Recipe: How to make a Sweet Potato Pie

There are pictures here of two of my pies–one from Thanksgiving 2008 and the one I made tonight–Thanksgiving Eve 2010.

I usually make two sweet potato pies at a time because it doesn’t take any extra time to double the ingredients as you boil the sweet potatoes or toast the nuts. And, once you’ve boiled the sweet potatoes, really, it is all smooth sailing from there. You do, however, have to make sure there is plenty of room in your fridge because these pies take two hours to cool. It is a cold pie, after all.

This pie uses a cornmeal crust–and I learned the hard way to just use the cheap yellow corn meal and not get all fancy with Red’s Mill cornmeal. Red’s is a medium grind, the cheap stuff is a finer grind for good reason. Lets just say  the medium grind is not totally unlike eating egg shells. It is awful. Don’t go there. Just get the cheap stuff for cornmeal crusts.

I’ve put together a step-by-step pictorial on the process to make it easier.

Ingredients for Sweet Potato Pie Filling

This recipe comes from a pie making class I took at Rudy’s A Cook’s Paradise in Twin Falls, Idaho in 2006, taught by Laura Fall-Sutton.

Tarts are a great way to use up scraps

Tarts are a great way to use up scraps


1lb sweet potatos

1/4 c butter, unsalted

1 recipe cornmeal pastry (below)

1/2 c packed brown sugar

1TBSP finely shredded (zested) orange peal. Navel works well.

1tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

3 slighly beaten eggs

1 C half and half

1 recipe Nut Streusel Topping (below)


Peel sweet potatoes and cut into quarters. Place in a covered sauce pan, French Oven or Stock pot with enough boiling salted water to cover for 25-35 minutes until tender.

Drain potatoes. Then return to the pot and mash. There should be about 1.5 c of mashed sweet potatoes.

Add butter to hot mashed sweet potatoes, stirring until melted.

Zest the orange…

…Stir orange peel, spices, sugar in to sweet potato mixture.

…stir in eggs and half and half.

Set aside so you can prepare the crust…or…while you are boiling those sweet potatoes you could prepare the cornmeal crust (below–at bottom).

Ease the cornmeal pastry crust in to the pie plate. I do this by first rolling out the dough on a parchment paper, then placing the plate upside down on top of the pastry and then flipping it over.

It is fragile. Crimp the edges high.

Fill pastry shell with sweet potato mixture. Cover edge of pie with foil or protector.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes,  Remove protector, sprinkle nut streusel topping on top, bake for another 20-25 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool for two hours on wire rack, then cool for an additional two hours in fridge before serving.


1/4 c all-purpose flour

1/4 c packed brown sugar

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

2 TBSP butter

1/4 c toasted and chopped hazelnuts or almonds


Mix ingredients except for nuts; cutting in butter until resebles crumbs. Add nuts. Sprinkle on top of pie at correct time. NOTE: to toast nuts, simply chop and place on baking sheet for 30 minutes in oven with pie as it bakes.


3/4 c all-purpose flour

1/2 c yellow cornmeal (get fine ground; DO NOT get Red’s, it will feel like egg shells)

1TBSP sugar

1/3 c shortening (use butter flavored crisco)

3-5 TBSP ice water


Mix dry ingredients; cutting in shortening until pea-sized. Add one TBSP of water at a time, tossing with fork after each addition. Roll dough in to ball when done. Place ball in fridge until ready to roll out and put in pie plate.


Recipe: Deep Dish Apple Pie

Thursday, March 26: Rustic Peach Cobbler–or–Lazy Lady’s Pie

Rustic Peach Cobbler is very quick and easy

Rustic Peach Cobbler is very quick and easy. And ugly.

Logan wanted to make apple pie today; I just didn’t feel like peeling 15 apples. So I made what may be the EASIEST peach cobbler e-v-e-r by taking canned peaches from Costco and following my favorite apple pie recipe.  Where ever you see “apples” just replace with “peaches”.

I used that hard-core casserole dish I love so much, putting the bottom crust on the bottom of it and rolling out a top crust and just placing it on top. Its ugly, but its yummy. I adjust the apple recipe a smidgeon–increasing the spices and the starch

Here’s how it basically goes:

6 cups sliced peaches with about half of the juice.

1.5 c sugar
5tbsp tapioca starch
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp nutmeg
dash mace (20-30 shakes)
.25 tsp salt

pastry for two crust pie (see below)
*.25 c milk
*.25 c w. sugar

*for top of crust

Place sliced apples in to prepared lower crust; combine the next 6
ingredients and sprinkle over apples. Top with upper
crust,  brush top crust with milk, sprinkle sugar.

Bake at 450* for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350* and bake for 45
minutes longer.
2 c flour
.5 tsp salt
2/3 c butter flavored Crisco
6-7 tbsp ice water

Fill a glass with ice and water, set aside.
Mix the salt and flour and cut the crisco in until the dough is pea
shaped and sized. Then add ice water, 3 tbsp at a time, still cutting.
do not touch the dough.

Remove the dough, touching as little as possible, and create two
balls–one slightly larger than the other. wrap in parchment paper and
place in the fridge until ready to use; at least 20 minutes. If
planning to make a lattice top, place dough in FREEZER for at least 20

If possible, put pastry board and rolling pin in the fridge the night
before so they are cool enough for working the dough when ready.

Use smaller dough ball for bottom crust; keep larger one in the fridge
until ready to top the pie.

RECIPE: How to make Turkey Pot Pie (and how to make it dairy-free, too)

My Turkey Pot Pie--after both boys have had seconds.

My Turkey Pot Pie–after both boys have had seconds.

I’m making one of my favorite left-over dinners tonight: turkey pot pie. It is such a breeze, uses mostly items already on hand, and most of the prep can be done the day or two before. I made the pie crusts last night (I use the same crust recipe as I do for apple pie) and chopped up the veggies a few days ago.

The recipe card for Turkey Pot Pie says, "Logan's Favorite" at the top...can you guess why?

The recipe card for Turkey Pot Pie says, “Logan’s Favorite” at the top…can you guess why?

The biggest problem is that I’ve only got one pie plate…how often do you really need more than one at the same time? Ha! I need at least six at any given time because of all the pies I make. I miss my pie plate collection back home! It is only a problem tonight, really, because I was also planning on making an apple pie, too. Seriously.

Is there such a thing as too much pie? I don’t think so…

I will just be making this pie in my Hard-Core Casserole Dish instead of making it all pretty in the pie plate. It will taste the same.

A couple tips…Instead of chicken bullion, I use the Veggie Stock from the freezer; and for the crust I use my apple pie crust recipe.

Good to Know: This recipe freezes REALLY REALLY well. It also makes great turnovers–which, again, freeze really, really well. This is a perfect after-Thanksgiving use-all-the-leftovers kind of meal, too.

But you don’t have to wait until the end of November to have it; I buy a couple turkey drumsticks at the market once a month or so, cook ’em up when I am also cooking some chicken one night, and just throw this together when I’ve got time. Because it uses things I typically have on hand–onion, carrot, celery, potatoes, milk (half&half), butter,  spices–this is a very affordable meal to make. I can usually get three turkey drumsticks for less than $3.50.

Did I mention this is Logan’s Favorite? Yep. It is.

**To make it Dairy-Free: Replace butter/shortening with Earth Balance; Replace Milk with Taste of Thai coconut milk in the can (do not use coconut milk beverages in this recipe, use the canned coconut milks); use homemade vegetable stock or Kitchen Basics stock inplace of the chicken bullion.


Turkey Pocket Pies using this recipe....yum! We made these with the left overs from tonight's pie: 8/15/09.

Turkey Pocket Pies using this recipe….yum! We made these with the left overs from tonight’s pie: 8/15/09.

  • 1 recipe pastry for a (10 inch) double crust pie (I use my apple pie crust recipe)**
  • 4 tablespoons butter**
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cubes chicken bouillon**
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked turkey, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk**


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Roll out bottom pie crust and place in the 10 inch pie pan and set aside.
  2. Place 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet. Add the onion, celery, carrots, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until the vegetables are soft. Stir in the bouillon and water. Bring mixture to a boil. Stir in the potatoes, and cook until tender but still firm.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in the turkey and flour. Add the milk, and heat through. Stir the turkey mixture into the vegetable mixture, and cook until thickened. Pour mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Roll out the top crust, and place on top of filling. Flute edges, and make 4 slits in the top crust to let out steam.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and continue baking for 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

This recipe is modified from one at

Red Wine Pot Roast Recipe

red wine pot roast with fresh thyme before going in the oven

red wine pot roast with fresh thyme before going in the oven

This is one of Matt’s favorite recipes. It originally comes from Dave Lieberman’s Good Deal.

This recipe takes about five hours, so make sure and start on it in the early afternoon or late morning.

So easy, so yummy: red wine potroast is a family favorite

So easy, so yummy: red wine potroast is a family favorite


Bottom Round cut of beef, about 4 lbs

3Tbsp veggie oil

salt, pepper

3 onions, chopped

1 entire garlic, WHOLE but peeled

4 carrots, chopped

2 cup  chicken or veggie stock

2 tbsp honey

left over red wine..about half a bottle

fresh thyme

4 potatoes, cut in one-inch cubes

carrots, garlic and onions saute in the roast juices before going in the oven with the meat

carrots, garlic and onions saute in the roast juices before going in the oven with the meat


Cover the Beef in the salt and pepper on all sides. Put the veggie oil (or olive oil) in a dutch-oven or french oven. Over medium-high heat, sear all the sides of the beef. Set aside. In the same pot the beef was seared in, saute the onions, garlic and carrots.

Add 2 cups veggie or chicken stock and left over red wine. Add honey, simmer. Add meat back, simmer. Add fresh thyme, about 5-6 sprigs. Cover and cook in the oven at 350 for about two hours, turning the beef-way through. After the two hours, add the potatoes and coo another 30-45 minutes. Done when fork-tender.

Sunday, March 8, 2009: Carbonara Pasta

When I was growing up, Friday was always spaghetti night. And it was always the same: spaghetti with red sauce with hamburger mixed in. I didn’t realize you could have pasta any other way until I was an adult and saw pesto, alfredo and other sauces in the grocery store. My mind was blown.

Since pasta makes a pretty decent leftover lunch (that is how we really determine our dinners: by what is still good the next day) I decided tonight would be a good time to use up the rest of the spaghetti in the pantry. Even though I have several jars of tomato sauce, the idea just didn’t seem very yummy. So I went to my favorite recipe website,, and found a new way to make the cheap meal: Carbonara.

The recipe is easy and consists mostly of things I already have on hand (always a plus). I will need to walk to the store to pick up some bacon, Parmesan cheese and wine (an excuse to buy wine! the recipe calls for 1/4 cup…whatever shall I do with the rest of the bottle? Hmm…)


  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pinch salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti pasta until al dente. Drain well. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile in a large skillet, cook chopped bacon until slightly crisp; remove and drain onto paper towels. Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon fat; add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and heat in reused large skillet. Add chopped onion, and cook over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add minced garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add wine if desired; cook one more minute.
  3. Return cooked bacon to pan; add cooked and drained spaghetti. Toss to coat and heat through, adding more olive oil if it seems dry or is sticking together. Add beaten eggs and cook, tossing constantly with tongs or large fork until eggs are barely set. Quickly add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and toss again. Add salt and pepper to taste (remember that bacon and Parmesan are very salty).
  4. Serve immediately with chopped parsley sprinkled on top, and extra Parmesan cheese at table.

UPDATE: Logan loved this dish so much he asked me to make it every night for dinner. Matt isn’t sure; he thinks it is too much like fried rice (because of the eggs). I’m excited to try this with ramen noodles  instead of spaghetti, forget the bacon, and add in some veggie for some super-cheap eats/fried noodle type dinner. It was really, really fabulous.

I made Deep Dish Apple Pie from scratch tonight, too, and that was a fantastic way to end the week. Logan helped me to “taste” all the apples and spice mix; he mixed the spices and also helped me roll the dough. He also helped cut vents in the top crust and painted the crust with milk for the milk-wash. He is turning in to a real little helper in the kitchen. He was so proud of that pie; seeing his pride was better than any dessert could have been.

Recipe: Moroccan Chickpea Stew (Matt’s fav)

Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Stew takes about an hour, is cheap, easy, healthy, freezes well and is a hit with my boys. What else could I possibly want from a recipe?

This recipe originates from Dave Lieberman (my future third husband, after my future second husband, Anthony Bourdain...)

I got this recipe from his show, Good Deal, which basically works with the idea that you can make really great food with really cheap ingredients. I love frugal recipes, and my husband loves this. So we all win.

Also, the true test of a recipe: my 4.5 year old, Logan the Taste Tester, gobbles it up…4.5-year-olds don’t eat foods they hate just to be polite; they don’t know how to not be totally honest about what they think of a dish. So his eagerness to eat it, I think, speaks volumes about the quality of this recipe.

The dish costs about $2 to make if you have made your own stock, use dried beans and grow your own tomatoes…other wise it is about $4 to make, assuming you have spices on hand…and makes leftovers for DAYS and freezes well, too. It is also a great recipe for adding veggies to your Veggie Stock Bag in the freezer.

Dave Lieberman will be husband no.3, after Anthony Bourdain.

Dave Lieberman will be husband no.3, after Anthony Bourdain.

Here is what you need:
A decent sized dutch oven/french oven pot. I love this one from Le Cruset (you can buy them used on ebay for much, much less and often with free shipping, like that one for $30 and free shipping. They are easy easy easy to clean and don’t crack with differing temps–like when you add something frozen and it is already hot, see below)


An onion–chopped
An 8-10 cloves of garlic–pressed (if you don’t have a press, peel it, wrap it in parchment paper and smash it with a hammer. This is both quick and therapeutic.)
1tsp cumin
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp paparika
1tsp cayenne pepper

3 cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans; they are the exact same thing)–OR–one pound of DRIED chickpeas/garbanzo beans. NOTE: if you use the dried kind, you will need to soak them starting the night before. Click here for directions on soaking dried beans.
15 oz can of diced tomatoes OR one pound of freshly diced tomatoes (if you can grow’em and can’em, count this as free!)
4cups veg broth (click here for how to make this from scratch FOR FREE)
pinch salt
tsp sugar
black pepper to taste


Chop the onion and crush the garlic. Add some olive oil to a pot on the stove, low-med heat, and saute until tender. Then add the spices and continue to saute as you either strain and rinse the beans or strain and rinse the formerly hard but now soft dried beans. Then add the beans, the tomatoes and 4 cups of the veg broth (directly from the freezer is A-OK)
add a pinch of salt, tsp sugar and pepper to taste.

Simmer for 40 min.
After 40 min, mash the ingredients in the pot. Use a masher like this or an emersion blender.

Drizzle with olive oil on top and put on some fresh spinach (if you like) when serving…or thaw a box of frozen spinach and mix it in to the stew in the last 10 minutes or so. YUM.