Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

I recently discovered Natasha’s Kitchen. She has tons of great recipes that have awesome pictures, easy to follow directions, and a fun sense of humor. The other night I made her Pumpkin Creme Brûlée for dessert. Oh my goodness! It was a hit. Plus my hubby got to play with the torch to make the caramelized topping. He actually let Whitaker take a turn with the torch. This dessert is a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dessert bar or any fall time meal. Enjoy and check out Natasha’s site!

Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream

3 large whole eggs

1/2 cup sugar (plus extra for caramelizing)

1 cup pumpkin puree (make your own or use the can stuff)

1/4 t ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 whole eggs and 1/2 cup sugar until well blended. Heat 1 and 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream in a sauce pan, almost to a simmer; stirring frequently. You don’t want to burn the bottom. Slowly add hot cream into the egg & sugar mix. You need to pour & whisk slowly as you are combining the hot cream with egg & sugar mix. Or you will end up with scrambled mess!

Next, strain the mixture through a small mess strainer into a bowl. Whisk in 1 cup pumpkin puree and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.

Divide the mixture into 8 (4 oz) cups and place in a large casserole baking dish. You might need more than one baking dish. Fill the baking dish with boiling water about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake at 300 degrees for 35-40 minutes. The centers of the creme brûlée should barely move when you wiggle the pan.

Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate creme brûlée until ready to serve; you can refrigerate them even a week before your event.

When you are ready to serve, you can caramelize the top. Put 1 teaspoon of sugar on top. I used Vanilla Sugar from Beautiful Briny Sea made right here in Atlanta, Georgia. Spread sugar evenly over each custard. Heat the top with your torch. (This is my husband’s favorite part. Guys just love fire.) Keep torching until you have a caramelized top.

Once you have caramelized the top, do not refrigerate. This will cause your topping to not be crisp.

How Do I Pick Out My Thanksgiving Turkey?

Whether this is your first time hosting Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, the turkey situation can be scary and daunting. As soon as you enter the grocery store, you are hit with multiple options like fresh, frozen, organic, heritage, free-range…and Butterball. I mean, what does it all mean? How big of a turkey do I need?

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A Beautiful Turkey Cooked by Williams & Sonoma

Today, I will try to help with the decision of picking out the turkey. I have researched several types of turkeys so that you are armed when you enter the store. This does not have to be hard.

How BIG of a Turkey Do I Buy?
To make sure you feed all your guest well, your biggest decision should be the size of turkey. An easy rule is 1 pound for every person at your table. If you want leftovers, 2 pounds per person will be perfect. IF you want lots of leftovers, well, you get the idea.

Where is this Bird Going to Cook?
Now, you need to consider where you are cooking this turkey! In your oven, in a roaster oven, and the neighbor’s. You need to size-up the area you have to work with. You can see the problem on Thanksgiving day when your turkey is TOO BIG and you have nowhere to cook it. Big Fail!

Do you have a Pan to Cook your Turkey in?
This is like a dress rehearsal. I like to (days before) establish what pans and dishes I will be using for Thanksgiving. Go ahead and pull out the pan you will be cooking your turkey in. You might need to purchase one or borrow from a friend. If you are using a roaster oven, make sure your bird fits before the big day.

Heritage, Free-Range, Organic, Oh My!
When you arrive to the grocery store, you will be hit with several choices. I consulted my friends over at Food & Wine to break it down for us.
Heritage: One of the most popular birds in the past few years because of their superior flavor, heritage turkeys are purebred and generally older than other turkeys you may find at the store. They tend to be smaller, have more bone and darker leg meat. Life outdoors gives these turkeys a gamier taste than the regular store-bought varieties.

Organic: Certified organic by the USDA, these turkeys are now more easily found in grocery stores, and are Weening’s top choice. They are fed an all-organic vegetarian diet, never given antibiotics and are raised on organic pastures. They tend to be a little more expensive because the feed the birds eat is more expensive.

Free Range: No antibiotics or hormones are given to these turkeys and they have access to the outdoors (at least part of the time, according to the USDA).

Pastured Turkey: This type of turkey is raised outdoors and is pretty much free to do and eat what it wants, although they are also given feed to ensure they get the proper levels of nutrients.

Kosher: Kosher turkeys are raised and processed according to strict rabbinical guidelines. Before they are packaged they are rubbed with Kosher salt, which also acts as a brine.

Brine: Some turkeys are one step ahead of you and have been brined already. Various juices, oils, seasonings, sugar and/or salt are injected into the turkey. Brining is beneficial because it can provide extra moisture and flavor to the turkey in addition to saving you some prep time, but it can dictate the flavor of your turkey and take the seasoning out of your hands. Butterball turkeys are usually brined.

Fresh vs. Frozen: Basically fresh turkeys are kept at a temperature of 27 degrees. When the temperature drops below that, the meat begins to freeze. If you’re buying a fresh turkey, buy it NO more than two days before you plan to cook it; you can usually reserve one at markets and farmers’ markets way in advance.

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Check Out Local Restaurants and Grocery Stores For Cooked

Many local restaurants offer Thanksgiving Turkeys for your convenience. This is a great option and one I have used before. You usually need to order a week before. Your turkey is prepped and cooked by a professional. Then when you pick up, you are given specific directions of how to cook your turkey. This is a great option to take some pressure off the big day.

It Will All Be Fine….
In the end it comes down to what you want to pay. Turkeys can get pricey, so know how many you are buying for and be sure to take into account the leftovers you want to eat for days to come. Otherwise you got this. Feel confident in the purchase of your turkey. Your guest will LOVE it.
Looking Forward,
Amanda

Thanksgiving Pie– No More Choices

Every year we plan out our Thanksgiving menus.  Turkey, Sides, Appetizers, Beverages, and Desserts!  Oh the desserts!  We are traditional and make Pumpkin and Pecan Pies.  I have thrown in a Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie (YUM!).

When I hit the dessert table, I usually take a little bit of everything.  (It’s the right thing to do!)  But what if two of your favorites were combined.  Like Pumpkin Pie married Pecan Pie!!

Well, it happened the other night in my kitchen.  A few years ago, Southern Living introduced this little union.  And we all lived happily ever after! You need to plan to make this pie the night before serving.  It is better when it has time to completely cool and flavors will pop.  I have made a few adjustments to the recipe and it is perfection.

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Preheat oven to 350°. Sprinkle work surface with powdered sugar. Roll out piecrust, and place on prepared surface. Sprinkle piecrust with chopped pecans. Place wax paper over piecrust and pecans, and lightly roll pecans into crust. Fit piecrust, pecan side up, in a lightly greased 9-inch pie plate; fold edges under, and crimp.

Mix together pumpkin  and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl until smooth and well mixed; pour into prepared piecrust.

Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.  Remove and shield edges with aluminum foil or crust protector.  This will keep your crust from burning.  Then bake an additional 25 minutes.

While pie is baking, you will create your pecan streusel topping.  This will create the pecan pie element to your pie.

For Pecan Streusel:
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
Mix all the pecan toppings together until well blended.After pie has baked 45 minutes,  gently top pie with Pecan Streusel Topping. Reduce oven temperature to 325°,  and bake 10 minutes. This will allow streusel to golden a bit. Then cover pie with aluminum foil.   Cool completely on a wire rack at least 3 hours.  Once cooled, place in refrigerator over night.  This will allow all the flavors to go crazy.
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Bourbon Vanilla Cranberry Sauce

We are on the official countdown to Turkey Day!  I will be sharing some of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes over the next few days.  For several years I made this Cranberry Sauce.  This sauce is yummy and has all the ingredients you want on your Thanksgiving table.  But then I discovered the beauty of mixing bourbon and vanilla to cranberries. And now this is our favorite!  Enjoy!
Bourbon Vanilla Cranberry Sauce

14 oz fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

2 T Bourbon

1 T Mexican Vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until cranberries burst and begin to break down, about 10-15 minutes.

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Stir well and remove from heat. Refrigerate the cranberry sauce for up to 3 hours before serving. But feel free to get ahead and make it the day before.

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Our Thankful Tree

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

November brings a month of Thanksgiving.  A time to truly give thanks to for the multiple blessings that surround us.  We see words like “thankful”, “blessed”, “grateful”, “gratitude”, displayed on wooden signs, etched on pumpkins & turkeys, and Facebook statuses.  It is that one time a year that we all pause and give thanks.

Each November, I pull out my roll of brown craft paper and we create our Thankful Tree. It is fun to crinkle up the paper and turn it into branches and limbs.  Then we create leaves from a variety of colors.

Throughout the month we all take time to add to our tree.  At first the list is easy: God, Daddy, Mommy, brother, my church, food, my house.  But then you start digging a little deeper.  And there is big difference when asking a three year old what they are thankful for and then asking a twelve year old.

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My boys love to look at the leaves as they are added.  They notice pretty quick when a leaf has been added.  It is a wonderful way for your child to see you showing thanks for your spouse and others.

There are lots of ways to make a tree.  This is my elementary teacher brain way of displaying our tree.  I know some families that create a tree the day of Thanksgiving and all the guest add leaves to the tree.  One momma told me that they gather limbs from the yard to create their tree.

It’s all about giving thanks and showing your children how to acknowledge thankfulness.

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Looking Forward,

Amanda

 

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

We are in the final days preparing for a fun and busy day in the kitchen.  I LOVE Thanksgiving!  I remember the smells of Thanksgiving waking me up as a little girl and being so excited about a day with family and yummy food.

I wanted to share a yummy pie that you might want to add to your dessert bar.  It’s gooey and full of rich favor!  Enjoy!  -Amanda

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Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

1 uncooked pie crust (either store bought or make your own)
1 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup light Karo Syrup
1 T Bourbon (I used Willett)
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place your prepared pie crust in your favorite pie dish.

In your mixer, beat your eggs, sugar, brown sugar, Karo Syrup and bourbon.  Stir in your pecans and chocolate chips. Pour pecan mixture into your prepared pie plate and bake 50 to 60 minutes or until the crust is lightly brown and the center is pretty set.

Remove the pie from oven and allow to cool at least an hour. Slice and serve. Top with a little bourbon infused whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. If serving the next day, you need to refrigerate. In my opinion, let pie come to room temp before serving.

Cranberry Nut Bread

This time of year so many traditions revolve around food and family.  One event that we do not miss on Thanksgiving morning is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.  Ever since I was a little girl, I would watch the parade from the beginning all the way until Santa made his big entrance.  The tradition is carried on now with William.  Several years ago I began making Cranberry Nut Bread for our Thanksgiving breakfast.  It has that pulled together taste of “Here we are at Thanksgiving and Christmas is on its way!”  It is a perfect start to the festivities of the day.  To all the things to be thankful for! – Amanda

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Cranberry Nut Bread

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 t baking powder

1 t salt

1/2 t baking soda

3/4 cup orange juice

2 T shortening

1 T grated orange peel

1 egg, well beaten

1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

1/2 cup chopped nuts, pecans or walnuts

Grease 9X5 loaf pan.  Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl.  Stir in orange juice, shortening, orange peel, and egg.  Mix until blended.  Stir in cranberries and nuts.

Spread evenly in loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on rack for 15 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool completely.

Can be served cold or warm with butter.

Basic Pie Crust

In a season of making pies, you might be in the mood to make your own pie crust.  This is my favorite go-to recipe.  It’s easy and comes out right every time.  I make extra so that I can cut out little creations for my pie crust.  On my last pumpkin pie, I added leaves.  It’s all about presentation! -Amanda

photo-86Basic Pie Crust (9-inch)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 t salt

1/3 cup plus 1 T shortening

3 to 4 T ice water

Combine flour and salt; cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle with ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, evenly of surface.  Stir with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened.  Shape into a ball; cover and chill until ready to use.

Roll pastry to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.  Place in pie plate.  Trim off excess pastry along edges.  Fold edges under, and crimp.  Chill.

Continue with creating your pie.  If you need a baked pie shell, prick the bottom and sides of pie shell with a fork.  Chill pastry until ready to bake.  Bake at 450 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.

Cranberry Sauce

Why yes, I know it comes in a can!  So does shrimp but that does not mean it’s okay to serve.  Freshly made cranberry sauce makes the whole meal come together.  It was simple and a hit on our Thanksgiving table.  I predict this little number will be a regular with turkey in the Fuller home. Chunk the Can!-Amanda photo-90

Cranberry Sauce

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup fresh orange juice (about 3 oranges)

1/2 t ground cinnamon

1/4 t ground ginger

Dash of ground cloves

1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries

1 T grated orange rind

Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook 12 minutes or until cranberries pop. Remove from heat; stir in rind. Cool completely. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Classic Pumpkin Pie

I know…some of you might think it is a little late for me to share my pumpkin pie recipe.  My plan was to share a few weeks ago when I first started making pumpkin pies for the season.  It’s hard to deny a 7 year old’s request for his favorite pie.  And then there was that text from a friend (not to be announced) that needed this recipe the night before Thanksgiving.  The truth is my recipe is straight off the Libby’s can!  It is one of those recipes that just works so there is no need messing it up.  There is still plenty of time to make pumpkin pies.  Forgive me this time!
And happy late Thanksgiving! -Amanda

Pumpkin Pie

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t salt

1/2 t ground ginger

1/4 t ground cloves

2 eggs

1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin

1 can (12 fl. oz.) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell (or Amanda’s Pie Crust Recipe)

Whipped cream (optional)

Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

Pour into pie shell.  I put a small slab of butter on top.

Bake in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.