Friday, May 6, 2011

Week 18: Teacher Appreciation, Plus!

Well here I am again at another Teacher Appreciation Week. When I began this experiment I thought I'd do pies every single week for a year. Over a year later I'm not even halfway. Lots of things happen to thwart my good intentions: work, lack of grocery money to buy pie supplies, general busy-ness, major surgery, etc.! I don't mind, I'll just keep plodding along.

This week was teacher appreciation week at my boys' schools. I made an apple pie for each of them, and delivered them on Friday.

My third delivery was to the county courthouse. We recently discovered that some restitution money that was supposed to go to us, was mis-delivered by the mail service and then deposited in the receiving party's bank account! A police investigation failed to result in an arrest or the return of our money. Out of desperation I called the county courthouse accounting department and asked for a lady I had worked with before, who had gotten me a copy of the check so that the matter could be investigated. She let me know that there was a form that I could fill out that would result in the county treasurer investigating the matter, and if they got the money back they would then send it to us. She couldn't get hold of the treasurer's office on Friday afternoon, so on Monday she checked with that office and called me to let me know what she found. I felt like Jeannie really went out of her way to help me find a solution, when noone else would. So I made her a pie, and delivered it today, and I hope that it really made her day, week, month, whatever! I felt like she deserved to know that her efforts were appreciated.

For the recipe for this pie, go to April 2010 in my pie blog.

Hopefully more to come next week! I do so enjoy the pie-baking process when I make the time to do it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Own Banana Cream Pie

I was asked to serve in our church's nursery starting in January. We had to go out of town on the second Sunday of January, to go see our nephew give his farewell talk in church before leaving on a two-year mission to Brazil. So, I had to ask one of the nursery parents if they could substitute.

I was delighted when the first parent I got hold of readily agreed to take my place. So I baked her a pie and she was delighted that she finally got to be part of the blog.

This week I was craving good old Southern comfort food. I love a good Southern banana pudding, with the layers of vanilla wafers, bananas, pudding, and whipped cream. So I decided to try to replicate this in a pie. Since I couldn't find any truly satisfactory recipes online for doing this, I made my own.

Southern Banana Cream Pie
recipe by Margo Mead

1 1/2 cups crushed vanilla wafers
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2-2 bananas, sliced
1 4-serving box instant banana pudding, prepared as directed on box for pie filling (takes less milk than for pudding)
cool whip or prepared whipping cream

Combine crushed wafers with melted butter or margarine. Press on bottom and sides of pie pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool.

Place sliced bananas all over bottom and sides of crust. Pour in prepared instant pudding. Top with cool whip and additional sliced bananas. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. Best if eaten the same day.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Week 16: Grasshopper Pie

As Thanksgiving approached I signed up for a daily e-mail from Taste of Home with a pie recipe each day. This grasshopper pie was one of those recipes that came to my inbox. It sounded pretty awesome: chocolate pudding with Andes mints chopped up in it, chocolate crust, whipped cream flavored with a little peppermint, and more Andes mints sprinkled on top.

I was a little short on funds so I decided to get chocolate graham crackers to make my own crusts, rather than the pre-made chocolate crust called for in the recipe.

The crusts worked out pretty well, made just like regular graham cracker crusts, with sugar and melted butter and baked in the oven for a few minutes.

It was fun and easy to make. I took one to our bishop, although he wasn't home to get it when I drove all the way up there (luckily I was able to sneak it in the house), and one to another bishopric member who had a sick family that weekend.

Hubby didn't like the pie as much as I thought he would. I think we would have rather had a plain pie shell rather than a chocolate graham cracker crust. I thought it was very delicious, though.

Grasshopper Pie

1-1/2 cups cold milk
1 package (3.9 ounces) instant chocolate pudding mix
2-3/4 cups whipped topping, divided
1 package (4.67 ounces) mint Andes candies, chopped, divided
1 chocolate crumb crust (9 inches)
1/4 teaspoon mint extract
2 drops green food coloring, optional

In a small bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Fold in 3/4 cup whipped topping. Fold in 3/4 cup candies. Spoon into crust.

In another bowl, combine extract and remaining whipped topping; add food coloring if desired. Spread over pudding layer; sprinkle with remaining candies. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set. Yield: 8 servings.

Week 15: Pumpkin Pies for Thanksgiving and Why You Don't Take Your Dog Along on Pie Deliveries

After the State Fair, I think I was burnt out on pies, and I took a little respite that turned into a nearly-three-month vacation from piemaking. Life seemed to get busier and a lot of the time I didn't think I missed it.

But as Thanksgiving came close, I got antsy to make some pies again. I found myself getting the ingredients for pumpkin pie, even though I didn't need it for Thanksgiving dinner because someone else was bringing that pie. So I made three pies and proceeded to give them out: one to a friend who'd just had surgery, and one to a friend whose husband was recovering from a pretty serious infection.

What happened to the third pie, you ask? Well, that is why you don't take the dog along on pie deliveries. I came out from delivering one of the pies and found that the dog had found the pies I'd hidden under my heavy coat, and was nibbling on the edge of one of them. Sigh.

It felt good to get back in the pie-making groove.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Week 14: The State Fair and the Nut Pie Invention

The Oregon State Fair was coming up at the end of August. I was planning to enter several pies into the regular contest for ribbons. Plus there was a special contest by Karo syrup for the best pie using Karo. You had to take your pie there on a particular date and time to enter this special contest.

I proceeded to look into what kind of pies you could make with Karo, and found that the usual is a pecan pie. Looking around some more, I found some pies using other nuts that sounded good.

I made three different pies, one a regular pecan pie, the other two hazelnuts with two different substitutions for the bourbon called for in the original recipe, and had my Walgreens coworkers try them and vote for which one they liked best. The voting was pretty close but the one with the Toriani butter rum syrup won out.

Then I gave it some thought, plus discovered that we're supposed to invent our own recipe, and decided to use the technique I'd learned from the hazelnut pies, but combine three kinds of nuts instead of just hazelnuts, to make a hybrid version of the recipe.

In the meantime I had to take my regular-entry pies to Bob's Red Mill to enter them. I discovered after making my pies that I couldn't enter refrigerated pies, so the strawberry cream cheese pie stayed home with us. I entered the Cherry-Cherry-Berry Pie that I've made several times before, the Spiced Peach Pie that I made for the Washington County Fair, and a blueberry pie that I'd also made for the county fair.

On the day of the Karo Syrup contest Alyssa and I traveled down to Salem for the day, with my beautiful hybrid Three-Nut-Maple Pie.

We were so excited as we made our way to the building where the contest was (and it wasn't easy, because the map wasn't very clear). Imagine my disappointment when I inquired about the contest and learned that I was supposed to be there 1/2 hour before the contest time. The pie had to come home. It was delicious though! And I will try again next year. And, I won two red ribbons, one for the cherry pie and the other for the blueberry pie. Not bad for a first-time state fair competitor!

Most of this episode's recipes have appeared in previous posts, so I won't post them again here.

And here is the recipe for the pie I "invented":

Three-Nut Maple Caramel Pie

  • 3/4 cup  maple syrup (can be real, but fake seems to do just as well!)
  • 1/2 cup Karo light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Torani caramel syrup
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup chopped almonds
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 prepared 1-crust pie crust, rolled out and put in pie pan
  • Topping: Smucker’s Sundae Syrup, caramel flavor
This pie won a blue ribbon and a special Best in Class ribbon at the 2011 Oregon State Fair.
Bring maple syrup, corn syrup, brown sugar, and salt to boil in saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling 1 minute, reducing heat as needed to prevent mixture from boiling over. Remove pan from heat. Add caramel syrup and butter; whisk until butter melts. Let cool to lukewarm, whisking occasionally, about 20 minutes.Preheat oven to 350°F. Scatter nuts over prepared pie crust. Whisk eggs and vanilla extract in bowl until blended. Whisk cooled caramel-maple-sugar mixture into egg mixture. Pour mixture over nuts in crust. Bake pie until filling is set, about 50 minutes. Cool on rack. Drizzle with caramel sundae syrup when cooled.

Week 13: The Orange Mousse Pies that Never Went Anywhere

I joined a group called "Love the Pie" on Facebook, and they posted a link to an Orange Mousse Pie one day. I thought it sounded pretty good. So I went back and found the link, bought all the ingredients and proceeded to make it.

I tripled the recipe as usual. It made so much filling that I had to make 1 more pie shell to hold it all. So we had our pie for ourselves, and 3 other pies besides. And we found that the pie did not taste as good as the recipe looked. It was a little too creamy and not enough orange-y.

And then, life got in the way. I don't remember why, but I just could not find the time to get these pies out to anyone. Finally I appealed to my friends on Facebook to come pick them up, and one did. Cody took another one to a potluck. The last pie just got thrown away. I felt so wasteful, especially since the ingredients were not cheap. But in the end you just have to learn from it and go on.

Orange Mousse Pie

1 box Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup orange juice
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
2 cups whipping cream
2 large oranges, chopped, drained (2 cups)*

1 container (6 oz) Yoplait® Original 99% Fat Free French vanilla yogurt

1. Heat oven to 450°F. Bake pie crust as directed on box for One-Crust Baked Shell, using 9-inch glass pie plate. Cool on cooling rack 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in 1-quart saucepan, mix gelatin and orange juice; let stand 1 minute. Cook and stir over medium heat until dissolved. In small bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and orange peel with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Gradually add softened gelatin; blend well. Refrigerate until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.
3. In large bowl, beat whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into orange mixture; gently fold in chopped oranges. Spoon into crust. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. Garnish with additional orange peel, if desired. Top each serving with dollop of yogurt. Cover and refrigerate any remaining pie.

*One can (11 oz) mandarin orange segments, drained and coarsely chopped, can be substituted for the 2 large oranges.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Week 12: Off to the County Fair

The Washington County Fair was coming up this week. So on Friday, I spent all day baking eight pies altogether. I entered five of them in the fair. The other three were duplicates of some of the fair pies.

The pies had to be entered on Sunday, and were judged on Monday. But I had to wait until the fair opened on Thursday to find out if I won any ribbons

To my delight, I had won three blue ribbons, for the blueberry, peach, and cherry-cherry-berry pies.

I took the duplicate blueberry pie to work and shared it with my co-workers. It was delicious, with just-right sweetness and fresh blueberry taste.

I wasn't surprised that the other two pies had not won. We discovered that the duplicate lemon meringue pie was more like soup. It just didn't set up right. Alton Brown let me down. (I got the recipe from his show) The meringue looked rather like alligator skin--there must have been too much moisture.

The strawberry delight pie, which is the same one that won a blue ribbon at the Multnomah County fair back in May, turned out differently this time. It didn't taste as sweet, and the cream cheese flavor seemed too pronounced. No wonder it didn't win.

We have decided that the solution must be that I have to combine the recipes for the fresh strawberry pie, the one that I didn't make because the filling didn't thicken up enough, and the strawberry delight pie. That gives it the right sweetness and texture. I guess I've invented a new recipe!

You can find the recipe for the cherry-cherry-berry pie here, and the strawberry delight pie here (but watch for an updated recipe on that one). I'm not going to put this lemon meringue pie recipe in the blog, but you can see here for a different recipe I've used that has turned out well.

I've included the recipes for the peach pie and the blueberry pie below.

Spiced Peach Pie
recipe from, Sandra Lee

Prep Time:5 min
Cook Time:1 hr
Serves: 8 servings.

For filling:
2 (12-ounce) bags frozen peach slices
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup instant tapioca
2 tablespoons crystalized ginger, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For crust:
1 (11-ounces) box pie crust mix
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon peach nectar, chilled, divided
1 egg
2 tablespoons coarse sugar, for dusting, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

For filling:
In a medium bowl, stir to combine all filling ingredients. Set aside for 15 minutes.

For crust:
In a large bowl, stir together pie crust mix and 1/3 cup chilled peach nectar until dough forms a ball. Split dough in half, and form into 2 disks.

On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll dough 1 1/2-inches larger than an upside-down 9-inch pie pan. Fold dough in half and unfold over pie pan. Press onto bottom of pan.

Fill pie shell with peach filling mixture; set aside.

Roll out remaining dough and place over filled pie shell. Pinch the edges of the pie together or crimp with a fork. Trim away any excess dough.

Lightly beat egg with 1 tablespoon peach nectar or water to make egg wash. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush top of pie with egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar. Cut slit in center to vent pie.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 60 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is bubbling through vent. If edges get too brown, cover edges with foil to prevent burning.

Cool before slicing.

Country Blueberry Pie
Recipe courtesy Cheri Garnett, from

Prep Time:1 hr
Cook Time:1 hr
Serves: 6 to 8 servings.

3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water
3 cups blueberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shortening
1 egg
2 tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon vinegar
Flour, for dusting
Sugar, for sprinkling on top

Filling: Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and water. Add to a saucepan and heat rapidly until thickened. Set aside to cool as you prepare the pastry. Once cooled add the berries and lemon juice.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine flour, sugar and salt. Cut in shortening. Whisk together egg, water and vinegar. Add to flour mixture tossing lightly with a fork. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board and using your hands combine dough. Separate into 2 single crusts. Line the bottom of a pie plate with 1 of the crusts.

Pour filling into dough lined pie pan, and sprinkle the lemon juice over the filling. Adjust top crust, cut vents and flute rim. Sprinkle top lightly with sugar. Place pie onto a baking sheet and into the oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool, cut and enjoy!