Monthly Archives: November 2013

What to Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers

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Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! Now you’re stuck with all of these leftovers? What do you do with them?

  1. Make a “leftover Sheppard’s Pie”-  take all of the turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables, gravy, & stuffing and layer them into a Sheppard’s Pie. All of the leftovers will turn into a brand new dish.
  2. Make a leftover turkey sandwich- take all of your leftovers and pile them onto 2 slices of bread and have a Thanksgiving sandwich. Get creative!
  3. Take leftover mashed potatoes and make potato pancakes! They’re like hashed browns.
  4. Make leftover turkey soup! Throw all the leftovers into a pan and just add cream or broth.
  5. Take the cranberries and make a cranberry sauce or a cranberry pie
  6. Or just make a replica plate of everything you had at Thanksgiving, a repeat Thanksgiving plate!

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How to Prepare for Black Friday Shopping

   ImageBlack Friday Shopping is just two days away!! Are you ready for it?

We have the list of how to prepare yourself for the shopping extravaganza!

  1. Make a list of items you plan to buy. A list will help you stick to your budget and eliminate impulse buying.
  2. List the stores you plan to visit. Note the time you need to arrive if the store has special sale hours.
  3. Check for, and read, store advertisements.
  4. Compare prices of the same products between different retail stores to find the best deals and savings.
  5. Visit the websites of your favorite stores or purchase newspapers and magazines to read about special deals for Black Friday.
  6. Take advantage of the Black Friday ticket system.Determine the exact items you want from each store so you can grab the tickets you need. Take your ticket to the designated area in the store to collect your product.
  7. Use social media websites and smartphone applications to locate Black Friday deals. Visit Facebook pages or Twitter feeds that include the keywords “Black Friday” to find specific deals. Applications are also available for your iPhone or Android device such as “ShopSavvy” or “Black Friday Survival Guide” that will deliver Black Friday deals and updates to your phone.
  8. Collect coupons or advertisement documentation and bring them with you to the stores. Documentation will help avoid confusion or disputes that may arise from instances such as incorrect pricing.
  9. Bring the exact amount of money you need to prevent impulse buying. Cash is the best option, unless your credit cards or department store cards will earn you rewards or cash back on purchases.
  10. Dress appropriately and comfortably. Wear comfortable shoes. Black Friday shopping may require you to do lots of walking or standing in long lines. Dress in warm clothing or in layers. Some stores may have long lines that require you to stand outdoors. Shed clothing layers later in the day if it gets too hot.11. Pack a bag of food and drinks. Snacks and drinks will keep your energy and hydration levels up throughout the day, preventing you from feeling sick, tired or dizzy. 12. Bring a shopping partner to help out. Hold each other’s places in long lines if restroom breaks are needed, or split up briefly to take advantage deals that may occur at the same time.
    13. Consider staying at home and shopping on the Internet. Black Friday shopping online will eliminate having to stand in line or deal with any crowds. Some companies may offer free shipping or exclusive online deals on Black Friday.

Remember to be safe and have fun!!

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How You Can Give Back During the Holidays

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The holiday season is about to begin! Here are some ways you can give back during the holidays!

  1. Donate to a charitable organization.
  2. Donate clothes you’ve outgrown
  3. Donate food to a local charity or food bank
  4. Volunteer at a soup kitchen
  5. Send a care package to a soldier
  6. Adopt a dog or cat
  7. Shovel snow for a neighbor
  8. Get your girlfriends together and have a cookie swap. Have everyone make a few dozen of their favorite cookies and get together to assemble cookie trays. Deliver them to local shelters and community centers.
  9. Deliver a meal to a family in need
  10. Donate toys
  11. Invite an elderly neighbor or someone who lives alone to join your celebration
  12. Bring your host a small gift to show your appreciation and offer to help clean up
  13. Donate a coat. Burlington Coat Factory, has teamed up with Good Morning America to collect coats for the less privileged. Simply bring your coat to the closest Burlington Coat Factory and receive a coupon for 10% of your entire purchase.

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Happy Hunger Games!!

ImageHappy Hunger Games!!

Some fun facts about The Hunger Games movies:

  1. The ‘Hunger Games’ set had 100-degree heat and bears.
  2. The movie cost $90 million to make, reduced to $78 million after subsidies.
  3. Lenny Kravitz and Jennifer Lawrence knew each other before the film, which added chemistry between their characters.
  4. Actor Josh Hutcherson read the entire trilogy in five days to prepare for his role as Peeta
  5.  Most of the movie was shot in the woods of North Carolina, especially in and around Charlotte and Asheville
  6. Taylor Swift contributed two songs to the soundtrack: “Eyes Open” and “Safe & Sound” featuring The Civil Wars.
  7.  Actor Alexander Ludwig gained 30 to 40 pounds in order to play the role of Cato.
  8. “The Hunger Games” has been translated into 26 different languages.
  9. The cast wasn’t allowed to take home any mementos from the set
  10. Liam Hemsworth and Jennifer Lawrence, both natural blondes, dyed their hair brown for the film, while naturally dark-haired Josh Hutcherson dyed his hair blonde.

Remembering John F. Kennedy

The Invictus Group remembers John F. Kennedy today, the 50 year anniversary of his assassination. Forever in our hearts.

What to Bring When You Are a Guest at Thanksgiving Dinner

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Thanksgiving is just one week away!! Are you celebrating Thanksgiving at a family member/friend’s house? We collected a list of what to bring when invited to Thanksgiving dinner & how to be a great Thanksgiving dinner guest.

 

Image   1. Bring a nice bottle of wine, doesn’t matter if it’s red or white, but if you know the host’s favorite then buy that!

Image 2. Bring cheese or bring both cheese & wine, the host could put the cheese out as an appetizer.

Image 3. Bring flowers in a vase, fall-colored looking flowers would be best, & it would look nice at the table.

Image 4. A smart Thanksgiving dinner party guest will bring food storage containers for leftovers. Your host will be eager to share the Thanksgiving dinner leftovers with you!

Image Image 5. Bringing wine trinkets or a scented candle as a gift is perfect!

Image 6. Bring over a football to have a catch outside when dinner is over, there’s something about football & Thanksgiving that go together so perfect.

ImageImageImage 7. Offer to bring a side dish!

Image 8. Offer to bring dessert, doesn’t matter if it’s homemade or bought.

Image 9. Offer to help clean up after dinner, help by washing dishes or getting “doggie bags” together.

Image 10. Say “Thank You”, thank the host for a wonderful dinner and for the invitation.

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Cool Office Gadgets!

It’s amazing the type of gadgets that are invented these days, we’re going to share some of our favorite office gadgets that can make your office environment or desk a little bit more fun!

ImageTthis is one of our favorite gadgets! Who wouldn’t love having a fishy friend hanging out at their desk all day?? It’s an aquairum and a pencil/pen/phone/etc. holder; PLUS it doesn’t take up too much room!

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No time for the gym? Don’t worry, you can always buy this elliptical/bike/stepper chair for your desk! Get a great work out WHILE working! Who could ask for a better workout?

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The ultimate desk organizer, it hols your pens, pencils, phone, photos, post-its, and it has usb ports to plug in your devices!

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Attention coffee lovers!! How awesome is this!? Pretty explanatory: a self-stirring mug!!

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What a clever way to keep your rubber bands from going all over the place!

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Gel fridge: put your stuff in it and the gel keeps it cool. when your reach in and take it out, the gel automatically reforms. A new version of the mini fridge!

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Tired of using the stairs? Target has a slide in their office!

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Coffee lovers we have another one for you! The perfect coffee cup holder that will keep your favorite coffee drink in place and will prevent it from spilling all over your desk!

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How many times have you sat at your desk and tried to throw a crumpled piece of paper in the trash and missed or made it?? This basketball backboard makes your trashcan a little more fun and throwing away those crumpled up papers a little less frustrating.

CAN YOU THINK OF ANY COOL GADGETS FOR THE OFFICE??

Happy 85th Birthday to Mickey Mouse!!

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Happy Birthday to Disney’s Mickey Mouse!! Mickey Mouse is turning 85 years old today, he sure does age well! In celebration of the famous mouse’s birthday, we are going to share some fun facts about Walt Disney’s good old friend.

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  • He was created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks at the Walt Disney Studios in 1928. Mickey has become one of the most recognizable cartoon characters in the world. Mickey Mouse is the official mascot of the Walt Disney Company.
  • Mickey Mouse was created as a replacement for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, an earlier cartoon character created by the Disney studio for Charles Mintz.
  • ImageWalt originally wanted to call Mickey ‘Mortimer Mouse’, and it was changed to ‘Mickey Mouse’ when Walt’s wife Lillian said she felt that ‘Mortimer’ sounded too pompous and suggested another name that personified the qualities of fun and humbleness.

Image  – Concept art of Mickey Mouse, 1928; earliest known drawings of the character

  • Ub Iwerks designed Mickey’s body out of circles in order to make the character simple to animate.
  • Mickey’s circular design is most noticeable in his ears, which in traditional animation, always appear circular no matter which way Mickey faces. This made Mickey easily recognizable to audiences and made his ears an unofficial personal trademark. Even today, the symbol “Mickey Mouse” is often used by the Disney Company to represent Mickey.
  • Besides Mickey’s gloves and shoes, he typically wears only a pair of shorts with two large buttons in the front.
  • Each of Mickey’s hands has only three fingers and a thumb. Walt Disney said that this was both an artistic and financial decision, explaining “Artistically five digits are too many for a mouse. His hand would look like a bunch of bananas. Financially, not having an extra finger in each of 45,000 drawings that make up a six and one half minute short has saved the Studio millions. In the film The Opry House, Mickey was given white gloves as a simple way of contrasting his naturally black hands against his black body.

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  • Mickey was given his own entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1934.
  • Mickey was voiced by Walt Disney himself, a task in which Disney took great personal pride.
  • As of the presidency of George W. Bush, Mickey has met every U.S. President since Harry Truman with the exception of Lyndon B. Johnson.
  • One of the most iconic Mickey Mouse products of all time is the Mickey Mouse wrist watch.
  • Mickey became the first cartoon character to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 18, 1978, in honor of his 50th anniversary.

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  • Mickey officially debuted in the short film Steamboat Willie, one of the first sound cartoons. It was the first cartoon to feature a fully post-produced soundtrack. Steamboat Willie also introduced Minnie Mouse, known as Mickey Mouse’s girlfriend.

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  • Mickey Mouse went on to appear in 130 more films, one of them called Fantasia; a film that consists of eight animated segments set to pieces of classical music conducted by Leopold Stokowski seven of which are performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra. The segment features no dialogue at all, only the music.
  • Mickey Mouse played the part of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
  • ImageMickey generally appears alongside his girlfriend Minnie Mouse his pet dog Pluto his friends Donald Duck, Daisy Duck & Goofy.
  • ImageThe Mickey Mouse Club was a television show that aired intermittently from 1955 to 1996. Created by Walt Disney, the program was first televised from 1955 to 1960 by ABC, featuring a regular but ever-changing cast of child performers; including Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, JC Chasez, and Ryan Gosling.
  • ImageMickey has played a central role in the Disney Parks since the opening of Disneyland in 1955. As with other characters, Mickey is often portrayed by a non-speaking costumed actor. In this form he has participated in ceremonies and countless parades. A popular activity with guests is getting to meet and pose for photographs with the mouse.
  • A Hidden Mickey is a representation f Mickey Mouse that has been inserted subtly into the design of a ride, attraction, or other location in a Disney theme park, Disney properties, movie or other Disney product. The most common Hidden Mickey is a formation of three circles that may be perceived as the silhouette of the head and ears of Mickey Mouse, often referred as a “Classic Mickey”. 
  • Hidden Mickeys are found in various Disney media, such as animated films, feature length movies, TV series, or the Disney theme parks. Mickeys may be painted, made up of objects (such as rocks, or three plates on a table), or be references such as someone wearing Mickey Mouse Club ears in a painting. Hidden Mickeys can take on many sizes and forms.

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  • One of Walt Disney’s most famous quotes about his accomplishments is:

“I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing—that it was all started by a mouse.”

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Fun Things to Do in Philadelphia

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Happy TGIF everyone!! Stuck on what to do for the weekend? Don’t worry, we have you covered!! We’re going to give you a list of all sorts of different places to visit in Philadelphia. Once you get through our list, you will be booked all weekend with plans!!

Places to visit:

  1. Philadelphia Museum of Art -go ahead, run up those Rocky steps! We dare you!
  2. The Franklin Institute – great place for all ages! So many different exhibits and it makes learning fun!
  3. National Constitution Center – Be inspired by interactive exhibits, live performances, rare artifacts, and hands-on activities that bring the Constitution to life.
  4. LOVE Park – the famous park located in Center City, while walking around to see this you may see some life-size Monopoly game pieces
  5. City Hall – the house of government for the city of Philadelphia, including the statue of city founder William Penn on top of it
  6. LIberty Bell – The Liberty Bell Center offers a video presentation and exhibits about the Liberty Bell, pretty awesome to see in person vs. reading about in text books
  7. Philadelphia Zoo- spend the day at the zoo! Walk around and seeing all of the different animal exhibits they have. You may see some peacocks walking around, this is totally normal for the Philadelphia Zoo.
  8. Adventure Aquarium- located across the river in Camden, NJ, Adventure Aquarium has so many types of exhibits you can see: jellyfish, turtles, alligators, penguins, different types of fish, and sharks. There are even “petting exhibits” where you can pet live sharks and stingrays!
  9. Eastern State Penitentiary- a former American prison in Philadelphia, notorious criminals such as bank robber Willie Sutton and Al Capone were held inside its innovative wagon wheel design. The prison emphasized principles of reform rather than punishment. Around Halloween time they host “Terror Behind the Walls” where employees dress up (really good) and scare you…really good. A must-see for Halloween time. They do have tours, just call ahead for times and prices!
  10. Walnut Street Theatre – In the mood for seeing a play? Walnut Street Theatre always has a show playing and always has a great performance. Check schedules and ticket availability ahead of time.
  11. South Street- known for its “bohemian” and “punk” atmosphere and its diverse and urban mix of shops, bars, and eateries. It is one of Philadelphia’s largest tourist attractions.

Places to Eat:

  1. Dave & Busters -great good and great games, your inner child will come out as soon as you step into this game-filled restaurant, you can even cash in your tickets for prizes!
  2. Lucky Strike – Trendy bowling alley
  3. The Continental Mid-Town -A Steven Starr martini bar with a very bright and groovy atmosphere
  4. Prime Stache – New place in Old City, they have small plates and unique drinks you won’t find anywhere else
  5. The Melting Pot -Like fondue? Then this is the place to go!
  6. Tria -if you enjoy trying out different cheeses and sipping wine, this is a very low-key, but cool hang out
  7. Pat’s OR Geno’s -You decide who has the best cheese-steak in Philadelphia
  8. Cosi – They have an awesome smores dessert, enough to share with everyone!
  9. Spasso- Craving homemade Italian? This is the place to go! Located on Front Street in Old City
  10. Green Eggs Cafe- Great brunch menu for your Sunday brunch craving
  11. Capital Grille – More upscale restaurant, outstanding service
  12. Bobby’s Burger Palace- created by Food Network chef Bobby Flay, this is the place to go when you’re craving a good burger

Have a great weekend!!!

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Simple Pie Recipes for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is two weeks away!! We are going to give you the recipies of popular pies served at Thanksgiving!

1. Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups canned pumpkin, mashed
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, optional
1 piece pre-made pie dough
Whipped cream, for topping

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place 1 piece of pre-made pie dough down into a (9-inch) pie pan and press down along the bottom and all sides. Pinch and crimp the edges together to make a pretty pattern. Put the pie shell back into the freezer for 1 hour to firm up. Fit a piece of aluminum foil to cover the inside of the shell completely. Fill the shell up to the edges with pie weights or dried beans (about 2 pounds) and place it in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the foil and pie weights and bake for another 10 minutes or until the crust is dried out and beginning to color.

For the filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer. Add the pumpkin and beat until combined. Add the sugar and salt, and beat until combined. Add the eggs mixed with the yolks, half-and-half, and melted butter, and beat until combined. Finally, add the vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger, if using, and beat until incorporated.

Pour the filling into the warm prepared pie crust and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is set. Place the pie on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Cut into slices and top each piece with a generous amount of whipped cream.

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2. Apple Pie
Ingredients:
Pie Crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
1 egg
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Apple Filling:

5 Northern Spy apples
3/4 cup fine sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Combine the flour and salt in mixing bowl. Cut room temperature shortening into flour until mixture is uniform and shortening resembles large peas. Beat egg, water, and vinegar together to blend. Pour all of the liquid evenly over flour mixture. Stir in with fork until all of the mixture is moistened. Divide dough in half and shape each into a ball. Flatten each into a 4-inch circle. Wrap and chill dough for 15 minutes for easier rolling.

Dust rolling pin and work surface lightly with flour. Roll dough to a uniform thickness. Roll to a circle about 1-inch larger than upside down 8-inch pie plate. Carefully place one dough circle into pie plate and gently press into form of plate. Trim excess dough around the edge with the back of a knife.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel, core, and slice apples. Mix apple slices with sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Place apple mixture in pie shell. Place second pie crust on top and form to the edges of the pie plate. Cut slits in the top crust to allow for steam to release in oven. Bake for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, until pie is fully baked and apples are tender.
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3. Sweet Potato Pie
Ingredients

  • 2 cups sweet potatoes, mashed (* approx. 1.5 big sweet potatoes cubed & boiled for 15 minutes)
  • ¼ cup (4 tablespoons butter), softened
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¾ cup evaporated milk (half of a 12 oz. can)
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 – 9 in” unbaked pie crust
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Mix sweet potatoes, butter, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a bowl until well combined.
  3. Add eggs, evaporated milk, and heavy cream.
  4. Mix everything until completely smooth and all the ingredients have come together-approx. 5 minutes using a Kitchenaid.
  5. Pour mixture into an unbaked pie shell all the way to the top leaving about ¼” space from the top edge of the crust.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until done. Enjoy!Image
4. Pecan Pie
 
Ingredients:
 
Dough:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick), diced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Flour, for rolling the dough

Filling:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 cups chopped toasted pecans
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Directions:

Make the dough by hand: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles yellow cornmeal mixed with bean-sized bits of butter. (If the flour/butter mixture gets warm, refrigerate it for 10 minutes before proceeding.) Add the egg and stir the dough together with a fork or by hand in the bowl. If the dough is dry, sprinkle up to a tablespoon more of cold water over the mixture.

Alternatively, make the dough in a food processor. With the machine fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles yellow cornmeal mixed with bean-sized bits of butter, about 10 times. Add the egg and pulse 1 to 2 times; don’t let the dough form into a ball in the machine. (If the dough is very dry add up to a tablespoon more of cold water.) Remove the bowl from the machine, remove the blade, and bring the dough together by hand.

Form the dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough with a rolling pin into a 12-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan and trim the edges, leaving about an extra inch hanging over the edge. Tuck the overhanging dough underneath itself to form a thick edge that is even with the rim. Flute the edge as desired. Freeze the pie shell for 30 minutes.

Set separate racks in the center and lower third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Put a piece of parchment paper or foil over the pie shell and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake on a baking sheet on the center rack until the dough is set, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and lift sides of the parchment paper to remove the beans. Continue baking until the pie shell is lightly golden brown, about 10 more minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

While the crust is baking make the filling: In medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and stirring constantly, continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts, bourbon, and the vanilla. Set the mixture aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. (If the crust has cooled, return it to the oven for 5 minutes to warm through.) Whisk the beaten eggs into the filling until smooth. Put the pie shell on a sheet pan and pour the filling into the hot crust.

Bake on the lower oven rack until the edges are set but the center is still slightly loose, about 40 to 45 minutes. (If the edges get very dark, cover them with aluminum foil half way during baking.) Cool on a rack. Serve slightly warm or room temperature.

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5. Cherry Pie
Ingredients

4 cups fresh or frozen tart cherries
1 to 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 tablespoon almond extract (optional)
Your favorite pie crust or pie dough recipe for 2 crust pie
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, to dot
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, to sprinkle

Directions

Place cherries in medium saucepan and place over heat. Cover. After the cherries lose considerable juice, which may take a few minutes, remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch together. Pour this mixture into the hot cherries and mix well. Add the almond extract, if desired, and mix. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool. If the filling is too thick, add a little water, too thin, add a little more cornstarch.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Use your favorite pie dough recipe. Prepare your crust. Divide in half. Roll out each piece large enough to fit into an 8 to 9-inch pan. Pour cooled cherry mixture into the crust. Dot with butter. Moisten edge of bottom crust. Place top crust on and flute the edge of the pie. Make a slit in the middle of the crust for steam to escape. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.

 
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