Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reluctantly Thankful....

...I have tons of things to be thankful for in my life, no doubt about that. (hello wonderful friends, immediate family, puppy dog, job, blog, sweet loft, health, food, wine, beer, did I mention my wonderful friends?) Regardless of that fact(s), I am NOT a fan of Thanksgiving. In terms of the "big holidays" it is my least favorite (hello extended family drama: every. single.year.) Actually, "least favorite" is pretty mild....but I'll leave it at that.

One thing I do love though, is to cook. So, even though the "classics" that define Thanksgiving pretty much bore me to tears, I do play my part. Just call me Pumpkin Pie Gal. 'Cause that is what I've been making for Turkey day since I was 9 years old. Yep....let's not talk about how many years that is now, umk?

But inspite of my distaste for Thanksgiving, I do make a mean Pumpkin Pie. And the key my friends? A real, 2 legit 2 quit, pie crust. None of that frozen stuff on the "big day"

So, put on your big girl panties and bust out the Joy of Cooking....dear Joy will not lead you astray when it comes to pastry crusts.

Once your crust is prepped and ready to go, (and yes, crimped edges are a must....I use a damp fork, fyi,) gather the filling ingredients. Again, I don't mess around with this tried and true tradition and follow the recipe on the back of the Libby's can. (Yes, I know, Jess the Mess following a recipe...don't fret people, only when I'm baking!)

This is the simplest pie ever, just mix all the ingredients together (including the 2 very camera shy eggs) and pour them in the crust. 

And bake the pie, obviously. I think I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. Oh well. 

[Btw: the pie only requires a 15oz can (aka, 2 cups of pumpkin, give or take a tablespoon) so check out a fun pasta dish to use up the rest of that pumpkin puree. ]

I also wanted to try my hand at making real cranberry sauce after picking up two bags of the suckers at Publix this week (I just can't resist the power of BOGO sometimes). After perusing some recipes online I decided on an Orange and Grand Mariner route and started this adventure with the below ingredients:

First up make a "simple syrup" consisting of half a cup of water, half a cup of OJ, half a cup of white sugar and half a cup of brown sugar.

And produce something that looks like swamp water....bravely solider on.

Add the rinsed cranberries and bring the whole mess back up to a boil until the cranberries "pop" was awesome...try it! Once you've popped your cherry, err cranberries, lower the heat to a simmer and let the berry laden syrup reduce.

Lovely. Stir in a few tablespoons of Grand Marnier and enjoy. This sauce might just save Thanksgiving for me. But that is a big "might."

Now, what to do with that leftover pumpkin? Make some pumpkin pasta...I've been making this variation of one of Rachel Ray's recipes for a few years now and it never fails to satisfy me.

Check it:

The Stars of the Show:
       *Pumpkin Puree (about 2 cups)
       *1/4 of a large onion, rough chopped
       *1-2 cloves of garlic
       *Chicken Broth
       *Spices: nutmeg, cinnamon sugar, black pepper and hot sauce
       *Pasta of your choice
       *Optional: link sausage, chicken or pork. I used chicken apple sausage, cut into bite sized pieces

Once the aromatics/protein are lightly browned it's time to build the sauce:

Add the pumpkin, spices and about 2 cups of chicken broth then drizzle in the cream.

Toss with the pasta and enjoy!

I top off my portion with grated Parmesan cheese and more cinnamon sugar. And more burned garlic toast. Yum.

Love to all,
~the, even if I don't like Thanksgiving doesn't mean I'm not thankful gal, Jess


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