Pumpkin Pie

This is the month of Thanksgiving, Thankfulness, Pumpkin Spice everything, family gatherings and Pumpkin Pie!!!  For many years, Thanksgiving just wasn’t the same without my Grandma’s pumpkin pie.  It was one of those recipes I didn’t think about before she passed, but missed terribly once she was gone.  I’d tried to make it close, but something was always missing.  Then one day my sister mentioned having some of Grandma’s prized recipes and this was one of them!  Talk about EXCITED!!!  With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s perfect timing to release this recipe.

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  • Pie crust – 1 deep dish or 2 regular
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    • (Or you can substitute the cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg with 2 1/4 teaspoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cups cooked pumpkin
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Mix sugar, salt and spices with honey and pumpkin.  Add eggs and milk.  Blend thoroughly (we use a blender to make is very smooth).  My Grandma always said the key to this recipe is to use a good blender to mix the ingredients.  Blend, Blend, Blend…..

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Pour the mixture into the pie crusts.   Notice the aluminum foil, that our way of keeping from burning the crusts.

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Bake at 425 for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 300 for 35 minutes or until the top starts to crack.  Note: The last 10 minutes of cooking time place pies on the bottom rack to cook the bottom crust.

Yields:  2 regular size pies or 1 deep dish pie.

 

 

Chicken ‘n Dumplings

As the weather cools, my crowd loves soups, stews and old fashioned Chicken ‘n Dumplings.  This recipe is an all time family favorite at our house.   I can remember standing over the stove as a little girl, waiting for the milk to boil so the dumplings could be dropped.  Making Dumplings of any sort is an art.  Once mastered, you can make all sorts of dumplings:  Pea Dumplings, Blackberry Dumplings, not just Chicken ‘n Dumplings.  Here’s how we done it on our family farm.

Boil 4 large chicken breasts until done.  Separate chicken and broth, set broth aside. Take a mixer and shred the chicken – you’ll never hand shred chicken again….

 

In a pot combine shredded chicken, 1 pint chicken broth, 1 quart of milk and 1/2 stick of butter.  Bring to a boil.

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This is where you can do it one of two ways:  Biscuits from a can or Biscuits by hand.

  • Biscuits from a can:  Open a can of canned biscuits, such as Pillsbury Grands and cut them into squares and drop them in the boiling milk mixture.  OR….
  • Biscuits by hand:  Make your own dumplings like we do.  In a bowl start out with self rising flour, a heaping serving spoon of Crisco and splash of milk.  Mix with your hand, yes your hand….this is a texture recipe so you’ve got to use your hands.

 

Mix until it sticks to the spoon.  If the texture is too “soupy” add more flour, if it’s too dry add more milk.

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Spoon the dumplings in the boiling mixture of broth and milk.  The heat will cause the dumplings to cook quickly and the inside of them will become light and fluffy like a biscuit.  You can use a fork to pry one open to test.  Once the dumplings are done, salt & pepper to taste and enjoy.  These are great warmed over the following day.

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Canning Applesauce

This little guy pictured below loves applesauce.  After some persuasion he talked me into canning some for the family.  He put in his best effort, he helped peel for what seemed like forever and never once complained!

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This was one of the easiest recipes yet.  It is a Ball Book Recipe and says that it makes 8 pints or 4 quarts.  Our apples yielded more like 5+ quarts.  We cooked 48 lbs of apples and they yielded 21 quarts.

  • 12 lbs of apples
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • cinnamon to taste – if desired

Sterilize your jars and get the lids and water-bath canners ready.

In a stainless steel stockpot, combine apples with just enough water to keep them from sticking.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce to boil gently and stir occasionally for 10-20 until apples are tender.  Time varies based on type of apples and their ripeness.

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Once the apples are cooked down to the desired consistency, we drained any excess juices from the apples, saving the juice.  We saved the juice just in case we needed to add some back to get our desired consistency when blending the apples.  We like our applesauce thick.  In cases where it is too thick we add some of the apple juice back to it and blend again.

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If you’re using a food mill or blender, blend your apples to the desired consistency and add them back to the stock pot.  We used a submersion blender, so we simply added ours back to the stock pot and blended as we went.  Once you have the apples at the desired applesauce thickness mix in the sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil.  Maintain this gentle low boil as you ladle the hot applesauce into the hot sterile jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles.  Wipe rims.  Place lid and ring and tighten to fingertip-tight.

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Place jars in canner, make sure they’re completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and water-bath both pints and quarts for 20 minutes.

 

 

Spaghetti Sauce – No Meat

Spaghetti Sauce is a staple at our house.  We use it for so many things.  It takes some work, but your kitchen will smell like Little Italy ~ it smells SO GOOD!  We’ve canned spaghetti sauce both with meat and without meat.  What we’ve found is that the processing time is much less and the jars much cleaner if you can it without meat.  If you can this with meat you’re looking at pressure canning it for 90 minutes, whereas; without meat it’s water bathed for 40 minutes.  This recipe yields 12 quarts and fills one roasting pan. You can also cook it in a stock pot.

Let the fun begin:

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  • 25 lbs of tomatoes
  • 4 large green peppers, seeded and diced
  • 4 large onions, diced
  • 4 cans (6 oz) tomato paste
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 2  tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves

Tomatoes can be cored, quartered and processed through a juicer OR blanched, cored, peeled and cooked, depending on the texture of spaghetti sauce you prefer.  We juiced our tomatoes for this recipe.

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Dice the green pepper and onions.  Mince the garlic.  Combine all the ingredients in a large pot or roasting pan.  Simmer for 4-5 hours or until it’s the thickness you desire.

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Discard the bay leaves.  Jar up the sauce in sterile jars and add 2 tsp of lemon juice to each jar for added acidity (if desired).  The recipe that I used called for the extra lemon juice, however our tomatoes are very high in acid and we don’t add the lemon juice.  Wipe rims with a sterile cloth, place 2 piece hot lid and ring, tighten.  Waterbath for 40 minutes.

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Ground Steak

Ground Steak truly is a Surry County, NC thing.  When you leave our area and mention Ground Steak, people look at you totally confused.  But in our little town of Mayberry, people line up at the local festivals for it, and you’ll find it on some of the local restaurant menus.  When we owned and operated a restaurant, we had friends and family that would drive 45 minutes to an hour for this stuff.  It’s a ground beef, flour, milk (or water), salt and pepper combination which is delicious on a bun.  So with that being said……it’s time to share the family secret…..

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  • Ground Beef
  • Self Rising Flour
  • Milk (or Water)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste….lots of Pepper!

Brown the meat until done, drain grease.  Reduce the heat to low and sprinkle flour on top of the meat and begin stirring.  This is what I call a texture recipe, it has to “feel right” when you stir it to know that you have enough flour to make it stick together.    If it’s not “gooey” add a little bit more flour.  If it sticks to the spoon in a big clump – you’re good.    Continue stirring over low heat.

Don’t fret, you’re about to change the texture yet again with the milk.  Add 1/2 cup of milk, per pound of meat.

Stir and mix until you get this texture.  Add salt and pepper and continue to stir over low heat.  At this point, you’re ready to sample.  If it seems too bland, lay on the pepper!

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Add a slice of tomato, some slaw and mayo….enjoy!  Or better yet, forget the bun and eat it by itself!

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Canning Tomato Soup

A friend passed along her mother’s tomato soup recipe and I had to try it!  Oh MY ~ this definitely gives Campbell’s a run for their money!  Since I was canning this, the one thing that I did do differently was leave out the corn starch, I will add a little bit of that as I heat it up.  Her original recipe added 3 tablespoons of corn starch along with the sugar and salt.

Ingredients:

  • 1 peck of tomatoes
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 bell peppers (diced)
  • 2-3 onions (diced)
  • 10 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons salt

Blanch, peel and core tomatoes.  Cook tomatoes.  Cook peppers and onions in saucepan with butter until tender.  Add onions and peppers to the cooked tomatoes.

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Cook together for 10 minutes.  Add sugar and salt to the tomatoes and bring to a boil.

At this point I took a hand held submersion blender to my tomato mixture.

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Depending on how thick or thin you like you soup you can strain it.

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Put the tomato soup in hot, sterile jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Wipe the rims to ensure that there’s nothing to keep the lids from sealing.  Place hot lids and rings on the sterile jars.  Water Bath for 20 minutes.

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Cold winter days….tomato soup…..grilled cheese sandwiches………..YUM!

Yields 10 – 12 pints based on how thick or thin you like your soup.

Healthy Guacamole

When Saturday nights roll around, we take advantage of any opportunity to get together with friends and have a Taco Bar!  I got in such a hurry making this one that I failed at making many pictures.  I was in a time crunch.  There’s a lot of manual prep work when you’re prepping food for tacos!

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  • 8 ripe medium avocados, diced
  • 1-2 limes, juiced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • ½ medium red onion, diced
  • 2-3 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large bunch cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
Cut avocados in half and remove seed. Cut the flesh into squares, scoop the flesh out with a spoon and add to a mixing bowl.  Squeeze lime juice over avocado squares.  Dice the onion, jalapeno and tomatoes, then add to the avocado.  Chop the cilantro and mince the garlic over the mixture and stir well.  Salt and pepper to taste.
If you like a chunky guacamole stop here.  If you like a smoother guacamole, take a mixer to it for just a minute, it will give it a much creamer texture.  Chill for 1 hr before serving.
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Sometimes we make the chunky version, but this time we made it creamy.  This is usually the last thing that we make right before guests arrive.  If it sits any length of time, it will change colors.
Enjoy!
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