Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I ate Strawberry Rhubarb Pie for the first time at my cousin’s Confirmation lunch when I was eight or nine. I didn’t know what it was, but I had three servings and only stopped my gluttonous endeavor because the tart rhubarb started to make my mouth hurt. For years after, I ordered it any time I spotted it on a dessert menu.

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Fresh rhubarb can generally only be found in the spring, and I’ve missed my window of opportunity the past few years. But lo and behold, the bright red stalks caught my eye at Fairway this week and I grabbed them like they were the last drops of morning dew in The Land Before Time (for those of you who don’t get that *v cool* 90’s movie reference, I snatched the rhubarb quickly and without hesitation).

This recipe is adapted from Epicurious.

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INGREDIENTS:

2 Pillsbury pie crusts, thawed according to package instructions

1 pound rhubarb, chopped into 1/2 inch slices

1 16-ounce container strawberries, hulled, halved (about 3 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (to dot)

1 large egg yolk beaten and blended with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

1 tablespoon turbinado or granulated sugar (to sprinkle on top)

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Press one pie crust into the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan. In a large bowl, combine the fruit, sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon, and sugar. Pour into prepared pie crust. Dot with butter.

You can either place the full second pie crust on top, crimp the edges, and cut slits for ventilation, OR cut the second pie crust into strips and create a lattice work top.

Once the second crust is on, brush it with the egg-water glaze. Sprinkle the turbinado (or 1 tbsp of granulated) sugar over the top.

Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and baked for an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes*. The filling should be thick and the crust golden when you remove it.

*I have a powerful oven, so you may need to keep it in for another 5-10 minutes.

Let cool on a rack then enjoy with vanilla ice cream!

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4th of July Berry Pie

The past few weeks I’ve been in a heightened state of spring cleaning. Throwing out random receipts (except the ones from Sur and Moonlight Rollerway in LA, obv), old shoes, and a terrible hat collection has been my go-to pastime. As I ran out of things to toss from my room, I set my sights on the refrigerator. In it, I found remnants of my insanely brief smoothie faze: a bag of frozen mixed berries. Next to this sad ghost of a healthier me sat an unopened bag of frozen cherries, which were leftover from last week’s cherry pie. In a fit of glorious, cleaning-driven energy I whipped up this five berry pie. It’s based on a recipe from Food Network, though I changed it a little bit to make it tarter since I love a good tang in my pie. I also used a star shaped cookie cutter from Christmas to make cute stars to top the pie with, turning what would be a regular, ho-hum-da-dum pie into a stunningly fabulous Fourth of July Berry Pie.

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INGREDIENTS:

4 cups of frozen berries, thawed (I used cherries, strawbs, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries)

2 Pillsbury pie crusts

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (you can use a little more or a little less depending on how sweet you want the filling to be)

4-5 tbsp cornstarch (depending on how thick you want it to be– I’d start with 4 and work your way up if you need to add more)

1/8 tsp vanilla

1-2 tbsp lemon juice

1 1/2 tbsp butter, to dot

1 tbsp granulated sugar, to sprinkle

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DIRECTIONS:

Place berries in medium saucepan and place over heat. Cover. After the cherries lose considerable juice, which may take a few minutes, remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch together. Pour this mixture into the hot berries and mix well. Mix in the lemon and vanilla. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool– I always lose patience and just wait until it’s not hot… oh well. If the filling is too thick, add a little water, too thin, add a little more cornstarch.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place one Pillsbury crust in the pie pan. Using a star cookie cutter, punch stars out of the other one. Set aside.

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Pour the cooled berry mixture into the crust. Dot with butter. Top with the star cutouts, then sprinkle the remaining tbsp of granulated sugar on top.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

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Chicken Pot Pie

It’s hard to find shockingly good recipes, but this is one of them. I have never been a huge fan of chicken pot pie, probably because up until now I’ve only eaten the frozen ones. It might seem strange to try a recipe for something that I don’t like, but I had a feeling this one would change my mind, and I was right! This recipe, though not complicated, is a bit time consuming, so I’ve been waiting for a day where I had a few spare hours to make it. Finally, a nippy fall day rolled along on which I didn’t have work, so I thawed those peas and grilled that chicken and geared up to make chicken pot pie.

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The wonderful blogger behind this recipe, Joy the Baker, warns against using pre-made pie crusts with this recipe. Normally I would have heeded her advice, but I was in no mood to patch together pate brisee, so I went for it: I used Pillsbury. Consequently, I had to cook my pie for about 10 minutes past the instructed baking time, and it didn’t appear to be as crispy as Joy’s. But, truth be told I’m kind of into semi-moist pie crusts (if you use Pillsbury and notice that your crust appears to be a bit translucent, it’s probably not undercooked, it’s just absorbed some of the creamy filling!). Additionally, I switched out her preferred fresh string beans for canned corn, which I had on hand. The corn also added a nice pop of color to the pie.

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One of the most convenient things about this recipe is that it calls for grilled chicken breasts, not leftovers from a rotisserie chicken, which many chicken pot pies use. However, because you’re using grilled chicken, make sure you season it well with salt and pepper so that it has as much flavor as a rotisserie chicken would.

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Original Recipe: http://joythebaker.com/2014/04/double-crust-chicken-pot-pie/

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INGREDIENTS:

2 pre-made Pillsbury pie crusts, thawed

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups chicken stock

3/4  cup whole milk>> I often use skim when recipes call for whole milk, but in this case, USE WHOLE MILK! It adds to the creamy luxuriousness of the sauce.

2 oz cream cheese

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups cubed chicken meat (2-3 chicken breasts, seasoned and grilled)

2 tablespoons butter, unsalted or salted is fine

1 small onion, diced

1 small garlic clove, minced

1 cup thinly sliced carrots

1 cup canned corn, drained

3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

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DIRECTIONS:

In a medium-large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.  Whisk in the flour.  The mixture, which is a roux, will look almost too thick- but don’t worry, that’s what it’s supposed to look like.  Heat for 1 minute.  Reduce heat to low and slowly add the chicken stock.  Whisk until no flour globs remain.  Whisk in the milk and add the cream cheese.  Heat over medium low heat, stirring often, until cream cheese has melted and the mixture is thick but not stiff.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove mixture from heat and carefully pour or spoon into a medium bowl.  Set aside.

In the same skillet over medium heat, melt butter.  Add onions and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add minced garlic and saute for one minute more.  Add carrots, corn, and peas.  Cook for  about 5 minutes. Remove from heat even if the veggies still look crisp, and stir in cooked, cubed chicken.  Pour the mixture into the sauce, and stir to combine. Set aside and let cool for a hot sec.

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Unroll one pie crust and place in a 9 inch pie dish. Make sure there are no cracks, or the filling may seep through. If the crusts are fully thawed, they generally won’t crack.

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Spoon or carefully pour the filling into the bottom pie crust.

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Drape the second pie crust over the filling in the pie dish. With your fingers press the top and bottom crusts together and fold under. Crimp the edges of the dough. Cut five small slits in the top of the crust so the steam can vent.  Brush lightly with beaten egg and place in the fridge to chill while the oven preheats.

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Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

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Place pie in the oven bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce the oven heat to 375 and bake for 20-25 (increased time based on Pillsbury crusts) more minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 1 hour before serving.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkins are amazing. They’re beautiful, have a long shelf life, and most importantly, they can become pie. I try to pretend that pumpkin pie is at least moderately healthy since it’s made out of a squash-like fruit (naturally ignoring the fact that this fruit sits on top of a buttery crust and is topped with heaping dollops of whipped cream). Pumpkin pie is also among the easiest to make if you use canned pumpkin and a ready-made pie crust. Though I normally make it this way for Thanksgiving since I would be insane to attempt anything more elaborate while making all of the other desserts that the holiday entails, I do enjoy using fresh pumpkin when I have the time.

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So, today, I peeled, seeded, and cubed a sugar pumpkin that I picked off the vine* at Hank’s Pumpkintown out east. This is the most time consuming part of making pumpkin pie from scratch; pumpkins are relatively easy to peel (using a knife, not a vegetable peeler), but they can be tough to cut through. After steaming the pumpkin, I put it in the food processor, which you will notice in the following picture, has been in my family since formica countertops were in vogue.

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I also made the crust from scratch using Martha Stewart’s pie crust recipe, which can be found on her website: http://www.marthastewart.com/344292/our-favorite-pie-crust … This was my first attempt at truly crimping the crust; please forgive any glaring crimping errors. The original recipe for the pie filling hails from Libby’s, the brand of canned pumpkin that my family always uses. I altered it slightly to omit cloves and include nutmeg. I also used a little of the extra pie crust to make a jack-o-lantern face, which I put on top of the pie about halfway through baking.

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Original Recipe: https://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/18470/libbys-famous-pumpkin-pie/

*full disclosure, my friend Sam kicked it off the vine for me… did you know that pumpkin vines are super prickly??

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Scant 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

large eggs

15 oz. pumpkin puree (a little less than 2 cups)

1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk

unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and nutmeg in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

Pour filling into pie shell.

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Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees; bake for 20 minutes or until slightly firm, then apply jack-o-lantern face to the center of the pie. Continue baking for another 20-30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving (unless you don’t like whipped cream, in which case I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOUR LIFESTYLE).

 

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Enjoy!

Leslie