Mom’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Mom's Pumpkin Chiffon PieLife of Pie
It’s crazy to think that Thanksgiving is only two weeks away. And, while today is a day to stop and give thanks that the political ads are done, it is also a day to start making plans.

For me, Thanksgiving is going to be different this year if for no other reason that I will be hosting it for the first time. It should be an adventure given that we will be a party of 16. Granted, I annually host Christmas Eve for 14 so two more people shouldn’t be that big of a deal and it’s not. The difference is what I will need to cook and if it will all fit in my oven. I expect I will be much like a game of Tetris. As of right now, I have ordered two 18 pound organic turkeys which should be plenty—we’re big on leftovers. However, if there is one area of concern from those who will be seated around the table, it is whether there will be enough pie.

Turkey is generally the centerpiece of any Thanksgiving meal and it is for us as well but the true star of Thanksgiving in our family is the pie and everyone has their favorite. This year, because we are blending three families for dinner, there is concern that there will not be enough pie and, of course, everyone is worried that their favorite will run out quickly which is why I will probably end up making 4 pies.

My Dad’s favorite is mince pie. This is the pie most likely to have leftovers because he is the only one who eats it but it’s tradition so we gotta have it. In my family of five, it’s all about the pecan pie. If there is no pecan pie there will be rioting in the streets. I’m thinking I will also do an apple pie because, why not? Last but not least, you can’t have Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. We do pumpkin pie a little differently though.

Growing up my mother always made the pumpkin pie. But, it wasn’t your usual pumpkin pie. Mom made Pumpkin Chiffon Pie. If you have never heard of it, and most people haven’t, pumpkin chiffon is basically a lighter fluffier version. And, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without it. Since this is the first Thanksgiving without my Mom, there is no question that her pie will be there….

Mom always made this pie using a traditional pie crust but feel free to use a graham cracker crust if you prefer.

Mom’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
Yields one 9-inch pie  Read more…

Spiced Pumpkin Scones with Cream Cheese Frosting

Spiced Pumpkin Scones with Cream Cheese FrostingSpice is Nice
The other day I was doing my grocery shopping, filling up my cart with the usual this and that, when I noticed something strange. I was purchasing the same general items…bagels, cereal, coffee creamer…but when I looked in the cart I froze. It had happened again….

As September turns in to October you notice that the air smells different—and it’s not just a change in the weather or the fog rolling back in. There is a hint of spicy sweetness in the air that tickles your nose and makes you long for cozy sweaters, falling leaves, and warm fires. For many, there are no adverse reactions to this autumnal aroma. But for others, like myself, you can find yourself making unexpected stops for a grande latte or worse, you notice that you have filled your shopping cart with multiple items with the same theme. You can try to fight it but resistance is futile.

My friends, it is the Revenge of the Pumpkin Spice. 😱

All kidding aside, I am one of those people who does like pumpkin spice (though I draw the line at candles and dog treats). My son’s love of The Spice is even worse.

If I have one complaint it is that some of the products’ flavor tastes way to fake. So, to combat the fake pumpkin spice, I load up on the organic canned pumpkin and make things like this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Scones or some straight up pumpkin bread. I have included the ingredients for my cream cheese frosting in case you wanna go crazy-decadent.

Happy Pumpkin Spice Season!

Spiced Pumpkin Scones with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yields 12 scones Read more…

Morning Dash Muffins

Morning Dash MuffinsLet’s Grab Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, they say. This works for me because I am a lover of all things breakfast. I have no issue with eating foods that would normally be served between the hours of six and eleven at any other time of day. If I am at a diner that serves breakfast all day you bet your biscuits there will be hash browns and eggs in my future.

I would love to actually have what I consider to be a legit breakfast every morning but that’s just not feasible. The truth is I have become a grab and go breakfast eater. That means whatever I am eating can’t involve turning on the stove or oven. That also means that more often than not, my breakfast comes in handheld forms like a muffin, bread, roll, or bagel—most of which are not the best choices from a health standpoint. They say an apple a day…not a croissant a day!

Lately, I have been trying to make muffins that are more than just a sweet start to the morning. I made this recipe last Saturday to have on hand as a quick meal since we had an early start on Sunday morning. And, I am happy that I did. I sat in my folding chair, sipped coffee, and enjoyed my muffin while totally content watching soccer.

These are muffins that you can play with. The original version called for raisins which I switched out for dried cranberries as those are more acceptable to some in my household. Next time I make them I might swap out some of the flour for a little protein powder just to kick it up a notch.

Morning Dash Muffins
Adapted from NY Times
Yields 12 muffins Read more…

Homemade Tate’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Homemade Tate's Chocolate Chip Cookies The Way The Cookie Crumbles
Tomorrow is the first day of school for my kids. I am now the mother of two high school freshmen and a seventh grader. None of them are too excited about summer break being over. And, you should have seen their faces when I announced that I will no longer be making their lunches in the morning.

When I was their age I was responsible for making my own lunch. There is no reason that I should continue to make theirs. It’s not a complicated formula: sandwich or whatever main dish they prefer, a piece of fruit, something salty like pretzels, granola bar or yogurt for the mid-morning, and something to drink. No big deal. You would have thought I asked them to sever a limb. In all fairness, the seventh-grader was okay with it but she’s my foodie. She gets to have a daily lunch inspiration. The boys, not so much…

To make it as easy on them as possible, I have stocked the fridge with their usual favorites like sliced turkey and the “good” yogurt. I even caved and got them the bread they really like instead of the usual whole wheat. I am also going to throw them a bone and make some chocolate chip cookies.

My intentions are not totally altruistic. Really, this is just an excuse to continue my search for my ultimate chocolate chip cookie. Honestly, I have never had a bad chocolate chip cookie. They’re all pretty tasty—but I do have a preference. I am 100% team crispy when it comes to chocolate chip. Now, I’m not going to refuse you if you offer me a warm chewy one right out of the oven. But, I really like the kind that are super-thin, super-crispy and taste of lots of butter. If you have ever eaten Tate’s chocolate chips cookies you know how I roll.

For the last few weeks, I have been trying different recipes to find that ultimate perfect one. Sure, I could have just searched for Tate’s cookie recipe on the internet but that would have been way too logical and robbed me of dozens of tasty treats along the way.

Full disclosure I add pecans to all of my chocolate chip cookies regardless if the recipe is team-crispy or team-chewy. This is a hard limit for me. There must be pecans.

This recipe from King Arthur Flours was my families favorite. They don’t really spread—more like a drop cookie. And, while they are crunchy, they are borderline biscotti-like. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great chocolate chip cookie, just not what I was looking for.

Along my chocolate chip journey, I tested the Neiman Marcus (alleged) $250 Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and Dori Greenspan’s World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies. And, my two favorites are listed here.  Read more…

French Fruit Tart — A Classic

French Fruit Tart — A ClassicCamp de Cuisine
I’ve written about my daughter and her summer kitchen shenanigans a few times over the past weeks. And, you might be happy to know that things are still going full steam (just ask my dishwasher). Right now, she seems to be in a French pastry phase. While I fully support her curiosity and creativity, I am wondering when she’ll get to the one bowl or less phase….

Though she hasn’t quite reached that Julie & Julia work her way through an entire cookbook level of obsession, she’s pretty close. For Fourth of July, she made Pâte à Choux for red, white and blue cream puffs with raspberry cream and blue sprinkles. That same week, she tackled French Macarons and they turned out way better than any of my attempts. The macarons actually had feet—and anyone who’s watched any of the baking championships knows how important feet are. Thankfully, my sons are her taste testers or there would be no way for my husband or me to fit into our pants.

This week, my kitchen (and the dishwasher) is getting a much-needed break as my teenaged chef de cuisine is attending a summer pastry camp. (Where was this when I was 12?) Yesterday they made a classic French Fruit Tart and I actually learned something new. If you spread a thin layer of semi-sweet or white chocolate on the bottom of the tart shell and then put the pastry cream in, the tart will not get soggy. (My mind is blown.)

These tarts are so versatile and fairly easy to make that you will find it easy to whip one together for any of your summer get-togethers. To make it even easier, I will substitute a good quality vanilla pudding mix like Dr. Oetkers or even Bird’s custard mix instead of making the pastry cream. Feel free to use any combination of ripe summer fruits to finish.

French Fruit Tart — A Classic
Adapted from Sur la Table
Finish the top with the ripest, most luscious seasonal fruit you can find. Summer berries are an obvious choice, but also try slices of nectarines, plums, poached pears, mango, or kiwi, depending upon the season.  Read more…