Mini Cannoli Cups

ncMiniCannoliCups1nm

Here’s an easy recipe I made with Nasoya® Won Ton Wraps. I had never used these wraps before, so I was interested in trying them out when I was offered some complimentary product from Nasoya® (they also provided a gift card to cover … Continue reading

10 Sweet Potato Recipes

10SweetPotatoRecipes

Sweet potatoes recipes are perfect not only for Thanksgiving, but all holiday season long–and actually, some are great year-round! This Thanksgiving, I had made Never Fail Sweet Potato Pie, which was really good, and I thought I’d share a roundup … Continue reading

Never Fail Sweet Potato Pie

ncNFSwtPotPie2nm

This time of year is sweet potato pie time! I’ve never made my own homemade sweet potato pie, so I decided this would be the year to do it. When I received some vouchers for complimentary products from the Sager Creek Vegetable Company recently, I … Continue reading

Chocolate Chess Pie from The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie

ncChocChessPie1nm

Pies are a great holiday dessert. Pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies seem to be the traditional favorites, but Chocolate Chess Pie sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? That’s one of the many delicious pie recipes from The Hoosier 1375466665-hoosier_mama_bookMama Book of Pie. I received a review copy recently, and enjoyed looking at all the recipes and colorful photos of the many pies in that homey, retro-style cookbook! I’m not a great pie-maker myself, but I do appreciate a well-baked pie! :)

Author Paula Haney opened  the Hoosier Mama Pie Company in Chicago on March 14, 2009–which is also “Pi day”! There was a line of customers around the block, and from day one, Paula has been baking and selling more pies than she probably ever dreamed of! If anyone knows how to make a great pie, Paula does, and she shares  her recipes for all kinds of pies–fruit pies, cream pies, chess pies, and savory pies. She also includes recipes for pie crusts, hand pies, scones, and quiches. You’ll find helpful tips and techniques sprinkled throughout the book, too.

Some great-sounding pies that got my attention in this book include:

  • Pear, Apple, and Cranberry Pie with Walnut Crumble
  • Maple-Pecan Pie
  • Caramel-Banana Cream Pie
  • Peanut Butter Pie with Chocolate Ganache
  • Red Line Espresso Cream Pie
  • Cheddar Vegetable Pie
  • French Onion Soup Pie
  • Chicken Pot Pie
  • Ham and Brie Quiche
  • Sweet Potato Hand Pies

And, as I mentioned, the Chocolate Chess Pie sounded pretty great, too, so I decided I’d try that one out. It’s a very rich, chocolatey, fudgy pie. Mine had a thin, crusty top layer that crackled as I cut into the pie–I’m not sure if it’s supposed to have a crusty top layer–it’s possible I may have baked it just a bit too long (see my notes in the recipe on the baking time). Nonetheless, it was still very fudgy and yummy!

CHOCOLATE CHESS PIE from The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

  • 1 single-crust pie shell (Paula recommends her All-Butter Pie Dough that’s finished off with a napkin fold, which she explains how to do in her book; if you use a frozen pie shell like I did, get a regular, not deep dish, pie shell)
  • Pie Wash (equal parts whole milk and cream mixed together in a very small bowl or cup) for brushing the pie shell–I used 1 teaspoon each of milk and cream
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 ounces 70% bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla paste (I didn’t have vanilla paste, so I just used 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Place the pie shell on a baking sheet and brush the rim with Pie Wash. Set aside.

Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler, or in a medium heatproof bowl set on top of a saucepan of simmering water.

Remove the butter from the heat and beat in the sugar until it is thoroughly incorporated. The mixture should look shiny, but not greasy. If the mixture appears greasy, continue to beat.

Melt the chocolate in a separate bowl in the same manner as the butter. Remove from the heat. Be sure to wipe any condensation off the bottom of the bowl, otherwise it may drip into your batter.

Stir the melted chocolate into the butter mixture.

Add the eggs one at a time, whisking to combine after each addition.

Add the cornmeal, vanilla paste, and salt and mix until thoroughly combined.

Scrape down the side and bottom of the bowl and incorporate any unmixed butter. Pour the batter into the pie shell.

Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, rotating 180 degrees every 20 minutes, until the top of the pie doesn’t give when pressed firmly in the middle. (Note: My pie was done at about 58 minutes, and I think it may have been a little too long, so you may want to check yours a little early, like around 55 minutes). The pie will rise up to 1 inch above the rim of the pie tin as it bakes, then fall slowly as it cools. The finished pie may be slightly concave. (The top of my pie had a thin crusty layer, which looks a little odd when the pie has risen fresh out of the oven, but it looks fine after the pie falls when cooling. It did crackle when I cut it, though).

The baked pie can be stored at room temperature for 3 to 5 days.

All in all, I thought the pie was very dense, moist, and delicious! The photo of the pie in this cookbook shows it dusted with powdered sugar, so I did that, too, while the pie was still warm. It makes a nice finishing touch!

Have you ever made a Chocolate Chess Pie? What’s your favorite holiday pie?

Spanakopita from 175 Best Mini Pie Recipes and a Giveaway!

ncLRSpanakopita1nm

Spanakopita is one of my favorite appetizers. I have always loved these bites of cheesy spinach filling and flaky phyllo crust. But I’ve never tried making them. So, when I received a review copy of 175 Best Mini Pie Recipes: Sweet to Savory and discovered a recipe for them in the book, I knew it was time to give it a try! I’m really glad I did–they were really good! I’m sharing the recipe with you later in this post. But first I’ll tell you more about the book, because there are all sorts of mini pie recipes in it…and I have a giveaway copy you can enter to win, too! See the end of the post for the giveaway details!

minipiecover175 Best Mini Pie Recipes (softcover), by chef and food writer Julie Anne Hession, has all kinds of wonderful sweet and savory recipes. Here are just a few…Blackberry Sugarplum Cornmeal Pies, Raspberry Nectarine Gallettes, Caramel Apple Hand Pies, Brown Butter Custard Pear Tarts, Southern Banana Pudding Pies, Carrot Cake Pies with Cream Cheese Crust, Chocolate Cappuccino Pocket Pies, Pesto Chicken Hand Pies, Pork Empanadas with Salsa Verde, Mini Cheese and Sausage Calzones, Croque Madame Breakfast Cups, Minestrone Pot Pies…and lots of other tasty treats for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. The book also includes helpful tips in the chapters on Creating Perfect Mini Pies and Working with Dough. So if you’re new to pie-making, you’ll find this book helpful and easy to understand. And if you’re an experienced pie maker, you’ll enjoy the wide variety and creative recipes to choose from!

Here’s the recipe for Spanakopita…no need to make any dough for this, since it calls for purchased phyllo dough. If you haven’t ever used phyllo sheets in a recipe, you may find it a little tricky to work with because they are so thin and delicate…but after folding a few spanakopitas, you’ll get the hang of it! :)

SPANAKOPITA from 175 Best Mini Pie Recipes

Makes 24 Triangles

When people think of Greek food, spanakopita is likely one of the first dishes that come to mind. Serve these crisp spinach and feta phyllo pies as a flavorful vegetarian appetizer at parties–they will quickly disappear!–Julie Ann Hession

  • 1 Tablespoon (15 mL) unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces (375 g) fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped green onions
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 mL) chopped parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2mL) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (250 mL) crumbled feta cheese
  • 24 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375˚F (190˚C), positioning racks in upper and lower thirds. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

1. Filling: In a large skillet, melt butter with olive oil over medium heat. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

2. Squeeze excess liquid from spinach, then transfer to a cutting board. Chop coarsely and place in a large bowl. Add green onions, parsley, lemon juice, egg, nutmeg, salt, and pepper; stir to blend. Add feta and toss to blend.

3. Place one sheet of phyllo on clean work surface, short side facing you. Working quickly, brush with melted butter and fold in half lengthwise. Brush again with butter.

4. Spoon 1 heaping Tablespoon (20 mL) spinach filling onto bottom left side of strip, leaving about a 1-inch (2.5 cm) border at the bottom. Fold bottom left corner over the filling to form a triangle, then continue to fold triangles up the strip of phyllo to the top as if you were folding a flag. Brush top of triangle with butter, pressing end to seal. Place triangle, seam side down, on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining phyllo and filling, making 24 triangles.

5. Bake in preheated oven at 375˚F for 18 to 20 minutes, switching positions of baking sheets halfway through, until phyllo is deep golden brown and crisp. Cool slightly and serve warm.

Tip: The key to making perfectly crisp spanakopita is to ensure that excess liquid is removed from the spinach before filling. If your filling begins to produce liquid while you are still constructing the triangles, remove it by straining or by pressing the spoonful against the side of the bowl before placing on the pastry. This will make the difference between soggy and spectacular bits.

Make Ahead: Spanakopita can be assembled and frozen for up to five days. Freeze pies for 30 minutes on baking sheets, then seal in zip-top bags. Bake from frozen as directed.

minipiecover

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

Congratulations to commentor #18, Marie, for winning the book!

Now for the Giveaway…if you’d like to enter to win a copy of 175 Best Mini Pie Recipes, leave a comment on this blog post between now and Saturday, June 1, at midnight (CST)–the random drawing will be made from the comments on this post only! The winner will be chosen randomly via Random.org and announced on Sunday, June 2. Winner will be notified via email (if winner does not respond in 3 days, I’ll do another drawing). Giveaway limited to readers in the Continental U.S. and Canada.

First entry: Leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite kind of pie is.

Bonus entry: If you are a new or existing follower or subscriber, you can leave one extra comment telling me the way (or ways) you are following.

Can’t wait to hear what kind of pies you all like! :)

Rustic Plum Tart

ncPlumTart3nm

I’m not the greatest pie-maker…I still need to improve my baking skills in that area! So I thought I would attempt an easier recipe, and this Rustic Plum Tart I found at MyRecipes seemed like a good place to start. The original recipe has a note that says, “If the plums are very ripe, their juices may ooze out of the tart and onto the parchment paper [lined pan], but this adds to the desserts’ rustic charm.” I had a little oozing, but not that much, and I liked the rustic look of this tart. There’s a syrup made from the extra juices of the plums, which is drizzled over the entire tart after baking and then drizzled a little more on each piece when serving. Those drizzles of syrup makes the tart really yummy!

This tart was pretty easy to make, partly because the recipe calls for a refrigerated pie crust. If you like making your own crust, you could do that, too. I used red plums in this tart, but you can use any variety of plums. You can also use other fruit, like peaches and nectarines, apricots, or cherries, and I’m including these variations at the end of the recipe.

If you’ve never made a tart or pie, you’ll have to try this out!

RUSTIC PLUM TART adapted from MyRecipes

Makes 8 servings

  • Parchment paper
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 cups of sliced, unpeeled plums (or 1 1/2 pounds unpeeled plums, sliced)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup plum preserves (I used Smucker’s® Red Plum Jam)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or cinnamon
  • one pie crust from a (15-ounce) package of refrigerated pie crusts (or use a homemade crust)
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Sweet Cream Topping or purchased whipped cream (optional)

Line your baking sheet with parchment paper and coat parchment paper with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together sliced plums, sugar, plum preserves, vanilla extract, and allspice or cinnamon in a large bowl. Let mixture stand 30 minutes at room temperature, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, unroll pie crust on the parchment-lined baking sheet and using a rolling pin, roll into a larger 12-inch circle.

Drain plum mixture, reserving liquid; toss plums in the tablespoon of flour. Mound plums in center of pie crust, leaving a 3-inch border. Fold pie crust border up and over plums, pleating as you go, leaving an opening about 5 inches wide in the center.

Stir together the egg and 1 Tablespoon of water, then brush pie crust border generously with egg mixture (I didn’t use the entire mixture, but you can if you need to). Sprinkle sugar over the egg mixture and pie crust border.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until filling is bubbly and crust is golden. Carefully transfer tart on parchment paper to a wire rack; cool 20 minutes. Here’s what my tart looked like after it was baked and cooled…

Meanwhile, bring reserved plum liquid to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boil 1 to 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Let cool slightly, then brush or drizzle 1 to 2 Tablespoons of the hot plum liquid over exposed fruit in center of tart.

Serve immediately with remaining plum syrup (lightly drizzled over each piece) and Sweet Cream Topping or whipped cream , if desired.

SWEET CREAM TOPPING: Stir together 1/2 cup sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt) and 2 teaspoons brown sugar. Cover and chill 2 hours. Stir just before serving.

ncPlumTart4nm

TART VARIATIONS

PEACH-NECTARINE TART:  Prepare recipe as directed, substituting 1 1/2 cups (or 3/4 lb.) peeled nectarines and 1 1/2 cups (or 3/4 lb.) peeled peaches for the plums, and peach preserves for the plum preserves. Note: White Peaches don’t work well in this tart because of their delicate texture.

APRICOT-ALMOND TART: Prepare recipe as directed, substituting fresh apricots for plums and apricot preserves for plum preserves (no need to peel the apricots). Omit allspice or cinnamon. Substitute almond extract for vanilla extract. You could also sprinkle some sliced almonds on top of the fruit in the center of the tart before baking.

FRESH CHERRY TART: Prepare recipe as directed, substituting 3 cups (or 1 1/2 lbs.) fresh cherries, pitted, for plums and cherry preserves for plum preserves.

Do you like making pies and tarts? What’s your favorite flavor?

Sweet and Juicy Blackberry Crumble

ncBlkberyCrum1nm

A few days ago, I told you about a great line of products available at Whole Foods Market–the 365 Everyday Value organic frozen fruits and veggies. I made a delicious Very Berry Smoothie with their Frozen Berry Blend and I decided to make a Blackberry Crumble with their organic frozen blackberries. Those berries were so big! They probably would have tasted great thawed out and eaten just the way they were…or used as a topping on yogurt with a sprinkling of granola. But I decided to make a Blackberry Crumble because it just sounded good, and I had never made a Blackberry Crumble before. I looked at some different recipes and came up with my own version. I really liked the way it tasted! Not having made one of these before, I wasn’t quite sure what a typical blackberry crumble was supposed to look like…mine wasn’t as thick I thought it would be and was a little runny…not watery-runny, but sweet-syrupy-juicy runny, which was okay with me! The blackberries had just the right amount of sweetness, with a little punch of flavor from the lemon juice, and the buttery, brown-sugar crumble topping was a great finishing touch. I liked using oats in the topping, too–anything with oats always seems a little healthier to me! :)

ncBlkBryCrum3nm

I noticed that some crumble recipes said to mash the berries, but I didn’t mash mine; I just put them in the baking pan while they were still frozen. The crumble might be a little less juicy/runny if you’re using fresh berries or if you thaw and drain your frozen berries before putting them in the pan, so you can try it that way if you prefer.

This crumble would be great to make for dessert or even for a brunch…it’s a yummy way to have your fruit in the morning! The recipe makes four good-sized servings in an 8×8″ pan; you can also double the recipe and make it in a 9×13″ pan.

SWEET AND JUICY BLACKBERRY CRUMBLE by NancyCreative

Makes an 8×8″ pan

  • 2 1/2 to 4 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen (I used a 10-ounce package of Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Organic Frozen Blackberries, which came to 2 1/2 cups; if you want a thicker crumble, use 4 cups)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (you may want to use a little more sugar if you’re using 4 cups of berries)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons lemon juice (about the juice of 1 small lemon)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (I used unbleached flour)
  • 1/3 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spread the blackberries in an 8×8″ baking pan (if using frozen berries, you don’t need to thaw them out and drain them, but you can do that if you want a thicker berry texture); sprinkle berries evenly with 1/3 cup granulated sugar. Then sprinkle the lemon juice over the berries and sugar.

For crumble topping, combine butter and brown sugar, then add in flour, oats, and salt. Mix all ingredients together until crumbly. Sprinkle over the berries. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 48 minutes (a longer baking time may be needed if using frozen, unthawed berries). Serve warm or cold. Makes 4 servings.

This crumble tastes great topped with ice cream. Or you can drizzle the sweet, juicy syrup from the pan over the crumble. Next time I make this, I’m going to double the recipe and save some of the extra yummy syrup from the pan to use as a topping on ice cream or pancakes!

ncBlkBryCrm2nm

Have you ever made a berry crumble? Do you like to use fresh or frozen berries? Mashed or unmashed? If you have any berry crumble-making tips, please feel free to share! :)

Linked to Strut Your Stuff, Full Plate Thursday, Show Off Your Stuff, Seasonal Saturday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Foodie Friday.