For my Christmas dinner I make everything I can in advance and pumpkin pie is a natural because it has to cool and be refrigerated to serve cold anyway. My easy recipe uses an oil crust and I made it with cold pressed avocado oil. The filling is a breeze using canned pumpkin and low fat canned milk so it’s light and low fat. Now you won’t feel too guilty about the whipped cream!
When I make homemade stuffing from scratch, I really mean from scratch. I baked a loaf of white bread yesterday and today I’m drying it into cubes for my simple bread stuffing. This stuffing gets more raves than my turkey! Making things in advance really takes the pressure off of big holiday dinners so today and I’m drying the bread and making the stuffing too. I’ll just reheat it before serving.
If you’ve ever cooked an entire Thanksgiving turkey dinner then you know it’s all about surviving. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who does it all from scratch deserves a one-week cruise in the Bahamas! I do it all from scratch: the turkey & mashed potatoes, the gravy, the stuffing, cranberries, green beans, and pumpkin pie. How do I survive? By doing everything I possibly can… in advance.
That includes the pumpkin pie, the fresh cranberries, the stuffing, and even the gravy. I make my gravy in advance and just stir in some of the turkey drippings before serving. To make the best gravy and stuffing, I need a good stock so here’s how I schedule my prep:
One week ahead: I bake my easy white bread with 1 Tbsp. sugar and dry it to make cubes for the stuffing. The dried cubes keep well for days but they must be completely dry.
Two days ahead: I make turkey stock using two turkey wings. I rub them with oil, salt & pepper, and roast them on a sheet at 375° F for an hour. Then I put the wings and drippings in a soup pot with about 8 cups of water and all the same veggies & spices as my chicken soup. I cook it for 3 hours, strain, cool & refrigerate. Then I skim the fat off the top before using. Oh, I take the meat off the wings for snacking – it’s delicious! I also cook the fresh cranberries.
One day ahead: I bake my pumpkin pie and make my gravy and stuffing.
Obviously, not everyone wants to work this hard so a store bought loaf of white bread is fine and you can use chicken stock (Swanson’s unsalted in the carton is good). Some people like to crisp the stuffing in the oven but I prefer it soft. It feels more like it was cooked inside the bird that way.
Whether you make it ahead or on the day of, stir in a little of your turkey drippings before serving – it makes a big difference. Click herefor the recipe. – Jenny Jones
My pumpkin pie is ready! There are three things I always do the day before Thanksgiving. One lesson I’ve learned over the years is: Do everything you possibly can in advance. So I already made my pumpkin pie, fresh cranberries, and I’ve made a pot of turkey stock. Here’s how… I roasted some turkey wings for an hour at 375 and then scraped up all the drippings. I put the wings, drippings, water, and the same vegetables and spices I use in my chicken stock into a pot, and cooked it for 2 1/2 hours. I let it cool down and it’s now in the fridge. Tomorrow I’ll skim off the fat use it for my make-ahead gravy and in my stuffing.
This year I’m trying a new way to roast turkey – at 500 degrees! It will be an adventure. I hope it turns out but no matter, it’s good to take occasional risks. But there’s no risk with my amazing pumpkin pie. The crust is made without butter or shortening so if you want to try it, click here for the recipe.
I am already planning my Thanksgiving dinner including a homemade pumpkin pie from scratch. But then I do everything from scratch. I even bake the bread that I dry to make my own stuffing mix, but that’s another recipe. This pumpkin pie is low fat and light because it’s made without butter or cream, or even whole milk. I love it! It’s all low fat and healthier, even the crust. Ever since I discovered how easy it is to make an oil pie crust not to mention how much healthier it is, especially made with extra light olive oil, it’s the only pie crust I ever use.
If you’ve ever made a shortening or butter crust with the ice water you know how hard it is to patch cracks. That’s why I love an oil crust. It’s easy to put together and you can just pat it into your pie pan. Or do what I do and roll it between wax paper to get an even thickness of crust. And any cracks or open spaces can easily be patched with pieces of dough.
Cooking a big Thanksgiving dinner for your family is a challenge. Even for an experienced cook, it’s a lot to put together and my rule is to make absolutely everything I can in advance. And that’s easy for pumpkin pie. In fact, it has to be made in advance because it takes hours to cool and then needs to be refrigerated. I even make the whipped cream in advance. What? You don’t make your own whipped cream? Has anyone told you how easy it is? It’s ONE ingredient… plus a little sugar. It takes about two minutes to make and whipping cream has no carbs.
If you’re tempted to try using fresh pumpkin I have two things to say. One, you have to cut and cook it first and it’s easier to build a guest room over the garage. Second, canned pumpkin has more vitamin A than fresh. I believe in cooking from scratch but not this time. I always use canned pumpkin. But make sure it’s only pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling.
My healthier pumpkin pie is made with 1% milk, 2% reduced fat condensed milk, eggs, sugar, and spices. Of course cinnamon is the most important spice but all cinnamons are not the same. The one most stores carry is Ceylon cinnamon but I recently discovered Saigon cinnamon and wow! It’s more potent, more fragrant, and it’s the only one I use. My brand is Spice Islands. If you use Saigon cinnamon, you don’t need as much as you’ll see in the printable recipe. (There’s a how-to video coming next week!)
Homemade pumpkin pie will always trump a store bought pie so I hope you’ll try my recipe. Why not make one this week… just to test it out of course. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
I’m sharing one of my prized recipes just in time for Thanksgiving. This is one people will talk about long after it’s gone and they’ll probably ask for the recipe. My lightened pumpkin cheesecake is made using all reduced fat ingredients so it’s a healthier dessert, perfect after you’ve stuffed yourself senseless with turkey. This lighter cheesecake won’t weigh you down and the recipe is fairly simple but you will need a springform pan.
The crust is just graham crackers sprinkled on the bottom so there’s no heavy butter-laden crust. And the secret to this light and airy cake is to beat the egg whites separately and fold them in at the end. I get the best results using Daisy Brand light sour cream and Philadelphia brand 1/3 less fat cream cheese. I tried neufchatel but didn’t like the result, and I would never use Knudsen reduced fat sour cream for anything!
So if you try this amazing holiday dessert, make sure you have all your ingredients at room temperature and leave enough time to let it cool for at least two hours on the counter and then refrigerate for at least two hours as well. This is my Thanksgiving gift to all you cooks who will soon be stuffing turkeys and faces! Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones