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.


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Scented Ornaments (NOT Edible)

Here’s something you don’t find everyday. They’re fun to make and smell good too! Use any shape cookie cutters you want. A trip to your local wholesale club for bulk spices is a good idea.

1 cup applesauce
1 Tbsp. nutmeg
1 Tbsp. allspice
2 Tbsp. ground cloves
3/4 cup cinnamon

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper.
In a large bowl mix all the ingredients; work the dough well. If it seems too moist then add more cinnamon. Roll the dough out onto the paper-lined cookie sheet.
Use cookie cutters (or whatever) to cut the dough into shapes. Use toothpicks or straws to pierce a whole through the ornament. Clear away the extra dough and make small balls with it (wrap these in mesh & tie with a ribbon for great potpourri) or toss out. Leave shapes on tray and air dry these for 5 days.

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 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.

The Absolute BEST Pot Roast with Gravy

This is no exaggeration. Once you try this you’ll be hooked. Make for company or holidays or just a leisurely weekend meal. If you’re lucky you may even have leftovers.

5 lb. beef bottom round roast
4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 minced garlic cloves
4 bay leaves
1 large onion peeled & sliced thinly
1 packet or 1 cube beef bouillon
1/2 cup boiling water
1 can cream of mushroom soup
4 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1 can (14 oz.) chicken or beef stock

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Take out a pan large enough to hold roast (or slice it in 2 halves) that is also oven proof. Place the oil in the pan, heat up and while it is heating rub 2 Tbps. vinegar, salt, garlic powder, and pepper all over the roast. Place in the pan, brown on medium high heat for 4 minutes on each side.

In a medium bowl, dissolve the bouillon in the hot water, add the cream of mushroom soup, the other 2 Tbsp. vinegar and combine well. When beef has browned, turn fat side up and place the onions, bay leaves and minced garlic on and around roast. Slowly pour the soup mixture over and around roast then place in the oven, covered, for about 5-6 hours.

Once done, remove from pan and set aside, place pot on stove top and turn heat to medium-low. Whisk the cornstarch and cold water together and stirring, blend into the gravy, keep stirring while you add the can of stock and keep stirring until blended well. Cover and simmer this gravy for 20-30 minutes.

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).

Hot Cross Buns

Delicious anytime.

1 cup milk
1 package (2-1/4 tsp.) dry yeast
1/2 tsp. sugar
4 cups flour – all purpose or bread
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/3 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) butter – at room temperature
2 large eggs – at room temperature
Icing Glaze:

3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 Tbsp. milk or half-n-half, or cream

In a small bowl, warm the milk to about 100 degrees. Add the yeast and the 1/2 tsp. sugar – whisk or stir; set aside for 10 minutes – the yeast gets foamy during this time.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, place the flour, brown sugar, all the spices, and stir. Add yeast mixture and beat together. One at a time at the eggs beating well after you add each. Gradually add the butter and mix it very well – until the dough comes together. Don’t get discouraged at this point, sometimes it looks like a sticky blob, but then you dump it out onto a a well-floured counter top and knead it for about 5 minutes. It comes together very nicely. Knead it into a ball. Lightly grease a large bowl, place the dough ball in, and turnover to make sure both side are greased. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in a warm spot until it’s doubled its size – this takes about 90 minutes.

When dough is ready, take it out of the bowl onto a very lightly floured surface and punch it down. Roll it out into a long log-type shape and divide it into about 12 pieces. (You can pinch off 12 pieces from the dough ball if you want to. I use the log method because it works best for me for measuring purposes). Form each of the balls into a nice smooth ball and place on a baking sheet that you have lined with parchment paper or a very lightly greased sheet pan (parchment paper is a very good investment). Cover this with plastic wrap that you’ve lightly sprayed with cooking spray – to avoid sticking – and place in a warm spot for 30 minutes. Your best bet is to preheat your oven now to 400 degrees then place the tray on top of that for 30 minutes.

With a small, sharp knife, make an “X” into the top of each bun. Place baking sheet in oven and bake for about 20 minutes – they will be nicely browned. Place on a rack to cool.

Make the glaze by whisking/mixing both the sugar and milk together in a medium bowl. Pipe the “X” onto each bun or you can ice as you wish.

Mincemeat Bars

Mincemeat may not be everyone’s favorite ingredient, but you’ve gotta try these bars. The shortbread base and crumbly topping enables the center filling to be something that folks are surprised about. Everybody in my house eats them. You may need to soften up the mincemeat by placing it in a bowl and microwaving it for a few seconds to make spreading easier.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 x 9 pan.

Shortbread Base:
1 cup (2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract (not imitation)
2 cups flour
2 Tbsp. cornmeal
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1-1/2 cups mincemeat (Nonesuch makes an excellent 9 oz. box)

Using your standing electric mixer or a hand held mixer, cream the butter for 1 minute. Add sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal and salt. Gently stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture just until its incorporated.

Evenly press 2/3 of this shortbread into the bottom only of the pan. Evenly spread the mincemeat over the shortbread leaving a 1/4-inch border all around.

With your fingers, crumble the remaining shortbread dough over the mincemeat. Gently press the dough into the mincemeat.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes – until golden brown on top. Remove and place on a wire rack. Let set for 10 minutes, then cut. Cool completely in the pan before removing.