Preparing for our Thanksgiving feast

gravy

Do you see that cool swirl from the steam off the gravy? No photoshop tricks here. I didn’t even know this happened until after I was reviewing the photos!

Here are links to the recipes I’ll be using for our Thanksgiving feast this year.

My meal will include:

turkey with gravy (for the gravy, the link will take you to the gravy I made from a roast chicken — same process for turkey gravy)

stuffing To save oven space for the bird, I now make the stuffing in a crock pot.

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vegetables

veggies

sweet potatoes

sweet potatoes

smashed potatoes

mashed potatoes

rolls

cranberry sauce

cranberry sauce

apple pie (I will post the recipe for the pie pictured below very soon. Can’t believe I haven’t posted it yet!)

apple pie

pumpkin pie (I am not a huge pumpkin pie fan, though my husband and oldest son love it, so I use a can of organic pumpkin and follow the typical pumpkin pie recipe — pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves.)

pumpkin pie

chocolate pie (my daughter and youngest son will not eat apple or pumpkin pie … and I don’t mind one bit adding a chocolate pie to the menu!)

chocolate pie

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Here is a link to shortcuts I take to make my Thanksgiving meal easy and less work the day of the feast.

Thanksgiving prep

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To start the day I’ll serve baked French toast. Such a holiday favorite of mine!

baked french toast

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What items are on your Thanksgiving meal menu?

chocolate mousse cheesecake pie

Say it with me:  Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake Pie. Makes you smile, doesn’t it?

When I saw those words in the subject line of an email about a blog post over at mel’s kitchen cafe, I knew it wouldn’t be long before it was recreated in my kitchen. I knew this even before clicking on the link. Once I did click, and saw all the great pictures and read the recipe, I knew it was going to happen very, very soon.

I showed the recipe to my daughter and she instantly agreed that we’d have to make it, so why not for Thanksgiving. Great idea! In addition to the apple pie and pumpkin pie that I had planned to make, a chocolate dessert would be a nice option. We were right. It was a perfect compliment to the fruit pies.

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I’m not going to type out the recipe here, instead I’m linking to the original (see above). We followed the directions exactly, other than using a graham cracker crust instead of an Oreo crust (because we had it handy). Oh, and we left the cheesecake part in the oven for just a few minutes too long by mistake, but that didn’t alter the taste at all.

So if you’re like us and the name alone makes you drool, go over to mel’s kitchen cafe and try this recipe. You won’t be disappointed!

brownie ice cream cake

For years now my oldest son has requested an ice cream brownie cake (or brownie “pie”) as his birthday cake. The first year I made one it was a disaster in terms of appearance, but tasted oh so good. Over the years I’ve mastered the technique in making it look as good as it tastes. He turned 20 this month, so when he returned from college for the Thanksgiving holiday, I had this waiting for him. Food is love.

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Brownie Ice Cream Cake

Step #1:

Use your favorite brownie recipe, or prepare a boxed brownie mix, according to package directions. Instead of using the batter in a 9×13-inch pan, put 2/3 of the batter into a deep baking pan (I used a disposable foil pan), and the remaining 1/3 into a similar sized square pan. Bake for about 2/3 of the time listed on the package (since they are thinner they will take less time to bake).

Note: For the one baked in the square pan, I used a baking liner which makes transferring it to the top much easier. But we’ll get to that later on.

IMPORTANT: Make sure the pan for the base is deep enough to hold all the ice cream that will go in later on! This one is about 2 1/2 inches deep.

Step #2:

When they are done baking and have been removed from the oven, allow to cool for a little while.

Do not remove the brownie from the deep pan, but do remove the thinner one from the square pan (when it’s cool enough to handle, of course!).

Allow to cool completely before starting the next step.

Now is a good time to take your favorite flavor of ice cream out of the freezer, so that it can get soft (but not melted).

Step #3:

On top of the brownie base in the deep pan, drizzle a decent amount of chocolate syrup (optional), then scoop the softened ice cream onto that.

My youngest child can’t have mint chocolate chip ice cream, which is the flavor the birthday boy requested, so a portion of the cake was made to be solid chocolate (I used a permanent marker to mark on the outside of the foil pan which section had the chocolate ice cream … makes cutting into it much less of a guessing game!)

Step #4:

Drizzle more chocolate syrup on top of the ice cream. Again, this step is optional. If you have a young child helping you, as I did, they may not agree with you that it is optional. You have been warned.

Step #5:

Carefully flip over the thinner layer of brownie, placing it on top of the ice cream, and remove the baking liner. (See how easy that was!)

Gently push the top brownie to compress the ice cream just a bit. Not too much… just enough to get out any excess air.

Step #5:

Drizzle more chocolate syrup over the top layer of brownie. You think I’m going to tell you this is optional, right? Well, no! You must drizzle the chocolate on top. You must! Not optional.

Cover and freeze.

Step #6:

When ready to serve, remove from freezer about 5 or 10 minutes before you want to cut it.

Note: Once you cut it in the foil pan, you may end up cutting through the foil. Or maybe that’s just me. Anyhoo, after cutting pieces for everyone I transferred the remaining cake to a freezer safe container, and back in the freezer it went. Until the next morning. Yes, when you’re 20 and home from college for a few precious days, you may have brownie ice cream cake for breakfast.

boston cream pie

Okay, let me start by addressing what I know is on your mind: Why is it called “pie” when it is most obviously cake? I know… I know… what a mystery! Well, I used the good old internet and found out that we really don’t know for sure why the guy who made this back in the 1800s called it pie instead of cake. It is not a pie. It is truly a cake. We know this to be true, yet all these years later we still call it a pie.

Pie. Cake. Does it really matter? No, it does not. It’s delicious and an amazing creation that I make a few times a year, promptly getting the award for best mom of the year, even from my teenage daughter (anyone with teens knows this is quite an accomplishment).

The other day I received my daily email from Foodimentary, and when I saw that October 23rd is National Boston Cream Pie Day, well, I took that as a sign to make it!

Now, traditionally, Boston Cream Pie is a yellow cake layered with vanilla pudding/custard all under a beautiful chocolate glaze. I have two recipes from Hershey’s for this. The first is from one of those small recipe booklets that you could buy at the grocery store check out lanes (do they still sell those things???), and it’s from 2005. In that book the recipe is for the traditional way. The other recipe is from a recipe handout that I found at a grocery store a few years ago. That recipe makes the Boston Cream Pie completely chocolate. That’s right: chocolate cake with chocolate pudding and chocolate glaze. Sounds amazing, right? Right.

When my youngest son and I got out the ingredients to make this the other day, I asked him which he’d prefer, the traditional way or all chocolate. He wanted a bit of each. So we made the yellow cake but with the chocolate pudding. Excellent choice!

*Note: In the recipes below are a few minor changes to what is listed in the Hershey’s recipes. For example, I don’t use shortening or margarine, so butter is listed in the recipe below. Also, there are a few changes to the technique (putting the batter into two pans rather than one, and whisking rather than stirring, etc.).

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Boston Cream Pie

Cake:

1/3 cup butter, softened but not melted

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup whole milk

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Heat oven to 350F.

Prepare two 9-inch round cake pans. Either grease and flour each one, or use silicone baking liners.

Beat the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until fluffy.

Stir together the dry ingredients in a small bowl.

Into the butter mixture, add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk. Beat well.

Divide the batter in half and pour each half into one of the prepared cake pans.

By putting it into two pans rather than one, you won’t have to slice the one cake in half horizontally after it’s cooled. Genius, right?

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a wooden pick comes out clean.

Cool 10 minutes in the pans, then remove the cakes to a wire rack.

Cool completely.

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Pudding:

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup cocoa

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch and cocoa.

Gradually add the milk and egg yolks; whisking until well blended.

Cook over medium heat and STIR CONSTANTLY!!!!

Once this comes to a boil, continue to STIR CONSTANTLY for 1 minute. It will be nice and thick.

Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.

Put into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until cold (takes a couple hours).

At this point you must resist the urge to grab a spoon and eat the whole bowl.

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Chocolate Glaze:

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons cocoa

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

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In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the water and butter until it begins to boil, then remove from heat.

Whisk in the cocoa immediately.

Gradually whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla.

Continue to whisk until smooth.

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Now, to assemble this creation.

Place one of the cooled cakes on a large plate (I put bottom side up, since it’s flat).

Take chilled pudding out of refrigerator, stir, and spread it over the cake.

Place the second cake on top (bottom side down).

Pour the glaze onto the cake, putting it near the center. Then gently tilt the plate so that the glaze gets distributed over the entire top layer of cake, with some of it beautifully drizzling down the sides. Take lots of photos (wait … maybe that’s just me).

This is before all the tilting.

chocolate pie

chocolate pie

For Mother’s Day my wonderful daughter made a dessert for me.

While she was searching in my recipes for the perfect choice, it didn’t take long to decide on Hershey’s Kitchens Gone To Heaven Chocolate Pie. After the first time she made it, she put this note on the recipe:

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Gone To Heaven Chocolate Pie

1 9-inch pie shell

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 egg yolks

3 cups milk

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups HERSHEY’S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips, and/or semi-sweet chocolate chips (*this time we used only semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Sweetened whipped cream or whipped topping (optional)

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Bake pie shell; cool. Or use a ready-made pie shell — this time we used a store bought chocolate cookie crust.

Stir together the sugar, cornstarch and salt in 2 quart saucepan.

Combine egg yolks and milk.

Gradually blend milk mixture into sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.

Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla.

Add chocolate chips; stir until chips are melted and mixture is well blended.

Pour into prepared pie shell; press plastic wrap onto filling. Cool. Refrigerate several hours or until chilled and firm.

Garnish with whipped cream and additional chocolate chips, if desired.