Hands Down Winner!

While everything stays pretty much the same on our Thanksgiving menu, it’s always fun to try a new dessert. That doesn’t mean we stray too far from pumpkin and pecan pies that no Thanksgiving would be complete without, but there is some little twist.

Photo from Southern Living
Photo from Southern Living

I’ve been experimenting with this and that from one publication or another, and this Pumpkin Tart with Whipped Cream and Almond Toffee from Southern Living is a hands down winner!

pumpkin pieIt has a dark, rich color and taste that is likely attributed to having molasses as an ingredient.

pumpkin pieUnlike the perfectly presented photo in Southern Living, I finished each piece individually, first topping with the whipped cream

pumpkin pieand then with the almond toffee. The end result was the same: super good! 

If you haven’t decided on your Thanksgiving dessert, this one is absolutely delicious and leaves one wanting more though I recommend resisting the temptation because the tart is rich.  One suggestion:  you may want to cut the whipped cream portion by half and reduce the amount of powdered sugar unless you like it quite sweet.

This tart would be a perfect finish to any meal, so if you’ve already got Thanksgiving under control, give it a try another time.

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The Scoop

Apple Pickin’ Time

APPLESOctober is apple pickin’ time in Maine,

APPLES/HOPE ORCHARDand right close by is Hope Orchards where you can go and do a little of your own picking.

Hope OrchardToday, there is an extra added attraction, fruits and fibers,

Hope Orchardand the orchard is bursting with energy and activity.

knittingAmong the apple trees, knitters and spinners show off their skills,

fiber/wooland there are beautiful hand dyed wools and samples of what can be made from them.  Aren’t the colors luscious?

Hope OrchardAfter getting my fill of browsing, it’s out to the orchard where a gentle reminder is posted.  Fun is exactly what I’m having, and you can bet this gal won’t do any climbing.

Apple Dapple CakeNow, the question is what to do with the apples.  For sure, they will be used in my most favorite Apple Dapple Cake (recipe here).

There is also a recipe in the September issue of Southern Living for a Caramel Apple Blondie Pie that sounds intriguing, so let’s head to the kitchen and give it a try.

  • apple pie6 large Granny Smith or Cortlandt apples
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar, divided
  • 1 cup butter, divided 
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans 
  • 1/2 (14.1-oz.) package refrigerated piecrusts 
  • Apple Cider Caramel Sauce
  1. 1. Peel apples, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges. Toss with 2 Tbsp. flour and 1/2 cup brown sugar in a large bowl. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add apple mixture, and sauté 15 minutes or until apples are tender and liquid is thickened. Remove from heat; cool completely (about 30 minutes).
  2. 2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°. Melt remaining 3/4 cup butter. Stir together 1 1/2 cups flour and next 2 ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs, bourbon, 3/4 cup melted butter, and remaining 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, stirring until blended. Stir in pecans.
  3. 3. Fit piecrust into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, gently pressing piecrust all the way up the sides of skillet. Spoon two-thirds of apple mixture over bottom of piecrust, spreading and gently pressing apple slices into an even layer using the back of a spoon. Spoon batter over apple mixture; top with remaining apple mixture.
  4. 4. Place pie on lower oven rack, and bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove from oven; cool pie completely on a wire rack.
  5. 5. Drizzle cooled pie with 1/3 cup Apple Cider Caramel Sauce. Serve with remaining sauce. 
apple pieAll done, the pie has the texture of both a pie and a cake which should be an interesting combination.  I’m already curious to see what impact the bourbon has on the taste.
apple pieWe mustn’t forget the apple cider caramel sauce which I’ve already had a spoonful of, and it’s yummy.   By the way, if you look here, Mary has shown the delicious caramel sauce used another way, sure to be equally tasty.
Now that I’ve had a bite of this pie, I’m sure it is going on the list of family favorites.  It was fun having you in the kitchen today, and I look forward to cooking with you again.
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Seasonal Sundays

Textile Inspiration

I can’t resist beautiful textiles like this lovely old French linen tablecloth that I found at the Union Antique Show.

It was beautiful against the warm wood table surface, so rather than cover the entire table I folded the cloth on the diagonal leaving some of the wood exposed.  Who says you can’t make up your own rules for preparing a table!

The textures in the pears and the terra cotta pots seemed a perfect complement for the cloth.

No problem choosing the dishes, Britain Castles by Johnson Bros.,  that would fit the look. These I was lucky enough to find at a barn sale.  For glassware, the versatile red rimmed thumbprint stems are just right.

The final touch is my most used napkin fold.   Here’s how you do it.

Fold the napkin in half.

Fold accordion style leaving 1-2 inches at the end.

Fold in half and tuck the exposed end into the adjacent fold.  Fan the napkin, and voila, you have it!  This fold is as easy as using a napkin ring and adds a little something extra to the table.

Food is on the table, so let’s eat.  This night’s dinner is a new favorite, Basil-Peach Chicken Breasts, from Southern Living.  It not only tastes good, it’s easy to prepare.

Basil-Peach Chicken Breasts

4 skinned and boned chicken breasts

1 1/4 t. kosher salt

1/2 t. ground pepper

2 T. canola oil

1 thinly sliced shallot

1 t. grated ginger

2 minced garlic cloves

12 finely chopped basil leaves

1 c. chicken broth

4 large peaches, peeled and cut into 1/4″ slices (about 2 cups)

Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Cook in hot oil in a large ovenproof skillet* over medium high heat about 2 minutes/side or until lightly browned.  remove from skillet, reserving drippings.

Reduce heat to medium, add shallot and sauté until tender.  Add ginger and garlic, sauté 45-60 seconds.  Add basil, chicken broth and peaches.  Return chicken to skilled and turn to coat.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until chicken is done.

Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Whether prepared for guests or a week night dinner, this recipe is a sure winner.  Enjoy!

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Thinking Ahead

Tis the Saturday before Thanksgiving which means it’s time to start getting organized so that it’s possible to enjoy that day with family and friends without being stressed or overloaded with things to do.  Here are just a few things I will be thinking about.

Finding the Southern Living cookbook that has the recipe for the jello salad that only 2 of us really care about.  Hmmm, wonder if I really need a recipe after all these years!

Making a shopping list and checking it twice to be sure all the needed ingredients are listed so that the mister doesn’t have to run to the grocery a dozen times Thanksgiving morning.  Even then, he might have to make a last minute run.

Pulling out the Thanksgiving table stuff in preparation for setting the table, always my favorite thing  and easily done ahead.

Arranging the pumpkins in a slightly different way and, hopefully, adding some new twist to the traditional table.

Keeping everything simple which will translate into a more enjoyable day.

What are you doing to prepare for Thanksgiving?

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