Thanksgiving with Martha

My cooking/baking/decorating idol Martha Stewart has released her Thanksgiving favorites.

I’m so excited for Thanksgiving cooking and baking that I can barely contain myself. Do you know what you’re making yet this year?

52 of Martha’s Favorite Side Dishes
15 Stuffing and Dressing Recipes
10 Cranberry Sauce Recipes

Detoxing from Halloween with Acorn Squash & Sweet Potato Soup

Good morning! I hope you had a great Halloween. I spent much of the day watching scary movies, reformatting my computer from Vista to Windows 7 and going to bed by 10:30 PM in order to be up at 5 AM for an early hospital shift – riveting, I know!

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You’ve probably had enough of Halloween candy and sweets for a little while (I haven’t, but the scale says otherwise), so this recipe should help if you need some detox along the way.

scoopedseedspost roasting

The other day I made an Acorn Squash & Sweet Potato Soup. It’s a little bit sweet and very tasty. It would make a great appetizer soup for a Thanksgiving dinner party to introduce the meal, or you can have it for weeknight dinner and enjoy the leftovers for a few more nights (like my husband and I did).

scooping

I changed a few things from the original recipe including leaving out shallots and chives. Because the squash and sweet potato would already be sweet, I didn’t want to introduce the sweet onion shallot flavor as well. Shallots can also be a little expensive.

sweetpotatoandsquash

I’d never worked with acorn squash before this actually, and it’s very easy. My trick to scoop out the insides after roasting the squash was to use a melon baller – the squash flesh came apart easily and without a lot of mess.

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Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper to garnish.

served

Acorn Squash & Sweet Potato Soup
adapted from Pumpkins & Squashes

1 large sweet potato
1 medium acorn squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
3 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup light cream
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cut sweet potato and squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out squash seeds and brush cut sides with oil

Place cut squash and sweet potato halves cut-side down in a shallow roasting pan (I used an old brownie pan). Add unpeeled garlic cloves around the vegetables. Roast for 40 minutes until tender.

When cool, pin down one end of the squash with a fork and scoop flesh (ie, the insides) from potato and squash with a melon baller, leaving the skins behind. Peel garlic and add soft insides and scooped flesh to a large saucepan.

Add the chicken broth and a dash of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for approximately 30 minutes, until vegetables are very tender. Stir occasionally.

Cool slightly and transfer to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Work in batches so that you do not overflow your machine. If using a food processor, strain off the cooking liquid and reserve. Process the veggies with only enough liquid to moisten it, then combine with remaining liquid when fully processed.

Return soup to rinsed pan and stir in light cream. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes or until heated through. Garnish as desired and serve!\

Pumpkin Pie While Cutting Calories and Saving Time

I don’t know why I haven’t figured this out before, but it’s really going to be a life saver for me this year.

Every fall a bunch of cooking magazines come out with articles that boast new ideas for pumpkin pie. I get pretty excited about this because I love pumpkin pie, but then I also feel torn because what if I make it for the holidays and it’s not that good? Then I have bad pie plus no traditional pumpkin pie. And there’s just no way I have time to make full pies with crust before the holidays in addition to making the real thing.

Well, why don’t we eliminate the crust. It’s the most time consuming part and can also be the most variable. The pie filling is really the thing we want to test anyway.

If you have Corningware, and I really hope you do, you can combine all your ingredients, refrigerate it overnight if you don’t have time to bake it then and then the next day put the dish in the oven to bake. You can even serve it in Corningware.

magicpumpkin

Baking it in a dish instead of crust allows you to try more recipes faster so that you can plan ahead. It’s also a spectacular way to cut out calories. Pumpkin pie filling doesn’t have to be ridiculously fattening, but good crust usually does –

TheCalorieCounter.com lists one slice of crust only that has been prepared from a recipe contains 121 calories and 8 grams of fat. A whole 9″ pie crust contains about 949 calories and 62 grams of fat.

Yeah…

Enjoy more pumpkin pie filling varieties, save your favorite pair of pants!

I thought today’s recipe would be pretty sweet since it uses sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated milk, however it really wasn’t that sweet. It is spicy, however. If you can’t get enough of pumpkin pie spice, then you’ll definitely enjoy this variety.

Magic Pumpkin Pie
adapted from The Pumpkin Lovers Cook Book

1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 12 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk, not evaporated
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of cloves

Blend ingredients together and pour into large Corningware dish. Bake at 375F for 45-50 minutes or until cooked. Cool and refrigerate before serving.

New Ideas for Pumpkin Desserts!

Thanks to Jen for sending me these creative pumpkin recipes from Better Homes and Gardens. I’d like to try all of them, but here are some that looked best to me:

Pumpkin-Filled Cream Puffs with Maple-Caramel Sauce,
Pumpkin Sandwich Cake,
Spiced Pumpkin Dunking Sticks,
Pumpkin-Cherry Upside-Down Cake,
Pumpkin Fudge,
Pumpkin Pie Drops,
Pumpkin Tiramisu,
No-Bake Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake,
Pumpkin Bourbon Pudding,
Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Toffee Sauce,
Pumpkin Spice Whoopies

What To Do With All Them Bones – Turkey Stock

Don’t buy stock ever again. That’s right, I said it. There’s just no reason to, really. First off, there’s quality. Homemade stock is just so much better tasting and better for you (not processed). Second, it’s easy to make and we’ll show you the basics today. If you don’t have stock but are in desperate need, consider water. Water is awesome and chances are it’ll do more for your food than canned stock. I wish I could take credit for this but I can’t. Michael Ruhlman, the cooking heavyweight showed me the light and today I am going to spread the word. Read his article, join the empowered, then come back and take your next steps.

Turkey Stock Potential

As Michael says, Thanksgiving is THE best time to make stock. You’ve got an entire turkey to use and many think turkey stock tastes better than chicken stock; both are quite healthy. Once you’ve stripped your carcass of all it’s tasty meat, don’t throw it away! Keep it, love it, nurture it; into an excellent broth for use all winter. Cooking stock requires a long slow cook to pull the flavor from the bones, but if you use the recipe below you can cut back significantly on the effort required using a crock pot. Everyone loves convenience.

Turkey Stock Convenience

Turkey Stock via Slow Cooker
Adapted from Simply Recipes
This recipe is very flexible with portions with regard to the vegetables. Consider saving the end pieces that you normally throw away in regular cooking for this.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 turkey carcass; stripped of its meat.
1 yellow onion; chopped
1 large carrot; chopped
3 stalks of celery; chopped
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon peppercorn

Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a large pot and sauté the onion in medium heat until softened and slightly transparent, 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to your slow cooker. Add another tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the turkey bones for 4-5 minutes.

Transfer the turkey, carrots, celery, thyme, parsley and peppercorns to your slow cooker. Cover with water and cook for 8-10 hours. Let cool slightly then strain into a large bowl. Let sit for 5-10 minutes and skim off any fat that rises to the surface. If you really want to make sure you get as much fat as possible place your stock, covered, in the fridge overnight. More of the fat will rise and harden, making it easy to remove.

To store, I recommend pouring into ice cube trays and freezing. This is a convenient way to use a bit at a time. Stock in the freezer will last for at least six months.

My Six Pie Party, a Thanksgiving Day Wrap-Up

I hope that you enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday! Mine went well, and you can be sure that after enjoying three full Thanksgiving dinners, I will not be stepping on a scale anytime soon.

Granny Smith for Apple Crumble Top PieApple Filling

I also hope to focus more on the dinner side of DINNERCAKES after my baking blitz on Wednesday resulted in 6 pies and 3 loaves. Yes, I am a crazy person.

Pie Dough

But, I learned some very important lessons about baking:

  1. If you’re planning on baking 6 pies, invest in more than one pie dish. The pie tins at the grocery store just don’t cut it, it’s still flimsy even after you double up with two tins per pie and it increases your cook time. Next time I will enlist the help of some reasonably priced Pyrex pie dishes.
  2. Making pie dough from scratch doesn’t have to be a harrowing experience. I used Martha Stewart’s Pate Brisee recipe, refrigerated the dough overnight, let it sit out for 10 minutes before working with it, and then just rolled it out to make crust.
  3. If 4 out of your 6 pies require graham cracker crust, just buy a box of graham cracker crumbs instead of using a meat tenderizer to demolish whole crackers. This saves time and sanity.
  4. Any marks left in your pumpkin pie after inserting a knife to make sure it’s fully cooked can be easily disguised with a leaf or heart shape made using extra dough.
  5. Do not open a bottle of champagne until you’re done.

Bittersweet Chocolate for Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

My pie extravaganza included: Heavenly Pie from 101 Cookbooks, Triple-Chocolate Pumpkin Pie from Martha Stewart, Crunch Top Apple Pie from Paula Deen, my favorite Classic Pumpkin Pie from Libby’s, and two Million Dollar Pies adapted from Cooks.com.

The Heavenly Pie is the only one that disappointed me. It’s a chocolate pie with tofu and cream cheese. I know it sounds odd, but it tastes like a delicious chocolate mousse. Unfortunately I can never seem to get the consistency right. This may be because I don’t have the assistance of a food processor, so if you have tried this recipe using one please let me know how it works for you. I can never get it to be completely smooth, I’m always left with little tofu granules. No matter how good it tastes, I don’t like the grainy presentation.

Heavenly Pie and Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

I first saw the Triple-Chocolate Pumpkin Pie in my Martha Stewart Living magazine (yes, I subscribe). I’m usually a purist with pumpkin pie – you know I love pumpkin, and my Libby’s recipe has never failed me. I’m so glad I tried this, though. This pie is absolutely packed with spices and it’s incredibly creamy. The layer of bittersweet chocolate spread over the crust before adding the filling gives it a nice kick, and when it’s cut it’s also very attractive. I did not drizzle milk chocolate over the top simply because I didn’t want to make a mess in someone else’s kitchen (so my pie was more of a double-chocolate pumpkin pie instead of a triple). I’m glad I skipped that part because it is a very rich pie, which isn’t always the best idea after Thanksgiving dinner. This recipe also made a lot more filling than what would fit in the pie dish. I put the extra into some corningware to bake separately, and what I did pour into the crust spilled over a bit. Be careful!

Apple Crumble Top Pie

The Crunch Top Apple Pie from Paula Deen turned out very well. I liked that this pie didn’t need more pie dough for a top – because this was my first time making pie dough completely unsupervised, I didn’t want to take too many risks. I used Martha Stewart’s Pate Brisee pie dough recipe instead of Paula Deen’s. I also packed in an extra cup of apples and I thinly sliced them instead of chopping. The top wasn’t “crunchy,” so I’m not sure about Paula’s naming of this pie, but it was very tart and tasty.

Million Dollar Pie Ingredients

My brother first had Million Dollar Pie at a restaurant called Fisherman’s Wharf in Wanchese, NC. I believe he got the waitress to give him the recipe, but who knows where it is now. I used the Cooks.com recipe to recreate this pie for him. It’s not necessarily a Thanksgiving pie, but it does provide a nice, light alternative to many of the heavy pies usually featured on Thanksgiving. It’s also incredibly easy, and you can add more or less of whatever you do or do not like.

Pumpkin Pie and Apple Crumble Top Pie

I used Martha’s Pate Brisee dough for the regular Pumpkin Pie and the Crunch Top Apple Pie, and I made graham cracker crust for the others. The Triple-Chocolate Pumpkin Pie had a special recipe for graham cracker crust, which was certainly very good. To make a simple graham cracker crust
, combine about 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs with 6 tablespoons of butter. Press the crumbs into your pie dish to form the crust. Bake for about 8-10 minutes in a 350 degree oven until it’s hard (without filling).

Edwin and I would love to hear what you made for Thanksgiving and how it turned out; please comment below to share it with us. Also, thank you for all the kind and encouraging words from friends, family and new visitors in support of DINNERCAKES – we appreciate it!

Reader Request – Grandma Bachetti’s Candied Yams

Oh, Thanksgiving, how I love thee. You bring me such delicious food, time with family and of course a day off. In the days/weeks/months to come I will scorn you. I will blame you when I step on a scale, when my pants don’t fit as well as they did during the summer. But in truth, you are but one day of the year. You are a glimmer in the dark, cold winter months to come. It’s not your fault I brought back with me all those leftovers; not your fault I kill the indoor boredom through excessive baking. Please, don’t take my predictable frustration to heart. Rest assured I will look forward to your return next year with many a recipe to make.

Boiling sweet potatoes in far too small a pot

This was a good Thanksgiving. My grandparents were visiting from Chicago for the month so we had three cooks in the kitchen. Despite the cliché about too many cooks spoiling the broth, things worked out very well (we didn’t do any soup). Mom was head chef, handling the bulk of the dishes with Oma (Grandma) and I taking care of a few sides on our own. We started around 9:00 in the morning and cooked till 2:00. Of course there was too much food and of course it was all excellent.

Pouring on the good stuff

We had a reader request a few weeks back for a fancy candied yam recipe. When most people use the term yam in the United States, they’re not really referring to actual yams, but a type of sweet potato common in most grocery stores. Like white potatoes, sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin C and since they have a much lower glycemic index I try to substitute with them whenever I can. I had never made candied yams before but it turns out my grandmother on my Dad’s side had a popular recipe that she passed along to my Mom before she passed away. Thanksgiving was the perfect opportunity to test this out and test it out I did. This recipe is anything but fancy but still gets my stamp of approval.

Editorial note: I love my mother, but she has a few annoying tendencies in the kitchen that irritate the hell out of me. One of them is using far too small a pot for the job. Please, use a bigger pot.

Grandma Bachetti's Candied Yams (Sweet Potatoes)

Grandma Bachetti’s Candied Yams
If you have really large sweet potatoes, consider adding more brown sugar; a quarter cup at the most. The size of the baking pan isn’t important just so long as the entire bottom is well covered. We used a 9×9, but a 9×12 would probably work as well.
3 large sweet potatoes; peeled and chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick of butter; softened
1-2 cups small marshmallows (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cut the sweet potatoes into large chunk of roughly equal size and boil until softened but not falling apart. Depending on the sizes you cut, this will be approximately 20-30 minutes. While the sweet potatoes are boiling, combine the sugars and butter in a medium heat resistant bowl. Strain the sweet potatoes when ready, preserving the liquid, and put into a glass baking pan.

Let the preserved water sit briefly so that the heavy stuff from the boil settles to the bottom. Then, depending on the amount of water you started with, pour out 2-3 cups of the liquid “on the top”. This isn’t an exact science here so don’t worry about exactly how much water you pour out or how much of the heavy stuff is lost. Spoon 2 cups of the liquid, heavy stuff and all, into your sugar bowl and stir. Pour over your sweet potatoes.

Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, sprinkling the marshmallows when there is five minutes left. Remove and serve within 30 minutes.