Saturday, November 21, 2015

Pie, Pie, Pie

Colds. I hate them. For the past few weeks, I hacked my lungs out to the point of insanity. I got little sleep, and my throat felt like it would burst into flames at any moment. To make matters worse, I feel like I have a ton of things to do nowadays, and I got none of it done. Productivity pretty much went down the drain. It all culminated in a few sick days, a visit to the clinic, and then a trip to the ER (unrelated to the cold, but I won't get into THAT). Oh, and I'm eight months pregnant. So, yeah. Not fun.

Now that my cold is somewhat under control, and I have a week of vacation ahead of me, I am ready to dive into the holidays. Thanksgiving is one of my favorites, probably because of its emphasis on two things I love so much–family and food.

In my family, there is no doubt that pie is one of our favorite desserts, to make and to eat. When it comes to Thanksgiving pies, there are the classic flavors—apple, pumpkin, pecan, etc.—but it is also fun (for me at least) to play around a bit. There are so many possibilities.

Various pies created by my sisters and me throughout the years

I created this recipe a few years ago at Thanksgiving time. It is a take-off of the dessert strawberry pretzel salad. If you've never heard of it, it is a layered bar with a pretzel crust and a cream cheese filling, topped with a strawberry gelatin mixture (see the link at the end of this post for a basic recipe). It's more popular in the spring and summer, when strawberries are in season. I modified the recipe to give it a more traditional fall flavor by changing the main fruit to raspberries and cranberries, and adding nuts. And since it's for Thanksgiving, I had to make it into a pie, naturally. This pie has become one of my favorites to make at this time each year. It has the perfect balance of salty, sweet, tart, crunchy, creamy, and fruity. The recipe is as follows...



Makes two 9-inch pies (or one 9-inch pie and one 8x8 square pan, as shown here)

Ingredients



Crust:
• 3 cups crushed pretzels
• 3/4 cup butter, melted
• 3 tablespoons sugar

Bottom layer:
• 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
• 1 cup white sugar
• 1 (8 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Top layer:
• 2 cups water
• 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries (half of a 12 oz. bag)
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 (3 oz.) boxes raspberry gelatin (or one 6 oz. box)
• 1 (10 oz.) package frozen raspberries

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
2. Crush pretzels in a food processer and measure 3 cups. Add melted butter and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Mix well and divide mixture in half, pressing into two 9-inch deep dish pie plates to form the crusts.



3. Bake pretzel crusts for 8 to 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.
4. In a large mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese and 1 cup sugar. Fold in whipped topping. Gently stir in walnuts if desired. Spread half of the mixture onto each of the cooled crusts.



5. Combine 2 cups of water, 1/2 cup of sugar, and cranberries in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue to cook until cranberries pop, about 5–10 minutes.



6. Remove from heat and add gelatin. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Add frozen raspberries and allow to set briefly. When berry mixture is about the consistency of egg whites, pour half on top of the the cream cheese layer of each pie.
7. Refrigerate until set.

Below is a printer-friendly download of the recipe.


Yum.


I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. I make things because it is fun for me, and I love sharing with you. Remember to have lots of fun, too, this holiday season. It is easy to become overwhelmed with the stress of it all, whether you're dealing with entertaining guests, spending too much money, or, like me last week, battling yucky colds. But what is Thanksgiving but a time to reflect on the good things and to appreciate all the blessings you have been given, right? I know I sure have a lot to be grateful for. I wish you all a wonderful holiday full of love, family, friends, and yummy food.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Niki


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