Well, as you wonderful readers of The Times and Democrat have said in your most recent emails and messages to me, the very thought of pumpkins is brought to mind when the first cool morning or evening causes you to take a cup of hot tea or coffee onto your porch or deck to be savored. Actually, I also think of sweet potatoes and pecans as those are “harvested” this time of year.
Now back to pumpkins, the epitome of fall produce because it can be “transformed” into delicious foods and into works of art. They bring to mind the countless times my family carved out pumpkins to make pumpkins pies. It is quite a messy undertaking, I must admit, but we always cut out the top very neatly first, scraped and spooned the fruit from inside, strained the seeds and pureed the pumpkin to use in recipes. (Note that pumpkins seeds are good lightly toasted for about 8 minutes on a buttered cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven). We worked together to carve funny and scary faces on our pumpkins, put pillar candles in them and set them. (For safety purposes, I use battery operated candles now.)
Chances are cooks nowadays get their pumpkin from a can and that is okay if you make sure to buy a good brand of pure pumpkin with a recent date on the can. You can buy sweet potatoes in cans (totally drain the juice if you do) and buy pecans shelled and halved or chopped at your local grocer, thus saving yourself a lot of work. That said, I will share some easy recipes for wonderful pies with you. And I urge you all to try not one, but all three of these excellent recipes. And because each recipe makes two pies, you may share one or refrigerate it for later.
Extraordinary pumpkin pie
(This twist on the old Baileys pie recipe makes two scrumptious pies.)
2 pre-made pie crusts, thawed
5 large eggs
3 cups canned pure pumpkin
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Baileys Original Irish Cream
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl beat the eggs and pumpkin until the mixture is creamy. Beat in the brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg until everything is smoothly combined. Add the heavy cream and Baileys cream and beat, again, until the ingredients are well combined. Pour equal amounts of this pumpkin mixture into the pie crusts. Bake the pies for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean. (If the edges of the pie crust get too brown during baking, cover the edges with aluminum foil.)
Grandma’s sweet potato pies
(This recipe makes two flavorful, old fashioned pies.)
2 unbaked 9-inch pie crusts, thawed
1 pound baked sweet potatoes, peeled, mashed
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ginger
Pinch of salt
Put all of the filling ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix them with a hand mixer until a smooth “batter” is formed.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Fill the two pie crusts with equal amounts of the filling. Bake these pies at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Allow these pies to cool before serving.
Two-at-a-time pecan pies
2 unbaked 9-inch pie crusts, thawed
1 stick Land ‘O Lakes Sweet Cream ‘N Salted butter
6 large eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
2 cups white Karo syrup
2 cups chopped pecans
Enough pecan halves for tops of pies
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Put the butter in a medium saucepan and melt it over low heat. Stir in the beaten eggs, sugar and syrup. Let this mixture cook until it starts to turn color, then remove the pan from the stove. Add the chopped pecans to the mixture and stir it until it is well combined. Pour equal amounts of the mixture into two unbaked 9-inch pie crusts. Place some pecan halves on top of each pie and bake them at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the center of each pie is about done. Remove the pies from the oven and place them on a rack to cool. Fortunately, this recipe makes two pies – about 16 servings.
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