The very best combination

Blueberries and lemon. They get me every single time. I mean really. Some combinations are just meant to be and let me be clear here, there is NOTHING better than chocolate but lemon and blueberries are a very close second. While I’ve made many blueberry pies (and even received a first place ribbon at the county fair, but no one is bragging [except me]). We mounted this attack on the blueberry pie as a practice run prior to the holiday of all holidays, Thanksgiving.

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This filling recipe comes out of the Better Home and Gardens New Cook Book. They have a neat table that simply outlines the recommended amount of flour and sugar for different kinds of berries and fruit. I find it very handy. I usually add a couple of teaspoons of lemon zest to my berry pies (and their blueberry pie recipe has lemon zest in it). To bump up the lemony flavor in this pie, we also did a lemon whipped cream to top our individual slices.

Frozen fruit should be allowed to thaw slightly before you incorporate everything. This usually takes less then an hour. Mix all of your thickener (flour) and sweetener (sugar) and lemon zest together in a separate bowl and when the berries are ready toss it all together. If you’re using frozen berries the added benefit is that the moisture collects on the partially thawed berries and evenly distributes the flour/ sugar mixture when you combine it with the berries.

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Don’t fill the bottom crust until you have the top crust rolled out and ready to go, so the filling doesn’t sit in the unbaked crust too long. The goal is to not have a soggy and saturated bottom crust. I usually sprinkle a little flour (1 or two spoonfuls) in the bottom of the pie crust prior to putting the filling to soak up any errant juices in an effort to keep the bottom pie crust from getting soggy.

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After you’ve wrestled both of the crusts out flat and filled the bottom crust you really are in the home stretch.

Make sure to press and roll the seam of the top and bottom crusts together. Or I know some people have good results wetting (lightly) and pressing the seam together. Whatever your method the point is to make sure you have a solid seam. Otherwise the crusts can separate when baking and juices leak out and make a mess. You want your pie to be fortress of flavor!

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I just use a standard thumb and finger pattern on the my pies, but feel free to get fancy.

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Make sure to cut some vents in the top.

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The way your pies look should be consistent and unique to you (so everybody knows whose it is). One of my favorite pie things is to have a maker’s mark. This is a unique design that you put on pies that you have made. I’ve seen a star, half circle designs, etc….. Personally, mine is the outline of the state of Nevada! I know, it’s really great.

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Once you get the hang of making pies they really aren’t too bad to make (easy as pie!…… anyone…. no?) There are few things people find more impressive then a delicious and well made pie. Prepare to impress and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. They’re only ingredients.

These pies were for our respective Thanksgiving parties. But that wasn’t going to do. So we made a smaller pie we could devour that night.

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Tollhouse Cookie Pie

This pie has become a staple at the annual Wright Pie Party. It’s like a chocolate chip cookie in pie form. Who wouldn’t love this?!?

This is another pie my dad made during my last visit home. Super easy and so delicious!

Again with the mise en place. It brings a tear to my eye.

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I could just eat the filling. Yum!

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Add filling to pie shell.

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Bake for 55-60 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

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Serve with ice cream.

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Tollhouse Cookie Pie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 Pie
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • ½ C All Purpose Flour
  • ½ C Granulated Sugar
  • ½ C Packed Brown Sugar
  • ¾ C Butter, Softened
  • 1 Cup Chocolate Chips
  • 1 C Chopped Nuts
Instructions
  1. ) Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. ) Beat eggs in large mixer bowl on high speed until foamy. Beat in flour, granulated sugar, and brown sugar.
  3. ) Beat in butter.
  4. ) Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
  5. ) Pour batter into pie shell.
  6. ) Bake 55 – 60 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean.
  7. ) Cool on wire rack.

 

 

Pumpkin Butter Pecan Pie

Now that we have pie crust taken care of, it’s time for the filling. First up, pumpkin butter pecan.

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I’m not a huge pumpkin pie fan. In fact, I couldn’t even tell you the last time I ate a slice. However, pumpkin butter pecan pie is delicious! I love the crunchy texture on top and the depth of flavors in this pie.

I also love how easy this pie is!

Start with ingredients. The last time I was home in Arizona I asked my dad to make a couple pies for the blog. These are his recipes. This is a beautiful display of mise en place, am I right?

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Mix all filling ingredients in medium bowl.

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Pour filling into unbaked pie shell.

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Sprinkle cake mix evenly over filling.

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Drizzle melted butter over cake mix.

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Bake at 350 for about an hour. I would start at 50 minutes and then check the pie. If crust is starting to get too dark, cover with foil and continue baking. Pie is done when knife comes out clean.

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Easy as…pie. This is a great alternative to the traditional pumpkin pie. I like it best served with vanilla ice cream.

Pumpkin Butter Pecan
Recipe type: Pie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 Pie
 
Ingredients
  • Filling
  • 1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Topping
  • ½ box yellow cake mix
  • ½ cup butter (melted)
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350o.
  2. Prepare 9 inch unbaked pie shell.
  3. Mix all filling ingredients together in a large bowl.
  4. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell and level off.
  5. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over filling, spreading to the edges of the crust.
  6. Drizzle melted butter over cake mix.
  7. Sprinkle chopped nuts over cake mix and butter.
  8. Bake the pie at 350o for about 1 hour or until knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. If the crust or pecans start to get too brown, cover the pie with foil for the last 15 minutes.
  9. Serve hot or cold, with ice cream or whipped cream topping.

 

Why I Don’t Have Abs

Pie is a year round affair at the Wright household for as long as I can remember. Every Thanksgiving we have a Pie Party. My dad is the pie baker of the family and makes 15-20ish different pies and we have a big party! My job is the decorating. There was a time in my life for whatever reason I missed five pie parties in a row. It was a dark time in my life. Over the years pies have been added including (but not limited to) key lime, chocolate haupia, lilikoi, and candy land.

The secret to a great pie? The crust. There are a lot of pie dough recipes out there. But the secret to great pie crust is to not overwork the dough. Pie crust should be tender and flaky. If you overwork it, the crust will become tough and hard. Personally, I avoid making pie whenever I can. I find the crust frustrating and especially upsetting when it doesn’t turn out how I was expecting. But thankfully, between Nathan and my dad, I’m never stuck making the crust.

The following recipe is the one my dad most often uses.

Pie Crust
Serves: 2 Crusts
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup shortening (I use butter-flavored Crisco)
  • 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ - ⅔ cup ice water
Instructions
  1. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut shortening into the flour mixture until the particles are about the size of peas. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing gently with a fork until all the flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans the side of the bowl. You may need a little more water.
  2. Gather half the dough into a ball and shape into a flattened round on a lightly floured surface. Roll pastry out into a round circle with a rolling pin until approximately 2 inches larger than the pie pan. Lift occasionally to prevent sticking.
  3. Carefully fold the pastry into quarters and place into pie pan. Unfold and press firmly into bottom and sides. For a baked pie shell, prick bottom and sides with a fork. Bake at 475o for about 10 minutes, until crust is golden brown.

This recipe is Nathan’s go to pie crust recipe.
Pie Crust
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ to ½ cup ice water
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add the butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds. (To mix by hand, combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry blender.)
  2. With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of the dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Whatever recipe you use, remember to work the dough as little as possible.

Nathan here. Let me be first to say how impressed I’ve always been with the visual perfection of Uncle Mark’s pie crusts. They are always a consistent thickness and the decorative edge is always just perfect. He makes it look easy as, well, as easy as pie. My crust recipe (and just a foreshadowing, I plan on thoroughly reading and experimenting with Julia Childs pie crust suggestions here in the future) produces a rougher more rustic looking pie crust (let’s be honest, it’s probably more me than the recipe) and many explicit interjections as I try to make the crust cooperate. When using a butter based crust I much prefer a good, thick pie crust because I love it.