Chocolate Chess Pie

I’m a bundle of highly charged emotions right now, all of which (thankfully) fall into the same category:

  • Elation
  • Excitement
  • Euphoria
  • Exuberance

The reason for my exalted state of being?

Drum roll please.

We bought a house yesterday! If you’ve been reading this blog for the last year or so, that statement might not make too much sense, considering the multiple references I’ve made to our ranch and the house we were supposed to build on it. Well, the short version is this:

It isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

There are more than a few reasons for the delay, none of which carry too much importance to talk about right now. The important part of this story is that we found a perfect house, in a great location, and we are moving on up!!

…..cue The Jefferson’s theme song….

In an ideal scenario, we will be out of here in 30 days. And that made me laugh out loud this morning, since when we left Vegas, we had exactly 30 days to get out of that house because we closed so quickly.

I see a pattern forming here.

No matter though, I am so ready for this move, and have already drawn up my to-do list, complete with bullet points to prioritize my tasks. And even though we aren’t moving too far from our current location, I have begun planning dinners designed  to use up various odds and ends in the freezer and fridge.

This pie, believe it or not, was a result of that planning. I found a small can of evaporated milk in the pantry, the proverbial light bulb went off, and the rest is delicious history.

Chocolate Chess Pie – adapted from Add a Pinch

  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 4 tbs. butter, melted
  • 5 ounces evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust (see below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk sugar, cocoa, and espresso powder together. Pour butter and evaporated milk into sugar and cocoa mixture and beat on high speed. Add vanilla and eggs. With mixer speed on high speed, mix for approximately 2-3 minutes to lighten.

Pour mixture into 9 inch unbaked pie shell and bake for 45-50 minutes. The center of the pie will be a bit soft. Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing. The pie will continue to set as it cools.

Pie Crust:

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 4-5 tablespoons ice water

Butter a 9-inch pie plate or skillet and set aside.

Pour the flour into a large bowl. Cut in the shortening and butter with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, or use your hands (my preferred method!).

Gradually add enough ice water to the mixture while mixing with a fork until a ball of dough is formed.

Pour the dough onto a lightly floured sheet of plastic wrap and form into a disc. Lightly flour the top of the pie dough and place another sheet of plastic wrap on top. Rolling from the center, roll until the dough is about a ⅛-inch thickness. Remove the top piece of plastic wrap, fold the dough over and lay across the pie plate and remove the bottom piece of plastic wrap. Press the pie dough lightly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Cover the pie plate with a piece of the plastic wrap and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to overnight.


Chocolate Cookie Dough Cheesecake Pie

I can’t believe today is the last day of July. Before you know it, summer will be nothing but a memory, and all the store shelves will be stocked with holiday paraphernalia. Yes, I’m looking at you, Costco. Because nothing says the holidays are a’comin’ quite like a large inflatable Santa in the middle of the seafood section.

He obviously has his eyes on the king crab legs…...

In other breaking news, Alexander starts 11th grade in three weeks

It’s going to be a bit odd for me to be driving just him to school. Or should I say, he’ll be driving to school (with me in the passengers seat) to acquire the hours he needs to get his license in November.

The streets of Austin will never be the same…..

Chocolate Cookie Dough Cheesecake Pie – adapted from Bake or Break

For the crust:
    • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
For the chocolate cookie dough:
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 2 tbs. milk
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
For the cheesecake:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Greek Yogurt (or sour cream)

    Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9-inch pie pan. Mix together crumbs and butter until combined. Press into bottom and up sides of prepared pan, then bake for 10 minutes.

    Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in milk and vanilla, then add cocoa powder and flour. Mix on low speed until combined. Carefully spread dough over prepared crust. Refrigerate while making the cheesecake.

    Beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and yogurt. Spread evenly on top of cookie dough layer.

    Refrigerate about 3 hours before serving.


Strawberry Icebox Pie

I am amazed at how much I have accomplished over the past few days. Of course, I have been completely on my own, and therefore left to my own devices. I have cooked, cleaned, organized, planned, plotted, scheduled – and most importantly, caught up on much needed sleep.

Much. Needed. Sleep. 

I feel refreshed, energized, and ready to take on the world ~ or maybe just my section of the world.

Anyway, let’s talk about this pie. I really loved making (and subsequently consuming) it, even though it doesn’t contain one ounce of my favorite food, chocolate. That statement might come as a shock to those that  know me. 

Seriously though, one of the facets that I truly enjoyed about this recipe was making the strawberry filling. It totally inspired me to make homemade jam, which I did. This morning, in fact.


It’s sitting on the kitchen counter cooling this very moment. It’s going to be epic on the homemade ricotta cheese I  made yesterday. Memories of my time in Rome…….

Strawberry Icebox Pie – adapted from Bake or Break

For the crust:
    • 1 & 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
    • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
    • 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
    • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
    • 1 pound strawberries, hulled
    • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
For the whipped cream:
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    To make the crust:

    Preheat oven to 350°.

    Mix all crust ingredients until well-combined. Press firmly onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake 10 minutes. Set pan on wire rack to cool.

    To make the filling:

    Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese, 3 tablespoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons cream until thoroughly mixed. Mixture should be thick but spreadable. If necessary, add more cream, a teaspoonful at a time, until spreadable.

    Spread cream cheese mixture onto bottom of cooled crust. Cover and refrigerate.

    Chop about half of the strawberries into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.

    Place remaining strawberries in a medium saucepan. Use a fork or potato masher to crush berries. Add 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch. Cook over medium-low heat until mixture comes to a boil.

    Remove from heat and stir in remaining chopped strawberries. Cool completely.

    Spread cooled strawberry mixture over cream cheese layer in pie pan. Refrigerate.

    To make the whipped cream:

    To make the whipped cream, place cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip until firm peaks form. Spread over strawberry layer in pie pan. Serve immediately or chill overnight.

Cacio e Pepe Pasta Pie – and a complaint

I generally don’t like to complain, because if you stop and think about it, complaining serves no purpose whatsoever. If you can change something, do it. If you can’t, work around it and move on.

That mindset has worked out quite well for me, until recently. I am faced with a dilemma that I HAVE to complain/vent about, because I can neither fix it nor work around it. My gripe? The school system. Here’s the situation: Sabrina’s graduation ceremony is at 8:00 a.m. on a Thursday. I have to get her to the school by 5:45 a.m., so she can attend the senior breakfast, then the entire class boards a charter bus that will take them to the ceremony site – which happens to be about 25 minutes from the school.

That, however, isn’t where the problem lies.

The problem is that Alexander naturally wants to attend his sister’s ceremony. It’s an epic day in her life and he really wants to be there to commemorate it with her.  Side note: The realization that she’s not going to be at the school next year hit him hard about two weeks ago. She has a potential plan to attend college in Indiana, and Alexander was genuinely upset, concerned about her ability to still have dinner with us every night. She just looked at him like he’d fallen out of the sky and said, ” I told you that you’d miss me someday!”

I gritted my teeth and took another sip of wine, because at that moment I realized she might actually move away this summer. Is it too early to start turning her room into an office? I’m kidding, I’m kidding…

Anyway, due to a school district member’s clever planning abilities, the rest of the high school students have final exams scheduled for the day of the graduation. And they thought that was a good idea? Why on earth would they plan the graduation ceremony on a day when the other students have finals that they obviously can’t miss? Why not have the ceremony in the afternoon? Or early evening? The other high schools in the district are scheduled for the following Saturday. How did we get the short end of the straw?

Oh – and one more thing: we (the family) are supposed to be at the ceremony site at 7:30 a.m. Again, no problem. Except that Alexander starts school at 8:45 a.m. Last time I checked, I was unable to be in two places at the same time. So I have to drop him off at 7:00 a.m. in order to make it out to Cedar Park by 7:30 a.m. Ok, I can do that. 

Then I made the mistake of saying, out loud, that I was going to go into the school office and see what could be done about having Alexander attend the ceremony. Surely I can’t be the only parent with this complaint? Sabrina put her hand out , looked straight at me, and said, “Mom, stop. Don’t be confrontational.”

Me? Confrontational. I think that’s a compliment. 


Cacio e Pepe Pasta Pie – adapted from Food and Wine

I learned a very valuable lesson while making this – don’t judge a recipe by the simplicity of the ingredients. I am probably going to make this again for Sabrina’s graduation dinner – it’s equally delicious hot, or at room temperature.

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded (2 cups)
  • 6 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
  • Butter, for greasing
  • marinara sauce, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a pot of  boiling water, cook the spaghetti until barely al dente. Drain well.

In a bowl, mix the milk, Parmigiano, eggs, pepper, and 1 1/2 cups each of the Fontina and cheddar. Add the hot pasta, and mix well using two forks or tongs to get everything blended together, and that the pasta has a chance to absorb some of the liquid. Pour into a buttered 9-inch springform pan, then sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup each of Fontina and cheddar on top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Transfer to 
a rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Remove the ring, cut the pie into wedges and serve with marinara sauce.


Brownie Cheesecake Pie

The other day, I dedicated an hour to myself, and made a list. Not a to-do list, a project list, a house list, or even a what-to-bake list.

Although between you and me, I currently do have a what-to-bake list……and I’m working on a weekly what’s-for-dinner list so I can stop spending so much time figuring that last part out…..

Anyway, I made a list of all the posts on my blog – all 614 of them. I’m pretty sure there was an easier way to accomplish the task rather than the old fashioned way I did it – which is to say, I went page by page and typed out the title of onto a spreadsheet.

Cathartic? Yes. Productive? Absolutely. Impressive? Yes, at least to me it was. Impressive because I was able to see just how many great recipes I’ve tried along with our tried and true favorites.


And this winning combination of brownies and cheesecake quickly joined the ranks of a family favorite. The original recipe called for a boxed brownie mix, but once again, I did it the old fashioned way and made it from scratch.

I think I’m dating myself when I refer to something as old fashioned…..

Brownie Cheesecake Pie – adapted from Cookie Madness

  • 1 unbaked 9 deep dish pie pan lined with crust
Cheesecake Mixture:
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large egg
Brownie Mixture:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add the egg and beat until smooth. Set aside.

Pour half the brownie mixture into the pie crust, then spread the cream cheese mixture over it. Spread remaining brownie mixture over that.

Bake for 40 minutes. The top should appear set and slightly cracked. If it’s still wobbly, bake for another 10. In my opinion, it’s better to underbake than overbake.


Luby’s Chocolate Icebox Pie

I spent the better part of last month cleaning out my photo files in an effort to increase the storage space on my computer. I had multiple copies of pictures that took up so much room on my hard drive, I wasn’t able to download the new Yosemite operating system. It was no easy task, as I deleted well over 30,000 copies.

I’m very efficient when it comes to making sure everything is backed up. Experience is a very good teacher……

However, my efficiency got the better of me, as I cannot locate the picture of this pie. However, if you want to see what it should look like, visit Anna’s site. And while this wouldn’t be my go-to chocolate pie (you know my feelings about marshmallows...), J and Alexander loved it.

Luby’s Chocolate Icebox Pie – adapted from Texas Coop Power and Cookie Madness

2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tbs. butter or margarine
7 tbs. cornstarch
3 extra large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 baked 9-inch pie shell
Sweetened whipped cream, as needed
Chocolate curls or shavings, as needed

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of milk, sugar, cocoa and butter. Bring just to a boil over medium heat. In a medium bowl, mix together cornstarch and remaining 1/2 cup milk until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Then whisk in egg yolks and vanilla extract until well-blended. Whisking constantly, gradually add egg and milk mixture to saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes or until mixture is thickened and smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallows until melted. Pour into pie shell. Press plastic wrap directly onto filling and refrigerate at least 4 hours. To serve, remove plastic wrap, top pie with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate curls.

Leek and Greens Pie

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat

Or at least in this house, it’s the Shih Tzu that’s getting fat:


It’s not nice to say “fat” though …. so we shall say she’s getting….. plumpish.

She waits until Dyna the Indomitable Dachshund walks away from her bowl (Dyna eats… it’s maddening), then Daisy nonchalantly and very quietly moves in for the kill.

It’s quite genius, actually.


And that story has nothing to do with this pie.


However, making this recipe was a genius move on my part, because not only was it a cinch to put together, it was perfect warm from the oven (J and I had it for Thanksgiving dinner), and even better the next day.

Wait – I sense a familiar theme here… a genius move on Daisy’s part and a genius move on my part.

Great – I’m as intelligent as the dog.

Leek and Greens Pie – adapted from Food52

Cornmeal Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • pinch salt
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 
  • 1/4 cup ice cold water, plus more as necessary

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, and salt.

Add in the butter, then working quickly rub it in with your fingers or cut it in with a pastry cutter until it is mixed in and you have lumps about the size of peas. Stir in the quarter cup water with a fork until the dough just comes together into a bunch of large dough clumps. Add more water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to form the dough. Gather the pieces together and press them into a ball. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other, flatten them into discs, wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate them at least 1 hour, and up to overnight.

When you are ready to make the pie, take the larger dough disc out of the fridge. If it is too hard to roll, let it sit at room temperature 5-10 minutes, but you don’t want it to get too soft. On a lightly floured surface, roll the larger piece of dough out into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Lightly drape the rolled dough over a 9-inch round pie pan, press it into the pan and trim the edges. Wait to roll out the other piece of dough until the pie is filled.

Line the bottom crust with parchment or foil and weight it. Bake in a 425F oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, remove the weights and lining, return to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes. Then, set aside.

Greens Filling: 

  • 1 large bag of mixed winter greens
  • cloves of garlic, minced
  • medium leeks, washed well and thinly sliced – just the white and light green portions
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • cup packed grated Gruyere cheese
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • eggs
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. When the oil is shimmering, add the leeks. Stir and cook for 5 minutes over medium, then turn the heat to medium low and cook until the leeks are a lovely soft golden pile, about another 20 minutes. Turn the heat back to medium, stir in the greens and garlic, and cook for another 5 minutes until the flavors have mingled and any extra liquid has cooked off.

Transfer to a bowl. Allow to cool slightly, then stir in the cheese, lemon juice, eggs and sour cream until everything is well combined.

Spread the vegetable and cheese mixture into the prepared tart crust. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the second piece of dough into a 9 inch circle (use a pie plate to trace and trim it into a perfect circle), cut a shape or slits in the top and lay this over the tart filling. You don’t need to seal the top crust with the bottom, leaving a space gives the tart another air vent, and adds aesthetic interest.

Place a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom shelf of your oven to catch any drips, and place the tart on the middle shelf. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly and fragrant. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before attempting to serve

Serve the pie warm or at room temperature.