The Best Perfect Pumpkin Pie Ever

No, I’m not bragging.  : )

Unbaked pie crust
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Set the pie plate aside. In a large bowl, whisk all the other ingredients together, pour into the pie crust and bake for 15 minutes. Without opening the oven door, reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 40-45 more minutes or until a knife inserted about one inch from the crust comes out clean. Set on a rack to cool. Serve warm or cold.

Turkey Gumbo (or What To Do With Those Leftovers)

Ah, what to do with that leftover bird. I make it a rule to never go out shopping the day after Thanksgiving – instead I hang out at home make this soup for leftovers. Let others shop, I cook.

6 cups chicken or turkey stock
2 cups water
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 carrots, peeled & chopped
3 cups diced onion
1 lb. smoked sausage (I use Hillshire Farms)
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 cups cups cooked, chopped cooked turkey meat
1/4 cup gravy from prior turkey meal – (optional, but very good)
1 large Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. pepper
Salt – be careful here, the stock & meat might already be enough salt
1 1/2 cups uncooked bow tie noodles, or 1 cup uncooked rice

For the Roux:
3 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup flour

In a large pot bring the the first 6 ingredients to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and let cook for 20-30 minutes. Now add everything else except the noodles, and keep this simmering for another 10 minutes. Add the noodles, bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. It will continue to cook as you prepare the roux, below.

Keep the soup at a low simmer while you spoon off 3 cups of clear soup – do this as best you can and set aside. Then into a medium pot melt the butter and add the flour, stirring constantly while it cooks for at least 1 full minute. Slowly add the 3 cups clear soup – just a little at a time – and stir constantly on high heat until it gets thicker and thicker. The goal here is to create a very smooth pastelike roux. Mix this into the soup, while stirring and stir well.


Divorce Court Turkey

Why the odd name?  My better half informed me I may change or update any recipe for anything except this one for our Thanksgiving Meal. If I prepare a turkey for other times I can experiment to my heart’s desire, but as hubby requests, “Please don’t mess with perfection.” And so it is.

1 whole turkey (12-16 pounds) rinsed, innards removed & patted dry
1 package Goya Sazon (or 1 Tbsp. McCormick’s Seasoned Salt)
Dusting – about 2 tsp.of Goya Adobo (or any other brand of adobo)
Dusting – aout 2 tsp. – poultry seasoning
Lots of minced garlic (actually, about 2 really big heaping table spoons)
Dusting of fresh black pepper
Two 14 oz. cans turkey or chicken broth – you may not need both

Begin your prep the night before: use innards for whatever you wish, I don’t add them to my stuffing but that’s a personal preference. Place the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan and with a very sharp knife, make slits/gashes all over then sprinkle on everything up to the broth. With your hands (I use gloves) rub everything in and around the turkey. Cover loosely with foil and place in fridge overnight.

Next day, thirty minutes before you will be placing bird in the oven, preheat oven to 325 degrees, place oven rack on lowest possible position. Pour1 can (14 oz.) chicken broth in the bottom of the pan. Place in the oven, covered, and cook for at least one hour before you begin checking it and basting it all over. Also check the drippings in the pan; if getting low, add water one cup at a time; adding more broth will only make it your gravy salty. You’ll need to check & baste every thirty minutes or so. Trust me on this, if you don’t baste that bird all over on a continuous schedule then you will have a very dry dinner.

Cooking time is approximately 30 minutes per pound, but please check a turkey timetable for exact times. Once completely cooked, you can leave it on the counter for 30-45 minutes while it settles, then you can put the stuffing and whatevers into the oven for heating up.

Enjoy your day!

Pumpkin Bread

This recipes yields 2 loaves – 1 to keep (they freeze well) and 1 to give away. The aroma while these bake is intoxicating.

3 1/3 cups regular flour
2 1/2 cups white sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 15 oz. can Libby’s solid-pack pumpkin
3/4 cup vegetable oil – (I use canola)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup water

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease 2 loaf pans. Take out the 4 eggs and let them sit on counter while oven preheats – give this about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl place all the dry ingredients – whisk/sift well.

In a medium sized bowl, add the eggs and beat lightly. Add the pumpkin, water, and oil and whisk/mix well. Stir this into the dry ingredients to the count of 20 (1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, etc.) – you don’t want to over mix – this is my way of never over mixing quick breads. Even though there may be some unmixed flour, that’s okay, mixing anymore will make the loaves tough and dry.

Scrape out of bowl equally into both pans; place in oven for about 60-65 minutes, until a toothpick or knife comes out with moist crumbs. Place on racks for 10 minutes, invert onto racks to cool completely.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

This is fabulous and beautiful with the speckling of spice. It’s also not as overpowering as a standard pumpkin pie may be to some.

Picture at left is pre-baked in a water bath.

Graham Cracker Crust:
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. white sugar

Cream Cheese Filling:
3 8-oz. pkgs. Philadelphia Cream Cheese (NOT lite, NOT low fat)
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (not imitation, please)
1 cup canned pumpkin (Libby’s is the best)
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the cream cheese and eggs on your counter for at least 30 minutes while the oven is preheating.

Make the crust by combining all the crust ingredients into a medium bowl and stir well with a fork. Empty this into the springform pan and gently shake and tap the pan on the counter to distribute the crumbs. Gently press the crumbs into the bottom and just a tad up the sides of the pan as you turn the pan. Bake the crust for 5 minutes then set aside to cool. Wrap the springform pan in a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil – you will be baking the cake in a water bath (no cracks) and this will prevent spillages.  Place the wrapped springform pan inside a large pan with high sides (such as a roasting pan).

Now make the filling – in a large mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and the vanilla. Mix until smooth – about 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin, eggs, and spices and continue to mix for about 1 more minute.

Pour the batter into the pan. Slowly and gently fill the larger pan with hot water (6-8 cups, depending on the size of your large pan) until it comes about halfway up the sides of the spring form pan. Place the whole thing into the oven and bake for 60 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN. After 60 minutes, turn off the oven and let the cake sit in the closed oven for 1 hour.

Remove springform pan from larger pan (don’t remove the foil) and place pan on a rack for about 3 hours to cool. Now remove the foil and place cheesecake (springform and all) on a plate, then place another plate on top of the springform pan as a cover and place in the fridge at least overnight so it can set. Remove sides before cutting.

Baked Ham

I just love baking a ham. The house gets that homey, everything is good kind-of smell. This dish is true simplicity and an absolute crowd pleaser.

8-10 pound uncooked ham
3-4 cups apple juice
3 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Take the ham out of the fridge and place skin side-up on a rack in a large roasting pan. Let it sit out on the counter like that for 30 minutes while the oven preheats.

Make slits all over the ham. Slowly and evenly pour 1 cup of the juice over the ham. As evenly as you can, sprinkle on the salt, then place in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Pour another cup of juice over the ham and keep cooking until the skin is fully crisp – about 3 more hours, or until done, basting it with more apple juice or water every 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let sit about 10 minutes before cutting.

Shoo-Fly Pie

What a pie! This recipe will definitely wow your dessert crowd.  When my husband tasted it he was speechless. Yes, it is that good.

1 unbaked pie shell
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 heaping Tbsp. Crisco
1 cup cane syrup (such as King or Lyle’s Golden)**see below
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup boiling water
1 large or extra large egg, beaten

Sifted confectioners’ sugar for the topping

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Place the flour, brown sugar and Crisco into a medium sized bowl and with your hands, crumble the mixture so it looks like crumbs, then divide it in half, setting one-half aside into a separate bowl.  Pour the syrup into the crumbs in one of the bowls, then mix the baking soda into the boiling water, pour into the syrup mixture bowl and add the beaten egg. Whisk briskly but briefly with whisk or a fork.

Pour into the unbaked pie shell, then sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top. Place the pie plate onto a baking sheet (for spillage) and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Let cool completely, then serve each piece dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Wow!!

**Substitutes: combine two parts light corn syrup plus one part molasses OR equal parts honey and corn syrup OR maple syrup (thinner, not as sweet.) OR dark corn syrup (thinner, not as sweet).

My Irish Soda Bread

Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Whether that’s true or not, I’ll bet eating this great round loaf is a good start.  It’s a simple, purist’s loaf – the way I like it; no fanfare, just enjoy with hot tea.

4 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 Tbsp. butter (do not use margarine)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda together in a large bowl. Using the tips of your fingers work the butter into the mixture until it looks like coarse meal.

Make a well in the center and add the beaten egg and buttermilk into this well; mix it in with a wooden spoon until the dough is too stiff to stir anymore. Dust your hands with a bit of flour then gently knead the dough right in the bowl just long enough for it to form a rough ball. Transfer it to a surface that you’ve lightly floured and shape it into a round loaf.

Transfer loaf to a large lightly greased baking sheet or even a cast iron skillet is good – grease that too. Make an X shape about 1/2″ deep with a serrated knife on top of the dough. Place into the oven and bake until it’s golden brown – about 45 minutes. Let it cool briefly and serve warm or room temp. This recipe makes fantastic leftovers!

Braided Pumpkin Bread

This recipes creates one big, beautiful loaf or make 2 smaller loves.  It smells delicious while baking and tastes fabulous plain or slathered with cream cheese or butter. Sit back, kick your feet up and have a thick slice with your favorite beverage. We love eating it with hot tea after raking leaves.

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp. yeast
3 large or extra large eggs at room temperature
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil (such as canola)
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tsp. kosher salt
6-8 cups flour

1 large egg, whisked well for an egg wash

Take the 3 eggs out of your fridge and set on the counter for about 30 minutes before you begin making the bread – this will bring them to room temperature.

Into a large mixing bowl whisk together the water and yeast, then add everything up to the flour and blend it well. Then add 6 cups of the flour and stir well with a wooden spoon until it forms a smooth dough, use more flour as needed. Add some flour to your counter top and dump out the contents of the bowl and being to knead for about 5 minutes, adding more dough as needed. You will probably use up all 8 cups of flour. Form a large dough ball.

Lightly grease the large mixing bowl you used, and place the dough in and turn it around in the bowl so it is all greased. Now cover with plastic and let rise for 1 hour. Turn dough out onto your floured counter top, deflate it and divide into 3 strand ropes for braids.  Now get out a large baking sheet and cover with parchment paper. Place the braids onto the baking sheet and form a braided bread loaf onto the pan. You can form this on the counter top but it may be difficult to transfer to the pan. Brush with about half the egg wash. Cover again with plastic and let rise for 90 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350, brush loaf again with the egg wash and bake for about 45 – 60 minutes for one loaf, about 40 for two loaves – keep any eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Let set about 30 minutes before you slice.

**Sprinklings of chopped seeds or nuts (shelled & chopped pumpkin seeds, pistachios) after the second egg wash would be a very tasty addition.

The Best Apple Pie

This will also become your best apple pie recipe. Just wait till you taste it!

2 unbaked pie crusts
About 6 med-large Granny Smith apples, peeled and chunked
1/2 cup sugar
A pinch (1/8 tsp.) kosher salt
1-1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch or flour
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
A pinch (1/8 tsp.) nutmeg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, diced
1 Tbsp. milk or half-n-half
1 Tbsp. sugar

Place one of the pie crusts in your pie plate and set aside. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the apples, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla – toss to combine and place into the pie crust, dot the 2 Tbsp. butter on top. Place your other crust on top, seal and flute the edges, then make some slits in the top for venting purposes. Brush the milk over the crust top and sprinkle the sugar all over the top.

Place the pie on the a sheet pan for spillage, and bake for 10 minutes, reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for about 45 minutes more, or until golden brown and bubbling through the vents. Cool for about a half an hour before serving.