Triple Berry Pie

triple berry pie-1triple berry pie-2Last night I had an inspiring conversation with my friend, Ashley, where we spoke of our frustration with “keeping up appearances” with our photography, Facebook, Instagram, whatever it is that we somehow feel compelled to keep going in order to please our various audiences (mostly those audiences just include my oversized ego.)  I had said that this blog was suffering because while I have been cooking pretty much every meal over the last few months and some of those meals have been really good (like mozzarella stuffed rice balls rolled in panko and fried), I just haven’t felt like taking our meals’ pictures.  And then she said, “Do it because you enjoy the process…remember life before the internet?”

Remember life before the internet?

Well, I do, even though a lot of “kids these days” don’t. And what I remember is that we just…did things. All the time. And no one knew about it. No one saw it. We did crafts and went outside and ate burritos without ever documenting the occasion. And I seem to remember enjoying life before the ever present, all-encompassing documentation of all the things in life.  No one in their right mind would spend valuable money on film to take a picture of their cup of coffee…every day.

But I WOULD have liked to share recipes I really love. And I would’ve written the recipes down on cute little cards and maybe even take a photo and put it in a book or send it to a friend. That, I would have done and those are going to be the types of recipes I share on this blog.

Like this pie. I had a brief moment of modern-woe yesterday in which I wished I had made it prettier so that I could’ve blogged about it. Shoot. It’s delicious – who needs it to be picture perfect?! I went all hodgepodge with the top crust instead of doing something perfectionist and I put lots of heart cut outs because I have little girls. So there you go. And I was super proud of the results. Perfect juice in this pie – not runny, not dry! No soggy crust – flaky throughout and super buttery and slightly grainy (in a good way).  I used a white whole wheat and added a bit of extra sugar for the crust and it gave the entire thing this hearty cornmeal-esque effect. Loved it. It’s perfect. And I think there was something to using all frozen fruits. So I can’t vouch for this if you use all fresh, although I bet you’d just have to adjust bake time. Whatever you do, try it. And take a picture to share with your friends if you want, but remember to just enjoy the process.

Thanks, Ashley. 🙂

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Eleanor waiting patiently while I did something utterly confusing to her… triple berry pie-4 triple berry pie-5 triple berry pie-6 triple berry pie-7

Triple Berry Pie

3 1/2 cups mixed frozen berries – I used blueberries, blackberries and raspberries
1 cup sugar
3 TBS flour (I used white whole wheat)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 sticks of butter (8 oz) cut into tiny cubes and reeeeally cold
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 TBS sugar

Deep dish pie plate (if you don’t have a deep dish, you could easily make two small pies with this recipe)

For the crust, combine one cup of flour in a large mixing bowl and add the salt. With the paddle attachment and your mixer on medium, add all the cubes of butter in little increments until each addition stops beating against the side of the bowl. After all your butter is incorporated, add the second cup of flour and the two tablespoons of sugar and mix on low until well incorporated. Add a splash of icy cold water until the dough comes together. If it feels a bit too wet, add in a little more flour. I think I used about an extra 1/8th cup. Divide your dough into two portions with one being slightly bigger than the other and shape into discs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Roll out the bigger portion and line your pie plate and let it sit in the fridge while you mix up your filling.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Mix the fruit, sugar, 3 tablespoons of flour and cinnamon in a big bowl and let it sit for a few minutes, then stir to incorporate again. Pour the filling into your pie crust, top with whatever fancy shapes, basket weave, self portraits you want, brush with a beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.

Place on a rimmed baking sheet and put on the center rack of your oven. REDUCE the heat to 350 and bake for 1 – 1.5 hours until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. It took mine a full hour and a half because of the frozen fruit, but if you’re using fresh, you may only need 45 minutes until it bubbles.

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Rustic Tomato Galette

rustic tomato pie

Deep Dish Tomato Pie
Deep Dish Rustic Tomato Pie
There’s no better time than the middle of October to post about a beautiful, summery tomato pie. 😛 In my defense, my tomato plants were late bloomers and didn’t really start ripening until the end of September. But I can see this amazing pie going either way: an homage to the bright, sweet, summertime flavors, or being comforting and warming with a depth of rich tomato flavor fitting for the colder months. I can not vouch for this recipe if you use tomatoes from the grocery store, but I would imagine it wouldn’t be half bad, considering the bake time and the way the tomatoes almost go sun-dried in flavor on the top layer. If you do that, make sure the tomatoes you buy are pretty soft and ripe and maybe just stick to Roma tomatoes to be safe.

This pie has a bright, peppery and tangy whole-grain mustard on the bottom of the tomatoes and the smooth, chewy layer of cheese in the middle and then topped with two layers of extra ripe heirloom, beefsteak and Roma tomatoes. I decided to use half whole-wheat flour in my usual crust recipe because whole wheat absorbs more moisture and I knew this pie would be pretty juicy. And it is quite juicy, but I decided to stop thinking it had to be like a tart and started to embrace the tomato for what it is: a fruit to be used in a fruit pie! And every fruit pie I’ve ever had, has an adequate amount of juiciness throughout. Why should a tomato pie be any different? So if you will embrace it, too, I think you will really love this recipe. The flavors are electric. And I hope that you have some good tomatoes left in your garden. And if you don’t, you’re more than welcome to stop by and pick some from mine! Happy October 🙂

Rustic Tomato Tart Rustic Deep Dish Tomato Pie

Rustic Tomato Galette

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Print

1 recipe fool-proof pie crust with half the flour being whole wheat
About 3 pounds fresh tomatoes in an assortment of sizes and varieties
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 cups low-moisture mozzarella (shred it yourself – don’t buy pre-shredded or it won’t melt right)
dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 egg, whipped

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Slice the tomatoes into 1/4″ slices and lay out on paper towel-lined sheet pans. Sprinkle with kosher salt on each side of the tomato and let them sit and drain for a few minutes this way. This draws out excess moisture. Let the tomatoes drain while you handle the crust.

Roll your pie crust out and gently form it into a 10″ cast iron pan, letting the excess hang over the edges. Spread the whole grain mustard evenly on the bottom of the crust. (I used this brand and yes, it looks like nothing but mustard seeds!)

Spread the shredded mozzarella over the mustard and then give the cheese a generous sprinkling of dried oregano.

Arrange the tomato slices evenly over the cheese in an overlapping pattern. Sprinkle that layer with oregano and then finish up with the rest of the tomatoes. Gently fold the overhanging pie crust over the tomatoes. It doesn’t have the be perfect. “Galette” is French for “I stopped caring how this looks.” So you get a free pass. If the crust breaks off, just pinch it back together. Really, this is forgiving and you want the extra crust to be there. It’s a buttery, flaky, tomato-juice-absorbing wonder.*

Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and brush the crust with egg. Bake for an hour, until the crust is golden brown and the pie is bubbling like crazy. Place a sheet of tin foil over the pie and let it bake another 15 minutes. Let it sit for ten minutes before slicing and serving.

*At this point, you can chill your pie overnight if you’re making this ahead. If you do that, increase your bake time to an hour and a half (or even longer – you’re just wanting a deep brown in your crust and an almost caramelized top layer of tomatoes.)

Roasted Green Chile and Tomato Tart

Summer Tomato and Roasted Green Chile Tart
I am not a farmer.  I’m pretty crap at knowing why things die, what I’m doing wrong, why half my plant is brown and the other half is green, etc.  Last year, I all but neglected my tomatoes and they became like sea monsters in size and yielded dozens and dozens (if not with a little end-rot) of tomatoes.  This year, I switched where they were planted and am taking better care of them and they have all tapped out at about 4 feet tall, haven’t continued to grow in height in the last month and we’ve gotten maybe four, medium-sized tomatoes and a handful of cherry tomatoes, and all of them are split down the sides (too much watering).  Sigh.  It’s hard to win at tomatoes.  I’m sure some of you feel my pain.  I want that innate sense of what these plants need, but I am afraid I’ve learned that this instinct is no instinct at all, but trial and error.

The tomatoes pictured were, indeed, from our yard.  And they were, as all backyard tomatoes are, outstanding in flavor, despite their faults.  I will never know how a tomato that claims to be “field grown” at the store can STILL taste like NOTHING, and a tomato you go out and pick from your yard tastes like concentrated tomato paste, x 1,000,000,000.  Maybe it’s what Alton Brown said last week, that a tomato put in the fridge, even for a short time, loses a chemical designed especially for taste.  Whatever the reason, tasting just ONE perfect summer tomato will leave you satisfied for the rest of the year.  I don’t think I can be that enthusiastic about any other produce.  Especially since I’m such a crappy farmer.

Enter: the tomato tart.  Garnished with fresh, roasted, green chilies and a bit of cheddar and Parm, all baked on top of The Crust and a good slathering of green chile and caramelized onion dip.  It was just about as perfect as you can get.  And even if you don’t have a home-grown tomato, just go get one at a farmer’s market this weekend and DON’T refrigerate it and use that.  Or, since we’re baking these tomatoes, go ahead and use a supermarket tomato.  Roasting a tomato brings out great flavor in even the weakest, most genetically modified tomato.  Happy baking!

pre-baked tomato and green chile tart
Roasted Green Chile and Tomato Tart

1 recipe of The Ultimate Pie Crust
1/4 cup corn meal
1 cup green chile and caramelized onion dip
3-4 medium sized tomatoes (such as a Roma-size)
4 fresh roasted green chilies
salt and pepper
cheddar or Parmesan cheese, if desired

Get your pie crust rolled out and pressed into a 13×9″ tart pan, or like I did here, a half sheet pan.  Trim off the excess (and you will have some) and refrigerate the pan for about 30 minutes, while you get on with everything else.  Preheat oven to 450.  Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights – I use a bag of dried beans over and over for this purpose.  I even keep them in a bag labeled “Pie Beans.”  Bake the empty pie shell for 20 minutes, remove the weights and parchment and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the crust is golden on the bottom.  Set aside to cool.

Whip up a quick onion/chile dip if you don’t have time to make the full recipe by pureeing 4 ounces of cream cheese, two tablespoons of olive oil, a large garlic clove, two roasted green chilies and a tsp of salt in a food processor until smooth. Spread this mixture onto the bottom of the tart.  Then, sprinkle the 1/4 cup of cornmeal over the dip.  This will help absorb the juices from the tomatoes and chilies so you don’t have a soggy crust.

ingredients
Slice the tomatoes and chilies thin and layer onto your crust.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  I shredded up a tiny bit of leftover cheddar and Parmesan on top of mine and loved the result.  I think it’d be good without it.  Reduce your oven to 375 and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the tomatoes look slightly shriveled and bubbly.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream (really – it’s awesome) and enjoy!

Green Chile Tomato Tart

 

Thai Tea Pie – Happy Pi Day!

Pie Tea
Have you ever had Thai Tea?  That smokey, campfire, roasted marshmallow tasting tea at Thai restaurants that they pour a luscious amount of heavy cream over top and it slowly drizzles down into the tea, creating a creamsicle effect?  It’s amazing.  It’s odd.  It’s unique and it’s unforgettable.  We had the epiphany the other day while we were at one of our favorite Thai places in town and they had Thai Tea cupcakes on display at the counter.  We had to try one, of course, and as we were eating, Matt said, “If this was a pie, it would be Pie Tea.”  I love a good pun and I loved the idea even more.  I knew it would work!  So today, on Pi Day, I tried it!  I simply substituted the sugar called for in a basic custard pie filling with Thai Tea mix and poured it into my favorite pie crust and baked it for an hour!  It was amazing!  Topped with fresh whipped cream to mimic the heavy cream poured on top of the traditional drink, this has become a new favorite creation.

I hope you venture out to your local Asian market and pick up a mix and try it out for yourself.  It’s super easy and really unique!  I’d say the taste isn’t exactly as campfire as I’d hoped, and it’s a bit watery (not sure why – I bet there’s very little troubleshooting online for using a tea mix in your pie) but it’s definitely got the burnt caramel/cream effect and of course, the crust holds up.    🙂

Happy Pi Day!

Thai Tea Pie Tea

 

Thai Tea Pie

1 unbaked pie crust
4 eggs
1 cup Thai Tea mix
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 cups whole milk
1 egg white for brushing the crust

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Roll out your pie crust and fit into a deep dish pie plate (you’ll have a little leftover if you use my recipe).  Mix all the ingredients together and whip until well blended.  Pour into the pie shell and place pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake for 50 minutes to a little over an hour.  It’ll puff up a bit and then it will settle once it cools.  Top with whipped cream and enjoy yourself!

 

Candied Apple Pie – a family recipe

slice of candied apple pie

My brother in law, Justin, is pretty amazing with a pie plate.  He’s been known to ship his cherry pies across the country just because someone requested it.  I tasted one the first year he was married to my sister in law, Julie, because he mailed one to us in Tulsa for Thanksgiving since he and Julie couldn’t come and were stuck working in Atlanta.  It was amazing and it made me doubly glad he married into the family. 🙂  He is a man of many talents and you’d never expect this hunter/carpenter/plumber/electrician type guy to be a whiz with baking, but he is!  And he loves it and you can tell.  There’s a pride in what he bakes that can literally be tasted.  Matt and I feel so fortunate that we have two more enthusiastic hands in the kitchen around the holidays in Justin and Julie.  We’re a family centered around the table with forks in hand!

This recipes was one he made over the Christmas break.  He first made a candied cherry pie and followed that up with this candied apple pie, which was so beautiful and rustic, I had to take pics and then, I had to have the recipe after I tasted it – amazing.  I know pie season is over and New Years Resolutions are done, but if you have room in your heart for one more pie this winter, make it this one.

candied apple pie

Candied Apple Pie
makes one, 10″ pie

For the crust:

2 1/2 cups flour
2 sticks of butter, very cold and in small cubes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup ice water, more or less as needed

In a stand mixer, add the first cup and a half of flour, the salt and sugar, and gradually beat in the butter by small handfuls until each addition is pretty well incorporated.  When all the butter has been added, add the last cup of flour and mix slowly to combine.  Add tablespoons of water until the dough just comes together when pressed between your fingers.  Wrap the dough in a plastic bag (I use a bread bag) and flatten out into a disc and let chill for at least 30 minutes.  When ready for the pie, take it out of the fridge and let it warm up a bit on a lightly floured counter space for about ten minutes, and then divide the dough, not exactly in half, but let one half be a bit bigger than the other.  You’ll use the slightly smaller half for the top of the pie.

For the Filling and Assembly:
3-5 lbs Granny Smith apples (or any firm, tart apple), cored, peeled, halved and sliced thin
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick of butter (8 tbs)
1 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 egg white

In a 10″ cast iron skillet melt the butter and add the brown sugar. Stir until brown sugar is dissolved.  Set aside.

Peel and slice the apples (this little gadget is worth buying!). In a large mixing bowl,  stir 1 cup granulated sugar with the cinnamon and mix in the apples. Set aside.

Roll out the bigger of the two pie crusts and lay into the skillet, on top of your brown sugar/butter mixture.  Fill crust with apple mixture.  Roll out the smaller crust over the top and crimp edges and and trim any excess. Cut several single blade-width vent slots. Baste top with lightly whipped egg white then sprinkle with white sugar. Cook at 350 degrees for one hour.

Serve right out of the pan with ice cream or wait a bit for it to cool and the caramel in the bottom will be extra gooey.  It’s up to you.  If the bottom seems to be sticking and won’t come out, simply warm the skillet on a burner over low heat until the caramel melts and you can remove a slice.

Enjoy!

skilled apple pie

Homemade Pizza with Duck, Sage and Dried Cherries

Duck Sage and Cherry Pizza

It’s Use Up the Leftovers Before the Christmas Road Trip Day!  This can be a fun little game and can even force you into being more creative than usual.  I love leaving an empty fridge before a big trip.  Helps to not have Ghosts of Dinners Past to greet you when you get back.  When the holidays are over, I want to move forward.  I don’t want to stare at a pan of bread pudding in the fridge.  I want to start fresh!

I had a bit of leftover duck terrine from Sunday (another wonderful recipe from Homemade Winter), a few sage leaves and dried cherries and thought that would be a great pizza combination.  It was, indeed!  We also made a pizza with leftover ground beef, goat cheese and sauteed leeks, and one with Matt’s favorite combo: Parmesan, pistachios and rosemary.  I made my trusty tomato soup and we dunked our pizza crusts in it, and had a wonderful “Pre-Christmas” lunch together before heading off tomorrow to spend a week going here and there and everywhere!

I’d recommend instead of the duck terrine, which I am 99.9% sure you don’t have in your fridge, that you just use any good quality ground sausage.  The combo of sausage and sage and cherries is classic and works no matter what.  For the sauce, just use a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle Parmesan cheese all over the crust before topping it.  I put the sage leaves on during the last few minutes of cooking so they wouldn’t burn, and I positioned some plain mozzarella over the cherries so they wouldn’t burn, and it worked out great.

For the recipe, I’ll include a link to Matt’s perfected pizza crust, which makes 3 medium sized pizzas, and I’ll let YOU raid your own fridge for the toppings you so desire!  Here are some fun combinations:

  • Corn, chorizo and potato
  • Ham, cheddar and scallion
  • Canned tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and sliced garlic
  • Leek, goat cheese and bacon
  • Broccoli, alfredo sauce, bacon and parmesan
  • Asparagus, red onion and manchego

The fun is in the leftovers you find.  Don’t limit yourself to “normal” toppings – you never know what great combinations you could create!

Sage, Duck and Cherry Pizza

S’mores Pie

S'mores Pie

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope you did, too!  I got to spend it with my whole family!  Both my brothers came down with their children and with them and my parents, there were 16 of us bedding down in our old childhood home! I got to see my grandmother and my sweet Aunt Mary, too!  I really don’t think I’ve seen that much family in one weekend in several years. It was good for the soul and I don’t feel like I even overate as much as I usually do, which enabled me to enjoy the heck out of this pie I created on Friday night.

S’mores pie!  When we showed Olive s’mores for the first time this summer, we made them with dark chocolate.  I loved the balance the dark chocolate gave to the super sweet marshmallow and graham cracker.  So when thinking of a pie to make for Thanksgiving, I thought of doing the darkest chocolate pie I knew how to do and topping it with my favorite meringue and then torch the heck out of the top.

Best.  Chocolate Pie. Ever.

Seriously, if you want to win some kind of chocolate pie award, this is your pie.  Make it with a traditional crust and serve it with soft whipped cream and that is all you’ll need for ultimate bragging rights.  I nearly skipped out on the meringue, but I wanted that dramatic torched effect so I went with it.  I think if I were to do this pie over, I would give it more s’moresy flavor by just dumping a bunch of marshmallows on top and burning them to a crisp.  Because I’m that s’mores gal – the one who likes to eat slightly sweet bits of char instead of marshmallows.  I’d say most people aren’t like this or don’t have a coal deficiency or whatever, so I erred on the side of not-too-burnt.  The results were great and I will definitely make this pie again at Christmas!

torching the smores pie helping torch the pie
My nephew, Landon, helped me torch it!

aerial s'mores pie

S’mores Pie

2 eggs, beaten
1-5 ounce can of evaporated milk
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 TBS cocoa powder
1 TBS instant coffee granules
3.5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup butter
2 TBS corn meal
For the crust:
1 and a half packages of graham crackers, crushed fine (12 large)
2 TBS sugar
4 TBS butter, melted
2 TBS water
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar, salt and butter until it’s well combined.  If it doesn’t hold together when you press it between your fingers, add the tablespoons of water.  Press into a 9″ pie plate and set aside.
Combine the eggs, evaporated milk and sugars until smooth.  Put the cocoa powder and instant coffee in a small cup and add a tablespoon of water and whip it into a paste.  Whisk this paste into the egg/milk mixture.  Melt the dark chocolate and butter together in a microwave at 30 second increments, stirring after each time until completely smooth and glossy.  Add the chocolate and butter to the egg mixture and then whisk in the corn meal until smooth.
Pour into the pie shell and place your pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the middle doesn’t jiggle anymore.  Let the pie come to room temp before making the meringue!
For the meringue:
5 egg whites, room temp (room temp is important)
1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup water
Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil till the temp reaches 250 on a candy thermometer.  While it’s boiling, put the egg whites in a mixer at medium speed and beat with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form.  When the sugar is up to temp, remove from heat and while the mixer is going on medium, drizzle the syrup in a very thin stream until completely incorporated and then increase speed to high and whip until the bowl cools down.  This takes a while so be patient.
Assemble!
Dump ALL the meringue on top of your ROOM TEMP pie and with a blow torch (such a great addition to any kitchen) or a dainty creme brulee torch (not as fun) torch the meringue until evenly browned.  If you have neither, you can brown it in the oven under the broiler but you have to be VIGILANT as to not burn the meringue.  A broiler works scary fast.

Happy Halloween!

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These cute little pumpkin tarts took about 30 minutes.  I had leftover pie crust in the fridge, and I only had enough to make three of these little guys.  But that’s all we needed, anyway!  Today was fun – lots of fall-ish events, the festival at the church, trick-or-treating at our friends house, having a greasy bacon cheese burger at Spanky’s – okay, so that last part wasn’t necessarily fall, but I associate that place with football season!

These little tarts could be made with any shape cookie cutter and of course, after tonight, jack-o-lanterns will be out! So use a leaf or circle and cut out some cute shapes – whatever you do, these are seriously fun and delicious!
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Pumpkin Tarts

half a recipe of pie crust (or just store bought – one circle)
1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
3 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Mix the puree with the sugar and spice and set aside.  Roll out your dough, cut into shapes and run your finger dipped in water around the edge of the bottom layer.  Place one to two tablespoons of filling on the bottom layer (will depend how big your shapes are).  Slightly roll out the top layer a little more than the bottom, cut out designs that you wish, and place on top of the filled bottom layer, pressing down the edges.  Brush melted butter on the tops of the tarts and sprinkle with coarse sugar, or any kind of sprinkles!  Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges.

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Sweet Potato Pie with Butter Rum Sauce

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Last weekend we were invited to our friends’ house for a dinner party.  The theme was Cajun and so Matt made a humongous pot of gumbo, which has been many meals this week and is very good, and I made this sweet potato pie that was obliterated by the end of the night and I sadly didn’t have any leftovers for breakfast.  I’m actually glad it got gobbled up because that’s instant portion control. I shared one slice of this pie with Olive, she ate most of it, and I enjoyed every bit.   I had a lady at church last night say, “I’d love to live in your house so that I could eat your food, but then I’d be 7,000 pounds.”  I’m not exactly sure this blog is conveying the truth if that’s the overall sentiment!   I’m also not sure I’m conveying properly the amounts of these foods I DON’T eat.  I made three batches of The Cinnamon Rolls over the course of two weeks and I think overall, I ate two whole cinnamon rolls, maybe three.  But it wasn’t a couple each batch, or “the whole pan” like a lot of people swear they’d eat if they made it themselves at home.  I don’t think people give themselves enough credit.  Of course you wouldn’t eat the whole pan.  How on earth would that be enjoyable to have a stomach ache because of something you baked?  Maybe that’s the whole problem with portion control with indulgent foods.  People get a feeling like they need to “eat the whole thing” to pretend like it never happened, to remove it from sight and further temptation.  They feel “bad” eating it in the first place and so why not eat it badly?!  Whatever the reason, it’s a wrong mindset.  And one I hope to never impose on Olive-that rich foods are somehow bad and we should feel guilty or gain 7,000 pounds for eating them on a weekly basis.

During the week, we eat simply.  Bowls full of beans, rice, sauteed chard and potatoes and steamed fish, beet pasta, roasted carrots, butternut squash soup-that was this week.  These do not make the most riveting blog posts, nor do I always remember to take pictures of “regular” meals.  Perhaps I should!  Maybe it would help balance out peoples’ fear of the occasional pie or butter sauce.  My hope for myself and anyone who loves to cook is that we find a good balance and that we effectively remove all GUILT from eating.  Find a way.  Whether that’s eating smaller portions or just meals made from fresh, good ingredients that couldn’t live in a box if they tried.  Maybe if that was the norm, and eating at home was what we did 6 days out of the week, than a crazy good, gooey brownie on the weekend or a night out at a restaurant would seem like the treat it is, instead of the impending portion of guilt that it’s come to be.

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This pie was light and fluffy almost like a souffle.  It wasn’t overly sweet and so it went AMAZINGLY well with the butter rum sauce I decided to make at the last minute.   I think it would be perfect without the sauce, but it was the gilding of the lily for a festive occasion like a dinner get-together.   I also adore the website I adapted this from – The Gumbo Pages!  That is the best website name, possibly ever.  And the recipe was clearly from someone who never had to write it down.  A lot of “approximate” measurements and “about this much” kinda talk.  I love the nature of a recipe like that.  And I love that this recipe came from someone with the nickname “Pie Man.”  Honestly, how can you go wrong with that combination?

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Sweet Potato Pie with Butter Rum Sauce
makes one, 9″ pie

3 cups cooked, peeled and mashed sweet potatoes (about 3 medium potatoes)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
dash of salt
1/2 cup sugar

Boil the potatoes whole in plenty of water (covering them by about two inches) for about 30 minutes, until tender all the way through.  Peel them after they’ve cooled a bit and give them a rough dice.  Mix the potatoes in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until they are smooth and very few lumps remain.  Mix the eggs with the cream and spices, lemon juice and vanilla until smooth and gradually mix it into the potatoes.  Add the salt and sugar and let the mixture blend on medium for about 5 minutes. Pour filling into UNbaked 9″ pie shell, bake for 40-45 minutes at 350-325.  Serve with butter rum sauce or whipped cream!

Butter Rum Sauce

1 stick of butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
a few pinches of kosher salt to taste
2 tbs rum

Let the butter melt with the cream and sugar and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Add salt until it tastes right to you – let it take some of the sweetness away and give it some depth.  Add the rum and mix well and serve!

Pot Roast Pies

Pot Roast Pie
It’s official.  I’m in fall-cooking mode.  Bring on the orange vegetables and the slow cooked meats and the braising liquids.  Bring on the pies with custard fillings and mulled wine.  Let the apples stew in cider and the cinnamon sticks abound, we have officially fallen into the best time of year!  I love how the natural seasons for foods are meant to put a little extra meat on your bones to survive the cold winter months.  Even though most of us have climate controlled air year round, I still appreciate the way shopping seasonally will naturally guide you through the year.  I am jumping the gun just a tad, but since the 10 day forecast has us in the 40s at night and the 70s in the day, I’m embracing the way things feel.  I have waiting a long, hot summer to start dreaming of stews and caramelized butternut squash.  I’m ready.

Let’s start with bringing back the Sunday pot roast.  Matt and I want to have that tradition for our family.  Growing up, we both regularly had pot roast on Sunday afternoons after church.  It’s the natural ease of letting something cook on the stove or in a slow cooker while you’re at church.  Mom always make yeast wheat rolls to go with it.  Some of my favorite food memories came from that meal and I will feature her winning recipe on this blog soon!  Matt has made a few amazing versions and I tried a recipe I saw on Pinterest yesterday and it was remarkably easy and very flavorful!  Then, today for lunch, I played with the leftovers and came up with little pot roast hand pies, covered in pan juices.

Pot Roast Pie with Pan Juices

This was a good move in all directions.  Leftover pot roast from yesterday with potatoes and carrots.  Chopped up a few pieces of each component and tucked spoonfuls into the only pie dough worth memorizing and baked.  I didn’t want to add too much of the leftover cooking liquid from the roast inside the pies because I didn’t want them to be soggy as they cooked and leak out everywhere.  So, once the pies came out, I ladled warm, beefy pot roast juices over the pie itself and it soaked up just enough for the crust to not be too dry, yet it remained crispy and flaky and buttery.  Best. Fall. Lunch. Ever.  Too bad the baby wouldn’t partake.  She really missed out.  Too many eggs for breakfast, I guess.  Although, I think on a day when she is super hungry, she will really like this.  I can just see her cute little hands holding a tiny pie.  Ah, well.  Maybe next time!

Sunday Pot Roast Pie

Balsamic Orange Pot Roast*
serves 4-6

4 – 5 Lbs of Beef Chuck Roast
2 cups water
1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbs of Soy Sauce
1 Tsp of Salt
1/4 Tsp of Red Pepper Flakes
3 Cloves of Fresh Garlic – Pressed
Zest of one orange
a few fingerling potatoes
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into 2″ pieces

Put the roast in your slow cooker and surround with the potatoes and carrots.  Mix all the other ingredients together and pour over the roast.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Eat and enjoy and the next day…

The Best Pie Crust Ever
2 sticks of cold butter, chopped into little pieces
2 cups of flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/8 cup ice water

Put a cup of flour in your stand mixer with a paddle attachment and add the salt.  Mix to blend.  Add half the butter by small handfuls, beating on low until all the butter is fully incorporated into that cup of flour.  Then, add the next cup of flour and beat on low until completely blended.  Then, add the water sprinkle by sprinkle until the dough comes together and stays together when pressed with your fingers.  Separate into two discs, wrap in plastic and let chill for at least an hour.  Take out 20 minutes before making the hand pies so they will roll out easy.
2 sticks of cold butter, chopped into little pieces
2 cups of flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/8 cup ice water

Put a cup of flour in your stand mixer with a paddle attachment and add the salt.  Mix to blend.  Add half the butter by small handfuls, beating on low until all the butter is fully incorporated into that cup of flour.  Then, add the next cup of flour and beat on low until completely blended.  Then, add the water sprinkle by sprinkle until the dough comes together and stays together when pressed with your fingers.  Separate into two discs, wrap in plastic and let chill for at least an hour.  Take out 20 minutes before making the hand pies so they will roll out easy.

Assemble!

Take a few components from the leftovers – a bit of roast, some carrots and potatoes.  Chop well!  Heat up the juice from the leftovers on low on your stove.  Roll out your pie dough and cut out 4″ circles.  Fill the circles with 2 heaping tablespoons of roast mixture.  Place another 4″ round of dough on top and crimp the edges.  Brush with a beaten egg and bake at 375F for 30-40 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned.

Place a hand pie into a shallow bowl and ladle a warmed cup of leftover pot roast juice over the pie and serve immediately!

*recipe adapted from The Chic Site