Velvet Elvis

I’d like to start off by showing pictures of the cute pies I delivered this morning. I sent the “Little Boo” to my friend Olivia. The “Big Boo” went to my son’s second grade teacher, and another “Big Boo” went to the front office staff at his school. I thought the candy corns looked great on those pumpkin pies.

Today’s pie is called Velvet Elvis Pie because of its ingredients–peanut butter and bananas (the King’s favorite). The “velvet” part is because of the added chocolate. Doesn’t chocolate make everything velvety?
I found a recipe online a while back and I forgot about it–until today when I noticed I had some bananas ready to use. Luckily, I also had all the other ingredients around for the pie.

I chopped about 4 ounces of semi-sweet baking chocolate and melted it with butter and a little corn syrup on the stove top. Melty chocolate is very tempting, but I did not lick the spoon until AFTER the pie was done.

The pie requires layers of sliced bananas in a graham cracker crust (called for chocolate graham cracker, but that’s not what I had on hand), yummy peanut butter stuff (made with crunchy peanut butter and cream cheese) and the melty chocolate. The most challenging part (besides not eating all the ingredients) was spreading the thick peanut butter stuff over the bananas without moving the bananas around too much. It worked out pretty well with a small spatula, but it was not a job to hurry through.

The finished pie ends with peanuts on top of the last layer of chocolate. Crunchy, salty goodness. Then it all goes into the freezer for six hours. Just enough time before tonight’s trick-or-treating fun with friends. I’ll be taking three pies over there tonight: Velvet Elvis, a pumpkin pie from last night, and a second lemonade pie that I made this morning before the Elvis Pie. That ought to be enough for everyone to have something they like.
I think the finished pie looks tasty, and I’m anxious to see a slice of it tonight. I love the way layered ingredients look in a slice of pie.

3 days to go until the big 4-0! 59 pies baked. Stay tuned!


Pumpkin Pie-looza on Halloween Eve

Today, I baked FIVE pumpkin pies.

3 large and 2 small pies were the result of what was supposed to be 2 regular pumpkin pies. Here’s what happened.

I want to take pumpkin pie to our son’s teacher tomorrow morning–it’s Halloween, and we’re headed to the school to help carve pumpkins. Besides, teaching second grade just deserves a big thank you, right? So I start out this evening on what should be an easy pie night. Well….don’t should on yourself, pie-maker. You were wrong.

I zipped by the store on the way to a Halloween dance my 13-year-old had at church. She forgot to tell me that she needed to bring a snack, and I knew I needed a couple of things for pies. When we went to the store, I had purple-ish pink hair leftover from a different Halloween activity earlier in the day. She was wearing a TARDIS costume. If you don’t know what a TARDIS is, Google it. We’ve raised a sci-fi geek, and we’re proud of it. Anyway, she was acting just like a 13-year-old girl in the grocery store in her Halloween costume–stuck somewhere between horrified and awesome. So we were hurrying, and I eagerly chose two frozen crusts for the pumpkin pies. “These are fast,” I thought to myself. No worries.

*cue horror film music*

Anyway, I get home after dropping her off and get started on the pies. The first thing I could have done differently is to CLEAN UP, DANGIT. The kitchen looked like a tornado hit it, but I really wanted to get those pies in the oven, and they would be simple. The result of not cleaning up was finding spaces to do things. This took more time and creativity than I had at the moment.

Next, as I was pouring pumpkin filling into one of those easy frozen crusts, I noticed a small defect. It really didn’t matter (or so I thought). It was just a little piece of crimped crust that had chipped a bit. No biggie. I just stuck it back on and gave the dough a little “squish.” Problem solved.


Just a few minutes later, the kitchen was filled with the smell of gourds on fire, and I opened the oven to find this not-so-picturesque baking situation.

Son of a pumpkin!

Already, I had three other pies in there with this one, because I realized as I filled the two pie shells that I was going to have A LOT of extra filling, and I couldn’t bear to waste it. That’s how I got the two tiny pies. I happened to have two small pie pans left from when I made mini pot pies, so I dumped the filling in those. Cute! But now, one big pie and two little pies baked on as I struggled with the pie-saster at hand.

I quickly got a refrigerated crust out, tossed it in a pan and crimped it. I dumped off some of the filling from the mutant pie and added some from the bowl of never-ending filling. So now I’ve got five pies. I stuck the broken one back in and finished baking it. After the first four came out of the oven, I stuck in the fifth. There was no way they were ALL going in at the same time.

Whew. I’m off to tackle one of those tiny pies with a heap of Cool Whip.

Tomorrow morning, I will pick the best two pies and decorate them with cute little whipped cream ghosts–barring any other pie-bacles…

Here’s the Pumpkin Pie-looza line up.

That makes 57 pies in 37 days, I think.

Pass the whipped cream.

Thank You for the Music

Do you know this song by ABBA? I love this lyric:

“Nothing can capture the heart like a melody can”

Today’s pies are for some beautiful music makers I know–Lee and Jessica. They both lead worship at our church. I don’t know about you, but music speaks to me–way down deep. There have been many Sundays (and Mondays, and Wednesdays, and Saturdays) when music has taught me far more–spoken to my heart–more than words ever could. There’s a reason it soothes babies and “the savage beast.” Everyone in our house loves to sing, so there’s always a song coming from somewhere.

It’s a lovely way to live, I think–with a song in your heart.

So, Lee and Jessica, thank you for the music you share with so many.

And I’m thankful for a voice to sing along!

To get going on the filling for today’s Red Hot Harvest Pie, I first had to peel a whole bunch of apples and pears. I think those reds and greens are so beautiful next to each other. I hope the insides will match up, too.
After lots of peeling, I mixed the fruit with sugar, flour, and cinnamon. I filled the pie shells (which were waiting in the freezer) and then sprinkled each pie with a few red-hot candies. I love the sweet cinnamon flavor of those things.

Next, I created two different top crusts; a lattice on one and flower cut outs on the other. I carefully covered the edges of both pies for the first 50 minutes of baking and then uncovered them for the last 20. This seems to give just the right amount of browning.

Forgot to mention that each top has brushed melted butter and a sprinkling of sugar on top.

Here are the two finished Red Hot Harvest Pies:

Only a tiny bit bubbly, but otherwise, I thought they looked pretty cool. I like the way those little flowers “bloom” all over that pie. I sure hope these pies will be as sweet as the folks I give ’em to.

52 pies baked as of today–5 sweet days to go.

SIMPLY Lickety Split Lemonade Pie

Today’s pie took about seven minutes to make. My husband remembers his mom making it when he was growing up, and he found this recipe for me on the web. You can make it too–I couldn’t believe how easy it was.I used a store-bought graham cracker crust. You can make one if you want–today, I didn’t want to. In a bowl, I put 12 ounces of Cool Whip, 6 ounces of frozen lemonade, and one can of sweetened condensed milk. I folded it together with a wooden spoon. Then I dumped it in the crust. I put the little plastic cover over the pan and put it in the freezer. That was it. It just has to freeze about 6 hours or overnight.

We both tasted the filling, which was lickety-licious. Likeable and lickable. Lick-o-riffic!

Can’t wait to taste it tomorrow.

Again, I’m kinda dumbfounded about how simple the pie was to make. Some part of me really wanted to put more stuff in there–surely, it must be more complicated. At the risk of making a really cheesy life parallel here, life really is more simple than we make it. We try so hard to make it complicated, detailed, difficult….MORE.

But it doesn’t have to be. When I think of the most beautiful, precious things in my life–these things are not the complicated ones.

I’ll leave you with these famous lyrics. I love this song–it was played on the organ as my new husband and I exited the sanctuary after our vows.

‘Tis the gift to be simple,
’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

Holy Mother of Pies, Batman!

Today, I sent this text to my husband at work:

“Holy Mother of Pies, Batman! I want to stick my whole FACE in this coconut cream pie!”

While I was texting, I was whipping up meringue with the other hand–you can’t turn off the beaters until it’s done. In between words, I was dipping my spoon–ravenously, I might add–into this pot of leftover filling. It was on my chin, and I didn’t care.

At this point, I knew that I had to let someone know that I’d made the pie. Otherwise, I would sit alone with a big spoon and eat it all until it was gone. I’m serious, I made LOUD yummy noises and said who knows what else to proclaim the deliciousness of that coconut custard filling. You should be jealous as you’re reading this, ’cause I can’t remember when I’ve tasted anything so good. Not kidding. Today was a banner day for Coconut Meringue Pie.

The crust was homemade, and I learned that I need to practice more on pre-baking crusts. You have to do that for chilled pies. I used my pie beans to pre-bake the crust, but the edges got all wonky when I put the foil in there. My sister, Kim, reminded me–that’s why you’re supposed to put the crust in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes before you fill it–so that it’s less likely to be bendy. Also, that gets the butter cold all over again, which makes the crust flakier. Lesson learned. 
Anyhoo, I decided to make a meringue topping instead of doing the whole heavy whipping cream thing. I didn’t have any whipping cream–heavy or otherwise–and I like the fact that meringue can be done in advance–homemade whipped cream has to be done right before you serve the pie. I had egg whites leftover anyway, because the filling called for 3 egg yolks. According to the recipe beside the one I was following (in my Pie cookbook), you can put coconut in the meringue, so I tried it. My meringue wasn’t as tall as I’d hoped, and I think it’s because I was hurrying to get all the ingredients in the bowl. You really are supposed to put one tablespoon of sugar at a time in those egg whites or else they get weighed down. And nobody wants to get weighed down.

The meringue did all right though, and I was careful to seal it to the crust so that it would not shrink, and it didn’t. I stuck it under the broiler for about 1 minute exactly. The cookbook said not to leave the oven, so I didn’t. Browning happens really fast with meringue. I liked the toasty look of the finished pie.Unfortunately, I had to wait to taste it. It was actually probably fortunate, because already had a “few” bites of the leftover filling. No need to make yourself sick if you can help it.

I confess that I ate dinner (homemade chili from the crock pot–YUM) at 4:45. I was a little hungry, but the main reason was so that I could eat dessert. I thought the pie was really good. That filling is to die for. The meringue could have been taller, yes, but I still thought the pie was delicious. My kids liked it, too. And we think it will be even better tomorrow, when the filling is really cold.

Today was a quiet day. It was sunny outside, and I made a point to look out the window often at that gorgeous sunshine on the colorful leaves. I felt grateful for a quiet day, in a happy home, with a tasty pie.

7 more tasty days until my fortieth. 49 pies baked.

Zapple Pie

Today was a two-pie Wednesday. I made my third Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie for my friend, Julia. We worked together at preschool, and she’s my carpool buddy. Our daughters are one grade apart. Together we have handled the drop offs, pick ups, schedule changes, science projects, and extra rehearsals…all with a healthy side of middle school drama. She’s made my days easier as a mom, and she’s just a really nice person. When I dropped off her pie this afternoon, she said that she might hide it in the downstairs fridge, since no one else in her family was home. She deserves the whole thing if she wants it! Thanks for being such a good friend, Julia!Pie number two was a new one–Zapple Pie. It’s got raspberries and apples. I tried raspberries and pears together, so this time, I thought I’d see how the apples worked out. Something else I did differently was to cut the apples into smaller pieces. I’m hoping this will help all of the fruit cook more evenly. Not too much is in this pie; apples, raspberries, flour, sugar, and a bit of cinnamon. I used a store-bought crust for convenience, and I also used my handy crust cutters again–this time stars.

While I waited for the pie to bake, I watched a recording of my favorite cooking show, Barefoot Contessa. I’m just dying to go to that woman’s house and eat some of that beautiful food she makes. Also, I had a piece of yesterday’s Plum Pie with some ice cream. Pretty doggone good on the second day. I forgot to heat it up before I added vanilla ice cream, but it did not seem to hurt the taste one little bit. And that’s saying a lot from a person who does not usually enjoy a cold fruit pie.

So, the Zapple Pie got done baking. It smelled scrumptious, and I bet it will taste good, too. The stars on the crust weren’t perfect, and I’m not so sure what that crust is gonna do on the edges. Maybe the recipient will have some vanilla ice cream on hand…

Before I share who it might be for, I gotta see if it’s still this ugly in the morning. Sometimes, a good night’s sleep really improves a situation. Maybe some of that juice will kinda seep back into those stars. The good news is, if it’s not prettier in the morning, I get to taste it. Yum.

That’s the great thing about stuff that doesn’t turn out like we plan. There’s almost always an upside to the down. I can think of plenty of times when something seemed wrong–or at least not what I thought it should be. Most of the time, it just took a change of perspective to see how things would work out all right.

So in the morning, if the Zapple’s not so “zippety do dah,” my change of perspective will start with a fork. And then maybe an ice cream scoop.

48 pies baked and 8 days to go. Zippety do dah!

I Put in My Thumb

Little Jack Horner
Sat in the corner,
Eating a Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,

And said, “What a good boy am I!”

All right, I’ll let you know that I baked today’s pie, Plum Pie, for several reasons:

1. I had this cute Mary Engelbreit drawing of Little Jack Horner that I wanted to share.

2. I needed to make a two crust fruit pie in order to try out one of my new pie birds.

3. I needed to make a pie that we would keep for ourselves so I could try out my new red pie plate.

4. I needed a pretty pie to be in pictures with me this afternoon. We’re having family pictures done at our house this afternoon, and you might imagine by now that we’re not the type to just stand calmly side by side and smile…

5. I’ve never tried plum pie, and today is the day.

I did a little research, and it turns out that you don’t peel plums before you put them in pie. I didn’t peel them, and I put them in a bowl with sugar, cinnamon, and flour. I confess that I added some extra sugar, because I kept reading about folks saying that their plum pie was tart. I also accidentally added more cinnamon by way of heavy handed measuring. Woops.

I dumped it all (already smelling great, by the way) into a crust (store bought today–too tired) around my little black pie bird. Then I prepared the top crust by marking an X in the center so that it would easily slide over the bird.

It really worked well. Then I crimped the edges and sprinkled a bit of sugar over the top. The recipe called for it to bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes. The crusts were getting brown quickly, so I took it out with 15 minutes to go and added metal crust protectors. It was done (perhaps a bit brown, depending on your preference) in 40 minutes, and it only bubbled a tiny bit. I think the pie bird did its job for sure–normally fruit pies are a mess!

I was very happy with how the finished pie looked. The next thing I’m curious about is how bakers of days gone by ever got a pretty slice if they had a bird in their pies. Oh well, no matter…I love that bird in there. He shows what we all know to be true:

When things get hot, you gotta let off some steam, or else things are gonna bubble over. And then you’ll have a sticky mess to clean up. I think this pie-making venture is the perfect way for me to keep from “bubbling over.” What are you doing to let off steam?

9 days to go, and 46 pies made!

Cranberry Apple Jack Pie

I started baking early this morning–just after six o’clock. I want to deliver pies after lunch, and I wanted these fruit pies to have time to cool. Yesterday afternoon, I chatted with my mom and one of my sisters about Craisins–you know–the little dried cranberries in a bag. To me, cranberries and apples together sounded good, and they both agreed that it would work in a pie. My sister, Kim, though, inspired me to “plump up” the Craisins with some liquid.

That is how I got the “Jack” in my Cranberry Apple Jack Pie. Even though water would have worked just fine, why wouldn’t I soak them in Jack Daniels if I could? So I did. And that’s part of the reason I had to make two pies. I made the little one for myself to taste. Those berries soaked over night.  These pies are headed to an assisted living place this afternoon, and I don’t want anyone to overdo it on the “Jack.”

Both pies have homemade crusts, which I was thankful to have in the fridge from yesterday. It really only took three, because I used leaf cut outs instead of a full top crust on each pie.

About those leaf cut outs, I got the loveliest gift from two friends over the weekend.

My husband and I took his sister out for her birthday at a local Thai restaurant. We were headed to see a show afterward. While we were waiting for our food, our friend, Jay, saw us and said he had something for me in his car. Turns out, Jay and Ann, two former pie recipients, had gone in together and gotten me a birthday gift! Nice! It was a bag of pie-making goodies: a pretty red pie plate (which I had seen and wished for in the store), a mini-pie pan, and some pastry cutters. It was perfect, and I was so excited to use the mini pan and the cutters today.

I was worried that the leaves would burn, but they did great. The small pie’s crust was a bit brown, but that would be easy to adjust with practice.

I think this pie just looks like fall. I am so pleased with those cut outs. I am thinking of which pie(s) I’ll put them on this Thanksgiving. It’s fun to think about what to bake for the holidays. I wonder if I could make turkey pie?

Does anyone out there have a famous holiday pie? The one that, if it’s not on the table, it’s not Thanksgiving? Let me know so I can practice making it.

45 pies done.

10 days to go.

Sleepy baker might just go back to bed. Yawn…

Enjoying a Four Pie Sunday and FORTY THREE!

This afternoon, I kinda went crazy baking pies. I ended up making FOUR pies today. This brings my total up to FORTY THREE pies, and I still have 11 days to go. Yum.

The first pie was my second Key Lime Pie. It was every bit as easy as the first one I made, and I had fun decorating this one. Zesting was still not my favorite baking activity, for the record.

When I saw my friends, Rose and Amy, this morning at church, I decided that today was their day for pie. They’re great ladies, and great friends AND they know how to do all kinds of stuff. So much stuff that they have their own business called “Two Broads Get Around To It.” They’ve done gorgeous painting, detailed cleaning, and beautiful work in our yard. If you need anything at all done, I highly recommend them. But mostly , I just think they’re terrific people. They were the ones who told me about Nellie and Joe’s Key Lime Juice. They are just awesome, and awesomeness deserves pie.

Pie number two was a Chocolate Dream Pie. I found the recipe in a church lady cookbook. My sweet husband helped me stir chocolate filling while I rounded up ingredients and separated egg yolks. That way, the filling didn’t burn. It’s hard to see, but this one not only has whipped cream, but also grated chocolate on top. That was fun, and I was glad I did not grate my fingers.

Pie number three was Pinky Methier’s Coconut Custard Pie. Pinky is a sweet lady at my church, and she gave me the recipe a few years back. I am delighted to have a copy in her own handwriting. Just as I was about to dump the filling into a lovely homemade crust, I remembered that this one forms its own crust, which is why I had to make a fourth pie today. I mean, hey, the crust was already ready, right? Here’s my favorite part of Pinky’s recipe–See how she wrote, “Enjoy :).”

That’s really the point of life isn’t it? Enjoy. Enjoy. It means “to take delight from.” What do you enjoy each day? Today, I enjoyed making pies. It gave me great delight. And I hope others enjoy the finished products.Pie number four really did get going because of that extra crust. It was already prepared, and I really didn’t have room in my fridge or freezer for it, so I baked a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pie.It should be noted that today was the first time I used an official “pinch” of salt. Seriously, they have measures for pinch, smidgen, and dash. I used it to humor my husband, who is a religious measurer. I am not, but today, I was.

Anyway, I’ve made the Peanut Butter Pie before, but this time, at the last minute, I added chocolate chips on the top. Again, chocolate, like bacon, makes all things better.

I probably won’t taste any of these pies. The Key Lime was picked up tonight and the others will be delivered tomorrow along with one other new pie I’m trying out.

You’ll have to wait and see what it is, but here’s some foreshadowing.

It’ll cure what ails ya.

First things first. I have to show you this gorgeous slice of Key Lime Pie with homemade whipped cream. My hubby said it was his favorite of all the pies I’ve baked so far. I agree. I had two slices after breakfast. It was wonderfully tart and sweet at the same time.  I know I’ll be making another one (or two) of these pies in the near future. Invite yourself over, and I’ll give you a slice.

For today’s pie, I baked a delectable Tomato Pie. I borrowed the recipe from Kim Patrick. She’s a member of our church, and she also happens to be the Clinic Lady at our son’s school. Many a time, she has rescued him with band aids or a place to lie down with a tummy ache. Thanks, Kim!

I first tasted the pie at a church event, and I haven’t forgotten it. I was thrilled when Kim agreed to send me the recipe. Today’s the perfect day for it, because I need a break from sweet pies.

I used a homemade crust–had one in the fridge ready to go. I also tried out this handy crust-roller tool that I borrowed from my friend, Hannah. It really does work great for rolling the crust up the sides of the pie dish.

One surprising thing about the pie is that it’s held together with mayonnaise–no eggs in there. There was an option to add bacon, so of course, I did. This pie was so delicious, I’m gonna post the recipe so that some of y’all can make it. Even my husband, who is not a tomato lover, said that it was really good. Here ya go.

Tomato Pie

2 deep dish pie shells-baked slightly
4 firm tomatoes, even green will do.
2 cups of sharp cheese, shredded
1 to 1 ½ cups of Mayonnaise
2 bunches of spring onions, diced

Mix cheese, mayo and onions in bowl. Layer tomatoes in pie shell add cheese mixture to top.
Bake 350 for 20-25 mins.  Good reheated the next day.

Optional- add different cheeses and bacon bits.

I used my favorite fork crimping for this one, and I pre-baked the crust for about 10 minutes at 425 degrees. I got to use my pie beans.

It took about 40 minutes to bake, and of course, it smelled wonderful. I know it will be better once it cools a bit, but I couldn’t resist trying it, so I cut a slice. It was every bit as yummy as I remembered.

I was glad it worked out, because I did something that sometimes will mess stuff up–I used a half recipe. I only had one crust, so I just cut all of the ingredients in half. It worked! I know that on some pies that call for two shells, it simply does not work. Got lucky this time.

So, cheers to the Clinic Lady! I highly recommend this beautiful Tomato Pie. I’m looking forward to having some for breakfast if there’s any to be had.

It’s a gorgeous fall day in Georgia, and my countdown app says only 12 days ’till the big day. So I’m off to enjoy this one. I hope you’ll do the same!