Remember the Pumpkin Pie

As far back as I can recall pumpkin pie has been my favorite Thanksgiving dessert. To my way of thinking, if you don’t serve pumpkin pie, you can’t have Thanksgiving. I’ve tried making my own pies, buying frozen  pies and the local store-bought pies.

I should probably be ashamed to admit it but I’m not, my absolutely favorite pumpkin pie can be found at Costco. The pie crusts are flaky and moist, not dry and crumbly but the best part is they aren’t over-spiced.

Costco pumpkin pies are huge too. A full 58 ounces — they measure about 12 inches in diameter, so there is plenty of pie to go around. The cost is right too. At $5.99, they don’t cost any more than those tiny 8 inch pies and they are so fresh and delicious, everyone will remember the pumpkin pie, long after the last slice is consumed.

So, just because you don’t have time to bake a pumpkin pie from scratch — or if the oven simply isn’t big enough to accommodate every dish you hope to serve, you can pick one up at Costco and feel good about serving pumpkin pie to your guests — even if you don’t make it from scratch.

It comes in a wonderful plastic container, the only drawback is the lid doesn’t have a cover, so once you open it, you are kind of stuck. I like to take the rim off the pie container, cover the bottom of the dish with plastic then replace the rim to hold the plastic in place. It travels well.

Happy Thanksgiving! Save a piece of pumpkin for me!

Not just for baking!

I was updating the section on Making Homemade Baby Formula tonight, when I realized I still have a few secrets I haven’t shared with you over the years. I know it’s hard to believe but it’s true.

Glass with measured ounces.

Glass with measured ounces.

Last year, the whole household came down with the flu. I was passing out vitamins, liquid supplements and cough syrup at the speed of light. If you’ve ever tried giving kids their medicine, you know how much fun it is to clean out those measuring scoops. Forget about those plastic cups too. They are made of cheap plastic — you can never be sure they are really clean.

Well, I found the perfect solution, I use these terrific little  measuring cups for everything. Yes, we’ve broken a few of the larger (5 oz.) cups  but the smaller shot glass size are very sturdy — I keep at least four on-hand. The entire family uses them.

Apparently, they are becoming quite popular, because each time I check there are more selections available. I can hardly wait to buy a couple more.

Here they are:

These measuring cups are perfect for measuring medicine, liquid supplements, measuring seasonings, converting recipes and I am sure I’ve forgotten a few other uses. I even have a heavyweight plastic cup with feet, for the little ones.

I just found this measuring cup for those larger jobs. It appears to have a measure for every thing imaginable.

Grandma always said it was important to have the right tool for the job and she was right. I find myself using these cute little glasses almost everytime I use the kitchen.

I know when I purchase new kitchen items, I always wonder, “How often will I really use this item?”  When I bought my new Vollrath (Tribute)  cookware, I was thrilled with every piece. Even today, it feels good to cook with these terrific pans. I am no less enthusiastic about these measuring cups.

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In Search of the Perfect Dinner Roll

I was born on Thanksgiving Day, so of course, it has always been my favorite holiday.  In my opinion, the rolls are the most important part of the meal.  I plan to make the dinner  rolls once again and there is a reason I do. Can you imagine your hostess forgetting the dinner rolls? That actually happened one year. Since then, I make sure we have rolls and now I don’t have to buy the rolls…

In search of the perfect dinner roll

We were invited to attend a large family gathering of just under 50 people for Thanksgiving dinner. I was asked to bring the dinner rolls. Under normal circumstances, I would have used my bread maker to whip some up but I had received my very first  KitchenAid Mixer  and I was excited about learning using it.

The search began for the perfect dinner roll recipe. I tried several interesting prospects, I had found online that were taunted as “the best dinner rolls” only to be sorely disappointed. I wanted these to be special — the rolls are an important part of the meal and they simply had to be perfect.

I had given myself four-days to learn how to make the perfect dinner roll but after several mediocre attempts, I was certain that I’d never learn the secret and be forced to go out an buy dinner rolls, something I was vehemently opposed to. In fact, if I had a dollar for everyone who told me to “just go buy them” I’d have a nice little nest egg saved up by now.

My first batch was edible but not spectacular, they were delicious with honey or jam but wouldn’t stand on their own. The second batch was a total failure because I was distracted and accidentally killed the yeast. The third batch was worse than the first and barely edible.

Discouraged and frustrated, I asked my husband to help me find the perfect recipe because I felt like a failure.

KitchenAid stand mixer. Taken by Colin Henein.

Another Use for the KitchenAid

Living in the mountains requires lots of forward thinking. We live at 4,000 feet elevation and not only do we have to plan our shopping trips more carefully because our store access is quite limited, but we have a great many other things to consider as well. For instance, I’m gradually replacing all my pans; shiny light colored baking dishes don’t perform well in the oven at these altitudes. So, I buy the darkest pans I can find.

Not all recipes work well at this elevation either. The whole cooking process can be frustrating and often requires adjustments to the way I would normally do things. I know that it takes longer for water to boil at this altitude and noodles have to cook almost twice as long as any recipe calls for. So, it’s hard to judge whether or not the recipes I tried were faulty or if I was having trouble due to the higher altitude.

After trying every search term I could think of, I asked my husband to give it a try. He used the terms “World’s Best Dinner Rolls” and found the best recipe for dinner rolls I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating (with  the exception of  a dinner roll recipe I had years ago,  from a friend — as luck would have it, I can not locate it)  and I baked them at 4,000 feet without a hitch.

I had to make several batches to have enough to feed 50 people, and as luck would have it, I thought I had messed up the last batch by adding the eggs too early. I’m pleased to report even my inability to follow the directions didn’t make a difference. These dinner rolls are fluffy, moist and unless you kill the yeast, they are hard to screw up.

I’m pleased to report that I was invited to bring the dinner rolls to Christmas dinner this year. I’ve decided to try the Honey Butter recipe as well, of course, I’ll make a couple more practice runs before the big day. You really can’t go wrong with these delicious dinner rolls.

I even surprised a few family members with rolls I had baked in round cake pans, removed and sealed in plastic. They were thrilled. You can’t go wrong with a gift of baked goods.

If you have a really good Honey Butter Recipe, please share it below.   Thank you!

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