Miscellaneous

It’s March 14th– Pi(E) Day!

Pi(e) Day

Alright gang–get excited because it’s March 14th— π Day! Or Pi(E) Day as far as I’m concerned! And what better way to celebrate 3.14159 than to feature a delicious round up of ALL THINGS PI(E)!

First up, the savory pies —

Let’s talk about Pot Pies. All kinds of veggies, chunks of delicious proteins swathed in a rich and creamy sauce–then topped with a flaky, buttery crust—all in one dish! Super dreamy…..

Here’s my take on Shrimp Pot Pies but the recipe can be easily adapted for chicken pot pies, turkey pot pies, or even lobster pot pies.

Shrimp Pot Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is another wonderful comfort food and is the perfect way to use up leftovers. And seriously, how can a layer of mashed potatoes over anything be a bad thing?

Shepherd's Pie

It seems like many cultures around the world have some type of “meat pie”….. Empenadas, Natchitoches, Piroshkis, Sambusas, Pasties – and the Vietnamese are no different! We have Bánh Pa Tê Sô (also spelled Pâté Chaud) and are the perfect bite when you’re on the go.

Bánh Patê Sô (Vietnamese Savory Meat Pies)

And of course–the beloved pizza pi(e)! Pizzas come out of my oven at least every other week and this cast iron skillet method will change your life!

Spring Skillet Pizza Pie

Now on to the sweets!

Hand Pies are a blessing for people like me who struggle with rolling out large sheets of pi(e) dough to cover full pans. They’re easy to make and no slicing required–which makes it a great dessert for picnics or dessert bars. These are filled with mixed berries but the filling options are endless!

Mixed Berry Hand Pies

And of course, there’s one of my personal favorites – Key Lime Pie. I like to add an extra nod to the islands by using crushed macadamia nuts inside the crust and also on top.

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Fan of the classic combo of peanut butter and chocolate? Then you’ll LOVE this Peanut Butter Cream Pie. The filling is light and fluffy and topped with a layer of whipped cream and tons of mini chocolate peanut butter cups, crushed peanuts, chopped pretzels and a drizzle of melted chocolate.

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

Big sis makes some mean icebox pies and this Peach Divinity is no exception! Perfect for summer BBQs….or let’s be honest— ANYTIME!

July 2015 Fam Din

She also makes a stellar Caramel Apple Pie — and trust me, you’re going to want to A LA MODE that baby!

Caramel Apple Pie a la modeNext up – Boston Cream Pie that my other sister makes. Which, truthfully, kind of confuses me because it looks less like a “pie” and more like a cake. But heck–it’s tasty nonetheless.

Boston Cream Pie

And here’s a GORGEOUS Strawberry Tart I made using berries we just picked at the farm! Before you say it–yes, I know it’s a tart but it’s kind of a pie-like creation so I’m including it anyway.

I’m such a rebel.

Fresh Strawberry Tart

For my last Pi(e) Day idea — my ode to the flavors of apple pie….in cocktail form! The Spiced Apple Pie combines cider with dark rum and all kinds of spices in a wonderful drink. Yes, please!

The Spiced Apple PieSo many different pies, so little time!

What’cha waiting for? Get out there and whip up some deliciousness and celebrate the mathematical constant π (Pi)!

I realize this just solidifies my geekiness 🙂

Desserts/Pastries

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

Wait, wait, wait – hold up!

Did I really suggest Thanksgiving dessert ideas yesterday and NOT include anything with chocolate?????

Quick! Someone check my temperature!

 

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

But fear not, dear friends. There’s still PLENTY of time to make this luscious Peanut Butter Cream Pie and your loved ones won’t even know it was a last minute addition.

Because it’s a known fact that Peanut Butter and Chocolate are a match made in heaven.

Foodie Heaven.

 

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

I had actually made this beauty a few weeks ago when one of my besties and I had gone over to a friend’s for dinner. Because I can never go to someone’s house empty-handed, I offered to bring a dessert and turned to this fabulous pie courtesy of Joy the Baker.

Instead of the graham crackers that the recipe calls for, I opted for Oreo cookies because mo’ chocolate is always mo’ better! As for the filling, you can’t beat the light, fluffy, peanut-buttery center that is then layered with whipped cream. And to go that extra bit over, top it with whatever your heart desires! I kind of went to infinity and beyond by topping the pie with a drizzle off melted chocolate, crushed salted peanuts, itty-bitty mini chocolate peanut butter cups AND chopped up chocolate covered pretzels.

Yea….I have no self control.

Want the recipe? It can found in Joy the Baker’s new book, Homemade Decadence. Or, you can find it HERE at the Candid Appetite’s site.

So once again, HAPPY THANKSGIVING FRIENDS!!! And now, you have no excuse to leave out the chocolate 🙂

Desserts/Pastries

A Peanut Butter Pie for My Loved Ones

Peanut Butter Pie

 

 

For some time now I’ve remarked about the truly amazing community amongst food writers and bloggers. In the short time I’ve joined this special “fraternity”, I’ve experienced and witnessed such open support, generosity, collegiality, and celebration.

Quite extraordinary considering the majority of us will never have the opportunity to meet face to face.

But through the shared love of food and stories (which, really….are inseparable) we have created somewhat of a food society. We revel and congratulate each others successes and reach out to support each other during times of challenge and pain. And the latter was so greatly experienced nearly 2 weeks ago when Jennifer Perillo of In Jennie’s Kitchen suddenly and tragically lost her husband.

I met Jennifer for but a moment in Chicago earlier this summer at the Wilton Food Blogger Workshop. It was such a quick, jammed packed weekend that I didn’t get the chance to get to know her but quickly added her on Twitter when I got back home to San Diego. Her writing is so inspiring and quick-witted that it didn’t take me long to become a big fan of hers. So when I heard the news, my heart just broke.

No –I don’t really know Jennifer. But through her writing she became a kindred spirit and I was overcome with sadness for her and her little ones.

In a heartbeat, the food community from all over the world came together to envelope Jennifer with love and support. When asked what people could do to help her, she answered by asking us to make a peanut butter pie (her husband Mikey’s favorite) to share it with our loved ones.

 

 

Peanut Butter Pie

In addition to honoring Jennifer & Mikey, my Peanut Butter Pie is for:

  • My grandpa Ôn— who was gentle-hearted, loved WWF wrestling and our peanut butter cookies;
  • My grandma M— for her thunderous laughter and spirited soul;
  • Dad– who carried the weight of his entire family on his shoulders and for always pushing us to be better;
  • Mom– who taught me everything;
  • My eldest sister Ngọc — who can remain level minded during times when I fly off the handle and who won’t “waste” calories unless it’s for desserts;
  • My elder sister Phooey— who is stronger than she sometimes gives herself credit for and is our ultimate foodie;
  • My brother Việt— who taught me everything I know about electronics and who had to put up being the only boy amongst 4 sisters;
  • My sister Tường— who, for better or worse, is exactly like me…..fiercely loyal and isn’t afraid to say anything;
  • My in-laws Curtis, Liezl, & Rick — for willingly jumping into our crazy family;
  • My nieces & nephews (Nina, Nini, Maya, Lucas, Luna, Baby Nguyen)– for being such smart, loving and kind kids;
  • My Bella– for being the cuddliest, crazy, peanut butter lovin’ puggle ever;
  • And for the rest of my Family and Friends— for being exactly who they are. Entertaining, hilarious, adventurous, and above all–loving.

Thank you Jennifer, for reminding me to take time out to appreciate and acknowledge my loved-ones. Here’s a big virtual hug to you.

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Peanut Butter Pie
Serves 8
Slightly adapted from In Jennie’s Kitchen

For the Crust:
8 ounces chocolate graham crackers or chocolate wafer cookies, crushed into fine crumbs
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup chopped peanuts, plus 2 more tablespoons for the top

For the Filling:
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs.  Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well.  Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. (I used a tart pan)

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave.  Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula.  Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form.  Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use.  Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar.  Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream).  Fold in the remaining whipped cream.  Pour the filling into the prepared  pan. Sprinkle the tops with remaining peanuts and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.


Desserts/Pastries

Key Lime Pie with Macadamia-Graham Cracker Crust

I have always loved the bright and vibrant flavors of citrus, particularly Limes. And in this gal’s humble opinion, very few desserts can bring such a smile to my face like a good piece of Key Lime Pie. The creamy, sweet, and tart flavors balance so well with the traditional graham cracker crust. Just absolute Yum! So when the Memorial Holiday Weekend came up, I couldn’t think of a better dessert to accompany our barbecue dinner.

Traditional Key Lime Pies are fairly easy to make but I have had so many that fell short on that true “in your face tart flavor”. Therefore, I wanted to ensure that I didn’t skimp on the Key Lime juice—a flavor quite unique to its more commonly found relative the Persian or Tahitian Lime. But have any of you ever attempted to squeeze your own Key Limes? It’s a laborious task! Those little buggers are quite small and often need to be worked quite a bit to release its juices. In fact, after squeezing 28 entire Key Limes, I was only left with a little over 1/4 cup of juice! Yikes! My confession to you all is that I actually supplemented the rest of the juice with Persian Limes. Hey–at least I was honest!

But for those of you who need to stay true to the Key Lime, you can also buy bottled Key Lime Juice at many grocery specialty stores. Just be sure to read the label and not buy the pre-sweetened type.

As for the crust, I wanted to add a unique spin to my version of the Key Lime Pie. Recently equipped with heavy bags of Macadamia Nuts from our visit to Hawai’i, I decided to incorporate these tropical nuts into the crust. I think the addition was quite delicious—offering a little nutty flavor to the party.

And how was it? I LOVED this Pie. Seriously, LOVED IT! If you’re a fan of Key Lime Pie, or any Citrus Desserts, you’ve GOT to try this little goodie. It’s seriously “Nam Tested and Approved“.  And no, I won’t tell anyone if you decide to use all Persian Lime Juice instead of battling it out with the tiny Key Limes. It’ll be our little secret 🙂

A Lime Party in a Bowl

Proof that I actually squeezed them all


Macadamia-Graham Cracker Crust ready to be filled


Tart-Citrus-Creamy Goodness!

_____________________________________________________

Key Lime Pie with Macadamia-Graham Cracker Crust
Serves 8

Ingredients:

Crust
½ Cup Roasted Macadamia Nuts
9 Graham Cracker (2 1/4-inch by 4 3/4-inch crackers)
1 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
5 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted

Filling
14 Ounces Sweetened Condensed Milk
4 Large Egg Yolks, Room Temperature
½ Teaspoon Lime Zest
½ Cup Key Lime Juice

Garnish
1 Cup Heavy Cream, chilled
2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extra
¼ Cup Crushed Macadamia Nuts
Lime Zest
Lime Slices

Preheat oven to 350° degrees.

For Crust: In a food processor, grind Macadamia Nuts until fine. Add Graham Crackers and continue to process until contents reach the consistency of sand. Place mixture into a bowl and add sugar and butter until combined well. Transfer mixture onto the bottom of a 9-inch glass pie plate and firmly press the crust together to cover the bottom of the pan and up the sides. It is extremely important to press the mixture evenly–the flat side of a metal measuring cup can assist in this process. Bake the pie crust for about 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

For Filling: Whisk together condensed milk and yolks in a bowl until combined well. Add juice, lime zest and whisk until combined well.  Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven 15 minutes. Cool pie completely on rack. The filling will continue to set as it cools. Once it reaches room temperature, transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours.

Final Touches: Just before serving, prepare the whipped cream. In a stand mixer, whisk the heavy cream on high until it just holds stiff peaks. Slowly sprinkle in sugar. Add vanilla. Pipe the whipped cream on top of the chilled pie and garnish with remaining crushed macadamia nuts, lime zest and lime slices.

I wish I had a slice right now 🙂