Thursday, May 27, 2010

Week 4 (ish): Chocolate Pies for Visiting Teaching

I am typing this up a week late, and having problems with this current week's pies, so I'm feeling a little behind. I also skipped a week while I was recovering from surgery. But here goes.

For this week's pies I wanted something fairly simple and foolproof. And, unfortunately, I was at QFC when I remembered that I needed to get pie ingredients (that means it probably cost about twice as much as it needed to). I decided to make something we hadn't had in years--Dream Pie. Dream Pie uses a powdered cool whip substitute called Dream Whip, instant pudding mix, and milk to make a fluffy, light pie. I wasn't even sure they still made Dream Whip, but there it was on the shelf.

Not wanting to spend the money on pre-made graham cracker crusts, I bought pre-crushed graham cracker crumbs instead. I followed the recipe to turn these crumbs into crust, and it came out looking pretty greasy after I baked them. Undaunted, I patted them off like some people do pepperoni pizza, and continued with my whipping.

The result--beautiful fluffy chocolate pie.

I was scheduled to go visiting teaching today, so I decided that the ladies that I was visiting would be the recipients of today's pies. Visiting teaching is something that the LDS (Mormon) church does as an effort to make sure that each woman in the church has someone who will visit them, check in on them, help them with their needs, etc. Mostly we try to visit the women who we are assigned to, once a month, and talk with them, have a little spiritual thought, etc. It's always nice to have a treat to bring them, so I felt pretty proud of myself for coming up with something, even serendipitously.

I actually liked the "homemade" crust--it was a little chewier and way less dry than the pre-made crusts. And the filling was delicious. Mmmm! This was one pie my husband really liked, too!


2 env. Dream Whip whipped topping mix
2 3/4 c. cold milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 (4 oz.) pkgs. instant pudding mix
1 baked 9" pie shell, cooled or 1 graham cracker or chocolate crust

Beat Dream Whip mix with 1 cup of milk and vanilla in large bowl with mixer on high for about 6 minutes until thick and forms peaks. Add remaining milk and the pudding mix; blend on low. Beat on high for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Spoon into pie shell; chill at least 4 hours.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Week 3: Teacher Appreciation Week

This week (actually last week, because I'm writing this after my gall bladder surgery on Friday May 7th) was Teacher Appreciation Week, so I decided to deliver pies to my sons' classes. Both of my youngest sons are in special ed classrooms for students with high-functioning autism or Aspergers--one in middle school, one in high school. Each classroom has a teacher and several aides. So a pie for them to share is just perfect.

This week I felt like Peanut Butter Pie and found one via that sounded appealing. It included cream cheese, peanut butter, peanut butter cups, and an oreo crust.

This week I had no problems getting the pie to set up. I did have to wait several hours for it to fully firm up though, so with my busy schedule I had to wait until Thursday to deliver them. And B's teacher didn't get hers until Friday, because by the time I made it over there she'd gone on to her sports team practice--the school day was over.

Both classrooms were very appreciative of their pies though!

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie from

Quartered peanut butter cups top this rich smooth pie from Rhonda McDaniel of Rossville, Georgia. "It's always a hit at gatherings," she says. "It saves time, too, because it can be made in advance and frozen until needed."

6-8 Servings
Prep: 15 min. + chilling

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2/3 cup whipped topping
14 peanut butter cups,divided
1 chocolate crumb crust (9 inches)

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and peanut butter until
light and fluffy. Fold in whipped topping. Coarsely chop half of the
peanut butter cups; stir into cream cheese mixture. Spoon into crust. Quarter remaining peanut butter cups; arrange over
the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Yield: 6-8

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Pie Crust Recipe

At least one person has asked me for my pie crust recipe. The one I use the most, which has always worked for me, is from a book titled, "All About Home Baking" by General Foods Kitchens, published in 1960. This book used to belong to my Aunt Jean, but evidently she left it behind with Grandma Crabill when she got married, and when I was asking for cookbooks Grandma gave me this one. So here is the recipe:

Flaky Pastry

Tender, flaky pastry is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Measure carefully and follow instructions.

2 1/4 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup shortening
7 Tbsp. cold water

Combine flour and salt. Cut in about 1/2 cup of the shortening, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add remaining shortening in several pieces, and cut in until mixture is the size of large peas.

Sprinkle with water, a small amount at a time. Mix lightly with a fork until all particles are moistened and cling together when pastry is pressed into a ball. Amount of water may vary with flours. Cover with damp cloth and let stand a few minutes.

For 2-crust pie: Roll out 1/2 of the pastry very thin (less than 1/8 inch thick) on lightly floured surface. Press into a 9-inch pie pan and trim pastry at edge of rim. Roll out remaining pastry very thin and cut several 2-inch slits or a fancy design near center. Fill pie shell. Moisten edge of bottom crust. To adjust top crust, fold pastry in half or roll loosely onto rolling pin and center on filling. Open slits with a knife. (Well-opened slits are important to permit escape of steam during baking.) Trim top crust, allowing it to extend 1/2 inch over rim. To seal, press top and bottom crusts together on rim. Then fold edge of top crust under bottom crust and flute. Bake in hot oven (425 degrees F) for 50 to 60 minutes, or as recipe directs.

For pie shell, prepare half recipe of Flaky pastry, roll out, press into pie pan, trim 1 inch larger than pie pan and form a standing rim, then flute it. Prick pastry with fork, pricking all over and very thoroughly around the bottom curve of pan. Bake at 450 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool before filling.

One of our favorite things to do with leftover crust is to roll it out, then put butter and cinnamon-sugar on it and bake for about 10-15 minutes. This is something I learned from my Grandmother Yow, who made a lot of pies in her time. My husband always thinks it's a special treat when I do this.

Week 2: Key Lime Pie

This week's pie was Key Lime. I've always wanted to make real Key Lime Pie. I soon found out there were so many recipes and variations out there. Some baked, some not. I had a hard time deciding, and finally settled on a Paula Deen version because, you know, what could go wrong with a Paula Deen recipe besides having a heart attack after you eat it?

The recipe called for a lot of cream, half and half, and key lime juice. I was successful in following the directions, up to a point...then it kinda went pear-shaped toward the end.

The cream whipped up just fine. Then I added sugar, and that went well too. But when it came time to add the lime juice and half and half, it seemed that it was just too much liquid for the whipped cream to handle. It was a semi-runny mess for quite a while. Finally I thought to myself, I wonder if there are any hints on the Food Network page for this recipe. Reading through everyone's comments, I soon realized that almost everyone had had trouble with this recipe.

After letting it mix for a little while longer, I finally in desperation added some lime jell-o powder, and then proceeded to pour it into the graham cracker crusts I'd purchased. At this point I also discovered that the recipe made way more than the 1 pie that it had stated. I'd doubled the recipe, of course, since I was planning to make 3 pies total. But I filled the 3 pie shells, plus a couple of tiny shells (at my daughter's request), and still had enough left in the bowl to fill one more shell (that I didn't have).

Paula's instructions stated that they were to be frozen for 4-6 hours, and that successfully firmed them up. But whenever they are out of the freezer they turn runny again.

I took one of my tiny pies to my friend Emily who is in the hospital for some rehab. Then I gave a large pie to my friend Sharon, who came by with some camp stuff she was cleaning out of her house and said was mine. The last pie is still waiting, and will probably be delivered next week when I make more pies.

I think I will try a key lime pie again some other time, but this time I will make sure to read reviews of the recipe before I get started. Lesson learned!

Key Lime Pie
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen,

Prep Time:20 minInactive
Prep Time:6 hr 0 min
Cook Time:8 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 10 to 12 servings.

•2 cups graham cracker crumbs
•1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
•1/2 cup butter, melted
•1 cup heavy whipping cream
•1/2 cup sugar
•1 (12-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
•3/4 cups key lime juice
•1 tablespoon key lime zest
•1 pint half-and-half
•Fresh lime slices. for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine cracker crumbs and brown sugar. Stir in melted butter. Press the mixture firmly into bottom and up sides of a 10-inch spring form pan. Bake for 8 minutes and let the crust cool completely before spreading the pie filling over it.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer at medium speed, beat cream until slightly thickened. Gradually add the sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Add condensed milk and beat until stiff peaks form. Beat in lime juice, lime zest, and half-and-half. Once the mixture as reached desired flavor and consistency, gently spread pie filling over cooled crust. Cover and freeze for 4 to 6 hours or until firm. Cut into wedges and garnish with fresh lime slices, serve cold.