Sunday, November 27, 2011

Apple Pie

Deep-dish, Crumb-topped Apple Pie that is!

Who did you spend Thanksgiving with? We typically aren't blessed to be with family on Thanksgiving, so we share the day with someone else in the same situation. This year we enjoyed the day with our friends, Brad and Martha Cochran. They have a teenage son at home who was more than happy to take the picture! - and two daughters and a son-in-law that weren't able to be home either.

It was a relaxing day; a wonderful meal, shared friendship, then back home to begin pulling out Christmas tubs and decorating.

I'm not a huge pumpkin pie fan - but I dearly love my apple pie! I took the recipe that my mother-in-law had used for years and tweeked it a bit. Because I'm thankful for others who share their fabulous recipes with me - I'm sharing this one with you! Look at that pie! The pictures don't do it justice - and I made REAL whipped topping for it. Nothing better my friends!
Apple Pie
6 cups apples ~ Choose 2-3 varieties from the following: *Golden Delicious
Granny Smith, Macintosh, Jonathan, or JonaGold
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbs. quick Tapioca
1 Tbs. corn starch

Peel and core your apples and cut into slices, placing them in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix well.

Double-crust pastry recipe

2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 c. shortening
5-7 Tbs. cold (even ice) wter

Mix flour and salt together in a deep bowl. Cut in shortening until crumbly. Add water a tablespoon at a time until moistened...don't over mix. Roll out half and put in a large, deep dish pie plate. Pour apple mixture into prepared crust. Roll out other half of pastry and place on top of apples. Seal the edges, then cut several 'vent' holes in top of crust. Top with crumb topping.

Crumb Topping
1/2 - 3/4 c. flour
1/2 - 3/4 c. sugar
4-6 Tbs. butter (cold, but not HARD)
1 tsp. cinnamon
Combine flour, sugar and butter. Cut in butter till crumbly. Spread over top of pie. (I like LOTS of crumb topping so I use the greater measurements. If you just want a little - use the lesser measurements.)

Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes...check at 30 minutes. If apples in the middle aren't soft - cook for the additional 15 minutes.

*While working at Utah State University eons ago - one of the professors in our department, Alvin Hamson, told me the secret of using the different kinds of apples. They are all a little different in sweetness vs. tartness. The combination is wonderful.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Christmas is Sneaking In!

I just couldn't wait any longer. Last week I was at a Christmas craft show - and I couldn't leave without bringing home this new Christmas treasure! Isn't he too cute?! So today I had a dilemma. Here is this cute snowman pillow in the midst of all my Thanksgiving/Fall decorations. It just didn't fit. I didn't want to put him away - even for a week - I just love him. Soooooo - I said an early goodbye to the fall decorations. We have 3 small Christmas trees in addition to our large family tree. Two of them are now up and decorated. Can I tell you how happy Christmas makes me? There is a magical feeling that envelopes my home and my soul. I wasn't entirely happy with Christmas music being played in the stores before Halloween was over - but in my home - at times of my choosing is a completely different story!
Has anything Christmas made an appearance at your home yet? Share!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pumpkin Turtle Cheesecake

I know that we are knee-deep in 'fall' when I pull out my recipe for this amazing cheesecake. My sweetheart's birthday is in November - and this is the 'go-to' recipe to celebrate that special day! This year it was made by Millie while we were visiting family in Utah. I made it again this week for my co-workers. I've learned something with this cheesecake - you HAVE to use REAL cream cheese - no low-fat, no fat-free! It's just not worth it to try to save a few calories on this heavenly dessert.

1 1/2 cups thin chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
(about 30 cookies)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
4 8 oz pkgs cream cheese
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
5 eggs

1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted*
2 oz bittersweet baking chocolate
coarsely chopped
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 cup caramel topping
*to toast pecans, sprinkle in ungreased heavy skillet. Cook over medium heat 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently until pecans begin to brown, then stirring constantly until light brown.

1) Heat oven to 300. Wrap foil around outside of bottom and side of 9-inch springform pan to prevent drips. Spray bottom and 1 inch up side of pan with cooking spray. In small bowl, mix cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press crumb mixture on bottom and 1 inch up side of pan. Bake crust 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool at room temperature 5 minutes. Refrigerate about 5 minutes or until completely cooled.

2) Meanwhile, in another small bowl, mix flour, pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin; set aside. In large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth. On low speed, beat in eggs, one at a time, just until blended. Gradually beat in pumpkin mixture until smooth. Pour filling over crust.

3) Bake 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes or until edge of cheesecake is set but center still juggles slightly when moved. Run knife around edge of pan to loosen cheesecake. Turn oven off; open oven door at least 4 inches. Let cheesecake remain in oven 30 minutes.

4) Cool in pan on cooling rack 30 minutes. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight before serving.

5) Just before serving, sprinkle pecans over top of cheesecake. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate and oil uncovered on high 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds, until melted. Drizzle chocolate over pecans.

6) To serve, run knife around edge of pan to loosen cheesecake; carefully remove side of pan. Drizzle caramel topping over each serving. Store covered in refrigerator.

High Altitude Directions > Before preheating oven, place pan of water on oven rack below rack cheesecake will be baked on. In step 3, bake 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes. Do not run knife around edge of pan until after cheesecake has cooled 30 minutes.

Here's a close-up of the chocolate and yummy caramel drizzled over the cheesecake.

What dessert or food do you make for special occasions?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Choose to Become...

It's been a busy couple of weeks. First - we went to Utah for a quick trip to celebrate my sweet mother-in-law's 90th birthday - pictures and more on that later. Came home, worked a few days, then went to Kansas City last night and today with a few great friends for a Time Out For Women sponsored by Deseret Book. It was a great weekend - just what I needed to refocus my thoughts and energies and give myself a kick-start. I have some thoughts about what I want to accomplish during and for the Christmas Season and also some things I want to do for our first grandchild who will be born in April. There are LOTS of things to think about - but this weekend helped me remember to focus on those things that are of MOST worth.

We were blessed to hear the music of Michael McLean and Jericho Road. Tender stories told with the power of music is amazing!

We were blessed to hear presentations by: Jason Wright (author of The Christmas Jars and The Wednesday Letters); Dean Hughes - who has published over 90 books, Emily Watts; Anthony Sweat; Marilee Boyack; Mariama Kallon amd Emily Freeman. They each spoke on the theme: Choose to Become ~ "All things are possible to him that believeth." Mark 9:23.

Here are some of the thoughts that were highlights and ah-ha reminders for me for what I need to do to become who I REALLY want to be.
~*~ Don't wait for the BIG moments to happen - but enjoy the small moments. They are just as important.
~*~ Don't let negative self-talk influence how you respond to situations. Learn to put a positive spin on those thoughts that come into your head. Change your perspective.
~*~ Expect hard things of your children. Don't make life so easy for them that they don't get the blessing of learning to work through challenges. Give them the stability of a FEW well-chosen traditions.
~*~ Comparison is the enemy of gratitude. You can be perfectly happy with the situation you are in UNTIL you compare it to someone else's.
~*~ Blaze your own trail. Don't try to be someone else - but find those things that are uniquely YOU and embrace them.
~*~ In our testimonies of the Savior - are we 'almost persuaded' or are we 'altogether committed'? Serve with humility and like Paul - hold back nothing.

And then this evening I saw this on Pinterest and it just seemed to fit with the thoughts swimming in my head about this weekend.

"We become what we want to be by being what we want to become." Richard G. Scott