about 21-25 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan. If greased well, the mini pies pop right out using a spoon to scoop them up. Cool, then serve at room temperature or refrigerate until chilled and serve cold. Filling deflates a bit as they cool.
  7. Cover leftover pies tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes:

Store any leftover Mini Pumpkin Pies in the refrigerator for up to 5 days OR wrap, freeze, and defrost at a later date.

Yield: 48-50 mini pies

Mini Apple Pies

Thanksgiving Looks Different This Year!

Searching for a way to serve the holiday meal in a safe, individualized way, we’ve ordered take-out and soup containers, baked easy-to-serve desserts, and will be gathering outside on our front porch. You’d think forming mini pies in a 12-count muffin pan would be easier than rolling out dough for regular-sized pies, but it took way more time. Thanks to Live Well, Bake Often for the recipe. The results will be worth it!

Happy baking, hon! And hope you have a happy Thanksgiving.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pie crusts (homemade or store bought)
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped apples, approx. 6 (I used a combo of Granny Smith and Gala.)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • dash of cloves and touch of honey
  • optional, egg yolk for egg wash and decorator’s crystal sugar or some other decoration

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Roll pie crusts to 1/8″ thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using a 3.5-inch cookie cutter (or a cup) cut out 12 circles from the pie crusts. Re-roll any scrap pieces of pie dough as needed to cut out the circles.
  3. Place each circle of pie crust in each cavity of a standard 12-count muffin pan. Gently press the dough down and around the sides, making sure the dough fits snuggly in each cavity of the muffin pan. Transfer the muffin pan and any leftover pie crust dough to the refrigerator while you make the filling.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the chopped apples, sugar, flour, ground cinnamon, vanilla extract, and ground nutmeg, cloves and honey until fully combined. Remove the muffin pan from the refrigerator and evenly distribute the apple pie filling between all of the cavities in the muffin pan (about 2-3 tablespoons per mini pie).
  5. Remove the extra pie dough from the refrigerator, cut out your designs for the tops of the pies, and place them on top. (Tip: For criss-cross pattern, no need to weave– lay 3 to 4 thin strips in one direction, then 3-4 thin strips in other direction.)
  6. Optional: Brush egg yolk on tops of pie to enhance golden color. Sprinkle decorator’s sugar on top. On the mini loaf pan pies, I sprinkled sugar snowflakes.
  7. Bake at 425°F for 20-25 minutes or until the pie crust is lightly golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove the mini pies from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Notes:

Store any leftover mini apple pies in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave before serving. OR wrap and freeze pies and defrost thoroughly before serving.

Yield: 12 mini pies

Roasted Autumn Vegetable Soup

Image source: Taste of Home

Thanksgiving’s around the corner, which means lots of baking and cooking! This year will be significantly different as we plan to host the holiday meal outside. Hubby’s installed heaters, created a plastic barrier for a corner of the porch, and we’re altering the meal with ease of serving in mind. There will be less of us as no one’s visiting from out of town, but leftovers are welcome!

I usually serve Velvety Vegetable Soup, but wanted to change it up. Taste of Home’s recipe for Roasted Autumn Vegetable Soup is a winner! It’s easy to follow, hearty, savory, and my new favorite!

Happy cooking, hon!

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 medium)
  • 2 pounds carrots (about 8 large)
  • 1-1/2 pounds parsnips (about 6 medium)
  • 2 large onions, quartered
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 cartons (32 ounces each) chicken broth
  • 1 cup fat-free evaporated milk (I used 1/2 cup non-dairy creamer.)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Minced fresh parsley and sage

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Peel and cut sweet potatoes, carrots and parsnips into 1-1/2-in. pieces; place in a large bowl. Add onions and garlic cloves; drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Divide mixture between 2 greased 15x10x1-in. baking pans. Roast 40-50 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Transfer vegetables to a Dutch oven. Add broth, milk (or non-dairy creamer), salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; simmer, uncovered, 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
  3. Puree soup using an immersion blender. Or cool soup slightly and puree in batches in a blender; return to pan and heat through. Sprinkle servings with minced herbs.

Yield:

12 servings (4 quarts)

Thanksgiving Poem, Food for the Soul

Morgan, Darcy, Hubby, me, Hannah and Teddy

Happy Thanksgiving!
This  holiday-inspired poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) has rhythm, melody and a lovely message. Wishing you a relaxing and emotionally rejuvenating holiday weekend.

Thanksgiving

We walk on starry fields of white
And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
Of pleasures sweet and tender.

Our cares are bold and push their way
Upon our thought and feeling.
They hand about us all the day,
Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy
We pass by and forget it,
But worry strives to own our lives,
And conquers if we let it.

There’s not a day in all the year
But holds some hidden pleasure,
And looking back, joys oft appear
To brim the past’s wide measure.
But blessings are like friends, I hold,
Who love and labor near us.
We ought to raise our notes of praise
While living hearts can hear us.

Full many a blessing wears the guise
Of worry or of trouble;
Far-seeing is the soul, and wise,
Who knows the mask is double.
But he who has the faith and strength
To thank his God for sorrow
Has found a joy without alloy
To gladden every morrow.

We ought to make the moments notes
Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;
The hours and days a silent phrase
Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow
As weeks and months pass o’er us,
And rise sublime at this good time,
A grand Thanksgiving chorus.

Thanksgiving Menu: Pass the Apple Pie! Recipe and Video

 

Baking Apple Pie?

Like my Pumpkin Pie recipe, this is another always-good Perennial Favorite! If you want to watch my how-to video, click on Apple Pie with a Basket Weave Crust.

 Happy baking, hon.  

APPLE PIE RECIPE

Basic Pie Crust:  Double Crust

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup vegetable shortening

1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water

Food Processor Directions:  Insert steel blade in food processor.  Mix flour and salt, then place the mixture in the food processor.  Add shortening and process until mixture resembles cornmeal (about 5 seconds).  Slowly pour ice water through feed tube and process until dough forms a ball (about 5 to 10 seconds).  Chill dough for easier handling.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Filling:

6 cups apple slices (I use a combination of Granny Smith and other varieties)

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

approximately 1 Tablespoon flour

dash salt

1 egg, beaten (used to brush on top of crust before baking)

Combine apples, sugar, lemon juice, salt and spices.  This mixture will give off a lot of liquid so use a slotted spoon when spooning into pie crust, allowing you to spoon the apple mixture without the excess liquid.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

Split dough in half, form two dough balls and roll out each half into a circle.  Line a 9-inch pie dish with the bottom crust.  Spoon apple filling into the crust and smooth apples into an even layer. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of flour on top of filling mixture.

Basket Weave:  To form the basket weave, cuts the dough into 8 strips.  First lay 4 strips across the filling.  Secondly, carefully weave remaining strips through the dough strips already laying across the filling.  Then press top and bottom crust edges together and flute edges.

Egg Wash:  Without brushing fluted edges, brush top of pie with beaten egg.

Bake the pie at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F  and bake for another 40 – 45 minutes.  Pie is done when top crust is lightly browned, the apple filling is bubbling, and the apples are tender when tested with a sharp knife.

Extra Dough Rolling Tips c/o friend, writer, musician, painter and fellow pie-baker, Ilana Katz Katz:

1) Flour a silicone pastry mat and roll dough on mat.

2) A pastry scraper will help get pastry dough off of the pastry mat if it’s stuck.

3) If getting the pastry dough off the mat proves challenging, put the silicone mat with rolled dough on it into the fridge. Once the dough’s cooled down, it should be easier to peel off.

*This pie freezes well.  Let pie cool completely before wrapping in saran wrap and aluminum foil.  A couple of days before serving, defrost at room temperature.

Serving options:

Serve warm–after removing from oven, let cool about 20 minutes.

Serve room temperature–cool completely.

Rewarm defrosted pie– warm in a preheated 250- 275 degrees F oven, uncovered, until desired temperature.

Thanksgiving Menu: Pass the Pumpkin Pie!

IMG_1520

 

Pass the Pie!

Even though I’ve been baking and cooking, I still can’t believe Thanksgiving is next week. That means it’s time to…roll out the recipes! I know, I know, I post these recipes before every Thanksgiving, but these dishes are expected. Last year, I served two new soups instead of my usual Velvety Vegetable Soup, and they were met with underwhelming reviews because, despite being delicious, they weren’t the standard. So, call these recipes by their new names: Perennial Favorites.

Happy baking, hon!

PUMPKIN PIE

Basic Pie Crust:  Single Crust

(to make two pies crusts, see Double Pie Crust measurements in Apple Pie recipe)

1 1/3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1/4 cup ice water

Food Processor Directions:  Insert steel blade in food processor. Mix flour and salt, then place the mixture in the food processor. Add shortening and process until mixture resembles cornmeal (about 5 seconds). Slowly pour ice water through feed tube and process until dough forms a ball (about 5 to 10 seconds). Chill dough for easier handling.

Roll out ball of dough into a circle. Line a 9-inch pie dish with crust. Flute the edges.

Shortcut:  If you don’t have time to make your own crust, use store-bought pie crusts.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Filling (for one pie)

2 eggs

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 16 ounce can cooked pumpkin

1 13 ounce can evaporated milk–0R–3 ounces non-dairy creamer

1 egg, beaten (used to brush on top of crust before baking)

Beat 2 eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Add remaining ingredients except extra egg to be brushed on crust and blend thoroughly.  Pour mixture into unbaked pie shell.  Brush egg on edges of crust.  Bake at 425 degrees F for  20 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees F and bake another 35 to 45 minutes.  Pie is done when middle of pie is set.  Tip:  If edges of pie crust are getting medium brown and middle of pie isn’t set yet, gently wrap tin foil around perimeter of crust until it’s done.

*This pie freezes well.  Let pie cool completely before wrapping in aluminum foil and freezing.  A day before you are going to serve it, defrost at room temperature (not in the fridge).

Serving options:

Serve warm–after removing from oven, let cool for 20 minutes.

Serve room temperature–cool completely.

Rewarm frozen pie– warm in a preheated 275 degrees F oven, uncovered.

DIY Paris-Inspired Terrariums

Beautiful terrariums on a table in the Maison Astor Paris.

At our chic hotel Maison Astor Paris, a tabletop arrangement of terrariums inspired me to make my own. I bought large and medium-sized glass globes and succulents to add to the vessels and plants I already had at home. I also picked up small, white rocks, soil and moss. On a walk, I found fallen pine boughs and plan to scatter tiny pine cones around the succulents. Guess what’s doubling as Thanksgiving centerpieces?

Happy indoor gardening, hon!

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Pretty Pies

I’m in cooking/cleaning/company-is-coming-yikes mode! In the midst of prepping, one thing always calms me down…baking. Rolling out dough is just like playing with clay (Now I know why I like pottery so much!)

Shout out to Linda for sending me a link to an article from Food Network, “8 Creative Ways to Crimp a Pie” which inspired me to add fun shapes and letters to my pies this year. You can barely make out the letters (X’s and O’s), but the snowflakes and leaves are oh-so-cute.

I had this humorous text exchange with one of my daughters.

Me: “It’s pie day.”

Hannah: “Yum!”

Hannah: “I thought you meant actual pie day and then I was like, what, it isn’t March.”

Me with accompanying picture of a pie: “Pie Day!”

Hannah: “OMG YUMMM. Can’t wait.”

Click here for an apple pie recipe and here to watch a pie-making video.

Click here for a pumpkin pie recipe.

Click here if you want to watch how to make a gluten-free pie crust.

Happy baking, hon!