Pie Pr0n – Mrs J’s Famous Pies

DSC_0739 (1600x1060)This one is Coconut Cream and was delicious.  And pretty!  Pretty delicious!DSC_0747 (1600x1060)I’m not sure if there is a recipe for this, it has a crushed “Nilla Wafer crust, and is an instant pudding filler.  She whipped up the meringue in the stand mixer.  It only took two days to eat the whole thing – the last bite as good as the first.DSC_0769 (1600x1060)Mmm… peach pie with a crumb topping.  I remember that she told me there is a splash of heavy cream in with the peach filling.  I rate this pie a half star less than the coconut cream pie but that is a high bar, indeed.DSC_0774 [1600x1060]

Friday Recipe Exchange: Thanksgiving Non-Traditional Side Dishes

JeffreyW's Roasted Brussels Sprout and Potato Gratin

JeffreyW’s Roasted Brussels Sprout and Potato Gratin

This is the time of year when we get a lot of blog visits from people looking for side dishes. And I have a lot of recipes for the traditional holiday sides, desserts and instructions on the various ways to cook your turkey. JeffreyW has a ton of mouthwatering photos. All of that can be found at at this link.

I thought it would be nice though, to focus on some non-traditional sides for tonight’s recipe exchange. In case you were looking for something different to showcase this year.

Soups make a nice starter at for any meal and tonight’s featured recipe is a savory winter soup. I also have a nice Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup, (click here)

JefferyW favors brussels sprouts and came up with this wonderful recipe, Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin pictured above. (click here)

Roasted Brussels sprouts are pretty easy, and leave it to Emeril Lagasse to “kick it up a notch” with his Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Grilled Onions. (click here)

I’m not big on the whole candied sweet potatoes, so I went looking for alternatives and found three I like,  African Sweet Potato Salad, Cajun Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes and Apples, click here for all the recipes. You can also just roast them in the oven, and I found two really good recipes here (honey roasted) and here (thyme roasted).

What are your Thanksgiving plans? Are you doing the cooking or does someone else have the honors? And most importantly, what are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes?

The Thanksgiving featured recipe is one that works great as an appetizer:

Need to keep everyone out of the kitchen while you finish up dinner prep?  Set up a buffet table with a raw vegetable tray and dip, a bowl of nuts (in their shells) along with a couple of nutcrackers and this soup in a slowcooker to keep it warm and that should keep your guests occupied while you cook.

Winter Squash Soup

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3-1/4 pounds butternut or acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into large pieces
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 carrot, quartered
  • 1 celery stalk, quartered
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Chopped chives (for garnish)

Large sauce pan

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the squash, onions, carrot, celery and garlic; sauté until slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken broth, apple juice, thyme and sage. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from stove. Puree the vegetables until smooth with a hand blender or in batches in the food processor or blender. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if desired.

***Soup can be made to this point 1 day ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.***

Return soup to pot and bring to a simmer. Add the sherry and simmer about 2 minutes. Stir in the cream, sour cream and nutmeg until well combined. Place soup into large soup tureen and garnish with chives. Place on appetizer table with small bowls & spoons and let everyone help themselves.

That’s everything this week. There won’t be a recipe exchange next Friday, but next week I’ll be featuring more recipes for the holiday. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. – TaMara


Roasted chicken with mushroom cream sauce

I mentioned Mrs J found some morels yesterday to a pal in a chat room I frequent.  He was all “Oh! Oh!–Roast chicken in a mushroom cream sauce!”

Sounded like more than I was wanting to take on, thinking as I was along the lines of batter dipped and fried.  He was adamant, and Mrs J chimed in in support of his position so I conceded and went to the Google for inspiration.

It would appear that the dish is a classic of French cooking.  As my chat room buddy put it: “That really is THE classic cuisine francais dish “.

I looked at several recipes from famous and not so famous cooks and dismissed anything that mentioned “boneless skinless breasts” or “Campbell’s mushroom soup”.  Julia Child was calling for flaming cognac and some others for similar.  Most wanted shallots.  I went my own way, mostly.  By my own way this time I mean I went this way.  It was the simplest of all the recipes I looked at.

I pretty much followed it, though I did add some cooking wine to the mushrooms and onions and let that reduce before adding the cream.


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Not much different from my usual recipe which is simply heat some stock and toss in the meat and rolled dumplings.  Today I cooked some veggies down in butter and oil and then made a roux before dumping in the stock and the meat and the dumplings.  Added a little heavy cream just before serving to make it a cream of turkey dumpling dish.  I’ll be going back to the old method.

Mmm…It’s a Soup Day

Rain and drizzle all day, remnants of that storm that ripped through Texas and Arkansas I suppose.  Haven’t been watching the weather channel any today so I can’t say for sure.  Anyway, mindful that Mrs J mentioned the broccoli was next on the list to use or lose, I googled around for broccoli soup.  I figured I would end up with broccoli cheese soup but I wanted to see what the range of ingredients would be.  There was some variation but not anything major.  Emeril’s recipe was near the top of the page and I decided to go with his for the most part. There were no surprises in the preparation of the dish, save for the postman at the door with a package for Mrs J.  The pups were sure that the it was their dog momma coming home from the shelter and they launched into a chorus of welcome, much to the amusement of the mail fellow.  The box proved to be a kitty attraction as you will see later.  I worked the recipe up through the addition of the broccoli to the broth and then shut it down, awaiting Mrs J’s return from the shelter.  When she showed, I lit the burner again, added the cream and the cheese and grilled the croutons.


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Leftover Ribs, New Mac n Cheese

Cooked the ribs on the grill the other day.  Wasn’t going to cook today but was shamed into it.  Decided to do mac n cheese.  Wanted something different to please my many fans (hi Mom!) so I used some heavy cream and a few different cheeses.  The standard cheese for this is a nice sharp cheddar and I like it a lot but I saw some mac n cheese on a show late night the other night that looked really nice.  Had some fancy cheese in it.    About the only thing this recipe has in common with that show is the shells, and the ones I used are smaller.  I dug around in the cheese/lunchmeat drawer and dug out some white American, a bit of feta, and some nice Parmesan-the real imported stuff.

Melt some butter in a sauce pan and stir in an equal amount of flour, add a teaspoon of dry mustard powder and cook it a bit then add the cream, I used a whole pint.  It will thicken pretty quick as it comes to heat, keep stirring and add the cheeses in small chunks.  Pour the sauce over the cooked and drained pasta in a casserole, cover, and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes depending on how much you are making.  Uncover and grate some more Parmesan over the top and return to the oven to brown a bit.  Some diced onion in the dish won’t hurt a thing.  I got out a Vidalia to do that but forgot until too late.  I just sliced it and sweated the rings lightly in olive oil then served it as a garnish.


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Broccoli/Shrimp Alfredo

Iasa set me onto this one when she mentioned Alfredo in response to my usual fret: “Waaah…I don’t know what to make!”  Worked out very well.  Alfredo sauce is basically cream simmered to melt cream cheese and grated Parmesan.  The shrimp were sauteed separately, and the broccoli was steamed.  The main task is getting the cheeses incorporated into the heavy cream without scorching anything, then the shrimp and veggies are added to the Alfredo sauce and stirred to cover then ladled over the cooked pasta.  I used penne this time.  Bow ties would have been great but I only had a few.

Alternative recipes are to use milk and cottage cheese.  Vary the thickness of the final sauce by the amount of grated cheese you use and the time the sauce simmers.  Be sure to keep stirring while  the heat is on lest it scorch.


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Filet Mignon au Poivre

Fancy name for beefsteak filet with a cracked peppercorn sauce.  Pat the steaks dry and sprinkle with salt and some cracked peppercorns.  Sear the steaks in a good heavy skillet about four minutes a side on high heat in a bit of oil.  You can tell when the steak has a good sear on it when you can pick it up without it wanting to stick to the pan.  Turn your flame down to medium and cook them until they are done to suit.  If they are really thick, don’t forget  to sear the sides as well.  Remove them to a warm plate while you deglaze the skillet with some wine.  Brandy, red wine, Marsala, just whatever works for you.  I used a splash of red wine and another of Marsala.  Scrape the brown bits from the bottom with a flat wooden spoon and reduce the wine.  Add chopped parsley, some finely diced onion or shallots, and a few tablespoons of the cracked peppercorns.  After you are happy with the reduction, add some heavy cream and continue to reduce.  Serve with the sauce spooned over the steaks, and a bit along side.  I made some twice baked potatoes to go with the steaks.


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