Features & Fun Friday #8 ~ Top 5 Thanksgiving-Worthy Pies, Exciting News, & A GIVEAWAY!

Oh my goodness…where did October go?! It’s the last Friday of the month, and that means it’s time for some features and some fun! Stay tuned for a mouthwatering pie round-up, an exciting announcement from Five Heart Home, and — to celebrate it all — a giveaway!

{Top 5 Round-Up ~ Thanksgiving-Worthy Pies}

I realize that we still have Halloween on the horizon next week, but shortly thereafter, it’s time to start planning for Thanksgiving! Or if you’re really on top of things, maybe you’ve already started. After putting together this little round-up, I’ll tell you one thing…I’m having a hard time narrowing down what kind of pie(s) I’m going to bake this year!

Top 5 Thanksgiving Worthy Pies ~ Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownie Pie, Salted Caramel Apple Pie, Chocolate Pecan Pie, Sliced Sweet Potato Pie, Cherry Pie | {Five Heart Home}1. Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownie Pie, photo & recipe by Inside BruCrew Life

2. Salted Caramel Apple Pie, photo & recipe by Sally’s Baking Addiction

3. Chocolate Pecan Pie, photo & recipe by The Kitchen Sink

4. Sliced Sweet Potato Pie, photo & recipe by Southern Living, via My Recipes

5. Cherry Pie, photo & recipe by Gimme Some Oven

(To pin or grab the recipes, be sure to click through to the original sources!)

And if you need some inspiration for making a perfect, buttery pie crust to go along with one of those amazing pies, I put together a little tutorial for you earlier this week…

Fool-Proof Flaky Butter Pie Crust

Fool-Proof Flaky Butter Pie Crust | {Five Heart Home}

{Behind the Scenes at 5HH}

Before I move onto what’s been going on around here, I have some happy news to share. Drum roll, please…

Starting in November, I’m going to be contributing a monthly post over at Love Grows Wild! Now if you’ve never visited this fabulous blog, you are simply missing out. Liz is all about sharing scrumptious, family-friendly recipes

Pecan Crusted French Toast by Love Grows Wild…awesome (but totally doable) DIY projects and crafts

DIY Mini Wood Pallet by Love Grows Wild …and all sorts of clever tips and tricks!

How to Decorate on a Budget by Love Grows WildAnd it doesn’t hurt that her photography is stunning (she even has a shop where you can buy some of her food photography!). Once you hop over to Liz’s site, you’ll totally see why I’m thrilled to be a part of her new team!

Speaking of the Love Grows Wild contributor team, I’m honored to be in the company of some pretty awesome ladies, and I would be remiss not to mention them here today.

I’m one of two recipe contributors for LGW. The other is the talented Amber of Dessert Now, Dinner Later. As a culinary graduate and a busy mom, she knows her stuff! I mean, who wouldn’t want to devour this Pumpkin Vanilla Cinnamon Roll Sheet Cake?

Pumpkin Vanilla Cinnamon Roll Sheet Cake by Dessert Now, Dinner Later There are two fabulous craft/DIY bloggers on the team as well. Ashley, over at Cherished Bliss, is the queen of DIY, crafting, sewing, crocheting, cooking, and so much more. I mean, how terrific is this wooden arrow tutorial?!

DIY Wooden Arrows by Cherished BlissAnd Rachel, of Maison de Pax, has an incredible knack for turning her house into a home one impressive furniture makeover, crafted detail, and room transformation at a time. Her amazing taste is evident in her home tour, where many of her projects are showcased.

Home Entryway by Maison de PaxPlease be sure to visit these ladies for some inspiration! I promise…you’ll be happy you did!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In other exciting news on the homefront, we officially have a walker!

Walking_700pxOf course, that means she’s into everything and I can’t take my eyes off of her for a second! This week she became my self-proclaimed photography assistant as I was trying to take pics of this salad. Those avocados didn’t stand a chance!

Photobomber_700pxAnyway, she’s so proud of herself, and Mama, Daddy, and her big brothers are pretty proud of her, too.

Speaking of the big brothers, they had fun dove hunting with Daddy this month.

DoveDummies_700pxAnd that middle child? He turned 4 a couple of weeks ago! His big party is tomorrow, but he was thrilled on his birthday to receive the “BIG TRACTOR!!!” that he’s been obsessing over for months now.

4YearOldBirthdayBoy_700pxIn addition to heavy machinery, this boy is also slightly somewhat completely infatuated with lawn equipment. I think this weed eater from his aunt and uncle may have even trumped the tractor.


{GIVEAWAY: One of My Favorite (Kitchen) Things!}

Because it’s Friday, and because you read/scrolled through all of the above to get to the end of this post, and because I’d like to celebrate the fact that we have almost 500 Facebook fans (!!!), I think a little giveaway is in order, don’t you?

Today I’m giving away a jumbo bottle of one of my all-time favorite kitchen staples. As in, I seriously couldn’t bake without it. As in, I have been recommending it to everyone I know for years. As in, it’s the “secret ingredient” that makes my cookies and cakes so tasty. In fact, I waxed poetic quite a bit about it when I posted my very favorite vanilla cupcake recipe. Say hello to the best vanilla extract ever.

NielsenMasseyVanillaGiveaway_700pxI’m telling you, Nielsen-Massey is the Dom Perignon of pure vanilla extract. Once you try it, you will never again buy another brand. The huge, 32-ounce bottle that I have in my pantry is running low (after a full year…I bought it last November!), so I decided that when I order a new bottle for myself, I’d like to order one for one of you, too!

I so appreciate all of you visiting and reading and following Five Heart Home, and this is a very small way for me to express my thanks. I wish I could send a big ol’ bottle of vanilla to all of you, but since I can’t, I hope you’ll enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance (or several chances) to win!

The giveaway is over. Thanks to everyone who entered, and

congratulations to our winner! Check your e-mail, Annemarie D… πŸ™‚

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, everyone! Have a great weekend, and once again, thanks so much for stopping by!

This giveaway is sponsored by Five Heart Home. Nielsen-Massey has never heard of me, but I loved their vanilla long before this blog ever existed. πŸ™‚



  1. I have never tried Nielsen-Massey before, but now would be a great time! Vanilla type cakes, and brownies are one of my favorites for vanilla. I did everything but the Facebook section on the Rafflecopter. I don’t have my Facebook account any longer.


  2. Thanks so much for all the inspiring ideas and treats!! I had already pinned your pie crust when you first shared it…now just to make it!!!
    Thank you! Ashley

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thanks so much for the pin, Ashley…hope the pie crust turns out great for you when you make it! Happy Friday!

  3. Samantha, you are absolutely the sweetest for this post! I am beyond flattered that you showcased some of my work! And I’m sure the other contributors will be pretty fluffed as well : ) And YAY for baby girl walking now!!

    I have never used that vanilla, but girl I would put it to good use! My Mom always taught me that if the recipe calls for a tablespoon of vanilla, you fill that spoon up and let it pour over the sides because while a little vanilla is good, a lot of vanilla is better! Lol so we go through a lot around here! Great giveaway!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thanks for the sweet words, Liz! I was more than happy to share y’all’s great blogs…I think my readers will really enjoy them! And if you’re big on vanilla — I totally agree with your mom’s philosophy, by the way πŸ˜‰ — you’ll love Nielsen-Massey. To me, its flavor is head-and-shoulders above the rest! Hope you have a great weekend!

  4. Yay for fun pies…I have been brainstorming some new ones to try out. Thanks for sharing one of mine! And congrats on the blog gig. Liz is a great friend of mine. She is crazy talented and lives super close to me πŸ™‚

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Can’t wait to see what new pies you come up with, Jocelyn…yum! And yes, Liz is amazing…I’m so honored to be working with her. How fun that y’all are practically neighbors! πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for stopping by…hope you have a great weekend!

  5. Debbie Caraballo says:

    Yes, I’ve used Neilsen-Massey vanilla many times – and it’s THE best. Love love it..


    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Isn’t it great, Deb?! I’m excited to share it with a lucky winner, and I’m so glad you entered the giveaway…good luck!

  6. NMV is absolutely to….die….for! I’ve abandoned my loyalty once when I received two jugs of pure extract from Mexico, and I am almost out! I hope this is a sign πŸ™‚

  7. I am so excited to get to know you more! : ) So excited we get this opportunity to work together. And those pies looks absolutely delicious!! : )

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thanks, Ashley! I’m really excited, too! Hope you’re having a great weekend…thanks so much for stopping by!

  8. What a fun giveaway! I’d love to win. I don’t think I’ve used that brand before, but I use vanilla ALL the time in just about everything! Staple in my kitchen for SURE!

    Thanks for checking out my Caramel Apple Fondue & Basic Homemade Caramel! Happy you stopped by πŸ™‚

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      I totally agree, Yvonne…I think vanilla makes just about everything better when it comes to baking! Thanks for hopping over and entering the giveaway! πŸ™‚

  9. I’ve never tried this brand before, but I LOVE quality vanilla. I even like to mix a little with Kahlua and pour it over ice cream… Yum….

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      I like the way you think, Rachel…sounds like my ice cream has been sorely missing out all this time! πŸ˜‰

  10. I’ve used this brand of Almond extract, but not Vanilla. I would use it in everything from oatmeal to cookies to flavoring my coffee. Yum! Great giveaway!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thanks for entering the giveaway, Ariean! I haven’t tried NM almond extract, but I’m going to have to change that!

  11. I love VANILLA…I can’t wait to try this…I put Vanilla extract in everything I bake…thanks for sharing!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      If you already love vanilla, you will be amazed at how great this brand is! Thanks for entering…good luck!

  12. Brandy Williams says:

    I haven’t tried this vanilla before but I LOVE putting vanilla in almost everything I bake!!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      You will love this vanilla, Brandy…if you couldn’t already tell by all of my rambling in this post, it’s my favorite. πŸ˜‰ Thanks so much for stopping by!

  13. Brandy Williams says:

    AND Oh my goodness do your boys remind me of mine and your little princess is just adorable!!!

  14. Hi, I found your great recipes for making my own syrups to add to the coffee bar I am building. I also discovered your obsession with vanilla while reading so I had to take a look at it.

    Like you, I also wanted a better vanilla but living where I do in the country there isn’t a large choice available at the grocer, it’s mostly junk that I see there and what is supposed to be pure sitll has water in it along with the alcohol or it’s just plain junk chemicals.

    When I was over in the big town 1 hour drive from home I came across some “Organic Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla Pure Extract with 35% Alcohol at the local Sam’s Club. I have a 16 fl ounce bottle that I paid something around $14 for and it has the exact same ingredients as the Nielsen Massey you like so much. I wonder now what the comparison between the two would be on a side by side test? I guess I won’t be finding out anytime soon because I won’t be ordering the Nielsen Massey because I would never get both used within a two or three year period, lol. I just don’t use vanilla that often but now that I will be making my own syrups for my coffee bar I just might use it at a faster pace.

    I don’t usually have syrups here because I don’t like all the junk that is in them and refused to pay for all that junk too. We don’t have one of those big coffee houses very close either unless 10 miles is close to some folks, lol. Because of this we just don’t get the awesome flavors we would like so you have definitely helped bridge that gap for me. My new coffee bar is gonna be awesome and I am excited to offer it to my friends and family when they visit.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Your coffee bar sounds awesome indeed, Suzy…what lucky friends and family you have! Thanks so much for sharing the tip about finding such great vanilla at Sam’s. I don’t currently have a membership there but my in-laws do, so I may have to see if they can pick me up a bottle. I’d love to do a side-by-side comparison with my beloved Nielsen-Massey… πŸ˜‰

  15. Oh and I forgot the Thank You, somehow deleted that part of the comment.

    FDA information regarding Pure Vanilla Extract and what it requires to call it “Pure” has piqued my interest in the requirements to call it “pure”.

    Nielsen Massey answered in their FAQ on their webpage linked below what the definition of “Pure” means.

    Here is Nielsen Massey’s answer to the question on their FAQ page. In it you will see the words click here twice but you won’t be able to click them so I will add the links to copy and paste into your own browser so you can view them if you would like.

    Q: Why do you call your extracts “pure”?
    A: While “pure” is a wonderful adjective that describes our beliefs about food and food ingredients, the use of the word “pure” in this sense is actually a classification by the FDA. The FDA dictates that pure vanilla extract must contain 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans per gallon of liquid and be 35% alcohol. The agency also limits the permissible ingredients beyond beans and alcohol. If interested, click here to read the FDA’s definition and here for the FDA’s addendum on how to determine the 13.35 ounces.

    FDA’s Definition of Vanilla Extract

    FDA’s Addendum on how to determin the 13.35 ounces.

    I find this Vanilla stuff interesting to say the least, thanks for opening my mind even more regarding it. I had even looked into buying the beans to make my own but decided I didn’t want to wait so long to be able to use it so I didn’t buy them, lol.

    What gets me to thinking is that FDA says there has to be 35% alcohol in the extract to be considered pure. I have what I thought was pure extract because the label says it is and the brand is McCormick. It was the only one I could get that didn’t have a bunch of chemicals in it and thought at least it’s pure. The ingredient list is as follows, VANILLA BEAN EXTRACTIVES IN WATER, AND ALCOHOL (41%). I wonder what they mean by Extractives? Hmm!

    This 16 ounce bottle is also sold at Sams Club and I have a half bottle of it left. I bought it before they stocked the Better Body Foods brand but it seems to me if it has water in it then the flavor is probably diluted. I am looking forward to a taste test between the McCormick and the Better Body Foods brand of Vanilla.

    Thanks again!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      You are truly a wealth of knowledge when it comes to vanilla extract, Suzy! Thanks for sharing…I’ve learned a lot tonight and I’ll definitely be paying more attention to the labeling on the vanilla bottle from here on out. Have fun with your experimenting and taste testing! πŸ™‚

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