Thanksgiving Wrap Up with Apple Pie Recipe


I hope you and your enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday.  We had a relaxing day with a small group of family which was nice.  After a lovely hike I stayed much of the afternoon in the kitchen, which I find relaxing.  Plus I don’t have to pretend to be interested in football.  The kids set a lovely table.  Complete with a buddha’s hand (my sons pick, above).  My daughter was very excited by a clothespin doll assignment she had at school and decided to fashion a doll of each person at our family table to act as the name card.  We look very musical.   I believe the inspiration was seeing another student’s family with musical instruments. No unfortunately we don’t play…at least not yet.  Everyone decided the grandpa doll looked the most like the person.  I think she’s already started designing for our Christmas dinner.

While cooking dinner my sister called.  She was creating a huge vegan Thanksgiving feast.  We were comparing recipes and I was telling her everything I was making….cranberry sauce, apple pie, dressing, turkey, salad and mashed potatoes.  Wait!  The turkey was almost finished cooking and I hadn’t done anything to make the potatoes.  Lucky for that 20 minute turkey resting time, and that my sister called.  Everything was timed surprisingly well and we ate about 4:30 pm.  I learned this year not to tell anyone an expected time to eat at the beginning of the day.  I waited until my turkey was in and basting and I could get a better idea how long it was going to take.  My turkey was small in comparison to most, weighing in at just under 10 pounds.


You should know I made the cranberry sauce and pie first.  In fact I made my pie dough 2 days ahead.  Why?  Because even if other dishes don’t come out people (especially the kids) will remember and always look forward to the sweet stuff.  This was a simple and tasty apple pie from this year’s Gourmet Magazine Holiday Issue, which I will continue to make throughout the year.  Since it was Thanksgiving I paired it with pumpkin ice cream.  Enjoy!


Butterscotch Apple Pie

3 Tablespoons all purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 1/2 lbs mixed tart and sweet apples (about 5), peeled cut into six wedges and cored

Double recipe of all butter pastry dough (or can use store bought pie dough)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon unsalted butter cut into bits

1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon warm water

Preheat oven to 425F with a baking rack set on center rack.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Then add brown sugar, breaking up any lumps.

Gently toss apples with sugar mixture and lemon juice and vanilla and let stand 5 to 15 minutes.

Roll out one piece of dough on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin to 13 inches.  Fit into 9 inch pie plate.  Roll out remaining dough to a 13 inch round.

Transfer filling to shell.  Dot with butter then cover with pastry round.  Trim edges and leave an overhang to be tucked under and sealed.  Lightly brush top with egg wash then cut 3, 1 inch long vents.  Dust entire top with sugar.

optional:  Roll out any dough scraps to be cut with small cutters and place on top. Lightly brush cut outs with egg and dust with sugar.

Bake pie on hot baking sheet 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 375F and bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, about 40 – 45 minutes more.  Cool on rack 2 – 3 hours.



Forget Something? Thanksgiving Ingredient Substitution Tips

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is this week!  I’m still recovering from Halloween and my husband’s birthday last week.  I received this email from WearEver cookware with good last minute substitution tips I thought I’d share.  This may save you that extra trip to the grocery story on Thanksgiving morning while you’re making that pumpkin pie.

WearEver Pure Living’s Thanksgiving Rescue Tips

Cooking Emergency 411:

1 cup honey = 1 1/4 cups sugar + 1/4 cup liquid 1 cup whole milk = 1/2 cup evaporated milk + 1/2 cup water
1 tsp. lemon juice = 1/2 tsp. vinegar
1 cup butter = 1 cup margarine or 7/8 cup vegetable oil
1 cup yogurt = 1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp. flour (for thickening) = 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch or 2 tsps. quick-cooking tapioca
1 cup buttermilk = 1 or 2 Tbsps. lemon juice or or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup
1 Tbsp. fresh herbs = 1 tsp. dried herbs
1 square unsweetened chocolate = 3 Tbsp. cocoa plus 1 Tbsp. shortening
1 tsp. baking powder = 1/3 tsp. baking soda plus 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup all-purpose flour = 1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup brown sugar = 1 cup white sugar plus 2 Tbsp. molasses
1 egg = 1 heaping Tbsp. soy flour plus 1 Tbsp. water
1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon of dried minced onion = 1/4 cup raw minced onion


The Vegans are Coming! Chocolate Birthday Cake Recipe

My sister (the vegan) and brother in law were here last weekend.  To prepare for their arrival I stocked my fridge with some vegan basics including: vegetarian loaf, Daiya soy cheeses, earth balance “butter”, organic vegan sugar (more on that later) , soy yogurt, just to name a few.  I checked my bagels and crackers to be on the lookout for milk products and honey.  We were planning some kayaking and hiking so I was covered for packing lunches.  We also made pizza one night – one vegan and one not.  My breakfasts were kind of basic – bagels, yogurt,  and fruit.  I usually make some kind of vegan scones or muffins, but I was concentrating on “the cake”.


The big test was making my husband’s birthday cake with an untested vegan chocolate cake recipe.  I remembered my mom telling me she wrecked everything she tried to make for my sister.  Well it wasn’t wrecked just wasn’t totally vegan.  She mentioned she made a mistake by using confectioner’s sugar.  I asked what was wrong with that.  That’s when she told me about “bone char“.  Apparently this is a process that makes the sugar white.  There is much discussion on the web as to whether white sugars are vegan if potentially processed with bon char.  To avoid the issue I bought vegan white sugar for the cake and wanted an icing without confectioner’s.  I scoured my cookbooks and the Internet until I found one with great reviews from, that would please both vegans and carnivores alike.  I must say, it did not disappoint!  I will make this chocolate cake for anyone’s celebration.  It was simple and yummy!

Vegan Chocolate Cake from

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

1 cup soy or almond milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan or 8″ round cake pan.

Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  Add oil, vanilla, vinegar and water.  Mix together until smooth.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before icing.


Chocolate Ganache (optional)

3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

3 tablespoons margarine or vegan “butter”

1/4 cup soy or almond milk

Melt margarine and milk over double broiler or in microwave.  Add in chocolate chips and stir to melt.  You may have to heat more.

Spread over cake when cool.




Dia De Los Muertos – Skull Marshmallows and S’mores

My kids have been learning about the day of the dead and doing alters and skeleton art projects at school.  They had lots of questions and although we didn’t celebrate in the past and am not of Mexican heritage, I like the idea of embracing death and remembering and honoring those before us.  With all the Halloween activity, I wanted to be sure we did a bit of remembering and celebrating those our family has lost.


We sat around the dinner table and I told a few stories about some past relatives and what I miss most about them.  We also remembered some of their favorite foods and recipes.  The kids were able to chime in about their gido (my dad) and how they remember him doing gymnastic tricks with them in the living room and how much he loved old cars and Mediteranean food.  I recalled my own grandfather and how I loved when we went for ice cream (chocolate mint) and to the movies.  I even remember making him his drinks (scotch on the rocks) when I was about 10 years old.  It smelled bad and strong then and still does to me now.


We recently put in a fire pit in our backyard, and have been enjoying after dinner s’mores on occasion.  Because of Dia de los Muertos we dressed up the marshmallows a bit by coloring on them with food dye pens.  I know not very healthy, but fun.  It was pretty neat to see their faces dance in the flames.  This was a simple and fun way to celebrate and create (hopefully) a new day of the dead ritual for our family.


Halloween Hoopla

There was so much hoopla around Halloween this year, I didn’t even get a chance to write about it.  But we had lots of fun.  Here’s the quick recap along with some food ideas for fall entertaining or next year’s festivities.


First we did or annual trek to Peter’s Pumpkin Patch in Petaluma.  Had a ball as usual.  Hay maze, potato digging, pumpkin picking, pumpkin ice cream , calf petting, etc.

My husband outdid himself again with carving the pumpkins.  I swear each year my kids up the ante for what they’d like.  This year they looked online for inspiration.   My husband carves without a stencil.  This is free hand.


Halloween day was parades and parties at school.  I made pumpkin bread for my son’s class as well as the neighbors.  My mom comes for a visit every year during Halloween.  This year she experienced it all day and night (a total trooper).  That’s her in the first photo in the green clown outfit.

We made some really fun food for Halloween night with friends.  They made a yummy apple pumpkin soup and mummy tofu and hot dogs.  I made mummy potatoes (still had from digging) and witches fingers (aka breadsticks).  There were a few pieces of candy eaten while rainy night trick or treating, but the real treat comes when we turned our candy in to my son’s orthodontist and received $2 per pound.  My kids were thrilled with $4 each.  I later collected left-over candy at the school for Blue Star Moms to wrap up in care packages to soldiers overseas.  Treats for everyone!