Holiday cookie baking in full swing

Since Columbus Day cookie baking has been in full swing for me.  I plan to have all cookies done before Thanksgiving as I did last year, when I was able to create a wonderful cookie tray to share on Thanksgiving.  I plan to make this a yearly tradition.

When do you begin cookie baking?

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The Chaotic Cooking-Through Challenge: Month Seven

My most favorite time of the year has arrived.  When November 1st rolls around I know that the holiday season of Thanksgiving and Christmas has come.  I enjoy the food and ambiance of this season better than any other time of year.

For November there couldn’t be any other category for our challenge than:

Pies and Pie Crusts

When you think of Thanksgiving you most certainly think of homemade-from-scratch pies alongside that yummy Turkey or Ham (or at least I do :0) ).  This month’s category gives you an opportunity to bake and share some pies when you celebrate Thanksgiving with your loved ones.  Pumpkin is always on the top of my list but there are many other pies out there that are just as scrumptious.  And nothing beats a homemade pie crust.  It is so simple to get together that you’ll be asking yourself why you’ve been buying those pre-made ones from the grocery store (the secret is ice cold water and other cold ingredients to get it just perfect when blended together).  Last Autumn I had shared a Pumpkin Pie recipe and story which can be found at this link, if you’re interested.

I encourage you to have fun, take photos, share your food with others and link your blog posts back to this post on my site so that we all can see what you are making and enjoying.  It is not a requirement to have a blog to join-in on this.   I’d love to see your comments though if you are participating.

I know that you will find satisfaction in various ways by choosing your own ingredients and creating healthy dishes in your own kitchen.  A good home-cooked meal is always a great centerpiece at any gathering and shows your feelings towards others. 🙂

(To read more detailed information concerning the cook-through challenge please go to this link: Chaotic Cooking-Through Challenge)

Happy Cooking and Baking!!

🙂

Homemade Apple-Cranberry Crumb Pie

After finishing off the Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie I just had to bake another pie.

Because a House just isn’t a Home unless there are some homemade baked goods in its kitchen, especially during the Holiday Season! 🙂

I took a recipe for an Apple-Cranberry Crumb Pie and tweaked it up a bit.

It is very yummy!  Not too sweet and not too tart; just perfect.

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As always, I made my own homemade crust so the following instructions will be for the pie itself.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Ingredients for the Topping

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

5 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into smaller pieces

Ingredients for the Filling

3/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tbsp cinnamon (or whatever amount you prefer; add nutmeg if you like it too)

3 medium to large size baking apples (I used Winesap)

1 12-oz bag fresh cranberries

Directions

Prepare topping by combining all ingredients, except butter, in a small bowl.  Mix well.  Add butter and use a pastry blender to combine into the mixture until there are small pea-size pieces.  Hold aside until filling is in the crust.

Prepare filling by whisking/sifting together the sugars, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Cut up the apples into small chunks/slices and put into a large bowl with the cleaned fresh cranberries.  Add the sugar/flour/cinnamon mixture and mix together well.  Place this into the prepared pie crust and then sprinkle the topping over all.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees and then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees for approx 40-50 minutes or until apples are tender and everything is bubbly.

Enjoy!

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My Favorite Filling (You call it Stuffing)

Here in PA Dutch Country, many people say ‘Filling’ rather then ‘Stuffing’ for that wonderful, tasty, scrumptious side next to the turkey.

Some people actually put it in the turkey but I don’t do that.  I prefer to make my Filling in a dish by itself.  My favorite is the Old-Fashioned type and recently we began adding mushrooms to it.  We absolutely love it!

You may desire to try something different this Thanksgiving so I will share my homemade recipe for Mushroom Filling.  It is not difficult to make and most people will have the simple ingredients in their kitchen at this moment.  It is definitely very tasty!

The ingredients listed will fill an 8″x 8″ dish (double or triple it to feed a crowd; I often do).

Ingredients

1 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)

1 tsp of parsley (crushed) (or other herb you enjoy)

8 cups bread cubes (dried if you prefer)-Please note: I always take 16 slices of white bread and cube it up.  If I let it on the counter for a little while, uncovered, it will dry out a bit but I don’t worry about it if the bread isn’t dried and I never buy bread cubes to make this.

1/2 cup to 1 cup chicken broth, turkey broth or water (your preference)-I always use broth

Roughly 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (or use more if you really love them!)

Directions

In a saucepan cook celery and onion in butter til tender but not brown.

Saute your sliced mushrooms in a separate pan to remove the excess water in them and brown them a bit.

Add the mushrooms to the cooked celery and onion.

Stir in your parsley (or other herb) and add salt and pepper to your preference if you want to add it now.  I often just add fresh ground pepper and leave the salt out.  Your guests/family can add salt, at the table, if they want it and if you use gravy you probably won’t need any additional salt.

Add the celery, onion, mushroom mixture to the bread cubes in a large bowl and then begin gradually adding your broth and tossing everything together in the bowl.  You want everything to be moist but not extremely moist or it will need to bake longer in the oven.  If you use fresh bread, you won’t need to add as much broth to your Filling.

Place into a buttered 8″x 8″ pan and bake it uncovered in the oven with your other food.

A rough estimation on times and temps are as follows:

325 degree oven for 40-45 minutes

375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes

I just add it to the oven and keep an eye on it until it is as browned as I like it.  My turkey is typically done, out of the oven and “resting” before my Filling and that’s okay too.

If you have any questions, just ask.  This is a basic Old-Fashioned Filling recipe and you can tweak it as you like.  Add in anything you enjoy and see what you create!

Your Family will Thank You!!

(I recently baked a roaster-chicken for supper with this Filling, sweet potatoes, gravy and jellied cranberries on the side.  It was a mini-Thanksgiving meal and I often make this recipe throughout the year and definitely at the holidays.)

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Eating our way through Autumn; One Pumpkin Pie at a time.

I have always enjoyed Autumn here in Pennsylvania.

It is a beautiful time of year with colorful leaves, crisp cool air, sweatshirts to wear and festivals all around.

I also love getting back to making comfort foods and baking more in my kitchen.

For the last few years I’ve been baking through many different Pumpkin Pie recipes in my search to find the perfect one:

The first Pumpkin Pie I fell in love with.

My Grandmother’s.

I do have many of her recipes including the few cookbooks which she owned but like many of her generation, The Greatest Generation, the recipes to daily eating were kept hidden well in their memory and not written down.  I have tried many of the Pumpkin Pie recipes among her collection but I can’t seem to find the exact one which she made.  She may have used one of the written recipes which I’ve found but tweaked it a bit by adding or omitting something which I can’t seem to figure out.  I even asked my Aunt (my Grandmother’s daughter-in-law) if she had my Grandmother’s recipe.  She doesn’t but she did share the one which she has always made and it is very good as well.

One thing is certain.

My husband isn’t debating with me over all of the taste-testing which he’s been enduring through my many attempts at finding the ‘one!’ 😉

I recently purchased a blue used cookbook titled The Victory Binding of the American Woman’s Cookbook Wartime Edition.

It is a book full of recipes which use common household items found during the War time.  Nothing fancy is needed and there is a lot to be found within the covers among the nearly 1000 pages.

I have found a Pumpkin Pie recipe in there which has gotten me to the closest I think I can get to my Grandmother’s pie.  It seemed to have the appearance, taste and consistency of her Pumpkin Pie; from what I can remember anyway.

To usher in the Season and to share with you, here is the one from that book and I hope you will enjoy it this Holiday Season.

Happy Autumn!!

Ingredients

1/8 tsp salt

2/3 cup sugar

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 2/3 cups milk

1 1/2 cups mashed cooked pumpkin

1 Pie Crust

Directions

Sift dry ingredients together and stir into eggs.  Add milk and pumpkin.  Line pie pan with crust and pour in filling.  Bake in preheated oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes; reduce to 325 degrees and bake 35 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.   Cool.

Variation

Use 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 tsp ginger instead of pumpkin pie spice