Lots of people make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. Lots of people make apple pie for Thanksgiving. Weirdos make mincemeat pie for Thanksgiving. But for as long as I can remember, my favorite Thanksgiving pie has been pecan pie. It has come to my attention that there are a lot of people who have never even had pecan pie. For shame. Pecan pie is the king or all pies. In fact, it's the entire royal court of all pies. Go make this now, bring it to Thanksgiving, and rest easy knowing that you've made the world a better place.
Toasted Pecan Pie
1 C brown sugar
2/3 C dark corn syrup
1 Tbsp bourbon
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 C cream or half and half
1/4 tsp salt
2 C pecans
Pie crust (pre-made if you like, or I like Serious Eats' Easy Pie Crust if you're looking for a from-scratch recipe)
In a saucepan, heat the brown sugar, corn syrup, bourbon, and butter until the mixture boils. Be sure to stir constantly so the sugar doesn't burn on the bottom of the pan. That would be the worst. Once the whole shebang is boiling, take it off heat and let it cool off for a bit. While that is cooling, whisk the three eggs. Once the sugar/syrup is lukewarm, stir in the whisked eggs, salt, and cream.
Take a step back and just look at how awesome that looks.
OK, now the important part. Take your pecans and spread them out on a baking sheet. Preheat your oven to 350, and pop the sheet in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don't get burnt! When they smell delicious and aromatic, pull the nuts out. Let them cool for a couple minutes. Then, reserve about 40 of the best looking pecans. Take the rest and chop them coarsely -- I like to keep it on the way coarse side, but it's really personal preference.
Pour the pecans (minus the 40 you're saving) into the unbaked pie crust. Then top the nuts with the sugar/cream mixture. Here's the tricky part, but the part that makes the pie look awesome. Take the 40 whole pecans and use them to line the circumference of the pie, carefully placing the pecans into the mixture without pressing down. If you want to get fancy (you do) make a small X in the middle of the pie with four pecans. If you have any leftover pecans after lining the top, eat them. Problem solved! No leftovers!
Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes, until the filling sets up and a toothpick stuck in the center of the pie comes out clean. Let the pie cool on a wire rack and serve either warm or chilled. Boom. You are a certified Thanksgiving hero.
Inspired by a local pizza joint that makes an awesome baked potato pizza, I recently set out to bake a twist of my own. I wanted something loaded with potatoes and topped with the good stuff -- something that tasted even better than a baked potato, which can be chalky or bland. The result was these baked potato pizza flatbreads, or as I like to call them, slices of baked potato heaven.
Baked Potato Pizza Flatbreads
3 small potatoes
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp rosemary
1/3 C sour cream
1/3 C ranch dressing
6 pieces bacon
1 1/2 C mozarella cheese
1/2 C cheddar cheese
2 small flatbreads
Start by -- you guessed it -- baking your potatoes. It's easy enough to do in the oven. Just scrub the spuds clean, poke them a few times with a fork, and put them on a baking sheet in the oven at 450 for about 50-55 minutes. Take them out and let them cool.
While the potatoes are cooling, fry up your bacon however you like to do it. Microwave, stovetop, oven, doesn't matter. Bacon is bacon no matter how you prepare it, so it's tough to mess it up.
Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in quarters and scrape the meat off the skin. Combine the yummy potato bits with the butter, garlic powder, and rosemary. Chop half the bacon and one of the scallions and toss those in as well.
Next, mix up the sour cream and ranch dressing and spread that mixture on the flatbreads. I went with store-bought flatbreads because they looked tasty and I wasn't trying to get elbow-deep in flour. Feel free to use low-fat sour cream and light dressing, too -- it'll taste just as good and save a few calories that you'd rather use for cheese and bacon anyway.
Once you've spread the sauce, top the flatbread pizzas with the potato mixture, and then smother the whole things with cheese.
Bake the flatbreads in the oven for 7-10 minutes at 450, until the cheese is deliciously melted. Then top with the remaining bacon and scallion, and devour. Out of this world.
Growing up, I ate a lot of baked potatoes. Not in a weird, “that guy eats a lot of baked potatoes” kind of way, but just in a “baked potatoes were a pretty normal thing to find on my plate once every couple of weeks” kind or way. But until recently I had never had a twice-baked potato. Check that box on the bucket list, though, because these things are amazing.
Twice-baked potatoes basically multiply everything good about baked potatoes (instead of baking once, bake twice!). They are easy, pretty, and delicious. A good starch option to have in your repertoire.
I had never made zucchini bread until a month or two ago, when I was introduced to this recipe. Since then, I've made it no fewer than three times. Each time, I'm amazed at how delicious this bread is -- crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, and with just the right balance of sugar and vegetables that it fits as breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert. This recipe makes two good sized loaves (I cook them in an 8" x 4" pan) that will last a few ravenous people as long as a week. At Thanksgiving this year, two loaves of this bread went in mere minutes around my family.
I saw a recipe for jam muffins a few weeks ago, and decided to give them a try, but with a twist. I played around with some different balances and came up with these tasty little peanut butter and jelly muffins. A fun twist on an old concept, and a pretty healthy breakfast or snack option. The only sweetener involved is a little bit of honey and the sugar from the jam. You could probably make these with all wheat flour too, although I chose to go with half and half.
Last week, a friend of mine celebrated her birthday. In fact, it was Justine, the author of this very site's wine and cocktail column! Said Justine isn't particularly a fan of sweet things because she's a weirdo. So I decided to throw a spin on the old birthday cupcakes and throw in some savory. Voila -- Bacon Maple Cupcakes!
I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Don't tell anyone. But these ice cream sandwiches are the best thing in the world. And, to make things even better, they're simple to make.
The cookie is a basic recipe, substituting Skor bars (or Heath bars) for chocolate chips. The resulting cookies are thin toffee-laced beauties that remind me of the awesome butterscotch cookies I used to buy for 50 cents in fourth grade. Awesome by themselves.
I really wish I could claim credit for this idea, which can be characterized as nothing short of absolutely brilliant. Alas, I cannot. As far as I can tell, the original idea for these beauties came from Picky Palate, so kudos to Ms. Palate for this ingenious idea. The basic premise is that this is a cookie INSIDE of another cookie. It's like a Russian nesting doll, except instead of dolls, it's cookies. This is the Turducken of cookies. Yeah, I said it.
Alright, enough of this salad stuff. Back to the cookies. I made these for Christmas last year and they were great -- a tasty coffee-tinged alternative to the usual chocolate chip cookies. They're thin, light, and super easy to make. At first I was worried when the batter was really runny, but they baked up well and the texture was great.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Chris, pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving food. Only some kind of crazy person would want to eat pumpkin pie during a month that wasn't November." Well I'm here to say that if non-Thanksgiving pumpkin pie is wrong, I don't want to be right. And also, the internet lasts forever, so you can always come back here when November rolls around.
I haven't always been a big pumpkin pie fan, but this one really strikes my fancy. With a graham cracker crust and a tasty, crunchy topping, this recipe turns what I generally think of as a dessert with a boring texture into an action packed treat.