Pretty as a Pecan Pie Picture

Bill’s Bourbon Pecan Pie is as good as it looks. It’s the holidays — bring on the richness. Recipe from Celebrate Home Magazine. See page 72.

Check out this pie recipe and others now. Thanks for reading.

Thanksgiving Things That Worked

I love writing this blog. People email me to share what they did well on a day that counts. You can feel the hospitality vibes through their email and their pleasure at providing a great meal for their families. The yummy turkey photo is from friend Cassandra Birocco of Adlife/Sirculr.

Here are two communiqués from this year’s Thanksgiving. I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving weekend and good health as we move into the busy holidays. If you need any ideas, just email me.

This year: I’m thankful that you read this blog. 

“A Huge Success on the Food Front”
Margaret lives in Albuquerque with her husband, Clark. It was just the two of them so they could just do whatever they wanted….and they did! Note her Pecan Praline Pumpkin Pie Recipe and what she did with the turkey.

Margaret writes:
We delayed the big Thanksgiving meal. I made appetizers at noon to have with wine while I cooked. We were so full on the appetizers that we thought we’d have turkey and fixings the next evening. And yes, we watched football. Yeah Redskins! The Patriot game was quite entertaining, unless you were a Jets fan.

I did something different with the turkey this year that worked out great. I cooked a turkey breast because a whole turkey is too much and we do not like dark meat. I made the dressing in a large Dutch oven, and then put the turkey breast on top of the dressing. Roasted it the first half with the lid on and then with the lid off. The turkey was moist. The dressing directly underneath the turkey was moist like when it’s stuffed in the bird. The dressing not underneath the turkey was crispy like when it’s cooked in a casserole.  And I made endive-walnut-gorgonzola salad which was yummy. Clark made peas cooked with prosciutto and mushrooms. Delicious! A huge success on the food front.

Pecan Pumpkin Pie Recipe
“I got this recipe from Good Morning America years ago.”

Make a Crisco-based crust (I made a butter-based crust yesterday and it didn’t work — the praline mixture reacted with the butter in the crust, leaving the crust like a cracker.)

Mix in food processor: 3/4 cup brown sugar and 4 tablespoons butter; add 3/4 cup pecan pieces. Pulse to just mix in the pecans.

Spread the praline mixture on the pie crust. Set aside.

Filling

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of cloves and mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of ground ginger, cinnamon, salt
  • 1 cup evaporated milk

Mix the filling with mixer. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until firm but still jiggling.

Bobby G’s stuffing

“I Made the Best Stuffing for Thanksgiving”

Bobby G. from Raleigh, North Carolina, is always up for trying something new. When he gets a win, he emails it to me. No doubt this stuffing must have been great. It looks basic, but when you eat Bobby G’s cooking, there is nothing basic-tasting about it. Secret ingredient here: apples.

Bobby G’s Herb Stuffing

  • 6 cups crusty white and/or wheat bread torn into about one-inch cubed chunks (allow to sit out for a while and get a little hard)
  • 4 cups cornbread – torn up
  • 2 medium onions – chopped
  • 4 celery stalks – thinly sliced
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
  • 2 large apples chopped (Pink Lady or a tart apple
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups chicken broth

Place bread into a bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat and add onion and celery. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook and stir frequently for about 10 minutes then add apples. Stir and cook for a minute then add the parsley, thyme, and sage, and cook for another minute.

Pour the mixture over the bread, and toss lightly. Add 1 1/2 cup of chicken broth and lightly toss. Salt to taste. Mixture should be pretty moist but not mushy. Add more broth to meet desired consistency. Refrigerate to allow favors to blend.

Place stuffing in casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the top is browned. I like to stuff my turkey with some of the stuffing. Then when the turkey is finished, remove the stuffing and mix with the remainder of the stuffing that was browned in the oven.

 

Getting Back to Your Roots

I remember growing up in western Pennsylvania and during  this time of year the only vegetables you could buy in the grocery store were potatoes, celery, carrots, onions, garlic, beets, and various other root vegetables like parsnips, turnips and rutabagas. We only had fruits and vegetables in season, unlike today when we have all varieties all times of the year. Eating fresh strawberries in the winter was unheard of and the only lettuce you could get in the winter was head lettuce. Root cellars were common where people stored their root vegetables for the winter where they survived cold storage after they were dug up at the end of summer.

As you traverse the produce aisle, don’t let the out-of-season bright fruits and veggies bedazzle you so much that you forget to choose the dull and pale root veggies. Pick up a parsnip or its cousin the carrot. Remember the rutabaga and its cousin the turnip. Another root vegetable, horseradish, prepared and jarred, is very tasty with these vegetables. Root vegetables are perfect complements to a roast. Even better, root vegetables are low in fat and calories.

Be whimsical about cooking up some root vegetables. I made up this simple recipe and it was delicious.

Baked Root Vegetables

parsnips, carrots, turnips and rutabagas (choose at least two of these depending on your taste)
onions
garlic, minced, to taste
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup low-sodium soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Slice root vegetables and onions thinly on a mandolin slicer. (2-3 cups)
Mix pineapple juice, olive oil and soy sauce and toss with vegetables. Season with salt, pepper and garlic if desired.
Put in casserole dish, bake at 350 degree oven, covered with foil for one-half hour. Bake for another 15 minutes uncovered. Mix Panko and Parmesan cheese and sprinkle on top of vegetables. Bake for about 15 minutes more or until bubbly.

 

Taking a Sick Day: Home Remedies

My son and I are both home from school and work today with the common viruses running around this time of year. Patrick is coughing his head off. He’s been to the doctor and has received appropriate treatment, but that cough is still alive and kicking.

My friend Linda just knocked on the door. Her father is our son’s pediatrician yet she didn’t come by with a written prescription from the good doctor. She came by with a home remedy from her mother-in-law – freshly-brewed lemongrass tea and stalks of fresh lemongrass.

She said lemongrass tea is a natural antibiotic and cough suppressant and gave me more stalks so I could brew more as needed. “It’s best to drink it throughout the day,” she said.

We would try anything at this point. I poured Patrick a cup; he drank it and reported, “Mom! I stopped coughing.” I then treated myself to a cup of the delicious brew.

I had never seen lemongrass before and Linda brought me a fresh stalks from the Grand Mart which is known for carrying items you can’t get elsewhere. I’m brewing some now and the lemony smell is wafting through the house. Linda said to simply boil water, clean the stalks, discard the green upper part, slice like celery and add to the boiling water for about 15 minutes. Guess what?…she’s bringing by homemade chicken soup later. Now that’s hospitality on the move.

The Spice Cake

Never underestimate the power of home remedies, there are many out there and they work. When I was little I often had bronchitis, sometimes it lasted all winter. My mom would rub my little bony back and chest with camphorated oil. I have no idea if it worked but the smell cleared my sinuses and the massage from mom was comforting.

One day I was so sick and she said she was baking me a “spice cake.” Oh! My little mouth watered in anticipation of the sweet confection. I had never eaten a spice cake before! What would it taste like? I stayed in my bed waiting for it to be done baking.

My mother came to my room with something in a pan that looked nothing like a cake. It was two pieces of flannel filled with vaporous smells. It was a spice poultice! She made me a spice poultice, warmed it in the oven and pinned it to the inside of my jammies next to my t-shirt. Those are really fond memories of her typical nurturing and care. How many of you still want your mothers when you’re sick? I’ve since made the poultice for my own son.

How to Make a Spice Poultice

Take two pieces of soft cloth, maybe flannel from a worn-out nightie, and cut into a 12” x 12” square. Spread one piece of flannel with Vicks VapoRub®. On top of the rub, sprinkle generous helpings of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and dry mustard. Take a needle and thread and rudely stitch the two pieces of cloth together. Heat in a low oven until warm. Do not place the warm poultice next to the skin but rather on top of a tee shirt with another shirt (preferably jammies) over that.

Please write to me and tell me about your home remedies – I’ll share them in this blog. Email me at bkelley@celebratehomemag.com.

Etta’s Edibles

English Toffee Bars returned in my dish.

Etta (short for Marietta) makes a mean brownie-like concoction and she’s in ninth grade. That’s how I started…I baked early and often. I gave her parents some crab dip in my dish and when the dish came back to my house, it was filled with Etta’s “brownies.” How delicious and how traditional – returning a dish not empty, but rather filled with a nice surprise. Thanks, Etta. You introduced me to English Toffee Bars and now there’s no going back to any old brownie.

English Toffee Bars
Recipe from Hershey’s Kitchens

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 cup Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Chips
  • Toffee Topping (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour and brown sugar in large bowl. With pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until fine crumbs form. Press mixture into bottom of ungreased 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

Sprinkle pecans over crust. Prepare toffee topping and drizzle evenly over pecans and crust.

Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until topping is bubbly and golden; remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over top, press gently onto surface. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.

Toffee Topping

Combine 2/3 cup of butter and 1/3 cup of light brown sugar in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Continue boiling, stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Use immediately.

 

Comfort Food Refined

Photo by Cindy Dyer

It’s that time of year when we want to heat up the oven and cook something good. There is nothing like a roast – whether it’s chicken, beef or pork – to say welcome home. This is one of my favorite creations and a popular offering in my home. I hope you enjoy it.

Roasted Pork Loin with Swiss Cheese

  • 1 two-pound pork loin roast
  • 1/2 cup of more Herbs de Provence
  • 1 cup water + 1/2 cup of red wine if you have it on hand
  • 4-6 slices of Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
  • Dijon mustard, grainy style

Dust pork roast generously with Herbs de Provence, about one-half cup or more. Place into a roasting pan, no rack needed. Fill pan with water about one quarter of the way up the sides. Bake at 350⁰ or until internal temperature reaches 155⁰. (About 1-1/2 hours, please don’t overcook.)

Remove from oven and let roast sit while you prepare cheese. Spread 6 slices of Swiss cheese by spreading them with hearty grain mustard. Cut six slits into the roast and push cheese in each slit. Return to oven and heat until cheese melts and the internal temperature of the roast is 160⁰. Serve with Dijon sauce.

Dijon Sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons of Wondra ® Sauce & Gravy Flour
  • 2 cups beef or chicken broth (Can use instant bouillon. I recommend Better than Bouillon.)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in sauce pan, whisk in flour until bubbly to make a roux. On low heat, slowly whisk in broth and milk until smooth and thickened. Stir in mustard and rosemary. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm. If it gets too thick, thin the sauce with more milk or beef broth.

Hint: Serve with tri-colored roasted potatoes on a bed of steamed spinach with caramelized onions. To caramelize onions, slice a yellow onion (not sweet) and sauté in about a quarter cup of vegetable or olive oil for about 20 minutes until soft. Turn up the heat a little and stir constantly until brown. Just before they are about to burn, take them from the stove and the onions are perfectly caramelized.

For More Yummy Fall Recipes

My recipe was originally published in Celebrate Home Magazine. Be sure to check it out here.