Thursday, November 19, 2009

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

So, I haven't made this pumpkin pie recipe before but this is the one I am going to use next week. It is the number 1 rated pumpkin pie recipe on, it uses condensed milk rather than evaporated milk so be sure to purchase the correct one if you decide to try it.

Here's a short Thanksgiving poem which showed up in my inbox today. Thought you might like it!

A Thanksgiving Poem

May your stuffing be tasty,
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have never a lump.
May your yams be delicious,
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

Have a wonderful day,
Smart Mom


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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Classic Pecan Pie

This morning my kids and I planned our Thanksgiving dinner menu, it was pretty easy because we tend to like the same menu each year but it is fun to talk about it and anticipate the yummy flavors. So, you're right I haven't shopped for Thanksgiving yet, I'm planning to do that later today or tomorrow. I really don't stress about Thanksgiving, I find it a fun meal to prepare.

Anyway, after giving you a recipe for pie crust a couple of days ago, today I want to share my favorite Pecan pie recipe. It is on our menu for next week and I am so looking forward to it. Before I made pecan pie for the first time I thought it would be really difficult to make so I was hesitant to try it. I was so wrong! It is delightfully easy to make, and mine have always turned out good. Most pecan pie recipes are pretty similar, I have always used the one from the Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book (not so new however, mine is almost 20 years old!). Here it is:

3 eggs
1 cup corn syrup
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup margarine or butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups pecan halves
Pastry for single crust pie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare pastry for single crust pie according to directions, line pie plate with pastry trimming to 1/2 inch beyond edge of plate; fold under extra pastry. Make a fluted or scalloped edge.

For filling, in a mixing bowl beat eggs lightly with a rotary beater or fork till combined. Stir in corn syrup, sugar, margarine or butter, and vanilla. Stir well. Stir in pecan halves.
Place a pastry-lined 9-inch pie plate on the oven rack. Pour the filling into the pastry-lined pie plate. Cover edge of pie with foil. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 25 minutes.
Remove foil; bake for 20-25 minutes more or till a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool pie on a wire rack. Cover and chill to store. Makes 8 servings.

Smart Mom's notes:
I always use extra pecan halves, probably about 2 cups total. Also, I typically pour the filling into the pie plate, cover the edges with my pie crust shield or foil, then carefully transfer it to the oven. I don't like trying to do all that over my hot oven. Sometimes I leave the edges covered for longer, and just remove the shield/foil during the last 10 minutes so that the crust doesn't get too done. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream!

Smart Mom


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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Easy as Pie

Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to bake and eat pie; I love pie (I would choose it over cake any day of the week), and my favorite is pecan. If you have never baked a pie, don't be afraid to give it a go, homemade pies are way better than store bought, you can really taste the difference. Thankfully, the traditional pumpkin and pecan pies served at Thanksgiving are easy to make.

Start with a good recipe for the crust. You can buy ready prepared crusts, that's ok, but my preference is to make it yourself, it doesn't take that much time, and for Thanksgiving I definitely recommend making your pies the day before.
Here is an easy recipe for pie crust which works well for fruit pies. It is enough for one double crust ,or two single crust pies.

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 cup butter flavored shortening
ice water (approx 1/2 cup)

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Gradually mix in ice water 1 Tbsp at a time until a soft dough forms.
Divide into two equal portions and roll out onto a well-floured pastry mat.

Tips for successful pastry:
  • Keep the ingredients cool, ice water is best. Shortening can be chilled if you like although I don't personally do that.
  • White sugar or confectioners sugar can be used. Dough will be slightly more sticky with white sugar, however.
  • Don't overwork the dough; mix quickly and handle as little as possible to avoid the pastry becoming tough.
  • Use a lightly-floured pastry mat and rolling pin. Make sure your rolling pin is long enough and of sufficient weight to roll the pastry evenly.
  • Roll the dough from the center, turning a quarter turn after each roll to ensure even rolling in the shape of a circle.
  • Roll pastry to form a circle 1" larger than the size of your pie plate.
  • Transfer the pastry to the pie plate by gently rolling it over your rolling pin and unrolling over the plate. Gently press pasty into the pie plate. 
Specific baking instructions will vary depending on the type of pie you are baking. I will share my favorite pie recipes with you in the coming days.

Good tools are helpful in the kitchen, I was a consultant for The Pampered Chef for a number of years, so I have a well-stocked kitchen. I highly recommend their products, I get great results with their pastry blender and stoneware deep dish pie plate. If you need a consultant to purchase from I would be happy to recommend one for you.

Happy baking!
Smart Mom


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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Turkey Tips

If you are planning to serve turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, it is worthwhile to spend a little time researching and planning so that you can be assured of a moist, delicious turkey.

Turkey has acquired quite a reputation over the years and it's not all been good! I'm sure you've heard many a turkey tale and enjoyed laughing about it over the Thanksgiving meal. Early on in our marriage, my husband and I dined out on Thanksgiving because our turkey was still frozen. I have fought with turkeys to remove the giblets and neck from the cavity (don't know why they have to put those in there anyway... I never use them!), and then tried to hold onto the slippery bird in the sink while rinsing it out. No, this is not a task for the faint-hearted, but take courage these trials can be overcome and after cooking a few turkeys you will find out it's really not that complicated or difficult to successfully cook a turkey.

Well, there are numerous suggestions and tips to assist you along the way, I'm going to refer you today to the Butterball website, because they really know their turkey and it looks like they've got their act together. They have a complete Thanksgiving Guide, I recommend you check it out and get lots of tips for planning a great Thanksgiving celebration. They also have some great calculators to help you with:
  • How long to thaw?
  • Planning perfect portions
  • How long to cook?
I'll be bringing you some more Thanksgiving tips and recipes in the coming days so be sure to subscribe to my blog to stay in touch, and of course I always love to hear from you!

Smart Mom


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Friday, November 13, 2009

The First Thanksgiving

As a homeschooling parent, I have learned to look for opportunities to teach my children in a variety of ways. It is so fun to make the most of holiday celebrations and bring history to life as we follow traditions passed down. Thanksgiving is one of those wonderful celebrations, it truly provides a learning experience, an opportunity to teach and reinforce the history of this nation to our future generations.

Here is a nice resource on The First Thanksgiving. I received the link to this website from another mom on a homeschooling Yahoo group, and when I checked it out I immediately thought it would be a great resource for me to use with my children. So I want to share it with you also; perhaps you have not seen it and would enjoy it, even if you don't have kids to share it with. Also, I know some of my readers are not in the US, so maybe you don't know that much about the history of the Thanksgiving celebration - I really didn't before I met my husband and moved here. It is always good to learn something new!

So take a look at The First Thanksgiving there are student activities and lots of interesting facts. I hope you find it useful!

Smart Mom


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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Amazing Offer for Cooking Light

Just have to share this special offer with you. I rarely buy magazines because I think they are over-priced and typically are full of pages of advertisements, but I do enjoy browsing a magazine for the relaxation benefit. Plus I love to look at new recipes and try some out.

So when I saw this deal for a 1 year subscription of Cooking Light for only $5, I wanted to share it with you. That's 90% off retail, and only $0.42 per issue. I consider that a good deal! The offer is only valid through this Saturday, so don't wait, you can even give a gift subscription to someone else!

Smart Mom


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Countdown to Thanksgiving

Just in case you didn't already know, I am not originally from the United States. I was born in Scotland and moved here to the US at age 22 with my husband, who is American, and at that time was in the US Navy. I miss my home country but have really enjoyed living here and experiencing this different way of life. So, I did not grow up with the tradition of Thanksgiving  but it is one which I was happy to adopt and celebrate, and I love it. (I have been amazed over the years at how many people here have asked me if we celebrate Thanksgiving in the U.K., I have to remind them it is an American holiday!)

Well, it is only 2 weeks until Thanksgiving so it's time to get planning. Do you have a traditional turkey dinner? We are having turkey this year, my hubby isn't crazy about turkey but my kids and I love the whole turkey meal. I promised to cook roast beef the day before Thanksgiving to keep my husband happy - he can eat leftover beef instead of turkey if he wants!

So... having said all that, I will try to share some Thanksgiving tips and recipes for you over the next 2 weeks, and I really would love to receive your input. Please share your tips and favorite Thanksgiving recipes with me. I will gladly give you credit and/or link to your blog posts if you have them.

At this time, the best tip I can give you is start planning your Thanksgiving celebration.
  • Where will you spend Thanksgiving?
  • Will you invite guests to your home? If so, now is the time to extend those invitations, don't wait or they will make other plans!
  • Plan the menu if you are hosting the meal.
  • Decide if you will ask your guests to bring a dish to share.
  • How can you make the celebration extra special?
Don't worry if you can't answer all of these questions right away, just get started if you haven't already. Also, don't forget this is a time to give thanks, not just to eat a big meal. Visit me for Thirty Days of Thanksgiving at In All Your Ways each day this month to help direct your thoughts toward giving thanks.

Stay tuned.....

Smart Mom


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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Shopping Savings Tips

Well, I guess I have neglected my Smart Mom Savings blog lately,(sorry!) I've been kind of busy with my other blog In All Your Ways I am really enjoying it, if you'd like, take a few minutes to check it out. Of course I've been busy in many other ways too, however.... here I am and I wanted to share some tips today to help you out with your wardrobe.

Perhaps you are like me and you don't have an abundance of money to spend on new clothing, so in that situation, we have to stretch our dollars and still try to find ways to feel good about our clothing. I don't go shopping very often, however yesterday I was in the mall with my kiddos because they need some new boots for winter. It has been raining so much these last few weeks that I'm sure the snow is just around the corner so we went on a hunt for winter boots. I have to confess that I tend to get sticker shock in the department stores, the discount stores are more often in my budget. Anyway that got me thinking about how to get nice clothing items at a good price.
  • Never pay full price! If it's not on sale, it probably will be soon. Retail is very competitive business and most of the stores are offering sales on a regular basis. Check the sales fliers in the newspapers or online before you head out the door, you could save a lot just by waiting a day or two.
  • Look for discount coupons in your mailbox, that junk mail could save you money if you take a few minutes to sort through it before you toss it.
  • Keep it simple. Ladies, if you are buying for yourself and can't afford a lot of variety, choose classic style pants and skirts in black then liven them up with different color tops. You will then be able to wear black shoes, boots, purse etc. to easily match any outfit, therefore saving you money on accessories.
  • Resist the urge to spend a lot on the latest style. What looks really hip and trendy today will be outdated next year, and you probably won't want to wear it.
  • Check out the thrift stores and consignment shops if you have any good ones nearby. You may have to sift through to find something just right for you, but the savings could make it worth your time.
  • Don't pay for designer labels! Need I say more?
  • Check clothing labels for cleaning instructions, if it's dry clean only, consider whether you will want to pay for that service. I bought a comforter set on sale a couple of years ago without realizing it needed to be dry cleaned. At around $40 per cleaning, it was not a good investment, I won't make that mistake again!
Do you have any more tips to share? Leave a comment please, I'd love to hear them.

Have a wonderful day.
Smart Mom


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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Join Me for 30 Days of Thanksgiving

This is definitely a month to be thankful, so please join me on my other blog, In All Your Ways, for 'Thirty Days of Thanksgiving'. Each day this month I will be sharing a reason to be thankful.

Today is Day 1. I would love to have you give thanks with me .... hope to see you there!

Smart Mom