Pie Crust

This was a lot easier than I thought, and extremely tasty. No food processor or pastry blender necessary. The link below has great pictures for how the dough is supposed to look and how to mix it with your plain old fingers.

It also froze beautifully. Next time I’d definitely double it!

For rolling: Roll it out between two sheets of parchment. Roll it larger than you think, because it’s not going to be flat in the pie dish, so make the edges come out a least a few inches past the edge of the dish when you’re measuring the dough by placing the dish upside down on the rolled out dough.

Also, once the crust is in the pie shell, fold down the top to make it extra thick to prevent burning in the oven. If you’re parbaking it first, place some parchment inside and some rice to weigh it down. Or another pie pan.

Note: This recipe is not an exact science. The second time I made it, I ended up having to add at least twice as much water to the dough as the recipe called for. The goal is the correct consistency, where the dough is sticky enough to form into a ball. Don’t be afraid to add as much water as you need to get the right consistency.

http://www.finecooking.com/articles/how-to-make-perfect-pie-crust-dough.aspx

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Pumpkin Pie

This was a really tasty recipe from Serious Eats. The only thing I did differently was increase the spice (per the comments) and pre-roast the pumpkin with the sugar and spices.

It came out creamy, flavorful, not too sweet but not too squashy.

And the crust was easy too, see separate post!

Pro Tip: I made two pies this year, one in my pyrex pie dish and the other in a cheap store bought aluminum pie plate. The store bought plate is much smaller, so the pie took less time, and I put too much crust in the pan so it was too thick. Next time make sure the crust is thin enough in the smaller pan and pre bakes enough before adding the filling.

Pro Tip: Just buy the Trader Joe’s frozen crust. And don’t bother roasting the pumpkin ahead of time, it still tasted good when I cut these corners:) But be sure to bake the pre-bake crusts enough, they were a little soft on the bottom. And you really do need to cook these before Thanksgiving Day, there is not enough time otherwise.

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/11/extra-smooth-pumpkin-pie-recipe.html

Mashed Potatoes

The tips from The Kitchn were spot on. I used a mix of russet and yukon gold, salted the water, started with cold water and didn’t overmash. I mashed with just a fork and it was super easy. Left it pretty chunky, then added cream cheese, a bit of heavy cream and milk, some butter, chives and plenty of salt. Absolutely delicious.

http://www.thekitchn.com/5-common-mistakes-to-avoid-when-making-mashed-potatoes-tips-from-the-kitchn-212271

Buckeyes

So tasty! Made these for the first time for Thanksgiving. They are a little high maintenance, but worth the effort for a special occasion.

Notes:

  1. Less butter, more peanut butter. When I first tasted the PB filling, it tasted way more like butter.
  2. Add some salt. I love a good salty sweet combo, and adding a couple of pinches of salt made these turn out really tasty.
  3. Freeze, not refrigerate, the peanut butter balls before dipping in chocolate.
  4. Use a toothpick to dip, then leave a little of the top exposed so they have a little “eye,” and are true Buckeyes. The recipe I followed did not have this in the instructions, but it makes the dipping process a lot easier if you don’t have to roll the entire ball around in the chocolate to get it completely coated.
  5. I ended up with a decent amount of leftover chocolate. Next time, I’d use a much smaller bowl (like the littlest pyrex tupperware containers I own) and start with enough chocolate to fill the bowl, then add as needed.

http://shewearsmanyhats.com/chocolate-peanut-butter-balls-recipe/

Homemade Mayo

Wow! This actually works…when you follow the recipe. I tried halving it and I don’t think it’s enough liquid to get the vortex necessary to emulsify everything. But when I made a full recipe and added the oil VERY slowly, it turned out beautifully. A little vinegary since I didn’t have any mustard on hand, though.

http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-mayonnaise-with-an-immersion-blender-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-206496

Gooey Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Comfort food! Loved this dish.

1. I added in some frozen peas to up nutrition. Might also think about roasted (de-skinned) squash.
2. Halved the butter and would take it down even more next time. With all of the cheese sauce, I don’t think it adds that much to have a ton of butter too.
3. I didn’t have nearly enough cheese, but it still turned out delicious.
4. I didn’t have American cheese, which probably melts better when cubed then cheddar. Make sure to shred cheeses other than American.
5. I followed some of the comments and added less cornstarch (a heaping half teaspoon).

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2015/10/the-food-labs-ultra-gooey-stovetop-mac-cheese.html

Rice Bowl

Since I’m skimping pretty hardcore on groceries at the moment, I’ve been having to be a bit more creative with what’s around. I should have gotten on the rice bowl train a long time ago, but better late than never. A fairly easy “template” that uses things I commonly pick up at the grocery/have on hand.

Rice + Caramelized Onions + Veggies (Squash, Carrots, Cabbage, Frozen Peas, etc) + Fried Egg + Nuts + Sauce of Choice (Peanut, Soy, Rice Vinaigrette, etc).

Delicious, versatile, and cheap!

Update: Tried this orange tahini sauce. It was delicious and came together pretty easily with my immersion blender and the measuring cup it came with. I might cut the honey a little bit next time since it was a little sweet.

http://www.thekitchn.com/5-easy-sauces-to-make-your-grain-bowls-pop-227266

Also, cucumbers are delicious as well as shredded carrots (not diced or vegetable peeler peeled).