Adventures of an unfussy foodie.

November 11, 2015

THE BEST Pumpkin Pie

Pump. Kin. Pie!!!!!!! I get excited about it right around September, but not just any pumpkin pie. I mean. I don't mean to sound as snobby as I am, but keep that Costco giganto monstrosity away from me.
That is not what I'm talking about when I say I like pumpkin pie.

I know you're all sick of emphatic statements like THE BEST Pumpkin Pie. Well I'm sorry, kind of, but I can't curb my enthusiasm for this pie. Can't. Won't. Etc.

My mother takes her pumpkin pie very, very seriously. (Hmmmm... wonder where I get it from...) Only my grandmother's will do. My grandmother isn't cheffy or particularly gourmet -- she uses the recipe from the back of the Libby's Pumpkin can. Which is a good recipe, but between you and me, this one is just so much better! If I tell you my mother likes it even better than Grandma's she will disavow all knowledge of such a statement, so I won't tell you that. Can't. Won't. Etc.

I think what I love most about it is the simplicity of the ingredients. Okay, I'm lying. What I love most about it is how it tastes, particularly the day after Thanksgiving. For breakfast. With whipped cream. While I listen to some Nat King Cole. And shake my head at all those crazies out there doing the Black Friday thing.


But the ingredients are simple and pure and completely delicious. Use the best quality ingredients you can find, and feel free to make your own pumpkin puree -- it's not hard and makes your pies something extra special. Use any crust recipe you like. Here's my favorite: All Butter Really Flaky Pie Dough. Bookmark that. Seriously. And use a good, fresh spice blend. I like Penzey's or to mix up my own using this recipe: Pumpkin Spice Blend.

I also love the texture. This is creamy and almost silky, but only if you don't overbake it. So watch it carefully to avoid that yucky, grainy, terrible thing that so many pumpkin pies have going on. Yes, I'm looking at you, Costco monster pie. You're the worst.

But give this recipe a shot. It's as simple as it can be, and definitely worth a special place at your Thanksgiving table!

Maple Spice Pumpkin Pie
recipe from the incomparable Aimee at Simple Bites

1 prepared, unbaked 9" pie crust
4 eggs
1 c. heavy cream
1 1/4 c. pumpkin puree (homemade, if you have it!)
2/3 c. pure maple syrup (NOT pancake syrup. Make sure it's the real stuff.)
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. pumpkin spice blend
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350F. Keep the pie crust chilling in the refrigerator while you work on the pumpkin filling.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream until well blended. Add the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla, salt and spice blend to the pie filling and combine well.
Remove crust from the fridge and put it on the middle rack of the oven. Slide the rack out a couple of inches and pour the filling into the pie shell. Slowly, slide the oven rack back into place, being very careful not to spill the filling onto the bottom of the oven.**
Check pie after about 30 minutes and rotate, if necessary, to ensure even baking.
When the center of the pie has puffed up, and jiggles only slightly when the pan is moved, the pie is ready. This will take about one hour.
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. When cooled to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve. (Up to three days in the fridge if well covered.)
Pie may also be well-wrapped and frozen for up to 8 weeks.

**If there is extra filling,you can pour it into a couple of ramekins and bake alongside your pie until set (they will set quicker than the pie, by virtue of the fact that they are smaller). Chill them, top with whipped cream and enjoy them as pumpkin custard. For breakfast. You have my permission.

PS: Double this recipe. I mean it! You'll want more than one.

October 21, 2015

Bleeding Heart Baked Brie and a Sneak Peek

Here's the thing. I don't usually get into Halloween very much. I dress up my babies, and generally entertain the idea of dressing up myself for about a week before deciding that I'm not that mom after all. But this year we got invited to a no-kids Halloween party, so I decided to drum up something fun (and dress up, too!)

So there was this baked Brie. Holy Hannah. It was so yummy and so simple to make, and so fancy-seeming, and so Halloween-y. So if you are looking for something to sweeten up your spooky night, make this! You will impress even yourself, and eat your daily calorie count in creamy cheese and crusty pastry. I'm sorry. (Only I'm not.)

In other news, here's a little slice of the new blog. I'm still hammering things out and figuring out how to forward things over from this site, but I've committed to a new name and URL, and I'm getting thoroughly -- well, I almost wrote the word "jazzed" and then thought better of it (and now I've written it anyhow... sigh) -- inspired and, you know, pumped! about the whole endeavor. I hope you guys are excited, too!

Won't be too long before I can show you the whole thing! (I hope!) I'm glad to report that it will be a bit simpler and easier to read, and there will be a whole lot less pink. (Which actually is kind of sad, but also a good thing.) So while I'm getting it all together, feel free to let me know if there are any changes you would really love to see. 

Bleeding Heart Baked Brie
from Taste of Home

8 oz. Brie cheese (a round would be ideal, I used a wedge -- still great!)
1 tube refrigerated crescent roll dough
1/3 c. cherry preserves + more as desired (for effect)
1 whole egg
1 tsp. water
crackers of your choice (for serving)

Unroll crescent roll dough, and pinch together seams to make a piece large enough to completely cover the Brie on all sides. (I set my Brie on the dough and made sure that I had full coverage before proceeding.)
In the center of the dough, place 1/4 to 1/3 c. cherry preserves. Set the Brie gently on top, and wrap with the dough, being sure to pinch the seams to seal. You don't want any gaps because then there will likely be oozing. Oozing cheese, oozing cherry preserves... You don't want any of that action.
Carefully flip the dough-covered Brie over so that the seams are on bottom, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and water to make an egg wash. Use a pastry brush to brush this mixture on all exposed sides of the dough. (This will give it a beautiful sheen. You could skip it, but I wouldn't.)
Bake at 350ยบ for 20 - 30 minutes, or until golden. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes before removing to serving platter.
To serve, take a kitchen knife and cut it into the Brie so that it is firmly planted in there. Spoon on more cherry preserves around the blade of the knife for a little gore-like effect. (You may need to warm them for 20 seconds or so in the microwave to help them get appropriately drippy.) Add your crackers and eat up!

October 07, 2015

Road Trip Chocolate Chip Cookies {with Rolos + Potato Chips}

A couple years ago, I did these cookies as a guest post for Bintu at Recipes From a Pantry. And this morning I woke up craving them. (Also craving revenge upon the dogs next door, since they are the reason I'm up at 4:30 in the morning...) So I thought you should have the recipe, too. I like to be helpful like that.

This makes a great plain chocolate chip cookie, but it's so much more fun with other treats mixed in. Rolos and potato chips are among my favorite road trip munchies, and I just thought they would make the most incredible cookie combo. And they do, though I say it myself. How can you go wrong, really? Vanilla-scented dough, creamy, chewy, gooey Rolo candies, and a sprinkling of mini chocolate chips, just for kicks and giggles.

We've got the treats. Let's hit the road! Where we going?

Road Trip Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

2 c. + 2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 sticks salted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temp.
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. halved Rolo candies
1/2 c. coarsely chopped, plain potato chips
1/3 c. mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Mix the flour and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the butter and sugars until combined. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until well mixed. Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until a stiff dough forms. Gently fold in Rolos, potato chips, and chocolate chips into the dough until evenly distributed.
Shape dough into walnut-sized balls (I use a cookie scoop), and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet (the parchment is important for these, since the caramel can ooze out and stick to the pan terribly).
Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until the edges are slightly brown. Be careful not to overbake.
Let cool for a few minutes on the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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