The 12 Pies of Christmas: Turtle Pie!

I’ll start today’s entry with this precious set of “Turtle Doves” that my 13-year-old drew especially for today. Love that kid!

If you’d like to know some fun holiday trivia, I found this link that gives one interesting viewpoint about the symbolism of the beloved Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas.

I found it all pretty cool–I especially loved the part about turtle doves and how they “mate for life.” I, for one, am a huge fan of this romantic notion, and I fully intend to keep the bird I’ve got till we both fly the coop, so to speak.

Anyway, today I made a Turtle Pie using a recipe by Emeril. In my opinion, he’s always been more of a chef than a baker, so I was relieved when I found his recipe pretty easy to follow.

But what is it with these Food Network types where they’ve gotta be whippin’ cream all the time. Really? Four cups of heavy whipping cream? Geeeez….

I’m all for giving a guy a chance, so I whipped. And whipped. And whipped for about 7 minutes with the mixer. Whew. Doesn’t anyone believe in Cool Whip anymore? I was whipped from all that whippin’.

Anyhoo, I put that cream in the fridge (I’d added sugar and vanilla to yum it up a bit) and got busy on the pie. I used a store-bought graham cracker crust. The recipe said to bake it for five minutes first, so I did.

Next, I mixed up the following for the filling: cream cheese, peanut butter, peanuts, confectioners sugar, and half of that super WHIPPED cream. I had to fold in the cream, because if you don’t, it goes flat.

I dumped all of that deliciousness into the graham cracker crust and zig-zagged some Hershey’s syrup on the top. OK, so Emeril doesn’t use Hershey’s syrup, but I’d already whipped for him, so don’t judge me.

Lastly, I used my favorite pastry bag (small Ziploc bag with a corner cut off) to pipe on more of that whippety-do-dah cream I had. Lemme tell you something–


I seriously could flock all of the bushes in my front flower bed with this stuff.

The end result was this gorgeous looking pie. The number two was in honor of the second day of the 12 Pies of Christmas.

My kids and I tried a slice this evening. It was VERY rich and VERY delicious. I think the slice might look better after it chills overnight, but here’s how it looked after an hour and a half. A yummy success was declared by all. It stuffed us, every one!


The 12 Pies of Christmas: A Partridge in a Pear Pie

Twelve days ’till Christmas!

I, much like my children, cannot wait for Christmas day. So to celebrate this wonderful season and fill the days with fun, today begins



Now, this guy is not a partridge by any means, but he’s cute, and he plays an important role in today’s Christmas pie, Pear Pie with Streusel and Caramel Sauce. I found the recipe when I was researching the 12 Days of Christmas online.

Historically, the 12 Days of Christmas begins on December 25, but there’s no way I’m waiting until then. Soon after that, people are thinking about diets and stuff, and I’m gonna need help eating all these pies!

The pear part of the pie was pretty basic. I used a store-bought crust because I had one. The pie ingredients included pears, of course, mixed with sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon. Easy enough.

I decided to add the “partridge” because he helps keep the pie from getting too juicy, and more importantly, because the First Day of Christmas Pie MUST include a partridge.

The topping for the pie was a crumbly, struesel stuff made of butter, flour, and brown sugar. I mixed it up with a fork and sprinkled it over the fruit filling. The pie baked for an hour and only cooled for about 10 minutes before me and my “true love” dug in. It seemed fitting to share the first piece with him–he makes every day feel like Christmas!


It only took a few minutes to make the caramel sauce on the stove top. It had brown sugar, heavy whipping cream, butter, and a little water.

Now, the slice didn’t really look very slicy, but when I poured that caramel sauce on top and had a bite, it didn’t matter. Many, many thanks for whoever created this recipe–I would have never thought of adding that sauce. So tasty!

It was the perfect after-lunch treat for me and the hubby on a chilly, gray afternoon.

What a delicious way to count down the 12 Days of Christmas!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s pie, and

find a way to celebrate today–whether you’ve got a real partridge or not!

Pieography: Why Bananaganache Sums It Up.

Alright everyone, I’m entering a pie contest.

I’ve decided to enter my Bananaganache Pie. The crazy thing is, they require a recipe. Even though I’ve made up bunches of them, I’ve never written one down. Chalk up another one for new experiences!

Recipe for Bananaganache Pie:


2-3 bananas

4 oz. cream cheese at room temperature

6 oz. whipped topping

whipped topping for garnish

1 box of instant banana cream pudding prepared (requires 2 cups of milk)

1 9 inch pie crust (see homemade crust recipe below)

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 ounce semi-sweet baking chocolate

1/2 cup half and half

1 teaspoon vanilla

Sweet and Flaky Crust

1/3 cup very cold shortening

3 cups of flour

12 tablespoons of very cold unsalted butter, cubed

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 cup icy cold water

1 1/2-2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, and salt and pulse about 10 times to combine. Add butter and shortening to processor bowl and pulse until butter is in pea-sized pieces. While processor is running, slowly add ice water. Dough will form a ball.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3o minutes. This makes enough for a top and a bottom crust, and you will only need half for this recipe. The remaining half may be stored for 2 or 3 days wrapped tightly in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out one half of the dough onto a floured surface into a circle to fit a nine-inch pie plate.   Transfer the crust into the pie plate and crimp the outside crust. To pre-bake the crust, line it with foil that is tall enough to hold in pie weights (I use dried beans) and fill with weights. Bake the pie shell on a lower rack for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the foil (pie beans inside of it) and place the crust back on the lower rack of the oven. Continue to bake for another 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove pie crust from oven and let cool completely on a rack.

Pie filling:

Now for the filling.  In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, whipped topping and banana cream pudding with a mixer on low speed. Set aside.

To prepare chocolate gananche, use a double boiler on the stove top. (This means to simmer some water in a saucepan and put a bowl over it to melt stuff. You use a double boiler when you don’t want chocolate to get burned.) In the bowl, combine half and half, chocolate chips, and vanilla. Stir until melted over medium heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about five minutes.

Spread chocolate ganache over the bottom of the pre-baked pie crust. Slice bananas and arrange half of them on top of the chocolate layer. Next, cover bananas with pie filling. Arrange remaining banana slices on top of filling in a decorative pattern.

Garnish with whipped topping.Grate the baking chocolate and sprinkle on top of the pie.

Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

So…why Bananaganache?

I’ve baked a lot of pies in the last couple of months–well over 70. It started with a crazy birthday challenge I gave myself–my goal was to bake a pie every day during the 40 days that led up to my 40th birthday. That’s how my blog got started. I did it–and then some. During those 40 days, I baked 63 pies. I used a lot of recipes to make the pies. Some from pie cookbooks, some from “church-lady” cookbooks, some that friends and family shared.

But Bananaganache was the first one I made that was all my idea. The pie is a delicious reflection of my life.

Take the crust, for instance…sweet and flaky. It sums me up perfectly. Even though I call the crust “flaky,” it’s really quite reliable. I always wanted to see myself as zany, unpredictable, and spontaneous, but deep down what I really need for life to be peaceful is sweetness and reliability.  This recipe is both sweet and reliable–if I take the time to follow the plan.

Bananas in this pie were completely a result of resourcefulness. We had them in the kitchen. They needed to be used. Same with the pudding and cream cheese. I was determined to make the pie out of stuff I already had.

I grew up in a family with five children –I was the youngest. My father and particularly my mother were masters of resourcefulness. They used what they had and were grateful for it. And if they didn’t have what they needed, they found another way. I’m thankful to have gotten just a little bit of that from them. Just ask my kids about “Iron Chef Pantry” nights.

The chocolate gananche is in the pie because everything is better with chocolate. It reminds me that under every experience–sweet and not so sweet–is a layer of something richer. Something unexpected. Sometimes it takes some time to get to the richer layer of life, but if we are patient, there can be a sweet reward waiting.

Lastly, a word about the toppings. That last bit of decoration really makes the pie for me. Sure, you could serve it without the stuff on top, but why? Pretty much every thing I’ve been through in the first forty years of my life has been about ONE choice–how I’m going to react to what happens.

I pray for more and more days of seeing my life like a perfectly topped, delicious treat with scrumptious, sweet layers–not just stuff I had around that ended up all together.

That’s my plan for the next 40 years. Take what you’ve got around each day, and make it into something delicious that you can share!

Gone Away is the Bluebird

It’s Christmas time!

Our family loves this time of year. It’s only December 3rd, and our decorations are up, lots of gifts are wrapped, and we’ve begun the crazy calendar corral of trying to get kids and grownups to holiday activities. And nothing means Christmas like PIE!

We’ve got two different Christmas parties this weekend, so I made two different pies. The first pie was a Blackpeary Pie. The second was Cherry Ganache Deluxe Pie.

Look at these gorgeous blackberries I found at the grocery store this week. What a beautiful fruit! I added a few pears I had–just to keep things crazy. I had several homemade crusts ready in the fridge, so that’s what I used for today’s pies. I really do love the taste and texture of them.

I definitely had to make pies with a top crust so that I could use my favorite Christmas tree crust cutter. So festive. It makes perfect holes through which that pretty fruit can peek!

The Blackpeary was pretty simple. I just added sugar and flour and filled the crust. I then added butter and sugar on top to make sure it browned nicely.

I remembered my crust shields during the first 25 minutes of baking, so no burnt crusts. Hooray!

The second pie of the day got a bit more complicated, but not in a bad way. To make a pie with ganache on the bottom of the crust, you need to use a double boiler. I started out with white chocolate chips, half and half, and vanilla. Well, the ganache became “deluxe” when I realized that I had added way too much liquid. Woops.

So I had to add semi-sweet chocolate chips. Lots of them. And for some reason, it made the ganache really delicious. It also made A LOT of ganache. Therefore, while I was getting pie ingredients ready and waiting for the first pie to bake, I found some other uses for the deluxe ganache. Chocolate graham crackers. OK, those were pretty tasty. But there was still a lot left. Hmmmm…..


I used some lollipop sticks I’d gotten at the craft store and stabbed a bunch of yummy, fluffy marshmallows. The result was very tasty and tons of fun, especially after I found the Christmas sprinkles.

I filled the bottom of the second crust with the delicious chocolate stuff, and there was STILL more, so I called my kids down for a yummy snack that we’re gonna also pretend was healthy–since fruit was involved.

Finally, the Blackpeary Pie came out of the oven and the Cherry Ganache Deluxe pie went in. I was very happy with the way both pies turned out. My trusty pie birds did their jobs, so there was very little fruit that misbehaved or bubbled over. Thanks, birdies!

As for that old bluebird being “gone away,” we’re not in a winter wonderland yet down here in Georgia. Every now and then we get some snow in December, but we’re more likely to have a New Year’s or Valentine’s snow than a Christmas one.

All the same, winter’s on its way. It’s time to give thanks for warm houses, warm socks, and a fire in the fireplace–and to remember those who don’t have those luxuries.

I was so happy to receive invitations to three different Christmas get -togethers that encouraged guests to bring food or children’s toys to help our local Emergency Relief Organization. What a great way to remind people that if they’ve got the time and the means to party this holiday season, then they’ve got what it takes to share with others. It doesn’t take much to make a difference–a few cans of food, small toys, or a warm blanket. Find opportunities for your family to share with others during this Christmas season.

Just like that chocolate ganache–most of us have more stuff than we know what to do with. Keep looking for ways to share it, to use it up, to give to others and make life sweeter!

Here to stay is a new bird! He sings a love song, as we go along…