November 2013 - Buttered Side Up

Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Scones

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Hey everyone! Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just TWO days away? I don't know about you, but I'm not feeling very prepared. I still need to get into town and buy ingredients. So much for making things ahead of time.

Guys, I'm pretty proud of these scones. I just love how the photos turned out. Make sure you stop by the Tasty Kitchen Blog for the recipe and my step-by-step instructions!

Are you feeling prepared for the big feast? 

Looking for some more pumpkin recipes?

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice | Buttered Side Up

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Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie - Buttered Side Up
Pumpkin Pie - Buttered Side Up
Pumpkin Pie - Buttered Side Up
Pumpkin Pie - Buttered Side Up
Pumpkin Pie - Buttered Side Up
Pumpkin Pie - Buttered Side Up

Call me massively boring, but pumpkin is my favorite of the Thanksgiving pies. Of course I love my share of blueberry, apple, banana, and coconut (I could go on. I adore pie.), but I always reserve a spot on my plate for a slice of pumpkin.

Maybe I love it so much for the simple reason that it is so iconic. Or perhaps because it isn't overly sweet like some pies (I'm thinking of YOU, pecan pie). Or its smooth texture and spicy flavors. It's just so satisfying. 

If you've never made a pumpkin pie from fresh pumpkin (as opposed to canned), I urge you to give it a try. Here's my tutorial for How to Make Oven Roasted Pumpkin Puree.  I really think it makes a huge difference in the flavor of your pie.

This recipe (from Ree's new cookbook) took me by surprise. I wasn't expecting it to be as good as it was. But the flavors and texture were spot on. 

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: PIE CRUST HATES ME. Yes, this one happened to turn out quite well in the end. but not before leaving some of its butter on the bottom of my oven to smoke up the house. Ah well, I'll perfect my crust making skills someday.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving pie?

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree, fresh or canned
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk, homemade or canned
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice or sweetener of choice

1) Roll out your pie crust and place it in a 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges or decorate as desired. Place in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (220 C).
2) Place all of the filling ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until nice and smooth. Pour into the prepared pie crust and slip into your preheated oven.
3) Bake for 15 minutes at 425, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 C). Bake for an additional 40-50 minutes, or until the filling isn't wet, but still moves a bit in the middle when jiggled. If the crust is getting too brown for your liking you can always cover it with tin foil or a pie crust shield
4) Cool the pie and serve cold or at room temperature, whichever you prefer. Whipped cream is a MUST. 

Pumpkin Pie - Buttered Side Up

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Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

Sweetened Condensed Milk

So why would anyone want to go to the trouble of making their own sweetened condensed milk? After all, there are only two ingredients in a can of store-bought SCM: milk and sugar. Pretty harmless, no? 

Not so fast. 

True, it's probably less detrimental to your health than most canned food. But it's still not all that healthy. Here's why:

1) You don't know the origin of the milk. It most likely came from cows fed GMO feed, raised in confinement and given hormones. 
2) The sugar, unless it is specifically stated as cane sugar, is most likely from GMO sugar beets. 95% of sugar beet crops in the US were GMO in 2010 (source).
3) Most cans are lined with BPA to stop corrosion. 

Besides, it's kind of fun to make! Yes, you do need to keep an eye on the stove for 2 hours, but you only need to stir it every 15 minutes or so. 

What do you think? Are you concerned about consuming canned food? Do you care about GMOs? 

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk
adapted from Just as Delish | makes about 12-14 oz. | Printable Page

  • 1 liter of whole milk
  • 3/4 - 1 cup sugar (I used cane sugar, of course)
  • 1 tablespoon butter to thicken milk (I forgot this, and it still turned out fine)


1) Place the milk and sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 2 hours or until the milk is reduced by about half. Stir every 15 minutes or so to keep the milk from burning. 
2) Strain through a fine-mesh sieve if desired and stir in the butter. Store in the refrigerator until needed.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

Simple Sage Stuffing/Dressing from Scratch

This was originally posted on November 19, 2012 on Cooking for Seven. Stuffing is one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, so I'm re-posting it here!

Confession: I have a special place in my heart for boxed Stove Top dressing. Granted, my mom doctors it up quite a bit with wild rice and turkey, but there’s just something about it that says “Thanksgiving” to me.

Sage Stuffing
I’ve always wanted to try making stuffing from scratch. Though tasty, boxed dressings are often loaded with unnatural ingredients. But making it myself always seemed a bit daunting. How are you supposed to find a recipe with just the right amount of spices so it’s tasty and liquid so it isn’t soggy?

Sage Stuffing
Then I decided to jump right in and give a recipe a try. To my surprise, it was uber easy and no-fuss.

Sage Stuffing
Will it replace your beloved Stove Top? No. But what could without using high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and MSG? Is it a good natural, healthy alternate? Definitely yes!
The beauty of this recipe is that it’s a great canvas for your culinary creativity. You could so easily add your favorite ingredients: cranberries, wild rice, turkey, nuts, whatever you please!

Recipe Notes:
If you’re using homemade or low-sodium chicken broth, you’ll probably want to add a little extra salt to the stuffing mixture.

Simple Sage Stuffing from Scratch | adapted from Martha Stewart | Printable Page | makes 4-6 servings
  • 1 loaf bread (whole wheat, white, or whatever you please) torn into bite-sized pieces to make about 8 cups
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dish and foil
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage (depending on how “sagey” you like your dressing)
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1) Preheat your oven to 350° F (175° C). Place the bread crumbs on two rimmed baking sheets and bake in preheated oven until nice and dry, about 14 minutes, stirring & rotating the pans halfway through baking. Set aside to cool (these can be made ahead of time and stored in an air-tight container for up to 1 week).
2) In a medium skillet set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery, season with salt + pepper to taste, and cook until nice and tender, about 8 minutes. Add the sage and celery seeds and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
3) Place the bread crumbs in a bowl and add the sauted vegetables. In a separate bowl, mix together the chicken broth and egg. Add to the bread crumbs and toss together until evenly moistened. If you’re using homemade or low-sodium chicken broth, you may want to add a bit more salt at this point.
4) Place the stuffing in a buttered 13×9-inch pan or a 10-inch cast iron skillet and bake at 350 until warmed and the bread has soaked up the broth, about 25-35 minutes. You can also store the un-baked dressing in the refrigerator until ready to heat.

Monday Favorites + The Winners!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Here are a few of my favorite things from around the interwebs lately...

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Arrow Spoons from Amelie Mancini. I love the tiny ones!

how to line a baking pan with parchment paper
[Photo Credit: Katie Goodman]

I made these (all-cocoa) brownies from Good Life Eats over the weekend. They were excellent. Very fudgy and rich.

open shelves
As you can tell from my Pinterest board, I adore open shelving. This lovely kitchen comes from The Inspired Room.


Half milk, half magic. 
See you next week interwebs!
Latte art is amazing. I wish I was talented enough to make it myself.

cozy autumn room
Someday, when we build a house of our own, I want it to have a fireplace. Via Country Living.

I have to have whipped cream on my cocoa. Also, it tastes better in a jelly jar. :P
I have been making heaps of cocoa lately. I make mine by mixing 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder with 1 tablespoon of evaporated cane syrup, then pour in milk and cream and top with whipped cream. So good.


Last week I held a giveaway for The Pioneer Woman's newest cookbook.
Using I selected the following three winners:

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Congratulations! I will contact the winners who left contact information. 

Commenter #133 and Janina Postma will need to contact me at ericaleaphotos [at] gmail [dot] com to claim their prize. I will email commenter #92 with more details.

If any of the winners do not reply within 72 hours, I will select a new winner.

Thank you to all who participated in the giveaway!
Have a lovely Monday!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with a Salty Pretzel Crust

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with a Pretzel Crust
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with a Pretzel Crust
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with a Pretzel Crust

These are the best chocolate chip cookie bars I've ever eaten, if I do say so myself. A soft and melty cookie layer accompanied by a crunchy, salty pretzel crust. Mmhmm.

Make sure you stop by the Good Life Eats blog where I shared the recipe for these yummy bars.

GIVEAWAY: Pioneer Woman's New Cookbook: "A Year of Holidays"

Pioneer Woman's "A Year of Holidays"
I have been reading the Pioneer Woman's blog since before the dawn of time. Well, since I first started blogging, anyway. I love her quirky sense of humor and openness about her mistakes. I remember thoroughly enjoying reading her love story. And I learned a lot from her photography tutorials.

All of this to say, I am very honored to have received her latest cook book: A Year of Holidays. I now own all three of her cookbooks, and I must say that this one is my favorite. Let me share a bit of it with you:

Pioneer Woman's "A Year of Holidays"

Helen couldn't wait to get her little pea-pickin' hands on it. Hence her presence in the following photos. She threw a bit of fit when I took the book away to take pictures.

Pioneer Woman's "A Year of Holidays"
This cookbook has recipes for all your favorite holidays. I don't know about you, but I seriously need this lesson on how to roast a Thanksgiving turkey. I really like how Ree shows you not just how to prepare a single dish for a holiday, but how to make everything you'll need (mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, etc. etc.). It's kinda like a holiday feast bible.

But let's look at some more of the recipes...

Pioneer Woman's "A Year of Holidays"
Take a gander at this caramel apple pie.

Pioneer Woman's "A Year of Holidays"
These little cookie bars look extremely addicting.

Pioneer Woman's "A Year of Holidays"
I think Reuben would LOVE these Lemon Creme Pie Shooters.

Pioneer Woman's "A Year of Holidays"
Another thing I really like about this cookbook is that Ree has a do-ahead game plan. This will help you co-ordinate your feast-making to help it be less stressful.

Pioneer Woman's "A Year of Holidays"
And she even includes recipes for what to do with the (inevitable) leftovers.

Pioneer Woman's "A Year of Holidays"

Would you like to get YOUR pea-pickin' hands on a copy of this cookbook?

Ree has generously offered THREE signed copies of her new cookbook to giveaway to 3 of my readers. How awesome is that?

Here's how you can enter to win:

Simply leave a comment on this post answering the following question: "What's your favorite holiday food?"

  • Only one comment per person allowed.
  • This giveaway will end on Friday, November 8, at 11:00 PM Central Time. No comments will be considered for the giveaway after that time.
  • Using, I will choose three winners.
  • I will post the winners on the blog and contact them if they leave contact info. If there is no response within 72 hours, I will select a new winner.

Good luck!

PS - My favorite holiday food is stuffing. Or pie. Can't decide which it is...

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