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From Vine to Pie : Vanilla Pumpkin Pie

Currently on Day 3 of my recovery. Hopefully I’ll be seeing you all on the other side of my drug-induced haze very soon. Until then, here’s the second part of my fresh pumpkin pie tutorial/recipe/thingy.

So, you navigated your way through the pumpkin puree tutorial and you’re ready to pat yourself on the back (go ahead, I’ll wait) and make a pie.

Now, I have yet another confession to make. I cannot make a decent pie crust to save my life. If you can, I applaud you and encourage you to do so before getting started on this recipe (and if you could make a couple extras and toss them my way, that would be swell). If you can’t, then get thee to the grocery store and score yourself one of those frozen jobbies like I usually do. This recipe makes one 9″ pie, so if you don’t feel like doing math and doubling it, just throw the extra pie crust in the freezer.

I found a recipe similar to this years ago and I have tweaked it some. It’s a little lighter on the pumpkin pie spice than most recipes, but the vanilla totally makes up for the toned down spices.

What you need:

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (you’ve totally got this covered, so don’t even think about using the canned stuff!)
1 (12oz) can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs. flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I sometimes like to use my own mixture of cinnamon, cloves, and freshly ground nutmeg)
1 unbaked pie crust

What you need to do:

Preheat oven to 450°.

In a large bowl mix pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice. (Using a food processor is much easier, but most of the time I can’t be arsed to drag mine out so I do it the old-fashioned way.)

Pour filling into pie crust, pat yourself on the back for not spilling any onto the baking sheet. *Pick up baking sheet oh-so-carefully and proceed to spill filling over the side of the crust. Look to make sure there aren’t any little ears around, curse heavily while cleaning up the mess and then try one more time to get things in the oven without any more spillage.

Bake at 450° for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° and bake for 40 minutes or until filling is set. Let cool before slicing and serving with **cinnamon whipped cream.

*** Brag incessantly to your friends about how YOUR pie was made with fresh pumpkin and not that canned stuff and/or snicker to yourself when someone gripes that they couldn’t find any canned pumpkin at the grocery store.

* optional
** also optional, but very tasty
*** again, optional, but very good for the old ego

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It’s a Dog Eat Pancake World : A Recipe from Sir

It has been quite a while since I have shared a recipe from my 50’s throwback kitchen. Fortunately, Sir has afforded me the opportunity to share one of his favorites.

Sir has a tendency to be very particular about certain things. There is no doubt that he gets this from his (ever-so-slightly OCD) mother. In my family, there have always been two ways of doing things – our way and the wrong way. Heh.

So, when Sir requests ‘peepates’ for breakfast, there are certain protocols that must be followed. First, his chair must be pushed over to the entrance to the kitchen in order to provide prime viewing of the pancake-making activities. Second, he must have in his hands the rubber doggy potholder that usually resides on the back of the stove. What happens next varies, but almost always involves making the doggy potholder talk and/or trying to convince me that the doggy potholder is actually a scary snake. He also finds it necessary to remind Mommy of the time that she dropped the butter on the floor and had to throw it in the garbage.

Mommy drop butter. Oh, Mommy! In garbage.  *raucous laughter*

Recently, I inadvertently threw a monkey wrench into the normal pancake protocol when I neglected to return the doggy potholder safely to his perch above the stove when the pancakes were done. After pushing Sir up to the table and serving him is nice warm pancakes, I returned to the kitchen, where, within seconds, I heard ‘Doggy eat peepates!’

I turned around to find the doggy potholder sitting next to Sir’s plate with its mouth stuffed with pancake.

Sir takes great pride in the way that he makes sure his stuffed animals and other inanimate objects are well taken care of. Never are they left hungry, thirsty, or with an unchanged ‘diaper’. So, I’m sure you can imagine how happy he was with what he had done. His syrupy grin extended from ear to ear.

Sir’s Favorite Fluffy Pancakes (or Peepates)

What you need:

3/4 cup milk
2 Tbs white vinegar

1 cup flour
1 Tbs white sugar
1 Tbs dark brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 egg
2 Tbs melted butter
1 Tbs vanilla

Optional:

1/2 cup blues (also known as fresh blueberries) OR
1/2 cup chocolate chips

What to do:

Measure milk and add white vinegar. Set aside to sour. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until combined. Whisk egg, butter, and vanilla into milk and vinegar mixture. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until lumps are gone.

Heat a large skillet (or griddle) over medium/high heat and coat with a thin layer of non-stick cooking spray. Pour enough batter into pan to make desired size pancakes (optional: drop blueberries or chocolate chips into batter after it is in the pan). Flip pancakes when bubbles appear on the surface of the batter. Cook until golden brown  on both sides.

Makes about 3-4 servings. We like to freeze the extras and pop them in the toaster oven for a quick breakfast.

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You Say Pierogi, I Say Perogie

Perogie (pierogi, perogy, pierogy, or pogies, as my cousin used to call them) is kind of a staple in my (carb-loving) family. My grandmother used to make them stuffed with potatoes, onions, cheese, and sometimes my grandfather’s homemade sauerkraut (those were always my favorite).

I have tried making them several times over the years and have finally come up with a recipe that I am pretty happy with (my father likes them, so they must good!). They are definitely labor-intensive, but worth the effort. Plus, they can easily be frozen for comfort-food emergencies.

The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. So, you can make the dough first and then get your filling(s) made to have on hand when you’re ready to start assembling your perogies. As someone who has always flown solo on perogie making, I highly recommend finding a couple of friends or family members who can be bribed with food like being helpful and  incorporating an assembly line approach. Or, if you don’t mind ‘cheating’ (heh), you could just buy one of those dumpling-maker things and probably do the job yourself in about half the time.

With that said, let’s make some dough!

Perogie Dough

What you need:

4 cups flour (plus, some extra for rolling out the dough)
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs (beaten)
1 cup sour cream (I use reduced fat so that I can pretend to be healthy)
1/2 cup softened butter (cut into smallish pieces)

What you need to do:

In a large bowl, mix together flour and salt. Add eggs, sour cream, and butter. Mix and then knead dough for about 5 minutes – dough should be sticky, but not overly so. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes (or up to 2 days).

Now that your dough is resting comfortably, it’s time to make your filling(s). I have three favorites: sauerkraut, potato & cheese, and cheese. Because I was so partial to my grandfather’s homemade sauerkraut and I have yet to find anything store-bought that compares, I haven’t come up with a sauerkraut filling recipe yet. I can, however, provide a close approximation of how I make my other fillings (remember, I rarely measure anything or write anything down). Feel free to adjust either of these recipes to your taste.

Potato and Cheese Perogie Filling

What you need:

4-5 medium/large potatoes (peeled and cubed)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1-2 Tbs butter
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
white pepper, onion powder, salt to taste

What you need to do:

Boil potatoes until soft – drain and pour into large bowl. Add, sour cream, milk, and butter and mash (I typically just add a little of each and keep mashing with a hand mixer until the potatoes reach the right consistency – like very thick mashed potatoes). Add cheddar cheese, pepper, onion powder, and salt and continue to beat with hand mixer until smooth.

See, easy! Now let’s try the cheese filling (it’s even easier).

Cheese Perogie Filling

What you need:

2 cups farmer cheese
1 egg (beaten)
1 Tbs sugar (I prefer mine a little sweeter, so I do closer to 1 1/2 Tbs)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon juice

What you need to do:

Mix all ingredients together. Et Voila!

Told you it was easy. Now comes the fun part – perogie assembly.

What you need to do:

On a very lightly floured surface, roll out half of your dough. You’ll find that this can be a bit frustrating as the dough is rather elastic and will spring back some every time you roll it out. Roll, roll, roll until the dough is about 1/8″ thick. If you can’t get it quite that thin, don’t worry. Just do the best you can and you can stretch it a little thinner in the next step.

Using a biscuit cutter, glass, or cookie cutter, cut out a circle of dough. If your dough circle is still a bit thick, hold dough firmly and stretch it out in a circular motion until it is a bit thinner. Then, place a small ball of filling in the middle of your dough round.

Here comes the tricky (and, if you made your dough correctly, sticky) part. Carefully fold the dough over your filling, making sure to get the edges as close to even as possible. Pinch the edges of the dough together. They should stick, but if they don’t, dip your finger in some water and run it around the inside edges of the dough and pinch the edges together again. Using the tines of a fork, crimp the edges of your perogie to form a good seal.

Repeat the above steps until you run out of filling and/or dough. I usually end up with around two dozen perogies of various sizes. Heh.

To cook: Drop perogies into a pot of boiling water. Boil until perogies float to the top. Drain. Saute perogies with onions in butter or olive oil until the outside is crispy.

To freeze: Place perogies in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place in freezer. Let freeze for at least 30 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and place in freezer bags. To cook, follow the same directions as above.

photos : by yours truly

More cool stuff:

From Vine to Pie Part II – Vanilla Pumpkin Pie

So, you navigated your way through the pumpkin puree tutorial and you’re ready to pat yourself on the back (go ahead, I’ll wait) and make a pie.

Now, I have yet another confession to make. I cannot make a decent pie crust to save my life. If you can, I applaud you and encourage you to do so before getting started on this recipe (and if you could make a couple extras and toss them my way, that would be swell). If you can’t, then get thee to the grocery store and score yourself one of those frozen jobbies like I usually do. This recipe makes one 9″ pie, so if you don’t feel like doing math and doubling it, just throw the extra pie crust in the freezer.

I found a recipe similar to this years ago and I have tweaked it some. It’s a little lighter on the pumpkin pie spice than most recipes, but the vanilla totally makes up for the toned down spices.

What you need:

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (you’ve totally got this covered, so don’t even think about using the canned stuff!)
1 (12oz) can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs. flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I sometimes like to use my own mixture of cinnamon, cloves, and freshly ground nutmeg)
1 unbaked pie crust

What you need to do:

Preheat oven to 450°.

In a large bowl mix pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice. (Using a food processor is much easier, but most of the time I can’t be arsed to drag mine out so I do it the old-fashioned way.)

Pour filling into pie crust, pat yourself on the back for not spilling any onto the baking sheet. *Pick up baking sheet oh-so-carefully and proceed to spill filling over the side of the crust. Look to make sure there aren’t any little ears around, curse heavily while cleaning up the mess and then try one more time to get things in the oven without any more spillage.

Bake at 450° for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° and bake for 40 minutes or until filling is set. Let cool before slicing and serving with **cinnamon whipped cream.

*** Brag incessantly to your friends about how YOUR pie was made with fresh pumpkin and not that canned stuff and/or snicker to yourself when someone gripes that they couldn’t find any canned pumpkin at the grocery store.

* optional
** also optional, but very tasty
*** again, optional, but very good for the old ego

More cool stuff:

From Vine to Pie Part I – Pumpkin Puree

I have an embarrassing confession to make. For most of my life, I lived with the understanding that a pumpkin was a large orange thing whose sole purpose was to be cut open, gutted, carved, lit with a candle for a couple of hours, and then trashed and that pumpkin was something that came in a can.

Like most kids whose mothers kept their kitchens stocked with fish sticks and Kraft macaroni and cheese (but only if it was on sale or we had a coupon – otherwise, it was too pricey), I had no idea that one could actually make food without the use of a can opener or powdered processed cheese food. I was raised by a woman whose cooking philosophy has always been ‘If it takes more than five minutes to make, it’s not worth making.’ Needless to say, I had a lot to learn about cooking and I had to do it on my own.

One of the things that I have learned is that just because pumpkin can come out of a can, doesn’t mean it should. A few years back, I was encouraged to try making a real pumpkin pie with real, fresh pumpkin. Believe me when I say, once you’ve tasted pumpkin pie made with fresh pumpkin, there’s no going back. Can be damned!

The most ridiculous thing is that it is so easy and yet, so many people just keep cranking those cans open.

Okay, I admit, making your own pumpkin puree  is more work than opening a can, but it is sooooo worth it. I promise.

So, for those of you who are feeling adventurous this fall, here is my tutorial on how to make a right tasty pumpkin pie (Note: I’m going to break this up into two posts – one with instructions on how to make the pumpkin puree and the other on how to make the pie).

Pick Your Pumpkins

It should be noted that not all pumpkins are created equal. The most accessible pumpkins out there were not grown for the purpose of cooking. The very large, flat-bottomed pumpkins that are everywhere this time of year are great for carving jack-o-lanterns, but have no practical purpose beyond being decorative.

Pie pumpkins are small, round, and usually darker in color than decorative pumpkins. There are several different kinds and, until recently, I had always used sugar pumpkins (except for the one time that I mistakenly used decorative pumpkins resulting in a culinary fiasco that can be summed up in one word – yuck). However, last week I discovered Mystic pumpkins at our farmers market and I must say they are quite delicious and sweet.

In general, one small pumpkin will make enough puree for one 9″ pie, so be sure to purchase enough pumpkins for your pie baking needs.

Prepare Your Pumpkins

Once you have your perfect pumpkins, grab a knife and get ready for some fun. Heh.

Cut around the stem of the pumpkin like you would if you were carving a jack-o-lantern. Try to stay as close to the stem as possible though, so as not to create too much waste.

Pop the top off of your pumpkin and discard. Then, with a large knife, cut your pumpkin in half from top to bottom.

Next, prepare to eviscerate your pumpkin.

With a large spoon, scoop out all of the seeds, guts, and stringy bits. If you fancy toasted pumpkin seeds (and extra work) separate the seeds from the innards before tossing them away.

Once your pumpkin halves are all hollowed out and the pumpkin carnage has been hidden away neatly in your trashcan so as not to arouse any suspicions, you are ready to bake!

Bake Your Pumpkins

Preheat oven to 325°.

Place your pumpkin halves on a large cookie sheet with open sides facing down.

Bake pumpkin for 40-60 minutes until the flesh of the pumpkin is fork-tender and peels away easily from the skin.

Remove pumpkin from the oven and let cool slightly while mentally preparing yourself for the next step: skinning (bwhahahahaaa!).

Skin and Puree

While the pumpkin is still warm, peel the flesh away from the skin (that sounds totally gross).

Place your now-naked pumpkin into a food processor or blender and puree until the screaming stops smooth.

Bake It, Cook It, Freeze It…

Now you have fresh pumpkin puree that is ready to fulfill it’s life’s mission as a pie (or muffins, or cookies, or soup, or anything else you might want to make with it).

Or, if you’re completely indecisive, you can throw it in a freezer bag and let it languish for awhile while you decide what to do with it…just try to make a decision before it gets covered in freezer fur.

photos : pumpkins in various states by yours truly

 

 

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