Mini Apple Tartlets

applepietarts

Well, yesterday was Mardi Gras. Usually, I’m super jazzed about it, but I’ve had a lot going on in my personal life, and Mardi Gras sort of just snuck up on me. I’m glad I didn’t get my hopes up too much about parading though…we had SLEET on Mardi Gras Day. SLEET…ICE…they closed roads…in Louisiana…in March! Let that sink in for a little bit. This winter has been a weird one..

Now that Mardi Gras season is over, and I’m mourning over an empty king cake box, I have to face what I’m giving up during the lenten season: candy and soda. I was really considering all refined  & artificial sugar, but I really want it to be something I know I can handle. Soda is hard enough (diet coke addict here!), but candy during Easter season? Ugh…I’ll buy a box of Cadbury eggs for the week after Easter. :-P Hopefully, this will kick my sweet tooth to the side for a while…I really need to stop craving Reese’s cups darnit!

Speaking of the sweet tooth, I’m still thinking about these mini tartlets that I made for my Opal Apple dessert party. They were so simple to make, and they made quite a bit for a party! I think this would be a perfect dessert to throw together at the last minute, and if you have some caramel sauce or ice cream lying around, they would be perfection on these!

Mini Apple Tartlets
Source: Opal Apples

Ingredients:

  • 2 Opal apples, peeled, cored & chopped
  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. candied ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 2 packages (containing 15 each) mini phyllo dough cups

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, add all ingredients, except for the phyllo dough cups. Heat the apple mixture to a simmer over medium heat and cover. Cook the mixture for about 5 minutes and remove the mixture from the heat.
  3. Once slightly cooled, fill each phyllo cup with a tsp. of the apple filling. Place the cups on the prepared baking sheet, and bake them for 8-10 minutes. They’re best served warm, but also taste great at room temperature!

Disclosure: I’m a 2014 brand ambassador for Opal Apple. I was compensated in the form of free products, a party kit with all printed materials necessary for the party, and a gift card. All opinions are 100% my own.

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Carton Smart for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

triplechocolatepumpkinpie

With the holidays just days away, I'm starting to make my to-do lists and finalize the menu for the big Christmas dinner. We're hosting my husband's family this year, which is about 20 people, so the menu is getting a bit crazy. Thankfully, we have some family members willing to help out, and bring some dishes, but you guys know me…I'm all about the desserts! :-)
 
When it comes to the holidays, I always enjoy a good homemade pumpkin pie, and this year, I wanted to try something different since chocolate & pumpkin are a match made in heaven: triple chocolate pumpkin pie.
 
Yup…that's pie with bittersweet chocolate spread on top of a graham cracker crust, along with chocolate in the pumpkin pie batter, topped with a milk chocolate drizzle. If that doesn't scream holiday decadence, I don't know what does!
 

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I was recently sent a package of products from Pacific Foods, and was asked to use one of their products to make a holiday dish. I chose the organic pumpkin puree to make this pie.
 
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They also sent me a container of organic cranberry sauce and chicken stock.
 
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One of the great things Pacific Foods has is their packaging. Their products are packed in Tetra Pak cartons, which is great for many reasons…the main one to me being that there are no preservatives. For example, the cranberry sauce ingredients are organic cranberries, organic cane sugar and water. That's it!
 
Here's more information about Tetra Pack packaging on the graphic below:
 
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Based on the information above, how do you think you can be #CartonSmart this holiday season? You can also learn more by checking out their Carton Smart page (link below), as well as their social media sites:
 
triplechocolatepumpkinpie2
Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
Source: Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

For the crust:

 
  • 2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 oz. bittersweet (61%) chocolate, finely chopped

For the filling:

  • 6 oz. semisweet (55%) chocolate, chopped
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 15 oz. pumpkin puree
  • 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves

For the drizzle:

  • 1 oz. milk chocolate, melted

Directions:

  1. To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugars, salt and cinnamon. Evenly press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a deep 9 1/2 inch pie dish. Bake the crust until firm and fragrant, for about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Remove the pie dish from the oven and immediately sprinkle the bittersweet chocolate pieces over the bottom of the crust. Return the pie dish to the oven for about 1 minute, until the chocolate is melted. Using a spatula, spread the chocolate in a thin layer on the bottom and up the sides of the crust. Allow the crust to cool on a wire rack and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
  3. While the crust is cooling, make the pie filling. In a large microwave safe bowl, melt the semisweet chocolate and butter together in 30 second increments on 50% power, stirring well between each cycle, until the chocolate is smooth and melted.
  4. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, brown sugar, eggs, cornstarch, vanilla, salt and spices together until everything is well-mixed. While whisking the chocolate, slowly add in 1/3 of the pumpkin puree mixture to the chocolate mixture. Once that's mixed well, add in the rest of the pumpkin puree mixture and whisk until everyhing is well incorporated.
  5. Place the pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet and pour the pumpkin/chocolate mixture into the crust. You may have some extra filling (you could bake this in ramekins for mini servings…it will take less time to bake, though), so only fill the pie dish until you have about 1/4 inch of space left at the top (for rising).
  6. Bake the pie until the center is set, but still wobbly, for about 55-60 minutes. Allow the pie to cool in the pie dish on a wire rack, and then refrigerate the pie until chilled (at least 8 hours or overnight). Before serving the pie, drizzle the milk chocolate over the top. Enjoy!

Disclosure: I was compensated by SocialSpark to write this post, and was sent product samples from Pacific Foods at no cost to me. All opinions are 100% my own.

 

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Sweet Potato Pie

sweetpotatopie

I went to the grocery store tonight, since they had cream cheese for 99 cents. When it gets this low in price, I do the annual stock-up for cheesecake season. See, this cheesecake has made me famous between our families, and well, that cheesecake calls for 4 blocks of cream cheese. It can get spendy during the holiday season, so it’s always fun to go to the store to stock up and request 30ish boxes of cream cheese. A bit crazy, but I use every last bit of it. :-)

I was thinking about cheesecake the other day when it came to brainstorming Thanksgiving recipes, and what bothered me is that I never make something traditional for the holiday. So, I wanted to try to make sweet potato pie.

When I went to Fresh Summit, I connected with a company called Frieda’s Produce, and they generously offered to send me one of their featured produce items for me try. When I saw these potatoes on their list, I just had to try them, and the first thing that popped in my head was to try pie. Yes, these are purple sweet potatoes, and I can’t tell you how many times I was asked if I used food dye to enhance the color. Nope…these potatoes are very purple. It’s gorgeous, and they taste great, too!

This pie was definitely the classic pie that I’ve loved for years. It’s not too sweet, but with the bourbon and molasses in there, the flavor was much deeper and richer. This dessert makes me want to curl up on the couch with an electric blanket and drink warm hot chocolate along with a slice of this.

Sweet Potato Pie
Source: filling from Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook, pie crust via Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs + 2 large yolks
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. bourbon
  • 1 tbsp. molasses
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 recipe pie dough (this recipe is meant for a double-crust pie, so half will work for this single-crust pie), partially baked and still warm

Directions:

  1. Move the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Poke each sweet potato several times with a paring knife or fork all over the entire surface. Place the potatoes on a paper towel-lined microwave safe plate and microwave the potatoes until they are tender, but not completely mushy (about 10 minutes…the purple potatoes need to cook longer so they took 15 minutes), being sure to flip the potatoes halfway through the microwaving. Take the sweet potatoes out of the microwave, and peel the skin off of each sweet potato carefully while holding the potato with a towel or potholder to prevent from burning yourself. You should end up with about 2 cups of sweet potato after peeling.
  3. While the potatoes are still hot, add the butter and mash the sweet potatoes with a potato masher until a few small lumps remain. In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, eggs, egg yolks, nutmeg and salt. Add in the bourbon, molasses and vanilla extract, and stir those into the potato mixture. Whisk in the milk.
  4. Slowly add the egg mixture to the mashed potato mixture, stirring/whisking gently until just combined.
  5. Sprinkle the dark brown sugar evenly over the pre-baked pie crust, and then pour the sweet potato mixture on top. Bake the pie for about 45 minutes, until the edges are set, but the center will still jiggle slightly when shaken. Allow the pie to cool to room temperature before serving.

Disclosure: I was sent a 5 lb. case of Stokes Purple Sweet Potatoes at no cost to me to sample. All opinions are 100% my own.

The 9Chefs Baking Competition

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about peppermint bark chess pie. I adapted the pie recipe for the 9Chefs Baking Competition, which was aired on WAFB (a local news station). I can’t tell you how many times I made that pie to practice, but it was to the point to where I pretty much didn’t need to look at the recipe for the competition.

I was INCREDIBLY nervous about this competition. The whole week of the competition, I would randomly get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it. Would I drop my pie? Add salt instead of sugar? Look ridiculous on camera? I also had dreams about how it would go….I know it’s ridiculous sounding, but I’ve never done anything like this.

The morning of the competition, I left my house an hour early just to give myself ample time to settle in at the culinary institute (where it was held/taped). Well, typical Friday traffic didn’t happen, because there was a terrible accident on the Interstate, which, despite me leaving an hour early, I was 10 minutes late. I was the last one there…how embarrassing. :( I seriously thought I was going to get kicked out for being late.

When I arrived, I learned that we were going to be wearing chef jackets. Um…WAY COOL. After that, it was a whirlwind, but I remember we had a few minutes to set up our stations (we were allowed to bring any tools/appliances from home, so I had a bit to unpack haha) before interviews. Then, right after, the competition would start.

The competition allowed us 3 hours to bake two pies. One for tasting and one for presentation. With the pie I wanted to make, I knew I had to get it in the oven within the first hour, to give it ample cooling time. One thing I didn’t expect was that there were culinary students there to help us gather ingredients, and while we were frantically rolling pie dough and making fillings, the students washed our dishes for us. It was so appreciated. I’m sure the students have no idea this blog exists, but if they happen to see this, Thank You. Also, a HUGE thanks to the Louisiana Culinary Institute (LCI) for allowing us to use their kitchen, their ingredients and their equipment. It was very interesting (intimidating at first) to use commercial equipment, but with the help of the students and instructors from LCI, it wasn’t bad at all.

That first hour, I was completely in the zone. The room was actually VERY quiet, and I thought it would be crazy/loud/hectic like you see on Chopped, but every competitor was quietly doing their thing. It was so cool to glance around to see what everyone was making, and to watch how everyone works differently in the kitchen. After the first hour, I relaxed a bit and worked on decorations/whipped cream topping. I also got to really take this whole experience in once the pies were in the oven….that first hour, the room felt so quiet, but after everyone had their pies in, we all would just randomly chat and it became a pretty friendly environment, which I didn’t expect at all. It was a relief, but we were all amateur home bakers…I think we were all pretty nervous about it. Once my pies were out of the oven (about 2 hours in), I concentrated on cleaning my station/packing my tools and letting my pies cool.

9Chefs Baking Competition

After 3 hours, this is the display that I left for the judges. My pies could have cooled a bit more, and man, I was SO nervous slicing the pie that quite a few of them just broke (compared to the blog photo from the recipe post). I was really hoping that the taste would make up for it. :-)

9Chefs Baking Competition

Once the competition was over, we went to a waiting room to allow the judges to taste the pies and did our post-competition interviews. I think that’s when the butterflies really set in. My pies came out great but of course, I had to question if I did enough….

If you’d like to see how the competition went down, here’s the video on YouTube. If you want to skip to the results, just drag the player to about 20 minutes in. :-)

One of the big questions my friends and family have asked me is if I would do this again. In a heartbeat. I really loved it!

Thanks again to WAFB and LCI for the wonderful opportunity, and congratulations to the winners!

Top 10 Recipes of 2012

Man, what a year it has been! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season with their friends and family. :-)

Most years, I feel like time has flown by, but for some reason, it feels like last January was truly a year ago. So many great things have happened to us this year (as well as some really crappy events).  

Some highlights and not so highlights:

  • It was our first full year in our new house, which has been such a blessing. It’s just awesome to finally have friendly neighbors, who don’t throw their trash in our backyard or play loud music at 2am (side-eye to the neighbors at the old house).
  • My husband and I have both decided to live healthier. Between us, we’ve lost over 150 lbs. this year. (I’m sure my husband is rolling his eyes at me sharing this, but seriously..I’m gonna brag here!) That’s just amazing to me. I’m so proud of us.
  • Another weight loss highlight. I fit into a clothes size that I haven’t been able to wear since 10th grade. That was 12 years ago. OMG!
  • A not so highlight. Hurricane Isaac…don’t want to go into too much detail with that one, but yeah, hurricanes suck. Oh, and for the record, labradors don’t care if the winds are 50 mph outside. If there’s rain/water, it’s playtime! (ugh)
  • I think I’m making some good progress on my 101 Goals in 1001 Days list.

And of course, it’s been another fun year blogging. I really appreciate all of y’all taking the time to read my tiny corner of the Internet. Thank you for your sweet comments, emails and tweets. In January, it’s gonna be this blog’s 5th anniversary, and I’m just amazed by all of the friends I’ve made and people I’ve “met”  through this blog. You guys are the best!

Just to round up the year, I wanted to share with y’all your top 10 most read posts from 2012.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies w/ Salted Caramel Buttercream

10. Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Buttercream – These whoopie pies were made for a work fundraiser, and they were a huge success. Great pumpkin/spicy flavor, and the salted caramel buttercream just makes them super indulgent. Pumpkin + caramel is a wonderful combination!

Red Velvet Bundt Cake

9. Red Velvet Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting – I love anything red velvet. This bundt cake is a fun change from a regular cake, and it was pretty easy to throw together and bake!

Baked Oatmeal

8. Baked Oatmeal – My breakfast has been forever changed by this. This oatmeal is not soggy at all (which I hate about cooked oats), and it’s very sweet with the addition of bananas.

Peanut Butter Cookies

7. Peanut Butter Cookies – Just simple, classic peanut butter cookies. :-) Very good!

Candy Corn Oreo Truffles

6. Candy Corn Oreo Truffles – Oreo truffles are insanely good, and it was fun to make these with seasonal flavors. Always a favorite when I bring these truffles to work!

Fresh Strawberry Pie

5. Fresh Strawberry Pie – I’m SO glad strawberry season is back. I need to make this pie again…it’s not rich at all, and since it involves no cooking (except for the crust), it tastes so fresh!

Snickers Cupcakes

4. Snickers Cupcakes – Oh, I totally need to make these again. If you love Snickers, you will LOVE these!

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade

3. Homemade Strawberry Lemonade – Meyer lemon season + strawberry season? Um…guess I need to make this too and ASAP!

Red Velvet Swirl Brownies

2. Red Velvet Swirl Brownies – These were just delicious, and so pretty too! Perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Spinach Strawberry Salad with Feta

1. Spinach, Strawberry, Pecan and Feta Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette – This is a huge favorite of y’alls. I think Pinterest made this a popular one, and it is VERY easy to throw together! This is a salad you want to make for your next party…it’s an awesome combination!

Thanks so much for reading this blog, and I hope everyone has a Happy New Year! Time to get used to writing/typing “2013”. :-)

Peppermint Bark Chess Pie

Peppermint Bark Chess Pie

The past couple of months have been a whirlwind for me. I love to check the local news sites for random giveaways, because hey, you never know, right? While checking one of the station’s websites, I saw that they were accepting applications for a baking competition. I didn’t hesitate at all to apply, because it sounded pretty fun! A couple of weeks later, I got a call from someone at the station informing me that I was a finalist.

I was floored.

As one of the finalists, I had to bring cupcakes for tasting and an interview. Since it was just before Thanksgiving, I thought…why not pumpkin? So I brought these to the interview. Since my interview was one of the last interviews of the day, I think the interviewers were “cupcake-ed” out. I couldn’t really tell if they liked what I brought, so I left the interview feeling a bit unsure. However, a few days later, I got the call saying I would be one of the competitors! WHOA…

The person from the show told me that we had to bake a pie. Any pie, as long as it had some sort of holiday theme. When I heard pie, I have to admit that I cringed a little. I’ve mentioned this before, but pie is something I just haven’t worked with a lot. Cakes? Cookies? Cupcakes? I’m good. Pie? Ehhh…

First thing was first. I had to have a pie idea. I didn’t want to do anything too common, so sweet potato, pumpkin and pecan pie were all out. I brainstormed with eggnog and gingerbread, but nothing in particular really came to mind. Then I thought about chocolate. Everyone loves chocolate, but what could I do to make it more a holiday-ish. Then, it hit me….peppermint bark. Who doesn’t love the infamous chocolate/white chocolate/candy cane combination?

I started searching for chocolate pies online, and came across this idea for a chocolate chess pie. So, I adapted the recipe to make two pie fillings: one being chocolate, the other being white chocolate candy cane. Since the competition asked for the competitors to bake two pies, I simply put half of each filling into each pie crust (which is an amazing, flaky all butter crust…seriously, make this crust someday), and swirled them together. Then, I baked the pie up, tried a piece (hoping and praying I got the mint amount just right), and whew! I did. I brought to pies to my husband and I’s work asking for some tough love, and there really weren’t any complaints. Everyone seemed to love it!

I can’t wait to share the links to the show with you all (the show aired locally last night), but for now, here’s the recipe to my competition pie.

Peppermint Bark Chess Pie
Source: pie crust from Smitten Kitchen, filling adapted from Ezra’s Pound Cake

**makes two 9″ pies**

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and very cold
  • 1/2 cup ice cold water

For the fillings:

  • 3 cups sugar, divided
  • 3 heaping tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 oz. of white chocolate, melted and slightly cooled (I used Baker’s squares)
  • 4 candy canes, grinded in a food processor until it’s a dust
  • 2 pinches of salt, divided
  • 10 oz. evaporated milk, divided
  • 1 stick butter, divided in half and melted (cooled)
  • 4 eggs, divided
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, sugar and table salt. Mix for about 30 seconds, and then add the cold, cubed butter on top and mix everything until the butter clumps are about pea sized. Drizzle in the ice water while the mixer is on low, a little at a time, until the pie dough is just wet enough to hold together in a dough ball.
  2. Divide into two 5″ wide disks, wrap in plastic wrap and allow to chill in the fridge for about an hour or two (or overnight).
  3. While the dough is chilling, you can make the fillings. Take out two large bowls, and add 1 1/2 cups of sugar to each, as well as a pinch of salt to each. To one of the bowls, add the cocoa powder. To the other, add the candy cane dust. Whisk the dry ingredients in each bowl.
  4. In the bowl with the cocoa powder mixture, add in 1/2 stick of melted butter, 5 oz. of evaporated milk, 2 eggs and a tsp. of vanilla extract. Whisk the mixture well and set aside. In the bowl with the candy cane mixture, add in the other 1/2 stick of melted butter, the last 5 oz. of evaporated milk, melted white chocolate, the other 2 eggs and the last tsp. of vanilla extract. Whisk the mixture well.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Take the pie dough disks out and roll them until they are about 1/8″ thick. Add each dough to a buttered pie dish (this is a fantastic tutorial), and then add half of the chocolate pie filling to each pie dish. After that, add half of the white chocolate candy cane filling to each pie dish. Then with a butter knife, gently swirl the two fillings (being mindful not to hit the crust).
  7. Place the pie dishes in a baking sheet, and bake the pies for 45-50 minutes. Allow the pies to cool for a couple of hours before serving (if you’d prefer to serve it warm) or after they cool, refrigerate overnight and serve cold. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Mrs. Smith’s Signature Deep Dish Pies & A Giveaway

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Mrs. Smith’s for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Mrs. Smith's (1)

I feel like I’ve been baking pie like crazy lately. Between the office potlucks and family get-togethers, it just seems like the butter will run out. Seriously y’all….I purchased 12 boxes of butter last month and I’m down to 5! Crazy, no?

As much as I love to bake, sometimes there’s a party where I just don’t have the time to make something for us to bring. There may be some people who will judge me for this, but hey, I’ve been known to purchase a frozen pie or two, and bake them up. I usually tend to grab for Mrs. Smith’s, because I’ve never had a bad pie from them. In fact, my husband insists that his all-time favorite pie is Mrs. Smith’s Cinnabon Apple Crumb Pie, so when Mrs. Smith’s (via SocialSpark) offered me the opportunity to try their new line of Mrs. Smith’s Signature Deep Dish pies, I just couldn’t say no.

MrsSmith.jpg

In case you’re a stranger to Mrs. Smith’s products, here’s a little background on the company (from the company’s website):

When Amanda Smith baked her first pies in the kitchen of her Pottstown, Pennsylvania home, she used the finest ingredients and amazing attention to detail to create the finest pies available. Amanda Smith started by baking pies for family, friends and charity events, but when her son, Robert Smith, convinced her to sell her pies, a business was born. Today, the makers of MRS. SMITH’S® desserts continue the tradition started by Amanda Smith, delivering pies and cobblers with made-from-scratch goodness you can see and taste. MRS. SMITH’S® pies and cobblers … a timeless tradition. Their new Signature Deep Dish pies come in four flavors:

  • Signature Deep Dish Dutch Apple Pie with Caramel Sauce
  • Signature Deep Dish Cherry Pie with Butter Fudge Sauce
  • Signature Deep Dish Peach Pie with Cream Cheese Icing
  • Signature Deep Dish Pumpkin Pie with Cream Cheese Icing

The great thing about these pies is that it comes with a fun topping packet to help you create a unique, customized pie, and of course, with any Mrs. Smith’s pie, it couldn’t be simpler to bake. Simply take it out of the freezer, place it on a baking sheet (in case it leaks) and let it bake in the oven. Then, once the pie has cooled, add the topping.

Mrs. Smith's (2)

I got to try the pumpkin pie, and it was VERY good! It was spiced well (some pumpkin pies don’t have enough spice, in my opinion), and the custard was super smooth! The pie dough was very flaky and not at all soggy, too. I especially loved being able to decorate our pie with the included icing packet, which gave it a fun, festive touch. If you’re under a time crunch this holiday season, this pumpkin pie would definitely do the trick! To find where these pies are sold, here’s a link to the retailers near you. Mrs. Smith’s is generously offering one reader of The Nifty Foodie a coupon for a free Signature Deep Dish pie, as well as a $50 gift card to Williams-Sonoma!!
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Caramel Apple Pie

Caramel Apple Pie

I find that I don’t make pie nearly enough. For some reason, I find it to be much more time-consuming than cupcakes or cookies, but in all seriousness, pie is very simple. Your food processor basically does all of the work to make the crust, and heck, sometimes I’ve even made pie crust in the stand mixer…still works great. The secret to an easier pie crust for me is frozen butter. I like to cut the butter in small cubes, then throw them in the freezer to make them extra cold. This is one of the few desserts where you want your butter as cold as possible, because as you work with the dough, it warms up and is just miserable to work with when it’s no longer cold (at least in my very beginner pie-making experience).

I have been having a killer craving for some apple pie, and since I had a batch of caramel sauce handy (Why do I do that to myself?), I figured there HAD to be a recipe out there for caramel apple pie. I got to googling and found this one. Since I already had the caramel sauce, I just used that in this recipe instead of the caramel recipe that Williams-Sonoma had. This pie came out so good, y’all. The filling just melts in your mouth, and their recipe for pie crust has such a wonderful, buttery flavor, as well as a bit of a flaky texture. Just SO good. If you want to bring something a little different to your Thanksgiving dinner, this is a tasty twist on the American classic.

Now, if this caramel apple pie isn’t your thing, you can definitely find other ideas this week. Come join Love the Pie with TidyMom  sponsored by Whirlpool and enter to win a new Whirlpool Range! Be sure to check out TidyMom’s website for other great pie ideas and recipes! The party is going on all week!

Caramel Apple Pie
Source: adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Ingredients:

For the pie crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. sugar, divided
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 6 to 8 tbsp. ice water
  • 1 egg + 1 tbsp. water, lightly beaten in a small bowl

For the filling:

  • 4 lb. Granny Smith apples, peeled/cored & cut into 8 slices
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 batch salted butter caramel sauce

Directions:

  1. To make the pie crust, combine the flour, 2 tbsp. of the sugar and salt in a large food processor and pulse the mixture to combine. Add the cold cubes of butter and pulse the mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. Add 6 tbsp. of the ice water and pulse the mixture twice. Check the dough for consistency by squeezing it with your fingers. If the dough holds together well, the dough is fine. You don’t want the dough to be crumbly (too little water), but not sticky either (too much water). If you need to add water, add it 1 tsp. at a time and pulse twice after each addition. Once the dough is at the consistency you need, place the dough on a work surface and divide the mixture in half.  Shape each half into a dish and wrap each with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days).
  2. To roll the dough, remove it from the refrigerator and let the dough stand for 5 minutes. Place 1 dough between 2 sheets of lightly floured wax paper & roll it out into a 12-inch round, to about 3/16″ thickness. Repeat for the other disk of dough. Take one of the doughs out from between the wax paper sheets and gently press it into a 9 inch deep-dish pie dish. Refrigerate both doughs for another 30 minutes.
  3. To make the apple filling, place the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg & lemon juice in a large dutch oven. Cover and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until the apples are just tender (you can easily check by sticking a fork in an apple slice). Once the mixture is done, uncover the pot and allow the filling to cool to room temperature. Stir in the cornstarch.
  4. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Once the filling is cool, take out your pie crusts and allow those to sit for 5 minutes. In the meantime, stir the apple filling and 3/4 cup of the caramel sauce together (the rest of the caramel will be for serving).  Pour the apple filling into your pie dish, and then place the top crust over the pie. Cut off any remaining dough hanging over the edge of the pie dish, and then press the top and bottom crusts together. Brush the top crust with the egg wash, and sprinkle the top crust with the remaining 2 tsp. of sugar.
  5. Place the pie dish in a jelly roll/baking sheet. Bake the pie until the crust is golden brown, about 1 hour. Be sure to check the pie after 30 minutes, to make sure the crust isn’t too dark—whatever part of the crust on too dark, just simply cover it with foil. When the pie is done baking, allow the pie to cool on a wire rack for at least 2 1/2 hours before serving. Serve with leftover caramel sauce (warmed) for drizzling (it’s also equally great with ice cream). Enjoy!

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Happy May Day! I can’t believe it’s already May, y’all! Wasn’t it just December? I swear I’m still humming “Let It Snow” around the house…wishful thinking, I guess. Although, I’m currently getting a real kick out of this Justin Timberlake meme, which makes bringing in the month that much more awesome. :-P Hello fellow *NSYNC fans…I know you’re out there laughing and singing along with me!!

Now, let’s talk about this pie, y’all. When it comes to baking, pie is one of those things I just don’t make that much. For some reason, pie always seems like a ton of work. I used to buy crusts in the freezer section, and when I first attempted homemade pie years ago, it just ended up taking a while for it to come together. After all of that work, the crust was a crumbly mess. UGH. I just sort of mentally blocked the idea of making pie, unless there was a pre-made crust involved.

Sometimes I forget that I have a stand mixer that happily does all of the work for me…..

I had a flat of strawberries in the house, and since I promised to bring a dessert for a lunch we were going to, I decided that I had to bring something involving strawberries. I didn’t want to bring the typical shortcake, so I went to Pinterest to help me brain storm. (Don’t you just love Pinterest?!) That’s when I saw this fresh strawberry pie. I clicked on the post, and thought about pie crust. Ugh. Then I saw that the directions involved the stand mixer. Oh heck yes! My pastry cutter can stay in the drawer? SA-WEET!

So, I made this pie. With the sweet, ripe local strawberries and the light, buttery crust, this pie was just a wonderful, refreshing dessert. It wasn’t too heavy, which really allowed the strawberries to shine.  It was a real winner at lunch. I didn’t end up bringing any of this home!

Fresh Strawberry Pie
Source: Annie’s Eats (originally from Williams-Sonoma and Cooks Illustrated)

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 tbsp. very cold water

For the filling:

  • 4 pints (about 3 lbs.) fresh strawberries, gently rinsed and dried, hulled
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Sure-Jell for low-sugar recipes (don’t use the regular Sure-Jell)
  • Generous pinch table salt
  • 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions:

  1. To make the crust, add the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix everything together just to blend it. Add the butter pieces and mix together on medium-low speed to cut the butter into the flour until the butter pieces are no bigger than peas and the rest of the mixture resembles a coarse sand. Turn the mixer on low and add the cold water. Mix until the dough just comes together.
  2. Mold the dough into a ball, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12 inch circle. Then transfer the crust to a 9 inch pie pan and crimp the edges. Cover the pie pan with saran wrap and freeze for 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and adjust an oven shelf to the lower middle slot. Take the pie pan out of the freezer and line the top of the pie crust with foil. Add pie weights on top or balled up foil pieces to prevent the dough from bubbling up and rising. Bake the pie crust for 20-25 minutes, until the dough no longer appears wet. Remove the pie weights/balled up foil and other foil. Then, bake the pie crust for 10-12 minutes more until golden brown. Place the pie pan on a wire rack and allow to cool fully.
  4. To make the filling, weigh out 6 oz. of weird shaped, under-ripe or unattractive berries, halving those that are large. In the end, you should have about 1 1/2 cups of berries. Using a food processor or blender, blend the berries to a puree for about 30 seconds. Measure out the puree; you should have 3/4 cup.
  5. Using a medium sized saucepan, add the sugar, cornstarch, Sure-Jell and salt and whisk the mixture to combine. Stir in the berry puree and cook the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Bring the mixture to a full boil and boil for two minutes, ensuring that the bottom and sides of the pan are constantly scraped with a silicone spatula or spoon. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the lemon juice; allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  6. Look through the remaining berries and weigh out 2 pounds of the most attractive berries. If the berries are very large, halve them. Add the berries to the bowl with the glaze, and fold the mixture gently with a spatula or spoon until the berries are well coated with the mixture. Add the berry mixture on the pie crust, piling the berries into a mound. If you’d like, turn down the berries that are cut side up for a prettier presentation. Chill the pie for about two hours and serve immediately (at the most, within 5 hours of making the pie since berries are extremely moist and will make your pie soggy). Optional: serve with fresh whipped cream.

 

 

 

Caramel Apple Pie A La Mode Bites

Caramel Apple Pie A La Mode Bites

Since the Summer is winding down, it’s time to say goodbye to fresh, sweet berries and hello to juicy, flavorful apples. A great way to celebrate the season is with apple pie, of course.

Instead of making a pie, I wanted to make another recipe highlighting Nature’s Pride bread! This is another entry for the Nature’s Pride bread ambassador contest.

Note: As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker’s Program, Foodbuzz offered a coupon for a free Nature’s Pride product in exchange for making up a little ol’ recipe highlighting Nature’s Pride bread.  Six bloggers’ recipes will be chosen to be an ambassador for Nature’s Pride at this year’s Foodbuzz Festival!

Can you tell I’d really like to go to Foodbuzz Festival this year? :)

I took apple pie a few steps further and made this into a caramel apple pie a la mode bite. Talk about DELICIOUS and perfect for a party! :)

I’m sure you’re curious about the crust. The crust is simply sliced Honey Wheat bread, and it comes out perfectly crispy and sweet, which is great for a dessert crust! To do this, I used a 2″ circle cutter to cut out the crusts and pressed them into a mini muffin pan to shape them! I took a couple of pictures, since I’m a visual person, and thought pictures would help.

Crust how-to

Super easy, right? Definitely give these a try! You’ll be glad that you did!

Caramel Apple Pie A La Mode Bites
Source: an original

makes 24 bites

Ingredients:

Crust:

Apple Filling:

  • 2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced finely
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 5 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. flour

Additional toppings:

  • vanilla ice cream
  • caramel sundae topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Using a 2″-3″ circle cookie cutter, cut out circles in the bread. I was able to get 2 per slice.
  3. Press each circle into a mini muffin pan, making sure it’s pressed well against the edges to form into a good crust. (see above picture)
  4. Brush melted butter on the tops of the crusts.
  5. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle liberally over the buttered crusts.
  6. Bake for 5-8 minutes, until the crusts brown. Allow to cool.
  7. To make the apple filling, melt the 1/2 stick butter in a small pot and add apples. Then, add brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook down for about 5 minutes on low/med-low heat. Add flour to thicken the sauce and cook another 5 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool until apple filling is just warm.
  8. To assemble the bites, add about 2 tsp. of ice cream to each of the crusts (just eyeball it). Add a tsp. of apple filling and then drizzle with caramel sundae topping. Serve immediately. :)