Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Holiday Meal Leftovers | Traditions

Tomorrow is the big day!  Thanksgiving is here!  I am sure that everyone is busy in the kitchen cooking and baking or busy cleaning in anticipation of a houseful of guests.  This year we will be celebrating with my parents.  I am in charge of making the desserts, as my mom will prepare everything else.  This year she is trying her hand at homemade rolls and I can't wait to see how they turn out.  I will be making pumpkin pie and toll house pie (which I will share the recipe...someday!)

Over the weekend we had a small get together that we dubbed "Friendsgiving."  It was potluck style and just so much fun.  It was easy entertaining as I kept the food simple.  Some people brought a Thanksgiving style dish or a dessert.  Our children played and the adults sat and talked.  It was wonderful.  I wanted everyone to be able to have the option to take leftovers home, but wanted the leftovers to look appealing.  I did not want to wrap up leftover turkey in aluminum foil or put leftover scalloped corn in an old plastic butter tub!

I found these kraft "take out" boxes at Michael's craft store.  The labels I designed myself, based off of the Thanksgiving place cards I made, seen here in my table setting post.

I printed the labels off on whole sheet label paper then cut to the size I wanted.  It was very simple and took only a few minutes to make and assemble.  I left space on the label so a name could be added, for easy identification in the fridge!

I like the idea of providing a "cute" container for leftovers.  It makes the leftovers seem ever more special.  After each guest filled their boxes, I tied them with twine, to add extra character (and to make sure the top was secure...I did not want anyone losing any of the food!)

I truly enjoy Thanksgiving and am looking forward to tomorrow.  I love this holiday and all that it stands for-family, traditions and blessings.  I love getting up early with the children to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade-making numerous phone calls to my mom to tell her to watch the parade, even though I know she is busy cooking.  We will have our wonderful dinner around mid-day and then relax, with dessert later in the day.  In the evening, when it is dark, we turn on our outdoor Christmas lights and window candles to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas holiday. 

Happy Thanksgiving and have a wonderful day with your family and friends! 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Petite Pumpkin Pies with Spiced Whipped Cream | Thanksgiving Tablescapes

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I have been experimenting with desserts and decorating the table.  That last week has been busy!
I decided to put a spin on the most traditional Thanksgiving dessert, the pumpkin pie.  I did not change the ingredients of how I make the pie, I just changed the serving size and the topping.  My petite pumpkin pies are adorable and tasty, as well as the perfect serving size after a large Thanksgiving dinner. 

These little pies hardly took any time to prepare, bake and eat!  I think they were easier because I did not have to “blind bake” the pie shell, like I would if I was making the traditional pumpkin pie.  In the spirit of my grandmother, I made my own whipped cream, but added some special spices for more added flavor.  The spiced whipped cream was nutty and spicy, the perfect flavor combination with the creamy pumpkin pie. 

Petite Pumpkin Pie with Spiced Whipped Cream

1 can (15oz) of Pumpkin Pie

1 can (14 oz) of Sweetened Condensed Milk

2 eggs (room temperature)

1 tablespoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice


¾ cup of chilled heavy cream

2 tablespoons sugar

¼ teaspoon of ginger

½ teaspoon cinnamon

For this recipe, I used premade, store bought pie crusts (2 rolls).  Make sure that you let them sit out until they reach room temperature.  If you don’t, they will crack when you unroll them.  If you choose to use homemade crust, that would work well too.  I actually have a wonderful crust recipe that I will be sharing soon.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Spray the muffin tin with cooking spray.  Once the dough is at room temperature, cut out 4 inch circles.  I used a bowl, but feel free to use whatever instrument you have that will give you a 4 inch circle.   Place the dough into the muffin tin.

Mix together pie ingredients, making sure well incorporated.  Spoon mixture into the dough cups.  Bake in over for 15 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the petite pies comes out clean. 

Allow the petite pies to cool in the muffin tin for about 30 minutes, the take out the pies and place on a wire rack to continue cooling.  Once cooled, serve immediately or chill.

While the pies are baking, make the spiced whipped cream.  I like to make sure the mixing bowl is chilled, so I will place cold water and ice inside and place it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.  I make sure it is dry before I begin making the whipped cream.  Any additional moisture will make the whipped cream runny. 

Beat the heavy cream, sugar and spices together in the bowl until soft peaks form.  Put in a glass bowl for storage in the fridge, or serve immediately on top of petite pies.
These petite pies are a lovely addition to any dessert table during the holidays.  They are also great wrapped up for leftovers if some of your guests have other places to visit on Thanksgiving.  It is always nice to give your guests some treats to enjoy later on...a little midnight snack of pumpkin pie is always fun! 

Here you can see some of my packaging techniques that I use to make the "doggie bags" more personal and festive.  I like to create tags for the different holidays or gifts I give to family and friends.  Here are my special Thanksgiving tags, which can also double as place setting cards.

I have been playing with two different tablescapes for Thanksgiving day.  I love both for different reasons and I am having a hard time deciding on which one to pick for Turkey day.  For the first display I used one of my favorite decorating items, the wooden box.  My dad made this for me and I have used it numerous times.  Most recently this spring will a display of daffodils.

I love being able to reuse items in different ways, as I have done with the box and also the burlap runner (which also was on the table for spring.)  The natural color of the wood box and the burlap runner really highlight the browns of the Thanksgiving.  I love how the pumpkins and gourds pop against the brown of the table, napkins and chair covers.  The creaminess of the candles (from Williams-Sonoma, a million years ago!) and my new natural candle holders (purchased from Hobby Lobby in the paintable wood section) really add an element of elegance. 
My second table highlights that bounty that is Thanksgiving.  The pewter bowl is an heirloom from my grandmother.  I love it and it has such versatility.  In the bowl I stacked guards, pumpkins and apples, which are all fall foods that are incorporated in Thanksgiving day food.  Again, I am using my burlap table runner (made by my mom for a bridal shower!) but dress it up with some additional pumpkins and some bundles of wheat (purchased a couple years ago from  Martha Stewart is also a patron!)  I love how the centerpiece is rich in a variety of natural fall colors, without being too over the top.  The wheat adds a sense of simplicity while the bowl adds a touch of sophistication.  I love the balance between the two concepts.
In the photos you can also see the seating cards, which I made.  They are very simple and with a little graphic and saying.  I think they add a touch of whimsy, while also giving a very important direction-where to sit to eat!  It is nice to know where you are sitting, as it prevents confusion for guests and people will not roam about the table looking for a place to sit.  Seating cards are another good way to strategically place people to help foster conversation, especially if you have guest who may not know everyone or if you have guests that like to talk about certain topics, such as sports, politics, etc.  You can group the people together who like talking about the same things.

The napkin ring holders were another Hobby Lobby find, in the same section as the candle holders.  I thought they were so pretty and would look fabulous on the Thanksgiving table.  When I purchased them, I knew I would be using the deep brown linen napkins.  The natural wood napkin rings are elegant and minimal, adding style to the table.

I hope in the next few days to share a few Thanksgiving recipes.  I have been thinking and rethinking the menu and have been making endless grocery shopping lists for the past couple of days now.  I am excited for next week’s meal.  Thanksgiving is a wonderful time!