my best pumpkin pie {video}

Last week my house was heavy with the scent of warm pumpkin pie. I know, I know. Who makes pumpkin pie a week before Thanksgiving? Me, that’s who. When my pie craving hit, I scoured the cupboards, convinced I had evaporated milk, but alas, there was none. I was going out to the store to get eggs and butter, and could’ve picked some up, but decided a pumpkin pie recipe sans the canned stuff might be more useful to all of you (spoiler alert: it was the best pumpkin pie, ever). We’ve all been there, at some point, a craving that seemingly can’t be fulfilled because of one missing ingredient, right? One day I might try making my own evaporated milk…(I can see Mikey doing an eye roll from above). For now, I decided to give it a try with heavy cream. I scaled back the amount of liquid, since my research told me it would be way too much cream if I just subbed in an equal amount for the missing evaporated milk. Continue reading »

no-roll pie crust {video}

Every morning I wake up, and promise myself I’ll get to bed early that night. And yet, here I am, almost midnight, talking about pie crusts. It’s a pressing subject this time of year. Literally. I know, the kids today use that word all wrong, but this is no joke. Tuck the rolling pin away, and let your fingertips do all the work to press the crust into the pan.

I’ve been hesitant to try this method for years now. I love rolling pie dough. Of course that only blossomed into deep affection once I developed a crust that didn’t result in tears. After years of working on creating a foolproof crust, would I have to abandon my tried and true recipe to use a new technique? The answer is no, thankfully.

The only tweak I made to my Foolproof Pie Crust is that I swapped in granulated maple sugar. It’s such a small amount, so don’t worry. Use what you have on hand. Here’s a quick video to show you how easy it is to use this no-roll pie crust method. So, I say put the kids on pie duty while you tackle the more challenging work to get the Thanksgiving meal on the table.

I’ll be back some time today, or first thing Wednesday with my new pumpkin pie recipe. If you’re not a fan of evaporated milk, or forget to buy it (as I often do!), you’ll want this recipe in your repertoire. The recipe also uses maple sugar, so it’s refined sugar-free. A nice option for a lighter dessert choice after enjoying the big feast.

Okay, time for some shuteye, folks. See you on the flip side.

Get my recipe for Foolproof Pie Crust here.

{how to} perfect mashed potatoes, every time

We grew up mostly eating mashed potatoes from a box. I once told that to my friend Carol, and she couldn’t believe such a thing even existed. The only time I really remember my mom making them from scratch was on Thanksgiving. Jokes about hanging wallpaper were inevitable. Mashed potatoes are the simplest thing to make, and yet, the easiest to mess up.

Many people reach for the hand or stand mixer to make them. Unless you’re careful, that’s a sure fire way to over work them, and make gluey, gummy potatoes. I’ve found four ingredients key in making the best mashed potatoes, ever: properly cooked taters, butter (and lots of it!), salt, and hot milk. And of course, the technique is crucial, too—ditch the electricity, and grab a hand masher. In fact, if your potatoes are cooked just right, a fork will even work for smaller, weeknight batches.

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{DIY} how to make brown sugar

It’s bound to happen, even if you’re a planner. You reach for the brown sugar, and boom—all out. No sweat; I’ve got you covered on this one. It’s so easy to make your own brown sugar at home that I rarely even buy it anymore. All you need is molasses and cane sugar to make it yourself. Of course, this means you need to have molasses on hand. Once you fall in love with molasses, the way I did a few years ago, that won’t be a problem. Here’s a quick video I made to show you just how easy it is to make brown sugar in the comfort of your own kitchen. And in case you need some inspiration to use up the rest of that molasses, I’m sharing links to a few of my favorite recipes. Continue reading »

how to make brown butter

Just a quick check in to say hello. I’ve spent far too much time working this weekend, but it’s all for a good cause. We’re Montreal bound for spring break this week, so I’m trying to cram seven days’ worth of work into two. Yes, I know. It’s colder there than it is here, and it would’ve been nice to swap winter boots for open toe sandals. I’m on a mission for an amazing pain au chocolate I tasted at Patisserie Au Kouign Amann last summer. Montreal is only 250 miles from my house, and my motto is “will travel for good eats”. I suppose once I tally tolls and gas, it’s a rather expensive pastry, but since we only live once, I’m doing it to the fullest. Continue reading »

pumpkin slab pie

I know, it doesn’t look like much, but believe me that this pie will change your life. At least when it comes to making pie for a crowd. The weather changed rather abruptly last week. Between that and the sudden realization that Thanksgiving was around the corner, my cravings for pumpkin pie, both eating and baking it, kicked into high gear.

I’ve been doing a lot of baking for the school store, and I wondered the best way to sell the pie there without needing plates or utensils. Slab pie came to mind. Rather than baking it in a round pie plate, you use a jelly roll pan, creating bar-like pieces. The yield is also incredible, turning what would’ve normally been a deep dish pie for 10 into a more suitable serving size of 24 square bars. Continue reading »

marathon soup

It’s officially soup season in upstate New York. Being a year-round soup lover, I celebrate this time of year because I can justify making it for dinner, amidst the complaints from my soup-hating children. Yes, I know, how can they not like a steaming bowl of homemade chicken soup? Usually I can get them to fish out the pasta with their spoons. Neither of them will touch the carrots. They hate them cooked, and only like them raw. You’d think mushrooms were poisonous the way they shriek if I manage to accidentally spoon one into their dish.

Alas, this soup has everything I love it in. This is even a case where I’ll eat the chicken (I’m generally not a fan, even though it’s said I make an incredible roasted one). Something about adding tortellini to my soup brings back to being a kid. It’s like a fountain of youth with each slurp. Continue reading »

crispy buttermilk fried chicken

There are moments when I still can’t wrap my mind around it all. I’ve traveled miles I never imagined. Seen and done things, I never thought possible. And yet, today as I drove over the bridge to Rhinebeck, all I could think about is what I was doing at this time three years ago. He was still alive, and the idea that he could be gone in an instant, forever, seems inconceivable, even to this day. I suppose the wonder of it, even reflecting back, knowing what I know, the notion that it could still surprise me—I think that’s called hope. Hope is the fuel our minds need to function even when the rest of our system shuts down. Continue reading »

crispy oven fries

The kids are snuggled in their beds, fast asleep. Much as I should be in bed, too, I’m wide-eyed after a cat nap. It’s become part of Virginia’s bedtime routine. After we read books, I usually curl up with her, to help her fall into a peaceful slumber. This wasn’t always our pattern; certainly not when Michael was alive. Then again, I was always firm about bedtime, knowing that a cuddle on the couch was my reward after a long day. The daytime was all about the girls. Nighttime was a standing date with my guy to catch up on our day, relax, and enjoy curling up in the corner of our L-shaped sofa together.

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creamy homemade hummus

By now, you’ve probably figured out I’m a bit obsessive about cooking from scratch. Michael used to tease me, and ask when I was going to start making my own water. There is a hazard to this, though, and in my case it started with a simple pot of beans. Most cooks will agree that there is no worse fate for a pot of beans than overcooking them. Beans should have a little bite to them; kind of like al dente pasta. You know their just right when you bite into them, and they give way ever so gently, but still require some chewing, and don’t just collapse in your mouth. They should hold their own, so to speak, when combined with other ingredients, as in the Chickpea, Parmesan and Fennel Salad in Homemade with Love.

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