The Hills Have Pies

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Have you ever seen the movie(s) The Hills Have Eyes, by Wes Craven? If not, I highly recommend you don’t…unless you love to be on the edge of your seat and scared out of your mind. The 2006 movie was a remake of the 1977 classic of the same name. Wes Craven really knows how to tell a scary story…one that stays with you…pretty much forever. Scared and scarred for life.

The story is basically about a family who is on a cross country, and is purposely detoured, and drive unknowingly into an abandoned U.S. nuclear testing site. There, they are terrorized and almost all of them killed by mutant “hill people”.

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It’s a movie that always comes to mind when we are at the cabin….because, of course… our cabin sits on a 57 acre hillside. And what makes it even creepier…is that there is this man who has suddenly appeared in the last few months while we are on a hike, or a four wheeler ride. Although the land is posted, there are still some of the local neighbors who use the trails for their four wheelers, or for going on walks.

But this man… he’s just plain scary. He’s rather elusive, which makes him even more creepy….and when we come face to face in the woods, he just disappears into the trees. One minute he’s there… the next minute…poof. He’s gone.
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We did find out from the local neighbors that he’s harmless. But that doesn’t make him any less scary, especially when he’s there… and…you know he’s there because you saw him…but then all of a sudden he’s not there anymore. And then you have to walk by the spot in which he disappeared because that’s the way back to the cabin….

And it always makes me think of the end of the movie, when the remaining family members think that they’ve killed off all of the mutants…and unbeknownst to them, there is a mutant hill person silently watching them through the trees…is he watching me through the trees as I pass by? It’s quite unnerving.

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I really need to stop watching scary movies.
And I need to start making more pies.

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So anyway… up in the woods along the trails are wild strawberries. They’re everywhere…And if I’m lucky enough, I can grab a few before the mutant hill man, or a chipmunk finds them first. What better way to calm my jittery nerves, than a rustic strawberry pie, and a scoop of fresh ice cream on top…

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The hills have pies.
And that’s not scary at all.
It’s delicious.

It’s delicious especially with my quick (cheater’s) fresh vanilla ice cream, which is basically frozen whipped cream, and a cute little pastry heart garnish (Because every pie should have a heart). This is enough bring a smile to even the crankiest of mutant hill men!

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….And…. I’m bringing my rustic strawberry pie to Angie’s Fiesta Friday today… and have the honor once again to co-host! Today, I am thrilled to be co-hosting with Elaine from Foodbod! This is going to be one lovely party, because not only is this lady one highly talented chef, her sweet personality is like a magnet.  It’s truly love at first sight as soon as you meet Elaine, you just can’t help it…she is so darn adorable!

A special thank you to Angie from The Novice Gardener for hosting Fiesta Friday. I know I say this all the time…but how time flies when we’re having fun…. Can you believe that we are at week number 22 already?? Our beautiful Angie certainly knows how to put on a fabulously fun party, and it’s growing by leaps and bounds every single week! But how can it not? Angie is true blue…with a kind heart, and a hilarious outlook on pretty much everything! And not surprising, her funny and entertaining manner keeps people coming back each week! And don’t get me started on her absolutely gorgeous photography and mouth-watering recipes. Seriously. You’ll become instantly smitten. I promise.

I hope that you’ll stop by and see all of the delicious recipes that everyone has brought to the table this week…you’ll be amazed. We have some truly talented people there!

….AND….If you are a blogger and haven’t had the chance to link up, now is the time! If you are new to this party, or even new to blogging…we welcome you to join us! It is a wonderful way to meet other blogger friends, and gain exposure and views! Please feel free to contact me, Elaine or Angie, if you have any questions! We are here to help, and look forward to meeting you!!

Please be sure to link your posts to Angie’s blog, as well as my blog so that we know that you have arrived! It’s as simple as clicking on the “Click to Join” button right here…

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I truly hope to see you there!

Life is good, it’s a “I wonder if mutant hill man likes strawberry pies, because maybe I’ll make him one someday” kind of good…

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Rustic Strawberry Pie with Fresh Vanilla Ice Cream

Just a quick note…if you’re planning on making the ice cream for this recipe, although it’s simple, then you’ll need to plan ahead. You’ll need to freeze your ice cream maker bowl for at least 8 hours, to overnight!

1 quart fresh strawberries (Because let’s face it. Wild strawberries aren’t readily available to everyone.)
1/3 cup Sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
dash salt
Aunt Linda’s Pie Crust (Recipe Below)
Fresh Vanilla Ice Cream (Recipe Below)

Aunt Linda’s Pie Crust:
If you haven’t tried this pie crust….you honestly need to. It will be your “go-to” pie crust forever.
2 cups flour
1 cup shortening
½ tsp salt
½ cup milk
1 tbsp vinegar

In a small bowl, mix the milk and vinegar together. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, blend the flour, shortening, and salt together until mixture is in pea size crumbles. Pour the milk and vinegar mixture into the flour mixture and stir. The dough will be sticky.
Roll out on a generously floured surface, a little on the thicker side. Maybe about a ¼” thick-14” square. Spoon the strawberry mixture into the middle of the crust, leaving about a 2-1/2” edge. Cut around the square so that the edges are perfectly straight. Save the scraps. Fold the edges up over the strawberries, overlapping the corners, so that it folds into a perfect square. Bake at 350° for about 1 hour, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Roll the scraps again to about ¼”, and using a heart shaped cookie cutter…cut a heart out of the pastry dough, and place it in the middle of the pie (Because all pies should have a heart).
With a smaller heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many pastry hearts as you can. Sprinkle all of the hearts with course sugar, and bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Watch them, so that they don’t burn! These hearts will be used to garnish the pie and ice cream later.

Quick Vanilla Ice Cream:
Just a quick note:  This is basically frozen whipped cream.  You want the heavy cream to be cold when you start this. Make sure that you keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to make the ice cream!  I only add 1/4 cup of sugar, because I just don’t care for it when it’s so sweet, especially when it’s going to top a very sweet pie. If you like it a little sweeter, then by all means, add more sugar.  It won’t change the texture of the ice cream at all.
2 cups heavy cream (Just out of refrigerator, you want it to be cold!)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla

Combine the heavy cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla. Since the heavy cream is right out of the fridge, then you can go ahead and pour it into your ice cream maker’s bowl. Churn according to the manufacturer’s directions. It takes a good half hour or so.

As soon as it’s frozen to your desired consistency, serve it with a square of fresh strawberry pie, and garnish with a pastry heart.

Enjoy!

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Homemade Strawberry Pop Tarts

IMG_1395I admit to going a little overboard when I’m out grocery shopping. I’ve mentioned a few times how pretty displays throughout the store pull me in, and before I know it, both my shopping cart and mind are filled with ingredients and ideas for said ingredients.

And that’s all well and good, as long as those groceries aren’t perishable…and then I’m scrambling to use them up before they go bad..

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I found myself with about three quarts of strawberries in the refrigerator last week, and decided to make a quick jam. I do love fresh jam, especially when it’s still warm, and I have some warm biscuits to slather it on.

I didn’t have biscuits.

Anyway… while the jam was cooking on the stove, I thought, “Shoot, I should have made a strawberry pie..” And then I thought…it’s not too late… I could make pop tarts instead!

I threw Aunt Linda’s pie crust together (honestly, if you haven’t tried this pie crust recipe, you need to. It will be your “go to” recipe forever) and in no time, had pop tarts thrown together and cooling on a baking rack!

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Of course, my finicky Boy (who is my son Mike…I call him Boy) comes walking through the kitchen:

“What are you making?” he asks.
“Strawberry Pop Tarts” I answer.
“Don’t ask me to be your taste tester” he replies.
“There’s a surprise” I respond.
“You know I like chocolate” he said.
“It’s not always about you..” I reply.

Funny…I’m sure you know it…and especially he knows that that couldn’t be further from the truth….but I should mention that he isn’t a little boy that I’m talking to like that…he will be 19 next Sunday…and he is usually deserving of a wise-ass comment from me… which I might add will usually end up with him picking me up and throwing me into the kitchen sink and turning the faucet on…

Ahh…the love of a mother and her son. There is nothing like it. I love my kids more than life itself, and they all know it. You can be sure that I’ll be making those chocolate pop tarts very soon for the little jerk (said lovingly, of course), and maybe, just maybe, for that day, I won’t have to change my wet pants from being thrown in the sink…

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Anyway…back to the strawberry pop-tarts. Jess just happened to come walking into the kitchen, during the conversation between boy and me.

“Mmm” she says.
“Thank you for that” I respond, giving boy the “look”.
“You want to go in the sink?” he threatens..

Jess picks one up, and takes a bite…and said that I should make them again, “These are really good”…

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And they were. I was surprised that they weren’t huge ordeal to throw them together. What made me really happy was that the crust remained flaky, yet firm enough to be able to pick them up and eat, the jam was perfectly gooey, not runny at all, and a quick royal icing sealed the deal.

A perfect treat for kids of all ages… except for boy, who only wants chocolate.

Life is good..it’s a “too many strawberries in the fridge make for delicious pop-tarts” kind of good..

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Homemade Strawberry Pop Tarts
Makes Six Pop Tarts

Just a quick note: This jam is made with pectin. I know..I’m cheating… but it comes in handy to make a quick jam when the mood strikes!

Create a rectangle template from cardboard 3-1/4″ x 5-14″

Strawberry Jam:
1-1/2 cups crushed strawberries
1-1/2 tbsp pectin (such as Sure Jell)
1-2/3 cup granulated sugar

Combine the strawberries and pectin in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add the sugar and continue to stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring back to a boil, and boil for one minute. Remove from heat, and let cool.

Aunt Linda’s Pie Crust:
2 cups flour
1 cup shortening
½ tsp salt
½ cup milk
1 tbsp vinegar

In a small bowl, mix the milk and vinegar together.  Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, blend the flour, shortening, and salt together until mixture is in pea size crumbles. Pour the milk and vinegar mixture into the flour mixture and stir.   The dough will be sticky.

Roll out on a generously floured surface, kind of on the thicker side. Lay your template on the dough, and cut out as many rectangles as you can with the first roll out. Repeat rolling and cutting out rectangles until you have 12 rectangles.

Give a cookie sheet a spritz of vegetable spray, and place as many rectangles on the sheet that you can. I was able to fit four.

Spoon some strawberry jam on to each rectangle, filling it to about 1/2” from the edge. Place another rectangle on top, pressing down around the edges with your finger. Crimp around the edges with a fork.

Bake at 350” about 1/2 hour, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, and cool completely on a cooling rack.

Frost with royal icing, and sprinkle with decorating sugar.

Quick Royal Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp meringue powder
2 tbsp water

Combine the powdered sugar, meringue powder, and water in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for about 12 minutes or until stiff peaks form.

Enjoy!

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Peanut Butter Pie Jars

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One of Michael’s pet peeves with me is that I’ll perfect a recipe, and then move on to the next challenge. He claims that once a recipe is perfected, it’s never to be seen again.

I say that’s nonsense.
He’s completely mistaken.
Ok, yeah. He might be right..

This past summer, I wanted to recreate Mike’s favorite peanut butter pie that I buy for him from the patisserie at my beloved Wegmans. I thought that the whipped peanut butter filling would be my challenge, but it turned out that the crust was the challenge! I tried several different crusts (oreo, graham cracker, etc) before I actually got it right. Because this pie is for him, it was only right that Mike should be the taste tester, and as the pie recipe progressed, he was actually the one who chose the final crust. “You nailed it, mom”…was finally music to my ears!!

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I admit, I haven’t made it in a while, and he’s been asking for it on a weekly basis, probably for the last three months. I figured I better get it made before I prove him right!

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I think the best part of this dessert is that you can make it into the actual pie, or make it into a tartlet, a cake, mini dessert cups, or bake it right in individual canning jars for easy transport! Mike doesn’t care what shape or form it is when I make it, as long as I actually make it!!   He was just as happy with them in jars this time around, as he was with the tart shown above.  He didn’t even mention the missing Reeses cups!

Life is good. Life is “whipped peanut butter and a happy son” good.

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Peanut Butter Pie Jars

You can easily make this into a 9” x 13” pan by doubling the recipe for the crust, the whipped peanut butter, and the whipped cream.

Brownie Crust
3/4 cup all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pan(s) or jars by spraying with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until well blended. Pour into prepared pan(s) or jars. Bake for about 30 minutes or until toothpick, when inserted, comes out clean. Let cool completely.

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Whipped Peanut Butter
1 – 8 oz package cream cheese
1 cup peanut butter
1 ½ cups heavy cream
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

In mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Transfer to another bowl, and set aside. In mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese , peanut butter, and vanilla. Fold in the whipped cream until it’s well blended.

Spread over brownie crust.

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Whipped Cream:
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 tsp sugar (or more, depending on how sweet you like your cream)
1 tsp vanilla

In a large mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Stir in the vanilla. Refrigerate until ready to use. Spread over whipped peanut butter.

Chocolate Sauce:
Note: Don’t make this until you have assembled the pie, and are ready to drizzle with chocolate sauce.

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-2 tbsp heavy cream

In a small microwave proof bowl, add the chips and one tablespoon of heavy cream. Cook on high in your microwave for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave, and stir until all of the chips are melted. If it’s too thick to drizzle, add another tablespoon of heavy cream, and keep adding drops of heavy cream until it’s “drizzle” consistency.
Drizzle over whipped cream.

Assemble the Pie:
Brownie Crust
Whipped Peanut Butter
Whipped Cream
Chocolate Sauce
Mini Reeses Cups (Optional)

It doesn’t matter whether you’re making a pie, mini tartlets, a big tartlet, a cake, or individual jars, the crust is the first layer. You can keep it right in the pan that it was baked, unless you’re using a removable bottom tart pan.

Spread the whipped peanut butter over the crust. Top with whipped cream. Drizzle with the chocolate sauce. Garnish with a mini Reeses cup.

Enjoy!

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Pineapple Hand Pies

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I was strolling through Target the other day.  It should have been a five minute visit, but I usually need to set about an hour aside because I know I’ll end up taking a slow walk through, checking the clearance racks and to see what’s new on the shelves in the main aisles. If you’re a Target fan, you know what I’m talking about…

I have a personal trail that I follow, which, if it’s during a holiday season, will always start in the back corner where they have the seasonal merchandise on display. I end up walking around the middle of the store, through the housewares department, and then end up at the kitchen and dining department, which is where I spend a lot of time.  The outer aisle shelves are also stocked with holiday themed merchandise.  That shelf was looking pretty picked over, and I was about to walk away, when on the bottom shelf two lonely little yellow dishes with the word “yum” printed on them, caught my eye.

I stopped.
I picked one up.
I ran my finger over the “yum”, thinking how absolutely adorable it was.
I wondered what I would do with the dish.
I couldn’t come up with an answer.
And then I put it back.

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You know that there is that point of no return, that, if you make it far enough away, say… maybe 50 feet… there is a good possibility that you won’t be leaving the store with the item. I made it about 20 feet, and all of a sudden I was turning the cart around, and those plates were in my cart before my brain knew what was happening.

There is no fighting it.
You know…that impulse purchase.
It…just…happens.

So, on the way home, I was thinking about which dessert makes me say “yum”.  My mom makes this outstanding pineapple pie. I LOVE that pie, but I was quite certain that whatever I made to put on those dishes had to be chocolate based. I thought about chocolate cream pie.  I thought about molten lava cakes.  Fudgy brownies with raspberries drizzled with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.  Nope.  My brain kept going back to that pineapple pie. I kind of knew that it was hopeless… so I decided to make pineapple hand pies.  I’m not sorry.  I’ve eaten two of them.  They are delicious.

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Pineapple pie has to be the easiest pie to make… yep…even easier than chocolate cream pie!  It takes no time to throw the ingredients in the pan, the crust together, and by the time you’re finished rolling it out, the pineapple is ready to be poured into the shell.  Top it with the other crust,  throw it in the oven for a half hour, and before you know it, you’re eating this sweet, gooey, pineappley deliciousness.

I can honestly say that this is one impulse buy that I have zero guilt over, and that makes me very happy…..very stuffed and about 2 pounds heavier after today…. but very happy.  Life is good with pineapple pie… Yum.

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Pineapple Hand Pies
(Makes 20 individual hand pies)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Aunt Linda’s Pie Crust
You will need to double this recipe. I suggest doing it in two separate batches.

This is my Aunt Linda’s recipe…I truly adore her.  When we were younger, my cousins and I used to fight over whose aunt she really is.  They used to insist that Aunt Linda was their aunt (which she is), but I really wanted her to be my aunt too (and she is)..  It’s funny to think about it today, but back then it was a battle!  Aunt Linda had no clue how we fought over her.  Well, now she does… (love you!) and I’d still fight today if I had to, just to have her as my aunt!

2 cups flour
1 cup shortening
½ tsp salt
½ cup milk
1 tbsp vinegar (I prefer cider vinegar, it tends to give the crust a good flavor)

In a small bowl, mix the milk and vinegar together.  Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, blend the flour, shortening, and salt together until mixture is in pea size crumbles. Pour the milk and vinegar mixture into the flour mixture and stir.   The dough will be sticky.

Divide the dough in half, and using a generous amount of flour on the rolling surface, roll the dough out to about 1/8” thick.  Using a round template that is about 5 – 5 ½” in diameter, cut circles out of the dough.  Repeat until you have 10 circles of pastry from each batch of dough.

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The Pineapple Filling
1 20 oz can crushed pineapple (do not drain)
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
½ tsp salt
5 tsp butter

Combine the pineapple, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a pan. Cook over medium flame stirring constantly until it comes to a boil.  Boil for one minute, and remove from heat.

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Place one tablespoon of pineapple filling in the middle of each dough circle. Be sure that the filling is away from the edge of the dough circle so that it seals properly.  Place ¼ teaspoon butter on top of filling on each pie.  Fold one half of the circle over the filling, so that the edges meet up, and makes a half circle.  Seal the edges with a fork.  Cut a little design on the top of the pie.  I always do a heart.

Place each pie on the lined baking sheet.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool completely on cooling rack. Drizzle with glaze.

The Glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp milk

Mix the confectioners sugar, butter, and milk until well blended.  Drizzle over each pie.

Enjoy!

Don’t forget to use your dough scraps to make these cinnamon swirl pastries found at the end of the Rustic Tomato Tartlet recipe…

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