For this week's installment of What I'm Loving Wednesdays...I'm highlighting the recipes that worked and were loved from this past Thanksgiving Holiday! Myself and Mr. Allan hosted a small group for Thanksgiving. There were some highs..like some of the recipes that will follow..and a couple lows...like the digital turkey thermometer melting in the oven..who knew those suckers weren't heat proof? I guess I should've shelled out the extra 5 bucks for the nicer one!
First up....desserts! One highlight...this Gingerbread Pumpkin Trifle. I orginally found the recipe on Food Network...one of Paula Deen's that doesn't include 3 sticks of butter! However, I did make a couple changes which I noted below!
2 (14-ounce) packages gingerbread mix
(I only used 1 pkg. I have the large trifle dish from Crate and Barrel. I used Trader Joe's Gingerbread mix)
1 (5.1-ounce) box cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix (I used the cook and serve but I'm not sure why you couldn't use 2 boxes of instant...the cook and serve didn't do anything special and the pudding is mixed together with the pumpkin)
1 (30-ounce) can pumpkin pie filling
(I bought pumpkin pie mix..it was a sugary disaster. I instead used a 30 oz can of Libby's pure pumpkin. I seasoned it with nutmeg, cinnamon, and ground ginger)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping
(I hate the taste of coolwhip. If you do use Pumpkin Pie filling, I can't imagine that sugary taste couple with cool whip. I whipped fresh organic heavy cream, threw in 1-2 tsp of sugar and a little vanilla)
1/2 cup gingersnaps, optional
(I used the gingersnaps..Trader Joe's has Triple Ginger Snaps with chunks of ginger in them..so good!)
Here are the directions from Food Network...
Bake the gingerbread according to the package directions; cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool. Stir the pumpkin pie filling, sugar, and cardamom into the pudding. Crumble 1 batch of gingerbread into the bottom of a large, pretty bowl. Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped topping. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping. Sprinkle of the top with crushed gingersnaps, if desired. Refrigerate overnight. Trifle can be layered in a punch bowl.
Here's a LINK to the original recipe!
Up Next...Grandma Ople's Apple Pie. I stumbled upon this on http://www.allrecipes.com/ and it is, hands down, the best apple pie recipe I have ever tried. I've probably test run about 10 different ones and I come back to this one every year! Here's a pic of the apple pie..sorry for the weird cell phone picture...my work computer doesn't allow me to use Picnik to edit!
Grandma Ople's Apple Pie
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and sliced (I had a ton of apples left over...I think next time I will peel and core 6 and see how I do with an extra one in the wings..8 was way too many)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.
Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work of crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.
Two notes-- when you make your butter/sugar mixture, I found it way too clumsy to try and pour this from my saucepan over the pie--you'll make a huge mess. I grabbed either a gravy boat, creamer, or something with a little pouring spout. I poured the mixture in there first. This allowed me to really get the mixture into the nooks and crannies of this pie since the lattice crust covered it already.
Also, I baked for 15 min at the higher temp, then 60 minutes at the lower temp. I think my pie was a bit under done. I may cover the top crust in foil and bake for 25 minutes at the higher temp, remove the foil and bake at the lower temp. Baking at the higher temp is how you get your bottom crust baked...mine was a bit underdone.
Now for some stellar sides....First up Baked Spinach from Julia Child. I originally saw this recipe on http://www.smittenkitchen.com/ It was easy, and so good.
photo from http://www.smittenkitchen.com/ since I was a dope and didn't take a pic of mine!
Baked Spinach Gratin
Serves 63 pounds fresh spinach
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup stock (your choice; Julia recommends beef) or cream (I used stock; it doesn’t *need* cream)
3/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons fine, dry breadcrumbs
Stem and wash your spinach (see Tips below) well but no need to spin or pat it dry. Place spinach in a large pot over high heat. Cook, covered, with just the water clinging to leaves, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 2 to 4 minutes for baby spinach and 4 to 6 minutes for regular spinach. Transfer to a colander, immediately fill pot with cold water, transfer it back to the pot of cold water to shock it (stop the cooking) and drain again. Squeeze a small amount of the spinach at a time in your hands to extract as much water as possible. Chop the spinach coarsely. You should have about 3 cups of chopped spinach, or about 1 cup per pound.
Wipe out pot then melt 2 tablespoons butter over moderately high heat and stir in the spinach. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until all of the moisture from the spinach has boiled off — you’ll know you’re done when the spinach begins to stick to the pan.
Lower the heat and sprinkle with flour and stir for 2 minutes to cook the flour. Add 2/3 of your stock or cream, a tiny bit at a time, scraping up any stuck spinach as you do. Once the liquid is added, simmer for another minute or two, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. If you’re feeling especially indulgent, stir in one more tablespoon of butter. If needed, add all or part of remaining liquid. Season with salt (I found 1/2 teaspoon table salt about right) and pepper.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a shallow 1-quart baking dish. Stir 1/2 cup cheese into the spinach and pour it into the baking dish. Mix the remaining cheese with breadcrumbs and sprinkle on spinach. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons remaining butter and pour it over the top. Bake until heated through and slightly brown on the top, about 30 minutes.
I made this with stock as well and it was delicious! The hardest part of this is washing and stemming the spinach. Next time I might give frozen chopped spinach or baby spinach a whirl!
Next highlight was Green Bean Casserole made from scratch. I can't tell you how much better this was than the stuff made with a can of cream soup. I got this recipe from the Williams Sonoma website. I use their garlic mashed potato recipe as well!
1 1/4 lbs. green beans
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
10 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
3 large shallots, plus 3 Tbs. minced
1/3 cup plus 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup chicken stock or broth
1 tsp. soy sauce, preferably mushroom soy sauce
Canola oil for deep-frying
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a deep 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Trim the green beans and halve crosswise. Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans and cook until tender-crisp, about 4 minutes.
Drain and rinse under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels and set aside. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they give off their juices and are browned, 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in the 3 Tbs. minced shallots and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the 3 Tbs. flour and stir well. Slowly stir in the half-and-half, stock and soy sauce and then bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring, until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the green beans, season with salt and pepper and transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. (The casserole can be prepared to this point up to 1 day ahead, covered and refrigerated.) Bake until the liquid is bubbling, about 20 minutes (30 minutes if it has been refrigerated).
While the casserole is baking, pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a heavy saucepan and heat over high heat to 350°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and place near the stove. Cut the remaining 3 shallots crosswise into slices 1/8 inch thick and separate into rings. Place the remaining 1/3 cup flour in a small bowl. Toss the shallot rings in the flour to coat evenly, shaking off the excess. In batches to avoid crowding, add the shallots to the hot oil and deep-fry until golden brown, about 30 seconds. Transfer to the paper towels to drain.
Remove the casserole from the oven, scatter the fried shallots on top and serve. Serves 6 to 8.
Just a couple of notes...to save time, I steamed my beans in my Pampered Chef microwavable steamer and then just ran them under cold water. I also fried my shallots the night before and stuck them in a Tupperware container. I also ran out of soy sauce and used Worcestershire instead!
Hopefully you might be able to incorporate some of these into the holiday meals this month!
And...don't forget to link up with What I'm Loving Wednesdays at http://www.littledaisymay.blogspot.com/