November 17, 2005

Welcome Home Bakers and Friends,

I hope you had a nice month of October and that those of you who celebrated Halloween enjoyed yourselves. We had a small Halloween get-together at our home for just a few friends. We had a very pleasant evening just sitting around and visiting. We had a small buffet set up at our dining room table with sandwiches, carrot-raisin salad and fresh vegetables and dip. We also served a cold apple cider which was very refreshing. Quite informal but easy to do. I had ordered a Pumpkin (shaped) cake from the gourmet food store online, Dean & Deluca, which looked so real. All in all it was a very quiet but fun evening. I think this is the first time I've ever given a party for Halloween. I may do this again next year as it was easy to do and quite enjoyable.

Pumpkin Cake from Dean & Deluca

As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I thought I might send out a special edition of Diana's Desserts Newsletter for Thanksgiving. I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to finish drafting the newsletter before Thanksgiving, but I've worked on it for many hours and was able to get it out to you a week before Thanksgiving, giving you a chance to read the recipes and decide if there are ones you may consider making. I hope I've chosen some nice dishes and ones you'll enjoy making and serving to your guests.

This edition is filled with recipes for wonderful and scrumptious desserts plus ideas for drinks, appetizers, dinner rolls and side-dishes to go along with your special Thanksgiving meal. Following the recipes are some Tips for a Successful Holiday Meal. Take a couple of minutes and read this information. The tips make a lot of sense and will help you to be able to spend a more relaxing and less stressful holiday with your friends and family instead of spending most of your time in the kitchen.

Thanksgiving is celebrated this year on Thursday November 24th.

Hope you enjoy the recipes and have a Warm and Happy Thanksgiving........Diana

What is Thanksgiving?

In 1621, after a hard and devastating first year in the New World the Pilgrim's fall harvest was very successful and plentiful. There was corn, fruits, vegetables, along with fish which was packed in salt, and meat that was smoke cured over fires. They found they had enough food to put away for the winter.

The Pilgrims had beaten the odds. They built homes in the wilderness, they raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter, and they were at peace with their Indian neighbors. Their Governor, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians.

The custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770's) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.

In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.

Source: Holidays on the Net:

Thanksgiving Guest Submitted Recipe

For this year's Thanksgiving dessert, try this wonderful cheesecake recipe submitted to Diana's Desserts Website by Ruth Goldman, Pumpkin Mousse Cheesecake.

Ruth's Pumpkin Mousse Cheesecake

Servings: 14-16

Ruth has been given many compliments for her wonderful pumpkin mousse cheesecake. Where Ruth lives (in upstate New York), she is known as the "Queen of Cheesecakes"......Diana

For the Crust:
1 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
3 tbsp. butter, melted

For the Filling:
4 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tbsp. maple syrup
3 tbsp. brandy (use imitation brandy flavoring, if needed)
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
4 eggs
1/4 cup half & half cream (half milk, half cream)
1 cup canned 100% pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

Pecan halves
Whipped cream

For the Crust:
Combine 1 cup gingersnap crumbs (I make them in blender ahead of time!) and 3 tbsp. melted butter. Press into bottom of a 9-inch well oiled springform pan. Make ahead and keep in refrigerator until needed.

For the Filling:
In blender, beat eggs, cream cheese and sugar together; add maple syrup, brandy, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg along with the cream and pumpkin. Blend until very smooth. Pour filling into crust and bake for one hour at 350 degrees F (180 C). Cool cheesecake at room temperature, then refrigerate overnight before releasing from springform pan. If you like, pipe whipped cream around edges of cake, or decorate with several pecan halves around top of cake.

Tip: This cheesecake freezes well, too.

Makes 14-16 servings.

Source: Ruth Goldman

Submitted By: Ruth Goldman

Date: November 23, 2003

Click here to view recipe and photo of Ruth's Pumpkin Mousse Cheesecake on Diana's Desserts Website

Thanksgiving Recipes

Below are recipes for beverages, appetizers, dinner rolls, side-dishes and desserts to go along with your Thanksgiving turkey or other entree you have chosen.

Lets' start off with a nice hot beverage to "take the chill off" on a cool Autumn Day, an Apple Toddy.

Apple Toddy

Servings: 1

This French take on the Hot Toddy uses Calvados or applejack and apple syrup, giving the drink a much sweeter scent and flavor. When buying apple syrup, look for the Austrian brand D'arbo. This company produces some of the best, most intense fruit syrups on the market. The Apple Toddy makes a wonderful and warm drink to serve to your guest's at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other festive occasion during the cooler late fall and winter months.

1/4 cup Calvados or applejack
1/4 cup apple syrup (D'arbo brand, if possible)
1/4 to 1/2 cup hot water
4 or 5 thin apple slices
1 whole nutmeg for grating

In an 8-oz. glass, combine the Calvados and apple syrup. Top with the hot water and stir.

Add the apple slices and grate nutmeg to taste over the top. Serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma TASTE Magazine, "Winter Warmers," by Andy Harris (Holiday 2001).

Click here to view recipe and photo of Apple Toddy on Diana's Desserts Website

Another warm drink to serve on this special day, Hot Cider Punch.

Hot Cider Punch

Servings: 12-16

This makes a wonderful beverage to serve to your Thanksgiving guests. Make with or without alcohol, and serve in a festive glass punch bowl and ladle into clear glass punch cups or glass mugs. Serve hot or quite warm.

2 quarts (2 liters) apple cider
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. mint leaves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 oranges, sliced
1/2 cup apricot brandy or other spirits (optional)

Orange slices (with whole cloves stuck in them)
Cinnamon sticks
Sliced apples

In large saucepan combine cider, cinnamon, mint leaves, nutmeg and sugar. Stick cloves into orange slices and add to cider. Simmer slowly (do not boil). Before serving, add alcohol if desired. Pour into punch bowl and garnish punch with orange slices (with whole cloves stuck in them), cinnamon sticks and sliced apples.

Honey or brown sugar may be substituted for the powdered sugar in this recipe if needed.

Makes 12-16 servings.

Source: DianasDesserts.com

Click here to view recipe and photo of Hot Cider Punch on Diana's Desserts Website

Now for a very tasty appetizer that your cheese and apple lover's will adore, Baked Brie en Croute with Apple Compote.

Baked Brie en Croute with Apple Compote

Servings: An appetizer that serves 6 to 8

Serve this tasty savory and sweet appetizer for an extra-special treat at Thanksgiving.

This dish can be made up to 2 weeks in advance. Assemble the pastry, cheese and apple compote, but don't brush the dough with the egg wash. Instead, wrap the pastry tightly with plastic wrap and freeze until ready to bake. Then brush the frozen pastry with the egg wash and bake in a 350 degree F (180 degrees C) oven for 45 to 50 minutes.

1 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Golden Delicious apples, cored, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
1 round Brie cheese, 6 to 8 oz. and about 4 1/2 inches wide, slightly chilled
10-inch round of puff pastry dough, rolled out to 1/4-inch thickness
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp. water
Plain water crackers for serving

In a 2-quart saute pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the apples and saute, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender and have released most of their liquid, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the sugar and cardamom, stir to dissolve and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 12 to 15 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let the apple compote cool to room temperature.

Position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 375 degrees F (190 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

With a sharp knife, cut the cheese in half horizontally. On a clean work surface, place one half of the cheese, sliced side up, and evenly spread 1/2 cup of the apple compote over it. Set the other half, sliced side down, over the compote and spread an additional 1/2 cup compote over the top.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and set the cheese in the center of the dough. Fold the dough up over the sides of the cheese, pleating the upper edges to fit snugly around the cheese. Pinch the dough together in the center to seal. Brush the dough evenly with the egg wash and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake until the pastry is golden all over and crisp, 40 to 45 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes, then transfer to a platter along with a sharp knife and the crackers. Serve any remaining compote alongside.

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer before the meal.

Source: Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

Click here to view recipe and photo of Baked Brie en Croute with Apple Compote on Diana's Desserts Website

Serve these wonderful buns alongside your Thanksgiving bird, and your guests will be treated to a very special dinner roll, Cranberry-Pear Buns.

Cranberry-Pear Buns

Servings: Makes 16 buns

Serve these Cranberry-Pear Buns filled with holiday spirit as a dinner roll to compliment the holiday turkey, ham or other entree, or as fragrant and festive appetizer to welcome guests making Thanksgiving, Christmas or other holiday visits.

1 package (13-3/4 oz.) hot roll mix
1 to 2 fresh Anjou or Bosc Pears* (see note below)
1/2 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Prepare hot roll mix and let rise once according to directions. Punch down and shape into 16 small balls. Flatten each slightly and place on greased cookie sheets. Cover and let rise until double.

While dough is rising, core and finely chop pears to equal 1-1/2 cups. Mix with cranberries, sugar and cinnamon. Make indentation in center of each bun, leaving 1/2 inch edge. Fill with pear and cranberry mixture. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.

*Note: Always be sure to use ripe pears.

Makes 16 buns.

Click here to view recipe and photo of Cranberry-Pear Buns on Diana's Desserts Website

This makes a perfect side-dish to go with either your Thanksgiving turkey or ham or really can be served with any meat or vegetable entree, Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Pecans.

Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Pecans

Servings: 12

Combine apples and sweet potatoes in this sweet and savory side dish that is perfect for a Thanksgiving dinner. There is only a small amount of butter in this recipe. The flavor comes from the apples, sweet potatoes, maple syrup and cider. The delicious crunch comes from the pecans.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

6 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut crosswise into 3/4-inch slices
1 teaspoon salt
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick/2 oz/56g) butter
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large saucepan and add sweet potatoes and salt. Boil slices for 6 to 7 minutes, or until just tender. Remove sweet potatoes from the heat and with a slotted spoon transfer them to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Add apple slices and stir to combine.

In a small saucepan, combine butter, nutmeg, maple syrup and apple cider over medium heat. Stir and bring just to a boil, then remove from heat. Pour over sweet potato mixture and scatter with pecans.

Place in oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until glaze thickens, sweet potatoes and apples are tender, and pecans turn light brown.

Makes 12 servings.

Nutritional Information
Per Serving: 186 calories, 1g protein, 30g carbohydrates, 7g fat, 3g fiber, 10mg cholesterol, 224mg sodium

Source: GeorgiaPecans.org

Click here to view recipe and photo for Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Pecans on Diana's Desserts Website

A little bit different take on your traditional cranberry sauce, but oh how good it is. Spoon it into a pretty bowl or sauce boat and place on your dinner table for guest's to help themselves to. A "must have" Thanksgiving side dish, Cranberry Apple-Orange Sauce.

Cranberry Apple-Orange Sauce

Servings: Makes 3 1/2 to 4 cups

Cranberry sauce has always been part of the traditional Thanksgiving menu. In the 1960s, an uncooked sauce of coarsely ground cranberries and oranges became a national favorite. But since then, the original quickly cooked cranberry sauce has regained its popularity, with many variations such as this one with apple, orange and a hint of spice.

1/2 orange
2 cups water
1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, Pippin or McIntosh
3 cups fresh cranberries
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Squeeze the juice from the orange and set the juice aside. Remove and discard the membrane from inside the orange rind and cut the rind into small dice. In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the rind and the water and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Peel, core and quarter the apple. Cut into 1/2-inch dice and place in a saucepan. Sort the cranberries, discarding any soft ones. Add to the apples along with the orange juice, orange rind, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan partially. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, the apple is tender and the cranberries have burst, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the cranberry sauce to a heatproof bowl and let cool for 1 hour before serving. Or cover and refrigerate; bring to room temperature before serving. Transfer the cranberry sauce to a sauce boat and pass at the table.

Makes 3 1/2 to 4 cups.

Click here to view recipe and photo of Cranberry Apple-Orange Sauce on Diana's Desserts Website

And Now for "The Desserts"

Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Pie

Servings: 8-10

Pumpkin Pie, always the most traditional and delicious ending to your festive Thanksgiving meal.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick/2 oz/56g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 tbsp. cold vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
3 tbsp. very cold water

1 can (15 oz.) 100% pure pumpkin
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
4 tsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of salt

Whipped Cream Topping:
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

To Make The Crust:
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, granulated sugar and salt and pulse to blend. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until reduced to 1/2-inch pieces. Add the water a little at a time and pulse until the dough just begins to come together in a rough mass. Transfer the dough to a work surface and shape into a 5-inch disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours.

Position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 425 degrees F (220 C).

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie dish, fit the dough into the dish and trim the edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang; reserve the trimmings, if desired. Fold under the excess dough and, using your thumb, decoratively flute the edges. For an attractive finishing touch, roll out the trimmings and, using small leaf-shaped cutters, cut out leaves and press them gently onto the fluted edge. Freeze the dough for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.

Line the frozen crust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights, uncooked rice or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the weights and foil and continue to bake until the shell is golden, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the pie dish to a wire rack and let the shell cool completely. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F (160 C).

To Make The Filling:
In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, cream, eggs, egg yolk, flour, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt and whisk until smooth. Pour into the crust.

Baking The Pie:
Bake the pie until the filling is set but the center still jiggles slightly when the pie dish is gently shaken, about 50 minutes, or longer if using a metal pie dish. Transfer the dish to the rack and let the pie cool completely.

Making The Whipped Cream:
To make the whipped cream, in a deep bowl, combine the cream, granulated sugar and vanilla. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream mixture until soft peaks form and the cream is billowy, about 2 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve or for up to 2 hours. Serve the pie at room temperature or slightly chilled, topped with the whipped cream.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Source: DianasDesserts.com

Click here to view recipe and photo of Old-Fashion Pumpkin Pie on Diana's Desserts Website

Chocolate-Pumpkin Marble Cake

Servings: 12-16

Two separate batters are swirled together to create this playful marbled pound cake that will finish off your Thanksgiving feast.

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks/12 oz/340g) butter, at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups canned 100% pure pumpkin
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa
2/3 cup buttermilk
Chocolate glaze (recipe follows)
1/2 cup chopped roasted, unsalted peanuts (optional)

1. In a large bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Scrape half the mixture into another bowl.

2. To make pumpkin batter: Beat pumpkin into half the butter mixture until well blended. In another bowl, stir together 1 3/4 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and beat on low speed or fold in with a flexible spatula just until blended.

3. To make chocolate batter: In another bowl, mix remaining 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the cocoa. Add flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk to the other half of the butter mixture (starting and ending with flour mixture), beating after each addition just until blended.

4. Spoon half the pumpkin batter into a buttered and floured 12-cup bundt-cake pan. Drop half the chocolate batter by spoonfuls over (but not entirely covering) the pumpkin batter. Repeat to spoon remaining pumpkin and chocolate batters into pan. Gently run the blade of a butter knife around the center of the pan several times, then draw the knife across the width of the pan in 10 to 12 places to swirl batters.

5. Bake in a 350 degree F (180 C) regular or 325 degree F (160 C) convection oven until a wood skewer inserted into center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 55 to 60 minutes. Let cake cool 10 minutes in pan, then invert onto a rack, lift off pan, and cool cake completely.

6. Pour warm chocolate glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Sprinkle glaze with peanuts if desired. Let stand until glaze is set, about 2 hours, or chill about 30 minutes.

Makes 12-16 servings.

Chocolate Glaze
In a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler, combine 4 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate, 1/2 cup whipping cream, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1 teaspoon corn syrup. Bring an inch or two of water to a boil in a pan that the bowl can nest in or in bottom of double boiler, then remove from heat. Place chocolate mixture over water and let stand, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, about 10 minutes.

Source: Sunset Magazine, November 2004

Click here to view recipe and photo of Chocolate-Pumpkin Marble Cake on Diana's Desserts Website

Chocolate Pecan Tart

Servings: 8

Being a "chocoholic" myself, a special occasion just wouldn't be "special" without including at least one tempting chocolate dessert for the die-hard chocolate lover's at a holiday meal. This luscious tart will definitely fit the bill. Don't forget to serve each slice with a dollop of whipped cream. Oh so yummy!

2 cups pecan halves
1/4 cup packed golden brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup whipping cream
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup (1 stick/4oz/113g) unsalted butter
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups whipping cream

Additional Garnish (optional)
Whipped cream

Prep and cook time: 25 minutes, plus at least 2 hours chilling time, 20 minutes baking.

To Make Crust:
In a food processor, blend pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon until nuts are finely chopped. Add butter and process until well combined. Press mixture into bottom and sides of a 9-inch (23cm) tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake for 20 minutes in a 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) oven or until golden brown. Transfer to rack and cool to room temperature.

To Make Filling:
In a medium pan over low heat, heat whipping cream until bubbles form around the edges. Add chocolate chips and whisk until melted and smooth. Pour into crust. Cover and refrigerate until firm.

To Make Sauce:
In a heavy, medium-size skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add sugar and cook until deep golden brown, whisking frequently, about 10 minutes. (Mixture will be grainy.) Add cream and boil until reduced to 2 1/2 cups, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes. Cool.

To serve, remove sides and bottom of tart pan and place tart on serving platter. Cut into wedges and serve with sauce and a dollop of whipped cream.

Makes 8 servings.

Click here to view recipe and photo of Chocolate Pecan Tart on Diana's Desserts Website

And finally, the ever popular Apple Pie, always a Thanksgiving and Christmas favorite:

Apple Pie

Servings: 8

For the Pastry:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
10 tbsp. (1 1/4 sticks/5oz/141g) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
10 tbsp. cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
7 tbsp. ice water
1 tsp. distilled white vinegar

For the Filling:
2 1/2 lb. baking apples, peeled, cored, quartered and cut lengthwise into slices 1/2 inch thick
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more as needed
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

To Brush Pastry Crust:
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp. heavy cream

To Make the Pastry:
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center, add the butter and shortening and, using your fingertips, rub them into the flour mixture until small, flat pieces form. In a cup or small bowl, combine the water and vinegar. Using a fork, gently mix just enough of the liquid into the flour mixture so it comes together in a rough ball; do not overwork. Discard the remaining liquid. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

To Make the Filling,
In a bowl, toss together the apples, the 1/2 cup sugar (adding more to taste if the apples are tart), cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice.

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out half of the dough (leave the other half refrigerated) into a 12-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Fold the dough in half and then into quarters and transfer it to a 9-inch pie dish. Unfold and gently press into the bottom and sides of the dish. Trim the edges even with the rim. Roll out the remaining dough into a 10-inch round about 1/8 inch thick.

Turn the apples into the pastry-lined pan, mounding them slightly in the center. Dot evenly with the butter. Brush the edges of the dough with water. Fold the dough round into quarters and unfold over the apples. Press together the top and bottom crusts to seal, then trim the edges flush with the rim of the dish and crimp to form an attractive edge.

In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolk and cream and brush over the pastry. Make a few slits near the center to allow steam to escape.

Bake pie for 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and continue to bake until the apples are tender (insert a knife blade through a slit) and the top is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer the dish to a wire rack and let the pie cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

Tips for a Successful Holiday Meal

Hosting a Successful Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving is just around the corner (next week, in fact) and families across the country are already planning their Thanksgiving dinner. After all, it is one of the most important meals of the year. Thanksgiving is a time for families to step back and give thanks for all the blessings we have, not stress over bread that's not rising and cornbread dressing that has been stuffed into the turkey without a key ingredient. Elizabeth Stone from The Stone Kitchen Catering and Special Events in Houston, Texas offers eight tips on how to turn your Thanksgiving dinner into a joyful and stress-free occasion.

1. Setting the Table:
Make sure to set your table three to five days in advance. This way you can get this mundane task out of the way and focus your energies on the cooking.

2. Plan the Menu:
Make a grocery list and a list of when you will prepare each part of your meal.

3. Grocery Shopping:
Take care of your shopping three days ahead. This gives you more time to remember items that you may have forgotten and it gives you the opportunity to begin cooking some items prior to Thanksgiving Day.

4. Prepare Dishes Ahead of Time:
Almost every item that you prepare for Thanksgiving dinner can be prepared ahead of time. For example, the cornbread dressing, cut the vegetables two days ahead of time and prepare the dressing the day before. This way all you have to do is heat the dressing and serve.

5. Turkey and Gravy:
Cook the turkey normally and let it cool outside of the oven for one to two hours. Refrigerate the turkey overnight and then one hour before serving time, transfer the turkey into a pre-heated 450-degree F (230 degree C) oven. Heat for 30 to 45 minutes. This way you can also prepare the gravy ahead of time, which can be a lengthy process.

6. Breads and Desserts:
Prepare your breads and desserts two days ahead of time. This is a lengthy process and it gets it out of the way. Also, consider freezing your pumpkin pie -- just make sure you don't forget to defrost it in time for dessert.

7. Last Minute Side Dishes:
Consider preparing boil in the bag rice, if you are crunched for time. Asparagus is also a nice side dish that can be cooked quickly. Place the asparagus into a glass dish and cover with plastic wrap. Place the dish in the microwave and microwave on high for four to six minutes depending on the tenderness you prefer.

8. Maximizing Oven Space:
Heat dishes three to four hours ahead of time. Once the dish is hot, cover it with foil and place inside an insulated cooler. Don't open the cooler every few minutes because the steam will escape. The cooler will keep the dish warm for two hours.

Remember, Thanksgiving dinner should be fun. Prepare dishes in advance and this will give you more time to spend with your family instead of slaving in a hot kitchen all Thanksgiving Day.

Source: Article by Elizabeth Stone at: Sheknows.com: Article is posted at:

Until Next Time

A Brief Note about Our Thanksgiving Plans this Year:
Luckily, I don't have to worry about the tip section above as my husband Kenny and I are staying home this year for Thanksgiving, just the two of us, spending it quietly and keeping it VERY simple and giving thanks for everything we have in life, each other and our wonderful dogs, our best friends, Clancy, Rosie and Buster. We were invited to Thanksgiving dinner by friends and family but declined as we wanted to stay home this year. We are having (don't scream please), a Honey-Baked Spiral Sliced Ham (yes, they now make a quarter spiral sliced ham for 3 to 5 people), perfect for the two of us for Thanksgiving dinner and for making sandwiches for the next day or so. We'll make a couple of side dishes to go along with the ham and I'll hopefully be making a simple but special dessert for the two of us and that will be that for this Thanksgiving at the Woodall residence.

I don't want you all to think that we're "bah humbug" this year, but sometimes, as you know, you just want some peace and quiet. Last year we spent a lovely Thanksgiving with none other than my ex-husband and his wife and her family and friends. It was fun and very relaxing. We just sat back and enjoyed ourselves. I want to say "thanks" to Chris and Sandra for being so gracious. We must do it again some time in the future. Now, there's one thing to be thankful for, a good relationship with your ex-husband and his wife.

Well, I guess that's more then you all wanted to know, but that's ok, I know that most of you have stories of your own that you could tell.

Have a WONDERFUL and WARM and RELAXING Thanksgiving. I know that your meals will turn out fantastic. Please let me know how the recipes turned out if you made any of the ones from this special edition of Diana's Desserts Newsletter.

I know that a lot of you who subscribe to this newsletter live in many different parts of the world and don't celebrate the kind of Thanksgiving we do here in the United States, but wouldn't it be nice to get together with some of your family or friends at a nice meal and give "thanks" for the good things in life that you all share. Think about it, a nice thought isn't it?

I hope to be back next month with a Holiday Edition of Diana's Desserts Newsletter with some exciting recipes for some of the very festive holidays in December including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Eve.

Don't forget to submit your recipes to Diana's Desserts Website for the upcoming holidays. I look forward to your recipes. Click on the link below if you'd like to Submit a Recipe:

Submit a Recipe

Happy Thanksgiving, Diana

Diana's Desserts
A Website Dedicated to Home Bakers

E-mail Address: diana@dianasdesserts.com