Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fall Feast Food Pins Tested

Cameron and I usually do a dinner for the Autumnal Equinox each year, but we missed it this year as I was at a wedding and he was out lizard hunting (yes, you read that right...life of a zoology major). I didn't think it'd matter much, but I kinda missed putting together a fun and fancy meal (well...fancy for us...). I decided yesterday that I'd put together a Fall Feast to make up for missing the Equinox dinner, so I pulled up my Pinterest boards devoted to food, tried to find ones I already had the ingredients on hand for, made a plan and got testing these tasty looking food pins. As I was cooking though, I realized I was making way more food than Cameron and I could eat so we called Em and Chip to come over and we feasted together on the Pinterest found meal. I pulled a few recipes from our own files, but I tried many new ones this time. I figured I'd share how they turned out, what worked, what didn't, and what I would do (and did do) differently.

So there's the set up. I love my dishes, they are just so happy looking.

Alrighty, dish #1.

The Original Pin
Tomato Bisque
 This didn't actually have a picture of this soup...but here's the link:

The Outcome
Mine came out a little more yellowy orange instead of orangey red...but the tomatoes I canned last year weren't very red...so I'm attributing it to that. I was excited to get a chance to use my canned tomatoes. Last year was my first year canning, so I'm still a little excited to be using these tomatoes. Anyway...this tasted fantastic. I loved it. Cameron's not huge with tomato soups, but he said this one isn't bad (here's the secret...there's bacon in it and the veggies are sauteed in bacon fat for 8 minutes...man pleasing right there).

I did have to tweak this one due to the ingredients I had on hand (I don't live where just running to the store is an option), but I think it came out decently similar to what it would have had I had all the ingredients. First, I didn't have carrots...so no carrots in this soup. Second...I just had normal onions on hand...no spanish onions. Third, my herbs were dried, not fresh...so I just sprinkled them in and left them in (minus the bay leaf, I took that out). Fourth, I had half and half in the fridge, not heavy cream. So I know those made some difference, but I don't think they completely altered how this turned out. I would definitely like to try it 100% true to the recipe, but even with these tweaks, this turned out delicious and was easy to make. My biggest disappointment? The bacon crisps I had ready for the end didn't float on top of the soup, they sunk to the bottom...so they just ended up being a part of the soup and not a garnish...but that's not really anything to complain about.

The Original Pin
Stuffed Roast Turkey Breast
Stuffed Roast Turkey Breast (photo)
Let me tell you, this was delicious. I did tweak it, but it was still delicious. Was mine anywhere near as pretty as that. Bahahahahaha, no.

The Outcome:
It's a good thing food doesn't have to be beautiful to taste good.  Don't get scared off by that picture though, it was delicious. And again...it has bacon in it and the last step before baking this is to glaze it with bacon grease. Another man pleaser (then men did love it, btw).

I actually followed the directions decently here, just adding my own twist at the beginning. The recipe doesn't call for the turkey to be marinated, but I did it anyway. I tenderized the turkey breasts, then added them to a bowl with some olive oil, coriander (whole and ground/roasted), garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and sage and let it marinate for 1 1/2 hours. For the filling, the only deviations I did was using plain boring canned mushrooms rather than porcini mushrooms, I didn't have shallots so I used onion, and the cranberries were omitted entirely. Other than that I followed the recipe and directions to the best of my ability. This turned out so incredibly tasty and moist. We could cut it with our forks it was so tender. This is a huge win in my books, I'll definitely be making this again.

Now for another side dish...
The Original Pin
Smoky and Cheesy Buttermilk Baked Mashed Potatoes

I raided Cameron's cooking boards for this one actually. Good choice hunny!

The Outcome
Poor cam was late getting home and he was bringing the taters, so we sped through making this as much as we could...so we cut out the baking part. But it still tasted great. Our main substitution: we didn't have buttermilk so I used half and half. I know...it would have tasted better with buttermilk, but it wasn't bad at all with the half and half. I loved how creamy these potatoes were with the cream cheese in them. MMMmmmm. Then we did add a small dribble of liquid smoke to get a more smoky flavor. Easy and yummy!

And what is a good meal without some sort of bread?!

Oatmeal Dinner Rolls

I've made these quite a few times actually, and they turn out good every time. Well...the didn't turn out the one time my house was too cold for the dough to rise...but every other time they turned out great. They are so quick and easy (2 1/2 hrs from start, through rising time, to finished and in your belly), and they taste great. Don't get scared off by the fact that you make oatmeal, then turn it into rolls. These are great, give them a try.

I have no idea what happened to that roll on the left...it looks like a hand with a finger pointing at me or something. Tasted good though. 

What to drink?
 Water is always a staple...but I wanted a fun drink too,
 so I found a recipe on my boards for Prickly Pear Juice. I ended up just using the recipe as a basis though and made my own deal instead. I ended up with a Pin Spin, making Prickly Pear Raspberry Lemonade instead.
Like our fancy glasses? Got them at the Dollar Tree for a buck. Love great deals like that, and they class up a meal so fast when we want to "fancy". 
 And then it was dessert time...

The Original Pin
I'd actually made this pie twice before. Once was an overwhelming success...the other time, not so good.
I found out for this recipe, using real pumpkin is key. The first time I made this I bought a pumpkin, cooked it, and used the pumpkin goop to make the pie. It was sooo tasty. The second time I bought canned pumpkin pie filling...not so tasty. In fact, it went uneaten for the most part and I chucked the remains today. Lesson learned...use real pumpkin. It's so worth it!

 This time...the taste was great, but I tried making individual servings rather than a whole pie and that didn't go quite like I thought it would.

The Pinstrosity
These tasted great (again, not pretty, but ignore that), but they weren't quite firm enough and were hard to eat out of the paper cups. I should have just left it as a pie. Oh well. Live and Learn.

 And then finally...
The Original Pin
I've had these pinned for forever. Cameron loves lemon bars, so I thought I'd try these out and see what he thought. They were scrumptious, but boy were they crumbly! 

The Pinstrosity

I mixed the crust/topping up and it just seemed too dry, so I added 2 additional tablespoons of butter. It still seemed dry, but I didn't want to add too much...for all I knew maybe it was supposed to be really dry. I'd never made these before, so I had no clue what I was looking for. I mixed the "filling" and poured it in, then sprinkled on the topping and popped it in the oven. When the timer yelled at me (mine is an excruciating whine...it was definitely designed so that it could not be ignored) I opened the oven and the crust didn't look like it'd changed at all, so I left it in longer. 10 min later there was still no change, but I didn't want to overdo anything so I pulled them out. They were super tasty, but they were so incredibly crumbly. I think next time I'll keep adding butter until the crust/topping consistency is more tacky and less dry. But they were scrumptious and Cameron heartily approved of them.

So there's a few yummy pins all tested for you guys. I'd make any of them again, they were fantastic and made for a fun meal. Thanks for sharing it with us Em and Chip!


  1. It would be so much fun to try a Pinterest-inspired meal. Those lemon bars look and sound yummy.

  2. My oldest daughter is looking at getting a degree in zoology but is having a difficult time with the school counsler on knowing what classes to take. Can you help point in the right direction on what is needed or where to go to find the information?

    1. We'll go with the cut and dry answer first: For specifics on what classes she should look at, you can pull up just about any college's academic catalog (if there's a specific school she wants to attend, pull up their catalog) and see what classes are required for zoology or biology majors. Here's a link to the academic catalog from the college we both started at so you can see what they require for a basic biology degree (which is pretty much going to be generally what is required at most colleges during the first 2 years for any biology related bachelors degree) -the biology degree requirements are listed on page 63): http://eac.edu/Academics/Catalogs/cat1213/Catalog_All.pdf

      And now for our 2 cents on the matter:
      We've got a little different view on pre-college education than many. Cameron and I were both home schooled for various portions of our pre-college education, and the years we attended public school we were at small small small schools. Cameron never had official high school level science courses, and I only ever had general chemistry in public school (because that's all that was offered that year...they rotate one science subject a year, that's how small of a school it was). Even with our limited exposure to "official" courses we were able to succeed at the college level courses. Everyone has to go through the gen. ed. courses, which are designed to teach those students with no prior background as well as those with background in that subject. What helped us most to be successful in college was the ability to teach ourselves and to not expect all our information to be spoon fed to us (which unfortunately is how many kids are being trained to "learn" these days...and they have a rough time in college). If there's a research class (biology related or not...even if it's political science or english), I would highly recommend that because it will help her learn how to teach herself and how to search out information on her own.

      Hope this helped at all!

  3. I made a pumpkin pie that was VERY similar before using this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/double-layer-pumpkin-pie/

    The difference is to use pumpkin puree (you can get it in a can!) and NOT pie filling. Pie filling has sugar and spices already added in, so that's probably why it didn't taste as good as the time you used real pumpkin.

    It almost looks as though they directly copied it from Allrecipes besides that one difference and they made their own crust, haha. I've had this recipe saved in there for 7 years, so it's pretty old! Very tasty though!

  4. Have you considered using glass Ramikens if you choose to do single servings? Then use a piping bag to get those soft layers to sit pretty. You can tap it on the counter a few times to settle it before adding the next layer. If you pipe from the outside edge in you can have a cute little swirl in the middle.


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