Pie Challenge and the “Kids” are Up

I have really been slacking on my “Operation Pie Challenge” I left off at week #7 so this would be week #8. I am not going to do a recipe this week. Instead, I am going to show you a technique with pie crust that my Granny taught me years ago that I think you will find interesting.

This technique is best used on a berry pie with its dark purple or red color.

Start by having your bottom crust and filling ready. The filling pictured below was a mixed berry from our raspberries frozen from last season.


Next, roll out the top crust and instead of slicing completely from one side to the other as in a traditional lattice, create a cross shape instead.


As you can see next you cut each corner of the cross into an “L” shape.


Carefully lift the cross shape (it can be a little tricky not to break it, so go slowly) and place in the center of the filling. Next lift and position the “L” shaped pieces of crust just like they were on your floured counter but leave a little space so the color of the filling peaks through. Now add the corner pieces and crimp the pieces into place.


Bake as you would any pie and voila!


Not only is it impressive to look at but it tastes darn good too!


















The Kids are Up!

Last week I showed you how I started my seedlings in pop bottles. My hubby and I always call them our “kids.”

The kids are up and out of the soil and stretching towards the sky. Here are a few pics!




So far the plum tomatoes, regular tomatoes, basil, cilantro and dill are all up. The peppers and celery will hopefully be up some time next week.

Are you starting any plants indoors yet? If so, what are you growing?

Can’t wait to report back next week. Happy baking and gardening everyone! -MM

Week 7 Operation Pie Challenge

I was starting to have a problem coming up with an interesting variety of pies to use in this challenge and then I asked myself why I was limiting myself to just sweet pies? What about savory pies? This opened up a whole new world of recipes for me to try!

Have you seen this photo circulating on Facebook?  taco pie

I thought it looked very yummy so I tried it one night for dinner.

Have you also seen those Facebook posts called “Nailed It” where the picture shows the epic fail of the person attempting to make what they saw in the photo?

Yeah, well here is my attempt to make the above mentioned taco pie.


Nailed it! Um no.

I was pretty disappointed. I did everything the recipe said to do and it turned out like this.

Just before writing this post I googled “taco pie” instead of going on Facebook to get the credit info for the photo and up popped the WordPress blog of Teresa Warner with the same photo. I thought that was interesting so I started to read some of the comments to see if anyone else had a problem with the recipe like I did. Every single person who commented said theirs looked just like the photo. “I must really suck,” I thought. Everyone else got theirs right.

Then one of the comments said that someone else was distributing this recipe and photo on Facebook with an altered recipe. Now we were getting somewhere!

I looked at Teresa’s recipe and sure enough the crappy dehydrated potato flakes the Facebook recipe called for as the bottom crust is actually supposed to be crescent roll dough. **Mental Head Slap**

I bet if I tried the recipe again using Teresa’s recipe it would look just like the photo and most likely taste a whole lot better my friends! I will be trying it again and I will give you an update soon. Moral of the story, do your research on these Facebook recipes that are circulating. From now on, you bet your sweet bippy I will! – MM

P.S. If you would like to check out Teresa Warner’s blog and the correct Taco Pie recipe click on the Taco Pie link below.

Taco Pie

Weeks #5 and #6 Pie Challenge Update

Week #5 of my pie challenge was a no brainer. We had apples coming out of our ears from our 3 trees so I made an apple crumb pie. I love the crumb topping once in a while when I just don’t feel like rolling out a second crust.

I didn’t take any pictures this time other than the finished product. Looks super yummy doesn’t it? The bottom crust was my standard pie crust that I posted about for the Maple Brown Sugar Apple Pear Pie. The apple filling in this recipe is really to your taste as far as how much sugar and/or cinnamon you prefer. The crumb topping is super easy and I really had never made a crumb topping until I had to make one for a pie one time at the bakery. I don’t know what took me so long to try a crumb topping but I am glad I did!

For the crumb topping I use a stick of butter, not too hard and not too soft, a cup of packed brown sugar and a cup of flour. I work the butter into the brown sugar and the flour until it resembles chunky sand. You don’t want it too finely worked into the dry ingredients but you don’t want big chunks of butter either.

Just spread the crumb topping over the apples in the unbaked pie crust and bake for close to an hour at 375 degrees or until the filling starts to get bubbly. Cool for at least an hour before serving (if you can stand to wait that long).

apple crumb pie

Week # 6 was Doug’s favorite Banana Cream. I was excited to try my old Betty Crocker Vanilla Cream Filling recipe with my newfound confidence of making the filling the way I had done the Mississippi Mocha Mud Pie. I had learned to make that filling by dumping the egg yolks in at the beginning of the process instead of adding them in slowly at the end like the older publications recommended doing. I couldn’t wait to try this new method with the old Betty Crocker recipe. Guess what? It worked out beautifully just like I thought it would! Woo hoo!

Here is the recipe from the old 1950s Betty Crocker Cookbook.

Vanilla Cream Pie for 9″ Pie

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (I changed it from 3 Tbsps)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups milk (whole milk is best)
  • 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla

Measure out the milk and then pop it in the microwave for a couple of minutes just to bring it a little warmer than room temperature. Doing this helps to jump start the process instead of standing there stirring it for an extra five minutes.


Using David Dial’s method in his blog Spiced add the dry ingredients in a saucepan and then add the milk and egg yolks to the dry ingredients using a whisk to combine. Heat all of the ingredients over medium heat, whisking constantly until it starts to boil.


Once it boils, boil for about 30 more seconds taking care not to let it stick and burn. It will get nice and thick and custardy. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.

To prevent a skin from forming, lay a piece of plastic wrap right on top of the filling and chill until firm.


To assemble the pie, slice firm bananas into the bottom of a pre-baked pie shell. Next spoon over the bananas the vanilla cream filling. Then either pipe on (if you want to get fancy) fresh whipped cream with a pastry bag or spoon the whipped cream on top before serving. Yum! I highly recommend David Dial’s Blog, Spiced. Here is a link to his articles Spiced Blog

Banana Cream Pie

I have been struggling to find good pie recipes. I am not sure why. Most are too sweet or involve too much chocolate which Doug isn’t a big fan of. Then I thought why am I limiting myself to sweet pies? Why not explore savory pies? Ah I got your attention didn’t I? Until next time! -MM

Week #2 of Operation Pie – Pineapple Cream

In honor of Labor Day and the hot and humid temps here in Western New York, I decided that the second pie of my pie challenge should be my pineapple cream. It is virtually a no bake pie, especially if you use a store bought graham cracker crust.

My Great Aunt Leona used to make this pie and as a child I loved it’s cool, fruity, creamy flavor on a hot day just like we are having now. Hope you like it as much as we do!


According to the box’s directions the graham cracker crust is 1-1/4 cups of graham cracker crumbs, a 1/4 cup sugar and a 1/3 cup of melted butter.


Mix the three ingredients in a bowl until incorporated thoroughly. The result will look like moist sand.


Press into the bottom of an ungreased 9″ pie pan. Bake at 375 degrees for about 6-8 minutes until lightly browned.


For the filling: in one bowl combine 1- 8oz container of whipped topping unthawed and 1-1/4 cups of sour cream. Stir to combine thoroughly.


In a second bowl combine and stir together 1 box of vanilla instant pudding (3.5 oz) and 1 can of crushed pineapple in heavy syrup drained.



Put both bowls of ingredients together into one bowl.


Stir together


Spoon into the cooled pie shell. Chill for a couple of hours in the fridge and serve cold. Easy peasy huh?

Doug eats this pie for breakfast. He claims it is fruit and dairy. How can you argue with that?

Here is the complete recipe:


1-1/4 cups of graham crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter melted


1 box of instant vanilla pudding

1 regular sized can of pineapple in heavy syrup

1- 8 oz. container of whipped topping unthawed

1-1/4 cups sour cream


For the crust: Mix the three ingredients in a bowl until incorporated thoroughly. The result will look like moist sand. Press into the bottom of an ungreased 9″ pie pan. Bake at 375 degrees for about 6-8 minutes until lightly browned.

For the filling: in one bowl combine the whipped topping and sour cream. Stir to combine thoroughly. In a second bowl combine and stir together the vanilla pudding and pineapple. Put both bowls of ingredients together into one bowl. Stir together. Spoon into the cooled pie shell. Chill for a couple of hours in the fridge and serve cold.

Happy Labor Day Everyone! -MM

Week #1 of Operation Pie – Mississippi Mocha Mud Pie

If you ask the males in our household which they would rather have for their dessert, cake or pie, they would probably say “pie” about 95% of the time. So when I brought the subject of a pie challenge up to Doug his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree in a Chevy Chase movie.

I plan to feature a different pie every week for the next 52 weeks. Pretty big deal huh? If you have a favorite pie recipe that you would like me to try out in the next 52 weeks please feel free to e-mail me at marymargaretripley@yahoo.com with your recipe and story (I love a good story behind a recipe) and I will try it out and feature it on the blog if all goes well. With that, here is the How-to and recipe for Week #1 Mississippi Mocha Mud Pie. Enjoy!


Start with 18 Oreo cookies, fillings removed. Grind along with a 1/4 cup of chopped pecans and 1 Tbsp of sugar in a food processor or mini-chopper.



In a bowl add a 1/4 cup of melted butter to the cookie, sugar and pecan, mixture


Remove 3 Tbsp of mixture and set aside to use as a garnish later. Press remaining mixture into the bottom of a 9″ pie pan and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. No wonder they call it a mud pie it looks like potting soil!


For the filling, using a medium saucepan, whisk together 3-1/2 Tbsp of cornstarch, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1/4 tsp salt until combined well.


To the above dry ingredients add 3 large egg yolks, 1-1/3 cups of milk (I only had 2% on hand but the original recipe calls for whole) and 1/3 cup of brewed coffee.


Whisking all of the wet and dry ingredients together in the saucepan, place over medium heat whisking constantly until it begins to boil. As it starts to boil it will get thicker and harder to whisk but keep whisking for another 30 seconds after it starts. Remove from heat.


After removing from heat immediately add 2 Tbsp butter, 1/3 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips, and 1-1/2 tsp of vanilla.


Whisk together until the butter and chocolate have melted and the whole mixture is smooth and silky.


Pour the filling into the cooled pie crust and cover with plastic wrap. Chill it in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Looks great already doesn’t it?


Before serving the chilled pie, top with whipped cream. Combine in a stand mixture or use your handy dandy hand mixture, 1-1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream, 1-1/2 Tbsp powdered sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla. Whip until soft peaks form.


Spread the whipped cream over the top of the pie and if you like you can pipe it on with a pastry bag like I did. Sprinkle the toasted pecans and reserved cookie mixture over the top of the whipped cream and drizzle chocolate sauce over all of it. Yum!

Over all this recipe trying it for the first time was fantastic! There are a couple of things I think I would tweak though. One being, add more filling. I would have liked it a little fuller. Either that or use an 8″ pie pan instead of a 9″ pie pan. Two, I used walnuts instead of pecans and I wished I had used the pecans. Three, I really didn’t taste a lot of the coffee so next time I will use a stronger brew. Four, I will chill it overnight. It was even better the next day .

This was one of the easiest cream pies I have ever made and I hope to use these same methods with other cream pies. I have never put the egg yolks directly into the mixture while it was cold. Most recipes and methods call for putting half of the hot mixture into the egg yolks separately then dumping the whole egg mixture back into the original mixture. This recipe eliminated that extra step and it worked beautifully!

As far as the taste and how it went over with the guys? Scott gave it two thumbs up and Doug…well he likes banana cream pies better. Ha! Next time Doug!

I will definitely make this pie again. Here is the link to the original recipe for easy printing. Posted by David on his blog, Spiced-One Dash at a Time. Thanks for a great recipe David! http://spicedblog.com/mocha-mississippi-mud-pie.html

Until next week! -MM