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Monday, November 19, 2012

Heavenly Chocolate Mousse {in a Pie Shell or Single Dishes}

**Note: if you're looking for Thanksgiving recipes, visit our side bar under "labels" and click on "Thanksgiving. Or visit our Recipe Index page and look under Thanksgiving for more of our favorite "tried & true" recipes!

My mom has made this mousse for us since we were kids. She cut the recipe of a Knox gelatin box years ago. It's always been a favorite for my family!  A few weeks ago we had some requests for Thanksgiving recipes and a cream pie was requested (Lisa this is just for you!).  This and banana cream pie are two of my favorite cream pies. I'll work on getting a banana cream pie posted here sometime. 

This chocolate mousse is so lovable because it's incredibly light and fluffy and the semi-sweet chocolate chips make it really chocolatey (I suppose if you aren't a huge dark chocolate lover that milk chocolate would work well, but I've never tried it). And if you are one of those strange people (aahem, Leesh) *wink, wink*  that isn't a huge pie lover than you can most certainly put the mousse in individual single serve dishes.  But pie lover or not, topped with chocolate curls and whipped cream this is sure to please a pie or non-pie lover!

As for me, I'm a huge fan or the sweet filling of a chocolatey pie, like this, with a light flaky, salty crust. Sweet and salty just hits the spot for me.  And in case you missed last weeks post about pie crust. Check it out here, this is my favorite pie crust and there is a video tutorial so you can no excuse to not make your own! :)  

Heavenly Chocolate Mousse
Printable Version

1 envelope Knox Unflavored Gelatine
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ cups milk
1 package (6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups sweetened whipped topping (I use real whipped cream, sweetened with a little powdered sugar)

In medium saucepan, mix gelatine with sugar; blend in milk.  Let stand 1 minute.  Stir over low heat until completely dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Add chocolate and stir until melted (I like to melt in at 50% power in the microwave first (one minute at a time). It mixes with the milk better that way).  Beat mixture until well blended.  Stir in vanilla.  Pour into large bowl and chill, stirring occasionally, until mixture mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon.  Fold in whipped topping.  Turn into dessert dishes or a 4-cup bowl (or into a 9-inch baked pastry shell - see variation note); chill until firm.  Garnish with additional whipped topping and chocolate curls.  Makes 8 servings.

For a CHOCOLATE MOUSSE PIE, turn into a 9-inch baked pastry shell instead of dessert dishes; chill until firm.

Recipe Source: from Diana K. via Knox gelatine box (from years ago).

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Perfect Pie Crust {Oil Pastry with Video Tutorial}

Welcome to pie crust making 101 {1st video tutorial on this blog - yay!}. This is my favorite recipe for multiple reasons. 1) It's so simple to make (seriously about 10 minutes from start to finish). 2) The ingredients are pure (I am kind of an anti-shortening kind of girl) - all this is is flour, salt, oil, and ice water! 3) When baked to a golden perfection and filled with your favorite filling you enjoy the lightly salty and perfectly flaky! I love me a flaky crust!  
Please enjoy the video tutorial here! I was pretty excited to have my mom be the hands in this video! And thanks to my sweet husband for helping me edit and compile the video!  

Sometimes pie making can be fussy, but this recipe is seriously no fail. And if the dough it did in this video :) - we were working under pressure - it's just fine because it really is quite forgiving and can be mended with ease!  I wanted to put this video here so that you can say "goodbye" to store bought crusts! 
*In case the video isn't enough, I have pictures and step-by-step instructions listed in the recipe.

Happy pie making! And Happy Thanksgiving! 


In case there is a problem with the video on the blog, here is the YouTube Link

Oil Pastry {Single Pie Crust}
Printable Version
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup oil (canola or vegetable)
2-3 tablespoons ice water

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. 

In a medium size mixing bowl stir together flour and salt until combined. Add oil and using a stiff thin spatula or frosting knife (or other such utensil) cut (not stir) the oil into the flour mixture until combined, being careful not to ove rmix (over mixed pie dough will give you a dry, non-flaky pie crust). Once oil is cut in add 2 tablespoons of ice water and cut (like you did with the oil) the water into the flour/oil mixture.  If it’s still looking dry after the first 2 tablespoons of water are absorbed, and ½ a tablespoon of water more at at time until moist and the dough can be easily formed into a ball. 

Between 2 sheets of wax paper, roll pastry into a circle that is 2 inches larger than upside down pie plate. Peel wax paper away (flipping over and peeling it off the other side too, so it's loose) and place in pie dish, removing any air pockets (so it’s nice and snug in along the bottom, inside edge of the pie dish. Fold overhanging pastry underneath and flute the edge as desired. Prick the bottom and sides of the sides or pastry with a fork. For a pre-baked crust bake for 8-10 minutes or until light brown. Cool on cooling rack.

Note: If your pie filling requires baking you don't need to pre-bake the crust.
Recipe Source: Diana K.

Original post photos :) New photos updated Feb. 12, 2015

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cranberries - 2 Ways {Cooked & Raw}


My husbands family is serious about their cranberries with Thanksgiving dinner! I had never really tried cranberries until I married into this family! And I feel I've been missing out big time! I love them! I remember as a kid thinking they were just some weird red fruity sauce that only grown-ups liked. And since I'm a "grown-up" now maybe that's why I like them so! I don't know but these two recipes are downright delicious. I especially loved the raw cranberries. They are a bit more tart than the cooked (although you can adjust that to your liking with how much sugar you add). I like them as a side on my Thanksgiving dinner plate or I like them spread across sandwich on a leftover roll with cold leftover turkey. I think these leftovers are the reason I love Thanksgiving so much! Oh and the pie....I can't forget the pie!  

If you're family isn't into the cranberry sauces and you still want to add some cranberry to your Thanksgiving meal, try this recipe for Cranberry Cream Salad that Leesh posted last year. It's a major crowd pleaser....I mean marshmallows, fruit, and whipped cream, who could resist?!?!?

If you try any of these recipes for you Thanksgiving meal, we'd love to hear what you think. Leave us a comment! We love to hear from you!

Cranberry Sauce {Cooked}
Printable Version {Cooked Cranberry Sauce}
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1-3 tablespoons ginger, grated (pick your zesty scale)
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 (12 ounce) bag fresh cranberries
¼ teaspoon cardamom

Boil everything but cranberries until the sugar is dissolved in a medium size saucepan. Add cranberries and continue simmer until all the cranberries pop. The sauce will get really thick (and tasty). Remove from heat and cool.

Serve as a side with your thanksgiving meal, or spread on a leftover turkey and roll sandwich!


Recipe Source: Jon J.

And here's another recipe......

Cranberry Sauce/Relish {Raw}
Printable Version {Raw Cranberry Sauce/Relish}
1 (12 ounce) bag cranberries
1 orange
¾ cup sugar

Grind the cranberries and whole orange in a food grinder, blender or food processor until mostly smooth.  If you’d like you can put the whole orange segments and all of the zest (thoroughly zested) in and blend up.  Add sugar and blend more til combined.

Let cranberry mixture sit in a bowl, stir occasionally.  The longer the sugar has to soak into the cranberries the less tart it will be. You can add more sugar to taste if you’d like.

Serve as a side with your Thanksgiving meal. Or use as a relish on a leftover turkey and roll sandwich.


Recipe Source: Maureen G. 

Bacon Wrapped Lil' Smokies

These little beauties have been seen all over the internet, but I had never seen or heard of them til about a month ago. I went to a bridal shower and they were served buffet style alongside a pleothora of other morsels of goodness. But of all the goodies, these were my favorite! I think I ate at least 8....not so dainty for a bridal shower, I know! But I couldn't help myself!  
Anyhow a week or so ago I asked on our Facebook page if anyone had any specific recipes or kinds of recipes they wanted us to share for planning a Thanksgiving menu. I had a request for appetizers.  Although we don't usually have too many appetizers at our Thanksgiving meal (I'm always saving room for LOTS of pie), I thought these lil' smokies would do the trick for pleasing man, woman, and child! 

These are so simple to make. 3 ingredients, toothpicks and an oven and your set (well I guess a baking sheet would be helpful too!).  The savory little sausage is wrapped in some love (aka bacon) and sprinkled with a little brown sugar. The sugar, flavor of the bacon and sausages is out of this world. I also saw while looking online that some people even glaze with some brown sugar and maple syrup! Sounds divine! I don't think you can mess these up. Just make sure the bacon is cooked through and you'll be drooling from your over satisfied saliva glands not knowing what to do with such goodness! 

These babies would also be fitting at Christmas time, tail gate parties, BBQ's and more! Hey I even had them at a Bridal shower, so they aren't just man lovin' food!  


Bacon Wrapped Lil' Smokies
Printable Version
1 pound bacon, cut into thirds or fourths (in about 2 ½ inch lengths)
1 package of Lit’l Smokies (I buy Hillshire Farms brand)
½ cup brown sugar
Round wooden toothpicks

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Cut bacon into about 2 ½ inch strips. Just enough to barely overlap the bacon as it’s wrapped around one wiener.  Wrap each wiener with a strip of bacon and insert a wooden toothpick through the wiener and bacon to hold the bacon in place. Place wrapped wiener on a baking sheet, leaving ½ inch between each wiener. When all of the wieners are wrapped, place a pinch of brown sugar on top of each of them (about ¼-½  teaspoon per each). 

Bake at 325 degrees until brown sugar is dissolved and bacon is cooked through, about 40 minutes.

Serve warm.  To keep warm for serving consider placing them in a crock-pot on low or warm. 

I’ve also cooked them at 375 for 15 minutes and then turned the oven to 350 for an extra 5 minute and they’ve turned out well this way....speeds up the time, you just want to make sure the bacon is cooked through. The inside of the bacon touching the wiener may not be done as soon as the outer side of the bacon is.

 Recipe Source: Inspired for said Bridal shower above

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bread Stuffing

Last year I had intentions of posting more of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes. But I didn't make them until the day or so before Thanksgiving and I was sure everyone already had their Thanksgiving recipes all planned out. So I saved a few of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes to share this year with you all.  

This reicpe for bread stuffing goes way back! It's my husband's grandmothers recipe. The secret to the recipe is making it from scratch.....down to the bread (I have used Grandma Sycamore's bread from the grocery store and had good results too).  We definatley prefer the homemade bread. 

I usually make one batch of my favorite whole wheat bread recipe and that is plenty of bread to make 24 cups of bread cubes. This bread recipe freezes well so if you want to plan ahead you can make the bread, freeze it, and then pull it out 3 days or so before you plan to bake the stuffing.  I start by getting a large disposable aluminum deep baking dish from the dollar store (the kind you'd send a meal to someone in and not expect to get back)  and cut my bread in cubes with kitchen shears.  I measure as I go and dump it into the tin.  I let this sit out on my counter for a few days with a wooden spoon near by and I toss it every time I walk by, helping it dry out all the way through.  When its hard and no moisture is left, that's when you know it's dry enough for making stuffing.  

We don't bake this stuffing in the turkey that's why it calls for chicken broth or hot water to provide plenty of moisture (see recipe directions below for a more through explanation).

It only bakes an hour! Serve alongside your other favorite Thanksgiving dishes! Enjoy!

Bread Stuffing
Printable Version

24 cups dry bread cubes (2-3 loaves) (whole wheat homemade bread is best)
2 tablespoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons pepper
1 ½ poultry seasoning
1 ½ cups butter, melted
4-6 onions, finely chopped (I like yellow onion)
1 bunch celery, finely chopped
¼ cup olive oil
Hot chicken broth or water (2-5 cups; see note below)

Dry out 24 cups of bread cubes.  I put mine in a large (dollar store) disposable aluminum deep dish baking pan (the kind you’d send to someone and not expect to get it back). I let this sit out on my counter for a few days (about 3) and toss it every time I think about it so that it has enough air exposure on all the layers to dry it out completely. If you have a dehydrator you could speed the process up by using it.  And of course if you don’t want to use homemade bread you can usually buy dried bread cubes in the bakery department at your local grocery store around the Thanksgiving holiday.

In a small bowl mix together salt (see note below about the sodium level), pepper, and poultry seasoning.  Set aside.

Finely chop 4-6 yellow onions and one bunch of celery.  Place a large deep skillet or stock pot on the stove over medium heat, add olive oil, onions and celery and saute them until translucent and no longer crunchy, stirring frequently.

Melt butter in a small saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat until completely melted.  Set aside.

Heat two cups of chicken broth on the stove or in the microwave as needed. 

Once bread is dry toss the salt mixture over the dry bread cubes in layers so it’s evenly distributed.  Toss butter in small increments until it’s absorbed by the bread cubes.  Then toss in the sauteed onions and celery.  At this point we want to add enough  hot broth/water until the bread is all very wet and when you scoop to the bottom of the pan you can barely see the broth starting to puddle in the bottom. You don’t want it  sloppy, just very moist. As it bakes it will dry out more as it’s not baked inside a turkey.  Once the bread mixture is as moist as desired cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. You can toss half way through. You want it a bit crispier/toasted on the top when it’s done. 


NOTE: One thing I'd watch for is the sodium levels.  If you use salted butter, and a chicken broth that is not low or no-sodium, and add all the salt called for in the recipe it tends to be a bit much salt for me.  If you don't have unsalted butter and chicken broth then cut the salt in the recipe in half, and add more to taste if you think it's too bland.