Give thanks for dessert!

 Not Your Mama’s Pumpkin Pie

1 prepared deep-dish pie crust                                                       

1 (15 oz.) can of pumpkin

3 eggs

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup white sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 heaping tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup heavy cream

Heat oven to 425.

The almond extract will make this pie stand out, and the heavy cream gives it a rich, silky texture and flavor.

Beat together pumpkin, eggs and sugars until combined. Then add in salt, pumpkin spice, almond extract and heavy cream, and beat or whisk together, until combined.

Pour into the pie crust.

Bake 10 minutes and reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake 40-50 minutes more. Cool on the counter for 2 hours and then refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Can be made one day in advance.

Post-Thanksgiving Kitchen Sink Cupcakes

1 spice cake mix                                                                               

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 eggs

1 cup plain mashed potatoes

1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, with the juice

½ cup canola oil

1 cup water

2 ½ cups shredded carrots

2 oz. raisins (optional)

¾ cup walnut or pecan pieces


1 (8 oz.) container whipped cream cheese, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 ¾ cups powdered sugar

Note: These only work if you use regular mashed potatoes, not garlic or thyme-infused; just plain old mashed potatoes.

Heat oven to 350.

Place paper liners in the muffin tins and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, cinnamon, eggs, mashed potatoes, pineapple with the juice, canola oil and water. Beat for 1 minute. Then add carrots and beat again for 30 seconds. Stir in raisins and nuts.

Fill paper liners nearly to the top with the batter; because the potatoes weigh them down, the cupcakes barely rise so the tins need to be full.

Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove and cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

Beat or stir together cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar. Add more sugar, if desired. Spread on cooled cupcakes.

Makes 30-35 cupcakes.

Note: The cupcakes freeze well for up to a month, so they are perfect for holiday entertaining. Do not frost the cupcakes before freezing; frost them when you serve them.

Caramel Apple Bars

1 yellow cake mix                                                               

1 stick unsalted butter

1 large egg

1 (8-ounce) package whipped cream cheese, at room temperature

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/3 cups powdered sugar

4 Granny Smith apples

1 2/3 cups caramel dip

2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350.

Heavily grease a 9 x 13-inch pan. Melt the stick of butter in the microwave.

In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, melted butter and 1 egg. Mix until well combined and then press into the bottom of the cake pan. Set aside.

Take room temperature cream cheese and beat it with one egg until combined. I used whipped because it helps prevent lumps and is easier to beat. Add the other egg, vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until combined. Spread mixture over the cake mix.

Core, peel and finely chop the Granny Smith apples.  Microwave the caramel dip for 12 seconds and then stir the apples into the dip until well combined. Drop by spoonful on the cream cheese mixture. Next, sprinkle on the chocolate chips and pecans, trying to evenly distribute everything.

Bake 45-50 minutes, until center is mostly set. It can have a slight jiggle. Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. These are best served warm or at room temperature, not cold.

Refrigerate leftovers. You can make these two days before Thanksgiving, but allow the bars to come to room temperature before serving.

Butterscotch Meringue Pie

1 pre-made pie crust                                                                   

1 cup dark brown sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

¼ teaspoon salt

2 cups whole milk

4 egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 tablespoons unsalted butter


6 egg whites, at room temperature

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

8  tablespoons sugar

1  teaspoon vanilla

This pie tastes more like a caramel pie than butterscotch. My grandma made butterscotch pie but never wrote down recipes so, sadly, it died with her. I made this in her honor and everyone loved it. The great thing is the pie holds up well, so you can make it up to two days before Thanksgiving.

You need to bake and cool your pie crust before you fill it. You can use a homemade crust, but I just used store bought. Place crust in a deep-dish pie pan and prick it repeatedly with a fork. Bake according to package directions until golden brown. Cool.

Separate your egg whites and yolks when you first take the eggs out of the refrigerator, but allow egg whites to come to room temperature before you make the meringue.

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

In a heavy-bottom pan, stir together dark brown sugar, cornstarch, salt and milk. Whisk this mixture over medium heat until it starts to thicken into pudding — about 15 minutes. Don’t stop stirring or it will burn. Then remove 1 cup of the pudding and whisk it quickly with four egg yolks. Return it to the pan and whisk frantically for 60 seconds — you don’t want the eggs to scramble. Stir in vanilla and butter and whisk again for 15 seconds. Pour filling into the pie shell.

Immediately make the meringue because you want to add the meringue when the filling is hot.

In a clean glass bowl, beat egg whites until frothy. Then add cream of tartar and beat again. On high speed, beat eggs, adding 1 tablespoon of sugar every 45-60 seconds. When you’ve added 5 tablespoons, add the vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form and you’ve used all the sugar.

Spread the meringue over the warm pie filling, being sure to seal the edges of the pie with meringue. Then use a spatula to make peaks.

Bake 15-18 minutes or until meringue is golden brown on its peaks. Cool pie on the counter for 3 hours; then refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.

Juliana Goodwin is a food columnist, cookbook author and avid traveler. If you have a question, email