Rolls, rolls, butter your rolls

Homemade rolls are the best. I know, I know, they take more time but in my opinion, the payoff is well worth it. So if you would like to try your hand at homemade rolls this Thanksgiving, here is a simple recipe to help you in your quest for the perfct dinner roll.

Fluffy Dinner Rolls
Time: about 1 hour 10 minutes
Yield: 12 rolls
3/4 C milk
4 T butter
3/4 C hot water
4 T sugar
1 t salt
4 – 4 1/2 C flour
1 heaping T yeast (use active dry)
DIRECTIONS:
  • Pour your milk into a microwave safe container. These Pyrex glass measuring cups work fabulously. Add your butter to the milk and put it in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Preheat your oven to 170 degrees. While the milk is getting nice and toasty, turn on the tap to get your hot water. Temperature is important to making these rolls rise quickly. If you add cold water, your rolls will are going to rise at a snails pace, and you’ll feel like cursing.  Add hot water. You want it to be almost too hot to put your hand in.
  • Put your milk/butter and hot water in the bottom of your Kitchen Aid Mixer. Add the sugar and salt. Then add 2 C of the flour…let it mix for 1 minute.
  • Add the yeast. Turn the mixer on and add the rest of the flour 1 C at a time.
  • You have enough flour when the dough scrapes the side of the bowl clean. Mix on medium speed for 5 minutes
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 5 minutes. You need the plastic wrap to trap the heat.
  • Take a bit of butter and coat the inside of a 9×13 pan.
  • Spray your counter, or a cutting board with cooking spray. Lay your dough on top of it.
  • Take a sharp knife, spray it with cooking spray and cut your dough into 12 pieces. Make them as equal as you can….perfection is not necessary.
  • Gently round them into balls, and put them in your buttered 9×13 pan.
  • Put the pan into your warm 170 degree oven. Let them rise for about 20 minutes or until they have risen an 1 inch above the rim of the pan.
  •  Leave your pan in the oven and turn the heat up to 350 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. The 15 minutes includes the time it takes the oven to increase in temperature. If your oven takes a long old time….you will of course need to increase the time baking. Bake until golden brown.

Thanksgiving sides anyone?

Ok, so you’ve figured out how to cook your turkey and pies but what about the rest of your dishes? Here’s a few recipes for one of the staples of Thanksgiving fare:

mashed potatoes and the best gravy

Mashed Potatoes:

Basic Recipe:

  • 8 potatoes (or 2 per person), peeled
  • 2/3 cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup milk (or cream for richer potatoes), room temperature
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cut potatoes in small chunks, cover with salted water, and boil just until tender (about 20 minutes or so). Drain well (important). Once drained, put the uncovered pan of potatoes on the burner over medium heat for just a couple of minutes; this will steam off any additional water so your potatoes will be fluffier – careful not to scorch them.

Once all water has evaporated, remove from the heat and immediately add the butter and milk. Mash with a food masher, using an up and down motion, just enough to remove the lumps – do not stir them, as your potatoes will end up like glue. Salt and pepper to taste.

Best Homemade Gravy Recipe

Ingredients for Best Homemade Gravy:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups hot pan juices, strained and with as much fat removed as possible

Directions for making the Best Homemade Gravy:

In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium heat until melted – but not burned. Add the flour and whisk until it’s well incorporated – important to cook at least 1 minute so the flour taste is absorbed – whisking continually. Add the hot pan juices and whisk until thick. If the pan juices are not seasoned, add salt, pepper, and rosemary to taste. If you’d like it a little thicker, keep it on the burner a little longer so that it cooks down prior to serving it.

Thanksgiving is only 2 days away!

Ok, so the biggest eating holiday is only 2 days away. By now, you should plans in place, all of your food bought, and are raring to go. Some of us will have Thanksgiving dinner at home, some of us will go to a family members’ house (or as in my case, several family members’ houses to make all the rounds), and still others may decide to go out to a restaurant with their families and friends, effectively avoiding all of the time consuming cooking and equally time consuming clean up. But wherever you go, just be sure to take a moment-or several-to remember that this holiday is not about the food that’s prepared and eaten. Its about being with your family and friends. And being thankful for what you have. I know I am thankful that I get to be with my family because there are plenty of others that don’t get to be. Our troops spread out across the globe, the homeless, the orphaned. Those people don’t get to see their families or even have families. Realize how lucky we are to have what we have and to be where we are because it could be so much worse. And while your saying grace before diving into a delicious meal, add those less fortuante to your prayers. Ask for them to be looked after and blessed. And although the holidays may be stressful, enjoy your family and the time that you get with them no matter where you are. Happy Thanksgiving All!

THE BEST LEMON MERINGUE PIE

Lemon meringue is soooo tasty. Sweet but with a tart zing…delicious!

lemon

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups water

2 lemons, juiced and zested

2 tablespoons butter

4 egg yolks, beaten

1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked

4 egg whites

6 tablespoons white sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

To Make Lemon Filling:

In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1 cup sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt.

Stir in water, lemon juice and lemon zest.

Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in butter.

Place egg yolks in a small bowl and gradually whisk in 1/2 cup of hot sugar mixture.

Whisk egg yolk mixture back into remaining sugar mixture.

Bring to a boil and continue to cook while stirring constantly until thick.

Remove from heat.

Pour filling into baked pastry shell.

To Make Meringue:

In a large glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites until foamy.

Add sugar gradually, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.

Spread meringue over pie, sealing the edges at the crust.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown.

 

THE BEST CHOCOLATE CREAM PIE

Who doesn’t love a little chocolate pie?

chocolate

INGREDIENTS:

For the Crust

28 Nabisco Chocolate Wafers (or 1-1/2 cups finely crushed crumbs)**

1/3 cup sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

For the Filling

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 large egg yolks

3 cups whole milk

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, best quality such as Ghirardelli

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, best quality such as Ghirardelli

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Topping

3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon sugar

1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, grated or shaved

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Make the filling:

Combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a heavy medium saucepan.

Whisk gently until combined.

In a bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the milk and egg yolks.

Add the milk mixture to the saucepan in a slow and steady stream, whisking until the mixture is smooth.

Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture starts to bubble and thicken, 6-8 minutes.

Immediately turn the heat down to a simmer and cook, whisking constantly, for one minute more until thick. (The constant stirring and low heat prevents the eggs from scrambling. Be sure to stand attentively at stove and keep scraping the whisk against the bottom and edges of the pan where the mixture is more likely to overheat.)

Turn off the heat, immediately whisk in the chopped chocolate, butter and vanilla extract.

Transfer the filling to a bowl.

Press a piece of saran wrap directly over surface of the filling to prevent a film from forming; refrigerate until cool, 1-2 hours.

Make the crust:

Combine the chocolate wafers, sugar and butter in bowl of food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse until the cookies are finely crushed.

Press the mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie pan (spread it with your hands first, then use the back of a spoon or bottom of a measuring cup to press and even out).

Bake for 10 minutes until crisp. Set on a rack to cool completely.

Once the filling and crust are cooled, spoon the filling into the crust and spread evenly.

Cover with saran wrap, pressing directly against surface of filling, and chill for at least 6 hours or up to one day.

Up to 3 hours before serving, make the topping:

Place the heavy cream in chilled mixing bowl.

Using an electric mixer, whip on medium-low speed until the whisk or beaters begin to leave tracks in the cream.

Add sugar and whip until the cream holds medium, silky peaks. Go slowly towards the end; if it gets grainy or curdled, you’ve gone too far.

Spread the whipped cream over the filling, leaving some of the chocolate filling showing around the edges.

Sprinkle with the grated chocolate and refrigerate until ready to serve.

**Nabisco cookies available in the cookie aisle at most major supermarkets.

THE BEST PECAN PIE

This is probably my favorite pie in the entire world!! (It stinks that somewhere along the way I became allergic to pecans…)but I want to share this delicious recipe with you.

pecan

INGREDIENTS:

Pastry:

1 cup Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening

2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Filling:

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

1 cup corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1 cup pecan halves or broken pecans

DIRECTONS:

In medium bowl, mix flour and salt.

Cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas.

Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).

Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.

Heat oven to 375°F.

With floured rolling pin, roll pastry into round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of pie plate. Fold and roll pastry under, even with plate; press with times of fork or flute if desired.

In another medium bowl, beat all filling ingredients except pecans with wire whisk or hand beater until well blended. Stir in pecans. Pour into pastry-lined pie plate.

Cover edge of pastry with 2- to 3-inch-wide strip of foil to prevent excessive browning. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until center is set, removing foil for last 15 minutes of baking. Refrigerate at least 2 hours until chilled before serving. Store in refrigerator.

THE BEST APPLE PIE

Good ‘ol apple pie. You can’t beat that!

apple

Do you ever notice some apple pies have a gap or space between the top crust and the filling? Would you like to know the secret to avoid that? All you have to do is cook your apples with all the spices first. Other apple pie recipes don’t tell you that.

By cooking the apples first, they cook down which means you can get more apples into the pie. Then as the pie cooks in the oven the apples don’t shrink much if at all. With no shrinkage there is not gap or space between the upper crust and the filling.

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup sugar

½ cup packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

6 to 7 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Pastry for double-crust pie (9 inches)

1 tablespoon butter

1 egg white

Additional sugar

2-3 tablespoons instant tapioca (keeps juice from being too runny)

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, combine the sugars, flour and spices; set aside.

In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice.

Add sugar mixture; toss to coat.

Line a 9-in. pie plate with bottom crust; trim pastry even with edge.

Sprinkle tapioca on bottom of crust.

Fill with apple mixture; dot with butter.

Sprinkle tapioca on top of apple mixture.

Roll out remaining pastry to fit top of pie. Place over filling. Trim, seal and flute edges.

Cut slits in pastry.

Beat egg white until foamy; brush over pastry. Sprinkle with sugar.

Sprinkle tapioca on top.

Cover edges loosely with foil.

Bake at 375° for 25 minutes.

Remove foil and bake 20-25 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.

Cool on a wire rack. Yield: 8 servings.

 

THE BEST CHERRY PIE

Cherry pie is one of my favorites on Thanksgiving.

cherry

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter, softened

2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans pitted tart cherries, drained and reserving 1/2 cup juice

1/4 teaspoon red food coloring

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 pastry for a double-crust 9-inch pie

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Drain cherries, reserving 1/2 cup juice.

Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt.

Combine cherry juice, food coloring, almond extract and lemon juice.

Add to dry ingredients, mixing well.

Add cherries and mix well again.

Add butter and let stand for 15 minutes.

Pour cherry mixture into pie crust and finish top with lattice work pie crust.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes.

 

THE BEST PUMPKIN PIE

What Thanksgiving would be complete without pumpkin pie? Here is a super good recipe that will make your mouth water.

pumpkin

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

3 large eggs plus 2 large yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can**

¾ cup sugar¼ cup pure maple syrup

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt

1 pie crust, homemade or store-bought

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400° F. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, and place rimmed baking sheet on the rack.

Whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in medium bowl, and set aside.

Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Re-whisk mixture.

Place pie crust in pie plate and carefully place plate on the preheated baking sheet.

Pour the filling into the pie crust, and bake for 10 minutes at 400° F. Without taking the pie out of the oven, reduce the heat to 300° F, and continue baking until edges of pie are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175° F), 20 to 35 minutes longer. The center 2 inches of the pie should look firm but jiggle slightly; the pie finishes cooking with residual heat.

Transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature and not in the refrigerator to ensure that the filling sets, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature or chilled with whipped cream.

**Cook’s Notes: If candied yams are unavailable, regular canned yams can be substituted.

Thanksgiving is coming, Thanksgiving is coming….

Hi everybody! Well, we are most definitely in the holiday seasons now. Thanksgiving is only 8 days away, Christmas is going to be upon us before we know it (and before we’re ready for it), and New Year’s Eve rides the coat tails of Christmas. For those that celebrate the holidays (there are some that don’t I suppose), there is a lot going on. Food to be made, presents to be bought and wrapped, decorations to be done….We are busy, busy, busy. But in the midst of our holiday rush, let’s not forget that the holidays are about much more than getting presents and stuffing ourselves silly. Its about family and friends and being kind and welcoming to those less fortunate than ourselves. So be sure to take an extra minute or two to let your family and friends know how much they mean to you. And take a few minutes to say hi to someone who is struggling and help them if you can. That could easily be you. Or me. Its not about what we get. Its about what we give. And I don’t mean presents. I mean love, kindness, generosity….Happy holidays everyone!