Cranberry Rhubarb Pie

double crust pie
Put a cookie sheet or foil under this while baking.

2 (store-bought or homemade) 9-inch pastry pie crusts
1-2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tbsp. minute tapioca
1-1/2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 cups rhubarb cut into 1-inch pieces (fresh or frozen)
2 cups cranberry-orange sauce (see note below)
1-1/2 tbsp. butter or margarine, cut into pieces

Have you ever had a big bowl of cranberry orange sauce in the refrigerator after Thanksgiving? Not the kind from a can, but the fresh, uncooked kind you can make yourself or buy at a deli. No idea what to do with it? This recipe will solve that problem—and it will likely become the new, favorite pie in your house.

Combine sugar, cinnamon tapioca, flour and salt. Add chopped rhubarb and toss to coat. Add cranberry sauce and stir.

Pre-heat oven to 450° F. Allow pie crusts to come to room temperature and insert one into a 9.5-inch deep-dish pie pan and pre-bake for about 5 minutes until it is about half done. This will make for a flakier bottom crust (I do this with homemade crust because it is usually thicker). Do NOT prick the crust, as juice might later run underneath, but it is a good idea to weight it when you bake it as you would with any pre-baked crust. Mound filling high in the pie pan and dot with butter. Note: If you pre-bake the bottom crust, you will not be able to seal the edges of the top crust to it. That’s okay, just cut top into wedges and arrange them over the top.

Sprinkle top crust with a teaspoon of sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Bake at 450° F for 10 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350° F and bake for another 50 minutes or until done. Use a pie crust shield or tent with foil for about 25-30 minutes of baking time to help prevent the edges from burning. Pie is done when the pastry crust has become golden brown, and the pie juices have been bubbling out of the top crust vents.

Note: if using frozen rhubarb, prepare the same as for fresh and put pie together while the rhubarb is still frozen. Don’t pre-bake crust. Bake about 20 minutes longer to adjust for the frozen filling.

Serve warm or cooled, plain, or with a dollop of whipped cream.

Note: If you don’t have leftover cranberry sauce, you can make some quickly: Remove the zest of 1 orange (place in food processor) then remove the white, pith part and discard it. Break apart the orange and put in processor. Add 1 bag (10 or 12 oz.) of fresh or frozen cranberries and ¼ c sugar. Pulse until roughly chopped. Measure 2 cups for use in the above pie.

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Health-ier Monster Cookies

cookies with M&Ms on top
Health-ier Monster Cookies

1 c. creamy peanut butter
½ c. brown sugar
¾ c. rolled oats (the kind that cooks in 5-minutes, not instant)
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. vanilla
1 egg, large
1/3 c. chocolate chips
1/3 c. M&Ms

Makes 9 monster cookies. Recipe can be doubled.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one large cookie sheet.

Using a mixer, blend the peanut butter and brown sugar until creamed. Mix in salt, baking soda, vanilla, oats, and egg. Stir in chocolate chips.

Using your hands, scoop up dough, squeeze, and shape into balls about the size of golf balls and place on cookie sheet. Press down with your palm to flatten slightly. Cookies can be about 2-inches apart. They don’t spread out much when baked. Gently press about 6-8 M&Ms into the top of each cookie.

Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until bottoms just start to turn brown ever so slightly. Remove from oven even if cookies don’t look done. Let cool completely. I like to wrap them individually in plastic wrap.

Options: replace a tablespoon or two of the rolled oats with ground flax seeds. Dried cherries, cranberries and golden raisins can replace the chocolate chips and you will still have a great cookie. Nuts? Sure!

Dark Chocolate Walnut Loaf Cake

chocolate cake
Dark Chocolate Walnut Cake

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and lightly flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan, or spray it with a butter-flour spray. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat well, then the buttermilk and vanilla. Don’t worry if the batter looks a little uneven. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together right into your wet ingredients. Stir together with a spoon until well-blended but do not overmix. Scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for about 30 minutes, at which point you can cool it the rest of the way out of the pan. Slice and serve with whipped cream or even in a bowl with cream.

Atlantic Beach Pie: Meringue or Not?

 Bill Smith’s Atlantic Beach PieFor the back story, click here.
This is a newer version of a pie that is commonly served at seafood restaurants on the North Carolina coast. Chef Bill Smith has been serving it at Crook’s Corner and is credited with its revival. He calls it the easiest recipe in the world. I encourage you to go to his website and learn all about it firsthand and follow his recipe. I show the same recipe below, how I made it, along with my comments.

a pie with meringue
Meringue isn’t traditional to Atlantic Beach Pie, but who can argue with this?

For the crust:
1 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers
1/3 to 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar

For the filling:

a pale cream pie, looks like light butterscotch
This is the Atlantic Beach Pie I made from Bill Smith’s recipe.

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
Fresh whipped cream and sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crush the crackers finely, but not to dust. You can use a food processor or your hands. Add the sugar, then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into an 8 or 9-inch pie pan. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until it starts to color. It’s a crumbly crust.

While the crust is cooling (it doesn’t need to be cold), beat the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the citrus juice. It is important to completely combine these ingredients. Pour into the shell and bake for 16 minutes until the filling has set. The pie needs to be completely cooled to be sliced. If you’re not doing the meringue, serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Nadia’s notes: I used a 9-inch pan and that was just right. Crust seems thick, but it works. I baked my pie for 25 minutes and that was just right for my oven. I think it is delicious as it is. My husband likes a tad more lemon flavor, so sometimes I add a half teaspoon of lemon extract. I think this pie tastes just as good, maybe better the second day.

Meringue? Yes. That’s good too. This is a lemon flavored pie, so it lends itself nicely to meringue. This is also a great way to use the leftover egg whites. I do it when I feel like I have the extra time (even though it really doesn’t take long).

This is my meringue recipe:
4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
a few drops of lemon extract
1/3 cup sugar

Whip the whites and cream of tartar, adding lemon favor and gradually, the sugar until stiff glossy peaks. Do this while the pie is baking. 5 minutes before the pie’s time is up, raise oven temp to 400 degrees.

shows pie with and then without meringue
Atlantic beach pie side-by-. No contest in my book.side

When the pie has baked, remove from oven, spread with meringue, sealing the edges to the crust. I used a butter knife to even out the meringue and make little peaks. Return to the hotter oven and bake another 8-10 minutes or until meringue is browned on top.

Raisin Walnut Pie

a dark pie similar in looks to a pecan pie
Nadia’s all-time favorite pie: Raisin Walnut

RAISIN WALNUT PIE
For guilty pleasures, this is my all-time favorite pie. Comfort food and not health food, this recipe has a place at our holiday table. Similar to pecan pie, this is SO good. I saw a version of this recipe in an old cookbook saying it was a Karo Syrup contest winner many years ago. That recipe used margarine instead of butter.

3 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup dark corn syrup
½ c. firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ c. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. salt
1 c. raisins
½ c. chopped walnuts
1 pie shell (9-inch)

Make your own pie crust or use a pre-made shell. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a mixer, beat eggs, add corn syrup, brown sugar, melted butter, vanilla and salt. Mix in the raisins and nuts. Set aside and bake shell 5 minutes only, not until completely done. Remove crust from oven and pour filling into shell. Return to oven (with foil around the edges of crust) and bake approximately 50 minutes or until pie is lightly set to the touch. Cool completely. I usually serve with vanilla ice cream, but the original recipe suggested unsweetened, fresh whipped cream (doesn’t THAT sound good?).

Cranberry Orange Sugar Cookies

Cranberry Orange Sugar Cookies
Cranberry Orange Sugar Cookies

My new favorite,
Cranberry Orange Sugar Cookies

For the Orange Sugar:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp freshly grated orange peel

For the Cookies:
1 cup sugar
¾ cup butter, room temperature
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
½ cup pistachio nuts or chopped walnuts
1 TBSP freshly grated orange peel or more

Heat oven to 350F. Zest one medium orange.

Combine 1/2 c. sugar and 1 tsp finely grated orange peel in a small bowl and mix. Set aside.

Combine 1 cup sugar, butter and egg in a large bowl; beat at medium speed until creamy. Add nuts, cranberries, and the remaining orange zest ( it might be a little over a tablespoon) and mix again. Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking powder and baking soda. Beat until well mixed.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in orange sugar. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten lightly with bottom of glass.

Bake for 7 to 10 minutes—only until edges are lightly golden. Cool and remove from cookie sheets.

Easy Mincemeat Pie

mincemeat pie
Easy Mincemeat Pie

EASY MINCEMEAT PIE

1 (15 oz.) box refrigerated pie crust both crusts softened as directed

1 (29 oz.) jar Crosse & Blackwell® Rum & Brandy Mincemeat Filling

Vanilla Ice Cream

HEAT oven to 425°F. Unroll pie crusts. Line ungreased 9-inch pie plate with one crust. Fill with mincemeat. Cover with second crust and seal edges. Cut slits in top crust to vent steam. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream if desired. (recipe from Crosse & Blackwell).

Note: I baked the pie in the picture at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes and covered the edges with foil to prevent burning. Chuck and I make this every Christmas.

There are a few brands of mincemeat on the market, but Cross & Blackwell is one of my favorites. Also, some delis carry mincemeat in bulk behind the counter you can buy seasonally.