Thursday, June 20, 2013

Week 24- Just Four Ingredients

This week we celebrated Father's Day so I let my husband pick his pie.  I was surprised when he picked one from the "Sleek" section of the Martha Stewart pie book (the ones that are likened to The Little Black Dress of pie-LOL)

All I have to say is "Thank you Martha"- this was a super easy, and super yummy chocolate and coconut pie.  Seriously 4 ingredients, that's it. And for one of my readers, it's gluten free so you will definitely be seeing this again.

One note- you should plan to eat the whole  pie in the day or so after it's made (this is not one of those pies that gets better over time, it just hardens into a rock.)

Coconut and Chocolate Pie
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Chocolate and Coconut Pie Recipe

4 tablespoons softened butter
11 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (it's suggested to use 61 percent cacao.  I cheated and used 60% chips because I was feeling lazy.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, process butter and 1/3 of coconut. Transfer to a medium bowl.  Mix in the rest of the coconut and combine with fingers.

Press coconut mixture into pie plate.  Cover edges with foil or a crust protector until center begins to brown- about 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove foil and then cook another 5 minutes.  (Note, I cooked my crust a lot longer than this, almost 30 minutes in total to get a reasonable amount of browning in the center.)  Cool crust.

Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan.  Pour over chocolate in a heat proof bowl.  Let sit 10 minutes and then stir until cream and chocolate are combined.  Pour into coconut crust and let chill.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Week 23- The Particular Sadness of Lemonade Pie

Ok, so I totally stole my post title from the name of a book.  For those who don't get the reference, the real title is The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.  I read it a while back and all I can remember about the book is that it was sort of the same story as Like Water for Chocolate, except that the main character can taste the feelings of the person who prepared her food.  Heaven help her if she lived in my house...

One other thing about the book was that the lemon cake was a lemon cake with chocolate frosting which I thought was a really weird combo- more on this later.

Anyway, this week was a bittersweet week.  My oldest graduated from preschool- and while this may not seem like much, I have been overwhelmed by waves of emotion that my little girl is growing up.  It feels like just yesterday that I was holding a little baby and now she's this entity with friends of her own.  Soon she'll be ignoring me and rolling her eyes at me.  Sigh...

So I made a pink pie to cheer myself up.  A frozen pink lemonade pie with pink coconut on top. At least I thought it would cheer me up.

Until my husband offered to help with the crust while I put the kids to bed.  I should have known something was up when he offered to help of his own volition.

When I came back he had done two things differently than I would have.  One was very smart: he made a graham cracker crust in the pie plate and then pressed a second pie plate on top to flatten the crumbs into a perfectly even crust.

The second thing was a good idea, but not for this pie.  He mixed chocolate graham crackers and regular honey graham crackers.  Now this would have been great for a chocolate cream pie, but this was a LEMONADE pie.  As I mentioned above, I think lemon and chocolate is a weird combo. And trust me, my husband and I have discussed this ad nauseum since he made the crust.

All I'll say is that if either of our feelings went into the taste of that pie,  it would have been a much worse pie.  In the end it was generally tasty, but I couldn't get over the slight chocolate taste in the crust (and it was slightly gritty).  But I will keep the tip on flattening the graham cracker crust and I sure did like the pink coconut!

Pink Lemonade Pie
Adapted from The Prepared Pantry
Pink Lemonade Pie Recipe

1 graham cracker crust- preferably a non-chocolate one :)
1 8 ounce packet of cream cheese
1 14 ounce can of condensed milk
3/4 cup pink lemonade concentrated (just the concentrate, not mixed with water)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Red food coloring
1/3 cup shredded coconut (this really wasn't necessary but it sure was cute)
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix the cream cheese in a stand mixer until it is softened and then add in the can of condensed milk. Slowly add in the lemonade concentrate and the lemon juice.  If you want add, in red food coloring until you get to the desired color.  Pour the mixture into the pie shell and put into the freezer.

Put the coconut in a plastic bag with a few drops of food coloring (make sure you close the bag people.)  Shake until your coconut is pink.

Whip the cream with the sugar and the vanilla.  Top the frozen pie with the cream and coconut and put back in the freezer until you are ready to eat the pie.

I took a picture but the camera is MIA, so will post when I find it!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Week 22- A Vision of Apricots Dancing in My Head

Dance, dance, dance.  This weekend was all about my daughter's ballet recital.  It's amazing how much planning goes into being on stage for 10 minutes! I have to say the instructor was very smart and put my little ballerina in an ensemble piece with much older ballerinas.  A real tutu outfit and dancing with big girls?  Can it get any better when you are 4?

Gratuitous cute ballerina photo

After watching scads of peach and apricot clad ballerinas dancing around, I was inspired to make an apricot pie.  (For the record, my sister had also brought some apricots over a few weeks ago and the girls went crazy for them.) I've never had apricot pie, so I didn't know what to expect.

What a delicious pie!  We actually ate a few of the apricots that were bought for the pie, so we could have used a little more fruit, but this was a delicious, fresh-tasting pie.

Old Fashioned Fresh Apricot Pie
Adapted from Diana's Recipe Book
Link to Apricot Pie recipe

2 lbs fresh apricots
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brandy (the recipe called for apricot brandy, but I used regular brandy)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca
1/4 teaspoon salt
Double pie crust

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Combine apricots, vanilla and brandy in a large bowl.

Combine sugars, cinnamon, tapioca and salt in another bowl.  Gently stir the sugar mixture into the apricots.  Let stand 15 minutes.

Roll out crust.  Spoon filling into crust then make the second set of dough into a lattice crust (my husband decided to the do the lattice crust since the last time I made one it was ridiculously ugly!)

Place pie in the oven (on a cookie sheet) for 10 minutes.  Reduce oven to 375 degrees and bake for 40-45 minutes.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Back to Pies I Don't Like

So this week was the dreaded rhubarb pie. 

And why is it dreaded?  Well let's do a little word problem based on a childhood "incident":

2 slices of strawberry rhubarb pie + copious amounts of chocolate milk + lots of bouncing around = disaster and a lifelong queasiness whenever the word "rhubarb" is mentioned.

(Completely off topic, but one other thing I think of when I hear "rhubarb" is my roommate from years ago in Boston.  Her name was "Rubab" but in Boston everyone thought she was just dropping her "r".  She received a lot of mail/messages for " Rhubarb"  which we found amusing to no end.)

When I started the pie project, I told myself that I would not, could not make rhubarb pie.  But whenever I mentioned the project, inevitably someone would ask if I was making rhubarb.  Apparently it's a well-liked pie and one that is hard to find.

And rhubarb is grown all over my part of Connecticut.  So in the interest of using local fruit, I felt like I had to make one.  But neither I, nor my husband, wanted to eat the pie- and my kids were skeptical of any fruit that so closely identifies with celery, so we needed to expand to a wider audience.

We hosted a Memorial Day BBQ and provided rhubarb pie.  I have to admit I tried a piece of the raw rhubarb and nope, still don't like it.  (And I also had a moment of panic when someone told me that raw rhubarb is poisonous, which for the record it is not, it's the leaves that are poisonous.)

I will admit, while the crust is homemade, my husband was in charge of the crust start to finish (I was busy making salads.) All my taste testers said it was yummy- and it did look good.  Perhaps they'll comment!

Here's the recipe:

Rhubarb Crumble Pie
Adapted from The Kitchn
Recipe for Rhubarb Crumble Pie

1 prepared pie crust
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 3/4 pounds fresh rhubarb, cut into 3/4 pieces (this was about 10 stalks)
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons cornstarch

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, almonds, brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  With your hands, work the butter into the mixture.  Put in fridge.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

In a mixing bowl, combine rhubarb, sugar, cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  Toss to coat the rhubarb.  Transfer the mixture to the pie shell. 

Scatter the refrigerated crumble mixture over the filling.

Place in oven for about an hour (until the top is bubbling and the crust is brown.

I went with the coconut bars to the right...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Week 20- A little slice of coconut heaven

I am way behind in my posts, so this will be a quick one.

My mother had heard about a book called "The United States of Pie" which has regional favorites from all over our fair land and she suggested I take a look at it.  I found a copy at the library and settled on a Southern favorite, coconut cream pie, for my 20th pie.

Well, let me tell you Adrienne Kane knows how to make a coconut cream pie.  This was filled light and sweet with a perfect amount of coconut flavor (although there didn't seem to be a lot of coconut in the actual pie.)  Big thumbs up on this one!

Now my husband travels a lot for work, but he is usually around on the weekend when I make pie.  Unfortunately for him, the weekend of the coconut cream pie, he was on a plane (and thankfully far away from the devastating tornadoes out West.)  Which left me home with a whole delicious pie.  I could have shared with friends, but seriously the pie was just too good.  I promise folks, I will make this one again and share next time.

Coconut Cream Pie
Adapted from "United States of Pie" by Adrienne Kane

1 Graham Cracker Crust

1 1/2 cups lite coconut milk (which is just under 1 regular size can)
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 egg yolks, beaten
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar
(Note, I used a KitchenAid mixer so I made a larger quantity of whipped cream)

Combine coconut milk and whole milk in a medium sized saucepan and bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat.  Remove from heat and stir in the sugar until it dissolves.

In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the milk mixture with the cornstarch and stir until smooth.  In a small bowl, combine another 1/2 cup of milk mixture with the egg yolks and salt.  Add both the cornstarch and the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan and stir in remaining milk mixture.  (Now I misread this and split the milk mixture in half and did the two steps rather than use 1/2 cup of the milk mixture.  It didn't affect the recipe at all.)

Return the saucepan to medium heat and cook the milk mixture, stirring constantly until it boils.  Reduce the heat to low and cook about 2 minutes until the mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in the butter and the vanilla.  Fold in 1/2 cup of the toasted coconut, reserving 1/4 cup for the topping.  Pour the pudding into the pie shell and cover with plastic.  Chill for at least 4 hours.

When ready to serve, whip the cream and confectioners' sugar.  Cover the chilled pie with whipped cream and the reserved coconut.


Incredibly delicious...

Friday, May 17, 2013

Week 19- Put the Lime in the Coconut...

Happy Belated Mother's Day.  I had a lovely day with my husband and the girls!

For this weekend, I decided to make a pie I would enjoy to celebrate Mom's Day.  A few of you know that I have a MASSIVE collection of recipes I've saved from a variety of sources.  But even I didn't realize that I have had some of these recipes for a very long time.  The recipe I used is apparently from the August 2000 issue of Good Housekeeping- and it's actually clipped out of the magazine.  Which leaves me to wonder 1) Why was I reading Good Housekeeping 13 years ago when I was footloose and fancy free?  and 2) How did this recipe survive all the moves? For the record I have moved 9 times since I got the recipe.

Whatever.  It survived and I'm glad it did because it was delicious.  I love coconut and lime and this had fantastic flavors.  Much easier and tastier than the key lime pie I made a few months back. And I only had to squeeze 6 limes rather than 24 little key limes. Well, actually I didn't squeeze the limes.  I had my eldest helping me with lime juice duty.  She also helped place the mango on the top of the pie so don't blame me for the aesthetics.  You can see from the picture that we started with a spiral pattern and then things got a little out of hand.

BTW, one other note.  The recipe says you can get 10 servings out of this pie.  I don't understand why anyone would cut a pie in more than 8 pieces.  Of course, I eat pie for breakfast these days so maybe I have a skewed perspective.

Tropical Lime and Mango Pie
Adapted from Good Housekeeping, August 2000 recipe
Link to Coconut Lime Pie

Coconut Crust
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
6 tablespoons cold butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease the pie plate.

In a food processor pulse flour, coconut and sugar until finely ground.  Add the butter and 1 tablespoon cold water and pulse until fine crumbs form.

Sprinkle crumbs in the plate and form into a crust.

Bake about 25 minutes or until lightly golden, covering the crust with foil for the last 10 minutes.

6 limes
1 14 ounce can low-fat sweetened condensed milk
1 8 ounce container sour cream
1 envelope of gelatin
1 ripe mango

Grate 2 teaspoons of lime zest and squeeze 1/2 cup juice.  In a medium bowl, whisk together lime peel and juice with the condensed milk and sour cream.

In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water; let stand for 2 minutes.  Heat over low heat for about 5 minutes until gelatin dissolves. When done, combine the gelatin into the lime mixture.

Set bowl with lime mixture into a larger bowl filled with ice water.  With a spatula, stir mixture occasionally until it begins to mound (about 20 minutes).  Pour the filling into the crust and chill.

To serve, arrange mango slices on top of filling.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Week 18- Looh-ville pie

Sorry for the late post.  I've been swamped with princess parties.  Seriously, I escorted my little princess to three themed birthday parties last week.  My head might fall off if I see another tiara, pink castle cake or  Disney costume in the near future.

My daughter's birthday is coming up next month and I'm very glad to say we're heading towards a different theme- we're having a pony party.  Which is fitting considering my eldest was born in Horse Country USA- Kentucky.  And last week, we had Kentucky on the brain when we sat down to watch the first leg of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby. 

To celebrate the Derby, I made the iconic chocolate bourbon pie that can't be named for trademark reasons.  Although I love the fact that as I searched for recipes people have found a ton of cutesy other names like "Derby Day Pie" or "Run for the Roses Pie" or "Pegasus Pie".  When I searched Wikipedia I discovered this type of pie has been the subject of 25 lawsuits.  And since, I don't want to be #26, I'm just going to call it "Looh-ville" pie.  Or if you're really local "Lul-ville" pie.  ;)

I did have a debate about which nut to use in the recipe because most recipes call for walnuts.  However, I feel that pecans are a little more in the spirit of a Southern pie.  So pecans it was. 

Super sweet and filled with chocolate and bourbon, it's really not the best pie for a warm day.  But you can't mess with tradition!  And this pie was a good antidote to princess overload....

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
Recipe adapted from Southern Living, May 2005
Link to Chocolate Bourbon Pie

Pie crust
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup bourbon (although the recipe says you can use bourbon or water.  I say "HA!" If there is no bourbon there is no reason to make this pie)
4 eggs
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons cornmeal
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Prepare pie crust.  Sprinkle pecans and chocolate chips in bottom of crust.

Combine corn syrup, 2 sugars and bourbon in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.

Whisk together eggs and next 4 ingredients.  Whisk 1/4 of the sugar/bourbon mixture into the egg mixture, stirring constantly.  Add the remaining hot mixture while whisking.

Pour into prepared pie crust and bake at 325 degrees for 55 minutes.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Week 17- Substitute Pie

As you know I planned to do one more "Pie I Don't Like".  However, Mother Nature foiled me.  I had promised myself that I would use local ingredients as much as possible.  Well, because it's been so cold and dreary, the ingredient I needed for the last pie is not out yet.

So I made a quick sub.  I found this recipe for cranberry chocolate nut pie and it just so happened I had all the ingredients on hand.  No trip to the supermarket for me (well, unless you count visiting three different farms earlier in the week to find rhubarb for the MIA pie.)

The other beautiful thing about this recipe is this was a pie used in another person's 52 pie project.  As you can see I'm not even original.  And her pies are much better looking than mine.  So just look at her pie picture and you can pretend it's mine.

The pie was yummy- very dense, boozy, and almost like a cookie bar in pie form.  This is definitely a keeper for a winter pie option since everything is from the pantry- and I enjoyed using up the last of my nuts, white chocolate chips and brandy from other baking projects!

Cranberry Chocolate Nut Pie
Adapted from a recipe on the blog Saving Room for Dessert
Pie Recipe

3/4 cup dried cranberries (I had sweetened on hand so that's what I used)
1/2 cup brandy (you can use orange juice but I had brandy that needed to be used up)
1 single crust pastry
1/3 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts (I used about 3/4 cup since that was all I had)
3/4 cup flour
2 oz white chocolate chips

In a bowl, combine the cranberries and the brandy.  Chill for an hour.  Drain, but save 1 tablespoon of the brandy for the pie.

Preheat oven to 325 and prepare the pie crust.

Combine all the other ingredients.  Pour into the prepared pie crust.

Bake for 65 minutes, loosely covering the pie for the last 30 minutes.  (I left my pie in an extra 5-10 minutes since it looked like it needed a little more time to bake.)

Cool on wire rack and then enjoy!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Week 16- "Pies I Don't Like" or do I?

I'm usually pretty live and let live about people's food choices.  You like what you like and that's OK.  My one rule for my girls is that they have to at least try everything on their plate.  If they don't like it or don't want to eat more than one bite, that's fine.  And luckily, that's worked for us since I always get compliments on what good eaters the kids are.

But there is one thing that has always driven me crazy- and I have several family members that do this.  They will only eat one preparation of a food.  For example, they will eat tomato sauce, but not tomatoes or tomato juice or anything that has come into contact with a cut tomato.  And I can never remember which type of the food it is that they will eat.  It's all very confusing.

I, however, realized I am a hypocrite.  I do the same thing with one type of food.  Blueberries.  I like fresh blueberries.  They're not my favorite so I don't buy them much but when they're in season or in a fruit salad I enjoy them.

But cooked blueberries.   A totally different matter.  I don't mind blueberry muffins as long as the blueberries don't clump together.  But pies and cobblers are always too sweet and jammy for me.  So blueberry pie was added to the list of pies I don't like.

However, it seems ridiculous to exclude blueberry pie from a list of 52 pies.  And it's one of my taste tester's favorites.  And it just seems un-American to not make a blueberry pie.

I decided to go with a Martha Stewart recipe for blueberry pie since I wasn't feeling very adventurous.  It calls for 7 cups of blueberries.  Now blueberries aren't quite in season yet so they were on the pricy side. So not only was I making a pie I didn't like, I was making an expensive pie I didn't like.

I planned to save a piece for my husband and give the rest of the pie to my taste tester.  We were going away for Spring Break so we wouldn't be around to eat the pie anyway.   Well, I decided to try the pie.  And it was so delicious I ate two pieces. The berries were big and juicy, not jam like at all.  You could really taste the fruit in this pie.  The recipe also called for cinnamon which I thought was a bit odd, but the spice gave a nice warm tone to the pie,

That night, I received this email from my taste tester:

Subject: Dang
Freaking tasty pie- 4 of us agree.

Apparently blueberry has been added to the list of pies to make again!

Lattice-Top Blueberry Pie
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts
Link to Blueberry Pie Recipe

Pie crust (we had frozen some pie dough a while back so I used this for the crust)
2 lbs (about 7 cups) fresh blueberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar ( I used a scant cup so the pie wouldn't be too sweet)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 large egg yolk, for egg wash
1 tablespoon heavy cream, for egg wash
Sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare dough for pie crust.

In a large bowl, toss together berries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and lemon juice. Pour mixture into uncooked crust.

Roll out the lattice top.  Now Martha expects you to make 10 strips with a fluted pasty wheel.  HA!  I got 6 thick strips with a pizza cutter.  But seriously people, pizza cutters are your best friend when making a lattice.

Carefully arrange dough strips, weaving to make a lattice.  (Anyone who has seen my child's braided hair knows that I'm not exactly a master of attention to detail with braiding.  But a "lattice" like structure was made.)  In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and cream for egg wash.  Brush on top of dough.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Now Martha tells you to refrigerate the pie for 30 minutes, but I had vacation packing to do and I skipped this step.

Bake pie on a foil or parchment covered baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees  until the crust begins to brown, about 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake about 55 minutes long (I put on a pie shield at this step.) Remove pie and let cool on a wire rack.

Yes it's ugly and Martha would never let that out of the kitchen, but it sure was good!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Week 15- 1st in the series of "Pies I Don't Like"

Monday night I sat down to post my weekly pie  and I just couldn't do it.  My heart was filled with so much sadness after learning of the senseless attack on innocent people at the Boston Marathon.

 I had called my mother when I found out because years ago we had watched the Marathon together just a few blocks from my house in Boston.  That day will always be special to me because it was an incredibly fun day with my Mom; there was so much joy, so many people who were just glad to be a part of the race whether they were running or cheering.

Yesterday there was no joy.  There was a lot of me sneaking off to check Facebook and email to make sure friends and fellow runners were OK.  There was me making up a "hide your eyes" game for my girls when I turned on the TV (since I wasn't sure what channel we had left it on or what would be shown.) 

Luckily, there were also wonderful stories.  Doctors who ran the race and then stepped up to help the injured.  Spectators who helped people get out of the area.  Bostonians who opened their homes to people who had no place to go in the mayhem.

 My thoughts are with the people of Boston and all the runners who trained so hard and didn't get to finish or may never run again. 

I know the joy will be back some day but it will take a while.  :(

So this was the entry I had planned to post. 

This week begins a short series of "Pies I Don't Like."  When I told my taste tester, Squishy, about the series he asked quizzically "Why would you do something like that???"

Well because I have 52 pies to make and there are some pies I feel like I should make even though I don't like them.  And because perhaps someone else might like them even if I don't.  And that someone could be Squishy.

This one was a request by my sister to make a mocha pie.  And that request came with a recipe attached.  So I figured why not?

Now I don't like coffee AT ALL.  I don't drink it and can't stand the smell of it. But it's my sister and I knew she would like it.  And my husband had some instant coffee in the house after last fall's hurricane when the only way he could get coffee was to have instant made with water boiled on a hot plate.  And I'll do anything to get that coffee out of my house.

The pie is a bit of a cheat.  It's made with pudding and Cool Whip so it's not a real homemade pie.  But I did make the crust from scratch, so I'm counting it.

For the record, I could not bring myself to try this pie.  I really do hate coffee.  But my sister and Squishy enjoyed it and apparently the pie disappeared in a couple days.

Mocha Cappuccino Pie

1 baked graham cracker crust
1 3.5 ounce package of chocolate pudding
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1 cup cold milk
1 container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Combine pudding mix and coffee granules. Add the milk and then whisk.  Fold in 1/3 of the tub of whipped topping.

Chill for at least 30 minutes.  Top with additional whipped topping.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Week 14-Seriously yummy...

Yes, I'm still chomping at the bit to make a fresh fruit pie.  I promised myself I would wait for fruit to be in season, but it's been a long winter.

I found this recipe for White Chocolate Strawberry pie on Tasty Kitchen.  Even though strawberries aren't in season yet, I decided to give it a go.  It also amused me because the recipe uses Cool Whip- something I don't think I've ever bought before.  I'm totally confounding the people who try to find patterns off my Stop & Shop loyalty card, cause this project is making me buy some weird stuff.

The pie was super easy to make, except for one step.  Melting white chocolate.  I usually melt regular chocolate chips in the microwave and the recipe recommends the same.  But white chocolate doesn't melt the same way and both times I tried to melt the chips they got sort of pasty.  I ended up using the melted chips anyway so I had a few "pieces" in the pie, but that was OK.

In fact, both my husband and my older daughter thought the pie was "awesome".  Definitely one to make again- and probably a good one for Valentines' Day with the bright red strawberries on top. (I forgot to take a picture of the pie before it was eaten!)

White Chocolate Strawberry Pie
Adapted from a recipe by Caprice at The Home Heart
Link to the recipe

1/2 cup white chocolate chips
12 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups Cool Whip
1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
Dash of salt
1 prebaked graham cracker crust
1 lb strawberries, sliced (I used less, but enough to completely cover the pie)

Melt 1/2 cup white chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir and then keep microwaving in 30 second increments until completely melted.

Mix cream cheese until smooth.  Then add the powdered sugar until well combined.

Add the Cool Whip, orange juice, salt and melted white chocolate.  Mix until everything is smooth (except for a few white chocolate lumps :)

Spoon the mixture into the prebaked graham cracker crust.

Top with the sliced strawberries.

Note, the recipe calls for an additional 3 tablespoons of white chocolate chips to be melted and poured as a glaze on top.  I skipped this step because I had trouble with the chips and the pie was still delicious!

Chill for one hour and then enjoy!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Week 13- Ricotta Pie

For those of you who don't know me, I'm Italian-American.  I grew up in a town where you were pretty much one of the following: Italian, Irish, Polish or African American (or some combination.)  It always puzzled me when I was a kid reading my history books because everybody seemed to come over to the US from England; by the time they got around to when my folks came on over to the US it was usually about 3 weeks from the end of the school year.

As I moved around, I realized a few things.  Not everyone eats pasta at Thanksgiving dinner.  Not everyone has an Uncle Tony or grew up knowing someone named Fabrizio.  Not everyone had seen the movie "The Godfather" by the time they were 8. 

So, imagine my surprise when I was researching pies for Easter and there is an Italian Easter pie made with ricotta cheese. 

Now when there is something "Italian" that I don't know about, I tend to say "That must be Northern Italian" so as not to sound totally ignorant.  In this case, it might be because my family doesn't bake.  So I called a fellow paisan who is well versed in Italian stuff and asked her if she knew of this pie.  To which she responded, "You mean it's a pizza pie with ricotta?"  OK, so I'm not the only one who doesn't know about this.

I figured I would try it.  And the description said it was like a cheesecake pie, so how bad could it be?

Let's just say, this is not a pie that will be a family tradition.  It was OK, very dense and it had a sort of curdy texture due to the ricotta.  For some reason I thought it would be smoother, more like a cannoli filling.  I used a nip of Amaretto in it (you see, I really am Italian, I like Amaretto) which gave it a nice flavor.  The "crust" wasn't a true crust, it was more like the crumb-like bottom of a cheesecake.

Even the Easter bunny would pass on this one :)

Ricotta Pie
Adapted from the King Arthur Flour website
Ricotta Pie Recipe


1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 2-3 graham crackers)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup almonds
pinch of salt
3 cups ricotta cheese (I used whole milk, but the recipe says you can also use part skim)

6 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Amaretto liqueur, optional (it's not optional for me!)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter the pie pan.
-To make crust, process graham crackers, sugar, almonds and salt together.  Pour crumbs into pan to make a "crust".
-Mix the rest of the ingredients together.  Pour into the "crust".  At this step, my mixture looked really liquidy, but it set up well in the oven. I also had a good amount left over.
-Bake the pie for about 45 minutes.  Use a thermometer to make sure the inside of the pie has reached 160 degrees.  The pie will look unset at this point, but that's OK.
-Let the pie cool for an hour and then put it in the fridge.

Buona Pasqua all! :)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Week 12- Key Lime Pie

This week, I received a request for a pie and since I didn't have anything planned, I decided to make it.  The request comes from a person I will call ""Squishy" (and no, I was not the person who made up that alias, nor is this person my husband.)  Squishy loves all things citrus and so he asked me to make a key lime pie.

I looked online at Martha Stewart's website and made my shopping list.  Off I go to the supermarket to buy a bag of key limes.  I looked at the bag and thought, "God, what else am I going to make with all these limes?" Little did I know then that each key lime only has about 5 drops of liquid in it.  I used up all 24 limes to get the amount needed for the recipe.  My composter is now filled with little lime carcasses.

As I settled down to make the pie, I decided to use my hard copy volume of "Martha Stewart's Pies & Tarts".  But I quickly realized that the recipe online and the recipe in the book are not the same.  I didn't have the right ingredients.  So I decided to go with the online version.  That Martha, she's tricky.  You've got to stay on your toes to keep up with her.

I did add one thing to the recipe.  After last week's green pie, I decided my key lime looked anemic and added the rest of the tube of green food coloring.  Don't hate me.

All in all, the pie was easy and tasty.  Sadly, Squishy thought the pie was too tart (perhaps I should have only used 20 limes), but everyone else who tasted it thought it was yummy.

Key Lime Pie
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Television
Key Lime Pie Recipe

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons sugar
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup key lime juice
1 tablespoon key lime zest (I forgot to zest the limes, so I did not include this in my recipe)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

-Heat oven to 375.  Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter and 3 tablespoons sugar.  Mix well.  Press into pie plate and bake about 12 minutes.  Cool
-Lower oven to 325.  Whisk together condensed milk, egg yolks, lime juice, and zest.  Pour into cooled crust.
-Return pie to oven and bake about 15 minutes.
- Before serving whip cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Spoon over cooled pie.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Week 11- Grasshopper Pie

Happy St. Patrick's Day! And happy belated Pi Day! 

In honor of both holidays, I decided to go retro for another week and make Grasshopper Pie.  Now I'll be honest with you- I've never had a piece of Grasshopper pie so as I read through recipes, I wasn't sure which one to pick. 

But then I remembered watching an episode of Nigella Lawson's show where she made the pie.  God, how she makes everything look so effortless.  Boil marshmallows, no problem.  Whisk cream by hand, sure.  Oh Nigella.  You even make eating leftovers from the refrigerator in your bathrobe look good.  I, however, have a window in my kitchen that lets me know that when I (clothed in my pajamas) decide to snack straight out of the pie plate late at night, well, I just look sad and desperate.

Oh well, back to the pie.  Here's the thing about Grasshopper pie.  It's basically a drink in a crust.  Which meant I had to go to the package store with 2 kids in tow and fork over $15 for liquor I will never use again. Sigh....

Also, look at this picture of my bottle of crème de menthe.  Notice anything?

It's not that unholy green that it's supposed to be.  Thank goodness I had a full tube of green food coloring.

The pie was actually really easy to make. Except for the crust which I found confusing.  Every recipe called for some equivalent of Oreos (actually Nigella's original recipe calls for bourbon biscuits which I have no clue about.)  But even after reading people's comments, it's still unclear to me whether you leave the cream center in the cookies when you make that crust.

So I defaulted  to the  chocolate graham cracker crust I used for the red velvet pie a few weeks back (actually I should say that my daughter and I made the crust.  She's getting quite handy at pies).  And seriously, that crust is so good, I want to be buried in it.

The end result- the pie was OK.  It really is just like a minty whipped crème in a crust.

But I do believe in leprechauns now; because even though my husband and I claimed we didn't really  like the pie, it disappeared in the middle of the night. :)

Grasshopper Pie
Adapted from Nigella Lawson
Link to Nigella's Grasshopper Pie

3 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup crème de menthe
1/4 cup crème de cacao blanc
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Green food coloring

Melt the marshmallows and milk over low heat.  Once the milk foams, take off the heat and stir until the marshmallows are smooth.

Pour the mixture into a heatproof bowl, then whisk in the cream de menthe and the cream de cacao.  Leave it to cool (I would suggest putting it in the fridge while you do the next step.)

In a medium bowl, whisk the cream until it has soft peaks then add in the cooled marshmallow mixture.  Whisk in some green food coloring.

Put the filling into your prepared crust and let chill for at least 4 hours.  I would recommend letting it sit overnight since the flavors were much better the next day.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Week 10- Mystery Pecan Pie

I'm not much of a cookbook reader; but I do have a soft spot for flipping through old, vintage cookbooks. I get a kick out of reading how to prepare the perfect relish tray or making deviled "insert a random protein".  My sisters have fueled my habit by buying me books like "Better Homes and Gardens Snacks and Refreshments" circa 1963.  All I have to say is with the amount of space devoted to "Treats to pick you up after 10pm", I realize the 60's were so much more awesome than 2013.  By 10 pm, I'm usually asleep on the couch.

So my sister also directed me to a completely awesome website called "The Mid-Century Menu".
Link to Mid-Century Menu

I love this site. They take all those retro recipes and they actually try them out. Jello molds, chocolate cakes made with tomato soup, frankfurter loaf- stuff that I think must taste like poop, but I'm totally intrigued by them.  And my God, they have a whole section on making cute, white-frosted lamb cakes.  Do you know how badly I want to make one of those?

Well I decided to use one of their recipes for this week's pie.  I have to admit, I am not as brave as they.  I searched all their "best" recipes for pie and came up with mystery pecan pie.  What's the hook?  It's pecan pie with a cheesecake layer.

The other news this week- my husband decided that he could make a better pie crust than I can.  So this week, he was my guest crust maker.  When I asked him what recipe he was using, he had no idea.  I was hoping it would be a miserable flop, but dang if he didn't find the Pioneer Woman's recipe for pie crust and it was yummy. (Although I did have to stop him from using all of the dough from the recipe that makes 3 pie crusts.)

As for the pie, it was delicious.  Except for one thing, it oozed a bit (which gave me flashbacks to the Fudge Pie from Week 3.)  I'm not sure if there is some trick to working with corn syrup or if the corn syrup I'm using has some issues.  It just seems like every time I make something with corn syrup, it's a bit of a weepy mess.

I have to say that one thing I dislike about pecan pie is that it is usually cloying sweet.  The creamy cheesecake layer in this recipe gives a nice balance to the sweet stickiness of the pecan/sugar layer.  Definitely one to try again!

One funny note: my younger daughter is 2 so she's learning how to talk.  Today was the first day that she said "Pie".  I gave her a piece and she ate half of it!

Mystery Pecan Pie- aka Pecan Pie with a Layer of Cheesecake
Link to Pecan Pie recipe
Adapted from the blog "The Mid-Century Menu"
Originally from the 1964 Pillsbury Bake-Off

1 8 oz package cream cheese
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup light corn syrup
1 deep dish 9 inch pie shell

Combine cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 egg. Spread into bottom of pie shell.

Sprinkle pecans over the cheese layer.

Combine remaining eggs, sugar, vanilla, and corn syrup.  Pour over pecans.

Bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

The man crust
Pecan pie

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Week 9- Sweet Potato Pie

It's Week 9 and I'm not even going to lie to you- I don't have a cute story as to why I made sweet potato pie.  I'm just treading water here until I hit some holidays where I can make a themed pie or until yummy fruit season. 

I have to say, when I mention sweet potato pie, everybody's reaction seems to be "Meh".  One person asked me "Why make sweet potato pie? Pumpkin tastes the same and it's a lot easier."  Well, I sort of have 52 pie slots to fill, that's why.  And I actually like sweet potato pie. 

However, I did make one tactical error with timing.  This pie was slated for the same day I promised my older daughter I would make her favorite side dish, mashed potatoes.  After mashing various types of potatoes all day, my right arm is sore.

Getting a little help...

As I reviewed recipes, I decided to go with a sweet potato pie from Joy the Baker.  I really enjoy her blog, but I don't think I've ever made one of her recipes.  This pie intrigued me because a) it was her dad's recipe.  The pie world is all about recipes passed down from moms and grandmas.  It's rare to see male ownership of a pie recipe.  And b) it also features a no- roll crust which I wanted to try.

The pie was really good.  My older daughter actually asked for a piece and deemed it "delicious."  The filling was sort of custardy and a little bit spicy.  The crust didn't look too great- it cooked a bit faster than I expected, but it was tasty.  It wasn't flaky, but thicker and buttery.  I would definitely use it again, but would shield the crust so it didn't brown too quickly.  Also, I wouldn't call the crust "easy".  While you don't need to roll the dough, you do need to grate frozen butter on a cheese grater. Trust me, that's not super easy after you've been mashing potatoes.

Something I wanted to share this week, is a cute little thing I've been doing with my older daughter.  She is learning how to write so for Christmas I bought her a notebook that we keep as her "pie journal".  Each week I write down the pie and make a few comments about it.  Then my daughter writes the pie too (I thought it would be cute to look back at the end of the year and see how much she's progressed.)  Here is this week's entry...

Dad's Sweet Potato Pie
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Recipe for Sweet Potato Pie

2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes (I used 2 large sweet potatoes which was just over 2 cups)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 5 ounce cans evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla

I cut up the sweet potatoes and boiled them.  When they were soft I mashed them up.  Now Joy says there should be no lumps.  LOL- I'm lazy.  There were some lumps.

Measure 2 cups of the potatoes and put in a medium sized pot with the brown sugar, spices, melted butter and one can of the evaporated milk.  Cook on low for about 5 minutes or until it bubbles.  Remove and let cool.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs.  Add the second can of evaporated milk, sugar and vanilla to the egg mixture and stir until creamy.  Pour the sweet potato mixture into a large bowl and then whisk in the egg mixture.  I refrigerated this while I made the pie crust.

Pie Crust

1 1/2  cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup frozen butter that has been grated on a cheese grater
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon cream cheese
2 tablespoons cold milk- (although I ended up adding more milk)

Combine flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. 

Add the frozen butter and the cream cheese to the dry ingredients.  Combine with a fork, making sure that all of the flour mixture is introduced to the liquid.  I used about 4 tablespoons of milk since my mix was too dry.  (This didn't surprise me because I always have to add extra water to my go-to pie crust recipe.)  Dump the dough into a pie plate and press into the pan.  This part was very similar to what you do with a graham cracker crust.

Put the prepared crust into the freezer while you preheat the oven.

When the oven is preheated, add the sweet potato filling to the crust.  I had a good amount of filling that didn't fit into the crust.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees with a cookie sheet inside.  Put the filled pie shell on the hot cookie sheet.  Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then lower the temp to 325 and bake for 1 hour more until the center is raised an puffed.

Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 1 hour.

Note: Joy's dad does know how to make a good pie!

Excuse me, there's a camel in my pie.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Week 8-Presidents' Day Pie

Sorry for the late post this week.  I won't even lie- for the last couple of nights I was caught up watching the Academy Awards and the Fashion Police follow up.  Now you all know my guilty pleasures.

In the past week, there was a lot of celebration of presidents- Presidents' Day, Washington's birthday, Daniel Day-Lewis' Oscar for his portrayal of Lincoln.    And there was the marketing holiday known as National Cherry Pie Day.  Because the cherry growers want you to buy cherries out of season at $12.99 a pound.

In honor of all of these things, I chose to make a delicious cherry-bourbon pie that utilizes jarred cherries.  For those of you who don't know how my logic works, the cherry pie covers the Cherry Pie Day and George Washington's birthday (I mean every one knows the cherry tree story, right?)  The bourbon is a nod to Abraham Lincoln who was born and spent his childhood in Kentucky and married crazy old Mary Todd from Lexington (everyone thinks of Illinois as the Land of Lincoln, but not I.)  And bourbon, my friends is the drink of Kentucky. 

Plus, the recipe description told me it was like making an Old Fashioned in pie form.  And since my kids haven't stepped up to eat these pies, I figured I could make another liquor enhanced pie.

The end result- very yummy.  When my taste testers and I first tried the pie the day it was baked, it was definitely too orange-y.  The orange taste overwhelmed the cherries.  But after a day in the fridge, the orange taste mellowed a bit.  I probably would not add the orange zest the next time I make this since I think that might have put it over the edge.  The crumble on top was lovely- sweet and nutty.

 I used Trader Joe's jarred Morello cherries for this- and they are wonderful.  I probably will buy them again to make a topping for ice cream.  Just beware, I found a couple of rogue pits in my pie.  I promise I will pit my own cherries this summer and make a real fresh cherry pie- cherry pie is my absolute favorite so I knew I'd be making it a couple of times.

Cherry- Bourbon Pie
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine, August 2012
Link to Cherry Bourbon Pie recipe

By the way, I saved this hard copy from Bon Appetit magazine.  The whole article was about setting up a bring your own pie party- a pie social as they call it.  I definitely must consider doing this over the summer!

Crumble Topping
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 pie crust
6 cups pitted sour cherries, drained (this equated to 3 24.7 ounce jars of cherries)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (as mentioned above, I probably would try the recipe with this left out next time)

Make the crumble- mix all the ingredients for the crumble except for the butter.  Rub the butter into the oat mixture with your fingertips.  The butter should stay chilled before baking so I put this back in the fridge while I made the pie crust and assembled the pie.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking tray with aluminum foil.  You'll put the pie on this in case it bubbles over. 

Combine the cherries and the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix until the cherries are completely covered.  Pour into the pie crust and then top with the chilled crumble.  Put the assembled pie on the pie sheet and bake about an hour and fifteen minutes.  The crumble should look golden brown and  the cherries should be bubbly and thick.  Let cool at least 2 hours.

This is not in the recipe, but I would recommend chilling the pie in the fridge prior to eating.  I thought it was a lot more delicious cold than at room temp.

And here is the final result:

BTW, I think it's funny that I bought the Argo cornstarch a few days before the Oscars. I must have known what was going to happen...


Post oven

Tasty pie

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Week 7-Red Velvet Valentine

Many of you who know me, know I've lived ALL around the United States.  And if you had told me I would have spent most of my life after grad school living below the Mason Dixon line, I would have told you that you were crazy. But that's how it all shook down.

One of my favorite culinary things about living down South was trying a whole bunch of desserts I'd never really had before- hummingbird cake, fresh coconut cake and my favorite, red velvet cake. Yum!

When I moved back to the Tri-State, I was surprised to find that red velvet cake/cupcakes were ubiquitous at every bakery.  And as often happens when something becomes that trendy, they weren't really that good.  Yes, the cakes were beautifully red, but a lot of time they were dry and they never had that tang and the cocoa taste I remembered.

So I decided I was going to try to make my own red velvet cake for my last birthday.  I found a recipe, I invited folks over.  I was ready to bake.  And then an inconvenient guest named Hurricane Sandy knocked my power out and left me without an oven for over a week.  When we finally got our power back, I just wasn't excited about making my own red velvet cake.

But I keep seeing red velvet stuff all the time.  So in honor of St Valentine, I decided to make a red velvet pudding pie. 

And seriously, people it was yummy.  And a little scary- after I finished making the pie, my kitchen and the interior of my dishwasher looked like a crime scene.  But honestly, the pie was worth the red splatter. 
I will be honest, my pudding didn't set up perfectly- it was a little on the loose side since I was afraid the buttermilk would curdle (clearly, I'm not a real Southerner as buttermilk sort of scares me.)  But it was spot on for taste and the chocolate graham cracker crust was fantastic- the only bummer was there was no cream cheese frosting.  However a layer of whipped cream made up for that.
I also got a little nervous putting more than a tablespoon of red food coloring in the pie, so I had more of a dark rose velvet than a red velvet- but Revlon should call me, because I created an excellent lipstick shade for them.
This one will definitely be on the make again list but I need to man up on the red dye :)  I invited over some third party taste testers and they gave it a big thumbs up too.
Red Velvet Pudding Pie
Adapted from the website Completely Delicious
1 1/2 cups chocolate graham crackers- I used about 12 crackers
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon red food coloring (as mentioned above I would recommend more if you want a deep rich red)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Whipped cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees,
Prepare crust by processing the graham crackers with the sugar.  Then add the melted butter. Press into the pie plate and bake for 10 minutes. Let the crust cool completely.
To make filling, mix milk, cream, sugar and cocoa in a saucepan.  Heat over medium heat until you get bubbles on the edges.
Now here's the trick.  At the same time you need to whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and the cornstarch.  But make sure you watch the stuff on the stove- apparently my ability to multitask is not so good :)
Once the cocoa mixture is heated, add it to the big bowl of egg mixture, whisking constantly.  Then return the mixture to medium high heat.  Stir the mixture until it thickens-the recipe tells you not to allow it to boil.  I probably heated this for 8 minutes until it started to thicken, but when I got a few clumps I got nervous and removed it from the heat.
Mix in the butter, vanilla and the food coloring.  Then strain the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any clumps- I'm wondering if I removed too much and that is why my pudding never fully thickened.  Pour the mixture into the cooled crust.
Spread whipped cream on top of the pie and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

FYI- this is a tough pie to cut and make it look pretty.  When I tried to pull the knife out, I would get little pink stains all over the whipped cream.

Voila!  Red pie with crumbage...

Can't tell it's red at all...


Messy but delicious!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Week 6- Blizzard Pie

In case you didn't hear, this week we got a little snow on the East Coast.

LOL- and you know you're weatherworn, when you breath a sigh of relief for ONLY getting 20 inches of snow.  At least, that's what I think we got.  It's hard to tell due to the drifts.  I have completely lost my composter bin and my woodpile.  Luckily, I kept the kids and the cat inside or I would probably have lost them too..

Our snowed in deck

This is pretty much what we did through the storm...

I was also smart enough to buy my pie ingredients before the storm- and thankfully the power stayed on so I could bake the aforementioned pie.

This week, I decided to use a recipe from a book that came recommended to me by a friend (thank you Patty!)  It's called the Dessert Bible and it's by Christopher Kimball of Cook's Illustrated fame.  This book is FANTASTIC- hint, hint, if anyone is looking for a birthday present for me come November.  I got distracted a few weeks back and made the buttermilk cupcakes since I had some extra buttermilk sitting around.  They were incredibly yummy and have been added to my "make again" folder which boded well for the pie recipes.

Since my arteries requested a reprieve from Crisco, I decided to go with the diner cream pie recipe with the graham cracker crust.  I made the banana-rum cream pie variation- and yes, the only thing that can make banana cream pie better is rum.

I have to say, I don't really drink rum that often so I only bought a tiny little minibar sized bottle (the recipe calls for only 2 tablespoons.)  But when I measured out the rum it smelled like heaven.  I closed my eyes and for about 20 seconds I was taken back 15 years to a beach in Puerto Rico drinking something that had an umbrella in it.  And then I opened my eyes and saw 20 inches of snow.  Oh well...

As for the pie- fairly easy to make and incredibly delicious.  We made it yesterday and my husband and I have been snacking on it at every opportunity.  It really does taste like a diner pie- a slightly tipsy diner pie.  I would most definitely recommend this one.

The Big One actually came around and helped me with this one.  She was in charge of cutting up the banana slices and she put them in the pie.  She was incredibly proud of herself for this!

Banana- Rum Cream Pie
Adapted from The Dessert Bible by Christopher Kimball
Link to The Dessert Bible

1 Graham Cracker Crust

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
8 large egg yolks (and yes, we had a giant batch of scrambled egg whites this morning)
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 large ripe bananas

-In a medium saucepan, mix 1/2 cup sugar, the salt and the cornstarch.  Add the yolks and 2 teaspoons of vanilla ( yes, it will be a sticky mess).  Slowly pour in the milk and 1 cup of heavy cream, whisking constantly.  Cook over medium heat until it thickens to the consistency of mayonnaise.  I tried to watch how long this took, but I got a little distracted.  I think it was about 8 minutes or so.  But when it did thicken, it thickened very fast to you have to really watch it.
-Remove the mixture from heat and whisk in the additional butter and rum.  Place the custard in a bowl, lay plastic wrap directly on the surface and chill until cold.  (Note, I don't know why you place the plastic wrap directly on it, but I always do this when I make a pudding and have never had any trouble with that nasty "skin" that people get on their puddings.)
- Here's the interesting thing- to make the whipped cream topping, Kimball tells you to chill the bowl and the beaters.  I did it and the whipped cream came out delicious.  Not sure it's worth the step but worth a note.
- Whip the remaining 1 cup heavy cream, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in the chilled bowl.
-Place half the chilled custard in the pie crust, cover with sliced bananas (I actually couldn't fit 2 whole bananas in there, but maybe my little helper cut them too thick!) and then top with the rest of the custard.  Cover the whole pie with whipped cream.
The girls anxiously awaited the results

Not as pretty as a diner pie, but DELICIOUS!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Week 5-(Big) Apple Pie

Exciting going ons this week as the Little One turned two.  Since it was her birthday, we asked her what she wanted for pie.  Now her vocabulary is limited and we sort of stacked the deck with how we asked the question, but she is all about the apple.  She loves apples.  She'll ask for a whole apple and then wander around the house eating tiny little bites from it until she's eaten it about halfway through- then she tosses it wherever she happens to be.  We're still working on speaking and on cleanliness.

It's fitting that she loves apples so much since she was born in the Big Apple on a snowy, icy day. It still boggles my mind that my girl was born a New Yorker.  I've always loved the city so much and my one regret is that I never actually lived there.  I came close once.  I was supposed to spend six months working at NBC, but at the last minute it all fell through and I was sent to Lynchburg, Virginia.  Yes, I'm still bitter even though ten years have passed...

But back to my girl.  She was supposed to be born in New Jersey, but apparently she had no intention of that.  Three months before she was due we found out she had a condition in which her diaphragm did not fully close when it developed.  It may not sound like much, but the effects can be catastrophic- only 50% of babies with this condition survive.  Luckily we lived a short ride away from some of the world's best doctors in New York City.

I will never forget walking into the hospital the day I went into labor.  I had a coin toss chance of walking out of there with a baby.  I remember with my first daughter how I drove myself crazy with all the choices- what stroller to buy, how long to nurse for, whether to sleep train or not. But sometimes all the choices are taken away from you. And I realized then and there what motherhood is all about.  It really is about loving your baby for as long as you have him or her.  It may be 5 minutes or it may be 70 years, but it's as simple (and as hard) as that.

Anyhoo, I'll stop being philosophical. We all know how it ends because the Little One is alive and well.  My kid is a total New Yorker no matter what her zip code says.  She stares strangers down. She's working on her graffiti skills by writing all over my house. She has a strong distrust of farm animals. And she's dated a Yankee (Ok, it was a son of a Yankee and a playdate, but it makes for a good story.)

And she loves apples.  So I made a pie especially for her.

Little G's Apple Pie

I'll be honest, I have no idea where this recipe came from- it's the one I have always used during apple picking season and it's in my handwriting. I'm guessing I probably got it from a friend of mine and just wrote it down.  But it sure is good.

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (I don't actually have a 1/8 teaspoon so I just throw in less than 1/4 of a teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon salt (same as above)
8 baking apples (this time, I used Macintosh and Granny Smith)- peeled and sliced thinly
2 tablespoons butter

- Heat oven to 425 degrees

- Make filling- combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle over apples.  Toss until apples are covered. Spoon filling into unbaked pie shell.  Dot with butter.

- Cover with top crust. Cut slits in top. Brush 2 tablespoons melted butter on top.

- Bake at 425 for 10 to 15 minutes to brown curst.  Then reduce oven temp to 400 degrees and bake for about 40 minutes.

And here's the pie:

And here's the slice my niece cut for herself, topped with whipped crème