Giving Thanks…for Pie!

Come Thanksgiving, there are a lot of things I’m thankful for. 

One of those things is a husband who lets me use him for a food guinea pig. 

This year, Thanksgiving was just the two of us, which was really bittersweet.  We spent our first Thanksgiving in WY together, and have gone home for the past two years–and we planned to make that our tradition.  But, this year we stayed in Wyoming.  We made a huge spread, even though no one came over.  One of the things I made was a pumpkin pie.  Not just any pumpkin pie, but a pumpkin pie. 

This posed a problem: the Hub-dubs’ favorite food is pumpkin pie.  Plain-Jane, nothing exciting, pumpkin pie.  So it was a real stretch for him to tell me, “sure, you can experiment with this year’s pie.”

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Add to the 2013 List-of-Things-I-Am-Thankful-For: the pie turned out.  Now, in order to properly experiment, you need to know a little bit about the science behind baking–why things do what they do and how they act.  This experimental crust was partially inspired by a recipe in this month’s Taste of Home (the gingered-truffle pie thingy).  I also consulted my Bible:

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Best wedding present I ever got.  I use it all. the.  time.  I like the little information they put in their about food–it’s really helped me come a long way.  But, that’s a different story.  Back to it. 

And so, without further ado, I bring you: Pumpkin-Gingerbread Pie (aka pumpkin pie). 

For the crust:

1 c. flour

1/4 c. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. cloves

4 T. cold butter, cubed

1/4 c. molasses

*This recipe will yield you a thin (see photo above) crust pie and you’ll actually have about 3/4 c. filling left if  you make it in a 9″ springform pan like I did.  So if you like crust, are making a bigger pie, or are using a bigger pan, double the recipe. I thought the crust was a bit thin, so I would make 1.5x this recipe foe my pie–then I also wouldn’t have any leftover filling (although I did make crustless pumpkin pie out of that just in case this didn’t work out.  Can’t wait to try it)*

You’ll also need your favorite pie filling recipe.  If making the crust took all of your ambition, use this easy one from Libby’s. 

You’ll also need a food processor.  Well, maybe not need need it, but a food processor makes life a lot easier.  If you don’t have one, Christmas is coming–put it on  your list and remember to be good for Santa. 

Preheat the oven to 350.  Then, place the flour, sugar, and spices in the food processor and pulse until well mixed. 

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Then add the cold butter and pulse until the crumbs look like sand–or, more accurately, panko:

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At this point I dirtied an extra dish by transferring this mixture to a bowl and hand-mixing in the molasses.  You could add it to the processor and pulse, but I feel like that my be a terrible idea.  If you try it though, let me know how it turns out–I’m all about dirtying as few dishes as possible. 

Once the molasses is mixed in, pour the mixture into the pan of your choice:

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Now just pretend this is a graham cracker crust and go to town.  Press down on the mixture and completely cover the bottom and push the excess crust up the sides.

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Pop that bad boy in the oven for 7 minutes or until it’s beginning to set.  Once you pull it out there will be air bubbles and it will look a bit weird, but in the 30 seconds it tool for me to snap a ‘cooked’ photo, my crust went back to normal.

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Pour in the pie filling and bake according to the recipe’s instructions. 

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Ta-da–a great finish to the ultimate meal!

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Now, this piece is pretty nekked–I made a rookie mistake–no whipped cream in the house.  I thought about making whipped maple cream to go on top, but I mistakenly threw this idea out to the Hub-dubs and told it was “wholly unnecessary.”  Maybe tomorrow once I come out of my food coma I will try that.  I also think this crust would be good with crystalized ginger in addition to everything else.  Experiment with it–then tell me how it turns out =)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pizza Roll-ups: Old Chicago Style

Pizza is hands-down one of my all-time favorite foods.  If I could, I would have a different kind of pizza every day. 

Of course, regular pizza would get boring so I would need to occasionally make pizza roll-ups:

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These are *similar* to the appetizer you can get at Old Chicago in that they are not a completely enclosed pizza bite and they’re spicy.  This isn’t, you know, the recipe or anything.  But they’re super good.  Here’s what you’ll need:

Dough for one pizza crust

1/2-3/4 c. shredded mozzarella

3 T. or so pizza sauce

Italian seasoning

12 pepperonis, chopped fine

While homemade pizza sauce is great, I love to use Hunt’s because it’s easy, it’s cheap, and it’s good. 

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This is the best stuff ever, and it’s what gives these pizza roll-ups a kick. 

Back to it. First, roll out your dough very, very thin:

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I wish I could roll dough out that perfectly, but alas.  It just doesn’t happen.  Use a pizza cutter to make a rectangle.  Then, spread a thin layer of sauce over the top, leaving a little space around the edges. 

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Next, sprinkle with Italian seasoning and top with the cheese and pepperoni.  I used some shredded cheese, but I had a block laying around that I needed to use up, so I diced that really small and used that.  And when I say small, I mean really small:

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Go ahead and top the dough

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As if this project wasn’t messy enough, here comes the really messy part: rolling it up.  Starting with one long edge, roll up tightly like a pinwheel.

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Use a pizza cutter to cut equal-sized pieces.  This log made eight roll-ups.  They were good-sized a pretty filling, but any smaller and I think they would have fallen apart. 

Bake at 425 for 15-22 minutes and viola!  Serve with more sauce (because it’s all about the sauce).

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Pumpkin Pierogies: It’s all about the Sauce

Well, long time no see. 

There are several excuses for this that I have creatively dreamed up and will unapologetically and unabashedly share with you now:

  • The early snow has caused me to sink into an early depression and bout of eating my feelings
  • There’s no need to cook during the month of October because you can simply live off of candy
  • Bread is about the most complicated thing I’ve cooked recently and there are already several bread recipes up here
  • My car, Honey Badger, broke down in between Gillette and Buffalo, effectively eating up an entire weekend plus the time thereafter to try and figure out what’s wrong with it (hint: I may be getting a new car)

But really, I’ve taken pictures of plenty of things I wanted to post, but haven’t gotten around to it.  Perhaps more regular posts will be my November resolution.  I will try and make up for my long absence with a cool recipe, which isn’t really a recipe (yup, one of those posts). 

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Well, hello.  What we’ve got here are some pumpkin pierogies with a creamy spinach-and-sausage sauce (here’s a way to use antelope!) and a red curry sauce.  These are awesome, if I do say so myself.  Luckily, I have a recipe for the pierogies and a base for the sauces. 

What is a pierogie? Sheer awesomeness, that’s what it is: it’s sort of like a dumpling/ravioli/delicious little nugget.  Typically, pierogies are served stuffed with sauerkraut or potato and cheese.  Until I made these up, the sauerkraut ones were my fav.  Those may have to move over for now, at least until I run out of pumpkin puree, anyway.  There really aren’t a lot of photos because I was seriously starving.  So use your imagination, or take photos yourself when you make these!

For the dough:

2.5 c. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 egg

1 T. olive oil

3/4 c. water

Mix flour and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Add the egg, oil, and water, and beat until the dough comes together, about 30 seconds.  Up the speed and beat on medium for 2-3 minutes.  Cover the bowl with a towel and let rest for at least ten minutes.

For the filling:

15 oz (1 sm. can) pumpkin puree

1 small onion, diced fine

2 cloves garlic, minced

In a skillet, pour a tiny bit of olive oil and saute the onion and garlic until the onions are transparent.  Add the pumpkin puree and mix well.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  

Now for the sauces:

For the red curry sauce, you’ll need:

Red curry paste (have you ever had this? It’s ridiculously awesome)

Fat-free cream cheese

Milk

Spinach

For the cream sauce:

Ground sausage, cooked

Fat-free cream cheese

Milk

Spinach 

Now, here are the approximate ratios I used for our sauces which gave us about three servings combined: 2 oz. cream cheese, splash milk, 1/4 frozen spinach, and 1/2# antelope.  You’ll need to adjust this based on the number of people you are going to feed and how thick you like your sauces.  Mine turned out really thick.  For each sauce, put the frozen spinach in a saucepan and thaw.  Add the cream cheese and stir over medium-low heat until melted.  Add the milk and the curry past or sausage.  Let simmer, then turn down the heat.  That’s it.  It’s that easy. 

While your sauces are simmering, roll out the pierogie dough on a floured surface.  Roll it thin–1/8 of an inch or so.  Use a biscuit cutter or drinking glass to cut discs out of the dough.  Place a spoonful of filling on half of the disc, being careful not to overstuff.  Fold the dough over onto itself and pinch shut with a fork.  Drop into boiling water and leave them there for about 2-3 minutes, or until they float.  Take out of the water, place on a baking rack to drain a little bit, and load them up with those sauces–because that’s what it’s all about.