Thanksgiving feast

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone.  After making six different dishes that week for various potlucks and dinners, I feel a bit relieved.  Although it’s been a week since then, I figured I’d post a few recipes that tided me over during the holiday (I hate turkey!).

Group shot

Group shot

Pumpkin Gooey Bars

Pumpkin Gooey Bars

First off are these Pumpkin bars.  I got the original recipe from a coworker of mine, but made a few changes for my personal tastes.
The original recipe calls for using some boxed yellow cake mix for the crust, but I decided to make my own crust (similar to what I use for lemon bars).

Here’s the original recipe in its entirety:

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 50 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 6 to 8 servings


  • 1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted


  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
  3. To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.
  4. Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Variations: For a Pineapple Gooey Cake: Instead of the pumpkin, add a drained 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.
For a Banana Gooey Cake: Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.
For a Peanut Butter Gooey Cake: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter to the cream cheese filling instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

Instead of the listed crust, I used this recipe:

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups AP flour
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar plus additional for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter plus additional for greasing – chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup almonds or pistachios – chopped

1.    Preheat oven to 350 F. Into a medium bowl, sift together 1 ½ cups flour, powdered sugar and salt. Cut in the butter, 1 teaspoon zest and nuts until mixture just clings together.
2.    Press mixture into a lightly buttered 9” x 13” baking dish (or into a 10” spring form pan for pie). Bake until just firm and lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly before adding filling.

These pumpkin bars were a hit, and I made them a second time for my neighbors the next day 🙂

Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato Pie

In addition to the pumpkin bars, I also baked asweet potato pie for church.  This pie was one of first few things I ever baked when I started out last year, and it was a good marker of how much I’ve improved… at least hardware-wise.  Back when I first baked this, I had to mash everything by hand (no electric mixer! no stand mixer! nothing!), and thus it was never super smooth.  I used pre-packaged lemon juice, pre-grated spices, etc… it was good, but man, it’s so much better using fresh ingredients!  I also make my own crust now, the recipe will follow.

The recipe itself is pretty simple.  I got it from allrecipes.com, but made several modifications of my own:

Sweet Potato Pie

•    *15 graham crackers, crushed (1.5 cups of crushed graham crackers)
•    ¼ cup melted butter
•    ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
•    ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
•    ¼ ~ ½ cup sugar
•    (optional) ¼ cup finely chopped unsalted nuts (walnuts or pecans)

•    1 (1 pound) sweet potato
•    1/2 cup butter, softened
•    1 cup white sugar (or 1/3 cup white sugar, 1/3 cup brown sugar)
•    1/2 cup milk (or evap milk)
•    2 eggs
•    1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
•    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•    1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
•    Extra: 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/4 tsp ginger, 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice, 1 TBSP flour

1.    Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
2.    In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter (and other ingredients). Press onto bottom of a well greased pie pan.
3.    Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 60 minutes, or until done. Run cold water over the sweet potato, and remove the skin. I used a peeler (careful, the potato may be cool on the surface, but it’ll be quite hot inside!), making sure to get all the eyes, and then put the skinned potato in my food processor.  Several pulses later, the potato was nice and smooth… so much easier than using a potato masher or fork 🙂
4.    Break apart sweet potato in a bowl (use mixer after mashed). Add butter, and mix well with mixer. Stir in sugar, (evaporated) milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla (and cloves, ginger, lemon juice and flour). Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth.  I did this in my stand mixer.  Make sure to use freshly squeezed lemon juice and freshly ground nutmeg (and cinnamon if you have some sticks)!  Makes a lot of difference. Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust.
5.    Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 to 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Pie will puff up like a souffle, and then will sink down as it cools.
6.    Sprinkle with brown sugar + chopped pecans around the 40 min mark.

Dories All-in-one Holiday Cake

Dorie's All-in-one Holiday Cake

Phew, that’s a lot of recipes already 🙂  Well, just a couple more… I made yet some more recipes from my favorite book, Dorie’s “From my Kitchen to Yours”.  For one, it was the fitting All-in-one Holiday Bundt Cake, and the recipe can be found here.

I made this twice… once for church and once for our company Thanksgiving potluck.  Next time, I think I will replace the pumpkin puree with sweet potato, because I definitely prefer the flavor (and it’s much easier to get fresh sweet potato than fresh pumpkin).  Overall, it wasn’t my favorite, but many people seemed to prefer it because it wasn’t as sweet as other desserts.  Me?  I can’t get enough of sweets, so that’s never been a problem 🙂

So, for the sweet side, I  made Dorie’s Chipster Topped Brownies for the post-Thanksgiving church service.  Why did I pick this?  Well, I came home pretty late Saturday night, so I wanted to make something simple.  I didn’t want to go to the grocery and get some ingredients so I was limited by whatever ingredients I had at hand.  As such, I only used bittersweet chocolate for this since I don’t usually keep much unsweetened chocolate in my pantry.

Chipster-Topped Brownies
from: Dorie Greenspan

brownie layer

brownie layer

For the brownie layer:

  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped  – I used 9 oz total
  • 3 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped  – I skipped this
  • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (I didn’t use nuts)
cookie layer

cookie layer

For the cookie layer:

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped or 1 cup of chocolate chips
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9×13 inch baking pan, line it with parchment paper and butter the paper. Put the pan on a baking sheet.
  2. To make the brownie batter: Put both chocolates and the butter in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stirring occasionally, heat just until the ingredients are melted, shiny and smooth. If the mixture gets too hot, the butter will separate from the chocolates. Remove the bowl from the heat.
  3. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs on medium-high seed for about 2 minutes, until pale, thick and creamy. Beat in the salt and vanilla extract. Reduce the speed to low and mix int eh melted chocolate and butter, mixing only until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then, still on low speed, add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the better. Using the spatula, old in the walnuts, and scrape the better into the prepared pan. Set aside.
  4. To make the cookie dough: Whisk together the flour, baking sold and salt. Working with the stand mixer in the cleaned bowl or with the hand mixer in another large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. One at a time, add the egg and the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough. Still on low, mix in the chopped chocolate. Drop the cookie dough by spoonfuls over the brownie batter and, using a spatula and a light touch, spread it evenly over the batter.
  5. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the cookie top is deep golden brown and firm and a thin knife inserted into the brownie layer comes out with only faint streaks of moist chocolate. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature.
  6. When the brownies are completely cool, carefully run a knife between the sides of the pan and the brownies, then invert them onto another rack, remove the paper and turn right side up onto a cutting board. Cut into bars.

Finished product

Finished product

Phew, long post 🙂  That’s about it!
Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!


4 Responses to “Thanksgiving feast”

  1. December 4, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    Hahaha love the food blog! I’m really glad you posted photos AND recipes, too. Will have to give your sweet potato pie a try.

  2. 2 Steve
    December 4, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    send a piece over. I’ve been eating leftovers for the past week. 😦

  3. 3 karenjean
    December 7, 2008 at 11:56 am

    i love these posts, jin! i can’t wait to eat more and more things with my eyes. sigh. to have an oven in taiwan. 🙂 i’ll just keep dreaming!

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