Monday, December 7, 2009

Something to be Thankful For: Part 3, Holiday Pies

I think pie has to be one of my all time favorite dessert categories. I am a huge fan of desserts in general, but if I had to choose between a cake, ice cream, or pie, I usually will choose the pie hands down. In fact, I'd rather have a pie instead of a birthday cake. Since my birthday always fell very close to (or sometimes on) Thanksgiving, my family birthday "cake" was actually a Thanksgiving pie with a candle stuck in the center, while everyone gathered around the table and sang in harmony. My Grandma Dolores always remembered to make me a special lemon meringue pie for my birthday, which is still one of my favorite pie flavors.

My mom made (and still makes) fabulous pies. Her crust was always so crisp and light and she always managed to make them look so perfect. It took me a long time to get my pie crusts to taste right, and although I can get them to look nice enough, Mom is still the champion when it comes to an artful looking pie crust.

This year, I decided to make Betty's Pecan Pie, which I tried for the first time. I have made quite a few different versions of pecan pie through the years, and while I liked all of them, I hadn't found that special recipe yet, the one that would make me stop seeking new pecan pie recipes. Pretty sure this one will be my new favorite for now. It turned out so moist and nutty, plus it looked beautiful.

I also made my trusty Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie using fresh pumpkin, which I have been making ever since I first obtained the recipe from a friend. She didn't use fresh pumpkin in hers, but for me the fresh pumpkin is what makes this pie so special. It hardly takes any time at all to make fresh pumpkin puree. Simply wash and cut a small pie pumpkin into about 4 wedges, scoop out the seeds, pop into a steamer basket and let steam over boiling water, covered, until tender. The time varies depending on how big your pumpkin is, but generally 15-20 minutes should do the trick. The skin peels off so easily once the pumpkin is cooked, and a simple whirl with a stick blender creates a perfectly smooth, stringless puree.

The pie itself is a snap to throw together once you have your puree cooked and cooled. I actually like it better using skim versions of the milks, as it comes out less heavy, although you can use regular whole milk if you prefer. I have a deep dish pie plate that just barely holds all of the filling, but you could also use two smaller pie plates and just make an extra pastry shell.


  1. Great looking pies Heather! I am a real pie nut, myself and pecan is one of my favourites. When I was pregnant for my eldest daughter, I can remember making a pecan pie, cutting one slice out of it to eat and then throwing the rest into the bin because I was afraid that I would eat the whole thing!!! And then because I didn't think that would be deterrent enough, I emptied an ash tray on top of it just to make sure I would not be tempted! Ahh . . . the silly things we do when we are young!

  2. lol - pecan pies can definitely be far too tempting.

  3. Your pies are stunning. I can understand being tempted all too much.