Tag Archives: dessert

Happy 4th and pass the pie!

flagI used to volunteer to work every 4th of July.  There’s a saying we frequently use when referring to the hospital, which is that it’s a “24/7 operation”.  While that may seem like an overly obvious statement to most, to those of us working in healthcare it means two things:  that one shouldn’t feel pressured to finish every little thing before calling it a day (because someone will be coming along after you to continue the work), and second, that everyone is expected to work some holidays.

I quit volunteering to work on the 4th of July, however, when my in-laws retired and made their eastern shore house their permanent home.  The celebration became more of an event after that.  These days, family flies across the country to be there and you can always count on plenty of steamed crabs, fireworks, and beer.

crab pots cracking crabs

tubing fireworks

The idea to make this pie to bring to the celebration came about because of an abundance of sweet, plump blueberries from the CSA.  I used a mixture of strawberries and blueberries because that’s what I had on hand, but any combination of berries or single berry will do.  I used Heidi’s pie filling recipe, adapting it only slightly, because I appreciated that it used only brown sugar and promised not to be too sweet.

You owe it to the fresh berries to make a homemade pie crust.  This one is quite buttery and flakey, but uses absolutely no lard.  If it’s a little dry (as mine is occasionally), follow the advice of a master, Jacques Pepín, and roll the crust out between two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment.  This should work nicely.

more pieBerry Pie

for the crust:

16 Tbsp. cold, unsalted butter (cut into pieces)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1/2 tsp salt

3-10 Tbsp ice water

Place flour and salt in a food processor bowl fitted with a metal blade.  Pulse until  nickel-sized clumps begin to form.  Add 3 Tbsp ice water and pulse again.  Check your dough.  Is it dry?  Does it form a dough ball?  Chances are you will have to add more water.  Add ice water, one Tablespoon at a time, pulsing in between and checking the dough.  You will probably end up adding about 6 Tablespoons or so in total. Pull the dough out and form a ball.  Roll in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Remove dough from refrigerator and separate into two balls, one slightly larger than the other.  Place the smaller ball back in the fridge until ready to use.  Sprinkle some flour on the counter and place the dough ball on top.  Sprinkle some flour on the dough and roll with rolling pin, rolling 2-3 times, lifting moving the dough, then placing it back down to roll some more.  Frequently moving the dough around while rolling will help keep the dough from sticking to the counter.

Alternatively, a technique I recently began to use is to put a large piece of parchment paper on the counter, sprinkle with flour, put the dough on top of the paper, and place another equally large piece of parchment on top of the dough ball.  Roll your dough out through the parchment to about a 12-inch round.  Don’t worry if it’s not perfect.  Peel back the parchment and use the bottom parchment to lift, flip and center the dough circle over a 9-inch pie tin.  Peel back the bottom piece of parchment and gently push the crust into the form of the pan (save this piece of parchment).  Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect-you can pinch and patch as you go.  Flute the edges of the crust.

Remember that piece of parchment I told you to save?  Lay it across the crust in your pie tin.  Now you need to weigh it down.  You can use a bunch of copper pennies. I liked to use beans,  Make sure they are spread evenly across the bottom of the crust.  Bake the crust until it just starts to turn golden and crisp, about 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and make your filling while it cools.

Turn oven temperature up to 425 degrees.

for the filling:

2 pounds of berries (blueberries, blackberries, huckleberries or any combination.  You may also use a combination of up to one pound of strawberries with a darker berry to equal 2 pounds)

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour

2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves

1/ cup milk and turbinado sugar (or other large grain or granulated sugar) for sprinkling the crust

Place berries in a large bowl,  add sugar and cinnamon.  Using a fork or a masher, gently mash berries slightly with the sugar to combine.  Fold in the flour and thyme leaves.

Place filling into pre-baked pie crust.  Top with lemon juice and dot with butter pieces.

Roll your top pie dough into a disc as you did the bottom. Gently push the top dough into the crimped edges of the bottom crust.

Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the top of the crust with milk.  Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Cut 4 slits in the top of the crust (approximately 3 inches long) to allow steam to escape during baking.

Place pie on middle rack in oven.  NOTE:  You may want to put a cookie sheet lined with foil on the shelf under the rack with the pie to catch the filling if it drips (see my photos).

Check your pie after 25 minutes.  If the outer edge of the crust is browning too quickly, place crimped strips of aluminum foil around the edge and continue baking.

Bake until crust is a deep golden color and filling is bubbling slightly, approximately 45-50 minutes total.

Remove and place on wire rack to cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Will store on countertop up to 3 days.

Lauren eats pie pie berries Amelie eats pie

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Peanut Butter and Pretzel Bars (PB&P’s)

PB & PI know…another dessert-y thing.

But I’ve been under the weather this past week and many of you have asked for this recipe.  I made these several weeks ago for a party after my son’s piano recital and they were a huge hit.  Who can resist the chocolate/peanut butter combination along with the saltiness of the pretzels?

I adapted the recipe just slightly, substituting my beloved dark chocolate instead of the milk chocolate called for in the recipe.

peanut butter and pretzel bars, from No Bake Makery by Cristina Krumsick

*I doubled this recipe using a 9″x 13″ inch pan

3 cups salted mini pretzels

1 cup salted creamy peanut butter

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup packed, light brown sugar

10 tbsp (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 Tbsp coconut oil (or additional butter)

Line an 8 x 8″ baking pan with foil, coat with non stick spray. Set aside.

Roughly crush 2 cups of the mini pretzels, either by pulsing in a food processor, or buy putting them into a sandwich bag and crushing them with a rolling pin.

Combine the peanut butter, butter and sugars in a small bowl, then stir in the crushed pretzels. Press this mixture evenly into the lined pan, and chill for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips and the coconut oil (or 1 Tbsp butter, if using) on the stovetop in a double boiler, stirring almost constantly until just melted.  Remove from heat and pour over your pan with the peanut butter mixture.  Spread with a spatula.

Tap the pan against a hard surface to even out the chocolate a bit more.

Place 16 mini pretzels evenly in a grid pattern on top of the chocolate (they’ll be your guide for cutting the bars). Place back in refrigerator or freezer until set.

Lift the foil out of the pan with the bars, peel the foil off, then using a sharp knife, cut into squares.

Store in refrigerator or freezer.

Casey’s chocolate and beet brownies

beet brownies

My son and his friend drifted upstairs from the family room where they had been playing video games.

“It smells so good in here.  What’re you making?” Continue reading

on playing hookie

Did I spell that correctly?  I guess so, since autocorrect remained silent on the matter.

You read correctly.  This week I’ve got nothing new for you.  I’d love to say that since the CSA started that I’ve been banging out new and wonderful recipes, or that I’ve got a bunch of posts queued up for you, but that would not be the truth.

Rather than sit here and whine about how busy or uninspired I’ve been, I’ve decided to serve you pie.  Click on each title to view the recipes.

Happy pi day, plus one.

Fiercely Fresh apple pie

apple piechicken pot pie

chicken pot pieplum almond tart

plum almond tartapple hand pies

apple hand pies

Be someone’s Valentine

In the opening of the movie, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, the main character gives the opinion that Valentines Day is a “holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.”

For a long time, I agreed with this sentiment and refused to celebrate.  “I don’t need a declared day to show my love”, I protested.  “I won’t give in to another commercially fabricated holiday”, I cried.

Through the years I softened my view on this a bit.  Valentines Day isn’t just a day for romantic love.  It’s a time when people wonder about the hearts of others and themselves.  If you’ve ever been to a children’s class Valentine party, you’ve no doubt observed how each card exchanged is carefully read and cherished.  People are nicer to each other in general.

A little sweetness is never a bad thing, people, so get on out there and FEEL THE LOVE.

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lemon coconut macaroons

1-14 ounce package flaked coconut, preferable unsweetened

4 large egg whites

1/2 cup slivered almonds

3/4 cup unrefined sugar

1 tsp lemon zest

1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine everything except the egg whites.  Add the egg whites to this mixture, combining well.

Form balls from approximately 2 tsp of dough and drop onto prepared cookie sheet.  You can use a cookie scoop, but I use my hands to shape the balls (this can get a little sticky).  You don’t have to space them much on the cookie sheet, as they will not spread.

Place cookie sheet in oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until cookies are set and starting to brown a little on the tops.  Remove from oven and cool completely.

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Side note:  At Christmas time, I make a variation of these cookies called inside-out Almond Joy cookies.  Simply omit the almonds from the mix.  unwrap a bag of Hershey almond kisses and mold the coconut dough around each kiss, forming a ball. Make sure the dough is firmly snug around the kiss.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

mom’s brownies

This week!  Am I right?

Our family made it through Hurricane Sandy unharmed.  We never even lost power.

It saddens my heart to watch the news and see what some folks in the upper east coast states are having to endure.  Many have lost much and so many people are still in the dark.

Jenn over at Jenn Cuisine has asked food bloggers to unite this week and post a recipe that “you would make for someone in need, to help them feel at home”…a comfort food, if you will.

The initial recipes that came to mind were chicken pot pie or this chicken soup.  And of course, everyone likes pie.

Continue reading

apple hand pies

As I sit and start writing this post, Hurricane Sandy is paying us a visit.

An uninvited guest, she imposes herself with pounding rain and wind gusts the likes of which I’ve never seen or heard.

We have moved the lawn chairs indoors and we have placed the potted herbs snug against the house.  We’ve purchased bottled water, as well as beer, in case of extreme emergency (we have our priorities!).  The batteries have been replaced in the flashlights and camping lanterns.

We have hunkered down and snuggled in.

Continue reading