Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pies and More

Thanksgiving is a huge holiday in Thatfamily. Preparation starts weeks in advance. Everyone had their jobs. Thatmom did most of the cooking. Thatdad made all the "weird" dishes - like a turducken, or a specialty turkey, or a new and unique stuffing. I was in charge of all the desserts save three - Thatdad's ice cream and Thatmom's twenty pound cake and apple crisp. Several days before Thanksgiving, Thatdad would start making the ice cream. He had to work in advance, because once the oven got cooking, it would be too hot for the ice cream to set. Two days before Thanksgiving Thatmom got to work on her twenty pound cake and apple crisp. The day before Thanksgiving all the sides got made, leaving the day of for stuffing, turkey, and gravy. Repro and his family brought the green veggie and mashed potatoes and we'd all feast along with whatever Thanksgiving stragglers we had picked up that year - from Thatparents' students, to friends, to new additions to our family.

This year things were going to be a little different, and Thatmom, Thatboy, and I were all a little concerned as to how Thanksgiving was going to play out. Thatmom is naturally distracted more than usual, which means we had the same conversation 7-8 times about who was making what and when. Even the carefully written out list with the guests, who was bringing what, and when we each had to make each dish didn't prevent a phone call about every three days asking what "so and so" was bringing.

Taking Thatboy away for his birthday weekend, and continuing celebration on his actual birthday gave me 1.5 days to prepare before we headed to Thatmom's house to start the holiday preparation there. I had made the pie dough the week before and froze it to give myself a head start. This year I took over Thatdad's role as ice cream maker and made his specialty - fudge swirl with chocolate chunks and wet walnuts. I made that Monday night along with baking the won ton cups. Tuesday night was all about pie as I made the pumpkin apple and pumpkin pie. And of course some pumpkin ice cream, for those who don't love chocolate. (Along with some pecan muffins for our coworkers) Wednesday Thatboy and I took a half day at work and headed up to Thatmom's house where I made the polenta and biscuit dough. And Thursday I just made myself useful - and finished up the other appetizers.

For ease of reference, we'll divide the meal into three courses. Each course took up an entire table of food.

Course 1: Appetizers. Knits and I were in charge of these, but since it's my blog I just have pictures of what I made.

Salad in won ton cups

Polenta squares with goat cheese - these were good as is, but even better when I repurposed the leftovers for breakfast:
goat cheese polenta squares topped with black beans, sunny side up eggs, and salsa

The hit of my appetizers was the baked brie with cranberries and apple. This went over so well, that I'll probably make it again for Christmas with the inlaws.

Course 2: Turkey Dinner

How gorgeous does Thatmom's turkey look? After Thatboy raved about my turkey last year, Thatmom let me brine this 24 lb bad boy. We're not normally briners, but we will be from now on. Everyone agreed this was the moistest turkey they've had. The turkey is stuffed with Thatmom's famous chestnut stuffing. Then I used the turkey drippings to make the gravy - which Repro described as "strong." I'm also now the official gravy maker of the family, which is fine, because I think it's the easiest part of Thanksgiving.

My not to be missed biscuits. I call them cream biscuits because they have 1 cup of cream in them. I actually ran out of cream after the ice cream and almost made them with half and half. Thatboy decided we shouldn't mess with perfection.

The spread and the crowd. We turn the kitchen island into a buffet of good foods. Two tables, and 14 people from across the county gather to enjoy. This is also the best vantage to see Toxicesq's cranberry relish and Repro's famous mashed potatoes (both the guilt-free and guilty versions), and broccoli.

Multiple plates of turkey and stuffing so no one has to wait too long to fill their plate. My favorite - candied yams, and Thatmom's favorite - cranberry relish. Because you can never have too much, we require two of every dish.

Course 3: Dessert - not pictured are Thatmom's twenty pound cake and apple crisp. And the baklava that my mom's sister sent from New Jersey.

Nissan brought pumpkin cheesecake from the Urth Caffe.

My pumpkin apple pie. Thatbrother, Thatboy, and Thatmom were very skeptical of this pie, but it ended up being a hit.

My take on Thatdad's fudge swirl ice cream with chocolate chunks and wet walnuts. Mine ended up having a lot more chocolate in it. Who would've guessed?

Bass LOVES pumpkin pie. (I'd like to say he loves my pumpkin pie, but I'm fairly sure he'd eat just about anybody's). He made a special request this year that I make a graham cracker crust instead of my usual pie crust. GOOD SUGGESTION! The pumpkin pie with graham cracker crust was a hit. Everyone loved it. Even Thatmom loved it and ate it two days in a row - and she doesn't like pumpkin pie! She declared it the best pumpkin pie ever.

This pumpkin pie ice cream from also raised some eyebrows. Then Petman tried some and declared it "awesome" and soon the rest of the family followed suit. I heard murmurs of "did you try the pumpkin ice cream yet" from everyone. And each person who tried it fell in love.

Pie recipes:

Pumpkin Apple Pie
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 Tbsp flour
3 granny smith apples
1 egg
1 cup canned pumpkin
5 oz of evaporated milk

1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a 9 inch pie pan with unbaked dough. Mix 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour in bowl.
2. Peel, core, and slice the apples and toss them in the sugar/cinnamon mixture, coating well.
3. Heat 1/4 cup sugar in a small pan on medium heat with 1/16 cup of water, stirring until dissolved. Allow to cool.
4. Combining remaining sugar, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in medium bowl.
5. Add egg and beat with a whisk.
6. Add pumpkin, evaporated milk, and cooled sugar water and mix well.
7. Spoon apple mixture into pie pan. Pour pumpkin mixture over apple mixture. Bake 15 minutes.
8. Reduce temperature to 350 and bake 40 more minutes.

Pumpkin Pie
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 6 ounces)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
1 15 oz can pumpkin
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 425. Mix the graham crackers with sugar and melted butter and press into bottom and sides of 9 inch pie pan. Chill while preparing filling.
2. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt in bowl.
3. Pour pumpkin mixture into graham cracker crust and bake 15 minutes.
4. Reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake for another 40 minutes.


  1. Oh my word and the food just kept coming and coming.....and coming!! What a glorious feast!

  2. Looks like you had a very memorable Thanksgiving That Gir...if only we could all join in for a healthy slice of some pumpkin apple pie.

  3. Oh my word you really had a FEAST! All those pies and ice cream too. Love the salad in the little cups, good idea for a big meal.

  4. WOW! This all looks AMAZING!!

  5. Fabulous! I got tapped to make the potatoes this year and just in case you were wondering, making potatoes for 40 is work! Folks liked them so much that I guess I'm being tapped to do them again next year.

  6. I want a goat cheese polenta square seriously badly.