Apple-Pear-Cranberry Pie with Pecan Crumble

The flavors of autumn . . . in a pie!

I'm not a huge dessert fan -- we've already covered that -- but then again I don't really think of pie as only for dessert. At least not fruit pies. They are something different altogether.  

Chris has been eating the remains of this lovely pie for breakfast all week and I had it for lunch yesterday. Neither was for dessert. But, it's almost gone, which is terribly sad. 

There's nothing more upsetting than the last slice of pie. It's just sitting there, waiting to be eaten. And, when it's gone, so is the pie. Unless you make another one right away, which you'll want to do after you taste this deliciousness. Trust me.

Why apple-pear-cranberry? I had a ton of apples and pears in my latest CSA box so a pie just seemed right. I wanted to add some cranberries and crunch but couldn't find a recipe online or in my books that seemed right.  So, I just combined about four different pie ideas together and came up with this one. 

The pie came out fantastic. It wasn't too sweet and the cranberries and Calvados (apple brandy) gave it a festive touch. The smoky, nutty pecans were terrific in the crumble. This is a great pie to bring to holiday get baking!


1- 9" pie crust
6 large tart apples
4 large Anjou pears
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup white sugar
3-4 TBS butter
1 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup Calvados
1/4 teaspoon each: nutmeg, cinnamon, salt
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup of chopped pecans, toasted and cooled
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4-6 TBS butter, softened

To Do:
  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Core, peel and slice apples and pears and toss in a large bowl with the lemon juice and white sugar until coated.  
  • In a large pot, melt butter, then over medium-low heat, cook apple/pear mixture until they soften a bit, about 10 mins. 
  • Turn up the heat, add the cranberries, Calvados, and vanilla and cook until alcohol burns off and the liquid reduces, about 5 mins.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, ginger (if using) and flour. If mixture still seems wet, add more flour a pinch at a time.
  • Pour into the pie shell and sprinkle the brown sugar over the top. Note: I had a pie crust in the freezer, so I didn't make one, but if I had made one, I would have used this recipe. It doesn't fail.
  • Make the topping: 
    • To brown the pecans, just place in pot on stove and toast over medium-high heat, stirring often so nuts don't get too dark. You'll know they are done because the color will change and you'll smell them. 
    • Stir the cooled nuts and ingredients together and using your hands or a wooden spoon, mix until butter is incorporated and topping resembles tiny peas.
  • Top pie with crumble and place in preheated oven.  Bake until crust is golden and topping is browned, about 35-45 mins.

Serve with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or homemade whipped cream if you want. It's perfect on its own, too.


Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip & Pecan Cookies

Best. Chocolate. Chip. Cookies. Ever.

You will be the star of every picnic, pot-luck, or office party you bring them to. True story.

Get the recipe here.


Fancy Tomato Pie

Tomato pie is back by popular demand.

This time, I went a little fancy and used a fluted French tart pan.  And I mixed in some ricotta with the mayo. So I guess you can call it Fancy Tomato Pie, or a Tomato Pie Tart. It's up to you. Either way, this pie is delicious and delightfully simple to make. (I'm definitely going to be adding it to my "perfect to serve to company" files.)

Fancy Tomato Pie
1 batch biscuit dough
8 oz. ricotta cheese
2 TBS half and half
2 TBS mayonnaise
Heaping 1/2 cup aged cheddar, grated
Smoked sea salt (or regular Kosher salt is fine)
Ground black pepper
Italian herbs (fresh or dried)
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Garlic powder (optional)

Minimal MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 1

To Do: 
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Prepare the biscuit mix according to your recipe or the package directions.
  • Butter a fluted tart pan (or pie pan) and press the biscuit dough into it.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the ricotta, half and half, mayo, cheddar, salt/pepper and herbs. Spread evenly over the dough.
  • Top with tomato slices (seed side up) in a circular pattern, then sprinkle with a bit more salt/pepper, herbs, and a pinch of garlic powder if you want. Note: I was a bit messy with the tomatoes at the end (I have no patience for fanciness), but if you take your time, you'll have a beautiful looking dish.
  • Bake until browned and bubbly.
  • Let cool, carefully remove from tart pan, then cut into wedges.
  • Serve pie warm with a green salad and glass of wine. (It's also fabulous eaten cold, for breakfast or a late-night snack.)

Warm Weather Cookery Tricks

Some favorite warm weather tips, from my kitchen to yours:

'Tis the season for grilling, making S'Mores, slurping popsicles and dipping your toes in the pool. And soon it will be time for my favorite summer picnic treat -- corn on the cob. Which means it is time for me to remind you (as I do every summer) how to make the best corn on the cob without turning on your stove.

Easiest Corn on the Cob Ever
  • Place two un-husked ears of corn in the microwave for 6-8 minutes, depending on your microwave's power. You can make as many as you want, but only put two in the microwave at once for best results.
  • Carefully remove the corn from microwave and cut off the bottom part of each ear (about a 1/2 inch or so).
  • Take one of the ears and hold it at the top of its husk. Give it a little shake. The corn should slide out easily. Repeat with the next one.
  • Or you can cut about 1 inch off of both ends of each ear of the cooked corn and then peel off the husk.
  • Add butter and salt, a sprinkle of chili powder and enjoy!

Hot weather is also the perfect time for ice cream. There's nothing better than a drippy cone on a hot summer day. But how about a lower-fat, dairy-free version? That's easy. Go bananas.

Banana "Ice Cream"
  • Peel 4 or more ripe bananas and slice them into rounds. Then freeze overnight.
  • Blend/process the frozen banana pieces on high speed, until smooth. Have patience. It will be crumbly at first, but then suddenly, it will transform into creaminess. 
  • Drizzle in a bit of honey or your favorite ice cream extras and pulse in the blender until combined. (I like to add peanut butter cups.)
  • If you eat it right away, it will be like soft serve ice cream. If you wait, put it in a freezer-safe bowl with a lid and let it freeze for 30-60 minutes.
  • Scoop into bowls and drizzle with hot fudge, melted peanut butter, whipped cream or your favorite ice cream toppings.
  • Go bananas!

    It's important to hydrate when it's hot outside, especially if you're also having a summer cocktail or three. But sometimes a glass of water isn't the most popular of picnic treats. But, add some herbs and fruit to your water pitcher and watch how quickly everyone reaches for it. You can strain into glasses or serve as is, just don't forget the ice! Here are some add-in ideas to get you started.
    Water, Water Everywhere
    • Lavender or rosemary sprigs and lemon wedges
    • Fresh ginger and lime slices
    • Mint leaves and orange or cucumber slices
    • Tarragon leaves and diced peaches
    • Basil leaves with sliced grape tomatoes
    Happy Summer!