Thanksgiving Desserts

Orange Fruit Slice

This year, I have been designated the “Maker of Thanksgiving Desserts”.  This is nothing new, as I seem to be tasked with this every year.  But, I owned a bakery, so it is expected!  I have several ideas planned, and I am anxious to get started.  I will be preparing from scratch an apple pie, strawberry cobbler, pecan pie, whipped pumpkin pie, red velvet cake, and a pear-pecan tart.  This may seem like a lot of desserts, but I have a large family with a big appetite!  Each year I prepare each of these, with one exception, the pear-pecan tart.

This will be my first year preparing this tart.  I will admit that pears are not my favorite fruit.  I am not fond of the grainy texture.  However, I have never made a dessert with pears.  So, a few weeks ago, I took on the challenge.  I thought all day on the perfect things to go with pears.  Cream cheese and pecans immediately came to mind.  But, I knew the tart would fall flat if there was not something to add a bit of tang.  The cream cheese offers a small amount of tang, but not enough to carry a large pie or tart.  So, I made small tarts and tasted, just to see what they needed.  I settled on citrus, and I made an orange glaze.  Wow, what a difference the orange glaze made!  This tart is amazingly delicious and super easy!  So, give pears a chance and try this recipe!  I made smaller tarts, but to keep things simple, the recipe is for one large 9-inch tart!

To prepare the crust combine:

1 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour

1/3 cup of brown sugar packed

1/3 cup of softened butter

Mix until crumbly.  Press firmly into a 9-inch pie or tart shell.  Bake in a pre-heated oven on 400 degrees for 12 minutes, or lightly browned.  Allow to cool.

While the crust cools, prepare the cream cheese filling as follows:

6 ounces of softened cream cheese

4-5 pears thinly sliced

1/2 cups chopped pecans (tip: I prefer to lightly toast my pecans in the oven.  This allows the oils in the nut to come out and further enhance the flavor.  Simply pour the pecans on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.  Allow the nuts to cool before topping the pie or tart)

Whip the cream cheese until fluffy.  Pour into cooled pie crust.  Arrange the pear slices in a circular pattern on top of the cream cheese.  Top with chopped pecans.

Now, for the amazing orange glaze drizzle:

1 cup of sugar

2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch

1 cup of orange juice

1/2 cup water

1/4 tsp of salt

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a boiler.  I begin with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.  This serves to thicken the mixture. So if after adding the liquids and bringing it to a boil, if the liquid is soupy, add an additional tablespoon of cornstarch.

Pour in the orange juice and water.  Stir and bring to a boil.  Boil for 1-2 minutes, continually stirring, and check the consistency.  This is where you need to add additional cornstarch if needed.  (If you do add additional cornstarch, mix it in very well)  Once the mixture is set nicely, allow it to cool.  Drizzle over the tart or pie.  Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours before serving, the longer the better!  Keep this pie stored in the refrigerator after serving.

 

 

Thanksgiving meal

Lunch table

Hi everyone! Thanksgiving is just a few days away and I am so excited to see my family.  This is my favorite time of year!  We are busy planning our Thanksgiving menu, as I am sure many of you are as well.  My family has many family recipes that have been passed down for many years.  But, through marriage, we have several that are not southerners.  And this is where the yearly disagreements over traditional food begins.  Being from the south, I was taught to make chicken and dumplings from scratch.  I mix flour and buttermilk and a few other ingredients.  I knead the dough, roll it out, and slice into dumplings.  This is what I know a dumpling to be.  However, our northern family members disagree.  A dumpling to these family members is canned biscuits pulled apart and dropped into boiling chicken. 

This is not the only difference that we have.  In the south, we have dressing, not stuffing.  I grew up eating dressing, so this is what I know and love.  To be fair, I have tried traditional stuffing prepared from scratch.  It was okay, but I prefer my dressing! I’m sure there are several traditional Thanksgiving meals, and I am sure that I am not the only one having this discussion over dinner.  As always, I will whole-heartedly defend my southern traditions this year!  What Thanksgiving meal traditions to you all have?

Raised Garden Beds

agriculture, blur, cultivation

Raised garden beds are quickly becoming the norm for backyard gardeners.  Raised beds are easy to build, and can be crafted in the desired height.  I have started transitioning my beds from in the ground to beds that are waist high.  This alleviates the need to be bent over pulling weeds and tending to vegetables, which greatly helps my back!  If this is the bed choice for you, be sure to check the soil depth before planting.  Carrots and a few other vegetables require a deeper planting depth in order to grow successfully.  I love my new beds and find it much easier to tend to the vegetables. Below is a very informative link that list the depth required for vegetables.  If you have a raised be, send us a picture to share!

http://eartheasy.com/raised-beds-soil-depth-requirements.html

Benefits of Carrots

Carrots on Brown Woven Basket

From my previous post, you can see that I believe carrots are an overlooked vegetable.  There are great benefits to carrots, which come from the significant source of beta-carotene and fiber as well as vitamins and minerals.  Carrots have long been known to improve vision, but did you know there were several other health benefits of carrots?  Carrots have been linked to improving skin and aid in detoxifying the body.  Beta-carotene has also been shown to reduce the risk of lung cancer by up to 40%, and reduce the risk of stroke by up to 68%!  Below is a link regarding the benefits of carrots.  This is a very informative site, and also states the scientific links that I have described above.  After reading the article, I am sure you agree that we all need to include carrots in our diet everyday!

http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/carrots.html

Carrots

Orange Carrots on Table

I am really excited to plant carrots this month.  I have always felt that this vegetable often goes overlooked.  There are three main ways that carrots are often consumed which is raw with dip, oven baked with a roast, or shredded in a salad.  There are so many delicious recipes for carrots.  My favorite, which I will post below, is roasted with honey.  There are so many different flavors to add to carrots, and each recipe creates a wonderful side dish to any meal.  Carrots are simple to prepare and cook in very little time, which is why carrots are a go to side dish for the busy days!

Honey Glazed Carrots

You can prepare this recipe with the pre-cleaned baby carrots or regular carrots.  If you use regular carrots, be sure to wash and remove the outside skin. Then dice or slice!

1 lb of carrots

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp butter

2 tsp lemon juice

small dash of salt and pepper

Add carrots and salt to boiling water and cook until tender (about 5-7 minutes).  Drain the carrots and place back in the pan with lemon juice, butter, and honey.  Cook over low to medium heat and additional 5-7 minutes (or until a glaze forms over carrots).  Remove from heat and add a dash of salt and pepper.  Top with a garnish such as parsley to create a beautiful color contrast!

 

November planting

chalk, chalkboard, chilling

November is a great month to plant a variety of vegetables.  Many people often believe that plants, fruits, and vegetables can only be planted in the spring or warmer weather, but that is not the case.  There are fruits, vegetables, trees, and flowers that need to be planted at various times throughout the year.  This month I will be planting collards and carrots.  From traveling, I have discovered that collards are generally enjoyed by those from southern states!  Below is a link with several ideas to try if you would like to start a garden this month!  Remember, don’t overdo your first garden! Pick one or possibly two things and begin with that.  Happy planting!

http://www.floridagardener.com/monthly/november.htm

 

Oh no!

Brown Potato in Front of French Fries

Hi all!  I wanted to post an apology for the delay in updating the blog last week.  There were some technical issues, but the customer service team updated and assisted me throughout the week, and now everything is working perfectly! I will be posting my blog from last week, as well as this week, very soon!