Saturday, November 21, 2015

Two of the Best Cherry Pie recipes for Thanksgiving - take time out for a slice of life, Southern Style

Save your fork and pass the pie – take time out for a slice of life, Southern Style and you can certainly have cherry on Thanksgiving and enjoy every bite!

Goodness knows, in the South, we don’t wait for a holiday to enjoy a slice of pie - but on holidays it should be your favorite pie - Right? Like they say, “Just save your fork and pass the pie.” Most food historians agree that this comfort food is America’s number one dessert. Everyone has a favorite, but who doesn’t like pie?

Certainly the pastry that nestles the sweet goodness must be equally divine!

Pie dough  doesn’t fall into that “easy as pie,” category for everyone, but it should.  A basic recipe and a few simple skills will ensure a flakey crust each and every time. Though completely from scratch baking of days gone by is all but a lost art form; the taste of the fresh ingredients, with no additives, is still unsurpassed. Never again will you have to reach for that frozen crust or ready-made pie to satisfy a craving. After all, homemade goodness and the taste of a slice of pie warm from the oven is something that money just can’t buy. 
Cherry Pie in Star Crust
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon sugar
1 cup butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
Secrets to a good pie crust: chilled ingredients and chilled dough.

Put flour, salt and sugar in a bowl, blender or food processor. Add the pieces of butter and process approximately 10 seconds or until it resembles "coarse meal." Add ice water drop by drop while machine is running (or you are mixing) just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not mix longer than 30 seconds. Roll dough out on a piece of plastic wrap. Press down slightly. Chill for at least one hour.

After the dough has chilled sufficiently, remove one portion of the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry into a 12 inch circle. (To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards).) Fold the dough in half and gently transfer to a 9 inch pie pan. Brush off any excess flour and tuck the overhanging pastry under itself, crimping as desired. Refrigerate the pastry, covered with plastic wrap, while you roll out the remaining pastry and make the cherry filling. Meanwhile, remove the second round of pastry and roll it into a 12 inch circle. Using a 2-1/2 inch star cookie cutter, cut out about 20 stars.
Place the stars on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator.  (I use two sizes of stars and made a pattern so you can make any pattern you want –hearts, Christmas trees, etc. or just top with double crust or lattice style, up to you.
Cherry Filling
4 cups pitted sweet or tart canned or bottled cherries, drained with 1/3 cup cherry juice reserved
1 cup sugar, or to taste
2-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces
2 tablespoons cream
Softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. 

Place the cherries in a large bowl. Add the sugar, corn starch, salt, lemon juice, vanilla, and gently toss to combine. Add the 1/3 cup reserved cherry juice. Let sit for about 10-15 minutes and then pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell and dot with the 2 tablespoons (of butter. Lightly brush the rim of the pastry shell with the egg wash. Starting at the outside edge of the pie, place the cut out pastry stars in a circular pattern on top of the cherries, making sure the tips of the stars are touching. Once the top of the pie is completely covered with the pastry stars, brush the entire surface with the cream. Sprinkle with a little granulated white sugar.

Place the pie on a larger baking pan, lined with parchment paper, to catch any spills. Bake the pie for about 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue to bake the pie for about 25 - 35 minutes or until the crust is a deep golden brown color and the cherry juices are starting to bubble. If the edges of the pie are browning too much during baking, cover with a foil ring. 
Place the baked pie on a wire rack to cool for several hours.  Serve at room temperature with softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Store any leftovers for 2 - 3 days at room temperature.

Cherry Delight
This recipe has been in our family for years, and is always a favorite for potlucks and other special occasions.  It is easily and quickly prepared.  The red cherry topping makes this dish a delightful dessert for occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas. 
1-¾ cup graham cracker crumbs, crushed
¼ cup butter, melted
1 ( l-lb.) box powdered sugar
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 pint whipping cream
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla flavoring 
1 (21-oz.) can cherry pie filling 
Mix graham cracker crumbs and butter to form crust in 9-inch pie shell or 9x9-inch pan.  Soften cream cheese and mix with powdered sugar.  When thoroughly mixed, spread over pie crust.  Mix whipping cream, adding sugar and vanilla flavoring.  Spread over cream cheese and powered sugar mix.  If time permits, refrigerate until whipping cream is firm before topping with cherry pie filling.  Add cherry pie filling and serve.

Cranberries - all time favorite recipes and then some . . . sauce, salad, in the snow, how they grow

Cranberry Catsup
1 (16 ounce bag) cranberries, coarsely chopped                                               
1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1-3/4 cups sugar                                                                                                                              
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pepper (fresh cracked)
In medium saucepan bring all ingredients to a boil; stir occasionally.  Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until mixture is thick Put hot catsup into hot jars add tops, or cool and store covered in the refrigerator. 
Cranberries in the Snow

1 package raw cranberries
3/4 cup water
1 (6-ounce) box cherry flavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
1 cup chopped celery, deveined
1 cup crushed pineapple, well drained
Chopped pecans, toasted
1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow cream
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 pint whipping cream, whipped
Cook raw cranberries in water until tender.  Add gelatin and 2 cups sugar; stir well and cool.  Then add celery, pineapple and pecans.   Put into a 13 x 9-inch pan and refrigerate until jelled. Combine marshmallow cream, cream cheese, and whipping cream; spread on top of jelled cranberry mixture. 
I love the ruby red color of the cranberry in addition to their sweet taste with the savory turkey and dressing. I’ve always thought it was an essential part of any Thanksgiving meal. But don’t for a minute get bogged down thinking cranberries are just for traditional sauce. There’s way more to this tart fruit – really it’s limitless.

Perhaps no fruit is more associated with Thanksgiving than the cranberry. Fresh cranberries, native to America, are harvested between Labor Day and Halloween and appear in grocery stores just in time for holiday cooking. They have a short shelf life and can be refrigerated for 2 – 3 weeks, but will keep for a year or more in the freezer.

No one knows for sure how cranberries became associated with holiday feasts, but historians guess that it had something to do with the Native Americans. They enjoyed these ruby red berries, cooked and sweetened with honey or maple syrup, and also used them decoratively, as a source of red dye. Medicinally, few things in nature have been found as healthy as the cranberry.

As far as healthy foods go, cranberries are at the top of the list due to their high nutrient and antioxidant content and are often referred to as a "super food." Not to mention, half a cup of cranberries contains only 25 calories!

They go with just about anything. Add dried cranberries to trail mix or frozen ones to a fruit smoothie.

Put an autumn spin on a classic cocktail with cranberries. Cranberry Sangria is easy to make and a red wine, such as a Beaujolais or Zinfandel, marries well with the cranberry. Toast the holidays with a cranberry mojito if you like or freeze fresh berries ice cubes and add to a lemon-lime soft drink for a splash of color.

Dried cranberries are a colorful and delicious way to welcome fall as a salad topping with walnuts and goat cheese and your favorite vinaigrette dressing.

Add dried cranberries to your oatmeal or to your oatmeal cookies. Add them with white chocolate chunks to your favorite cookie recipe. Mix your favorite cranberry sauce with red pepper jelly and serve it over cream cheese for a quick appetizer.

An elegant dessert for fall entertaining when fresh pears are seasonally available is to roast the pears in brown sugar, butter and spices, then drizzle with creamy white chocolate, nuts and dried cranberries soaked in brandy. Oh my goodness, is your mouth watering yet?

Cranberries lend themselves to a delicious sauce that I think goes especially well with pork. Making a Waldorf salad, add some dried cranberries – delicious with the apples and celery. Or candy them and pile them atop a brown butter tart for a show-stopping dessert.

Cranberry breads, muffins, sauces, glazes, cookies, cakes, pies and relishes are still the rage on America’s holiday table, and I’m so thankful.

Cranberry Sauce
This is so easy but oh so good with turkey and dressing at Thanksgiving.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water (or cranberry juice)
1 (12-oz.) package fresh or frozen cranberries
Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil; add cranberries, return to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until serving time.
Cranberries with Port
This delicious cranberry sauce turns out to be one of the simplest—something you won't have to think twice about while preparing a big holiday meal. For added convenience, make it ahead of time and refrigerate until a few hours before serving. There’s an affinity of the flavors of the cranberries with the addition of port and if you like, add orange zest to the saucepan – just suit yourself. 
1 cup ruby port
1 cup sugar
1 (12-oz.) bag fresh cranberries
In a medium nonstick saucepan, combine port, sugar, and cranberries. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Lower heat and cook until liquid reaches a syrupy consistency, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into a serving dish, and cool to room temperature before serving. For a smoother texture, press sauce through a strainer, pour into a serving dish, and refrigerate before serving

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Pure Southern Brown Sugar Chess Pie - a Recipe from the Sugar Gods

The brown sugar makes this classic Southern dessert even more decadent! Shut the door and pass the fork!
3 extra-large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 unbaked pie crust

Melt butter; add sugar and brown sugar; beat. Add the remaining ingredients and stir (don't beat.) Pour into pie shell and bake 45 minutes or until set in a preheated 325 degree oven. If edges are browning, cover with foil. Remove from oven, place on wire rack to cool. Slice and enjoy. Makes 1 large pie.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Homemade Spaghetti - an award winning recipe for goodness

Homemade Spaghetti
 Sometimes it just hits the spot. The smell is intoxicating and who doesn’t love homemade spaghetti? It’s even better the next day, if there’s any left-over. Serve with a salad and garlic bread. This doesn't have the high sodium content and additives of canned sauces and it’s so much better! My Mother isn't Italian, but she's a great cook and she's made spaghetti for us for as long as I can remember. When we had spaghetti supper fundraisers, it was always her recipe that everyone wanted so I guess this is a pretty rich recipe if you include all the dollars it has raised for PTA projects, libraries, football teams, church trips, sororities, humane shelters, and the like. 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup minced celery
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped fine
2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
6 ounces fresh chopped mushrooms
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 (10.5 ounce) cans beef broth
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
In a large skillet, warm olive oil over low heat; sauté onion, garlic, green pepper, and celery until onion is transparent.
Stir in butter and increase heat to medium; add beef and brown. Mix in sugar, pepper, salt, and mushrooms; lower heat and stir for about 3 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and broth; pour liquid, thyme, oregano, and basil into the pot. Simmer over very low heat for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings to taste; sometimes I add more spices. NOTE: the sugar doesn’t make it sweet; it only neutralizes the acidity of the tomatoes and makes it better.
1 pound spaghetti
1/3 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
Cook spaghetti according to package directions. When properly cooked, raw taste should be gone but still have a firm texture. When ready to serve, combine pasta with meat sauce; serve on a warmed platter or bowl topped with cheese.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Tennessee Honey Corn Pudding, an award winning Southern side dish and a larruping-good family favorite at Thanksgiving and Christmas

This Tennessee version of a corn pudding recipe I created has Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey added as the magic ingredient. The results are somewhere over the rainbow good!. Every time I serve it, the dish is emptied and people want to know about that wonderful flavor. The alcohol cooks out in the 400 degree oven. Oh this is one of my favorites and I'm serving it tonight. You get to see it right out of the oven! Happy Twirls and Happy Thanksgiving.
5 large eggs
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons Tennessee Honey (Jack Daniel’s Whiskey)
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 cup half/half
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 (15.25-ounce) cans whole kernel white corn, drained
2 (14.75-ounce) cans cream-style white corn
1 small green cayenne pepper, chopped fine (remove seeds if you want less heat which I do for guests)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash onion powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs; add half/half and beat. Stir in the remaining ingredients, adding the corn last. Blend well. Pour mixture into a buttered 2 quart casserole dish. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for one hour or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Serve warm.
Visit JACK DANIEL'S DISTILLERY in Lynchburg TN or check out the TN Honey at your local liquor and wine store. It's not Thanksgiving at our house without this all-time favorite corn pudding which nearly ONE MILLION guests have visited TwirlandTaste to get the recipe.