Category Archives: Thanksgiving

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
This Thanksgiving my mom requested that I bring canned cranberry sauce.  She reminded me of "that stuff you brought last year" – an overly-gingered sauce with oranges and nuts.  Way too uppity for mom. 

So I thought what she REALLY would like is a homemade sauce, but toned down to the most basic.  No additions.

Cranberry Sauce x
Well, my mom didn't seem impressed (again).  My dad (80 years old) said it was too sour.  Hmmm.  I guess what she REALLY wanted was exactly what she said.  Canned sauce. So I trucked my sauce back home.

And the next day it was so good, I ate half the bowl for lunch.

LESSON LEARNED #1:  Don't make and take the same day.  Sitting in the fridge sweetens it up so that you want to shove it in your face.

LESSON LEARNED #2:  If you throw a bag of fresh cranberries in the pan to boil, along with a smaller amount of frozen cranberries, then you cook until they pop as directed, you are likely to think they've all popped when really the frozen ones didn't.  Then the next day, you will have a sauce with most cranberries broken down, and a few cranberries that will pop lightly in your mouth.  FUN!  Notice in the photos that some are smooshed and some are more whole.  On the day of cooking, I think the ones that pop in your mouth were what was making the sauce sour.  But wait til the next day and they will pop, but no longer be sour.  That's my experience, anyway.

LESSON LEARNED #3:  Compromise.  Make your fancy fresh sauce but take a can of sauce just in case it sucks.


Compliments of JennaDish

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
12 oz. bag fresh cranberries

Rinse cranberries and remove any twigs.
Put water in saucepan on med high heat and bring to boil.  Stir in sugar.  Add cranberries return to a boil or near.  Reduce heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes or until cranberries burst. 

Let cool then cover and place in refrigerator overnight.


Gingerbread Cake

Gingerbread Cake
I wish I had a better picture, but it just didn't work out that way. 

This is marbled simply because the last step is to pour hot water with baking soda into the very thick batter and mix until just combined.  Well, it would take a lot of mixing for it to actually be fully combined and I didn't want to overmix it.  So in it went.  Didn't make a bit of difference.

This cake had a deep flavor.  Was not overly sweet.  Just right.  Would be great with whipped cream or ice cream.  The only thing I would say is that I'm not sure the crystallized ginger was necessary – I didn't care for the little bits. 

Gingerbread Cake
Compliments of JennaDish

from the Food Network

Softened unsalted butter, as needed
1 cup vegetable oil, like soy, peanut, or corn (I used peanut oil)
1 cup sugar
1 cup unsulphured molasses
1 to 2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger (I used 2-3)
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten with a fork
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup water
1 tablespoon baking soda
Serving suggestions: Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Lightly butter a 9 by 13 by 2-inch pan and line the bottom with a piece of parchment or wax paper. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, molasses, and crystallized ginger. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth.

In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, salt, and cloves. Whisk the molasses mixture into the flour mixture until evenly combined.

In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda. Whisk the hot water into the batter until just combined. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake in the center of the oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack. Cut into squares and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.


Chocolate Orange Loaf Cake

Chocolate Orange Loaf Cake Nigella Kitchen
I just bought my first Nigella Lawson cookbook, Nigella Kitchen.  Prior to this Chocolate Orange Loaf Cake, I've only made one Nigella recipe, Apple Cinnamon Tea Cake and it was awesome.  I need to make it again, actually. CORRECTION: the apple tea cake was not a Nigella recipe.  It was a Donna Hay recipe. 

This loaf cake was equally tasty and would be especially great around the holidays because of the mix of chocolate and citrus.  A little reminiscent of other fruited breads and cookies you run into in November and December. 

HOWEVER, I am not a big fan of the sunken loaf, which is exactly what can be expected from this recipe.  Here's what Nigella and company have to say to cooks lamenting their sunken loaves:

In (Nigella) Kitchen on p298 (at the end of the Seed-Cake recipe) Nigella mentions "The centre of the cake will sink a little as the cake cools, but this is the way of the loaf". The photographs in Nigella's books are intended to be real – to show the food as it should be and to reassure that you are not doing anything wrong if certain cakes do sink.

Many loaf cakes do have a tendency to sink on cooling and this is partly due to the loaf tin. The deeper sides of a loaf tin cause the outside of the cake to cook more quickly than the inside, so the cake rises in the oven but the centre of the cake has not cooked quite enough to permanently set the proteins in the cake batter (from the flour and egg) and hold the cake up – so it will sink as it cools.

The batter is also a reason as these cakes are all intended to keep well they may sink but they will remain moist and delicious to eat for longer than a madiera or pound-type cake which may rise but become dry after a day or two.

So if you are not good with the whole feeble looking loaf, try making this as cupcakes.  Keep the temperature at 325 or 350 degrees F and start checking through the glass door at 20 minutes for the visual test before opening the door.  When it looks like the top is firmed up and could be done, do a toothpick test and check for doneness in 5 minute intervals.

Chocolate Orange Loaf Cake
Compliments of JennaDish

from Nigella Kitchen

MAKES ONE 9" LOAF CAKE or about 10-12 SLICES

1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) soft unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
dab flavorless vegetable oil, for greasing syrup spoon
2 tablespoons golden syrup (such as Lyle's), or dark corn syrup
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons best-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 eggs
zest 2 regular oranges and juice of 1
1 x 2-pound loaf pan

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line your loaf pan with parchment paper and grease the sides, or line with a paper loaf-pan liner.
Beat the already soft butter with the syrup — if you dab a little oil on your tablespoon measure with a sheet of paper towel, the syrup shouldn't stick to the spoon — and the sugar until you have a fairly smooth caffe Americano cream, though the sugar will have a bit of grit about it.
Mix the flour, baking soda, and cocoa powder together, and beat into the syrup mixture 1 tablespoonful of these dry ingredients before beating in 1 egg. Then add another couple of spoonfuls of the dry ingredients before beating in the second egg.
Carry on beating in the remaining dry ingredients and then add, still beating, the orange zest and finally, gradually, the juice. At this stage, the batter may suddenly look dimpled, as if slightly curdled. No need to panic!
Pour and scrape into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, though check 5 minutes before and be prepared to keep it in the oven 5 minutes longer if need be. A cake tester won't come out entirely clean, as the point of this cake, light though it may be, is to have just a hint of inner stickiness. Let cool a little in its pan on a wire rack, then turn out with care and leave on the rack to cool.

Make Ahead Tip: The cake can be baked up to 3 days ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in airtight container. Will keep for 5 days total.

Freeze Ahead Tip: The cake can be frozen, tightly wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil, for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight at room temperature.


Pumpkin Cheesecake

 Pumpkin Cheesecake1 Pumpkin Cheesecake2
My friends are still raving about this Pumpkin Cheesecake.  The taste is amazing – part cheesecake, part pumpkin pie.  Love 'em both.

Graham Crackers
Process Graham Crackers into Crumbs

Mix with Salted Butter, Brown Sugar, and Cinnamon and Press In Pan

Beat the Softened Cream Cheese


Mix Remaining Ingredients and Pour Into Crust

This is a Paula Deen recipe, however, she or the Food Newtwork decided to be lazy and not give any tips on how to make this recipe successful – just the basics.  Therefore mine came out with a huge crack down the middle.

Exhibit #1:  Cavernous Crack

I have used a water bath before to bake a pumpkin pie, but since this recipe didn't call for one, I wanted to go by the directions.


We Need to Use a Water Bath Folks

How to Bake in a Water Bath
Before you pour your batter in the springform pan, take a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover the bottom of the pan (plus 3-4 inches extra) and place the pan on it.  Bring the extra foil up the sides so that you are protecting the seam from getting water in the pan.  Place the springform pan in a larger roasting pan or similar, and fill with hot water to about halfway up the springform pan.

Why a Water Bath?
Cheesecake is a custard at heart. It's delicate, so you want to bake it slowly and evenly without browning the top.

The most effective way to do this is to bake it in a water bath. Since water evaporates at the boiling point, the water bath will never get hotter than 212 degrees F (100 degrees C), no matter what the oven temperature. This means that the outer edge of your cheesecake won't bake faster than the center, which can cause it to soufflé, sink, and crack.

It's common to overbake cheesecakes because, while they might look underdone, they are actually done when the center is still wobbly. At this stage, residual heat will "carry over" and the center will continue to cook.

Remove cheesecake from the oven to cool on a rack, or simply leave the door of the oven closed, turn off the heat and let the cheesecake cool for at least an hour. This helps prevent the cheesecake from sinking in the center. 

After chilling, the once-wiggly center should firm up just fine.

Eating cheesecake is a very sensual experience: texture is everything. Some recipes contain a small amount of starch, such as flour or cornstarch. These cheesecakes have a more cake-like texture. Cheesecake recipes that do not contain flour are intended to be luxuriously smooth and dense.
                                                                                                        Tips from

Other Tips
A crack is caused by two things: 1) a sudden, extreme change in temperature and 2) too much air being whipped into the batter.  Fix that with the water bath and keeping the cheesecake in the oven as the oven cools and by beating the batter only enough to combine ingredients.  Especially the eggs, which hold the most air in them.

Based on suggestions for how to bake a successful cheesecake with no cracks, next time I will bake it in a water bath at 325o for 1 hour 20 minutes, turn the oven off and let it sit in the warm oven for another 30 minutes, take it out and let it cool, run a butter knife around the inside of the pan to ease the release of the cake, unlock the spring on the pan and let it cool a little more.  Regrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.  Before putting in the fridge, cut some parchment paper to surround the edge of the cake, put the pan back over it and lock in place. This way you can store it in the pan without it sticking to the edge of the pan.  You can also cover the pan with plastic wrap or foil without it touching the cake.  If the next day you have some condensation, lightly lay a paper towel on top to absorb the moisture.

To Serve
The graham cracker crust has a whole stick of butter in it, but the good thing is that it makes a very firm crust that does not crumble easily.  Therefore when ready to serve your cake after refrigeration, use a long, wide spatula to slide under the crust and lift carefully to a cake plate.  To clean up the scruffy edge of the cake, use a wet, hot knife to smooth the sides.


Pumpkin Cheesecake
Compliments of JennaDish


Bring cream cheese, eggs, sour cream to room temperature first.  Have all ingredients measured and ready before starting. Heat water for water bath so it's ready when needed. 

Adapted from – a Paula Deen recipe

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick melted salted butter

3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Wrap bottom of springform pan with foil that reaches all the way up the outer sides of pan. 

For crust: In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter and mix until evenly combined. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

For filling: Beat cream cheese until smooth.  Turn off mixer.  Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat on low speed until just combined.

Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place springform pan in roasting pan or jelly roll pan.  Pour very hot water in pan, about halfway up springform pan or a little lower.  Bake for 1 hour.  Turn oven off and leave cake in oven 20 minutes.  Middle will be very jiggly.  Remove cheesecake from waterbath and place on wire rack to cool to room temperature about 30 minutes. Place in refrigerator to cool further, about 30 minutes, before covering with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate overnight or a minimum of 4 hours.

To remove from pan, run butter knife around edge of cheesecake, release spring and carefully lift pan sides.  Serve on pan bottom or run spatula under crust and transfer to cake plate.

Happy Anniversary JennaDish!

I started this website to nourish my creative soul while getting my Master’s Degree in Education.  It kept me excited to learn many new dishes and to create a journal that my kids and grandkids may be interested in some day.

It was so much fun but now I’m on to new things.  Here are my two short anniversary videos of the fun food I created in my first 2 years. (spoiler alert: cute dog at the end of 1st Year video.) I hope you are fortunate enough to find time to do the things that make you happiest.  Because…

Everybody Has Something They Love to Do.


My Animoto Video

Blue Ribbon Apple Pie

Alyssa gets credit for this awesome pie.  Here's why I like it so much, besides of course, the taste.

Blue Ribbon Apple Pie Slice
This was sliced once it was fully cooled.  Maybe even the next day.  I can't remember.  But look at how cleanly the crust and apples cut.  They stand on their own.  Apples are not falling all over the place and making an awful mess in your pie plate. 

The crust is my mom's (Grandma Shirley's) No Fail Pie Crust.  The remaining recipe is from The Perfect Recipe by Pam Anderson. 

The secret is using a mix of apples – about 3 parts apples that hold their shape, and 1 part apples that soften. 

Blue Ribbon Apple Pie
Compliments of JennaDish

from The Perfect Recipe by Pamela Anderson (Executive Editor of Cook's Illustrated)

Pie Filling

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 1/2 pounds apples that hold their shape, peeled, quartered, cored, sliced to 1/4" thick
  (Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Rome Beauty or Braeburn)
1/2 pound McIntosh or other apples that soften/thicken pie, peeled, quartered, cored, sliced 1/4" thick
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons cognac, brandy or applejack (you can't taste it in the pie)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg white
1 tablespoon sugar

If making fresh pie dough, make that first and refrigerate.

Heat butter in a large 12 " skillet over medium-high heat.  Add apples slices, sugar and cinnamon, and when they start to sizzle and steam, reduce heat to low.  Cover pan and simmer until apples soften and release heir juices, about 8 minutes.  Uncover, increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until softer apples start to fall apart and juices thicken to thin syrup consistency, about 5 minutes longer.  Transfer apples to a jelly roll pan; refrigerate or set in a cool place until apples cool to room temperature  Stire in cognac and vanilla extract.

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 400o F.  Remove larger dough disk from refrigerator.  (Let stand to soften slightly if refrigerated for longer than 30 minutes.)  Roll disk out on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick.  Transfer and fit dough into a 9-inch ovenproof glass pie pan, leaving any overhanging dough in place.  Turn cooled apples into pie shell.

Roll smaller dough disk out on a lightly floured surface into a 10-inch circle.  Lay it over fruit. Trim top and bottom edges to 1/2 inch beyond pan lip.  Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip.  Flute dough or press with fork tines to seal.  Cut 4 vents at right angles on top of dough to allow steam to escape.  Brush pie top with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.  Freeze pie for 15 minutes.

Place pie on a baking sheet and bake until top crust is golden, about 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350o F and continue baking until curst is golden brown and juices bubble, 30 to 35 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack; cool slightly.  Serve warm.

No Fail Pie Crust

This is from my mother's recipe collection in her own writing.  She always has had very nice penmanship.






No Fail Pie Crust
Compliments of JennaDish

Makes 3 – 9" single crusts

3 cups unbleached white all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups Crisco shortening
1 large egg
5 Tablespoons ice water
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar

Sift flour and salt, cut in shortening until mixture is in coarse crumbs.  Beat egg with cold water and vinegar.  Pour into flour mexutre.  Stir with a fork until mixture sticks together.  Divide evenly into thirds (use a scale if you have one).  Roll between wax paper and chill about 30 minutes in order to roll it out with minimal sticking. 

Light and Flakey.  Very Nice.


Pecan Pie

  Pecan Pie
This pecan pie was so awesome, I could hardly stop eating it.  Another King Arthur's Flour website recipe that turned out great.  Alyssa and I both worked on this one.

The only thing I would change next time is that I'd roughly chop all the pecans on the top layer and only use 5 or 6 whole pecans in the very middle for presentation sake.  Cutting a piece cleanly through a whole pecan is next to impossible, so you tend to cut at the convenience of the pecan, not the actual size you want.

I think I used Martha Stewart's pate brisee (pie dough) recipe for this, but if not, then I used my mom's No Fail Pie Crust.  Either recipe would work and they are here and here.

The pie crust is prebaked alone (called blind baked), so when you put the filling in and put it back in the oven to bake, cover the edge with a pie crust protector or make your own out of foil.  Cut a square a little larger than the pie size, fold the foil in half, cut a large hole out of the center and place the foil over the crust.  Remove the foil and if it needs to brown more, leave the foil off during the last 5-10 minutes.  Here's a pic…

P.S.  Sometimes we bakers don't have exactly everything in the recipe and we substitute.  In this case, I only had light corn syrup but no dark corn syrup.  Note to self and anyone else:  If you use even a very small amount (1/8 cup) of unsulfured molasses in the pie as a substitute, you will smell it and taste it.  Very strong.  I didn't care for it but it didn't ruin the pie.  It's just something I won't do again.

2011 Update:
Chopping the pecans and only putting the whole pecans in the middle didn't help that much.  So if you like the look of the whole pecans better than this rustic look …

Rustic Pecan Pie

go for it …

Pecan Pie Slice


Pecan Pie
Compliments of JennaDish

From King Arthur’s Flour Recipes

1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie pan that's at least 2 inches deep. This will make serving the pie easier after it's baked.

Roll out the pastry for the pie to a 13-inch circle. Transfer it to the prepared pan, and trim the edges so they overlap the edge by an inch all the way around. Tuck the edges up and under, and flute them. Put the lined pie pan in the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes.

Line the crust with foil or parchment paper, and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Blind bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven, and gently remove foil or parchment with the weights or beans. Set the crust aside to cool while you prepare the filling.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

1. Place the chopped pecans on a baking sheet. Sprinkle them very lightly with salt. When the oven temperature has fallen to 325°F, place the nuts in the oven to toast for 10 to 15 minutes, just until you can smell them. Remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 375°F.

2. Prepare the filling: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, corn syrups, sugar, butter and vanilla. Stir in the chopped pecans, and pour the mixture into the baked pie shell. Arrange the whole pecans on top.

3. Bake the pie for 45 minutes, or until it's puffed and the center seems fairly set. Remove the pie from the oven, and allow it to cool on a rack. As it cools, the center will sink; that's OK.

4. Cool completely before slicing; store in the refrigerator. Warm individual slices if you like before serving.


Pumpkin Pie

This pumpkin pie recipe from King Arthur's Flour website turned out perfectly.  I wanted to use my new Vietnamese Cinnamon but forgot.  Oh well.  This tasted better the next day and even better the third day, if it lasts that long.

  Pumpkin Pie

I made the leaves sort of free form.  I had a set of small round cutters which I rarely use so I took the smallest one and bent it into a quick oval.  Then I cut veins in each with the back of a paring knife. 

There is a tad bit of fresh ground pepper in this which I think brings out the flavor of the other spices.  You can't actually taste pepper in the pie, of course.

Oh yeah.  This is another "make the filling the night before" recipe. 

Pumpkin Pie
Compliments of JennaDish

Make the filling and refrigerate overnight before pouring in the pieshell and baking.  This will allow the spices to blend and improve the flavor.

Adapted from King Arthur’s Flour website


1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used raw sugar but can use regular)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (regular or Vietnamese)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups (or one 15-ounce can) pumpkin
1 1/4 cups light cream or evaporated milk (I used 2% lowfat evap milk)
Pate Brisee for 1 single crust (1/2 the below recipe) or frozen 9” regular pie crust


1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugars, flour, salt, and spices.

2. In a large measuring cup, beat together the eggs, pumpkin, and cream or evaporated milk. Whisk into the dry ingredients. For best flavor, cover and refrigerate the filling overnight before baking.

3. Lightly grease a 9" pie pan that's at least 1 1/2" deep. Roll the pie dough out to a 13" circle, and transfer to the pan. Crimp the edges above the rim; this will give you a little extra headroom to hold the filling when it expands in the oven. Refrigerate the crust while the oven preheats to 400°F.

4. When the oven is hot, place the pie pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell.

5. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the filling is set 2" in from the edge. The center should still be wobbly. Remove the pie from the oven and cool on a rack; the center will finish cooking through as the pie sits.


Pate Brisee

from Martha Stewart

Makes 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust 9- to 10-inch pies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water


1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

2. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

3. Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.



This recipe makes enough filling to generously fill a 9" pan that's at least 1 1/2" deep. If your pan isn't quite that big, you can bake any leftover filling in custard cups; it will take 25 to 30 minutes to cook.

Pumpkin pie filling is basically a custard; the eggs in the filling will continue cooking as the heat from the edge of the pie moves toward the center, which is why it's important to remove the pie from the oven before the center is completely set. Leaving it in the oven too long will cause the eggs to overcook, tightening the proteins and causing the pie to crack in the center.

Mixing the filling a day in advance (refrigerate until using) will improve the flavor of this pie by giving the spices' flavors a chance to blend.