Hot Cocoa (or Cool Fudge), Paleo-Style

Maybe we’re getting used to the drill: More Omega 3 fats, grass-fed meat, wild-caught salmon, free-range chicken, organic produce, etc. Less bread, less processed, less sugar, etc.

But still… Sometimes I just need chocolate! And I need it now. If I have some special chocolate in the house, it disappears pretty fast. Too fast. I may even eat more of it than I should. And then it’s gone. And then I don’t have a chocolate fix to run to!

The recipe below has actually cured me of needing store-bought chocolate. It does satisfy my cravings, and I don’t overeat it!

Hot Smoothie, Chocolate w/Protein PowderI’m not saying I don’t overeat it because it isn’t good. I think that all the nutritious supplements in this mix can satisfy cravings in a healthy way. The body gets nutrients it needs!

You can customize your recipe- it does not require “yucca powder”, “astragalus”, or whatever you’re in the mood to add. But it’s easier to incorporate such foods into our diet if they’re in something we might routinely want to fix for ourselves. (If you’re wondering what’s so great about these natural herb powders, look ’em up at “Jen’s Shop“- I mention what they’re good for there.)

Oh, and if you’re shooting for even less carbs, you can sub VitaFiber for at least half of the honey. Also, if you want something like a protein bar with gelatin instead of whey protein, see the asterisk, bottom of page.

INGREDIENTS for “HARD-CORE CHOCOLATE FIX”

  • 2 c. toasted cacoa nibs (1/2 lb.)
  • 2 TBS. butter (.06)
  • 2 TBS. coconut oil (.06)
  • 1/4 c. honey (.16)(or Vitafiber)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla, if desired
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon (plus turmeric, if desired)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. whey protein powder (.06)*
  • OPTIONAL: 2 TBS. yucca powder (.03)
  • OPTIONAL: 2 TBS. astragalus (.03)
  • OPTIONAL: 2 TBS. Goat Mineral Whey

 PREPARATION

1. Toast cacao nibs in oven for 10 minutes or so on 350 degrees, until darkened some, and fragrant. Use: > 2 c. toasted cacoa nibs (1/2 lb.)

2. A Vitamix works well to process the nibs into a puree. Otherwise, use an equal weight of cocoa powder. Process half of the nibs at a time (about 2 c. or less per batch). To get it pureed, the Vitamix dry-grain container is best to use. Run the Vitamix at top speed for 1 1/2 minutes to puree.

3. Add to Vitamix with pureed cacao nibs:  > 2 TBS. butter

4. After blending that in, add: > 2 TBS. coconut oil >  1/4 c. honey > 1 tsp. vanilla > 1 tsp. cinnamon > 1/4 tsp. salt > 1/2 c. whey protein powder > 2 TBS. yucca powder > 2 TBS. astragalus

5. Press/pat the pureed mix into a loaf pan; refrigerate.

6. After chilling several hours, remove from pan, slice into pieces, and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

 

INGREDIENTS for “YUMMIER” CHOCOLATE

2 c. toasted cacao nibs (.55 lb.)
1/2 c. honey (.157)
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. whey protein powder
1 tsp. cinnamon (Ceyon’s the best!)

 

* To use gelatin instead of whey protein, soften gelatin powder in water first. Use: > 1/3 c. water > 2 TBS. gelatin

Heat softened gelatin to melt it, then add to blender along with other ingredients.

Kombucha: Easy Recipe (Once You Have Scoby)

I think kombucha brewing is similar to mothering. There is new-mom style, for the woman with her first baby, treating her newborn ever so delicately, trying to keep everything perfect… And then there’s the seasoned mom (or grandma), whose mothering has become much more relaxed over the years.

Brew first ferment Kombucha in bottle!Kombucha brewing should be easy, which you realize after you’ve done it awhile, and see it survive many adverse conditions!

After doing this for a few years, I’ve developed a simple method. I don’t worry about it for weeks at a time (or even months), but I always have a cup or so to drink every day, carbonated and delicious, out of my blue bottle.

If you want more detailed directions, check out “Kombucha Continuous Brew Method”. But if you want to make this as easy as possible, check out the ideas below.

Brew your new starter tea right in a new glass gallon jar. One caveat: It needs to be a canning-style jar (“Ball” is a good one). A cheap dollar-store jar will not work! (It might break…). Run some hot water into the jar first, so it can take the heat from the boiling water.

Add sugar to the empty jar. For those of us drinking a modest quantity of Kombucha (a cup or less per day), this amount works well: 1/4 c. sugar to 8 c. boiling water. Add boiling water to the sugar in the (pre-warmed) jar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add 4 tea bags (or 1 TBS. black tea in a tea-strainer ball or cheese cloth “pouch”).

After tea has cooled, remove the bags (or strainer ball/cheese cloth). Set aside the scoby from your old batch, onto a plate. Pour all of the older kombucha into the new batch. (If the liquid has developed brown tendrils or sediment, you might want to strain that out as you pour it into the new batch.) Stir up the mix of old and new, then decant some of that straight into a carbonating-style bottle that has the spring-clamp and rubber gasket. This will allow the kombucha enough air to process. (I don’t think bottle-cap style will work well here, as it seals out so much air).

Put scoby back into the new jar, covered with a paper towel (or a napkin or towel), held in place with a rubber band.

To the bottled kombucha, also add a cup or two of a favorite organic juice, if desired, or ginger or other flavorings. I’m a stickler for using organic- a lot of produce, like apples, are on the dirty dozen list, full of pesticides. Some of my favorites for flavoring kombucha (and kefir) are POM pomegranate juice, organic apple juice, or this Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate. (The concentrated cherry juice might seem expensive, but it takes 53 lbs. of produce to yield 1 lb. of juice!). This black cherry juice concentrate is also a good one.

I used to use fresh ginger, sliced into match-sized strips, laid out on foil, rolled up, and frozen, to be used as needed. (If I didn’t do this, the chunk of ginger would often get too dried and/or moldy, sitting out…) I don’t seem to have much time these days, and have resorted to using this organic ginger extract for flavoring instead. It is VERY convenient!

So, you add your mix of kombucha and fresh sweet tea to the blue bottle, plus the flavoring. Even though this is technically the “first ferment”, your bottled kombucha will go through the same process as the stuff in the jar. It will even grown a little scoby, right in the bottle!

Techie talk: Like the jar of kombucha, enzymes in the yeasts in the bottled kombucha will use the minerals from the tea to break down the sugar into glucose and fructose. So, after a week or so, the sugar’s still there, but in an easier-to-digest form. But it’s still pretty sweet! Give it another week or two- beneficial acids will start forming as the yeasts start eating the sugars up. There will still be some sweetness, for up to 30 days or so.

All this to give just a few time-saving pointers:

  • You can brew your tea right in a sturdy, preheated glass canning jar
  • You can strain the old kombucha into the new jar of cooled sweet tea (saving steps)
  • You can put some of this mix straight into a carbonating bottle along with some fruit juices, to do its first ferment and finishing carbonation all in one place. (This will take at least 2 weeks, so stay ahead of the game!)

Give kombucha about 7 days to get the first fermentation going, after adding more sweet tea. Then, decant (or perhaps it’s already decanted), and give it another 14-21 days to finish. It should get nice and carbonated, and will have the most beneficial acids at this point.

Happy brewing!

Inflammation: Natural Answers (Bone Broth, Etc.)

The picture’s from a time we bought a whole cow, roasted the bones at the deli, and made LOTS of stock… we won’t be doing that again though! (It was a bit of work…)

Collagen- Make Bone Broth for Health!I don’t like synthesized vitamin/mineral products. I believe we need a proper balance of naturally occurring nutrients to maintain health. A lot of studies support this! A natural mineral combination, like that found in this Mineral Whey (from grass-fed goats), is best absorbed. It’s very concentrated, containing more than 20 naturally occurring minerals, and is real alkaline, which helps reduce acidic deposits in arthritic joints. It’s helped some folks with acid reflux, it helps decrease inflammation, and it’s helped some with Osteoporosis, to improve bone mass. I feel like it’s helped me a lot with my joint problems; also, the iron in it is highly absorbed too, which is a plus! (Note- this stuff does NOT taste like regular whey protein, but has a very concentrated, almost salty, mineral taste. So… don’t be surprised by that!)

Another plus about naturally-sourced nutrients: a natural mineral combination helps our chemical balance, which prevents excess calcium from depositing in joints and other organs.

What else can we use to support healthy joints and reduce inflammation? Collagen contains certain compounds, like chondroitin sulfate. Although a younger body can produce this nutrient, that ability decreases with age. Of course, that can lead to arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other issues. A natural source of collagen is made from beef or chicken bones. I’ve been making stock from these “leftovers” for years. The stock doesn’t just add flavor to soups and sauces, but also nourishes our bodies, giving us the extra collagen (and other nutrients) we may need.

It’s been challenging to make enough bone broth at times. We get busy, or I just don’t have enough bones on hand. I still prefer to make my own when I can (then I can use organic, free-range, grass-fed, etc.) But, when I’ve run out of time, I resort to getting some extra collagen from this gelatin– a decent brand that I think smells way fresher than the stuff at the grocery store. I let this form of gelatin “bloom” by sprinkling it in a bit of water first, then adding boiling water to that… if you want to mix collagen right into smoothies, collagen hydrolysate is a better form to get.

My swollen knee has been improving; a lot of reviewers on Amazon have also shown other improvements. As for other natural foods you can take to help fight inflammation, here’s a list:

  • Cherry Juice
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Feverfew
  • Lemon peel
  • White Willow Bark

Even more info on the nutritional qualities of these foods can be found on Jordan Rubin’s website.

 

Christmas Cookies: Favorite Classics

I’ve decided to post all the recipes (or links) to my fave Christmas cookies on this page, even if written in weights only (you do have a scale anyway, don’t you?!). My granddaughter’s coming over soon to help with Christmas baking, and I liked the idea of showing her what our options are. Here’s what I rounded up…

Almond TartsAlmond Tarts: These are much easier to make now that Trader Joe’s has blanched almonds at a reasonable price. (You can do ’em yourself easy enough, if you have time, but…) Make sure you have plenty of almond extract on hand for these!Grateful-Table-Biscotti-Almond-Orange.jpg

Biscotti (Or see this Biscotti, Healthy Style version): A good cookie for dipping into tea or coffee, this traditional cookie starts as a loaf, gently baked. It then gets sliced; the slices get baked again, creating a crunchy cookie. Usually flavored with almonds or other nuts, citrus zest, and/or dipped in chocolate.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 c. whole almonds, blanched
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBS. Anisette (or other flavoring)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. coarse corn meal
  • 1 1/2 tsp. anise seed (or orange zest)

Toast: > .40 whole almonds, blanched (1 1/4 c.)

Cream: > 1/2 c. butter > 1 c. sugar

Beat into butter mixture: > 2 eggs > 1 TBS. Anisette (or other flavoring) > 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder > 1/2 tsp. salt

Stir in next: > 2 c. flour > 1/2 c. coarse corn meal > 1 1/2 tsp. anise seed

Add an extra 1/4 c. flour if dough’s too sticky. Grease 2 cookie sheets (or one deli sheet) and form dough into 4 loafs, 2″ wide and 3/4″ thick. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes, until light brown at edges. Cool 8 minutes, then slice loaves into 1/2″ slices. Lay the slices down on cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes more at 325.

Grateful-Table-Gingerbread-Cookies-So-Cute.jpg

 

Gingerbread Cookies: Much easier to manage the decorations when we use dried fruits and nuts. Frosting’s the other option, but more time-consuming! Plus, the fruits and nuts (and maybe some chocolate chips) make these healthier.

Russian Tea Cakes (AKA Mexican Wedding Cakes): Versions of this cookie can be found even in grocery store bakeries, though they don’t usually have the same buttery, melt-in-the-mouth texture the home-made ones have. Here’s the recipe I use, using weight measurements for an easier recipe:

  • .50 butter (1 c.)
  • .15 confectioner’s sugar (1/2 c.)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • .65 flour (2 1/4 c.)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • .20 chopped nuts (3/4 c.)

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Stir in dry stuff, chill. Form teaspoon-sized balls and bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Roll in more confectioner’s sugar while warm.

 

Scotch Shortbread: These are so rich and buttery! Here’s an easy recipe for them using weight measurements:

  • .37 butter (3/4 c.)
  • .13 sugar (1/4 c.)
  • .62 flour (2 c.)

Cream butter and sugar. Stir in flour w/hands. Chill dough, then roll out, cut in shapes. Bake at 350 degrees 20-25 minutes. (They won’t turn brown, but will be done.)

 

Snowflakes (Or Hearts, Etc.): Another recipe I have written down in weights for convenience. Also quicker thanks to the already-shelled pistachios available at TJ’s! A little smear of chocolate glues two snowflakes together; another smear of chocolate on top gets sprinkled with pistachios. Yum!

  • .50 sugar (1 c.)
  • .37 butter (3/4 c.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • .75 flour (2 1/2 c.)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Chocolate, to melt
  • Pistachios, chopped

Cream first four ingredients. Mix dry ingredients together, then add to creamed mix. Chill 1 hour. Cut out shapes, bake at 400 degrees 6-8 minutes. Put 2 cookies together with some melted chocolate. Add a smear of chocolate to the top, sprinkle with pistachios.

 

Grateful-Table-Springerle-Embossed-Christmas-Cookies.jpgSpringerle: This anise-flavored cookie is fun to make; designs are carved on the “Springerle” rolling pin, creating embossed squares that get baked long and slow until they’re the right texture. Not a rich cookie, but a good one for dipping into tea!

Asian Dressing: Sesame Oil, Ginger, Cayenne = Delicious!

We made dinner for 230 recently, for our church’s annual Women’s Christmas Dinner. We paired the marinated pork loin with some roasted veggies and a spinach salad tossed with this dressing. Julienned persimmons from our prolific tree added a sweet and colorful note. It was delicious!

We’ve also enjoyed making a slaw for one of our pork loin sandwiches at the deli, using this dressing, some thin-sliced cabbage, green onion, and cilantro. Another hit!

Sesame Ginger DressingINGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 c. sesame oil
  • 1 c. honey
  • 1/3 c. white vinegar
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. (or more) cayenne
  • 1 tsp. fresh-grated ginger
  • 1 c. extra virgin olive oil

Mix all but the olive oil together with immersion blender. Slowly mix in until emulsified: > 1 c. extra virgin olive oil

Christmas Party Ideas: Yankee Swap/White Elephant with a Twist

Yankee Swap, White ElephantWe had  our 30th annual New Deli Christmas Party this past Sunday- it was wonderful! We always play a few games, and always do a “White Elephant” (AKA “Yankee Swap” or “Snatchy Christmas Rat”). But we wanted to do something a little different this time around, so below I’ve posted a link you can use to change things up as well.

Not Much New Deli Staff! Christmas 2008

New Deli Christmas 2008 (Stephanie’s taking the picture)

Just for extra fun, I had to post the above picture of Tom, Todd, Tyler, and Rose (plus us), taken back in 2008. My, how things have changed. Ty’s now got a job in law enforcement, Rose is happily married, and we’ve gone from having just a few people on staff, to having 13 employees. Wow!

This might have been the funnest Yankee Swap ever- there were numbered cards with cute little poems on ’em, like,

  • “#1 Lucky you, you’re # 1- You get to start all the fun. So grab a gift and grab it quick.
  • #3. Number 3 it’s plain to see. It’s your turn to pick which gift `twill be. And when your choosing job is through, swap with 1 and then with 2.
  • #7 is a lucky number it seems, You choose a gift that has some green. Poke it, and shake it until you get back. Now trade with someone wearing black.

Etc. Fun stuff!

I had a little trouble finding the ready-to-go directions online. A word search led me to a bogus website that mentioned this fun Yankee Swap, but it didn’t link to anything. (That website did sent me some span emails the next day though- that’s all :/)

So I figured I’d post this, with an easy-to-print Word document attached, for you to print a copy for yourself. This particular list goes all the way up to 50; we only needed 25 numbers when we played, but it’s completely flexible that way.

Here’s the Word document: Christmas Party Ideas, Yankee Swap, White Elephant

Have fun!

Almond Tarts (AKA Almond Tea Cakes)

There are plenty of recipes available for these, but this is the one I use. Having it written in weights makes it quicker to make! Another timesaver: Trader Joe’s carries blanched almonds. (We used to blanch ’em ourselves :/ ) I think this makes 3 dozen or so… I’ll find out soon, when I make ’em again!

Almond Tarts
  • 1 lb. butter
  • .45 sugar (1 c.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla (.03)
  • 1 lb. flour (4 c.)
  • 6 eggs
  • 75 sugar (1 1/2c.)
  • 1.40 blanched almonds (3 3/4c.) (3 c. before processing)
  • 2 TBS. almond extract
  • .90 confectioner’s sugar
  • .20 cream

PREPARATION

  1. Cream until fluffy: > 1 lb. butter > .45 sugar (1 c.)
  2. Beat in, until light: > 2 eggs > 2 tsp. vanilla (.03) > 1 tsp. almond extract
  3. Mix in lightly: 1 lb. flour (4 c.)
  4. Press 1 TBS. of above mix into small tart shells (makes 6 dozen).
  5. Next, beat until foamy: > 6 eggs
  6. Add in and mix: > .75 sugar (1 1/2c.) > 1.40 ground, blanched almonds (3 3/4c.) (about 3 c. before processing) > 2 TBS. almond extract
  7. Fill uncooked tart shell with mix. Bake at 325 degrees for 17-20 minutes. Remove from tins immediately. Frost when cool with: > .90 confectioner’s sugar > .20 cream

 

Meyer Lemon Dressing

I got inspired to create a Meyer Lemon Dressing when I sampled an infused Meyer Lemon Olive Oil and some preserved lemons at a local Farmer’s Market. Delicious, but the price was very high! I figured I’d make something myself.

Citrus rinds are loaded with bioflavanoids, rutin, and other nutrients, so I figured I’d puree the rinds whole. Much easier than zesting them, or steeping them in warm oil, only to drain them off afterward.

I also knew that using my Vitamix on a small amount of rinds just doesn’t work, so I had to make a decent-sized batch. No worries there- the big batch of dressing’s been holding up well in the fridge, and I can add it to a number of dishes to add a refreshing note of lemon. Makes 1 qt.Farro Salad w/Meyer Lemon Dressing

INGREDIENTS

  • Peel of 8 Lemons (.16 lb.)
  • 2 TBS. + 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 c. virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2/3 c. lemon juice

Process: > Peel from about 8 lemons > 2 TBS. + 2 tsp. salt

Add, process again: > 1/2 c. virgin olive oil

Add, process again with: > 2 c. olive oil > 2/3 c. lemon juice

Store in glass jar, refrigerated. Keeps for months.

 

Caramel Apple Oat Bars

We’ve been waiting for Jen to get this recipe down in the right size for home cooks… here it is!

The New Deli's Fave: Caramel Apple Bar

What a great way to enjoy caramel apples, but in an easier-to-make recipe. It keeps well too; the recipe can be made a day ahead and served at room temperature, or reheated. Also great- straight out of the oven! And it can be gluten-free if you grind your own oat flour in the blender. This will make more pieces for snacking size, or 8 or 10 servings for dessert, served with ice cream or whipped cream.

Ingredients

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. butter
  • Scant 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • Scant 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. oat flour (or 1 2/3 c. regular all-purpose flour)
  • 2 c. quick-cooking oats

Preparation

  1. Make caramel first, so it can cool some. “Melt” in large iron pan until amber: > 1 c. sugar
  2. Heat cream in microwave, then slowly add to melted sugar, stirring until mixed: > 1/2 c. heavy cream
  3. Next, beat until creamy: > 3/4 c. brown sugar > 3/4 c. butter
  4. Grind oat flour in the blender if desired, to make oat flour (or sub regular flour). Add to the creamed ingredients: > 2 c. oat flour (or 1 2/3 c. regular all-purpose flour) > 2 c. quick-cooking oats> scant > scant 1/2 tsp. baking soda > scant 1/2 tsp. salt
  5. Butter 13 x 9″ pan. Press half the above into pan. Add apple layer, using: > 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, sliced thin (around 2 c. or so)
  6. Pour caramel on next.
  7. Sprinkle other half of oat mix on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

New Deli Does Thanksgiving: Fave Recipes from Jen’s Kitchen

Thanksgiving’s just a week away! My Thanksgiving Checklist follows…

Healthy Thanksgiving- Veggies in Turkey ArrayI’ve got some of the shopping done now- cranberries for chutney, yams, organic potatoes, Kabocha squash, pecans… We’ll make soup out of part of the squash, but the rest will be perfect for pumpkin pies. (I’ll just store it in the fridge for a few days.)

I grabbed some free-range chickens today; I’ll roast those, and make some stock ahead of time (for perfect gravy).

I’ll make some pie crusts too; they freeze so well, so I can do that ahead. I like to bake the pies fresh Thanksgiving morning, but it’s a breeze if the crusts are made already.

If there’s time to spare, we may make a cute veggie tray like the one to the left…

The following recipes are my faves for the holiday meal… maybe they’ll give you some ideas too!

(Don’t be misled by the above title… The New Deli does do Thanksgiving, but we do it at home. The deli closes for the long weekend, and the New Deli gang enjoys getting together with family and friends, and we all rest up before returning to our usual routine.)

 

Easy Cranberry RelishCranberry Chutney: This can be made days (even weeks) ahead, and keeps quite well. This recipe is similar to the cranberry sauce recipe on the bag of berries, but you can get away with calling it “chutney”, thanks to the addition of a dash of cayenne. (Chutneys usually contain some kind of peppers, and other spices.) A little orange and cinnamon go well in this chutney, too.

 

 

 

Thanksgiving recipes: Cranberry Orange Nut Bread

Cranberry Nut Bread: I usually prep the ingredients for this treat the day before, then just add the wet ingredients to the dry on Thanksgiving morning. Makes a great “breakfast”. No, it’s not exactly healthy-style or gluten-free, but it is made with all natural ingredients. So we splurge. It whets our appetite early in the day, priming us for the big meal!

 

 

 

Dressing for Turkey: Use Good Bread!Stuffing, New Deli Style: Get creative, add personal favorites: Apple, raisins, sausage, pecans, wild rice, and cornbread… But use a good quality bread (artisan-style or other favorites); packaged dry bread cubes often contain additives like dough conditioners and such. Also avoid real soft, generic, brand-name breads that lack texture- they can deflate into a gummy mass; not what you want. Or try this gluten-free stuffing recipe!

 

Thanksgiving Yams, Healthy StyleSweet Potato Casserole: Yams have become the darlings of the paleo crowd; the preferred veggie to replace heavier starches like potatoes and grains. We like this recipe because the sweet potatoes turn out so moist and creamy; they have a bit more flavor baked in the oven or cooked in the slow-cooker, than when cooked in a pot of water. The nutty, streusel topping adds some texture. Make the whole dish ahead of time and rewarm in the oven. Delicious…

 

 

Grateful-Table-Green-Beans-w-Onion-Almonds “Green Bean Casserole, Healthy Style”: No, this doesn’t have cans of onion rings and mushroom soup in it, but caramelized onion adds depth and sweetness. Topped with a few slivered almonds, this is one side dish that won’t stick to your sides!

Another plus: the onions can be caramelized days ahead of time. They’ll hold up well and can be stirred into the cooked green beans to serve.

 

 

Traditional Pumpkin Pie RecipePumpkin Pie: This is a traditional pumpkin pie recipe, but the crust gets baked some first, and the other ingredients (except the eggs) get heated before mixing the eggs in and pouring into the baked pie crust to finish baking. This helps the crust to hold up better (not so soggy!). Another idea to consider, if you’re feeling ambitious: Just before serving, sprinkle the top of the cooled pie with a generous layer of sugar and blow-torch it to carmelize it. This will top the pie with a crispy, brulee-style, sugary crust. But it has to be done last minute, or the caramelized sugar absorbs moisture and turns soft. Still tasty, but not quite brulee…

 

 

 

 

Easy Pumpkin Pie- Custard w. ToppingPumpkin Streusel “Upside-Down Pie”: For those of us who don’t want to wrestle with rolling out a pie crust (or by one ready-made), this is a happpy solution. There is no bottom crust, just a nutty topping that is a delicious, crunchy contrast to the smooth pumpkin custard. A personal favorite of mine, especially since this particular recipe uses natural ingredients instead the box-cake mix suggested for other versions of this.

 

 

 

Traditional pecan piePecan Pie: I might not eat corn syrup  much the rest of the year, but I’ll break the rules for this pie! I make two at the same time, which is particularly handy since one bottle of Karo dark corn syrup measures out as the exact amount for two pies. If there is any left over pie, it keeps well. But it disappears fast in our house.

 

 

 

 

Easy Gravy RecipeLast but not least is the Turkey Gravy recipe. If you’re cooking a turkey, you can make gravy. There are a few considerations, like if there are overly-done, charred chunks in the roasting pan. In that case, remove blackened parts. Other drippings in the pan should get mixed in with the flour though; they have loads of flavor.

After taking the turkey out of the roasting pan, some flour gets added to the drippings. For a larger group, increase the recipe as needed. If there is too much fat in the pan, set some aside. The ratio of flour to fat is equal; one knows it’s the right amount when the flour gets added and all the fat absorbs into it. If there is excess oil after adding flour, add more flour until the mix is smooth. But be warned: More flour means more gravy! (You will have to add more liquid as well.)

Homemade chicken stock, made ahead of time, is perfect for gravy. But a box of chicken stock will substitute.

Above all else, may you gather together together with loved ones. May we all reflect on the many wonderful blessings we have.