Thanksgiving Mini Pies

The pies are one of the best parts of Thanksgiving. With just two of us in the house, there isn’t a need for a lot of different pies. Heck, we probably don’t need one whole pie for just us either. Since I like all the different flavors of pie, I figured why not make a few different mini pies! We narrowed our choices down to Sweet Potato, Pecan, and Pumpkin pies. All three were made from scratch at the exact same time, and here are my recipes for it! Please note, the crust is best if you make it the night before and let it chill.

RECIPE: Thanksgiving Mini Pies
Makes 3 Mini Pies

Measuring Utensils
Food Processor
Wax Paper
Cutting Board
Baking Dish
Oven set to 375
Metal Spoon
Colander (optional)
3 Bowls
3 Spatulas or Spoons
Pastry Board
Rolling Pin
3 Mini Pie Pans
Pastry Cutter (Optional)
Cookie Cutters (Optional)
Oven set to 400 then 350 Degrees
Cooling Rack

2 Cups Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Shortening
5-6 Tablespoon Boiling Water
Sweet Potato Filling:
Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoon Butter
2.5 Tablespoons Evaporated Milk
2-3 Small Sweet Potatoes
1/4 Cup White Sugar
1 Egg
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Cloves
1/4 teaspoon Allspice
Pumpkin Filling:  
5 oz Fresh Pumpkin Puree
4 oz Evaporate Milk
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Ginger
1/4 teaspoon Cloves
1 Egg
Pinch of Salt
Pecan Filling: 
1/3 Cup Corn Syrup
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
Pinch of Salt
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 Egg
3/4 Cup Pecans

DSCF01801) In a food processor, mix together the flour and salt.
2) Chop in the shortening until the mixture is crumbling.
3) While the mixture is processing, add the water a tablespoon at a time until it combines into a ball of dough.
4) Wrap the dough in wax paper and chill in the fridge for at least an hour or two or over night if possible. The longer it chills, the better the dough will roll out. DSCF0188
5) Cut the pumpkin open and begin scooping out the insides, a metal spoon works best for scrapping it out. You can place the seeds in a colander to wash and roast later if you are interested.
6) Place the slices of pumpkin skin down in a baking dish and bake for 45 minutes until the flesh super soft.
7) Poke holes in your small sweet potatoes and throw them in the oven with the potatoes to bake at the same time.
8) While everything was baking, I started shelling the pecans for the third pie.
9) When the pumpkin is done baking, scrape the filling from the skins and put it in the food processor. Puree it until smooth. DSCF0194
10) Remove the skins from the baked sweet potatoes as well.
11) In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the sweet potato pie, everything except for the brown sugar.
12) In a different bowl, combine the ingredients for the pumpkin pie.
13) In a third bowl, combine corn syrup, brown sugar, salt, butter, and vanilla for the pecan pie.
14) Slowly mix in the pecans and the egg into the third bowl.
15) Set the bowls to the side.
16) Begin rolling out the dough one piece at a time for the crusts. I like to use a pastry cutter to trim the pie crusts nicely.

17) Sprinkle the bottom of one of your crusts with brown sugar. Bake it in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes.
18) Use leftover dough to cut out decorations for the sweet potato and pumpkin pies if desired.
19) Pour the sweet potato filling into the crust with the baked brown sugar bottom.
20) Pour the pecan and pumpkin fillings into the other crusts.
21) Bake the mini pies for 35 to 45 minutes or until done at 350 degrees.

I always loved eating the pies for breakfast rather than after Thanksgiving dinner, mostly because I never want dessert after Thanksgiving Dinner! This was the first time I made all my pies completely from scratch, as in not even a can of pumpkin. The pecan was definitely the favorite!

Spicy Red Corn Bread

So I am still working on gathering together all my Thanksgiving recipes. It has been a busy weekend, and I am a little bit behind on my blogging. I hope to be caught up in the next few days. In the mean time, here is the super short recipe to make jalapeno corn bread for buns!

RECIPE: Spicy Red Corn Bread 
Makes 4 buns (8 pieces)  

Cutting Boards
Cast iron pan
Oven set to 400 degrees

4 Red Jalapenos
Jiffy Corn Bread Mix
1 Egg
1/3 Cup Milk

1) Remove the seeds from the jalapenos and then cut into rings. DSCF0183
2) In a bowl, combine the corn bread mix, the egg, and the milk.
3) Drop the jalapeno rings into the batter and stir.
4) Pour the batter into a greased cast iron pan.
5) Bake until the corn bread begins to pull away from the side, but doesn’t brown too much. It is easier to use it as buns if is stays a tad under cooked and extra moist.
6) Bake the corn bread the day before Thanksgiving. Cover it and put it in the fridge until the next day. DSCF0184

It’s ready to go in the oven!

Cajun Stew

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I am still organizing my pictures from Thanksgiving and hope to post some of the recipes we made this year soon. Until then, here is a dish I made right before the holiday season began!

This dish is inspired by jambalaya, because I never have the ingredients on hand to actually make jambalaya. I mean, who has andouille sausage in their fridge at any given time? I usually have chicken, a variety of vegetables, and rice (dried or occasionally cooked), so here is my throw it all in version, also known as Cajun Stew! Feel free to change up the vegetables depending on what’s in your fridge at the time.

RECIPE: Cajun Stew 
Makes 4-6 Servings 

Cutting Boards

1 Onion
2 Carrots
4 Small Green Peppers
1/2 a pack of Chicken
Cajun Spice Mix
Leftover Rice
Canned Tomato Puree

1) Chop up the onion and add it to the preheated pot, stir it occasionally.
2) Chop the carrots into half coins and add to the onion.
3) Chop up and add the green peppers to the pot as well, stirring to mix.
4) Scoot the vegetables to the outside of the pan.
5) On a plastic cutting board, chop up the chicken into small pieces  and begin cooking in the center of the pot. As the chicken cooks season with the Cajun spice mix, I used about a tablespoon I think. Cover the pot for a bit.
6) Mix the chicken and vegetables together, ensuring that everything is evenly coated in seasoning. There should be some liquid from the vegetables in the bottom of the pot.
7) Break up the leftover rice into the pot, stirring until fully combined.
8) Pour in some pureed tomato into the pot until everything is covered.
9) Stir and bring to a simmer, letting all the flavors combine and mellow. If needed, add a bit more spice mix now.
10) Serve warm into bowls with spoons.

This spicy chicken and rice stew is spicy and filled with vegetables. It is absolutely delicious and one of the only ways my husband will eat rice! It reheats well for leftovers the next day as well.

Cherry and Chocolate Love

This recipe is a combination of family recipes. The frosting recipe was based on the white icing that my Great-Nana’s friend, Mary. The cake is based on the Nana’s butter cake recipe that was passed to me by my Grandma Connie (HI GRANDMA!) I guess that makes each recipe at least 3 generations old! The recipes must have been made with plenty of love if they were worth passing down!

RECIPE: Cherry and Chocolate Love
Makes 8 Servings 

Measuring Utensils
2 Round Cake Pans
Oven set to 350 degrees
Cooling Rack
Frosting Spatula
Frosting bag

2 Cups Sugar
1 Stick ButterDSCF0162
4 Tablespoons Crisco
Pinch of Salt
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 Cup Milk
Cherry Jam
4 Eggs
2 1/2 Cups Flour

1 Cup Milk
5 Tablespoons Flour
1 Cup White Sugar
1 Cup Crisco
3/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
Pinch of Salt
Maraschino Cherries

1) In a mixer, combine the sugar, butter, and Crisco until creamy.
2) Add the vanilla, salt, and baking powder. DSCF0160
3) Beat in the milk, cherry jam, and the four eggs, and then slowly add the flour.
4) Grease and flour the baking pans and then pour have the batter into each baking sheet.
5) Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
6) When the cake is golden and a tooth pick comes out clean, move the cakes to a cooling rack.
7) Once the cake has cooled for a few minutes, flip the cakes out of the pans and let them finish cooling on the rack.
DSCF01638) In a pot, over medium heat, whisk together the milk and flour until thick and lump free. Set to the side to cool.
9) Once the milk/flour mixture is cooled, put it in the mixer with the crisco, white sugar, a splash of vanilla, a pinch of salt, and the cocoa powder.
10) Beat on high (#8) for about 5 to 8 minutes until fluffy and light.
11) Place one of the cakes on a plate, spread with chocolate frosting, and then top with the other cake.
12) Use the frosting spatula to cover the entire cake with a layer of frosting.
13) Fill the frosting bag with the rest of the chocolate frosting and have fine pipping the top of the cake.
14) Top with 6 maraschino cherries. DSCF0167

I think I am getting much better at making frostings from scratch. Just two years ago, I had my strawberry volcano cake with the frosting that exploded in a lava flow over the entire counter. Now, I am pipping chocolate frosting like a semi-pro. DSCF0168

My husband liked the chocolate frosting, but my favorite part was definitely the cake. The chocolate and cherry combination was out of this world tasty!

Fun with Meringue

I have a riddle for you. You are planning to make a dessert and grilled Korean BBQ ribs for company, however the weather turns bad, like thunder, lightening, and a tornado is forming out in the county. Your husband decides to bake the ribs at 300 degrees for two hours instead of grilling. What do you bake at low temperature that makes a fancy dessert in a small amount of time?

The answer? Meringue, and you have fun with it!

RECIPE: Fun with Meringue 
Makes Many Servings 

Piping Bag
Lined Baking Sheet
Oven set to 300 degrees
Cooling Rack

2 Egg Whites
Splash of Vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
2/3 Cup Sugar
Chocolate Frosting

1) Let the egg whites come to room temperature before adding them to the mixer with the vanilla and cream of tartar. DSCF0147
2) Beat it all together until soft peaks form.
3) Continue beating as you sprinkle in the sugar slowly.
4) Use a spatula to transfer the meringue into a pipping bag.
5) Have fun pipping the meringue into cookies, or have fun and pipe out sheets of meringue and little directions.
6) Bake the meringue in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the bottom just slightly turns golden brown.
7) Move the meringue to a cooling rack. DSCF0149
8) If you want to have fun, place a meringue sheet on a plate, top it with bittersweet chocolate frosting, a sprinkling of pecans, another sheet of meringue, frosting pecans, and decorative meringue cones. DSCF0150
Its not a cake, but it made a creative dessert! It was a low baking temperature quick result!


My husband told me that he has never had gnocchi before, and I couldn’t believe it! He has eaten just about anything or everything, and gnocchi seemed so benign compared to some of the things he has eaten. So I wasted no time in whipping up a batch of gnocchi, and he loved it! This is a relatively cheap vegetarian meal that will make you feel like a classy home cook.

RECIPE: Gnocchi
Makes 3-4 Servings 

Potato Masher
Cast iron pan
Cutting Board
Slotted Spoon

2 Potatoes
1/2 a Stick of Butter
5 Cloves Garlic
2 cups Flour
1 Egg
Parmesan Cheese

DSCF01541) Peel the two potatoes and place in my a pot of water. Cover and let boil.
2) When you can easily stick a fork through the potato, remove it from the water and place it in a bowl.
3) Mash the potatoes and then stick it in the fridge to chill the potato down.
4) Begin melting the butter in a cast iron pan over low heat.
5) Mince up five or so cloves of garlic and add it to the butter.  Season with a sprinkle of parsley.
6) Remove the the potato from the fridge when its still warm but can be handled with your hands.
7) Measure out a cup of the mashed potato, and if there is any leftover, put it aside for later. DSCF0155
8) Add two cups of flour and 1 egg to the cup of mashed potato. DSCF0157
9) Use your hands to combine the flour, egg, and potato and then kneed it until a dough forms. Don’t over kneed or work the dough though!
10) Bring a pot of water with salt to a boil
11) Roll out bits of the dough into long snakes of dough.
12) Cut the dough with a sharp knife into little pieces. Add them to the water and let cook for 3 minutes.
13) Once the gnocchi has cooked, scoop it out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon and drop it into the garlic butter sauce.
14) Stir the gnocchi and ensure that the butter sauce evenly coats everything.
15) Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan and enjoy!

This gnocchi is a fluffy potato pasta coated in a light delicious garlic sauce. It makes you feel like you are having a classy lunch, when you actually were able to make it all in about half and hour with ingredients you had around the house.

Beer Grain Sandwich Bread

So this is my last beer grain recipe! For now… Anyway this is very much a classic soft sandwich bread. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on the grocery shelves right next to the wonder bread. I think the bread came out a little sweet, and would recommend cutting the sugar content a bit. My husband loves sandwiches with this bread, and I found it pairs perfectly with a fried egg.

RECIPE: Beer Grain Sandwich Bread 
Makes 3 Loaves 

Mixer with Dough Hook
Pastry Board
Loaf Pans
Oven set to 350 degrees

3 Cups Warm Water
2 Tablespoons Yeast
1/4 Cup Honey
5 Cups All Purpose Flour
3 Tablespoons Melted Butter
1/3 Cup Molasses
1 Tablespoon Salt
3 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
4 Tablespoons Spent Beer Grains

1) In the mixing bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, honey, and all purpose flour.
2) Place the mixture in a warm location for 30 minutes and let it get bubbly.
3) Then add the rest of the ingredients and kneed for 2 minutes on speed 4 in the mixer until a dough forms.
4) On a floured pastry board or counter, kneed the dough by hand until smooth and elastic.

5) Place the dough in a bowl and let rise in a warm place for an hour.
6) Grease the loaf pans and then divide the dough into three pieces and place in the loaf pans.
7) Let the dough rise again until it comes up above the loaf pans a bit.
8) Bake at 350 degrees until the inside of the bread is 160 degrees, so 30-50 minutes.
9) If you like a soft crust, melt a bit of butter and brush it over the surface of the hot bread as soon as its out of the oven. DSCF0373

Extra Grains Whole Wheat Bagel

If you haven’t guessed yet, the extra grains in these whole wheat bagels are spent beer grains! I just used a little bit of them, but even the hint of beer grains really added another dimension of flavor to these bagels. I may add an extra tablespoon the next time I make them to kick it up another notch!

RECIPE: Extra Grains Whole Wheat Bagels 
Makes 10 Bagels

Food Processor
Mixer with Dough Hook
Pastry Board
Slotted Spoon
Cooling Rack
Lined Baking Sheet
Oven set to 425 degrees

1 1/2 Cups warm Water
2 1/4 teaspoons Yeast
2 teaspoons Maple Syrup
4 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 teaspoons Salt
4 teaspoons Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Spent Beer Grains
Poppy Seeds
Sesame Seeds

1) In the mixing bowl, combine the warm water, maple syrup, and yeast. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes.
2) Run the spent grains quickly through a food processor to break the size down a little to make them more manageable in the bagels.
3) Add the whole wheat flour, salt, brown sugar, and spent grains to the mixture.
4) Mix and then continue to let the dough kneed on 4 or 6 speed level (medium) for 8 minutes.
5) Place the dough in a bowl and set someplace warm for about 20 minutes.

6) Divide the dough and shape it into bagels by gently rolling it out on a pastry board and then looping it together to form a circle.
7) Bring a pot of water to boil with one to two tablespoons of molasses dissolved into it.
8) Boil the bagels for 30 seconds on each side, then place on a cooling rack to drip.
9) When the bagels are still damp, sprinkle with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or your favorite toppings.

10) Once all the bagels have been boiled, transfer them from the cooling rack to the lined baking sheet.
11) Bake for 15 minutes in a 425 degree oven, and then return the finished bagels to a cooling rack. DSCF0366

My favorite way to eat these bagels is with scallion cream cheese. However, they make excellent egg sandwiches, especially when you used pepper jack cheese. If you have extras, you can freeze them, but they tend to go fast.

Biertreberbrot (Beer Grain Bread!)

My husband has been home brewing again, which means I have been surrounded by the delicious smell of grains. He knows to put some of the leftover grains to the side for me to bake with, and the rest get to become part of the garden compost. You may notice a few posts over the upcoming days using spent beer grains, but I wanted to post this one first! Biertreberbrot is a German style spent grain bread I read about online, and I decided to give it a shot!

RECIPE: Biertreberbrot 
Makes 2 Loaves  

Food Processor
Pastry Board or Clean Counter
Lined Baking Sheet
Cooling Rack
Cast iron pan
Oven set to 450 degrees

2 Cups White Flour
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon Instant Yeast
1 1/2 Cups Spent Beer Grains
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Milk

1) Before you start, I recommend putting the beer grains through the food processor for just a little bit to break them into smaller pieces. This lets you keep the flavor, but not risk grains getting stuck awkwardly in your teeth.
2) In a mixer with a dough hook, combine all the ingredients in the order listed above.
3) Mix on low until a ball of dough forms.

4) If you have a kitchen aid mixer, turn the speed up to 4 (or medium if you don’t) and continue to let the dough kneed for about five minutes.
5) Turn the dough out onto a floured pastry board or counter. Kneed until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
6) Place in a bowl and let rise for 1 hr in a warm location.
7) Divide the dough into two pieces and shape into two loaves on a lined cutting board.
8) Let the dough rise again for another hour, being sure to start heating your oven half way through the rise.
9) Place a cast iron pan on the bottom shelf of the oven, when you go to put the bread in add water the pan to create a cloud of steam.
10) Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to about 400 degrees for the next 15-20 minutes.
11) Let the loaves cool before cutting and serving.


This bread has a hearty dark flavor, but a perfect amount of chewiness and a great texture. My husband decided he didn’t want the roast chicken we had planned for dinner, and just cut himself another slice of the bread! I froze the second loaf to use with a cheese fondue in the next month!

Chicken and Dumplings

The weather is getting colder and that means it is becoming soup and stew season. One of my favorite things to make with stews is homemade dumplings. My nana made dumplings for stews, my mom made dumplings for stews, and now I do as well! My husband said these came out as one of my best sets of dumplings ever, though I think that’s because he hasn’t had them since last winter!

RECIPE: Chicken and Dumplings
Makes 3 Servings 

Cast iron pot
Cutting Board
Wooden spoon
Measuring Cup
Pot with lid

Three Drum Sticks
Bay Leaf
2 Carrots
4 cloves Garlic
Ground Black Pepper
3/4 to 1 cup Flour
1 Egg

DSCF03361) Begin by tossing some chicken (preferably with bones) into a pot with water and a bay leaf. Let cook until the chicken is falling off the bone and you have some nice broth left.
2) Pour the broth into a measuring cup and put the shredded chicken to the side in a bowl. The bones can be tossed or put in the freezer to use later for some stock.
3) Cut the carrot into pieces, I prefer to do the skinnier half of the carrot and coins and the thicker part as half coins. Throw it into the cast iron pot to start cooking.
4) Dice the onion and add it to the softened carrots, let cook until the onion becomes translucent.
5) Mince about 4 cloves of garlic and sprinkle them over the onions and carrots.
6) Chop up some mostly fresh parsley and sprinkle it over everything. 
7) Add just enough water to cover the vegetables and let them simmer for a bit.
8) In another pot, start bringing about 3-4 cups of salt water to a boil. 
9) In the measuring cup of chicken broth, stir in a small handful of flour with a fork until it turns into a slurry.

10) Pour the slurry over the vegetables, continuously stirring to form a nice gravy. DSCF0341
11) Stir in the shredded chicken to the gravy and let it start heating up.
12) In the measuring cup, combine about 3/4 to a cup of flour, an egg, and just enough milk to get a very thick dumpling batter.
13) Drop forkfuls of the mixture into the boiling salt water and cover to cook for about 5 minutes.
14) Scoop out the dumplings and move them into the gravy to soak up the flavor before serving. DSCF0343

This meal can be deceptively filling! The dumplings and chicken also reheat great for leftovers the next day. Next time I make this, I will use bigger pieces of chicken, but sometimes you just have to use what you got! DSCF0346