Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Something Good to Have on Stand-By

A brunch with friends was planned for the end of Week 25 and I figured a breakfast pie would be a hearty dish that all of us could enjoy.  The trick for this dish was finding a breakfast pie that did not involve potatoes.  My husband is not a fan of potatoes, and believe it or not, most breakfast pies throw potatoes in the mix.

Earlier in the month I had seen a recipe for a pie with egg, cheese, bacon and potato, so I decided I would do a little modification of my own and make a pie using all but the potato.  In order to make this happen I used portions of the recipe I had found, as well as a recipe I had used in December for Three Cheese and Onion Pie.

I used a parbaked All Butter Crust for this pie.

The filling consisted of small pieces of bacon, a cup of cheese (Mexican cheese is what I had on hand, though any number of cheeses could be substituted here), small amounts of cayenne, salt, and pepper, half & half, and eggs.  The most time consuming part was frying up the bacon before mixing all the other ingredients together.

This pie was tasty, but not a show-stopper.  Would I make this Egg,Bacon and Cheese Pie again?  Yep, but not for a crowd you need to impress.  Thankfully, my brunch was among friends and no one went away unhappy, including me.

Egg, Bacon and Cheese Pie

Should This Even Count?

Week 24 was slipping through my fingers much too quickly and I did not want to take another pie break so soon, so as I was putting the box of Bisquick away, I came across a recipe called the Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pie.  My family needed dinner, I needed a pie, and so here we are.

I feel as though I am cheating a bit since part of this pie comes from a boxed mix, but I have concluded that although I may have been given a head start I am still following a recipe for pie.  This counts, however brainless it may be.

This pie truly does live up to its name, unlike my pie from Week 23.  If you can chop an onion, brown some meat, and stir a few ingredients around in a bowl, then you can make this pie.  It is not only easy, but fast and reminded me of growing up.

Easy, tasty, and I should hardly get credit for baking it, but I am.  

Browning ground beef and onion
First layer: Ground beef and onion

Second layer: Cheese
Final layer: Bisquick mixed with milk and eggs

Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pie

It's All About... Texture, Texture, Texture

If flavor could completely rule out texture, then my Sugar Free Chocolate Cream Pie with Sugar Free Meringue might have been doable.  The flavor of this pie for Week 23, however, did not have that capacity.

For Week 23 I wanted to celebrate a friend and long time member of my church by baking a pie.  Carole's birthday came as she was packing up her life to move to the east side of the county where she would no longer be able to attend our church.  Carole is diabetic, so I promised I would deliver a sugar free pie that she could eat at our next women's gathering.  I found a recipe called the Best Tasting Sugar Free Chocolate Cream Pie from Suite101.com, and based on the name I thought it might deliver the proper results.

Covering hot custard or cream filling with plastic wrap directly on it can help keep the filling from forming a "skin"
Hot filling ready for meringue topping
Whipping up sugar free meringue topping
Beautiful pie with fluffy meringue waiting to be baked
Overbaked meringue on a not so delicious pie.  Bummer.
Sadly, as I have already stated, the pie was not one of my successes.  All of the women gathered that evening were quite gracious toward my disappointing pie, but the truth remains....

The crust was excellent, as I stuck with the All Butter Crust recipe I have grown so fond of using.  The flavor of the filling was decent, but the texture and denseness were, um, let's just say I still squirm at the memory of it in my mouth.  The sugar free meringue topping is also a rather unpleasant memory--both overcooked and strangely textured.

While the company for the evening was delightful and entertaining, the dessert was laughable and will not be 
attempted again.  

Full of Light and Life

The Raspberry Chiffon Pie I made during Week 22 was made for our Easter celebration at my in-laws.  Living in Southern California, the odds that Easter would fall on a warm and sunny day were quite favorable.  I wanted a pie that would not be heavy, as well as a pie that would be full of life and brightness to remind us of the celebration of Christ's resurrection. Upon reading through this recipe from the Summer Entertaining magazine by Cook's Illustrated (Summer 2009), this pie would fit the bill.

The crust for this pie, a pat-in-the-pan crust, is a new one for me.  Along with some of the usual ingredients for crust--flour, sugar and butter--this recipe also called for cream cheese to help stabilize it and keep the juicy raspberries from making a soggy mess of the bottom of the pie.  After mixing up the ingredients for the crust, which looked like loose crumbs, I put the crumbly crust in the pie pan, and pressed them around the base and up the sides of the pan.  Although I placed the crust in the refrigerator, following the directions, I did not leave it in for the full hour as directed because we had to leave for my in-laws.  I did not think taking it out 15 minutes early would make a big difference, but I was wrong!  While baking, the sides of the crust slipped down into the base.  When I pulled it out of the oven, I tried to manipulate the sides of the crust while it was still hot to form into a more attractive crust.  This sort of worked, but next time I will just make sure the crust refrigerates for at least an hour before baking to see if the problem can be solved that way.  Otherwise, I believe there could have been better instruction on this crust, perhaps involving pie weights?

Pat-in-the-Pan crust before baking
Pat-in-the-Pan crust after baking... hmmm... need to try again...
The fruit and chiffon layers were very easy to put together.  Part of the recipe calls for fresh raspberries, but all the stores in our area did not have them in their produce sections (I checked 4 stores!).

Fruit layer added to the crust

Chiffon topping the fruit layer
Whipped topping finishing off the Raspberry Chiffon Pie

Easter pie--light, bright, and full of life

The completed Raspberry Chiffon Pie, apart from its misshapen crust, was exactly what I hoped my Easter pie would be: light, bright, and full of life.  I definitely will be making this one again.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Finding Ways To Be Green

Saint Patrick’s Day kicked off Week 21, and I wanted a pie that would ring in Irish spirit.  Being the only one in my family of four who likes potatoes, many of my savory pie ideas were just not going to happen unless I was to eat the whole pie myself… not likely.  I decided I would capture that Saint. Patty’s day mood, as well as satisfy my ice cream-loving family by making the Easy Grasshopper Ice Cream Pie from Tasteofhome.com.

For the crust, I made chocolate cookie crust, using crushed Oreo chocolate sandwich cookies and melted butter, mixed and pressed into my pie pan.  The filling was mint chocolate chip ice cream, green for Saint Patrick’s Day, softened enough to spread and smooth onto the crust.  To top off this easy pie, I sprinkled crushed peppermint patties, drizzled Magic Shell chocolate ice cream topping, and placed the pie in the freezer to firm up. 

Oreo cookies and butter

Pile on the ice cream

Smooth out the ice cream to fill the cookie crust

Top off the pie with mint candies and chocolate sauce
Easy.  Green for St. Patrick’s Day. Devoured by my ice cream-loving family of four.

Ready to dig in to our St. Patrick's Day pie

When Life Hands You Lemons...

My husband’s all-time favorite pie is Lemon Meringue Pie.  As an alternative to cake and ice cream to celebrate his 33rd year, this pie adventure lends itself to providing him with another one of his favorites.  The recipe for Week 20’s Lemon Meringue Pie comes from the New Best Recipe cookbook.

Fresh lemons make for tart and refreshing filling

Instead of going with the All-Butter Crust which I use in most of my pies, I decided to follow the recipe provided in the New Best Recipe cookbook.  This crust uses a combination of butter and shortening and for this particular pie, adds crushed graham cracker crumbs as you roll out the crust.  The idea here is that the graham cracker added to the crust will allow the crust to stay firm, after adding the lemon filling.  This proved to be true for the pie I made, as well as providing a subtle and complementary flavor to the crust, not found in the average Lemon Meringue Pie.

For me this pie really makes its mark by the tart lemon filling, using both lemon zest and lemon juice from fresh lemons.  The meringue is pretty amazing as well, but without that refreshingly tart center… well, I just don’t care about the meringue enough. 

Covering the filling with plastic wrap while making the meringue,  reduces the risk of a skin  forming on your filling
Filled graham-cracker rolled pastry crust
Whipping up meringue
Meringue before browning

Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie with nicely browned meringue

This Lemon Meringue Pie was perfect.  The crust, filling, and topping came out as I hoped they would.  My husband was treated to a great example of his all-time favorite pie.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

When the Moon Hits Your Eye Like a Big Pizza Pie, That's Amore...

Week 19 was leading into my husband’s birthday weekend, so he asked if I could make a “pizza” pie for him.  At first I laughed at him, but I told him if he could find pizza recipe with pie in the name, I would use it for my blog.  Well, he found a few and this week I went with the Sausage and Pepperoni Pizza Pie recipe that he found at Epicurous.com.

This pie was very much about layering.  The base layer, or crust, was my All-Butter Crust.  From the base I added layers of sliced mozzarella, sauce, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, sauce, pepperoni and sausage.  I repeated this once more, omitting the green olives on top of the last layer of meats since my man has an aversion to any type of olive.  I finished the pie off with the remaining sauce and the top crust. 

Beginning the layering with pastry crust and sliced mozzarella cheese

More layering...

More layering...

More layering...

Final layer before the top crust 

Now, I was trying to speed the process up a little to have my young family eat dinner at a reasonable time, so I cut into the 30 minute cooling time by 10 minutes.  Mistake.  As I cut into this pizza pie, the layers were still not set enough.  Had I left if for the full cooling time, perhaps with an additional 5-10 minutes, the layers would have been much more stable.  However, regardless of my impatience, the Sausage and Pepperoni Pizza Pie was delicious, if a little soupy.  Our second slices were much more manageable on a plate.
Baked pizza pie!

Ooey, gooey goodness... that's Amore!
If cheesy, deliciously gooey pizza gets your mouth watering, this pie needs to be on your radar.  The Hubs is already asking when my next pizza pie will be.