3 Thanksgiving recipes and hacks to make them easier!

Big Budah went to Spoons 'n Spice to talk with Chef Maudine Thomas about Thanksgiving.

She showed us how to make three delicious recipes, and shared hacks to make them simpler to make.  One of her tips works for several recipes.  You can use an Apple Peeler, Corer and Slicer to make Apple Pie, and to peel potatoes for Mashed Potatoes made with a Ricer.  Maudine also showed us how the ChopStir easily breaks up meat for the Stuffin Muffins.

Spoons 'n Spice has everything you need for Thanksgiving Cooking and Baking.

For more information please visit: spoonsnspice.com.

My Favorite Apple Pie
Courtesy of Maudine Thomas

Ingredients:
7-8 Granny Smith Apples, medium, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 C Butter (1 stick)
4 Tbsp. All-purpose Flour
1/4 C Water
1/2 C White Granulated Sugar
1/2 C Brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
9"-10" Pie pan with crust

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 425F.
2. Place the peeled, cored and sliced apples in a bowl and set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and mix well. Add water, sugars, spices and vanilla. Mix well, then bring to a boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 minute more.
4. Remove pan from heat and reserve 1/4 of syrup for later. Add remaining syrup to apples and stir well to coat every slice. 

Pour apples into prepared pie crust, mounding slightly.
5. Moisten crust edge with water and top with second pie crust, (lattice, cut-outs, etc.) Lightly press edges together then trim excess dough from edges of pie. Crimp or ruffle edges.
6. Brush remaining syrup on top crust with a basting brush. If the syrup has thickened, add enough water to thin it down but keeping it as thick as possible.
7. With non-stick spray, lightly spray a piece of foil large enough to loosely cover the pie. Cover pie and place on a baking sheet, (to catch any drips.)
8. Place in oven and bake at 425F for 11 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until crust is golden brown and apples are soft when pierced with a toothpick.
9. Remove from oven and transfer pie from hot baking sheet to a cooling rack. Let cool completely to thicken apple filling before serving. Pie may be reheated for serving.

Perfect Pie Crust
Courtesy of Maudine Thomas

Keeping your ingredients as COLD as possible and not overworking the mix are the two keys to making this simple, flaky but sturdy, deliciously buttery pie crust.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
2 sticks (1/2 lb.) unsalted butter, COLD and cut into little pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 to 1/3 Cup ICE COLD water

Directions:
1. The most important rule is to have all of the ingredients COLD!
2. Put all of the ingredients, (mix the flour, salt and sugar together first,) in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before making the pie dough. Having everything cold keeps the butter from melting while processing.
3. Blend ingredients in a food processor until it resembles coarse oatmeal. This can also be done by hand with a Pastry blender or with a hand mixer. Be careful not to over mix.
4. Add 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of ice cold water very slowly while pulsing the food processor a few times or stirring to combine. DO NOT OVERMIX! You should still be able to see small chunks of butter. The dough is ready when it holds together when squeezed, but is still able to be crumbled.
5. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a flat circle wrapped in plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 40 minutes before attempting to roll out.
6. When you are ready to make your crust, roll out on a lightly floured surface. Be sure to flour the rolling pin as well so that nothing sticks. Keep moving the dough around while rolling to keep it from sticking on the bottom surface. Roll out from the middle only applying pressure while rolling towards the edge. Dough should roll easily and maintain a round shape. If it cracks or breaks while rolling, wait a minute for the dough to warm up slightly. If the dough starts to stick, it is too warm and needs to go back into the refrigerator.
7. When the dough forms a circle that is a little more than an inch wider than your pie dish, fold in half, then half again to transfer to the baking dish without ripping. You can also roll the dough onto your rolling pin to transfer. Press the crust down evenly into the pan.
8. Trim the pastry around the edge with kitchen shears about half an inch beyond the pan edge. Fold the excess dough back under the crust to make it thicker around the edges. Use the pointer and middle finger of one hand and the thumb of the other hand to press dough to form a ruffled edge.
9. Chill dough in refrigerator for an hour before filling with your pie ingredients and baking.
Alternately...

Blind Baking Pie Crust An all-butter pie crust will shrink more while baking than pie crust recipes with other fats.

When blind baking a pie crust so that it can be filled with a cream or other filling, it is better to choose from: all shortening with 1 1/2 tsp butter flavoring; 2/3 shortening and 1/3 butter with 1 tsp butter flavoring; or all lard.

Method 1:
This method is best if you need a pretty edge on your finished crust. After rolling out dough and placing in your pie pan, trim dough and press into desired edge finish. Poke a fork all around just the sides of the crust to prevent bubbling while baking. Place a fitting piece of pre-cut parchment (9" round for a 9" pie) centered on top of the pie crust and press onto the crust. Use pie weights on top of the paper to weigh down the bottom of the pie. Use can also fill 2/3 full with uncooked rice, wheat berries, or dry beans. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375F. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven and remove parchment with weights. Poke crust on the bottom with a fork then return to oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely before filling.

Method 2:
This method is great if you don't need a fancy edge on your crust. After putting your dough in your pie pan, put a parchment round on the crust and then place a matching pie pan on the parchment. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375F. Bake on a cookie sheet upside down for 20 minutes. Gravity keep the sides from shrinking up. Remove from oven. Carefully turn right side up and remove top pan and parchment. Poke a fork all over the crust and return to oven for 15-20 minutes until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Allow crust to cool completely before filling.

Stuffin' Muffins
Courtesy of Maudine Thomas

This is a great recipe to make ahead. Reheat on a baking sheet before serving.

Ingredients:
1 C Celery, diced
1 1/2 C Onion, diced
1 C Cranberries, dried and chopped (or use Craisins)
2 Apples, Granny Smith, large, peeled, cored, diced
1 package Herb Seasoned Stuffing (14 oz)
1 package Cornbread Seasoned Stuffing (14 oz)
2 Lbs Sage Sausage, browned
5-6 C Chicken Broth, low sodium
1 cube Butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
1 T Sage
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp Pepper
3/4 C Pecans, chopped (Optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Coat muffin pan cups with non-stick spray and set aside.
3. In a large fry pan, brown the sausage and remove from pan.
4. Add the celery and onion to sausage drippings and saute until softened.
5. Add the cube of butter and stir until melted.
6. Pour fry pan ingredients into a large mixing bowl and add Stuffing mixes, apple, cranberries, nuts, salt, pepper and sage.
7. Add eggs and mix. Stir well to coat with butter and egg evenly.
8. Start adding the chicken broth slowly while stirring. Keep stirring and adding broth until bread is moist but not soggy.
 Let rest for 10 minutes then stir again to see if more broth is needed to moisten the bread.
9. Scoop into prepared muffin cups mounding up about 3/4" above the top of the muffin pan cup.
10. Bake 18 to 24 minutes until crispy on sides and firm on top.
11. Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes before taking muffin out of the pan.
12. Serve warm. Recipe makes 3 dozen muffins.

Perfectly Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:
5 pounds Yukon Gold or Russet Potatoes, peeled
2 Tbsp. Sea Salt
1 C (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter
2 C Half-and-Half
1 Tbsp. Garlic Salt
1-2 Tbsp. Granulated Garlic to taste or 5-6 Garlic cloves, whole, peeled,
Fresh Chives, finely chopped
Black Pepper to taste
Additional pat of Butter for serving

Directions:
1. Place the potatoes in a large pot and add cold water to cover by about 1 inch. Stir in 2 Tbsp. salt. Cover and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Uncover and reduce the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until knife tender, testing for doneness at 30 minutes. A sharp knife should easily go through the potato. Larger potatoes may take longer, up to 45 or 50 minutes total. Drain Potatoes into a colander.
Alternately...
Place the potatoes in a pressure cooker. Add 2 C water and 2 Tbsp. salt. Place 5-6 whole cloves of garlic on top of the potatoes. Close lid and bring to high pressure. Maintain high pressure for 13 minutes then turn heat off. Let set for 5 minutes to start naturally releasing pressure, then carefully release remaining pressure. Drain remaining water.
2. While potatoes are cooking, Heat the butter and half-and-half. About 20 minutes into the potato cooking time (or while the pressure cooker is releasing pressure naturally,) melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan or microwave. Heat the half-and half, garlic salt, and granulated garlic over low heat in another small saucepan or in the microwave until steaming (stir every 30 seconds.) Keep both warm. (If using a pressure cooker with the garlic cloves, omit the granulated garlic.)
3. Using a Potato Ricer, process the potatoes one at a time, back into the pot they were cooked in. (If using the garlic cloves, rice along with the potatoes.) This will cut down on extra dishes and help the potatoes stay warm from the pot's residual heat.
4. Add the hot butter to potatoes, gently stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula to incorporate. When all the butter is absorbed, add the hot half-and-half. It will seem soupy at first, but the potatoes will gradually absorb the liquid and turn into a creamy mixture.
5. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Spoon into your serving dish and top with optional garnishes, such as a pat of butter or some chopped chives.

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