Tag Archives: pie

Blueberry Pie in a New Home

Blueberry Pie 3

***DISCLAIMER: If you are just here for the pie, scroll to the bottom of the post NOW. Otherwise, you will be subjected to a long-winded not-pie-related-at-all monologue on our family’s journey this summer from Pittsburgh to Baltimore. Not exactly a physically pioneer-worthy trek, but definitely an emotionally arduous one. So for those who are sticking this post out (i.e. my mother), welcome to the Smith family “What did you do this summer?” post. And yes, there will be pie at the end.

New House

We are officially moved into our new Maryland home now! While we have made a lot of unpacking progress, much of the house still looks like this:

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Two months ago today, we moved out of our Pittsburgh home, wandered around homeless for a month, then moved into our home in Carroll County, Maryland on July 7-8. The morning of July 8 (with movers still hauling in furniture and endless boxes), Brian and Little A left on a Boy Scout backpacking trip along the Appalachian Trail. Middle K also left that day for a 2 ½ week humanitarian service trip to Fiji sponsored by BYU’s HEFY program.  So while Little J and I unpacked, painted walls, rearranged furniture and made endless trips to Home Depot, Middle K lounged on Pacific island beaches soaking up a tan. (Actually she worked really hard in a remote village building outhouse type toilets <that flush>, complete with septic tanks they dug out and installed).

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**LIFE TIP FOR TEENAGERS** When your parents decide to move you just before your senior year in high school (after 14 years in one city, one house, one school district, one set of awesome friends), if you approach the move without throwing tantrums, issuing threats or otherwise making an already difficult move even more painful—if instead, you approach it with grace and maturity (love you Middle K!), you will find your parents much more likely to say “yes” to questions like: can I redo my new room when we move? and the bathroom? can I buy some new furniture? can I go across the world to Fiji and do humanitarian work for the summer?

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So grateful for this amazing daughter who has grown into such an incredible young woman. I am really going to miss her when she leaves for college next year.

Kelsey Mt. Rushmore

During our month of homelessness, I decided to drive with the kids out to Boise, Idaho to visit my parents and sister (who live there) and other sister and her kids who joined us there from Texas. It was great to visit with family and for cousins to get together again. Many thanks to Mom & Dad for housing us all and for fabulous Aunt Myrna who opened up her home to us in Boise and let us hang out at her cabin at Cascade Lake.

Here are a few pics of our trip west. On our way there we detoured north to visit Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone. The drive through the Black Hills National Forest was one of my favorites. On the way home, we went south through Utah (doing college tours with upcoming senior Middle K) and then visited Bryce Canyon before heading east again.

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Mount Rushmore

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Old Faithful: not as impressive as I had expected. And so crowded!

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Boogie boarding the rapids on Payette River. We left with a few war wounds.

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Awesome time hanging out with Grandma and cousins!
(Grandpa too, but he is tough to nail down for a picture)

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It was REALLY hot in Idaho and Utah!

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Saw some temples in Logan and Provo that we hadn’t seen before.

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Bryce Canyon

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While we had a great time touring the country and visiting extended family, it is nice to be settled again, and to not have Brian commuting from Baltimore to Pittsburgh every weekend. Many props also to Brian who stayed in Baltimore working and missed most of these adventures (someone had to bankroll all of this fun!).

While some of us have been road-tripping the US, building toilets in Fiji and working in Baltimore, the other 2 members of our family have been off on their own adventures. Justin is doing a semester abroad this summer in Jerusalem. He gets home this week and will be here for about 2 weeks before going back to BYU.

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Dome of the Rock

And since last October, our oldest daughter, Alyssa, has been serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Berlin, Germany. We got to talk to her on Christmas and Mother’s Day, but mostly we rely on emails and the occasional picture to know how she is doing. So at one point this summer, our 7-person family was spread across 4 countries (and 2 states). That is definitely a challenge for a mom’s heart.

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Rapunzel's CastleAlyssa and Bach

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But enough maudlin rambling: it is time for pie!

Blueberry Pie 1

Little A’s 13th birthday arrived in the middle of this chaotic summer and we celebrated with an awesome blueberry pie. Little A is much more a pie guy than a cake guy.

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And it turns out that in moving from Pennsylvania to Maryland, we are now closer to Amish country! And there is an Amish farm down the road that sells huge ripe blueberries for a couple of weeks in the summer. When I get more time, I can’t wait to go north (about 30-40 minutes, from what I hear) and hit up all of the fresh stuff at the Amish auctions there. My kids are also on the prowl for a great Amish donut place (Soergels: we miss you!).

Blueberry Pie 2

RECIPE:

Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Pie 1

Double pie crust (see recipe below)
6 cups fresh blueberries
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
¾ cup sugar (adjust based on the sweetness of berries)
3 Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbs cold butter
Egg wash: 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 Tbs heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place dough for one pie crust in a DEEP DISH pie plate (for a regular pie plate, reduce amount of filling).

In a large bowl, stir together the blueberries, lemon juice and zest. In a small bowl, mix sugar, cornstarch, flour, salt and cinnamon. Stir into berries and mix well. Spoon into the unbaked pie crust, mounding berries in the center. Dot blueberry mixture with small pieces of the cold butter.

Top with remaining pie crust. Seal and flute edges of the pie crust. Use a sharp knife to cut slits in the top of the crust (for steam to escape). Brush crust with egg wash. Place a large piece of foil on the lower rack on the oven to catch drips from the pie as it bakes.

Cover edges of crust with a pie crust shield and bake at 375°F for 60-80 minutes, or until filling is hot and bubbly (you should start to see filling bubbling from the center slits in your crust).

Double Pie Crust

2 ½ cups flour
1 Tbs sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ cup cold unsalted butter
3 Tbs ice-cold water

Place flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse once. Add butter, in 1 Tbs chunks, and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Add water, 1 Tbs at a time, until dough just barely sticks together. (If you are not using a food processor, grate very cold or frozen butter into flour mixture using a cheese-type grater. Stir with a fork, or pastry cutter, and then slowly add water until dough sticks together.)

Divide dough in half and roll out each piece of dough on a lightly floured surface. If dough is too sticky to work with, place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Top with a second piece of plastic wrap and press with your hands or a rolling pin until dough is a thick disk. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes, then roll again until thin enough to fit pie plate (about a 12-13” in diameter).

NOTE: For information on how to make your own pie-shield, click HERE.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie 2

I have been a less-than-faithful blogger the last several months. Being a single mom during the week for the last eight months (since my husband accepted and started working at a job 250 miles out of town) has really taken a toll on blogging. Plus trying to get a house ready to sell and move. It is scary how much junk you can accumulate when you stay in one house for 14 years. And how many little repair jobs you can ignore. And how you once thought wall paper was a really good idea.

But I hope to get in a few more posts before I am swamped with last minute moving details and the craziness of unpacking in a new house. I am excited to start cooking in this new kitchen in about 6 weeks! This photo is the sole reason that I agreed to purchase a house that I have not seen yet. In a neighborhood I have never been to. If I get this room to play in, who really cares what the rest of the house looks like?!

New Kitchen

Last weekend was our annual church youth camp fundraiser. Along with some Rocky Road Cookies and Snickerdoodle Bars,  I made a couple of these Chocolate Peanut Butter Pies to auction off. And there just may have been enough “extra” filling that couldn’t possibly have fit into the pie crusts and had to be saved in a small bowl at the back of the fridge where no one could see it.

RECIPE:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie 2

Crust:
6oz chocolate wafer cookies (about 2/3 of a Nabisco 9oz package)
5 Tbs salted butter, melted

Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 can (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream

Chocolate ganache:
¼ cup heavy cream
2 oz (about 1/3 cup)  semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
¼ tsp vanilla extract

Whipped Cream Topping:
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs cream cheese, softened
2 Tbs powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract

Candied Peanuts:
½ cup salted dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 Tbs sugar

Crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Crush chocolate wafer cookies in a food processor or blender until finely ground. You should get about 1 ½ cups of crumbs. Melt butter in a medium bowl in the microwave. Stir in chocolate wafer crumbs. Press into 9” pie plate. Bake for 5 minutes (not longer or it will taste burnt). Cool completely before filling.

Filling:
With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, beat 1 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Stir in half the whipped cream to lighten the batter, and then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour into cooled crust. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least one hour.

Chocolate Ganache:
Place ¼ cup cream in microwave safe measuring cup or bowl. Heat for 45 seconds. Stir in chocolate chips. Let sit for one minute, then stir again until smooth. Let  cool until slightly thickened. Spoon the ganache over the chilled peanut butter filling, spreading almost to the edge of the filling. Return pie to refrigerator. Chill until ganache has completely set.

Whipped topping:
Combine 1 cup heavy cream and softened cream cheese (must be very soft, or your topping will be chunky!) in a large bowl. Beat until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until stiff. Spread over top of cooled ganache, spreading almost to the edge of the ganache. Chill pie until firm, about 1 additional hour. (The cream cheese in this topping will stabilize your whipped cream and help it keep its shape even over several days.)

Candied Peanuts:
In a medium skillet (I like to use my cast iron skillet), stir together the chopped peanuts and sugar.  Cook over medium-low heat until the sugar begins to melt. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely melted and begins to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Pour the nuts onto a piece of foil or parchment paper  to cool. Sprinkle top of pie with candied peanuts just before serving.

(Inspired by Zoe Bakes)

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Thanksgiving Dessert: Coconut Cream Pie Bars

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Looking for a non-pumpkin dessert to add to your Thanksgiving menu?

How about a creamy coconut cream pie filling on a shortbread crust with the thinnest layer of chocolate ganache squeezed in, then topped with whipped cream and toasted coconut?!  And since they are so addicting, make them in a 9×13” pan so there are plenty of leftovers for the next day.

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Move over pumpkin pie!

Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

RECIPE:

Coconut Cream Pie Bars

  • Servings: Makes 24 bars
  • Print

Coconut Cream Pie Bars noemptychairs.me 059-1

Crust:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) salted butter, cut into pieces

Ganache:
¼ cup heavy cream
¾ cup chocolate chips (bittersweet or semisweet)

Coconut Cream Filling:
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups (2 cans) coconut milk
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
4 eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon coconut extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cup sweetened, flaked coconut, toasted*

Whipped Cream Topping:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
¼ cup coconut, toasted*

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with baking Pamm (the kind with flour).

Crust: Combine the flour and powdered sugar; cut in the butter using a pastry blender, two knives or a food processor. Press the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 14-18 minutes until the crust is light brown. Cool crust on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Ganache: Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Heat ¼ cup cream in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave for 45 seconds, or until simmering. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let the mixture stand for 1-2 minutes, then stir until smooth. If chips do not completely melt, microwave for 20 seconds and stir again. Pour the chocolate over the bottom of the crust and smooth to the edges. Place pan in the fridge to chill until crust is cooled completely and ganache has hardened.

Filling: Use a whisk to mix sugar, cornstarch  and salt in a large saucepan. Mix in coconut milk, half-and-half, cream, and beaten eggs. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly until it is very thick. If the mixtures has lumps, you can strain it through a fine mesh sieve. (If you whisk diligently while cooking, you will not need to strain the pudding). Remove from heat and stir in the coconut and vanilla extracts and toasted coconut. Pour the filling over the chilled ganache and refrigerate the bars until they are set, about 4 hours.

Topping: With a mixer, whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Spread the cream over the chilled bars; sprinkle with toasted coconut. Chill until ready to serve.

Makes 24 bars

*Notes:

** To toast the coconut, spread coconut onto a baking sheet and bake at 325°F, stirring every 5 minutes for about 15 minutes, or until light brown. Watch closely so it doesn’t burn.

** If you are making these bars ahead of time, prepare the crust, chocolate and filling and refrigerate. Add the whipped cream topping just before serving. Whipped cream will begin to get watery if left in the refrigerator for more than a day.

** Halve recipe to make in a deep-dish pie pan or 8×8” pan.

(Recipe adapted from melskitchencafe)

 

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Apple Pie

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Monday nights at our house are “Family Night”. This is a definite No Empty Chairs event in our home. We work very hard to keep everyone’s schedule clear on Monday nights. Family Night is a time when we gather together for some good old fashioned family fun and bonding. Everyone has an assignment on Family Night and it rotates weekly. Assignments include everything from saying a prayer, to choosing a song, giving a short lesson or message, choosing the family game, to everyone’s favorite: making a treat. This week it was Brian’s turn to make the treat, but he is usually pretty good at delegating this responsibility (for which everyone is grateful, or we would be eating microwave popcorn whenever his turn came around). As he is also still recovering from the effects of swine flu, I took on his treat responsibility this week.

I recently bought a bushel of apples from a produce auction (many thanks Cynthia!), so we have been trying out some fun new apple recipes. The recipe for this pie comes from Dawn Viola, a winner in this year’s Crisco National Pie Championship for her Vanilla-Vanilla Bean Roasted Apple Pie. (Which is kind of funny, because she uses no shortening in her recipe!) I simplified and modified it some for the dessert I made tonight (I will try it again another time when I have whole vanilla beans). The resulting pie was wonderful: a filling of cinnamon spiced apples  that was not too runny and an especially flaky all-butter crust.

The secret to making the dough flaky is to keep your ingredients and equipment as cold as possible. Dawn suggests putting your ingredients, bowls and food processor blade in the freezer for 15 minutes before starting.

To make the pie crust, combine the chilled flour, sugar and salt in a food processor; pulse to mix. Add butter cubes and pulse  until the mixture resembles coarse meal with pea-sized pieces of butter. Add the vinegar (cold) and vanilla extract and pulse to mix. Add one tablespoon of water at a time (make sure it is ice-cold), pulsing until the mixture begins to hold together. If you pinch some of the dough, it should stick together in your hand. Add more water if necessary. Dough should be slightly crumbly, but hold together when pinched.
Divide the dough into two equal parts and shape into two  round discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

I got a lot of help with the apple filling. LittleJ loves to help out in the kitchen! She is now my official apple peeler.

DSC01515Peel and slice about 12 apples (8 cups of sliced apples). Preheat your broiler. Place apples, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons brown sugar in a roasting pan; toss apples to coat.

DSC01505 Broil until the apples begin to brown. Watch carefully so that your apples don’t burn. Stir once or twice. Remove apples  from the oven when they have begun to brown, but are not completely cooked through. Stir in the remaining sugar,  flour, Clear Jel and salt. Add the vanilla extract, apple cider and cream; stir. Set aside.

To assemble the pie, place a 9” pie plate into the freezer. Remove the pie crust dough from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 5 – 10 minutes, or just long enough for it to become easy to roll, but still chilled. Roll dough into a 12” circle on a lightly floured surface. Place in the bottom of the chilled 9” pie plate. Return to the refrigerator to chill. Roll out the second piece of dough into a 12” circle on a lightly floured surface.

Remove pie plate from the refrigerator. Fill with apples. Dot top of apples with 2 Tbs butter. Place top crust on top of the apples and pinch the top and bottom  edges together to seal. Flute edge, if desired, and make a few air vents around the top of the pie. I used a cute little maple leaf cookie cutter to make my vents.

DSC01509 Lightly brush the top and sides of the pie with an egg wash. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake at 400° F for 30 minutes. Cover edges with aluminum foil or a pie shield if edges are browning too quickly. Cook for another 15 minutes. Check pie every 7-10 minutes, cooking until the crust is golden brown and flaky.

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Cool pie for at least two hours before cutting and serving. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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RECIPE:

Apple Pie

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 All-Butter Pie Crust (for double pie crust)

Filling:
8 cups peeled, cored, sliced apples (about 12 Granny Smith)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar
3 Tbs flour
2 Tbs Clear Jel (or 1 additional Tbs flour)
1 tsp salt
½ cup apple cider
1 tsp vanilla (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped)
1 Tbs heavy cream or ¼ cup sour cream

Egg Wash:
1 egg
1 Tbs cream

Coarse sugar

Prepare pie crust as directed for a double crust.

Filling: Preheat the broiler. Add apples, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar to a roasting pan; stir. Broil until the apples begin to brown. Watch carefully so that your apples don’t burn. Stir once or twice. Remove apples  from the oven when they have begun to brown, but are not completely cooked through. Stir in the remaining sugar,  flour, Clear Jel and salt. Add the vanilla, apple cider and cream (or sour cream); stir. Set aside.

To assemble the pie, place a 9” pie plate into the freezer. Remove the pie crust dough from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 5 – 10 minutes, or just long enough for it to become easy to roll, but still chilled. Roll dough into a 12” circle on a lightly floured surface. Place in the bottom of the chilled 9” pie plate. Return to the refrigerator to chill. Roll out the second piece of dough into a 12” circle on a lightly floured surface.

Remove pie plate from the refrigerator. Fill with apples. Dot top of apples with 2 Tbs butter. Place top crust on top of the apples and pinch the top and bottom  edges together to seal. Flute edge, if desired, and make a few air vents around the top of the pie.

Gently whisk the egg and cream in a small dish. Lightly brush the egg wash over the top of the pie and along the edges. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake at 400° F for 30 minutes. Cover edges with aluminum foil or a pie crust shield if edges are browning too quickly. Cook for another 15 minutes. Check pie every 7-10 minutes, cooking until the crust is golden brown and flaky. Cool pie for at least two hours before cutting and serving. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

All Butter Pie Crust

  • Servings: Makes a double pie crust
  • Print

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2 ½ cups flour
3 Tbs sugar
2 tsp salt
1 ¼ cups unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 Tbs white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped + 1 Tbs vanilla powder)
6-8 Tbs ice water

Chill ingredients, bowls and food processor blade in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a food processor; pulse to mix.Add butter cubes and pulse  until the mixture resembles coarse meal with pea-sized pieces of butter. Add the vinegar (cold) and vanilla extract and pulse to mix. Add one tablespoon of water at a time (make sure it is ice-cold), pulsing until the mixture begins to hold together. If you pinch some of the dough, it should stick together in your hand. Add more water if necessary. Dough should be slightly crumbly, but hold together when pinched.

Divide the dough into two equal parts and shape into two  round discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Remove the pie crust dough from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 5 – 10 minutes, or just long enough for it to become easy to roll, but still chilled. Roll dough into a 12” circle on a lightly floured surface. Place in the bottom of a chilled 9” pie plate. Return to the refrigerator to chill. Roll out the second piece of dough into a 12” circle on a lightly floured surface.

Fill with desired filling and bake as directed in pie recipe.

Adapted from Dawn Viola

 

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