Pumpkin Pie From Scratch

** Obviously a post about pumpkin pie is way out of date for Valentine’s Day, but bear with me–Little One has been quite a handful since 7 months of pregnancy so I’ve been running behind. Now that I’ll be a SAHM with her, I vow to be more dutiful in my blogging. **

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This was from the same weekend I canned cranberry sauce too!

Who doesn’t love a good pumpkin pie from scratch? I know my sister-in-law sure does! You should have seen her eyes on Thanksgiving Day when I told her I was sending her home with one just for her!

Funny thing though, I feel like the concept of scratch cooking conjures one of two images for most people: the first is of the new-agers who buy pre-prepped items and slap them together to form the final product, and second is the typical suburban house wife with (WAAAAYYYY) too much time on her hands sticking her children in front of a screen so she can make her baked goods look just like Martha Stewart’s. I have been guilty of using those pre-prepped items like pie crusts and canned pureed spiced pumpkin, but nothing gets a better reception or better flavor than something made from true scratch. Yes, it takes a lot longer than a Pillsbury crust with Libby’s pumpkin pie filling but in the long-run it is so much cheaper. And for those whose lives revolve around the “what’s-really-in-this” question, the answers are obvious.

So in following with my previous post about canning pumpkin, here’s the recipe I promised! The recipe cards for the crust and filling are way at the bottom for those of you who like to get to the point.

In a food processor, pulse 1 1/2 cups flour with 1 stick cold butter (cubed or sliced to incorporate quicker) and slowly add 4-5 tablespoons ice cold water. You want to keep pulsing the mix off and on until it just starts to form a ball. Then pull it out and mix it until it comes together. Lightly flour your surface, split the ball in half (or quarters like I did because I prefer thinner pie crust) and roll out shapes for your pans. Don’t knead it too much though or you’ll get a tough crust. Sorry I forgot to take pictures of this part of the process, but here are my lovely crusts!

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Next, get the amount of pumpkin you need ( I used three quarts) and drain them. Puree this mix in your food processor with 1/4 cup flour. Add the pumpkin mix to your mixing bowl with 6 whole eggs, 1 cup brown sugar, 2/3 cup white sugar and the spices listed below. Mix it up and pour in equal amounts into your crusts. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes then 350 for 40-45 minutes. Serve warm or cold with ice cream, whipped cream, etc. I adapted this recipe from my mom’s traditional pie (omitted the heavy cream and two spices) and the recipe I’ve laid out here makes four instead of just two pies.

pumpkin pie recipe

Hope you enjoy it!

Love, Betty

XOXOXOXOX

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Cranberry Sauce From Scratch

This year, I’m definitely into the holiday thing. With our first child expected a mere 5 days before Christmas, I simply can’t help it!! And yes, I’m one of those people–already planning where the tree will go, what other decorations I need to find, what lights to hang and all with a constant playlist of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in my head. And what does this have to do with cranberries? Well, part of it is to explain that I’ve been craving this amazing concoction for quite some time and also to help everyone else get ready for Thanksgiving (so that Thanksgiving can be over and I can blare Christmas music 24/7 without a word of complaint).

Two years ago when Hubby wasn’t Hubby yet and we were renting a crappy little house with no carpeting, we hosted our first holiday together–Thanksgiving of 2012. And of course I wanted to make a great impression on my future in-laws so I looked up all kinds of traditional recipes to throw together. My favorite holiday recipe was one of those and I can’t imagine a Thanksgiving without it! Jill Winger of the Prairie Homestead had a recipe I liked but that I’ve adapted a bit since that first time.

Most recipes call for a 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries, but I splurged on my craving and bought the monster 3 pound bag along with a jug of my all-time favorite orange juice (high pulp variety of Simply Orange, its like crack to Hubby and I in case anyone wants brownie points). So, following my adapted recipe at the bottom, you’ll find it comes out rather tart but unbelievably delicious!

509Add orange juice and cranberries to a tall pot and bring to a boil. Stir in sugar and spices. Bring to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes until all of the berries have popped and the mixture starts to thicken. If you’re like me and you love this smell, its going to take every ounce of your strength to not start drinking the pot (although I admit to burning my tongue on a taste-test—SOOOO worth it!).

Now, if you’re happy with the flavor, you can serve it warm, pop it in the fridge (keeps for a week or so), freeze it (not sure on this one, but probably a few months I’d guess), or do what I do and can it. While the mix was thickening, I was getting my jars clean and hot so as soon as it was ready, into the jars it went and then straight into the hot water bath for 20 minutes (please refer to NCHFP guidelines).

If you wanted to be really smart about things, you could put your spices in a spice bag so you don’t have to go through the trouble to fishing them out one-by-one and then labeling your jars with a warning about cloves, but I was too excited to be bothered with thinking ahead…

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Like I said, this recipe made 7 pints (don’t ask me how many are left).

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Happy Holiday Cooking and Feasting!!

Love,

Betty XOXOXOXOXOXOX

Crock Pot Apple Sauce

With the millions of recipes out there for CrockPot apple sauce, mine is probably the laziest that you’ll come across. God bless Hubby for going so far out of his way to buy my favorite apples in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD (Winesap apples from McGlasson’s Farm to be precise). But his timing and my energy levels could have been much better while were were getting past the rush of a baby shower and home improvements. The two giant brown bags he bought me had to sit on top of the fridge for nearly a month until I had more than two hours put together in a weekend to do something with them. And I wanted to make apple sauce, apple butter, apple jelly, apple juice–you name it!–but by last weekend they were in such bad shape all I could do was make apple sauce. And as you know from my previous post about pumpkins, I didn’t make a whole lot either. Normally I like to toss my chunks of apples in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes and then process them in my food mill. With just a handful of apples left, I couldn’t justify waiting that long to boil water. So, in steps the Almighty CrockPot.

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All the apples got rough chopped and tossed right into the CP with a splash of store-bought apple cider to keep everything nice and juicy. This mix cooked on high for about 3 hours while I processed the pumpkins. When I stirred the apples and found them dry I added a bit more cider which probably totaled about 2 cups. They softened up right about when the pressure cookers were starting their singing so out came the Foley Food Mill! Just as before, all the scraps (peels, seeds, etc) were saved for Bernice and I ended up with some really delicious apple sauce. I’m not a fan of the store-bought apple cider as it had preservatives that lent a funny taste, but it was all I had.

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Sadly this recipe only made 4 pints so I have to savor it wisely. Next year I’ll get back on par and make my usual amounts to get me through the winter without the icky store-bought stuff. Who knew I’d be such a snob about apple sauce?!

Do you make your own? Do you add spices or sugar? How have you made it in the CP before?

Love,

Betty XOXOXOXOX

Mystery Squash

When I planned my garden back in January I had the best intentions to be organized and smart about how everything was laid out. I mean, I researched and planned everything from how much broccoli to what grows best with cucumbers to trellises for my beans. In the end, about 99% of this planning went to the birds because I ran out of energy and enthusiasm when my morning sickness kicked in. And to make matters worse I have the unfortunate combination of thick-headedness, bulging sacral discs, and the release of Relaxin (darn you, Mother Nature). All of this meant that I was determined to get things done when Hubby wasn’t there to yell at me and ended up pulling, straining or causing other bodily harm so that nothing productive actually got done.

In the end I wound up with a handful of tomatoes, about 4 rows of corn, kale (that my goat helped itself to), bell peppers, spaghetti squash and this odd-looking orange squash–lots of it. I’ve tried to figure what kind it is but the best I can guess is I bought some kind of winter squash and planted it in just the right spot to flourish wildly. The patch was downhill form the old duck pond so I imagine the ammonia in their poop was what made this and the spaghetti squash so plentiful.

Split the suckers open and scrape out the guts!
Split the suckers open and scrape out the guts!

No matter, I still was determined to do something with the stuff so I bravely cooked it up and tried it–yummy! It had a smell and taste similar to pumpkin and lucky for me it canned up just the same. Although I admit I had no previous experience with farm-stuffs or frugality before I married Hubby, my momma and I canned pumpkin every year for her famed pumpkin pie. Conveniently, the squash are just a little bit smaller and easier to handle. Be sure your knives have been sharpened recently, though. Somehow I always forget this step and have to stop productions to sharpen the two or three I’ve grabbed. I always grab so many just to see which will end up working best.

Separate your chunks from by-products
Separate your chunks from by-products

Anyways, scrape out the insides and rinse the seeds for munchies if you like those. I couldn’t get to that step this time, but maybe next time… All of the chunks ended up being about the size of a quartered kiwi–not too big, but also not so small that you’re wasting your time. Toss the chunks in a hot quart jar, top with boiling water, lid and seal and process those bad boys in a pressure canner at 10 pounds of pressure for an hour and a half (see NCHFP guidelines here for adjustments).

Now I don’t know why, but for some reason I can never just can one thing at a time. I always end up canning at least two other things at the same time. Its a great way to utilize my free time (weekends only at this point), and I love how well stocked we are. So while I was chopping and peeling squash I was also boiling beans (using Jill’s recipe which I love and have down to an art) and the next day made a bit of chicken soup. I ended with a total of 6 1/2 quarts chicken soup, 12 quarts squash, and 14 1/2 quarts of beans.

Squash, beans and chicken soup!
Squash, beans and chicken soup!

And this is how much I love y’all—I’m going to share my newest recipe for the squash! I call it Mexi-Squash Spaghetti Sauce and its an absolute miracle when I need to throw dinner together pretty quickly. Here it is, I hope you like it as much as Hubby does!

mexi-squash spaghetti sauce

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Do you have any recipes for squash? Aside from pumpkin pie, this has got to be my favorite of all time! If you try it and tweak it, let me know so I can try it too!

Love,

Betty XOXOXOXOX