The Weekly Slice: A man’s journey with pie

About a month ago, we gathered with our church friends for dinner.  It was potluck, everyone bringing something, and Mr. Bee decided he wanted to bring his very first homemade pie.  He searched through all my cookbooks and decided on The Southern Living Pie Book by Jan Moon.  He made a dark chocolate cream pie and it was out of this world.  I don’t have a photo of it because the idea of a weekly pie hadn’t been discussed yet.

Next, he tried the recipe for Buttermilk Pie, but we were disappointed.  It was a little too eggy.  Mother’s recipe for buttermilk is much better.

We were sitting around one evening discussing how he liked pie and I casually asked him how many recipes there were in the book and he said 152.  “Why don’t you try making a pie a week and we can blog about your recipes?”  He said something about we didn’t need to be eating that much pie and I said, “We could always just take a slice out to try it, and gift the pie to someone each week as a good deed — random acts of kindness!”  Mr. Bee said, “It will take three years! But, what else have we got to do!”  And, so this week officially starts — The Weekly Slice:  A man’s journey with pie.  Each week we will share his journey, the recipe and who we gifted the pie to.  There will always be a slice missing, but I think that adds to the charm.

Amelia’s Egg Custard

Bible study met at our house Monday so they were the recipients of Pie #3 Amelia’s Egg Custard Pie.  It was delicious.  It reminded me a lot of Mother’s rice pudding, but without the rice.  And, of course, his crust is made from scratch (he’s an overachiever that way).

Amelia’s Egg Custard Pie

Ingredients:

8 large egg yolks

1 cup sugar

2 TBL butter, melted

1 tsp vanilla

1/8 tsp salt

1 cup whole milk

1 cup whipping cream

1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Prepare crust in a 9-inch pie plate.   Do not pre-bake.

Preheat oven to 350.  Beat eggs and next four ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended.  Stir in milk and whipping cream; pour into prepared crust.  Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes (our pie took a little bit longer about 60 minutes) or until a knife inserted 1 inch from the edge of the pie comes out clean.  Remove from oven to a wire rack, and cool 1 hour.  Serve warm, at room temperature, or cover pie, and chill until ready to serve.

Amelia’s Egg Custard 3/152

Next week’s sweet endeavor:  Vinegar Pie.

Pumpkin Caramel Bars

I pinned so many pumpkin recipes over the weekend and decided to give the Fudgy Pumpkin Caramel Swirl Bars from the Food Charlatan a try.  I have over 250 bars and brownie recipes pinned to my Pinterest board — you can check them out here.

I put my own twist on them by adding one half cup of semi sweet chocolate chips on top of the melted caramel.  The end result was a cross between a spice cookie, a snickerdoodle, and a salted caramel brownie.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 and 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons vanilla (not a typo — yes Tablespoons)
  • 2 and 1/4 cups flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (11 ounce) package caramels
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (optional:  I added this, it was not included in the original recipe)

Instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper, or grease the pan. (You can do foil too. Grease the foil).
2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, melt the butter.
3. Add the brown sugar, pumpkin, and vanilla, and beat well.
4. Add the flour to the bowl but don’t mix. Spoon the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into the flour and gently stir into the flour.
5. Beat well, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
6. Pour about half of the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth it on the bottom of the pan.
7. Bake at 350 for about 19-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and it is set in the middle.
8. Remove from the oven but don’t turn it off.
9. Meanwhile, melt the caramels and milk in a medium microwave safe bowl. Start with 45 seconds, then stir well. Continue to heat in 30-45 second intervals, stirring well each time. When the caramels are almost smooth, stop microwaving and stir until smooth.
10. Pour the caramel over the hot baked layer in pan, spreading to within 1/2 inch of the edges.  Sprinkle the optional chocolate chips over the caramel.
11. Drop reserved batter by spoonfuls over caramel layer. Cut through batter with knife several times for a marble effect.
12. Bake a second time for 25-30 minutes or until center is set. A toothpick test won’t work because the caramel layer is too gooey.

P.S. If you are coming for bookclub on Thursday…a pan of these will be waiting for you!

Pumpkin Spice Cheerios Bars

My stockpile of Pumpkin Spice Cheerios is growing and I picked up some Pumpkin Spice Special K and Frosted Shredded Wheat today.  I still haven’t made it to Trader Joe’s for my pumpkin haul, but that’s coming this weekend.

My niece sent me this recipe from We are Not Martha and I thought I would give them a try for bookclub last night — Pumpkin Cheerios Marshmallow Treats.  They are like Rice Krispie treats, but with Cheerios.

Ingredients:

  • ½ stick (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 11.5 oz. bag marshmallows (I used mini marshmallows)
  • 7 cups Pumpkin Spice Cheerios (I think you could cut back to 6 cups so the bars aren’t too dry)
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp ginger
  • ¾ cup white chocolate chips
  • Note:  I think you could easily increase the spices to 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and nutmeg and 1/4 tsp ginger.

Directions:

  1. Spray 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat.
  3. Add marshmallows to saucepan and stir until melted.
  4. Turn off heat and add spices then the Pumpkin Spice Cheerios. Stir until Cheerios are completed coated in marshmallow.
  5. Fold in white chocolate chips.  I took the extra from the bag and sprinkled them on top while the bars were warm and spread them out with a knife.
  6. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and let sit for about an hour to cool and harden.
  7. Cut into squares.

I could see this recipe working with other flavors of Cheerios, even the chocolate variety.  They were tasty and an interesting twist on the normal krispie bars.  They’d be fun to wrap up individually for a school treat or fall hostess gift.

I’ve got tons of other recipes on my Bars and Brownies and Something Kinda Sweet over on Pinterest, so check out more ideas for weekend baking.

Praline Grahams

 

We hosted a small gathering at our house on Monday to meet our new pastor.  It’s always nice to have just a little something sweet for guests to nibble on, and this recipe for Praline Grahams is perfect.  It is from a cookbook I have had for a long time — so long that the spine is falling apart.  Southern Living Incredible Cookies is also the same book from whence my chocolate chip cookies come from.

For the Praline Grahams you can use regular, cinnamon or chocolate grahams crackers.  Be sure to only use margarine, not butter, for best results with the syrupy coating.

12 whole graham crackers

3/4 cup margarine

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 300.

Break graham crackers in half into squares.  Arrange graham cracker squares with edges touching on a parchment paper lined jelly roll pan (or cookie sheet with sides).

Melt margarine in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in sugar and chopped pecans.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.  Remove from heat. Working quickly, spread syrupy mixture evenly over graham crackers in pan.

Bake at 300 for 12 minutes.  Remove from pan to cool completely on a wire rack.  Yield:  2 dozen.

These travel well and make a great hostess gift or after dinner dessert.

 

Blueberry Butterscotch Pie

Several years ago, my bestie shared her recipe for Blueberry Butterscotch Pie.  Originally, it called for apples, but she put her twist on it by substituting blueberries and never looked back!  This is one of Mr. Bee’s favorite desserts.  I had a carton of blueberries and since there’s nothing like blueberries in the summertime, why not?  It’s so easy and if you are looking for a sweet treat to take with you to a Memorial Day party this weekend — this is it!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice (fresh is best)

1 pint of blueberries (I used more, so you don’t have to be exact)

1/2 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of flour

1 tsp of cinnamon

1/8 tsp of salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the blueberries with the lemon juice in a mixing bowl.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir.  I let it set while I roll out my crust.

Place crust in a pie pan and fill with the blueberry mixture.  Either cover the crust with strips of foil, or like me use a pie shield to prevent the crust from browning too much.

Bake for 20 minutes.

While filling is baking, prepare the butterscotch topping.

Topping Ingredients

1/4 cup of butter (when I bake I use European Butter from Land O Lakes)

Half a bag of butterscotch morsels

1/8 tsp of salt

3/4 cup of flour

Melt morsels and butter over low heat until smooth.  Remove from heat and add in salt and flour.  Blend with a fork until it comes together.  I then place the mixture in a bowl so it can cool and get crumbly.  The longer it sits and cools the more it will come together as a crumble topping.

Take pie out of oven, sprinkle with crumble mixture and return to the oven for another 25 minutes.  Watch your crust and if it starts to get too brown, add the pie shield back on.

Let it cool, if you can wait that long, and serve either warm or room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  Me, I just scoop it out of the pan into a bowl and eat it like cobbler while it’s still warm.

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Shirley Temple Cake

Looking through Pinterest recently, I found a recipe from Tastes of Lizzy T for a Shirley Temple Cake!  I loved this iconic drink when I was little.  Mother and Daddy would order me this mocktail to enjoy as they visited with their friends over dinner.  I always felt so special.  In fact, I dare you to not smile when you sip one!

The origin of the Shirley Temple drink may have been invented by a bartender at Chasen’s, a restaurant in Beverly Hills, to serve then child actress Shirley Temple. Temple herself was not a fan of the drink, as she told Scott Simon in an NPR interview in 1986: “The saccharine sweet, icky drink? Yes, well… those were created in the probably middle 1930s by The Brown Derby Restaurant in Hollywood and I had nothing to do with it. But, all over the world, I am served that. People think it’s funny. I hate them. Too sweet!” Adding an ounce and a half of vodka or rum produces a “Dirty Shirley.”  I wonder how Miss Temple would like that?

The cake is really yummy.  It’s very much like a pound cake base with a citrus finish from the added 7Up and lemon extract.  The maraschino cherries add a pretty touch.  Find the recipe from my Pinterest Cake Board here.

Since I have made it, I will make a few suggestions of how I would modify the recipe for next time.

  1.  I would get a larger jar of cherries and chop them so they are more evenly distributed through the cake instead of just putting in whole cherries.
  2. The recipe calls for you to pour the reserved juice over the cake once it’s removed from the cake pan.  I would probably leave the cake in the pan, pour the juice over a hot cake, let it sit for about 10 minutes, then invert it onto your cake plate.  I think this would allow the juice to absorb more into the cake.

Other than that, I think this is a winning recipe and would be perfect to have for a dinner or take to a pot luck.  Add a dollop of whipped cream and a sprig of mint and it makes for a pretty presentation.

I hope Shirley approves — I know I do!

Sister’s Strawberry Bread

Spring and summer says strawberries.  Storm Farms in Arlington is a great place to pick your own berries.  And this link from DFW Child lists all the local farms for other produce and “farm to fork” inspiration.

I love this recipe from my sister for Strawberry Bread.  It’s the perfect pink color, affords just the right touch of sweet to a salad plate, and is lovely with a cup of coffee or tea.  And, since this recipe makes two loaves, you can share with a friend to make a beautiful gift wrapped in cellophane and a bow.

Strawberry Bread

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups thawed, sliced frozen strawberries (a one-pound bag)
1 cup vegetable oil
1-1/4 cups chopped pecans (optional, I usually omit because I’m not a nut-in-my-bread person)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift together the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar. In separate bowl, combine eggs, strawberries and oil. Add wet ingredients to dry ones and combine. Add pecans (optional) and blend well. Pour into two loaf pans prepared with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Bake for 60-75 minutes or until bread tests done. Cool in pan 5 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar.

It’s yummy on its own, or sandwich two slices between soft cream cheese. To make it into a dessert, pile with fresh strawberries (just picked from the farm), a dollop of whipped cream and a sprig of mint.  Strawberry Shortcake with a twist!  Enjoy.

Friday’s Find: A Bakery and a Brownie

Warning:  This is a high calorie blog post today.  You might want to take a spin on your treadmill before reading…

One thing this blog will never be lacking is photos of bakeries.  My bliss is to walk into a bakery, especially one that is aesthetically pleasing.  My go-to spot when I am in Dallas is Bird Bakery. If you are ever in the Highland Park neighborhood, you must stop in for a delight for the eyes.

Bird bakes all the usual suspects – cupcakes, brownies, lemon bars, cookies and mini pies, merchandised beautifully on teared plates, cake pedestals and parchment lined trays.  They also have a delicious sandwich, soup and salad menu.

I usually order their Bird cupcake — a vanilla cake with vanilla frosting in the loveliest shade of robin’s egg blue.

Your cupcakes are packaged up in the cutest egg cartons.  Can you imagine receiving a gift of beautiful cupcakes presented in such a whimsical way?

My second favorite is their Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownie.

You can taste the subtle Mexican vanilla.  Dense and very chocolately. It really is like a cup of cocoa!

I am sharing a brownie recipe today that Mr. Bee’s sister-in-law shared with me years ago.  They are from a bakery in upstate New York.  She once told me that even if the snow was 10-feet tall, she would still put on her snow boots and make her way to the bakery for these brownies.  I make them as a special treat.  They are super rich calling for 6 cups of chocolate chips, so they are not for the faint of heart.  But boy, are they worth it.

Chocolate Chunk Brownies

Preheat oven to 325.  Butter a 9×13 pan.

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water (I use coffee)

2 tsp. vanilla

3/4 cup of butter

4 eggs, beaten

5 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup chopped walnuts (I am not nutty, so I omit them)

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Place sugar, water (or coffee), vanilla and butter in a saucepan.  Heat over medium heat to melt butter.  When melted, remove from heat and add chips and eggs (be sure to temper the eggs by adding a little of the warm chocolate liquid first to increase the temperature of the eggs before adding the entire pan of chocolate), stirring often until chips melt.

In a large mixing bowl, blend remaining ingredients — flour, baking powder, salt, nuts and the remaining cup of chocolate chips.  Add the melted chocolate mixture and stir until well combined.

Pour into pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool completely before cutting.  To get a clean cut for the brownies, chill first in the refrigerator.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

These are the perfect sweet to take to a potluck, your next girls night out, or when you are delivering a meal to an ailing friend.  Enjoy!

Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies

Miss Bee’s 17th birthday was on Sunday.  Two things she said she wanted to do 1) go to the mall with us and 2) make sugar cookies.  I took this plan and ran with it!  I mean how many more years will I get the chance to have her undivided attention…

She asked me to find a cake like sugar cookie recipe so I went to Pinterest (why do I even bother to have 100 cookbooks…) and found this one from Eighteen25.  The dough is pretty standard, but it does call for sour cream.

The Best Sugar Cookies
Ingredients
  • FOR COOKIES
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • FOR FROSTING
  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • ¼ cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat sugar, sour cream, butter and eggs for 2 minutes.
  3. Then, add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Mixture will still be sticky.
  4. Cover and chill for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle flour on your work surface and roll out dough to about ¼ inch thick. (Note: the less flour you use, the softer your cookies will be.)
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes.
  7. Frosting Instructions:
  8. Cream your butter until fluffy.
  9. Add powdered sugar and beat until well blended.
  10. Add remaining ingredients and beat on high until frosting is fluffy.

The dough rolls out beautifully and easily cuts into shapes.

Once baked, we tasted tested.  Not a crispy cookie like my Old Fashioned Sugar Cookie recipe, but indeed more cake like as seen here…

The icing is buttery and next time I think I might use a cream cheese frosting recipe.  I added red food coloring to tint the icing a dark pink.

And added sprinkles, because well, everything is better with sprinkles.

Check out my Pinterest board for other yummy cookie recipes.  I hope your Valentine’s Day is sweet!

Grab a Slice of Life — Happy National Pie Day!

An Apple a Day…

Today, January 23 is National Pie Day.  The American Pie Council recognizes this day every year to support the history and heritage of pie.  They encourage hosting pie parties for family, friends and neighbors.

Ideas for Celebrating:

The website has all sorts of fun ideas to celebrate with pie.  Share the ultimate “comfort food” by giving the gift of pie to your local police or fire department and let these heroes know that you appreciate all they do for your community.  If pie making is not in your schedule, stop by your favorite bakery or grocery store and bring home a gift of love and joy for the whole family. The coldest of January days will be warmed by a special pie dessert.  Reach out to new neighbors you might not have met yet – it says you’re thoughtful.  Has someone done a special favor for you? Acknowledge their kindness with the gift of pie.  Spend time with your children and make a pie together. You’ll make great memories and your children will be so proud to serve the pie for dessert..

Fun Facts:

The American Pie Council has a wealth of information on their website including this fun downloadable packet for National Pi Day (another day of the year on March 14 — perfect for all the math teachers out there!).

Did you know pie has been around since they ancient Egyptians?  The word “pie” was popular in the 14th century.  Early pies were primarily meat-based.  Pie came to America with the first English settlers.  The most request pie is apple, followed by pumpkin then pecan.  My personal favorite is Buttermilk…

Susan Apple Graas

Yesterday my lovely friend Susan Graas taught a class at Central Market on how to make her signature apple pie.  It was such fun! She led the class step-by-step on how to make her flaky homemade double crust, to the delicious cinnamon sugar apple filling. Everyone went home with a pie to bake, a slice to enjoy there, sips of Prosecco and a fun kit with a pie server and recipe cards including her recipe.

Susan has a beautiful blog and is the quintessential homemaker.  She sews most of all her own clothes including the cutest aprons, and raises chickens — June being the matriarch — that lay gorgeous blue and green eggs.

Susan has been featured on Bobby Flay’s Food Network series Dinner with Bobby where she and her friend Grace-Ann won the “Best Home Cook” episode filmed in Dallas.  Susan has earned several blue ribbons from the State Fair of Texas and won “Best in Show” for her lemon cake.

Her grown son, James, was in the class yesterday and said his most favorite food his mother prepares is homemade beignets on Christmas morning, followed by her chicken pot pie (we might not want June and her fellow nesters to know this).

I am sharing Susan’s delicious pie recipe with you on the blog today.  I hope you will treat your family with a homemade pie tonight!

Flaky Pie Dough

Ingredients

3 cups all–purpose flour

1 tsp salt

10 TBL (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into thin slices

1/2 cup, plus 2 TBL cold Crisco shortening

3/4 cup to 1 cup ice water

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt.

Add the butter and toss to coat with the flour, then flatten the bits of butter between your fingertips.

Add the Crisco, toss to coat with the flour mixture.  Flatten into pieces a little bigger than the butter.  Tip:  Use the tips of your fingers!

Sprinkle 3/4 cups of the ice water over the flour mixture and gently toss to incorporate.  Use a rubber spatula to push the dry fl0ur into the liquid, but do not stir mixture.  Tip:  Process of hydrating the flour without stirring is the secret!

The mixture is ready, when it holds together.  Add as little water and handle as little as possible.  Some dry patches and crumbs are okay.  They will moisten as the dough rests.

Divide the dough into two balls, flatten into disks, and wrap well in plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.  Tip:  The dough can be frozen for up to a month, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Apple Pie

Ingredients:

3/4 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling)

3 TBL cornstarch

1 tsp. ground cinnamon (plus more for sprinkling)

1/2 tsp salt

8 medium apples (about 3 lbs., peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 inch slices)

2 TBL lemon juice

2 TBL unsalted butter

Pie Dough (from recipe above)

All purpose flour for rolling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt.

On a lightly floured surface, roll one disk of the dough into a 13″ circle. Then fit it into a 9″ pie dish.  Roll the other disk into a 13″ circle.

Toss the apple with the lemon juice and sugar mixture.

Pour the apple mixture into the dish and dot with butter.

Cover the remaining dough circle, then trim the excess dough and flute as desired.  Cut about a dozen slits all over the pie.  Now sprinkle generously with sugar and cinnamon.

Place on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Bake until the crust is golden brown and the juice begins to bubble through the slits, approximately 65-75 minutes.  Cover the edge with 3″ strip of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning.

Transfer the pie to a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.