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Thanksgiving has come and gone and now it’s Sunday and we must go back to work tomorrow. Is that a collective “Boo!” I hear? I joke, but I am still a bit hung over from all the delicious food and sweet time spent with family. I always enjoy being in the kitchen, but I wanted to step up my Thanksgiving game this year, so I volunteered to take on the very serious duties of making the stuffing and pie. My future husband is mistaken if he thinks this girl cooks turkey, though. I just can’t put my hand up the rear of a giant bird, knowing it very recently had feathers, I can’t and I won’t!

I don’t even care much for eating turkey because I just want to get to the dessert course. Story of my life.

I made The Pioneer Woman’s Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Apples for two reasons: 1. I love the Pioneer Woman. Her cute cowboy husband isn’t bad either. I continue to hold out hope that they’ll one day invite me to live with them on their ranch in Oklahoma where I would spend my days cooking with Ree’s gorgeous Le Creuset cast iron and my biggest problem would be I made too much chocolate silk pie. 2. The second reason I chose this recipe is because it does not require onions. Ree’s recipe calls for them, but I knew they could be omitted with all the other flavors this recipe has going on. Despite the cries of her ungrateful children, my mom has been putting onions in her stuffing for as long as I can remember. It’s not that I hate onions, it’s just that if I find one in my food, I’ll very likely die immediately. The stuffing was excellent, with homemade skillet cornbread, big bites of green apples softened by a flavorful chicken broth, oven-roasted mushrooms, and cooked Italian sausage. Unless you’re cooking for 20 cowboys, I recommend cutting this recipe in half.

Now let’s talk about the star of the show, my salted caramel apple pie. I know Thanksgiving is over, but you’re going to want to make this sweet and salty bad boy for Christmas, birthdays, March 14, June 11, any day for any reason at all, really. I had planned on a regular apple pie as this was my first attempt at homemade pie and I knew I had quite the task before me, but as the day went on, I decided to spice things up with salted caramel. Fortunately, I came across a great recipe from Steph from Lick My Spoon. My original pie plan included a crust recipe I found on Epicurious, which I kept because the reviews were outstanding. Those reviewers did not steer me wrong – this crust is reminiscent of shortbread and bakes exactly as promised if you follow the recipe. On that note, I’ve realized that the keys to a perfect pie are following the recipe and having the right tools. If you want to do it right – and maybe you don’t, which is fine because I’ve certainly skated by plenty of times – you will need a food processor, large surface for rolling out the dough, good rolling pin, quality pie dish, pastry brush, pastry cutter and pie shield (Who created this genius tool that keeps pie crust edges from burning while the rest of the crust bakes? I want to meet you and shake your hand!). My favorite items are listed below. Grab your 20% discount coupons and get thee to Bed Bath & Beyond!

Emile Henry 9” Pie Dish – $40 (on sale now at Macy’s)
Real Simple Nonslip Pastry Mat – $20
OXO 12-inch Nonstick Rolling Pin – $28
Betty Crocker Pastry Brush (I prefer boar hair over silicone) – $3
Betty Crocker Pastry Cutter and Crimper – $5
Talisman Adjustable Pie Shield (I love this one because the silicone is easy to clean and the shield adjusts to fit any pie dish) – $8

Once I had the crust prepared, rolled out and chilled in the pie dish, I started on the filling, which calls for sliced apples drenched in a mixture of sugar, spice and everything nice (flour and lemon juice). From there it is so simple: Retrieve your chilled pie crust and lay one layer of apple mixture, followed by one heavy drizzle of salted caramel sauce (you can buy this or make your own – I made my own because it is so easy and so worth it), then another layer of apple mixture and another drizzle of salted caramel sauce. Repeat three times, then prepare your lattice crust, which is not nearly as hard as it looks save for getting the sizes of the lattice strips right. This might take you a few attempts – have patience, be zen, know that everything will be OK. Lick My Spoon has the recipe for Salted Caramel Apple Pie here, which includes great step-by-step instructions for creating a lattice crust, and a recipe for salted caramel here. This pie took some work, but it was beautiful and devoured with rave reviews; do not forget to top each slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for maximum enjoyment. When I wasn’t slaving over it in the kitchen, I was taking photos of my most beloved turkeys. It was a pretty special Thanksgiving. I hope yours was equally as wonderful.

Preparing the pie. My apron is pink and from Paris. It makes me feel so fancy!

Preparing the pie. My apron is pink and from Paris. It makes me feel so fancy!

Here she is! Beautiful, isn't she?

Here she is! Beautiful, isn’t she?

We haven't even gotten past the appetizers and Abby is already losing her mind!

We hadn’t even gotten past the appetizers and Abby was already losing her turkey-loving mind!

Chris and Gracie are either having a moment, or Gracie is threatening his life if he goes for her turkey.

Chris and Gracie were either having a moment, or Gracie was threatening his life if he went for her turkey.

My sister and my brother-in-law's awesome shirt.

My sister and my brother-in-law’s awesome shirt.

My brother-in-law Matt and my mama sharing a sweet hug. I love this picture.

My brother-in-law and my mama sharing a sweet hug. I love this picture.

My dad is a pretty serious man, but sometimes something gets him going and he laughs so hard, and then laughs even harder at his own laugh. It's one of my favorite thing ever.

My dad is a pretty serious man, but sometimes something gets him going and he laughs so hard, and then laughs even harder at his own laugh. It’s one of my favorite things ever.