Thanksgiving

Pumpkin Cheesecake

I know the last thing that you probably want to see on the Monday after Thanksgiving is pumpkin cheesecake but I can’t not share this with you! This would make a wonderful addition to any holiday party. It is a crowd pleaser and not too difficult to make. The gingersnap crust really makes it! Recipe from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles.

This was my second attempt at cheesecake. While my first try tasted delicious, the entire middle fell and it looked less than ideal. This time, I used a few cheesecake cooking tricks: cooking it in a water bath, not opening the oven during cooking, letting it cool to room temp in the springform pan and then chilling it overnight in the pan. It worked really well and I only ended up with one crack which happened during the cooking process. Anyone have any other tips for baking a smooth and perfect cheesecake?

Ingredients:
For the crust:
1-¾ cup gingersnap cookie crumbs (from about 40 gingersnap wafers)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

For the filling:
24 ounces regular cream cheese (not low fat), at room temperature
15 ounces pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
3 whole large eggs
1 whole egg yolk
¼ cups sour cream
1-½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a 9″ springform pan by lightly spraying with cooking spray.

For the crust, pulse the cookies in a food processor until the crumbs are uniform. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt and pulse to combine. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the melted butter. Combine thoroughly with a fork. When the mixture is evenly moist, crumbly, and holds together when you squeeze a handful, it’s ready. Press the mixture evenly over the bottom, and very slightly up the sides, of your springform pan. Chill for 5 minutes, then bake for 10 minutes. Let cool completely.
Prepare a water bath while the crust cools. Heat a kettle or pan of water to a soft boil. Have a larger baking dish or roasting pan ready to set the springform pan inside it. Once the crust is cooled, set the springform pan on a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil and wrap the foil up around the outside of the pan.
For the filling, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree and combine. Add the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, incorporating each egg thoroughly before adding the next, and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each one. Beat in the sour cream. Then add the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and flour. Beat just until combined, then beat in the vanilla.
Scrape the filling into the cooled crust and spread evenly. Set the springform pan in the larger roasting pan and add enough hot water from the kettle to come about halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake until the top of the cheesecake is a deep golden color and the center is set, about 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes. It’s ok if there is a slight jiggle to the filling. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and run a thin-bladed knife between the crust and the pan sides, to prevent the cake from cracking as it cools. Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature in the pan on a wire rack. Cover and chill for at least four hours or overnight before serving. Top individual slices with fresh whipped cream.
 
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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

This is another recipe that I have seen around the blogosphere for a couple years and I finally got a chance to try them. I made them for a Thanksgiving potluck and they were a huge hit! They were easy to make although mine didn’t turn out picture perfect. I will invest in a scoop with a release mechanism before making them again, using two spoons to drop the dough was less than an exact science. Regardless, they taste amazing! Recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats.

Ingredients:
For the pumpkin cookies:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup canola oil
3 cups chilled pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the maple cream cheese filling:
3 cups powdered sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Directions:
To make the pumpkin cookies, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and spices. Set aside. In a separate large bowl, whisk sugars and oil together. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.
Use a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets (about 1.5-2 tablespoons.), about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the pan for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
To make the filling, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter until smooth with no visible lumps. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined. Add the powdered sugar, maple syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth. Be careful not to overbeat the filling or it will lose structure.
To assemble, turn half of the cooled cookies upside down. Pipe filling onto the flat side of the overturned cookies. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm before serving.

 
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The Perfect Mashed Potatoes

I make the Pioneer Woman‘s Creamy Mashed Potatoes every Thanksgiving. I first posted about them here and if you haven’t tried them before, you are missing out! These will be gracing our table again this year.

Yummy potato goodness!

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Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Every time I make these mashed potatoes, I am surprised at how delicious they are! These are my go to for Thanksgiving. I typically make them ahead of time and and then bake them right before serving.

Ingredients:
5 pounds Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, plus slightly more
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 to 3/4 cup half and half
1/2 to 1 tsp Lawry’s seasoning salt
1/2 to 1 tsp black pepper

Directions:
Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 20-30 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistence and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in the other ingredients.

Turn off the stove and add the butter, cream cheese and 1/2 cup of half and half. Mash to combine. Add the seasoning salt and pepper to taste. Add more half and half, if needed.

Stir well and place the potatoes in a medium sized baking dish. Top it off with a few pats of butter. (If making in advance, you can refrigerate the potatoes at this point and remove them 1 to 2 hours before cooking). Bake at 350 and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through, about 20-30 minutes. I like to sprinkle them with a bit of paprika before baking to give them some color.

Recipe from the Pioneer Woman

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Stuffing

Time to post my Thanksgiving recipes. I know it is super helpful after the holiday but these all turned out great and were fairly easy to make.

Stuffing

Ingredients:
1 loaf cornbread (recipe below)
1 loaf crusty French bread
1 medium onion, diced
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 cups celery, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp dried basil
2-3 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Directions:
First chop the cornbread and loaf of french bread up into 1 inch cubes, spread them out on two baking sheets and let them dry for approximately 24 hours. I set them out for 24 hours but then also popped them in a warm oven for 30 minutes to make them more crispy.

Warm up a large skillet over medium heat and add one stick of butter. When the butter is melted add the onion and celery and cook for a few minutes until onions are almost translucent. While it’s cooking chop up any fresh herbs you will be using.

Add 4 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add basil, thyme, rosemary and parsley. Stir until combined.

Place all of your dried bread cubes into a large bowl and mix them up a bit. Gradually ladle the broth mixture into the bread into the bread, tossing lightly as you go. Keep gradually adding the broth mixture, tasting as you go and adding more seasonings and herbs if needed. Add salt carefully, you don’t want to oversalt your stuffing (I ended up using very little salt). If the mixture is not quite moist enough add a bit more chicken broth and stir.

Either stuff the bird and bake accordingly or place in a baking dish and bake at 35o for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top. I did the latter and baked around 30 minutes.

Cornbread

Ingredients:1 cup yellow corn meal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup, plus 2 tbsp shortening

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450. Heat shortening in an iron skillet, muffin pan, or other paking pan (I used a 9×13 pan). Combine corn meal, flour and salt in mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, milk and egg. Add baking powder and baking soda, stir. Add 1/4 cup melted shortening, stirring constantly. Pour into hot pan, smoothing surface with spatula. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Recipes by the Pioneer Woman.

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