What is the first thing you do in the morning? Throw the alarm clock across the room? Snooze it and try to eek out 15 more minutes from your sleep? Pretty sure that this represents most everyone out there.
First thing for Ben and I on the weekends is to split tasks and someone takes Huck out and the other is tasked with coffee making – usually me, which I am 110% okay with. Coffee or walking the dog – you’d pick coffee too.
And of course there ends up being the inevitable mug, or cup that you always use on that Saturday morning. It’s that trusty coffee cup that has, over the years, been incorporated into your ritual, where your day would somehow set the world spinning on a new axis if it weren’t for that particular mug. Don’t mess with the system here people.
Well, with the second day of Christmas beginning – it seems only reasonable to share in the holiday spirit and morning routine with a set of espresso cups, teaspoons and cream and sugar set from LeCreuset so that each and every morning can be special.
And let’s not lie – when the kids are going bonkers over the presents set below the tree Christmas morning, tearing apart all of your hardwork from a midnight wrap sesh, you know that a cup of coffee from a fine LeCreuset set is just what you will need to get the holidays started off right.
LeCreuset has generously donated a set of espresso cups, teaspoons and a cream and sugar set to the 12 Days of Christmas giveaway so that one lucky winner will be sufficiently awake on Christmas morning and able to enjoy the holiday with a slight bounce in their step.
*Fine Print* This set was donated by LeCreuset for the 12 Days of Christmas giveaway. I was not compensated for this giveaway and I did not receive one in return. But I 110% adore LC in every way and appreciate their generous contribution to ensure that everyone has a merry Christmas. The giveaway will run until Tuesday, December 11. The winner will be chosen by random drawing from all entries and they will have 48 hours to contact me with their shipping information and the gift will be sent by LeCreuset. If not contacted within 48 hours another winner will be chosen. Happy Holidays to you and yours!
Did you hear what the 12 days of Christmas is going to cost this year? A. L.O.T.
As in $107,300. *jaw drops on floor, and preceeding floor below*
And since I, and probably you, weren’t one of the two that won the Powerball Jackpot a few days ago – odds are also, that neither of us could afford that pretty little price tag. But I’m betting we could both afford at least one thing on that list. A pear tree, perhaps? Neglect that fact that I live in an apartment and don’t have a place to plant a pear tree, but I could afford it. Or better yet the pears that grow on said tree. And a partridge. But birds hate me, so never mind.
The point is – it’s Christmas time and that means sharing the things we love with others. And this year, I want to make every’s holiday a little brighter, merrier and stress free in the kitchen. there will be treats to share so you don’t spend your days baking up a storm, tools that will speed along the cooking process so you can ya know – actually do what they call “enjoy” the holiday, and visit with the people that you love.
Unless you don’t like the people in your family and you want to spend your days tucked away in the kitchen avoiding the awkard conversations about why Johnny’s girlfriend has a snake tattoo wound up around her neck, or why there is a weird scratching sound coming from Grandma’s attic… then by all means, don’t enter these giveaways and I will save you from you family by keeping you in the kitchen.
But if you do happen to think your family is pretty neato burrito and want to actually see and converse with them this holiday season, enter these giveaway and win things that will move your holidays along and get you back to the party, and let’s have some fun!
Today’s first giveaway comes from USA Pears – how fitting since the first day of christmas is a dang bird in a tree! A pear tree! I sure love it when a plane comes together. December is national pear month and we’re kicking it off right by giving away a whole box of great and glorious pears. Since December is also all about baked goods, it might be nice to have a few pears on hand to ensure you can still fit into your skinny jeans by the end of the month. Its a win win, don’t you think?
Pears are filled with loads of fiber to keep you full, 25% of your daily value, and at only about 100 calories for a medium pear, you won’t have to commit to a New Years resolution since you’re starting the end of your year off on a healthier note.
And with a simply little squeeze near the stem of your pear you can test your pear for ripeness and be devouring it in no time flat.
For a quick and simple dessert, my favorite way to eat pears is in a quick pear crisp – it takes 20 minutes to bake and with just a few pears on hand you can feed a crowd in a rustic way with no muss and no fuss. C’mon skinny jeans – there is hope for us all yet! But if you’re into something more “carby” then maybe a Spiced Pear and Chocolate Bread Pudding is more your speed. Either way – its a win all around.
GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED:
The WINNER IS Jen L!!
Congrats Jen, an e-mail has been sent to you. Thanks everyone for participating and don’t forget to check out the other Great giveaways going on during the remaining 12 Days of Christmas!
4 whole Bartlett Pears
⅔ cups Flour
½ cups Oats
⅓ cups Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
6 Tablespoons Butter, Cubed And Chilled
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
On a cutting board, slice pears in half. To ensure that the pears lay flat while baking, slice off a small piece on the outside of each pear. The middle of the pear should be facing up. With a melon baller or spoon, scoop out the seeds of the pears. Place pears onto a baking sheet, or in the bottom of pie dishes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. With a pastry cutter, cut in butter until crumbles develop.
Top pear halves with crumbles.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until crumbles turn golden brown on top. Serve while warm. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if you’re feeling daring.
I dare you. Just go on and say. Better butter better. Now, five times fast. Somewhere around take three I think the e’s and the u’s start to become interchangeable but the point remains that butter is in fact better when it comes from Darigold.
Healthy cows, dedicated farmers, and a mission to ensure that sustainable practices and impecable care for cows lead to better butter are factors that set Darigold apart from the rest of the pack. Started in 1918, the Darigold cooperative has grown to include over 500 local dairies that spread out over the entirety of the western states.
And it’s not just superior butter that they produce, but everything from milks, to creams, cottage cheese and recovery drinks. It’s what Darigold does. And they do it well. As a native PNW’esterner Darigold is sononymous with quality and its a staple in many, many houses. It’s what I grew up with. And for the last 94 years, its what many kids grew up with and they shows no sign of stopping.
What continues to make Darigold a household staple is their determined committement to quality, in rBST-free milk and cream, innovative tools and a willingness to try new things. In 2003, while other manufactuerer’s were content with staying the course of standard butter churns – Darigold stepped out in front and became on of the only dairies in the nation to import a European vaccuum churn by the renounced Simon Freres Company. 150 years of butter churning under their belts means they know what they’re talking about and Darigold followed suit.
While most conventially churned butters contain upwards of 4 or even 6 percent air, the innovative vaccuum churn used by Darigold results in a creamy and smooth butter with less than 1% air. Why would ever want to pay for air? I wouldn’t!
And if you think those seemingly measley few percentage points of air don’t matter? You’d be wrong. Baked goods come out more shapely and stable, and sauces hold that magical and prized smooth consistency longer. Better butter mixes into batter and doughs more in a velvety way, melding with other ingredients and binding them together in a buttery hug. Yeah, butter hugs right back – hadn’t you heard?
Raise you hands if you want a butter hug! *Shoots hand into the air* I do! Don’t lie, you do too. We all do.
And with a pound cakes like these – I can attest to the magic that better butter creates. The browned butter, nutty smells filled up my kitchen, and wafted around the room in transcent ways. Let’s not get me started on how life altering the butter toffee was either.
The butter toffee liquifies on your tongue and swims with the chocolate in an almost euphoric way. It’s a “When Harry Met Sally Egg Salad” kinda thing here friends. No foolin’.
Care and passion for their craft go a long way in making better butter better – and the Darigold farmers have really struck gold with this recipe. Buttery, delicious, melt in your mouth GOLD.
Cook Time:25 Minutes for Mini-bundts; 75 Minutes for Standard Bundt
Total Time:1 Hour for Mini Bundts; 1 Hour 40 Minutes for Standard Bundt
1 cup Darigold Butter
2 cups Sugar
2 1/2 cups Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1 cup Darigold Whipping Cream
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
To Brown Butter:
In a saucepan over medium to medium-high heat, melt butter until it foams and turns brown. About 5-10 minutes. Stir constantly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool and begin to solidify.
For Bundt Cake:
Add butter and sugar to a large bowl attached to a stand mixer, and cream together. About 3 minutes. Add in one egg at a time and beat for 30 seconds between addition.
In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
With mixer at low speed, alternate adding in flour mixture and whipping cream to the sugar/egg mixture. Stir in vanilla.
Pour batter into a greased and floured bundt pan, or mini-bundt pans.
Place pan into a cold oven and set to 325 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes for mini-bundts and 75 minutes for standard bundt pan. Test bundt cake with a toothpick to ensure they are baked through. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Remove from pan after 20 minutes and allow to cool on rack completely. Slice and serve.
Lightly adapted from Darigold original recipe.
*Note* This post was sponsored by Darigold. I was compensated for this post and for recreating this recipe along with shooting the photos. All opinions are my own and I am delighted to represent a wonderful company and hometown dairy brand and staple.
For those of us who now have to jump, wiggle and Spanx our way back into our regular everyday clothes, here’s a treat that’ll get your the carbs you crave with an extra dose of fruit, sass and limited guilt – Cantaloupe Bruschetta. And right now, I can use all the help I can get.
My boots finally came today – two days under the wire for me to don them on this weekend’s trip to Virginia. And since I tore through my local Eddie Bauer outlet on a surprisingly quiet Black Friday, it only seemed reasonable, and utterly necessary, to get some fashionable boots to go with ‘em. To go with that moutainy chick look an all.
Except the struggles don’t end there. Me and tall boots do not have a favorable history – rather we have a non existent history, due to the fact that my calves are the size of most “normal sized” humans thighs. Thank you mom for the Czech “sturdiness” and nearly blind left eye. Yes, yes – there are extended calf boots, even Frye’s has ‘em. And for eons I have lusted after them. But I need E.x.t.e.n.d.e.d size boots – 17 ½” calves here people! This is no joke. And ALL muscle – in a riduculous-draft-horses-have-smaller-legs-than-me calves kinda way. To the Fat Woman catalog!! So these are what I came out with, in brown. Not bad eh? A little rough, little buckley, a little freakin’ perfect. Except jeans and boot socks won’t fit under them, just the jeans. Oh well. What’s a Czech girl to do?
So after a jaunt to the gym to rack up my 5th mile of the day I was craving these. And they never fail to deliver with sweet cantaloupe (which I usually am not a fan of unless perfectly ripe), fresh mozzarella, basil, and for good measure some crispy prosciutto. Oh and well duh – a drizzle (hefty pour) of Balsamic of Modena Glaze. I can’t get enough of these glazes. Because they’re perfect on everything – like this too. It was only on TV!
Really – of all things, there are worse things to eat my ginormous-calved feelings with.
Cantaloupe Bruschetta with Balsamic of Modena Glaze
Prep Time:10 Minutes
Cook Time:10 Minutes
Total Time:20 Minutes
1/2 Cantaloupe, skinned and diced
8 ounces Mozzarella, diced
4 ounces Prosciutto, thinly sliced and fried
1/4 cup Basil, chiffonade
1 loaf French Baguette, sliced on the bias
2 Tbsp STAR Garlic Infused Olive Oil
1/3 cup STAR Family Reserve Modena Balsamic Glaze
In a large bowl, combine cantaloupe, mozzarella and basil. Gently toss to combine. Set aside. Turn on oven broiler and place rack nearest to the element. Lay sliced baguette onto a baking sheet and drizzle or brush with garlic olive oil. Place bread into broiler to toast. Remove once golden brown and allow to cool.
In skillet over medium high heat, fry the thinly sliced prosciutto ribbons until they are crispy. Remove from skillet and drain on a paper towel. Set aside.
To assemble, top each slice of baguette with a generous portion of cantaloupe/mozzarella mixture. Top with fried prosciutto and then drizzle STAR Modena Balsamic Glaze over the top. Serve and devour.
*Note* Because cantaloupe is so juicy, do not place on baguette slices until you are ready to serve to ensure the bread stays crispy.
Original by Megan Pence-Keno
*Note* Star Fine Foods provided me with their line of Glazes that I have used to create this recipe. I was compensated for this recipe, but all opinions of the glaze are my own. It’s amazing stuff, really really.
After four days, I think I can somewhat, kinda sorta, safely say that I am starting to stir from my post-turkey coma. Only then of course setting myself right back into a tryptophanic state with this.
I know, someone spank me – I’m such a bad, bad girl. But Thanksgiving leftovers are totally where its at. And I’m quite convinced that hot and cold turkey sammiches are the end all be all of the Thanksgiving holiday. Wait, I’ll stop myself here before I have to retract too much further. Turkey sammies ANNNNDDD pumpkin pie for breakfast are the end all be all of Thanksgiving. Not together. Pie for breakfast, sammies for lunch.
Whoever told you that pie wasn’t a legitimate breakfast option is clearly allergic to living. Because it is. With dairy from whipped cream, some sort of bread like component from the crust, protein from the evaporated millk (Maybe?), and of course vegetables from the pumpkin. Just neglect the sugar in it and we’re in the clear.
It is so ordered.
And for lunch – this is mandatory. To help clean out your fridge. Ben devoured his in the time it took be to just begin eating mine, to which I only could finish half – and then he for lunch the next day he ate my other half!! I was so excited for it – but he snaked me and devoured it himself! So now I know – it must be That. Good.
But for the sake of your waistlines, since we’ve all done enough damage on them as it is – these subs ARE best shared. Don’t be a hero.
Ben and I celebrated our first holiday together as husband and wife, just the two of us. And Huck, too. Naturally. And this time with such a quiet atmosphere it was almost unnervingly quiet compared to the holidays surrounded by my family of 6 and an extended family of 25 plus. And still a full Thanksgiving was had, with a 10 pound bird that refused to defrost, cranberries that were far to orangey, Ray’s Sweet Potato casserole that had to be made or risk a melt down over the skipping of a Keno family tradition, and a dog that flat tired me every chance he got as I mulled around the kitchen and tripped me far to often trying to unseat the foods as I carted them from the kitchen to our dining room. Ohhh the holiday joy.
He may look cute, innocent, and simple – but its a ruse. He knows what’s going on.
But for all of the dirty dishes, jeans that now fit a little tighter than they used to, pie for breakfast and overly orangey cranberry sauce – I am so thankful for everything that happened this year. From marrying the love of my life, getting to pet the softest puppy ears every day and having a steady job, traveling to wonderful places like this and this, friends that make the world go ’round, and an amazing family that I couldn’t have succeeded without – I have every reason to be thankful. And I am, endlessly.
Now – enough with the smutz and go make with the turkey coma!
Take all those Turkey Day leftovers and sandwich it between crusty bread. Hello Thanksgiving Coma!
2 Soft Sub Rolls, split in half
1 1/2 cup Thanksgiving Day Stuffing
2 cups Shredded Turkey
4 slices Cheddar Cheese
1 cup Green Bean Casserole, heated up
4 Tbsp Mayonaise
1 Tbsp Mustard
Salt and Pepper
Split sub rolls in half. Spread mayo evenly the subs. Drizzle with mustard of choice. On one half of each sub top with shredded turkey. On other half of subs top divide stuffing. Place topped sub halves onto a lined baking sheet. Adjust oven rack to the top of the oven and turn onto broil. Place under broiler to heat. Once turkey and stuffing are steaming and heated through, top shredded turkey with cheese and allow to melt under broiler. Once cheese has melted, top with green bean casserole and return to broiler to heat as well.
Remove from oven and cool slightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Quickly press halves of sandwiches together. Slice and devour.
I’m running through a mental checklist (emphasis on the mental) of everythin that is needed to go into prepping the ultimate Thanksgiving and spouting off the list at random points in the day, twitching my left eye and sounding a little to spot on to Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man…
That could also be the sleep deprivation talking… or the two day migraine thanks to the neighbors puppy that insists on barking at 9 as I go to bed and 3 am as I try to sleep – E.v.e.r.y.d.a.y.
Wanna know what I’m thankful for? EARPLUGS! Even if they dont’ completely drown out the bark of that (albeit sweet and fluffy) furrball…
Wanna know what else I’m thankful for? PIE. This pie. Sweet, crumly, and super tangy with a cranberry bottom. If you’re stretching for a last minute pie – this is it. I mean it. Yeah, yeah I tell you to make things all the time – but this is so good Ben refused to let it out of our house so I could take it to work for my coworkers. They are currently in the planning stages of a revolt against Ben, because after glowing about this pie – I have led them down the path of temptation and left them hanging with no pie to be found. Ben is public pie enemy number 1.
Sweet apples, just soft enough but still having some texture.
Cranberrys, tart and fabulous perfectly balancing the sweet.
And the crumble – oh don’t even get me started on the crumble.
And remember those pie crust problems I was having? No more!! Victory is MINE! Bwahaha. Conquer all the crusts.
Lastly – in case I haven’t said it enough lately – I just want to send a very personal thank you to everyone who stops by to visit me here, on Facebook, on the Twittervserse or on the Instagrams. You all feed my soul and make me thankful everyday for great friends, a wonderful community and helping me realize we’re all a little crazy, but that’s okay cause we’re all in it together. I’m eternally thankful. So go get your fat pants on, devour all the pies, turkey too if you must, and have a fantastic holiday weekend.
Pie Crust (2 9-inch crusts):
2 1/2 cup Flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Shortening (cut and chilled)
12 Tbsp Butter (cut and chilled)
6-8 Tbps Water, ice cold
3 1/2 pounds Apples, thinly sliced (Jonagold, or other baking apple)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Lemon Zest
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 egg lightly beaten for egg wash
2 cups Cranberries
1/4 cup Orange juice
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt
1 cup Flour
1/2 cup Butter, softened
1 cup Oats
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
In food processor combine flour, sugar, salt and pulse to combine. Add in chilled shortening and butter and pulse until pea size balls form. Add in ice water and turn on until the dough starts to form a ball. Start with 6 tablespoons of water and use additional if necessary. Divide dough into two and form into disks. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Roll out one disk to 12" in diameter. Place in pie dish and poke with a fork several times. Return dough and pie dish to fridge to chill for 20 minutes.
For pie filling:
Place sliced apples, sugar, salt, cinnamon in a large bowl and toss to coat throughly. Pour into a large dutch oven or large saucepan and heat over medium heat stirring frequently to soften the apples. Simmer apples gently for about 15 minutes. Pour out onto a baking sheet, and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, pour into a collander over a bowl and allow to finish draining. Reserve 1/4 cup of the apple juice run-off and mix with lemon juice.
In small sauce pan combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice, salt, and cinnamon. Over medium heat, simmer cranberries mixing gently until they burst. Simmer until the mixture begins to thicken and turn into a jam like consistency. If berries are too juicy and don't set, add in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Bring to a boil again and then cool.
For Crumble Topping:
In large bowl combine all ingredients and toss with a fork until crumble starts to form. Use hands if necessary to combine and large clumps will form. Chille until just before you are ready to bake the pie.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Remove chilled pie crust from the fridge and pour in cranberry jam into the bottom of the dish. Top with cooled apples. Pour l/4 cup apple/lemon juice mixture over the top of the apples. Sprinkle crumb coating over the top of the apples, evenly. Place pie onto a baking sheet to catch any over flow that might occur while baking. Cover pie lightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil, lower temperature to 350 and bake additional 30-35 minutes until apples are fully tender and crust and crumble are golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on cooling rack for at least 3 hours so the juice and apples all set.
Slice, serve and devour.
Lightly adapted from America's Test Kitchen Deep Dish Apple Pie.
Four days and counting – cue the panic and break out the fat pants! Are you ready? I most assuredly am not, but with a plethora of recipes floating around the interwebs, I’m breathing a little bit easier.
This is Ben and my first holiday as a married couple and we have decided to forego the chaos and upheaval that normally comes with big family holidays. Normally we would have to choose between splitting our holiday one of three ways, with my dad and step-mom, mom and step-dad or Ben’s parents 300 miles away – but with him in the middle of his first quarter of nursing school and my trying to just keep pace with the rest of the world, it seemed like the best option for us was to spend our first holiday as man and wife together – just the two of us. And Huck, too – naturally.
This also happens to be my first year of cooking my own Thanksgiving, all by myself. o.O
Ben will be tucked away banging his head into his desk finishing a last minute 10 page paper on nursing ethics and peeking through the door of our room to catch the latest football scores and I will be commandeering the remote and be watching Harry Potter all the way through getting myself primed for the impending Christmas season. Am I the only one who craves a little wand waving and quidditch during the rainy fall months? It just gets me in the spirit. Don’t know why, but it probably has something to do with me being weird and loony. You already knew that though.
Anywayy… since this is Ben’s and my first Turkey Day together, I wanted to make sure that it felt like home. The one resounding requirement to our Thanksgiving fare was Ray’s Sweet Potato Casserole. Never have I met Ray, but he is a casserole legend and this is the one dish that everyone looks forward to in the Keno family during the holiday of Thanks. So being the wonderful wife I am, I am making this just for Ben. Where’s my wife of the year award? I suspect it is in the mail now.
This is one that would be easy to make head of time and pop in the oven 25 minutes before dinner is ready. Score 1 for Megan and easy planning!
I started with two sweet potatoes – since this is just me and Ben, and boiled them like regular potatoes. Then drain away!
Now this beauty is how I went about “mashing” my potatoes – it’s a ricer. If you don’t have one of these, I highly, astronomically recommend it. It’s doesn’t mash as much as it aerates your potatoes, keeping them light and fluffy instead of condensed and brick-like. Unless you’re into that sort of thing, which I pass no judgements.
This one, in particular – the RSVP Ricer, has two removable and interchangeable presses, this one is the finer of the two. *Sidebar* this ricer was the highest rated ricer by America’s Test Kitchen. And they test ‘em ALLL, so I trust ‘em. *End Sidebar*
The ricer is super handy because it also – oh so conventiently – has a bowl rest on it so you can let it sit on your bowl as you press.Who wants their taters flying through the air ala Three Stooges – no one.
Then into the bowl went buttah (obviously), sugar, eggs and a little milk.
Oh, and some vanilla.
Fold it around so you don’t flatten the sweet potatoes until the butter melts deliciously into the crevasses and you’re ready to put it into the baking dish.
Smooth it out in the bottom of a baking dish and get ready to top it with a little brown sugar, coconut, chopped pecans (or in my case walnuts), flour and maauurr buttah!
Fork that baby til it crumbles and sprinkle onto the sweet potatoes. Now you’re ready to bake. Put into a 325 oven for 20-25 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. Now this one is fantastic if you want to make it a day or even two ahead of time, and you just throw it into the oven as your bring your bird out of the oven to rest. Just switcharoo and you’re ready to go as soon as the bird is ready to carve. Viola!
A family tradition that can be made a day or two ahead of time!
4-5 Sweet Potatoes, cubed
3/4 cup Sugar
½ cup Milk
2 Eggs, beaten
1 tsp Vanilla
6 Tbsp Butter, softened
1 cup Coconut
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 pecans (or in my case walnuts), chopped
¾ cup flour
6 tbsp butter, melted
3 tbsp Butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In large saucepan or stock pot, boil water. Add in cubed sweet potatoes and simmer just until potatoes are fork tender. Drain in colander and set aside. Place ricer over bowl and press potatoes in multiple batches. Add in vanilla, softened butter, milk, beaten eggs and sugar. Fold everything together until butter has melted and everything is evenly dispersed.
Pour into a lightly greased baking dish. Set aside.
In bowl, mix together coconut, brown sugar, chopped pecans, and flour. Stir in melted butter and mix until the coconut/brown sugar/pecan mixture starts to look like crumbles and is pea sized. Sprinkle over the top of the sweet potatoes.
Place in oven for 20-25 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Serve warm.
*Note* This dish can be made a day or two ahead of time and bake day-of. You may need to increase the time of baking if it comes straight of the fridge and into the oven.
Original recipe from Ray Hulet.
Now for 102 extra recipes for your Thanksgiving holiday – cause you weren’t indecisive enough already!! Check out some of my favorites. You just know these will be a hit!!
Because, 101 recipes just wasn’t trying hard enough.
Does anyone else find pie making to be one of the toughest part of holiday baking? It took me eons to get past the making of my own crusts – because let’s not beat around the bush – store bought were the saviors of my pie experimentation. Not only were they always fail proof, they didn’t require me beating my head into something hard to erase the memories of my failure. And everyone thought I was The Master, which I gladly accepted despite living this egregious lie.
Then all these years later – one pie crust changed my life. It went together in a food processor, took four ingredients and came out flakey and golden brown every time – but no matter what I did, shrinkage happened. And this isn’t just this pie crust in particular – for all intents and purposes it is perfect, I just lacked a few basic tips and tricks to make it, or any pie crust or any kind, uber perfect.
Dang you Martha Stewart and your unreasonable perfection that everyone wants to emulate but no one can!!
So I set my eyes to the Twitterverse and tried to find out what went wrong and how to fix it. Boy was my patience ever rewarded -
Tip Numero Uno – Once your dough is rolled out and in the pie pan – put it back into the freezer for 15 minutes. That will help the butter fats solidify and won’t buckle and sag, at least nearly as bad as a room temperature pie crust going into the oven.
Trick Numero Dos – This trick is all me, but I hate rolling out dough on overly floured surfaces – so I roll mine out on my Silpat. It’s not juts for cookies baking! It cuts down on the amount of flour you have to use and you won’t get the flour equivalent of popcorn lung in the process!
Then once it’s ready to go into your pie dish, just invert the Silpat and peel it back to leave the pie crust right where its supposed to go! Viola!
Trick Numbero Tres – When measuring your pie crust for your pan, take into account the depth of the dish as well as the diameter of the pan. A 9 inch pie plate with 1 ½” tall sides will need a crust that is rolled out to 12″ in diameter to fit into the pan. But if you want nicely crimped edges and enough over hang of the crust so it rests over the edge of the dish and resists shrinking – roll it out to about 14″ instead.
The more over hang the less it will shrink into the pan, staying put firmly around the edges of the tin or dish.
Trick Numero Quattro – Use a fork to poke small holes into the pie crust to allow it to vent while baking. And use foil and dried beans or metal pie chains to prevent further puckering of your crust while baking. The best part about the chain being that you don’t have a million and five individual beans or ceramic weights rolling around or falling onto the floor for your labrador to devour thinking its food… No, I don’t speak from experience…
Number Five - Who really cares what the crust looks like – falling down around the edges or not – pat yourself on the back because you made a pie crust yourself and that is totally something to revel in. As long as its tastes amazing, no one really cares what it looks like. Am I right? Duh.
A warm and cozy combination of traditional French Silk Pie with a topping of Irish Cream Silk
1 Pie Crust:
1 ¼ cup Flour
7 Tbsp Butter, cubed and frozen
¼ tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Ice Water
For Pie Filling:
1 cup Heavy Cream
¾ cup Sugar
2 Tbsp Water
4 ounces Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips, melted
2 tsp Vanilla Extract, divided
½ cup Butter, cubed and softened
2 Tbsp Irish Cream liquor
In food processor, combine flour and salt. Pulse to combine. Add in cubed butter and pulse until flour forms into pea sized crumbs. Turn food processor on and add in ice water. Keep running until dough starts to form and creates a ball. Remove from food processor, shape into disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place disk in fridge for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out dough disk to fit a 9 inch pie pan - approximately 14" in diameter. Place in pie plate and crimp edges. Using fork poke several holes into the crust. Place pie plate with dough back into fridge or freezer for 15 more minutes. Remove and line with aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights or pie chain. Bake for 25 minutes, removing the foil and pie weights and bake for another 10 or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on wire rack.
In a stand mixer, whip cream until stiff peaks form. Transfer to bowl and refrigerate.
In a medium heat proof bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and water. Place bowl over a saucepan that has been filled with 1 cup of water. Turn heat to medium and create a mock-double boiler. Using a hand held mixer set on medium-low, beat the sugar/egg mixture until it reaches approximately 160 degrees - about 10 minutes. Remove from bowl from the double boiler and continue to beat with hand mixer until the egg mixture has returned to near room temperature. Egg mixture should be fluffy and glossy.
Divide the egg mixture into two separate bowls. In one bowl with ½ of the egg/sugar mixture, add the melted chocolate and ¼ cup of the cubed and softened butter and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Beat with cleaned hand mixer until the butter has incorporated. Set aside. Clean hand mixer beaters before beginning next bowl. In second bowl with other ½ of the egg/sugar mixture, add in Irish Cream, ¼ cup cubed and softened butter and remaining 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Beat until butter has been incorporated.
Lastly, using a rubber spatula, divide the chilled whipped cream into the chocolate bowl and the irish cream bowl. Gently fold the divided whipped cream into each bowl until no white streaks of cream are visible. Pour the folded chocolate mixture into the bottom of the cool pie pan and spread evenly. Repeat the same process, topping the chocolate mixture with the Irish Cream Mixture. Smooth out.
Place in fridge for at least 3 hours to set, or overnight. Slice, serve and devour.
Pie crust marginally adapted from Kirsten Kubert of Comfortably Domestic's Perfect Pie Crust, Irish Cream and Chocolate Silk pie inspired by Cook's Country French Silk Chocolate Pie.
Raise your hand if your one step shy of soaking neck deep in a tub full of Ponds cold dream, buying out the majority share of the Olay company, and doing anything within your power to rid yourself of the snowflake and one-size-too-small-dry feeling skin that have plagued us with this blessed changing of the seasons…no? Just me then?
Well, do a two for one this season – because I’m bringing you a DIY remedy to slough off the old and bring on the new – skin, that is with brown sugar scrub! All without having to to dole out $15 a jar for scrubs that smell like a perfumeria that was imploded.
And you just know that if your ashy skin need this – you friends and their skin does, too. Hero of the Ashies, you are!
Beka and I got addicted to the sugar scrubs while we were in college, but realized on the college budget – that was dedicated more to beer drinking than spa products – we needed to savor the scrubs we had. Now I know better and I can scrub #allthethings and not send my bank account in panic attacks that render it shaking back and forth in the corner. There, there bank account. I have bigger plans for you. Like, this. Christmas wish? Too much? Well, that’s what Santa is for.
Start with sourcing all the mason jars, jam jars, or 8 ounce jars you can – clean of course – and pour each of them ¾ the way full with Raw Brown Sugar. Course is best here folks.
Now, pick out a vanilla bean and half it down the middle, then scape out all the little bean goodness that remains. Stir that into the sugar until it’s fairly well mixed.
Then, because you’re a rebel, go ahead and toss the bean in there too – for good measure and that rebel feeling. It’s not only uber rustic, but the oil will leach out of remnants of the essence from the bean and make this scrub incredibly luxurious.
For an 8 ounce jar I use ½ a vanilla bean, for 4 ounce jar ¼ bean. You can, of course, vary it depending on your level of obsession with vanilla.
Then we’re ready for the oil. I used Safflower oil for this – it’s cheap, feels great and does just as amazing of job as higher price olive oil, or grapeseed oil would. Pick your favorite and go to town – I’m just notoriously cheap. Well, most days.
Pour it over the sugar and vanilla bean – let it soak in and keep pouring it over until the sugar is saturated and the oil rests comfortably over the sugar. I like to leave enough oil in there so you can actually see the oil sitting on top of the sugar. It’s like, science. Or something.
If vanilla isn’t your thing – and I judge you not – switch it up with a citrusy note of lemon and lime. Zest 1 lemon and 1 lime, lathering, rinsing and repeating the same process you would if you were making a vanilla scrub.
Or feel the freedom bestowed upon you to gather up your favorite essential oil and drop a few drops in there instead. Lavender? Pine? Orange? Caradmom with a hint of nutmeg? You know you’re smell-drooling right now. Don’t even lie.
It’s so easy it almost feels like cheating. But your friends never have to know how simple it is – just let them revel in the softy skin winter-be-gone glory of it all. And *hint* from me to you – scrub your legs to high heaven with this, and then use the oil to shave your legs. Angels will sing and world peace will be solved and you won’t get those embarassing runs in your hose from ashy and prickly legs…don’t worry, your secret is safe with me. Just call me Victoria. Or not. I like Megan, thanks.
And to make sure your newly sloughed appendages stay non-ashy and always smell like something you want to eat – check out Ms. Bev’s handy dandy DIY Scented Lotion tutorial – this woman just gits eet, yo.
Move over pumpkin, cranberry is taking center stage. Cranberry is to Thanksgiving what pumpkin is to Halloween. Pumpkin is still a thing, so don’t go throwing it out the window or anything crazy! Put. Down. The CRAZY! Just, make room for the cranberry. Cuddle up on the couch with them. Cranberry is as versatile as pumpkin is… it can balance out savory dishes (like salads and all sorts of savory bites), it can be a supporting character in dessert, or it can be center stage in its own dish (sauces, jellies, and desserts).
Enter, center stage, the cranberry. That plump, round, juicy little berry. The floater of the berries. It’s the berry that berry medleys forgot. But no more! I present this berry crumble as berry revenge. No other berries were invited to this crumble party. Cranberries only. Tell blueberries and blackberries to keep their unforgiving spring faces out of my crumble. AND STAY OUT! (For 6 months. Then I’ll come crawling back. I’m so predictable)
Into this crumble went a slew of gluten free items that Bob’s Red Mill so kindly sent my way for me to test. No, I’m not gluten free, gluten intolerant, or g-anything – but for many people the Big G is a problem and it was something I wanted to try. Maybe it gave me the aches that I didn’t associate with gluten, the icky tummy can’t process gluten protein feeling?
Either way G-Free doesn’t have to be scary. Or intimidating. Unless the words Xantham gum kinda freak you out… but don’t worry, it’s more of a binder than a mutant fruit flavored gum from another planet.
These are impossibly simple, and absolutely festive just in time to welcome in the Turkey Day. Gobble! aka HOLLA!
The crumble started out simple enough with some GF Oat Flour into a bowl, with a hefty dose of GF Oats, lemon zest, baking powder and naturally – BUTTAHHHH!
After half being pressed into the bottom of a 8×8 baking dish (or in my case, a 9×9 which yielded slightly thinner bottoms to these bars – way to go me.)
2 cups of cranberries were pulsed in the food processor until finely minced. Into a small sauce pan went said cranberries, a quarter cup of sugar, and 2 tablespoons cornstarch. When reduced and thickened the whole lot was shoved through a sieve to smooth out and remove the skins and pith left behind. Once slightly cooled just smooth it out along the pressed oat mix into the bottom of the pan. viola!
Then crumble, crumble, crumble the rest of the well, duh, crumble on top of the cranberries and you’re ready to go. 20 minutes and done m’friends. It doesn’t get any better than this.
And to have these oh so conveniently stashed away to whip them out right as perfect moment arises on Thanksgiving – you’ll be the hero. Much to the groans of the zipper of your loved ones jeans.
Make these gluten free this holiday season with a few easy switcharoos.
Gluten Free Version:
½ cup butter, melted
2 tsp GF Vanilla Extract
1 cup Bob's Red Mill GF Oat Flour
1 cup Bob's Red Mill GF Rolled Oats
1/2 c cup Sugar + 2 Tbsp, divided
1 ½ tsp Xantam Gum
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Lemon Zest
2 cups Cranberries
2 Tbsp Corn Starch
½ tsp Salt
½ cup Butter,
2 tsp Vanilla
1 cup Flour
1 cup Rolled Oats
1/2 cup Sugar + 2 Tbsp, divided
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Lemon Zest
½ tsp Salt
2 cups Cranberries
2 Tbsp Corn Starch
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together butter, vanilla, flour (or oat flour for GF), Oats (or GF Oats for GF recipe), ½ cup Sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, salt (and Xantham Gum for GF). When combined divide mixture in half and press into the bottom of an 8x8 baking pan. Set aside.
In food processor, pulse together cranberries, sugar until finely minced and almost smooth. Place in small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat and reduce to paste. Add in corn starch and allow to boil to thicken. Once thickened, remove from heat and press through a sieve to remove any extra skin and pith left behind. Let smooth cranberry jelly cool slightly. Spread evenly over the oat mixture that has been pressed into the bottom of the baking pan.
Crumble remaining oat mixture of the top of the cranberries. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Slice and serve at room temp. Devour.
Adapted and inspired by 1,000 Gluten Free Recipes by Carol Fenster Raspberry Oatmeal Bars
Welcome to Country Cleaver, where country comfort and convenient cooking come together. Follow my adventures of self-reliant country cooking and baking from scratch with a little life mixed in for kicks! ...more