Friday, November 25, 2016

Christmas Baking For Me is Black Friday Without Shopping

Maybe I'm the only one who doesn't do the shopping thing on the day after Thanksgiving but I prefer to shop leisurely and not be pushed and prodded because someone else wants that one item that is left on the retailers cut-price list.  Instead, I have bought my ingredients for Christmas Cookies and I'll begin making some of those today.

On today's list are the ever popular chocolate chip.  This one can be made from scratch or just cheat and drop the premade dough onto a cookie sheet.

and maybe some of the peanut Blossom cookies. These you can cheat and mix up a batch of peanut butter dough from the package and then add the candy kiss to them as they come out of the oven.

Both are easy to mix and bake.

The No bake Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie is so easy to make that it's almost sinful to call making them baking.  This is another one that you can start the holiday with and keep making it between other batches to keep those stealthy fingers of your children or grandchildren satisfied before the actual holiday arrives.

The point is I don't believe in taking the meaning out of the holiday by dangling prizes in front of the world in unheard of price slashing.  It makes you wonder what the actual cut off price is for that "I can't live without it" item you have left your home and family to run after.

Maybe I'm just old school but this is just something that I have refused to become a part of.  The younger members of my family do go merrily off to seek their prizes and that is their right to which I will not hold against them.  They have families and perhaps that is the means by which they can afford to show their children a happy holiday to come.

But, as for me I'll be at home baking my little heart out.  Besides I need a couple of dozen cookies to share with the Veteran's at their Christmas Luncheon  at the Oakmont Elks.  So whatever you choose to do with Black Friday, I wish you and yours a wonderful day while I get out the flour and sugar.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Thanksgiving: Favorite Recipes From My Childhood

I'm still taking my trip down memory lane.  I think everyone has an Aunt Sal, who wasn't your blood relative but the aunt of a friend.  Some of life's fondest memories come from those experiences.  I grew up in a family that only had one other living relative and their family which gave me exactly 3 cousins.  So I adopted my next door neighbor's family and all of their many aunts, uncles and cousins.  That family knew the meaning of family and visited often.  I don't remember my friend going to visit that often but I remember the various parties and holidays spent with the Aunt Sal's and Uncle Dave from next door.

My friend and I moved into our homes when she was 2 years old and I was almost 1.  We grew up together and shared more than just toys and fun times.  She passed away two years ago but I still make Aunt Sal's Apple Cake.

I diverse from my reason for today's article.

Square of Aunt Sal's Apple Cake

My favorite fall recipe or maybe just one of my favorites, because thinking back there are many, is Aunt Sal's Apple Cake with Caramel Drizzle Icing.  This cake was different because it was made with chunks of apples instead other means of making the cake moist.   Moist was an understatement for this cake because it oozed of sweetness and goo.  It was full of apple and walnut goodness along with that syrupy caramel drizzle.  Being a sugar freak when I was younger I gobbled up this cake like there was no tomorrow but one piece at a time.  That was more than enough with all that sweet, sweet and more sweet.

Sage dressing made on the side in a pan. 
Another of my Favorites for Thanksgiving was my Mother's Sage Stuffing.  She would save heels of bread in a brown paper bag and my brother and I would break them up into pieces for my Mom to cook over the stove the night before Thanksgiving.  she mixed it in a skillet lined with Crisco and added chopped onions, green pepper and celery.  She would keep on making it until there was enough to stuff the turkey the next day. The stuffing was stored in the roaster until my Dad would stuff the turkey in the morning.

When there was leftover after the turkey was stuffed, we made stuffing balls.  This idea came from a neighbor who never stuffed her turkey but made the stuffing balls on the side.  Since it is no longer suggested to roast your turkey with the stuffing inside it, I now make more of these in a casserole with just enough turkey stock poured over to keep the stuffing moist.

The dessert for Thanksgiving was always made by my grandfather, who made the best pumpkin pies on earth.  He would also make a mincemeat pie but I wasn't fond of that pie.

You need to know that I judge a pie by it's crust rather than the filling so I'm very particular about my pies.  My grandfather taught me that you needed to be sure to have it right the first time you rolled it out because rolling it more than once made the crust tough.

Turkey Dinner with Cranberry Jelly, Stuffing and Ambrosia 
Whatever you serve as sides on Thanksgiving with the turkey, you need to have at least the stuffing and pumpkin pie to make my Thanksgiving perfect.  I love mashed potatoes, corn and cranberry sauce with my turkey, but these three recipes are my all time favorites.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thanksgiving Day Favorite Dessert Recipes

In our house as I was growing up, we always had a pumpkin pie and a mincemeat pie for Thanksgiving Day.  My grandfather always made the pies and his crust skills couldn't be beat for being flaky.  We didn't vary from those choices.  But, as the world says move over to the traditional pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving Day, I suggest that you include it even if you are preparing some of the other pumpkin dessert recipes.

One of the current favorite for pumpkin desserts is the pumpkin cake roll filled with cream cheese frosting.  This recipe has been a favorite in the supermarkets in the past few years.  It's really not a new idea because I remember one of my neighbors making this when my now grown children were toddlers.  There is a skill needed to make this without breaking the cake.

My favorite recipe that I made for my family is a Pumpkin Chiffon Bundt Cake.  This recipe is so simple and one that I've made over the years.  It can be served plain with powdered sugar and with a whipped cream icing.

Another favorite of my children is a recipe that my friend's mother made in the fall.  This little German lady was quite a dessert baker.  She made pumpkin cookies that simply melted in your mouth.  For that matter, anything Mrs. T made from custard pies to Christmas cookies was a real treat indeed  Mrs. T's pie crust was always sprinkled with sugar and could rival my grandpap's.

For those of you who prefer your cakes in the form of a loaf, there is the ever popular Pumpkin Bread.  We made this often for the holidays and used it both for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

When I would attend an Elks District Meeting at McKees Rocks Lodge, they always served a variation of pumpkin pie in squares, which was a graham cracker and nut mixture base with a pumpkin pie filling.  They always topped it off with just a dollup of real whipped cream.

Whatever you serve for dessert for Thanksgiving, be it pies, cakes, cookies or breads, you really need to have a pumpkin flavor along with the turkey, stuffing and other sides.