Too.hot.to. eat. – No recipe here today, just suggestions. As the heatwave continues in the US, and definitely here on the east coast, with a heat index of 110 degrees, let’s talk fruit. Frozen fruit- Grapes, Strawberries, Raspberries, Pitted Cherries, Oranges, Grapefruit and more!
Fresh fruit is delicious and refreshing enough, but for that extra bit of refreshment to help cool you down, freeze it! Seedless grapes, raspberries, blueberries, pitted cherries and strawberries can be frozen whole. Wash fruit and place on paper towels to dry. Put the fruit in a ziplock bag and place in freezer.
For a twist, segment an orange or grapefruit to freeze. To segment, peel the skin with a sharp knife, cutting all of the exterior off and the white “pith”. Holding the fruit in your hand, slice through each segment on the inside of the membrane to release the slice. Place the orange or grapefruit slices on a piece of parchment (or wax) paper on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid. When they are frozen, place in a ziplock bag to enjoy.
Use your frozen fruit in place of ice cubes in cold drinks to add flavor and color.
Have you ever been home by yourself and get a hankering for dessert? Maybe something chocolatey? You think “maybe some pudding, or a piece of chocolate cake? But, no, you tell yourself you can’t make a whole dessert: there’s all those ingredients, all the time to measure, mix and bake and whats more ~ the leftovers!
What if you could make a warm, chocolatey dessert made just for one? Do you have a coffee mug? Got some basic baking ingredients in the house? Got a couple of minutes? Then you’ve got a fudgey, chocolate mug cake! You don’t even have to choose between cake and pudding when in less than 2 minutes, you could have both in the same hot dessert.In 1 coffee mug, measure and whisk or stir together: 3 Tabl. Half and Half (or Whole Milk) 3 Tabl. Vegetable Oil 1 Egg dash of Vanilla Extract Whisk in: 4 Tabl. Sugar 1/2 tsp. Instant Coffee (optional, but it enhances the flavor of the chocolate) Whisk in: 4 Tabl. Cake Flour 2 Tabl. Cocoa Powder pinch of Baking Powder pinch of Salt Drop in: 1-2 Tabl. Chocolate Chips
Place the mug in your microwave. Microwave on high for 1 minute*. Remove from heat and stir from bottom up, just enough to mix up ingredients stuck on top. Place back in microwave for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave, cool for a few minutes and enjoy your own personal dessert!
* Microwave ovens cook differently. Your microwave may cook faster than mine and cook in only 1 minute, or may need a few seconds longer than 1-1/2 minutes. What is important to remember is: you want some liquid in the bottom. Be careful not to over-bake or you’ll have a very solid, dry cake.
Caramel Corn is one of those indulgences that seems justified on a cold fall or winter evening. There are many different types of Caramel Corn and just as many recipes. This recipe comes from the folks at Land ‘O Lakes and is the best I’ve ever made. I used to make it in huge batches, bag it and sell it at the bakery. If I’m making it for my family, I stir in about 2 cups of roasted and salted peanuts, but these can be omitted.
While it is a bit time-consuming, you’ll be making time in your busy schedule to make it again and again. 7 quarts of Caramel Corn sounds like a lot, and you can, of course, cut the recipe in half BUT…you’ll be glad you made it all!
Start with 7 Quarts (28 dry cups) of air-popped popcorn. Sort through and remove any un-popped kernels. Place the popcorn in a very large bowl, one which leaves enough room to stir.
Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees.In a large saucepan, combine: 2 cups Brown Sugar 1/2 cup Corn Syrup 1 tsp Salt 1 cup Butter
Bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, boil the ingredients until a candy thermometer reaches 248 degrees.Remove from heat and stir in: 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda 1-1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Immediately stir into the popcorn (BE CAREFUL as it is VERY HOT!). Coat the popcorn well. Pour the popcorn out onto lightly greased baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. After the hour, line the counter or table with parchment or wax paper and dump the pans of popcorn out onto the paper. Allow to cool completely. Break apart the pieces and bag or store in an airtight container.
Like many of my readers, today will be my prep day for tomorrows feast, because, like you, I’d like to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family and not be stuck in the kitchen all day. The key to enjoying tomorrow is preparing today.
My years as baker for retail bakeries have taught me to plan ahead. My mantra: “Prepare everything possible today to bake off fresh tomorrow”. There are major parts of the meal that can be completed today to make tomorrow easy. Most of these dishes are the “messiest”, so completing them today frees your kitchen from the mess tomorrow.
What to do today:
Mashed Potatoes – Peel, wash and cut potatoes. Boil until soft and mash. Stir in a couple of Tabl. Butter, a little cream cheese and a dollop of sour cream and season with salt and pepper. Place the mashed potatoes in a buttered casserole dish to be warmed tomorrow – sprinkle with a bit of paprika for color. Bake in oven approx. 1 hour to heat through tomorrow.
Corn Bread – make the batter, spread in the pan, refrigerate and bake off tomorrow.
Make Turkey Stock – Remove the giblets and neck from your turkey (seal turkey back up and place back in the refrigerator). Brown the giblets and neck on medium high heat on top of stove in a saucepan. Brown all sides. Stir in 2 Qts. water and add a couple stalks of celery, an onion, and poultry seasoning. Simmer for 2 hours to develop the flavor. Cool completely in a sink filled with COLD water. When completely cool, place in the refrigerator to use for for stuffing and gravy. When you are ready to use the stock, strain first. This stock will add more flavor to stuffing/dressing and the extra stock stirred into the browned roast turkey bits makes the best gravy when thickened with a bit of flour and cold water.
Saute’ celery and onions, cool and then refrigerate today to be added to the stuffing tomorrow.
Cranberry Salad – either cooked or raw this can be prepped today.
Trim and wash any Vegetables such as squash, beans
Desserts: Bake the pumpkin roll, fill and ice, Prepare pie/tart crusts and fillings, so tomorrow a.m., you can fill and bake and have fresh, warm pie! If you won’t have enough oven space, bake today.
I hope this guide will be helpful to you today and help you to have a wonderful, peaceful and enjoyable Thanksgiving tomorrow!
It has been said that “the Thanksgiving meal takes an average of 18 hours to complete and 18 minutes to eat.” I encourage you to start today prepping your meal, each day make or prep something for your dinner. This way, you’ll be able to sit and enjoy your family and guests instead of spending the entire day in the kitchen.Based on the following Thanksgiving Menu (yours may differ): Roasted Turkey Mashed Potatoes and/or Sweet Potatoes Stuffing/Dressing Gravy Vegetables Rolls and/or Cornbread Dessert: Pies, Tarts and/or Cakes
Here is a list to get you kick-started:Monday: If you have a frozen turkey, get it out of the freezer today! Turkeys take a couple of days to thaw out. Thaw your bird safely in the refrigerator.
Make pie dough: Follow the pie dough recipe and instructions under the recipes index. Roll your dough, place into pans, placing a piece of parchment or wax paper between the shells and wrap well with plastic wrap. Refrigerate. If you are going to make double crust pies, roll some dough out and freeze on a sheet pan separated by the parchment or wax paper. Tarts can be fully baked now and frozen. I have some wonderful tart recipes you’ll find in the index – all of which are easy and delicious! Bake them today, cool and freeze until Thanksgiving day. (They thaw within a 1/2 hour or so) I would not bake today and keep until Thursday, not that the tart will be bad, but not as fresh. If you want to skip the freezing step, bake your tarts or pies on Wednesday. Tuesday: This is a great day to wash, cut and prep all your vegetables. I always bag my chopped onions and celery for stuffing, and prep out all of my other vegetables, bagging them too. Cornbread can be baked to be used for stuffing or cut bread slices into cubes for stuffing. Wednesday: Make Turkey Stock – Remove the giblet packet and neck from the turkey cavity. Place in a saucepan and brown on all sides. Add to browned turkey, celery, an onion (or two), pepper, salt, sage and 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours on low heat. Cool and refrigerate. This will be the stock you can use for stuffing and gravy tomorrow. (instead of canned broth or water). Mashed Potatoes - You can either peel, wash, cut and place in a pan with water and refrigerate for tomorrow OR go ahead and boil today until tender, mash, add cream cheese and/or sour cream, butter, salt and pepper and place in a casserole dish to be warmed through tomorrow. Sweet Potatoes – Peel, wash and roast or boil. When the potatoes are tender, drain and cut into cubes or mash, whichever you prefer. Stir in the ingredients you use and place in a casserole dish to be warmed up tomorrow. (I use butter, honey, toasted pecans and a dash of cinnamon) Stuffing/Dressing – Onions and Celery – as many as you like I usually make a couple of cups. Saute until translucent, cool and then refrigerate (I put mine in a bag to be added to the stuffing tomorrow) If you are using bread, cut into cubes and then place cubes back in the bread bag for tomorrow. Dessert – Make your pies/tarts today if you haven’t done so previously in the week. Most tarts and pies do not need refrigeration. Creamy pies NEED REFRIGERATION. Follow recipe instructions. Thanksgiving Day: Turkey – Pat dry your turkey, and season as desired. (I make a compound butter with sage, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper and rub under and over the skin of the turkey. I also place celery and sage leaves, onions and salt and pepper in the cavity of the bird to flavor from the inside.) Place your bird on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast covered in a 325 degree oven for approximately: (I usually uncover to brown mine during the last hour.) 4 to 8 pounds (breast) — 1½ to 3¼ hours
Perfect for any fall or Thanksgiving meal, the pumpkin roll appeals to all. Rather than serve a pumpkin pie, or maybe in addition to a pumpkin pie, this cake is soft and slightly spicy and has a creamy cream cheese filling. The maple extract really compliments the pumpkin, but if you don’t like maple, just use the vanilla extract.
Traditionally, the recipe says to dump the cake out on to a towel while it is hot from the oven and then roll the cake lengthwise. Did you know there is an easier way? Use parchment on the bottom of the sheet pan. Then allow to cool before removing – It works great and there’s no chance of getting burned on a hot pan.
In a mixer bowl, whip until light colored and fluffy and doubled in volume: 3 Eggs, whole 1 cup Sugar 2/3 cup Pumpkin Sift and fold into above ingredients: ¾ cup Cake Flour 1 tsp. Baking Soda 1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie spice or ½ tsp. Cinnamon and ¼ tsp. Ground Cloves and 1/4 tsp. Ginger
Spread the mixture into a parchment lined 1” sided cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 12 minutes or until it springs back when touched.
Allow the cake to cool completely, remove cake from the pan by pulling the parchment off on to the counter. Flip over the cold cake and remove the parchment.Maple Cream Cheese Filling: Cream until smooth: 8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened 2 Tabl. Butter, softened Add: ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract ½ tsp. Maple Extract Add and beat until smooth: 1 cup powdered Sugar
Spread the filling onto the cooled cake. Roll the cake lengthwise, rolling it tight. Dust with powdered sugar. Place on serving tray and cut into 1″ slices to serve.