Only two days left and what is everyone looking forward to Thanksgiving Day the pumpkin pie of course! Why not make mini pies and everyone will be extra excited to have their own personal pie. Check out this recipe from Martha and make a few extra toppings for your guest. Trader Joe’s has a few recipes of their own to add to your mini pies:
5 ounces Speculoos cookies (about 18 cookies, we used Trader Joe’s Brand)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups heavy cream, chilled
crystallized ginger, chopped, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in center of oven. Place paper baking cups in a 12-cup muffin pan. Process cookies in a food processor until mixture forms fine crumbs, about 20 seconds. Add melted butter and ¼ teaspoon salt and pulse until combined, 4 to 5 times. Firmly press 1 tablespoon crumb mixture into bottom of each prepared muffin cup. Bake in preheated oven until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside.
Beat pumpkin, condensed milk, eggs, grated ginger, vanilla, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and well combined. Spoon about ¼ cup pumpkin mixture into each muffin cup. Return to oven, and bake until filling is slightly puffed and set in the center, 22 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool in pan 20 minutes. Gently remove pies from muffin pan and transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely, about 1 hour. Carefully remove paper baking cups from pies.
Beat heavy cream with an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Dollop pies with whipped cream, and garnish with crystallized ginger.
Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream
1 8-ounce carton Whipping Cream
3 teaspoons TJ’s Pumpkin Pie Spice (seasonal)
3 tablespoons TJ’s Organic Powdered Sugar
Pour whipping cream into a large bowl. Using a hand mixer or whisk, whip until soft peaks form. Add Pumpkin Pie Spice and sugar and continue whipping to desired texture.
Sugar Pumpkin Pie Nuts
1 lb assorted TJ’s Nuts (TJ’s Raw Cashew Pieces, TJ’s Raw Pecan Pieces, TJ’s Walnut Halves & Pieces)
1 cup TJ’s Whole Milk
1 1/2 cups TJ’s Sugar
3/4 tsp TJ’s Salt
2 tsp TJ’s Pumpkin Pie Spice (seasonal)
1 tsp TJ’s Vanilla Extract
Place assorted nuts into a large bowl, set aside.
In a medium pot, combine the milk, sugar, salt and pumpkin pie spice and place over medium heat. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Allow the mixture to come to a boil until it reaches at least 235°F but no more than 245°F.
Tip: If you do not have a candy thermometer, a great way to determine if you’ve reached this temperature range is to drop a spoonful of hot syrup into a bowl of very cold water. In the water, use your fingers to gather the cooled syrup into a ball. If it has reached soft-ball stage, the syrup easily forms a ball while in the cold water, but flattens once removed from the water—now you know!
Remove pot from heat, add vanilla extract, stir and pour over the bowl of mixed nuts. Using a wooden or silicone spatula, coat the nuts and lay on a flat surface covered with parchment or wax paper to cool. Once cooled, break apart and enjoy! Use as a topping on a salad, add to a fruit and cheese plate or simply eat by the handful.
Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the butternut squash cubes on the pan and toss with a drizzle of olive oil and generous pinches of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast 25 minutes or until tender.
Reduce the oven heat to 350°F and lightly grease or spray a 7.5×10-inch (or similar) pan with olive oil.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, celery, and generous pinches of salt and pepper and cook until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, chopped sage, and rosemary and stir. Add the wine, stir, and cook for 30 seconds.
Stir in the bread, then 1 cup of the broth, and gently toss until the bread cubes are evenly coated. Transfer to a baking dish and drizzle on the remaining ½ cup of broth, especially over areas that may seem dry. Evenly distribute the butternut squash, pearl onions, and sage leaves through the spaces between the bread. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil on top along with a few more pinches of salt and pepper.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the bread is golden brown on top. Sprinkle on the cranberries and chopped parsley, and serve.
Sweet Potato Casserole
5 large sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
1 1/4 cup almond milk, more if necessary
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
½ cup fresh sage leaves
⅓ cup whole rolled oats
¼ cup pecans, more for garnish
¼ cup walnuts, more for garnish
½ garlic clove
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
¼ teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and brush an 8×11-inch baking dish, or similar, with olive oil.
Use a fork to poke a few holes into the sweet potatoes. Place on the baking sheet and roast until very tender, about 60 minutes.
Make the crumble topping: In a food processor, place the oats, pecans, walnuts, garlic, maple syrup, olive oil, thyme, rosemary, and salt and pulse until just combined. Remove and set aside.
Scoop the cooked sweet potato flesh out of the skins and place in a food processor. Add the olive oil, almond milk, ginger, salt, and several grinds of pepper and process to combine. Spread the mixture into the baking dish.
Sprinkle with the crumble topping, additional nuts, and sage. Drizzle with olive oil and bake 20 minutes or until the topping is browned and crisp.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease an 8×12 or 9×13 casserole dish.
In a very large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of fresh pepper, and let the mushrooms cook until they begin to soften, 5 to 8 minutes, stirring only occasionally. Add the garlic, celery, sage, and rosemary, and cook until everything is soft and the mushrooms are golden brown, 8-10 minutes.
Add the balsamic vinegar, stir, and scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the bread and the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and toss to coat. Add the kale and cook until it begins to wilt, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the broth and stir.
Transfer to a casserole dish and pour the remaining 1 cup broth evenly over the stuffing.
Sprinkle with the dried cranberries, remaining whole sage leaves and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let sit for at least 15 minutes or until ready to serve.
To reheat, add a bit more stock and bake until warmed through and slightly crisp on top.*Crusty bakery bread works best in this recipe. Soft sandwich bread will become too soggy.
Well the Holidays are here and that means eating, eating, more eating! Since the gyms has not been an option for most of the year here is a suggestion. Maybe skip asking Santa for lots of little present and ask for one big one that will help you stay lean for the coming year:
The YOSUDA. Haven’t you heard of it? That’s probably because the company only makes exercise bikes. This is a super quiet, belt-driven bike that won’t drown out the TV while you’re getting in your afternoon workout.
Overall, the YOSUDA is a good bike with a killer 30-day full refund guarantee and 1-year free parts replacement warranty. While this bike is definitely made with the budget-conscious in mind, it’s also one of the most highly rated on Amazon with over 700 reviews and 4.3/5 stars as of this writing.
The Cyclace Indoor Exercise Bike is one of the most affordable alternatives to the Peloton. Although it doesn’t come with a screen, the a convenient mount can easily hold your tablet, letting you watch whatever you want while you spinning up a sweat.
3 BEST FOR BEGINNERS Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike
This no-frills bike might not have all the bells and whistles of other models, but it’ll get the job done—for less than $350. Use it with your favorite app or on its own for an endorphins boost and a great sweat sesh.
If you’re looking for an affordable, minimalist bike, this could be the one for you. It features a screen to track your progress, a 35 pound stationary flywheel, and an ergonomic resistance bar for more comfortable rotation.
Looking for an indoor bike that will give you a smooth ride? The MaxKare Stationary Bike features a belt-driven mechanism that ensures smooth and quiet workouts while its 44 pound flywheel guarantees stability during your cycle.
6 BEST FOR A BREEZY RIDE JOROTO Belt Drive Indoor Exercise Bike
You know what they say about big flywheels? Big…fun, of course! (And, yes, progressive resistance.) Seriously though—this indoor exercise bike is all about getting those endorphins as you’re motivated to push even more based on the stats displayed on the LCD screen.
7 BUDGET BUY Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Belt Drive Indoor Cycling Bike
This fully customizable bike doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of the more expensive models, but it’s effective and will save you money. It offers a tablet holder, a smooth and silent ride, and magnetic resistance.
8 MOST CLASSIC RIDE Schwinn Upright Series Bike – 170 model
This durable stationary bike boasts features such as a padded contoured seat, easily adjustable handlebars, and built-in tech that tracks your progress (distance, cals burned, heart rate) and offers 29 present exercise programs. You can also toggle between 25 resistant levels by simply clicking a button on the computer’s console.
9 BEST STATIONARY BIKE Women’s Health Indoor Exercise Bike
Not to brag, but the Women’s Health Indoor Bike is one of the best exercise bikes you can buy, and it’s got the features and results to back that up. With multiple levels of resistance, this bike’s flywheel helps you get a quiet and smooth riding experience that will still give you a full-body cardio workout. And with a padded, oversized seat, this will be a comfortable ride (if you choose to remain seated).
SoulCycle’s new at-home bike will bring the endorphin-boosting experience from its fitness studios into your living room or home gym. The bike features a 21-inch screen and pin-drop quiet wheels. With the monthly membership you’ll get access to their surround-sound classes and noteworthy trainers. You can preorder your bike now!
Do you hate unloading the dishwasher and have more stuff than space to put away! Well I had to find a few ways to make more space to put everything away. Anyone with smaller kitchens will really want to check these items out from Simplehouseware:
Over the Cabinet Door Organizer Holder, Silver comes in either 1 pack ($13.97) or 2 pack ($21.87)
7 Adjustable Compartments Pan and Pot Lid Organizer Rack Holder, Chrome ($18.87)
Can’t find any sugar skulls for your alter this year make some! It’s really easy just sugar mix and any size skull mold is all you need. Check out the link below to make your:
Both decorative and edible, sugar skulls, or Calaveras de azúcar, are one of the most iconic elements of Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration. These cranium-shaped objects are created in sizes from tiny to life-sized and adorned with brightly-colored icing, metallic paper, sequins, or other decorative details. Often, attached to the forehead is a tiny slip of paper featuring a person’s name—the person creating the skull, the one receiving it, or the person being remembered. The skulls are used both as an offering for the dearly departed on a family’s altar and as a sign of affection to the living when given as a gift (a gentle reminder of our own mortality).Visit any Mexican market in the month of October and you will see entire stands dedicated to the sale of skulls made out of sugar, chocolate, amaranth, gumdrop-like gelatin, and other edible materials.
You will need a few ingredients and some special equipment to make your own sugar skulls, some of which you may have in your pantry, like granulated sugar and powdered sugar, and perhaps meringue powder and paste food coloring. The quantity of the granulated sugar will depend on how many sugar skulls you will be making and what size they will be. Approximately 1 cup of sugar should be enough for 6 very small skulls, 4 medium, or 1 large. The powdered sugar is used for the decorative icing, and the paste food coloring—best in bright colors—is to tint the icing. The meringue powder, available in supermarkets and baking supply stores, helps to hold the sugar together. You will also need a large bowl, some water, a flat plate or piece of cardboard, an electric mixer, icing decorator bags, and any other decorations you like such as foil, sequins, or feathers. Having a few disposable cups and some popsicle sticks is also handy. Make sure you have a large, dry area for the sugar skulls to dry undisturbed (once for the sugar to dry and solidify, then later for the icing to dry and harden).
Prepare the SugarThe first step is to ready the sugar mixture to form the skulls. For every cup of sugar, mix in 1 teaspoon of meringue powder and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of water on top. Work the water into the sugar with your fingers until the mixture feels like cool beach sand. This takes a few minutes, so be patient. The sugar is ready when you can press your finger or thumb into it and the print will stay.
Fill the MoldFill the mold with the sugar paste and press firmly with the palm of your hand. When the skull is full and pressed into the mold, use the back of a knife to scrape off excess sugar and then even off the surface. Lightly re-press the scraped surface to smooth it.
Remove From Mold and Let DryPlace a piece of cardboard or flat plate over the sugar skull. Hold the skull mold tightly on the cardboard or plate and flip it over. Remove the mold from the sugar and place the skull—plate and all—in a place where it can dry undisturbed. Repeat these steps until you run out of sugar.
Make the IcingTo make the icing you will need 2/3 cup water, 1/2 cup meringue powder, and 2 pounds powdered sugar. Beat the water, meringue powder, and powdered sugar with a large electric mixer until the icing peaks, about 9 minutes. Divide the icing into smaller portions (disposable cups and popsicle sticks work well for this) and use the paste food coloring to tint each portion a different color. Place the icing in the decorator bags. Snip the end of each bag when you’re ready to decorate. Start very small with the snip; you can make it bigger if necessary.
Decorate the Skulls Now you are ready to decorate your skulls however you like. Use the icing to create designs. If you’re adding foil, beads, or feathers, use the icing as a glue to attach them. (If you attach non-edible items to the skull, remove these before eating, or use the skulls only for decoration.) You can also use ready-made royal icing or tubes of colored white chocolate to use for decorating your skulls.Place the decorated skulls in a place to dry undisturbed. The icing will harden as it dries. Once dry, attach the skull halves of any 2-piece skulls to each other, which you can do with the icing. Once both the sugar and icing are completely dry, your sugar skulls can be touched, eaten, bagged, displayed, etc. If you do have trouble getting your skulls to dry and harden, try putting them in a warm oven for 2 hours or so.
One of the most common food for celebrating the Dead of The Dead is the Day of The Dead bread. It can be found in most bakeries and markets during the Month of October until Nov 2. Sometimes if you are lucky they may have sugar skulls also. This year I decided to make my own:
500 grams wheat flour 4 tablespoons flax 8 tablespoons water 3/4 cup brown sugar 15 grams active dry yeast 90 grams margarine 1/2 cup almond milk 1 1/2 tablespoon orange zest 1 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon coconut oil
Mix the flaxseed with the 8 tablespoons of water, let stand for 5 minutes.
Place the flour in a bowl, form a hole in the center and pour the linaza, sugar, yeast, margarine, almond milk, orange zest and salt.
Mix dough by hand or using the dough hook attachment on a stand mixer, mix on low until dough comes together.
Grease a mixing bowl with coconut oil, add the ball dough and cover it loosely with plastic wrap.
Place the bowl in a warm spot in the kitchen, let it rise for two hours or until it doubles in size.
Once dough is ready, gently punch the dough down to deflate then roll onto floured surface. Knead the dough a few times until smooth. Knead in more flour if dough is still sticky.
Preheat Oven 350 F
Separate 1/4 of the dough, divide it into three parts, stretch two of these into strips and mark your fingers well to form the bones. Make a ball with the remaining dough and knead to make a large bun.
Using a pastry brush and water apply the bones strip to the large bun one going from one end to the other end. Apply the second bone strip on top of first from one end to another end to make an X on bun. On top of the bun place a small dough ball.
Place the bread on to oiled baking tray, let stand for 30 more minutes.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.
Let bread cool for a few minutes and brush with melted margarine and sprinkle sugar over the bread for the finishing touch.
The Day of the Dead (el Día de los Muertos), is a Mexican holiday where families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion that includes food, drink and celebration. A blend of Mesoamerican ritual, European religion and Spanish culture, the holiday is celebrated each year from October 31- November 2. While October 31 is Halloween, November 1 is “el Dia de los Inocentes,” or the day of the children, and All Saints Day. November 2 is All Souls Day or the Day of the Dead. According to tradition, the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31 and the spirits of children can rejoin their families for 24 hours. The spirits of adults can do the same on November 2.
Origins of Day of the Dead
The roots of the Day of the Dead, celebrated in contemporary Mexico and among those of Mexican heritage in the United States and around the world, go back some 3,000 years, to the rituals honoring the dead in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The Aztecs and other Nahua people living in what is now central Mexico held a cyclical view of the universe, and saw death as an integral, ever-present part of life.
Upon dying, a person was believed to travel to Chicunamictlán, the Land of the Dead. Only after getting through nine challenging levels, a journey of several years, could the person’s soul finally reach Mictlán, the final resting place. In Nahua rituals honoring the dead, traditionally held in August, family members provided food, water and tools to aid the deceased in this difficult journey. This inspired the contemporary Day of the Dead practice in which people leave food or other offerings on their loved ones’ graves, or set them out on makeshift altars called ofrendasin their homes.
Day of the Dead vs. All Souls Day
In ancient Europe, pagan celebrations of the dead also took place in the fall, and consisted of bonfires, dancing and feasting. Some of these customs survived even after the rise of the Roman Catholic Church, which (unofficially) adopted them into their celebrations of two minor Catholic holidays, All Saints Day and All Souls Day, celebrated on the first two days of November.
In medieval Spain, people would bring bring wine and pan de ánimas (spirit bread) to the graves of their loved ones on All Souls Day; they would also cover graves with flowers and light candles to illuminate the dead souls’ way back to their homes on Earth. In the 16th century, Spanish conquistadores brought such traditions with them to the New World, along with a darker view of death influenced by the devastation of the bubonic plague.
How Is the Day of the Dead Celebrated?
El Día de los Muertos is not, as is commonly thought, a Mexican version of Halloween, though the two holidays do share some traditions, including costumes and parades. On the Day of the Dead, it’s believed that the border between the spirit world and the real world dissolve. During this brief period, the souls of the dead awaken and return to the living world to feast, drink, dance and play music with their loved ones. In turn, the living family members treat the deceased as honored guests in their celebrations, and leave the deceased’s favorite foods and other offerings at gravesites or on the ofrendas built in their homes. Ofrendas can be decorated with candles, bright marigolds called cempasuchil and red cock’s combs alongside food like stacks of tortillas and fruit.
The most prominent symbols related to the Day of the Dead are calacas (skeletons) and calaveras (skulls). In the early 19th century, the printer and cartoonist José Guadalupe Posada reenvisioned Mictecacíhuatl, the Aztec goddess of the underworld, as a female skeleton known as La Calavera Catrina, now the most recognizable Day of the Dead icon.
During contemporary Day of the Dead festivities, people commonly wear skull masks and eat sugar candy molded into the shape of skulls. The pan de ánimas of All Souls Day rituals in Spain is reflected in pan de muerto, the traditional sweet baked good of Day of the Dead celebrations today. Other food and drink associated with the holiday, but consumed year-round as well, include spicy dark chocolate and the corn-based liquor called atole. You can wish someone a happy Day of the Dead by saying, “Feliz día de los Muertos.”
Día de los Muertos: A Brief History, National Hispanic Cultural Center
Giardina, Carolyn, “‘Coco’: How Pixar Brought its ‘Day of the Dead’ Story to Life,” Hollywood Reporter, December 12, 2017
Dobrin, Isabel, “Día de los Muertos Comes to Life Across the Mexican Diaspora,” NPR, November 2, 2017
Scott, Chris. “Day of the Dead parade – Life imitates art,” CNN, October 28, 2016