The 12 Pies of Christmas: Drumming Up Some Red Hot Apple Pie

It’s Christmas Eve Eve, y’all!

Everyone’s anxiously awaiting the big day. We’re eating lots of good junk food and wearing our pajamas for longer than usual. Can’t complain about that. I even went to the grocery store today and found people cheerful and relatively patient. So glad there are plenty of folks left who realize that stress just isn’t worth the trouble when it comes to the holidays.

OK, so I admit that the title of today’s blog entry is the only “drummy” thing about the pie. The need to use the apples I had on hand over ruled creativity. Besides, the red hot candies in this apple pie made it downright festive for the 12th pie of Christmas.

Red Hot Apple Pie is exactly like regular apple pie, except that I added a 1/4 cup of cinnamon candies instead of cinnamon. It really smells wonderful when it’s baking, and it gives the pie a gorgeous candy-red coloring.

This pie also had a crumble crust because I only had a bottom crust ready. Crumble crust is a delicious use of flour, brown sugar, and butter. And just in case it wasn’t pretty, I placed a cheery red pie bird in the crust before I added the filling.

It’s a good thing I did, because it was pretty bubbly and kinda oozed over the sides. I was so glad I had placed the pie pan on another pan to bake. Otherwise, I would’ve been cleaning up some sticky red goo.

The pie was far from perfect, but it smelled perfectly delicious, so I sent it with my daughter to her yearly Christmas Eve Eve sleepover at her friend’s house. No one gets a warmer welcome than a woman holding a pie, that’s for sure! I hope they have fun together and get at least a little sleep.

Truth be told, there will probably be 13 or 14 Pies of Christmas, because someone asked me today to bring a pie with me on Christmas Day. Glad to do it. Besides, making 13 or 14 Pies of Christmas makes me a crazy pie-baking rebel of sorts, right?

Pa-Rum-Pa-Pum-Pum and Merry Christmas Eve Eve to all!

 

 

The 12 Pies of Christmas: Piping Hot Chocolate Chess Pie

$2,284.80

That’s the estimated cost of hiring 11 pipers to pipe for you this Christmas. I don’t know about you, but that far exceeds the Christmas budget around here…even for my true love–though he’d be worth it. 🙂

Today, as I was prepping for 11th Day of Christmas pie baking (prep work makes the whole thing so much easier, by the way), I was thinking about the cost of baking pies.

For one pie, not very much at all, really. Even if you paid someone by the hour to do it, pie-making’s not too pricey.

But what if you tried to estimate the real value of time?

You just can’t. How much would you pay for the experience of watching your kids open presents? How much for baking together? For dancing with the one you love? How much would you pay to sit in the peace and quiet with your coffee? What is the cost of the time it takes to read a Christmas card from someone you really miss? What’s it worth for an hour of loud, happy family around a table of good food?

Priceless.

I know that’s clichĂ© these days, but it’s so true. And that’s one of the reasons I’m so happy to have a GUEST STAR on my blog today. My brothers-in-law are here from Illinois, and they wanted to get in on the pie-baking action. So today, my brother-in-law, Clay, and I are whipping up a couple of Piping Hot Chocolate Chess Pies. I’m so thankful for the time we have together! We’re not really “piping” anything, but it’s the closest I could get to those piping pipers.

We’re baking two. One’s going with us to a family get-together tonight, and the other’s for some folks who just need some Christmas cheer–they need Christmas to hurry up! So we’ll bring a little Christmas in a pie plate.

We used a recipe I’ve used before; cocoa, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and evaporated milk. Seems like it turned out great. We’ll see when we cut into it tonight. Besides, whipped cream makes stuff taste awesome, so we’re taking that with us, too.

It didn’t take long to prepare the pies, and we had a good time working on a puzzle while we waited for them to bake. 

Time.

Please remember this holiday season that it’s the most precious gift you can give to those you love!

The 12 Pies of Christmas: Lords a Leaping Quiche

First of all, I’d like to say that my Countdown App has once again confused me. How did I end up on 10 Lords a Leaping today? I should only have two days left, but in two days it will only be the 23rd? Huh?

Whatever. Today’s pie turned out delicious. If there were any lords here, they’d be leaping for sure. I did end up serving the quiche to four awesome guys in my family, so we’ll count them as lords.

I just couldn’t take another sweet pie around here. I’m all jacked up on sugar from Christmas food and beverages. It’s making me punchy, and I needed a protein break. Besides, I had no idea what was for dinner, and quiche pie would work.

This yummy quiche was baked in a pie shell and included sausage, eggs, 2 kinds of cheese, green peppers, onions, and the ever-awesome

heavy cream.

I don’t know why heavy cream makes everything more delicious. It just does.

It took about one hour to bake this delicious lord-worthy quiche, and it even looked as tasty as it smelled.

We served it up with a small salad of romaine, orange segments, craisins, and sesame ginger dressing. Five people were there to eat, and the only problem was that we needed MORE–because everyone wanted seconds. Turns out we all needed a little something savory.
Here’s a slice of the Lords A Leaping Quiche:

I really gotta admire people who find the will power to eat decently over the holidays.

Good for you, Protein Eater!

Mazal Tov, you Moderate Portion Takers!

Huzzah to you, Veggie Muncher!

Kudos, Kashi Taster!

Rock on, Year Round Exerciser!

If you’re not one of those folks, grab those cookies on your way over and come sit by me.

Pig Out, Pie People!

Keep an eye out for what the Pipers are Piping tomorrow. It’s almost Christmas!

 

The 12 Pies of Christmas: 9 Ladies Dancing Party Pie

Mincemeat Pie

Above is a site that tells all about Mincemeat Pie, which is today’s pie for the Ninth Day of Christmas.

Early on in my blogging days–a couple of months ago–I listed Mincemeat as a pie I wasn’t going to make. But I broke down and did it anyway. Several people asked about it, and I was amazed to discover that many people had sweet childhood memories surrounding this pie.

My husband and I are headed to a Christmas party tonight, and there will be LOTS of people there, so I figured that Mincemeat Pie will have a better chance of being eaten than it would in my fridge. I’m hoping that old folks and sentimentality will empty the plate.

Growing up, I’m sure that this pie graced the table of desserts at my grandmother’s house, but for the kids, it was always the one that made you crinkle up your face and say,

“Where’s the chocolate pie?”

That being said, I decided to be a trooper and try out this traditional holiday pie. Not sure what’s in it yourself? Here are the ingredients, listed from the jar of mincemeat I bought at the store:

All right, so I can totally accept raisins, apples, and citrus peel in a pie, but

Beef? Really?

The curiosity is killing me. Since there will be tasty holiday treats-a-plenty at the party, I promise to try a sliver of this culinary curiosity tonight. At least I can wash it down with some holiday spirit or chase it with some sausage balls or something. Wish me luck!

Here’s the finished Mincemeat Pie. There’s a cute little Christmas tree on top that I poked in with a fork, and the top’s nice and brown–thanks to egg wash. It’ll have more than three hours to cool, so I’m hoping that’ll make for decent slices.

I’ll let you know tomorrow how it tastes, and we’ll see if tomorrow’s pie makes the local lords leap…

 

The 12 Pies of Christmas: Cow Pies

I wonder if those eight-maids-a-milking wore good boots.

‘Cause with all those cows around there are bound to be

Cow Pies.

Today’s “Pie” is a little bit off the chain. Over the edge. Outside the box, if you will…

I just didn’t have room for any more pie dishes in my fridge, and I found a yummy recipe for these Cow Pies. They’ve got cocoa, LOTS of sugar, butter, vanilla, peanut butter, and some quick oats. I had to go to the grocery especially to get those oats. I’m gonna have to buy a couple of cows to eat the rest of the oats, ’cause I don’t know what the heck I’m gonna do with that big ole container of ’em.

To make the cow pies, I melted all of that yummy stuff together on the stove-top, and the quick oats went in last. Then I just plopped(sorry, couldn’t resist) teaspoonfuls of the batter onto waxed paper to cool.

That was like, 3 hours ago, and they are harder than they were at first, but they’ve still got a ways to go.

I’ve tasted a couple of them and they are DELICIOUS! And I certainly think the look of them lives up to the name. Never mind that I had to scrape them off with a spoon…

I know I’ve had cookies/pies like this before, except I think they were called “No Bake Cookies,” and I have one friend who called them “Preacher Cookies.” Can’t remember why they had that name–did people make them for the preacher, and if so, what did that say about their feelings for the preacher?

Today’s a short entry, because how much can you say about Cow Pies? OK, I’m sure there’s plenty, but I’m gonna leave you with this awesome LEGO rendition of the famous 8 maids a milking. Love it.

Mooooo-ry Christmas!

The 12 Pies of Christmas: 7 Swans A Swimming

Have you ever heard the story of the Ugly Duckling? The original tale was by Hans Christian Andersen and told of a homely little bird born in a barnyard who later finds out, after much suffering and teasing by others, that he is indeed a beautiful swan, the most beautiful bird of all.

Today, for the 7th Pie of Christmas, I baked Vanilla Cream Pie, and it, too, had very humble beginnings. Yes, even homely. For starters, take a look at this poor crust.

It is a store-bought crust that fell from the top shelf of our pantry to the floor (not the first time this has happened–time to reorganize, I guess). Luckily, the plastic cover stayed in tact, so I put it back and declared that I’d find the poor crust’s destiny one day soon.

Poor little crust. No real hope of holding a filling in…

Or so I thought….

I got going on the Vanilla Cream Pie filling, which called for four egg yolks. Important. Four egg YOLKS. I carefully separated the eggs into two separate bowls, and I even took the time to fish out one tiny drop of yolk that accidentally got into the whites bowl.

Proud of my pie-making prowess, I said to my brother-in-law who was in the kitchen at the time, “Did you know that if you get even ONE DROP of yolk in there, it won’t whip up properly?” “Really?” was his polite reply. I should have spent more time paying attention instead of pontificating about eggs.

Here’s what happened next.

For a custard or cream pie, you usually have to mix stuff in a saucepan until it thickens. So I stirred up sugar, salt, cornstarch, and milk on the stove. Then, my brain obviously crowded with all that “knowledge,” I dumped the daggone WHITES into the saucepan instead of the yolks.

NOOOOOOOOOO!

I kept whisking and decided what to do. Whisk. Whisk. Whisk.

Whiskey.

Add whiskey? Nah. Although I made a mental note to try that out…

Anyway, I just decided to dump the yolks in there, too. And I kept on whisking. It thickened up very nicely, and I added a little butter and vanilla. I tasted a bit (quite yummy) and poured it into the pitiful Ugly Crustling.

The next step was one I’d seen on cooking shows, but hadn’t practiced. The recipe said to cover the filling with plastic wrap tightly so that no skin would form on the top. I’m pretty certain I did not do this perfectly, because I kept seeing little air bubbles, but we’ll see…

The pie had to cool to room temperature before being moved to the fridge for several hours to cool before garnishing. Would a Swan Pie emerge? Only time would tell.

While waiting for the pie, I had plenty of time to think. That Ugly Duckling was awesome the whole time.

He just didn’t know it until he got to the right place and saw himself as he really was.

But what did he see in the clear stream below? His own image; no longer a dark, gray bird, ugly and disagreeable to look at, but a graceful and beautiful swan. To be born in a duck’s nest, in a farmyard, is of no consequence to a bird, if it is hatched from a swan’s egg. He now felt glad at having suffered sorrow and trouble, because it enabled him to enjoy so much better all the pleasure and happiness around him; for the great swans swam round the new-comer, and stroked his neck with their beaks, as a welcome.

We’ve all heard stories of amazing and beautiful people who came from humble beginnings. So many times, it just took them a while to realize their greatness. To make their discoveries. To be welcomed by those who loved them most. To see with their own eyes who they were meant to be.

I can relate to that duck sometimes, and I’ll bet there are many others who may feel like they’re in the “barnyard stage” of their lives.

With this 7th Pie of Christmas, I offer you encouragement. I pray that anyone feeling sorrow and trouble will one day feel glad for it. I hope for each one of you for a day of pleasure and happiness all around.

And if you’re already there, look around for a neck to stroke.

Hold up the mirror and help someone see how beautiful they really are.

That pie was really good. Who’d have thought? With such humble beginnings and so many mistakes. Hmm. You never can tell.

The 12 Pies of Christmas: 6 Geese-A-Laying Custard Pie

Today’s Pie is Egg Custard Pie. It’s not made from goose eggs, but it was still fun to bake. I just used regular old eggs–FIVE eggs in this little pie, to be exact. It was quick to prepare, so if it tastes good, I’m sure I’ll bake one again.

I mixed together eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, a dash of salt and scalded milk (which is pretty much just warm milk, but every recipe I found called for it in this pie).

It was such a liquidy batter that I decided to pour it into the crust right in the oven, and somehow, I did not spill a drop. Whew.

I wasn’t able to fit all of the filling into the crust. I did not want it to spill over, so I was conservative and left a bit in the bowl. Boy, I had to push that oven rack back in VERY SLOWLY.

 

 

 

 

The last thing to do before baking it was to sprinkle nutmeg on the top. It baked for about 40 minutes, and it was a bit jiggly when I took it out. I waited for it to cool before anyone has a taste.

This afternoon, we attended a Santa photo session to benefit Rockdale County’s food bank. Anyone who brought food could have a free photo with Santa. I was so proud of my daughter and her friend who agreed to be elves for the event. There was a good turnout, and lots of food was collected for needy folks in our community.

When we got home, I cut the pie and had a bite.

The slice came out perfectly, and the texture did seem custardy. I’ve never tasted this kind of pie before, and it turns out that egg custard pie really does taste like…well, eggs.

A couple of family members had bites. My husband wasn’t a huge fan. His face reminded me of a child’s face when opening a present that they hate, but they know they have to be polite. It was sort of a pain-with-raised-eyebrows kind of look. You know the look–my parents are looking, so I’d better smile and say thank you?

My brother-in-law said it seemed right to him. He’d had it before, and said it was very similar. So I guess I didn’t screw it up?

I think I’m filing Egg Custard Pie under the category of “Pies That Turned Out Just Right But That Doesn’t Mean I’m Making Them Again.”

I think next time, I’ll choose a recipe that has more sugar or less egg. Who knows…it sure is a pretty piece of pie, though.

Tomorrow, Seven Swans a Swimming! In the mean time, anyone want some Egg Custard Pie?

The 12 Pies of Christmas: Five…OK, One Golden Ring

Today marked my kids’ last day of school for this semester–now two weeks off. Hooray! It was also our oldest daughter’s last art class, so I baked a Chocolate Cherry Ring O Bling Pie for her and her classmates.

I modified a recipe from my favorite PIE cookbook for Chocolate Chip Pie. This time, however, I used heavy cream instead of milk and added some cherry baking morsels to the batter. Those cherry  chips are yummy. I’ve only seen them around during the holidays, and I’ve tried them in chocolate chip cookies. So tasty.

I gotta admit, turning this Christmas tune into pie has already been pretty challenging, and it’s only the fifth day! Some friends and family members have listened to my brainstorming and offered fun ideas. For the five golden rings, one person suggested I bake a pie containing Goldschlager, a thin liquor that actually has thin gold leaf floating in it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a pie with booze in it, but this one was for kids, so I bagged that idea.

While shopping in a craft store that also carried some baking items, I came across edible gold glitter sugar crystals. I’d found my solution.

I prepared the yummy chocolate cherry chip dough and poured it into a regular refrigerated crust. Just before I baked it, I sprinkled a ring of that sparkly gold sugar around the outer edge of the top of the pie. So pretty!

Now, it’s kinda hard to see in the photo, but even after it was baked, you could still see that shiny “Bling Ring” around the edge of the pie.I did not get to taste the pie, but my daughter reported that everyone loved it and that one student reported that I must have

Magic Pie Hands.

Wouldn’t that be awesome? Magic Pie Hands. Just think of the fun I could have. Or the damage I could do. Or the yummy pies I could give to everyone!

OK, so there weren’t really FIVE golden rings on today’s pie, but there was one tasty “Bling Ring.”

As it turns out, I sort of grew up with the 12 Days of Christmas:

My family had a set of awesome 12 Days of Christmas dishes. Each family member had a certain day, and the number 12 worked out perfectly for us. My Dad and Mom were numbers 1 and 2. My older brothers were 3 and 4. My older sister was the coveted FIVE GOLDEN RINGS, next came another sister for number 6, and I was the 7 swans a swimming. What was even cooler was that there were just enough plates left for when each of the five of us got married. All the spouses used up the rest of the plates up to my husband–the twelfth day.

My Mom and Dad didn’t plan to have five kids, but my Mom has said again and again that she’d do it all over again–wouldn’t change a thing. She’s 70 now, and still does a great job at serving a table full of family.

I’m very thankful to eat off of plate number 7.

A lot of good memories come from the times spent around my parents’ dining room table. In my family, we are hearty eaters, long talkers, and loud laughers. We leaned our chairs back, balled up our napkins, and passed A LOT of bowls of vegetables around.

We’ve been told more than a few times to get our elbows off the table and chew with our mouths closed and to QUIT singing at the table.We  sat pouting until we ate our assigned amounts of rutabagas or black-eyed peas.

We listened as my Dad prayed the same blessing thousands of times:

Heavenly Father
Accept our thanks
For these and all the blessings
Amen

 

I want this for my kids. I pray we’ll be able to stay home long enough and put down our iPhones long enough and just sit down together at the table for a while. Sure, it’s a challenge, but it’s worth it. I’m so glad my Mom and Dad made it happen for us.

 

12 Pies of Christmas: Not Four Calling Birds, FOR Calling Birds

I thought for quite a while about today’s pie. Calling birds (really “Colly Birds”–it’s true! Look it up!) didn’t present an immediate idea for flavors. So I started thinking about calling.

Who ya gonna call?

Well, Ghostbusters are cool, but they have nothing to do with pie, as far as I know.

Who else gets called? Hmmmm…..

9-1-1

Yep. They get called every day in our county. In your county. All over our country. Day and night they wait for calls. And while the news is quick to point it out when they’re slow to respond, the truth is this: The people on the other end of those phones have helped save a lot of lives.

So tonight, those “calling birds” got pies. Little bitty pies with stars!

For the 4th Pie of Christmas, I baked Mini Apple Star Pies in a muffin tin. I’d seen the idea online, but I had to do a lot of guessing because it was new to me.

First, I experimented with biscuit cutters and mugs and glasses to get the right size crust for the muffin tin. I think I might have chosen one that was a bit taller if I’d wanted a top crust or a closed pie.

I planned to put little stars on the top instead of top crusts, so these little crusts worked out fine.

I made sure the filling had small pieces of apple so they would fit snugly into the mini shells. It also included sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and fresh lemon juice. Yep–fresh squeezed! Don’t know what came over me…

Anyway, the pies baked longer than I expected–it took about 25 minutes(I’d planned 15) for them to look done. I wanted to make sure the pies would lift easily out of the tin, and they did! My daughter made a cute thank you card, and we were ready to go.

I loaded up my kids and we headed over to the emergency communications center in our county. If you decide to do this in your area, please know that I called ahead to be sure that our visit was allowed. We had to wait for a big electric fence to open after using the call box.

It was about 15 minutes away from our home, and I was surprised to learn that only about 5 or 6 folks are working at one time. We did not enter the main room so as not to interrupt their important work. A very kind gentlemen received the treats and thanked us for our kindness.

We only stayed long enough to shake his hand and thank him for his hard work. A quick “Merry Christmas,” and we were on our way.On the way home, I talked with the kids about how thankful we are. We’ve never had to call these good people at the emergency dispatch station. But every day, every night, someone does. Even on Christmas Eve–when we’re at church or partying with family and friends. Even when we’re at school or work. We’re so thankful for these workers, and for the many others who are ready to help others–on special days and every day of the year.

When we got home from our “calling birds” visit, we put this pie in the oven:

I used the rest of the apple filling and the crust to make this tasty pie for them.

On this Fourth Day of Christmas, take time to remember the blessing of being safe and sound.

And who do you call when you need help? Whoever it is, be sure to thank them this holiday season!

Three French What?

What? Not what you imagined?

Yeah, me neither. I delved into day three of the 12 Pies of Christmas with visions of a gorgeous French Silk Pie. I thought about lofty, precise artworks portraying perfectly plump hens with red and gold ribbons–or something.

But no. Things just didn’t turn out that way.

Early in the day, I set out to pre-bake a crust so that it would have plenty of time to cool. I usually cheat on crust-cooling time, and sometimes things get melty. I was proud of myself for thinking ahead. Plenty of time, I said to my over-confident self.

I cheerfully crimped a beautiful crust, put it in the oven on exactly the right rack. At exactly the right temperature. And for exactly the right number of golden-brown minutes. Sigh. I am a fabulous holiday planner.

Don’t count your French hens before they hatch.

The oven let out its happy beeeeeeep. I sauntered over in my cheery red apron, ready to withdraw step one of a culinary masterpiece. Until….

This thing came out of the oven.

What the flippin’ French chicken is that?!! The bawkity bawk crust fell. Zut alors!

I was ticked. So I just left that French flop on the counter for a while and pouted through the afternoon doing other stuff. The kids had to be driven from holiday practice to Christmas party to this or that. I got home around eight. And there it still was.

I thought about starting over. I thought about giving up. I thought about throwing it in the yard. And then I thought about this:

For the last few weeks I’ve watched friends and family in a dither about Christmas and/or whatever else they celebrate in the last days of the year.

My cards should already be mailed.

It looks like they won’t be in town for the party on time after all…

I just couldn’t find the stuff I wanted to make the tree look right.

We completely forgot to put the Santa out front.

I can’t believe the office party is the same night as that church thing!

And it goes on and on. We’ve all got ideas about what SHOULD be happening to make the holidays perfect. Because we (or someone else) put pressure on ourselves. Because it’s always been done that way. Because we feel guilty. Because we have to be in control.

Some things are gonna turn out like they always have–like they “should.” But you can bet some aren’t.

So what?

It’s still Christmas. It’s still Hannukah. It’s still time for love and peace and being thankful for another year on this big round ball.

So start a new tradition if you need to, but don’t freak out if every old one doesn’t come through. Agreed?

Ok, since you agree, I can tell you that French Silk Pie now looks like THIS in our house:

I think it has everything it needs. Chocolate, a flag(not very French-looking), a bird of some kind.

Voila!

And it tastes good, too.

Give yourself and your family a gift this holiday season.Lighten up. Let it go. Celebrate what matters and don’t sweat the small stuff.