Category Archives: Pies

I need a cheesecake stat!

My mom is a good craft baker, she isn’t winning any awards for original recipes but all of the recipes she used when I was growing up are solid. This one is no exception. It is easy, fast and to be honest, tastes better than most full size cheesecakes.

My high school friend, Natalie, was coming to visit from Texas. The poor girl always has to endure my posts of fresh baked goodness straight from the oven but since moving more than 2,000 miles away she has not had the opportunity to partake. I have a rule, I bake for love, but I don’t ship – you have to come to me. And she did! She was coming mid-week so I couldn’t bake an elaborate cake and cookies seemed kind of boring.

What to do, what to do? Then I remember this Speedy Cheesecake my mom used to make and that was it!

Speedy Cheesecake (origins unknown)

9″ pie dish (not deep dish)

The Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

The Filling

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs

The Topping (apparently I stopped taking pictures)

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspon vanilla

The Instructions

  • Mix the cracker mixture with the melted butter and sugar
  • Press along the bottom of a greased 9 inch pie plate – I use a measuring cup to help thin out the edges, nothing is worse than a corner that is too thick to cut through
  • Beat softened cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually blend in sugar, lemon juice, half of the vanilla, and salt. Add eggs, one at a time; beating well after each.
  • Pour into the graham cracker crust.
  • Bake at 325*F until the center is set, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Then the last step

  • Combine sour cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, and remaining vanilla.
  • Spoon mixture on top of the warm pie
  • Bake about 10 minutes more
  • Cool to room temp and the in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

I was so tired when we finally cut into this lovely pie that I forgot to take a picture. I guess I need to make it again, just to capture that last image.

Who doesn’t love a pot pie?

A few months ago a girl that I work with fostered one of my rescue’s dogs and unfortunately for both of us, the adorable dog known as Bob’s Big Boy decided to eat her house! Literally! He ate through a door, he ate a comforter, he ate and clawed his way through some carpet and then for dessert he ate a pillow.

What does all of that have to do with pot pie? Well she took all the destruction without getting mad at the dog and without getting mad at me, so I offered to make her anything she wanted. At first it was a loaf of pumpkin bread for her brother, which she devoured that day in her office. Then it was a pumpkin cake roll with cream cheese frosting inside. And this last one, the one she has been asking for since day 1…Chicken Pot Pie.

I’ve never made a chicken pot pie, I only just started making pie crust, but really how hard could it be? It wasn’t hard at all and it was so freakin delicious I want another one right now!

I used my mom’s crust (the one posted on this blog as my admission of defeat) for the bottom crust and then I used this insane Cream Cheese Crust for the top. It was perfect! The bottom crust was delicious and flaky and the top crust was rich and puffy.

Here are the recipes:

1 stick of cold butter cut into cubes
8oz of cream cheese
1 1/2 c. flour
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp ice water

Put the flour, butter and dollops of cream cheese in a food processor. Pulse until it looks like parmesan cheese. Then add the egg and 1 Tbsp of water, pulse and if it doesn’t come together as a ball, add a little more water.

Make a round flat dough disk, wrap in plastic and chill while you make the filling.

Pot Pie Filling
(I took a cheat here)
1 rotisserie chicken – remove skin, take off meat and chop or shred (I prefer costco any day of the week – I think grocery stores let their chickens sit too long and they get mealy)
1 onion chopped
2-3 stalks of celery chopped
1 cup of chopped carrots (I use baby carrots)
1 c. frozen peas
Some sliced mushrooms – not too many, maybe a 1/2 c.

Cook the onion, celery and carrots in 1 tbsp butter and 2 tsp olive oil until tender. Then add the peas and mushrooms – cook until the mushrooms are brown and soft then add in the chicken and leave on low heat)

Make the gravy in a separate sauce pan
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
cook those together until the butter and flour make a paste
then add
2/3 c. warmed milk
1 3/4 c. chicken stock
Salt/Pepper and celery seeds (you really need the celery seeds they add a lot of flavor)
Stir and cook until thick then pour over the chicken mixture

Roll out the bottom pie crust and place in a deep dish pie plate (or individual pie plates)
Fill with mixture and top with cream cheese crust which will be pretty thick when you roll it out, maybe close to a 1/4 inch – but it makes it heavenly if you like a good amount of crust.

Bake at 425 for 30-35 minutes – you might need to throw tinfoil over the top of the crust if it gets too brown

It was so good and worth the effort.

Admitting defeat…the pie crust challenge

The Pie Crust Challenge!

For months I tried out different pie crusts, some all butter, some with frozen butter, some with shortening, some mixed, some using a food processor, some you just pat into the pan. All in all they kind of all turned out the same. Good flavor, nice flake! They all shrunk in the pans, but I think I have learned to cut no closer than 1 inch from the lip of the pan and that has eliminated some of the shrinking. They were all basically equally difficult to roll out and transfer.
So, begrudgingly, I decided to tackle my mom’s favorite go-to pie crust recipe. When I was little my parents owned their own company, the one my company and this blog are named after, and as a result I spent a good amount of time at the “office.” At the office, every day, the radio was on – but there were no tunes coming out of it unless you count the little jingles for the talk radio stations.
I don’t remember what time or what day but I do remember regularly listening to this cooking show hosted by Jackie Olden. She was a guru of sorts, she had published a number of cookbooks and would walk through recipes on the air. I am not sure if my mom got the recipe from the radio show first and then bought the book but the below is the never fail pie crust from Jackie Olden’s cookbook “Crowd Pleasers” (if you can get your hands on a copy, there are a number of recipe gems to be found between the covers).
This crust has worked for me a number of times since my first attempt and I am finally admitting that for once my mother knew best 😉 (okay maybe it’s not the first thing she has been right about).
Jackie Olden’s
Never-fail Pie Crust
4 c. all purpose flour
1 1/4 c. vegetable shortening
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 egg
1/2 c. water
Cut the shortening into the flour, sugar and salt.
Beat egg, vinegar and water in separate bowl.
Add egg mixture to flour mixture.
Make into 1 large dough ball. Cut dough ball into 4 equal size pieces. Round and flatten each dough ball and then wrap each in plastic wrap.
Chill for at least 15 minutes. Dough can also be frozen – a frozen, flat disk will take about 30 minutes to thaw.
Dust board with flour and roll. (I prefer to use a pastry cloth with flour and my Silpin rolling pin)
Place in pie pan and trim no closer than 1 inch from the outside edge of the pan if you are going to make a crimped edge. Trim right to the edge if you are going to flute the crust edge with a fork.
Makes 4 single crusts (holds up nicely when frozen, sometimes when I feel like making something I will just make this crust recipe, wrap the rounds in plastic and put them in the freezer – always comes in handy!)