Not having to focus on a turkey gives me the opportunity to play with new side dish and appetizer recipes and to try new dessert recipes.
Here are a couple of my best recipes from this year. And while I love the challenge of a super-difficult, Martha Stewart caliber recipe, these are all magically easy and astonishingly delicious.
This first recipe truly is magic. 100% of the people I give this recipe to cannot believe the ingredients or the directions.
Here are the ingredients for Caramel Pie:
sweetened condensed milk
That's it. That's the whole list.
I know you don't believe me. Let me show you how it works...
Buy a can or two of sweetened condensed milk. Brand name or not. It really doesn't matter.
Peel off the label.
This is what the brand name can looks like naked:
This is what the store brand can looks like naked:
DON'T OPEN THE CANS
Put the cans unopened in the bottom of your slow cooker.
Don't open them.
Fill the crock pot with enough water to cover the unopened cans by a couple of inches. Turn the pot on high and cover with the lid. Leave on high for 8 hours.
When you open the slow cooker after the 8 hours, the water might be a little brownish. It's just from two cans sitting in water for 8 hours. Don't drink it, but otherwise it won't hurt you or ruin your pie.
Take the cans out (carefully, they will be hot), and finally you can open them. I actually wait for an hour so the cans will cool down. If you open them immediately, there is a chance that the contents of the cans will spurt out. No one wants hot caramel on the kitchen walls, so let em cool down a bit.
When you open the cans, you will see nothing that resembles sweetened condensed milk. You will see this:
It will be dark and thick and really thick. Thick.
This, my friends is caramel. It tastes like those little caramel squares that are wrapped up in clear plastic. Creamy. Thick.
You can dump and spread it in a graham cracker crust and top with cool whip and be done. Or bake a pie shell and do the same.
The pie is pretty rich, so this year I made little caramel tarts, because it's always so disappointing to fill up your tummy halfway through a piece of pie. Leaving half a piece of pie on a plate is always an unfortunate occurance. And something I try to avoid at all costs.
To make the little tart shells, I rolled out refrigerated pie dough and cut it into circles with a biscuit cutter.
Then I tucked each little circle into a mini muffin pan.
Poke with a fork and bake until done, following the directions on the package.
The next recipe is the best one I have for kids. I was amazed at my Henry's concentration. And of all of the goodies at last year's Christmas party, these were by far the most popular.
This post is already super long, so I will let this be a photo essay-recipe.
Bake at 350 until soft-ish. 5 minutes or so.
I do this part. Melted chocolate loves to burn little fingertips.
Keep in the fridge. Bring to room temp before serving or eat straight from the fridge until there are none left to serve to your guests. Whichever.
And please don't forget the pumpkin balls. My friend Molly baked this in a bundt pan and said it made a great cake. Yum.
We all want to take yummy things to parties, and give homemade treats to neighbors. But they don't have to break the bank, or stress you out, or tie you to the kitchen for the entire weekend.
Don't forget to share your favorite recipes or goodies with others during the holidays. We can all use new ideas, and I always remember who I got my recipes from. Every time I make that goody or treat, I think of that friend. And sometimes I let them know that I have just used their recipe, and I thank them. It's a great way to connect.
Happy Sugardays. Um....Holidays.