In which my children consume mass quantities of muffins.
If you accidentally used a big can of pumpkin while making the pumpkin pies I posted about on Tuesday, you probably have a some leftover pumpkin sitting in a plastic container in your fridge and are trying to figure out what you want to do with it. Let me help you. Pumpkin muffins. I have made many, many versions of pumpkin muffins over the years. They are one of my kids’ all time favorite treats. We cheat and substitute the raisins with chocolate chips. My kids tend to not prefer raisins. And there are only so many times a week that I can put them into something before someone starts to complain. (Wait until we get into the sour cream raisin pie and the raisin sauce and raisin dumplings.) They never have the same reaction to chocolate chips for some strange reason.
I caught the little monkey girl at the counter multiple times with a butter knife in her hand popping the muffins out of the pan. There is something so enticing about the fun color, the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg, and the meltiness of the chocolate chips. When the boys were little, they ate nearly an entire dozen for breakfast one morning.You get what I’m saying, right? There are lots of reasons to make pumpkin muffins other than leftover pumpkin. You know, like you like good food, you are hungry, a good song comes on the radio and you want to dance in the kitchen, but feel like you should be productive at the same time, or you want to reward your husband for investigating the gross dead animal smell in the basement (and want to cover up the smell). Whatever the reason…or for none at all. Make a batch of pumpkin muffins with chocolate chips. Leave the raisins for other things.
In which we all sit around and eat fruit pie together.
It was Thanksgiving a long, long time ago. There was the Thanksgiving where my brother-in-law’s friend discovered the song “Alice’s Restaurant.” I think every time he opened his mouth for that visit, the first word that came out was “Kid…”. If you know the song, you’ll know how this was said. If you don’t, I suggest looking it up.
There was the Thanksgiving when my brother’s brought a friend home from college. Throughout the meal, he was very quiet until we got dessert. Suddenly, in a loud voice he exclaimed “This is really nice…(pause). All of us sitting around…(pause). Eating fruit pie together.” It was so unexpected and prompted questions about whether or not this was normal. For us, it most definitely was. For me, Thanksgiving has always been a pie holiday. Sure, there may be other desserts, but they don’t count the same way pie does. March 14th seems like less of a pie holiday than Thanksgiving. It’s tradition to leave the table, stomach groaning only to be lured back by someone bringing out the pie.
In my family, we always used fresh whipped cream to top the pie. Lightly sweetened, perhaps with some vanilla in it, sometimes a little spiked. It took a me a long time to appreciate pumpkin pie. It always smelled so good and I loved all the flavors (despite my rant against pumpkin pie spice when it was apple season), but the texture was never my thing. It was too soft, too slimy, too spongy, something. I knew that I was bucking tradition by not eating it, but my mom made such wonderful other pies. I have fond memories of a black bottomed pecan pie.
Had I not had a kid that loves pumpkin pie more than anything, I might’ve continued to have my pie holiday not including the classic. Since being a mom I’ve made at least one pumpkin pie a year, it’s always been eaten. There came a time when I couldn’t resist the smells and I started to take just one bite of someone else’s pie because I just needed those flavors in my mouth. I’m now up to eating a whole small slice by myself. This recipe for pumpkin pie is my go to. I found it in my great-grandma’s box of recipes and included it in the book I made for my grandma. It makes a heavily spiced thin pie filling.
For 2 pies
1 cup sugar
2 TB flour
2 cups pumpkin
1 TB cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp ginger
(Because a list of ingredients isn’t an actual recipe for most people, mix all of the ingredients together, add about a cup and a half of milk. Pour the filling into a pie crust and bake at around 375 for about 50 minutes or until set.)
In which I give you a shortcut.
I have a backlog of recipes. You probably are thinking about what you are going to make for breakfast tomorrow. Or maybe you are getting ready for a sweet snack. As a special treat, you get a special Saturday recipe. This is one of those recipes that is ridiculously easy, but the results are spectacular.
Quick Cinnamon Rolls
Follow recipe for Baking Powder biscuits, patting the mixture into oblong shape. Spread lightly with melted butter. Sprinkle with ½ cup of sugar into 1 tsp cinnamon has been mixed. Roll up, cut in cross-wise slices like a jelly roll and bake in oven.
To make these even quicker, you can use canned biscuits or Bisquik.
To fancy them up, melt butter, brown sugar, and nuts in the bottom of a pie plate before adding the rolls. Or put some cream cheese frosting on top.
In which I have a very sweet helper.
Champion Apple Pie is as American as Rocky…
We are the Champions…of Apple Pie.
Since I have already admitted my struggles with pie crust, I could brag about the champion I am for successfully recreating this apple pie, but I won’t. Because truthfully, the pie crust was nearly the undoing of me. You may notice that this pie crust is exactly the same pie crust as the pie crust I used for the Cherry Meringue Pie, with one exception. It uses lard instead of butter. I don’t know why this made everything so flippin’ difficult. Maybe it was because I made it on a different day, maybe my cup of lard was a little short. Maybe one of the tablespoons of milk wasn’t completely full. (I sort of feel like I’m reciting my own personal “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”) For whatever reason, my pie crust was dry. When I tried to roll it out, it crumbled. The edges cracked and split. I knew how to troubleshoot, of course, but I still got mad. I added a bit of extra water and it ended up smooth. It’s not that I don’t know what to do to fix it, it’s that I just can’t seem to get to the point where I can enjoy the process. I think I compare myself to my mom. She always makes beautiful pie crusts.
Despite my irritation at the pie crust, I remember that when I was young, my mom used to let me crimp the pie crust. She showed me multiple ways to make a beautiful decorative edge by pinching, by spreading my fingers and poking another finger between them, by using a fork to create a criss-cross pattern. But the most important part was that she actually let me help. So I got over myself and when my darling little daughter came over and wanted to help, I spread my fingers out on the edge of the pie crust and helped guide her little finger in between mine to create a fluted edge. It’s that moment that made this more of a champion apple pie than the fact that I was able to solve my pie crust issues.
Speaking of cheese…I did take a slice of cheddar and melt it over a leftover slab of this pie. Delicious.Atypically, this pie does not call for any pie spices. Not a drop of cinnamon in the whole thing. It is still delicious. Maybe it’s because I picked the apples myself and froze them. Maybe because the recipe won some award or other. But I’m guessing it has a lot to do with those sweet little fingers poking through mine to create the gorgeous crust.
In which I stop toying with you and get straight to it.
Because I have hinted at it twice now (Cherry Meringue Pie and Hot Chicken Salad) I figured it was maybe time to stop teasing and get down to business.
Last Christmas, we did a progressive dinner with friends. We gathered at each other’s houses for food and drinks and admiring of each other’s Christmas decorations. During the salad course we were offered brandy slush. This was maybe the third time I’d had brandy slush in my life. I think one time was in college and another time was at a ladies’ night at a friend’s house where we ate snacks and sang Karaoke. (I should think about hosting that sort of event.) It’s one of those things where if you are offered it, you should think about accepting. (Assuming you are of legal drinking age and all that.)While brandy slush is good, I think this version is even better. It seems a little mellower and a little less acidy. The Southern Comfort adds a bit of extra fruitiness that isn’t captured with the more traditional recipe. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. It’s cold. It’s delicious. It doesn’t give you the same sort of cold headache as a frozen margarita will. Best of all, this recipe is super easy. It has green tea in it, so just think of all the antioxidants. A truly authentic slush experience involves first purchasing one of those 5 quarts pails of ice cream. When the ice cream is gone, the void in your freezer can either be filled with another 5 quarts of ice cream or the same pail refilled with slush. I mean, it’s up to you to do what you think is best, but I have found that pints of really good ice cream are much easier to find room for.
I served this at both our game night and at Thanksgiving dinner. But it’s good for football games, rough days at work, basketball, relaxing on the porch in the summer…you know, pretty much any time.
You can do the recipe the way it reads above, but I sort of cheated and boiled 9 cups of water with 2 cups of sugar and 4 decaf green tea bags. I figured it didn’t really matter that much. Green tea bags only need to steep a couple of minutes. To that, I added a can of lemonade concentrate and a can of orange juice concentrate and 2 1/2 cups of Southern Comfort. Pour the whole thing into your ice cream pail and put it in the freezer overnight. To serve, take one (or maybe a bit more) ice cream scoop of the slush and put it into an old fashioned sized glass. Top with 7-Up (or ginger ale, or whatever sort of fizzy beverage sounds appealing to you).