Pumpkin Pie

This is the pumpkin pie that we had for Thanksgiving dinner last night.  After a heavy dinner of turkey with all the fixin’s, I was really happy with this light and fluffy pie filling.

I know, light and fluffy aren’t exactly the words you think of when you say pumpkin pie, but this filling was more like a mousse than a custard.  It was the perfect ending to a decadent and bountiful meal.

I also served this with a maple whipped cream, but we ate it so quickly that I totally forgot to take a picture of it!  Trust me though, it’s worth the extra effort to make it.  The maple flavor is a great partner to the warm pumpkin flavor.

 

Pumpkin Pie with Maple Whipped Cream

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

2 cups canned pumpkin

1 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

1 cup half-and-half

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 piece pre-made pie dough

Pumpkin Pie

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place 1 piece of pre-made pie dough down into a (9-inch) pie pan and press down along the bottom and all sides. Pinch and crimp the edges together to make a pretty pattern. Put the pie shell back into the freezer for 1 hour to firm up.

For the filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer. Add the pumpkin and beat until combined. Add the sugar and salt, and beat until combined. Add the eggs mixed with the yolks, half-and-half, and melted butter, and beat until combined. Finally, add the vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and beat until incorporated.

Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is set. Place the pie on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Cut into slices and top each piece with a generous amount of whipped cream.

Maple Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp powdered sugar

Place all the ingredients into a cold bowl of an electric mixer.  With the whisk attachment, whip the cream until soft peaks form.

 

Sweet Corn Casserole

This dish is Exhibit A for why I want a set of double ovens.  It’s not often that I would need it, but on a very important cooking day like Thanksgiving, it would have come in very handy.

Because our lovely turkey was in the oven along with five side dishes, we had that thing packed to the gills.  I had no place to put this casserole in the oven except on the bottom rack, closest to the fire…….do you get where I’m going yet?

Yes, although the top is a beautiful golden brown, the bottom of this casserole was charred to a lovely black!  What’s Thanksgiving without a few mishaps in the kitchen?!

Luckily we were able to spoon pieces out, while avoiding the bottom.  This was otherwise a successful dish.  The creaminess and sweet taste of the corn and corn muffin mix was a great complement to the other savory items on the table.

Sweet Corn Casserole

1 can yellow whole corn with juice

1 can yellow creamed style corn

1 box Jiffy brand corn muffin mix

3 eggs slightly beaten

16 oz. sour cream

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 medium onion, chopped

paprika

In a medium bowl, mix together the two cans of corn, muffin mix, eggs, sour cream and cheese.  Sauté the chopped onion in oil until translucent, then add to the corn mixture.

Pour into a 9×13 glass dish sprayed with cooking spray, and bake for 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Sprinkle with more of the grated cheddar cheese and sprinkle just a bit of paprika for color as well.

Chunky Sweet Potato Casserole

I swear there are sweet potatoes under all this tasty streusel topping and mini marshmallows!  This is a new recipe I tried this year and I will definitely be using it for years to come.

So there we are, family and friends sitting at the Thanksgiving table passing our plates around, piling on ridiculous amounts of food onto each others’ plates.  I get our friend, Anson’s plate and he says very matter-of-factly, “No sweet potatoes please, I don’t eat sweet potatoes.”

Immediately, I go into mommy mode.  What do you mean no sweet potatoes?  I spoon one little piece of it onto his plate anyway and he reluctantly tries it.  Right away, he passes his plate back to me and smiles, “Can I have more sweet potatoes please?”

I had to laugh!  Talk about eating his words…………

 

Chunky Sweet Potato Casserole

4 large cans (29 oz) sweet potatoes, drained

Streusel topping:

3/4 cup oats
3 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup chopped walnuts
mini marshmallows

Cut larger sweet potato pieces into small chunks. Prepare 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray, then pour in the potatoes.  Mix the topping ingredients by hand.  Sprinkle on top.

Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle marshmallows on top, then bake 5 more minutes.

Perfect Pie Crust

So, I got a really good arm workout today…………..making pie crust.  I don’t have one of those fancy shmancy food processors, so I had to cut in the butter and shortening by hand.  It does make me feel better about eating the pie later, knowing that I’ve already worked off some calories!

Who knew that baking could be a workout?  All the more reason to stay in the kitchen and avoid the gym, ha!

 

Here’s what your ingredients should look like once it’s all incorporated.

 

 

Press the dough together with your fingers, then dump it out onto a sheet of plastic wrap.

 

 

Form the shape of a circle.

 

 

Wrap the dough up with the plastic wrap and flatten it.  You should see bits of butter and shortening in the dough like this.

They’re like little goldmines of flavor and flakiness.

 

 

After letting the dough rest in the fridge a bit, roll it out between two sheets of plastic wrap.  This is the most ingenious way to roll out the dough.  There’s no mess on your counter top, your rolling pin or on you!

Gone are the days of flour everywhere and then having to use a spatula to get the dough off your counter top.  Love it!

Here you can see the before and after rolling out the pie crust.

 

 

Remove one side of plastic wrap and take the dough in your had and flip it onto a glass pie dish.  If it’s not centered, it’s okay.  Because the other sheet of plastic wrap is still attached, just pick it up and move it where you want it.

Tuck the excess dough under itself and crimp the edges with your fingers.

My pie crust is ready for its pumpkin pie filling!

 

Perfect Pie Crust

From Paula Deen

Makes: 2 (9-inch) pie crusts

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

3 tablespoons granulated white sugar

1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cold

12 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed

1/4 cup to 1/2 cup ice water

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the shortening and break it up with your hands as you start to coat it all up with the flour. Add the cold butter cubes and work it into the flour with your hands or a pastry cutter. Work it quickly, so the butter doesn’t get too soft, until the mixture is crumbly, like very coarse cornmeal. Add the ice water, a little at a time, until the mixture comes together forming a dough. Bring the dough together into a ball.

When it comes together stop working it otherwise the dough will get over-worked and tough. Divide the dough in half and flatten it slightly to form a disk shape. Wrap each disk in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. On a floured surface roll each disk out into a 10 to 11-inch circle to make a 9-inch pie.

 

 

Sausage and Herb Dressing

This sausage stuffing has ruined me for any other store-bought boxed stuffing.  It is so flavorful and moist and the aromatic herbs are key to a good Thanksgiving side dish.

My hubby grew up with your red box variety of stuffing and requested that for Thanksgiving this year.  I very lovingly told him………..”NO,”  I had something better in mind.  If you grew up with the store-bought stuff too, I beg you to try this recipe.

It’s a bit more work, but it will not disappoint………I promise.

 

I used one and a half of the french bread loaf.

 

Cube into 1 inch squares and bake until completely dried.

 

Diced celery.

 

Diced onions.

 

Diced granny smith apples.

I’ve always wondered about the name of this apple.

Who is Granny Smith anyway? Regardless, I love her apples!

 

Flat leaf parsley, thyme and rosemary from my herb garden.

 

Everything sauted together.

 

Italian sausage cooked and added to the mix.  There’s a glimpse of my kitchen cabinet and microwave on the right. That’s what happens when I use reflective stainless steel bowls, I guess!

 

Sausage and Herb Dressing

16 cups 1-inch French bread cubes, (1 ½ pound loaf)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 cups onion, diced

1 ½ cups celery, diced

2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and large-diced

2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed

4 cups chicken stock


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Place the bread cubes in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the bread cubes to a very large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, melt the butter and add the onions, celery, apples, parsley, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened. Add to the bread cubes.

In the same sauté pan, cook the sausage over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until browned and cooked through, breaking up the sausage with a fork while cooking. Add to the bread cubes and vegetables.

Add the chicken stock to the mixture, mix well, and pour into a 9×13-inch baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F, until browned on top and hot in the middle. Serve warm.

 

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

The second I tasted this cranberry sauce, I asked myself, “Why in the world have I been buying canned cranberry sauce all these years?”

I don’t really talk to myself………..at least not out loud.

This Thanksgiving, I am challenging myself to make as much of my dishes from scratch as I possibly can, so I started with the cranberries.  This sauce will change the way you see cranberries forever!  The sweet and tart flavor just begs to be slathered on some warm savory turkey.  I also love the vibrant color.  It reminds me that Christmas is just around the corner.

 

 

I just love this combination of flavors and fall colors and I think you will too!

 

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

From pioneerwoman.com

1 bag (12 oz. bag) cranberries

1 cup cranberry juice (or orange, apple or any other juice combination)

1 cup pure maple syrup

3 tbsp orange zest

Wash bag of cranberries under cool water, then dump into a medium saucepan.

Pour in 1 cup of cranberry juice (or whatever juice you choose).

Pour in 1 cup maple syrup.

Add orange zest.

Stir together and turn heat on high until it reaches a boil.

Once it comes to a rolling boil, turn the heat down to medium low and continue cooking over lower heat for about 10 minutes, or until the juice is thick.

 

Pork and Prawn Dumplings (Shu Mai)

These shu mai (Cantonese) or shao mai (Mandarin) in any language are tasty little bites of pork and shrimp wrapped up in a thin flour dough.  They are a must-have at any dim sum table, in Hong Kong or in America.

I apologize for the bad lighting in this picture, but the taste of these dumplings more than makes up for it.  You’ll just have to trust me on that!

 

I have been holding off on making these shu mai for years because I could not imagine myself steaming them in anything else but a real bamboo steamer basket.  It just wouldn’t be right!

There is nothing that makes me feel more Asian than my Chinese kitchen gadgets.  I love my wok, electric rice cooker, bamboo spider (sieve), and now this steamer.

I asked for a bamboo steamer for my birthday this year.  The first place my husband looked was at Sur la Table……really honey?!  Don’t get me wrong, I love this store, but I just could not see myself owning a Chinese bamboo steamer that came from such a French-sounding store.  I just couldn’t live with myself.

We made several special trips to many Chinese grocery stores and finally found my much-coveted steamer.  It was sitting there on the shelf, just waiting for me to come and rescue it and make it a part of my family, which it now is!

And no, I haven’t named it or anything!

 

Okay, let’s get down to business.  Here are the wrappers you will need.  These or wonton wrappers will work too.

 

I love ginger!  This dish really does need it.  The French have their mirepoix of carrot, onion and celery.  The Italians have their holy trinity of onion, bell pepper and celery.  Well, I think that the Chinese equivalent is ginger, garlic and scallions.  The aroma is just so distinctly Chinese, you can’t go wrong with these three ingredients.

 

Make sure all the aromatics are chopped finely.  These are little bites of dumplings, so you want to make sure it’s all evenly distributed.

 

You know how I mentioned my Chinese kitchen gadgets?  Here is another one I love, my humongous cleaver.  This thing can take your arm off if you’re not careful!  I use it for chopping through chicken bone………no joke.

 

Who needs a food processor when you have a ginormous cleaver like this?  Chop that shrimp up, but leave it a bit chunky.  Don’t mash it into a paste, we want to maintain the texture of the shrimp.

Even though I was born in Taiwan, I was raised in America, so I never learned to read Chinese.  If anyone would like to translate the words on my cleaver for me, I would be much obliged!

 

All my ingredients are combined.  If you really want to make sure this tastes good, you can take a spoonful of this filling and cook it up in a pan and do a taste test.  My mom would do this sometimes if she was cooking for important company and she wanted to make sure it tasted right.

 

Put about that much of the filling in your wrapper.  I didn’t do it here, but you can brush the edges of the wrapper with an egg wash, so it sticks to the filling better.

 

Slowly close your fingers around the wrapper and bring up the edges to the top.  I used a spoon to flatten down the top and make sure they all looked even.

 

You want to make sure you put something down between the steamer basket and the shu mai because they will stick.  I lay down leaves of cabbage and allow it to steam until they are wilted, then lay my dumplings down.  Who needs parchment paper, right?

 

Pork and Prawn Dumplings (Shu Mai)

1 cup ground pork

1 cup raw shrimp, shelled, deveined, and coarsely diced

2 scallions/green onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp freshly chopped ginger

2 tsp finely chopped garlic

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry

4 tsp cornstarch

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

Pinch sea salt

Pinch freshly cracked black pepper

20 shu mai or wonton wrappers

Mix the pork, shrimp, onion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine, cornstarch, sesame oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Stir to combine the ingredients.

Take 1 wonton wrapper and place 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center. Then, gather up the sides of the wrapper and mold it around the filling into a ball-like shape, leaving the center exposed.

Cook’s Note: Ensure you pinch the wrapper around the filling firmly. To help, you can brush the wonton wrapper with egg wash to prevent wrappers from opening up and separating from the filling once cooked.

Line the bottom of a bamboo steamer with leaves of cabbage. Arrange the dumplings in the steamer, cover with a lid and place it over a pan of boiling water, making sure the water does not touch the base of the steamer. Steam the dumplings for 6 to 8 minutes, or until cooked.

Chicken Corn Chowder

One of my favorite vegetables is corn and my favorite type of soup is chowder.  This chicken corn chowder definitely brings together the best of both worlds.

I will take a chowder over chicken noodle soup any day of the week.  I like the stick-to-your-ribs kind of chowders and stews.  I think the cold weather really brings that out in me.

The chowder provides a wonderful balance of sweet and savory, smoothness and crunch.  It is definitely a hearty soup and a bowl of this is enough for a meal.

I took this picture the day after I made the chowder, so it had thickened quite a bit.  It was easily remedied with some extra chicken broth, but I like my chowder a bit chunky.  Some chowders can be very high in fat and calories, so I used fat free half-and-half instead of heavy cream and you wouldn’t even know it.  What’s better than guilt-free chowder?

Chicken Corn Chowder

4 tbsp butter

4 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

½ cup all-purpose flour

3 cans sweet corn, drained

3 cups chicken broth

2 potatoes, diced

2 cups chicken breast, cooked, diced

2 cups fat free half-and-half

pinch grated nutmeg

salt and pepper

Melt butter and olive oil in large pot.  Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add flour and stir to make a roux.  Cook until roux is lightly browned; set aside.  Combine corn and chicken in another pot and bring to a boil. Pour the broth and corn (a little at a time) into the roux and whisk so it doesn’t create lumps.  Return pot to the heat and bring to a boil.  Add potatoes and chicken.  Mixture should be very thick.  Pour the half-and-half into the corn mixture.  Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

 

Gourmet Play Doh

This is how kids of a food blogger play with their Play Doh.  My 8-year old made these amazing creations because he wanted me to include them in my blog.  How cute is that?!

I think this is a pretty tasty looking plate of spaghetti and meatballs.

 

Broccoli and beef.

 

Whole fish, served Chinese style with the head and tail still attached and a cilantro garnish.

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I’ve mentioned before how my mother loves my carrot cake recipe.  So she shows up at my house in a whirlwind and asks me to bake them for her church’s Thanksgiving potluck dinner.  I decided to make them as cupcakes to make it easier for everyone and they just look so cute, don’t you think?

We’re pressed for time because she needs to get home, so I get them all frosted and packaged up for her to take and then she’s off.  After all the hulabaloo, I return to my kitchen where it smells like warm carrot cake, but I have nothing to show for it but this picture and a sink full of dirty dishes.  Now, if that’s not love, I don’t know what is!

The only redeeming part of all this work is that my loving mother bought me a pair of cute shoes in return.  I can see using this baking thing to my advantage *wink, wink*!