Monday, November 30, 2009

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

No Thanksgiving is complete without a fresh pumpkin pie and my mom has a recipe for the perfect one.  At least in my book.  I bet a lot of people think their moms make the best all the time, but I'm serious about this one!  It has just enough spice to taste like pumpkin pie, but not so much that you can't taste the pumpkin.  I do not like an overspiced pie.  Blech!

Here's what you need - two eggs, one can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. cinnamon, 1/4 t. ginger, 1/8 t. ground cloves, 1 can evaporated milk, and 1-2 pie crusts.

Add two eggs to a large bowl.

Beat the eggs a bit - no need to go crazy here.

Now add every lovely bit of pumpkin from the can to the eggs.  Use a spatula so you don't waste any!

Use your whisk to combine the mixture thoroughly.

Now add 3/4 cup sugar.  And in case you care, I just bought a set measuring cups that have a 2/3 cup and a 3/4 cup measuring cups!  Jealous???

Now time for your rainbow of spices. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger,  and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves. 

Stir it to get a little swirl for the heck of it, and then do some serious stirring to get everything combined.

Now time for your can of evaporated milk (1 2/3 cups evaporated milk).  Pour it in and whisk it all together to finish your filling.

Pour the filling into your pie crust and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes if you use two crusts or 45-50 minutes if you use one crust.  I made a shortbread crust that was really short (a short shortbread haha), so we did one pie and two big ramekins (sans crust).  You can be flexible here.

Here it is all baked to perfection.  The ramekins got a little toasted, but you couldn't taste a difference.

YUM - come to momma!

I always like my pumpkin pie with a huge dollop of whipped cream.  If you are a purist, feel free to eat it without.  I'll share the shortbread crust recipe with you soon because that was a winner too. 

Pumpkin Pie
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 can pumpkin (16 oz.)
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 2/3 cups evaporated milk (1 can)
1 unbaked deep dish pie shell (or 2 regular sized ones)

Mix filling ingredients in above order using whisk.  Pour into pie shell.  Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking - for 2 regular shells 30-40 minutes or for 1 deep dish - 45-50 minutes.  Bake until knife inserted in center of filling comes out clean.  Serve warm of cold out of the fridge.  Whipped cream is a must!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Is this a classic Thanksgiving photo, or what?  Please excuse my shiny forehead that came as a result of slaving away in the kitchen all day.

We decided to brine the turkey this year, particularly because we were using a free range (read: non-Butterball) turkey.  You have to boil the brine mix ahead of time and then wait for it to cool to room temperature before you place it with the turkey.  In case you ever plan on brining, please note that the cooling to room temperature portion of the program takes a good 4 hours or so. 

After it finally cooled enough, my mom and I had to wash out the bird.  As it turns out, the neck wasn't in a bag and we didn't notice it in the cavity until we were about to put the turkey in the oven.  Oh well, it ended up getting brined too. 

Here I am posing with the lovely giblet bag!  Everyone's favorite!

You have to make enough room in your fridge for your huge turkey in an even huger brining bag.  This is no small feat on the day before Thanksgiving. 

On Thanksgiving day the turkey rests for an hour outside of the fridge - and due to our fear that the bag would explode at any minute, we let the bird hang out in the sink.

You have to wash the turkey super thoroughly post-brining and pre-cooking to make sure it isn't too salty. 

We wrapped it tightly in foil and baked it at a low temperature (275 degrees) for 10 minutes per pound (ours was 17 pounds).

After the low temperature cooking, we raised the temperature to 375 degrees and basted the bird with butter ever 30 minutes until the internal temperature reached 180 degrees. 

Here he is all ready to be carved.  Please note Maddie's attention to the sweet-smelling bird.  She was underfoot a lot that day.

As previously mentioned, we had my personal favorite - cranberry orange relish. 

And no Thanksgiving is complete without sweet potatoes.  Well, none in my book at least.  John is not a fan.
Yum.  Look at these puppies fresh out of the oven.

We used this Pioneer Woman recipe to make a sweet potato crisp that is seriously sweet enough for dessert.  I definitely recommend cooking the sweet potatoes very thoroughly before the mashing process because it is nearly impossible to mash a half-cooked sweet potato. Trust me.  

Here's the start to the crisp topping on the sweet potatoes.  Looking good so far....

And it looks even better with the addition of some butter and placing it on top of the sweet potato mixture.  Yum - this stuff was so heavenly.

I decided to make rolls for the first time, and John will be thanking me for years to come.  He was a huge fan.  You start by scalding a milk, sugar, and oil mixture - sounds weird but I always trust PW's recipes. 

Then you add some yeast and flour and stir to combine.

There are lots of additions of flour and then waiting for it all the rise and look perfect.  But at least there is no kneading involved. 

To make these great pull-apart rolls you end up making three balls per muffin cup and let them rise for a few hours (ours rose for about 3) until they stop looking like three separate balls and start looking like one big roll.

We didn't burn the rolls, which is a miracle, and afterwards we used melted butter to paint on the rolls.  They were amazing and the perfect addition to a Thanksgiving meal.  (We only ate 8 on the night of Thanksgiving and John ate the remaining 4 sometime the next morning.)

For the stuffing I decided to make a real recipe (instead of a dried mix), but I cheated on the cornbread and just used a Jiffy mix that cost around 50 cents.  One of my best decisions for the menu, I think, because the Jiffy stuff worked great!

So delicious and so easy.  Plus you're just throwing it in the stuffing anyway.

We bought an Acme Bread sweet baguette and cut it up into one inch cubes the day before the let them dry out underneath a towel.

Here is the cornbread I let dry out the night before.

On Thanksgiving day we cooked up an onion and two cups of celery in a stick of butter.  That's the start to some great stuffing if I ever heard one!

Fresh herbs are a big key to great stuffing.  We used sage, parsley, (dried) basil, thyme, and rosemary.

After mixing the bread, herbs, and chicken broth, I poured it into a big baking dish to cook after the turkey was done. 

This was one of my favorite dishes of Thanksgiving - and it used to be something I would barely touch.  Fresh stuffing really is amazing.  I guess it's actually called "dressing" because we didn't stuff the bird with it, but whatever. 

My mom made me this apron for my big cooking day.  She said she only gave me a 29 (out of 30) because I can be a bit surly in the morning. 

My mom got a kick out of John's coke zero placed on our set Thanksgiving table.  Anyone that knows John knows that this is no surprise. 

My mom was in charge of the gravy, and she said she makes her own stock for it.

The stock was made using a leftover carrot, the heads of the celery, some leftover onion...and the lovely turkey organs/neck!  I don't have a picture of the gravy because we were a bit rushed trying to get it right.  We had to add extra stock to make up for the salty turkey juices (due to the brining) and then had to thicken it more with extra flour and some mashed potatoes.  I made the mashed potatoes as a last minute addition to please John since he doesn't eat sweet potatoes.

Here we are at our stuffed Thanksgiving table.  As it turns out, we should have added the extra leaf to the table to fit everything, but oh well. 
John spent at least an hour washing dishes after dinner.  My mom and I were very grateful after a long day (or two, really) on our feet.

And naturally, for dessert we had pumpkin pie.  My favorite.  The perfect ending to a great day.  Hope everyone had a great holiday like we did!
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