carmelized sweet-potato and apple pie with sharp cheddar cheese in a rosemary-buttermilk crust

I’ve been making pie for three days straight trying to get this recipe right, you guys.

First there was the crust. Measurements were off, I overworked the dough and it went flat, too salty, etc . . .

Then once I got the crust right, the filling was wrong. I tried grading the sweet potatoes with the chopped apples but the texture was way off. Plus sweet potatoes are more dense than apples so they cook unevenly. Nasty.

But today, TODAY I GOT IT RIGHT.

 I am so excited about this pie.
It’s just a pie, I know, but in my dream world, when I open a pie shop and farmer’s market, this pie will be on the short and selective menu. That’s how good it is.

Close your eyes for a minute and I’ll take you there. . .

The glass door swings wide and a small brass bell jingles over your head as you cross the threshold. Someone across the room greets you with a smile—a wave maybe—and you instantly feel at home. Your people come here.

The floors are rough planks, comfortable and unpretentious, but the handful of tables are flung with white table cloths. Fresh. Like white linen on laundry day. Rustic chandeliers hang from the pressed-tin ceiling and the generous front windows spill sunshine across the spacious room.

But the smell of the place is what sticks with you. Baked goods. Like Grandma’s kitchen—or maybe your aunt’s. Fresh berry and fruit pies wait under the long glass counter and a chalkboard menu against one of the raw-brick walls assures you the variety isn’t lacking. Three stand out: Rhubarb and current pie with cardamon. Custard pear and raspberry. Caramelized Sweet-Potato Apple with Sharp Cheddar in a Rosemary-Buttermilk crust. You’ll have to think on it. Decisions are hard . . .

Every pie here is made from scratch, the crust mixed up with butter and buttermilk from local dairy farmer’s bounty. The fruit, herbs, and produce that fill the crusts are local and seasonal, and you wonder for a moment if maybe you can just live here. Eat pie forever. The oversized leather chairs in the corner windows would be fine. Add a book, a cup of coffee, and you’ll be just fine, thank you very much . . .
You decide on the Caramelized Sweet-Potato Apple with Sharp Cheddar in a Rosemary-Buttermilk crust. Almost like lunch, right? Pie for lunch. Totally legit. 

Okay. Open your eyes.
I promise to serve your pie warm when you arrive. 🙂 In the mean time, here’s the recipe so you can make your own.

Enjoy!

CARMELIZED SWEET-POTATO AND APPLE PIE WITH SHARP CHEDDAR CHEESE IN A ROSEMARY-BUTTERMILK CRUST

Let’s start with the crust. I used the Buttermilk Pie Crust recipe from my last post with the addition of:
1 teaspoon dried and crushed rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon savory herb blend (basil/oregano/onion/thyme)

Mix up two crusts and refrigerate while you work on the filling.

FILLING:
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
6 pie apples (Grannysmith work great!) peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
3-4 tablespoons flour
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Over medium-high heat, melt butter in a flat-bottom pan and brown sweet potatoes until they begin to soften. Add apples and cook, covered, for a couple minutes. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika, and salt to the pan and mix until the spices and sugar are well incorporated. Remove pan from heat and transfer the filling to a large mixing bowl. Add flour and mix well until juices thicken. Set aside and allow to cool a bit.

Roll out the bottom crust and press it into your pie plate.
Add cheese to the slightly-cooled fruit, spice, and apple mixture and stir until ingredients are well-mixed. Fill the prepared bottom crust with the fruit and potatoes, roll out the top crust and fit it to the top of your pie. Press the top and bottom edges together and then crimp. Poke a hole in the top crust to vent, and sprinkle with paprika.
Bake in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned over the top.
Allow to cool a bit before cutting—this will help the juices re-incorporate into the filling.

Harry Potter and buttermilk pie crust

Ever notice how what you’re reading influences what you eat and cook, or what you WANT to eat and cook?

I finally started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to my two older kids this weekend, and oh my goodness. SO. MUCH. FUN. Only a couple chapters into the first book and they are already picking up on the challenges of making good choices, courage, the reality that adults don’t always get it right, that life isn’t fair, and that doing the right thing is always the right thing.

And the food . . . Rowling got it. I love how she details food.
Bags of stale crips.
A can of tomatoes on toast for breakfast.
Fried bacon.
A package of squishy sausages in Hagrid’s pocket.
Candy and sweets with so many odd names and flavors I can’t even remember them all at the moment. Except those jelly beans of all different flavors—because Jelly Belly, obviously, have jumped on that train.
I need to write about food in my own stories some more . . .

Today is about pie, though. Rowling’s description of the pies and tarts at the Hogwart’s feast got me itching to try a new pie crust recipe I’ve been thinking about. Plus I made butter again this weekend, so there is both icy cold buttermilk and fresh butter in my fridge waiting for experimentation.

Hope you had a great weekend, friends.
Here’s to good books and good food.
Enjoy!

BUTTERMILK PIE CRUST
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup chilled buttermilk

In a food processor, whirl the butter, flour, and salt until crumbly. Then, one teaspoon at a time, add the buttermilk until a dough forms. The trick here is not to overwork the dough or let it get warm. You don’t want the butter melting into the dough, but rather staying rather crumbled within it—those butter bits are what will make the dough flaky when it bakes.

Note: these measurements make a single crust, so you’ll need to double the recipe for a top and bottom crust.

I prefer using wax paper or parchment paper to roll out pasty dough because it means I don’t have to try and scrape it from my counter top or risk over-flouring it. Also, refrigerate whatever dough you aren’t currently working with.

Lay the bottom crust in the plate and add the filling of your choice (I’m going with apple, cheddar, and sweet-potato today).

Roll out the top crust as you did with the bottom, fit over top the pie, trim any excess around the edges and crimp.

Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown across the top and bubbling. About 40 minutes or so. Allow to cool before cutting so the juices can re-incorporate.

For a full tutorial on how I use wax paper and crimping, check out my earlier pie crust recipe tutorial. —Different recipe, same method. 🙂

Sour Cream and Buttermilk Banana Muffins with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

You know when you set out to do something super healthy in the kitchen and then it goes completely sideways? My mission: Greek Yogurt Banana Bread. The final outcome: Sour Cream and Buttermilk Banana Muffins (with chocolate chips) and Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.

Oops.

Also, this brings up a very important question:
At what point does a muffin become a cupcake?
I would like an answer to this or I may not sleep tonight.

I can promise you though, every muffin/cupcake calorie accrued in these incredibly tasty healthy-turned-not-so-much treats earned me glowing smiles, shining eyes, and beaming praise from my people. So I’m going to say it was a successful mission. And hey, there are many different kinds of healthy. My heart was very healthy yesterday. Lots of hugs, sticky kisses, and frosting-bedecked cheeks to smooch. So it’s all good.

Enjoy!

SOUR CREAM AND BUTTERMILK BANANA MUFFINS WITH VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk (make your own!)
2 cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips (white chocolate chips would be amazing too!)

In a large mixing bowl or using a stand mixer combine butter, vanilla, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, sour cream, and buttermilk. Blend until smooth and all of the ingredients are incorporated. Add flour and chocolate chips and blend again. Scoop batter into greased (but un-lined) muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown around the edges and across the tops. Roughly 15 minutes, but adjust time accordingly as every oven is a little different.

Remove muffins from baking tin and allow to cool. While they are cooling, you can mix up the frosting.

VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

3/4 cup frosting
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups (or so) powdered/confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Soften butter and whip with vanilla. Add powered sugar using hand or stand mixer and adjust consistency of the frosting, alternating with cream and sugar, until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated and the frosting is to your liking.

Frost muffins/cupcakes generously and sprinkle with raw sugar crystals.

chocolate-chip almond cookies

Happy Monday friends!

I wanted to write a post that would bring you off the Easter sugar high nice and easy. And I think this recipe will help. Because cookies are magic like that. Like literal magic.
Say, (in theory of course) you have a screaming toddler who refuses to nap. Then, my friend, then you 1) Brew yourself another pot of coffee, and 2) Pose this question:
“Do you want to make cookies with me?”
Watch. Magic. Happen.
Theoretical child will transform in into something else—at least until she can consume several cookies, fresh from the oven.
You know . . . in theory.

The cookies themselves are magic-tasting. No theories involved.
I love almond because it reminds me of Christmas, which in turn reminds me of childhood, which in turn reminds me that magic truly does exist in the world because mine was full of it.

If you need a dose of magic today, either for yourself or a theoretical child, these cookies may just be the answer you’re looking for.

Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE-CHIP ALMOND COOKIES

3/4 c sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 c butter-flavored crisco
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 teaspoons almond flavoring
1/2 c cake flour
2 c flour

I have a giant stand mixer that makes mixing up anything a snap, but you can use a bowl and a hand mixer, or a bowl and some elbow grease just as easily.

In a large mixing bowl, begin by whipping the butter and crisco with the brown and white sugar until well combined. (I think crisco is nasty and I never use it SAVE in this recipe. It helps the baked cookie consistency stay soft and chewy). Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the batter and mix until completely combined. Then add the eggs and almond flavoring and whip again. The batter should be almost frothy. Sprinkle in the cake flour (softest flour on earth and makes for a very smooth, soft cookie crumb) and gently mix, adding the rest of the flour one cup at a time, and the chocolate morsels with the final cup of flour.

The batter will be quite thick and heavy, which is exactly what you want for thick chewy cookies. Spoon and clump the dough into tablespoon-sized balls and place evenly on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes in a 350-degree preheated oven. I like my cookies lightly gold around the edges and almost (but not quite) soft in the middle. You can bake them a little longer if you prefer your cookies crunchy.

Serve warm with a tall glass of milk!

 

 

perfect pie crust

HAPPY PI DAY!

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I always dreamed of entering a pie in the county fair and winning blue.
Silly, but it seems like one of those homemaker kinds of things my grandmother would have done and, no lie, I dream of being like her. She was an amazing woman. But her pies, though most likely blue-ribbon, were difficult. My grandma was a cold-lard-cut-into-her-flour pastry kind of woman, and I’m sorry, but I don’t have time for that. Also, gross. Tiny bit.
I do things a little differently, but cross my heart, this pastry recipe is FAIL PROOF. Even for the most reticent of pie-crust makers. Trust me on this, okay? It’s simple. No lard or ‘cutting in” involved. And I think, despite my divergence from tradition, grandma would approve.

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The apple filling recipe is pretty basic: 5-6 apples, peeled, sliced and chopped into bite size pieces. Mix them in a bowl with 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4…

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Paleo Pumpkin Bars (whole30 friendly!)

No matter which way you spin it, fall isn’t fall unless you throw in a WHOLE LOT of pumpkin spice. It’s basically an American movement that finds a home in the hearts of blanket-scarf-clad, tall-boot-wearing, coffee-sipping women everywhere.
No judgement, I’m at the front of that pack, proudly waving my slouchy, jewel-toned beanie. So, you can add these pumpkin bars to that mix, and it’s a pretty complete fall package for your average women anytime in October. Or guy, really.
I love them. These folks. They are my people.
Bonus: these particular bars are FREE of all the things. (Gluten, sugar, dairy). But they do contain eggs and nuts. Cashews actually. Salted.
Mmmm. Salted cashews.
*ahem* You’ve been warned.
Enjoy!

PALEO PUMPKIN BARS

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Crust:
1.5 cups salted and roasted organic cashews
1/2 teaspoon aditional salt
1 egg
3/4 c. almond flour
1/2 c clarified butter

Filling:
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup dates
29-oz can Pumpkin
1 cup vegan coconut creamer (1 cup prunes, 2 cans whole-fat coconut milk)
4 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Whipped Topping:
2 cans whole-fat coconut milk, cream only.

This recipe takes a little bit of initial prep work and the inclusion of a creamer which you’ll have to make in advance, but I promise, it’s worth it. I mean, really. actually pumpkin bars with ALL THE FREES?! (Gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, chemical free).

So begin by mixing up a batch of coconut milk creamer.
(1 cup prunes and 1 cup boiling water in a blender, whirled until smooth. Add two cans of whole-fat coconut milk. Whirl again and there ya go!) Set aside.

For the crust, begin by whirling cashews and salt in a food processor until smooth but not so long that it begins to liquify into an actual nut butter. Catch it before that stage. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground cashews, egg, clarified butter, and almond flour until a soft dough forms. It won’t exactly form a ball the way a typical dough would, but it will by nice and sticky. Spread with a spatula and press with your fingers into the bottom of a butter 9×14 pan. Bake at 400 degrees until it sets. About 8 minutes or a bit less. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

While the crust is cooling, go ahead and mix up the filling, starting with processing the dates, which will serve as the sweetening element—in liue of sugar or maple syrup. Once the paste/syrup forms, scrape into the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Add the spices, eggs, pumpkin and the creamer you mixed up earlier. Using a mixer blend the filling until the ingredients are well-combined. Pour over the crust and using a spatula, smooth until level in the pan.
Bake in a 350 degree oven until a knife inserted comes out clean. About 30-35 minutes. Adjust time accordingly.

Once the bars have cooled you can top with ‘whipped cream’ before serving. Simply skim the coconut cream from the top of the cans of coconut milk (this is easier if you’ve refrigerated the cans for several hours beforehand). Using a mixer, beat until peaks form, just as you would with standard dairy whipping cream.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Why, yes. This is another zucchini recipe. I’m trusting you’ll forgive the repetition as, hopefully, you have these gorgeous squash coming out of your ears as well. I have a basket on my kitchen counter full of them. I keep looking at them and making promises. “You shall not go to waste! Nor you! I shall make something beautiful out of you!” And so. And so: Another zucchini recipe. This recipe calls for four cups of zucchini, so it’s a fantastic way to use up some of the excess.

CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE

14390399905391/2 cup butter —softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1  3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup greek yogurt
2  3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
4 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

FROSTING
1 cup butter
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cocoa powder
4-6 cups powdered sugar (as needed for desired thickness and weight)

In a large bowl, mix butter, vegetable oil and sugar. Add vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and eggs and continue mixing until well-combined. You can use a stand mixer, a hand mixer, or a good-old fashioned whisk, as you prefer. Spoon in the yogurt, cocoa powder, zucchini, and chocolate chips until smooth. Add the flour and combine well. (I always save the addition of flour for last so I can adjust the amount if necessary).
You can use a 9″x13″ pan for this cake, but I prefer loaf pans as the cake is easier to freeze and save for later. And I’m all about having cake on hand for later. So, whatever your pan preference, spray it well with a cooking spray or grease with butter so the cake will not stick to the sides of the pan. This recipe will make a deep cake in a 9″x13″ pan, or three loaf pans. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 325 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Once the cake is baked, set aside and allow to cool.

FROSTING
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter, milk, and cocoa power together, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar until there are no lumps. If you want to pour or drizzle your frosting, do not add as much powder sugar, but if you’d rather smooth or spread the frosting (this is my preference), then feel free to add all, or even more than six cups of powdered sugar.