November 21, 2012

One Pie, Two Flavors

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Margaret's Morsels | Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Pie

When I cook for a lot of people on Thanksgiving, I make pecan and pumpkin pies.  This year, I'm only cooking for a few people so instead of making two pies, I'm making one that combines the flavor of pecan and pumpkin. 

Margaret's Morsels | Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Pie

The recipe uses a frozen deep-dish pie crust.  If you don't want people to know you didn't make the crust, remove it from the foil pan and put it in your own pie plate.

Margaret's Morsels | Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Pie

I let the crust soften at room temperature for a few minutes before loosening the pan around the top of the crust.  If it doesn't separate from the crust easily, don't force it; you don't want to break the crust.  Let the crust soften a few more minutes and try again.

The recipe starts with a can of pumpkin pie mix which isn't the same thing as canned pumpkin.  Canned pumpkin is pureed pumpkin whereas pumpkin pie mix contains sugar and spices that are used to make a pumpkin pie.  The pie mix is combined with eggs and a can of evaporated milk.

Margaret's Morsels | Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Pie

I put the pie plate on a baking sheet before adding the filling.  That way, it's not as likely to spill when I move it in and out of the oven.  

Margaret's Morsels | Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Pie

While the pie is baking, combine the topping ingredients.  The original recipe had a praline topping made with pecans, brown sugar and butter. Over the years, I experimented with the topping and came up with a streusel topping we like better.  I still use pecans and brown sugar, but I add a little flour and use shortening instead of butter.

Margaret's Morsels | Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Pie

Halfway through the baking time, sprinkle the topping onto the pie.  The sister-in-law that gave me the recipe only sprinkled the topping in the center of the pie so the pumpkin would show.  I like to sprinkle it all over the top, letting a little bit of the pumpkin show.

Margaret's Morsels | Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Pie

Return the pie to the oven to finish baking.  When it's done, remove it to a wire rack to cool before storing it in the refrigerator.

If you're not sure what kind of pie you want to make for Thanksgiving, I'll share what my 14 year old son wrote when I was working on this post and left my laptop unattended.  "You should make apple because it is better than pecan or pumpkin!!!!!!!!!!  However, though, peanut butter pie with a chocolate covering is quite delectable."  If you agree with him, clicking on the words in bold type will take you to those recipes.  Otherwise, here's the recipe for something a little more traditional.

Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Pie
8 Servings

1 (9-inch) frozen deep-dish pie crust (unbaked)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (30 oz.) can pumpkin pie mix
1 (5 oz.) can evaporated milk


1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp. shortening
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

Combine the topping ingredients; set aside.  Combine eggs and pumpkin pie mix in a large bowl.  Add evaporated milk; mix thoroughly.  Pour into pie crust.  Bake at 425° for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350° and bake 15 minutes.  Sprinkle topping over pie filling and bake an additional 30 to 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.  Keep refrigerated.

© Margaret's Morsels

November 17, 2012

Afternoon Appetizer

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Margaret's Morsels | Cranberry Delight Spread

My mother always served the Thanksgiving meal in the early afternoon. Some years, I serve the meal in the afternoon -- depending on who's coming and whether or not they're going to their in-laws later that day -- but I prefer serving it in the evening.  I like having more time to cook the food plus the ambiance that comes from having candles lit while we eat.

The years I serve an evening meal, I offer an array of appetizers for guests to nibble on during the afternoon while the turkey, dressing and all the trimmings are cooking.  Cranberry Delight Spread is one of my favorite seasonal appetizers.  Like the previous cranberry recipes I've shared, it's also a combination of cranberries and oranges, but this time in the form of dried cranberries and a fresh orange.

Cream cheese is combined with concentrated orange juice, cinnamon, sugar, chopped pecans, dried cranberries and orange zest.  Zest, the outermost layer of the rind, contains aromatic oils which are very flavorful.

Margaret's Morsels | Cranberry Delight Spread

The easiest way to remove the zest is with a microplane zester.

Margaret's Morsels | Cranberry Delight Spread
The microplane zester is the one on the right.

Don't scrape the orange too deeply; you don't want to remove the white part -- known as the pith -- because it's bitter.  The zest adds a lot of flavor so if you're using a large orange, start by adding part of the zest; you might not need all of it.  Taste the mixture to see if you need to add more zest. This is especially important if you're doubling or tripling the recipe.   

Dried cranberries can be tricky to cut because they're sticky.  A quick and easy way to cut them is with a pair of kitchen shears.  If the cranberries stick to the shears, spray the shears with a little bit of nonstick cooking spray.  The cranberries will slide right off.

Margaret's Morsels | Cranberry Delight Spread

I mix up the spread a couple of days ahead of time so the flavors have time to blend.  When I'm ready to serve it, I put the spread in a bowl on a platter surrounded by vanilla wafers and gingersnaps.  The friend that gave me the recipe serves it with Triscuits to balance sweet and salty.

After our Thanksgiving meal is over and the leftovers are put up, we play -- what one of my nephews calls a family tradition -- several friendly, but competitive rounds of Taboo.  As the evening progresses, the leftover afternoon appetizers are brought out for people to munch on while trying to figure out how to describe cranberry without using the words red, bog, juice, Thanksgiving or Ocean Spray!

Cranberry Delight Spread

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. concentrated orange juice (undiluted), thawed
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. sugar
zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup finely chopped dried cranberries

In an electric mixer bowl, combine the cream cheese, orange juice, cinnamon and sugar.  Beat on medium speed until smooth.  Fold in the orange zest, pecans and cranberries.  Refrigerate.

© Margaret's Morsels

November 7, 2012

Thanksgiving Traditions

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When it comes to cooking, I'm a creature of habit.  When I find culinary combinations that work well, I tend to stick with them.  For instance, I always serve Marinated Baked Chicken with Mushroom Rice Casserole

Margaret's Morsels | Marinated Baked Chicken

and Baked Ziti with salad and garlic bread.

Margaret's Morsels | Baked Ziti

This habit comes in handy at Thanksgiving, especially when the fourth Thursday in November falls early like it does this year.  My Thanksgiving menu will be reminiscent of years past which, in reality, is almost identical to what my mother served every year at Thanksgiving.

There will be slices of roast turkey on a colorful turkey serving platter and a big bowl of Cornbread Dressing.  To save time, I bake the frozen biscuits and packaged cornbread mix the day before.  The recipe makes a lot -- 8 to 12 servings -- so if there's any left, you can freeze it and use it later.

Margaret's Morsels | Cornbread Dressing

A lot of people serve mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, but my mother always served Potato Salad and so do I.  In fact, it's the only Thanksgiving recipe I use that came from my mother.  This tasty side dish can be made one or two days ahead of time.  You can substitute a 24 ounce package of Ore-Ida Steam 'n Mash cut Russet potatoes and avoid peeling, dicing and cooking the potatoes.

Margaret's Morsels | Potato Salad

If you prefer sweet potatoes, I've got two recipes to share.  Sweet Potato Souffle, a fancy name for sweet potato casserole, can be made with three pounds of sweet potatoes or a package of Ore-Ida Steam 'n Mash cut sweet potatoes.  It can be made a day or two ahead of time and reheated in the oven or microwave.  If you leave it in the dish you baked it in, no one will even know it was made ahead of time.

Margaret's Morsels | Sweet Potato Souffle

Quick and Easy Candied Sweet Potatoes are a nice alternative to the traditional casserole.  You don't have to peel potatoes because this recipe uses canned sweet potatoes.  Unlike the sweet potato souffle that can be made ahead of time, this is best made right before serving.  It only takes a few minutes and is cooked on the stove top, which is helpful when the oven is already being used.

Margaret's Morsels | Quick and Easy Candied Sweet Potatoes

If you're a cranberry lover like me, I've got three tasty recipes that share some of the same ingredients, but with completely different textures.  The first one, Cranberry Orange Relish, is a sweet-tart combination made with fresh cranberries, apple, orange, pineapple and sugar.  It can be made up to two weeks ahead of time and stored in the freezer.

Margaret's Morsels | Cranberry Orange Relish

Southern Cranberry Salad is a congealed salad that combines whole berry cranberry sauce, mandarin oranges and pineapple with cherry gelatin. It can be made a couple of days ahead of time.

Margaret's Morsels | Southern Cranberry Salad

Cranberry Orange Casserole also uses whole berry cranberry sauce and mandarin oranges, but not pineapple.  The sauce and oranges are combined with lemon juice and sugar and baked in the oven.  Unlike the other two cranberry recipes that can be made ahead of time and served cold, this one is best served hot from the oven.  The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.

Margaret's Morsels | Cranberry Orange Casserole

My mother made homemade rolls from scratch, but I use a bread machine to make One Hour Buttermilk Rolls, which means they take longer than an hour to make.  If you don't have a bread machine, the recipe includes directions for making the rolls by hand.  The rolls can be made a month ahead of time, stored in the freezer and reheated in the oven or microwave.

Margaret's Morsels | One Hour Buttermilk Rolls

To quench everyone's thirst, I serve Fruit Tea.  This sweet tea is combined with pineapple juice, lemon juice and, the secret ingredient, ginger ale.  It's best made the day it's served.

Margaret's Morsels | Fruit Tea

I'll be posting some new Thanksgiving recipes next week, including a dessert that combines two traditional Thanksgiving flavors.

© Margaret's Morsels