Blood Orange Vanilla Pie

This was hands down, THE MOST DELICIOUS THING I HAVE EVER MADE!

Did you hear me?

Did I just say that?

Truly, the MOST delicious thing that I have ever made.

Delicious as in, plates were being scraped as each person finished off their own slice, and…..who knew? I was shocked!

So here’s how it all started….

We had a bag of oranges that I just knew that I had to put to use before they went bad.

It’s a crazy thing how this quarantined time makes you more mindful of how much we actually eat & how much we waste.

We’ve been especially mindful to make the most of everything that we eat, drink and consume & to put it all to use.

So, back to these oranges…

I did not want to see them go to waste, so I originally started looking for a recipe, either sweet or savory, that I could put this good oranges to use.

So, I came across this interesting pie recipe, that incorporated both oranges and maybe even a custard. I knew that I could bust out a pie, like that! And some of my pie recipes are baked and others that I keep on stand-by do not have to be baked at all.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “So what are those pie recipes that do not have to be baked at all, that you keep on stand-by?” I feel you, and I am going to share them, or that one base of a pie with you. I got you!

I have a basis of a no-bake pie that is good with anything, and I was testing my luck as to whether or not it could work with an orange topping.

“Orange pie?”

I have actually never made one before, but this will be one, that I will make again & again, and again.

The basis of that no-bake pie is quite simple. It’s:

1 8 ounce package of cream cheese

1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk

And in this case, 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed blood orange juice.

Okay, so wait a minute. Did I tell you that these were blood oranges?! Umm….yes! I didn’t even know it, until I sliced them.

WAS I PAYING ATTENTION WHEN I BOUGHT SAID ORANGES?

No.

DID I NOTICE THE BIG BLOOD ORANGES SYMBOL ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE PACKAGE?

Again, another resounding, “No!” But I was pleasantly surprised to see their dark color as I cut a couple of the oranges opened to get them prepared for drying.

Yes, I was going to need several slices of already dried orange slices in order to make this pie.

This pie was going to be need to be made in steps, so I got to it!

First off, the crust.

We needed one box of vanilla wafers crushed, with one stick of melted butter, combined and pressed down into a crust, set to chill over night.

So I prepped my oranges for drying. (*Note: I used the oven dry method, which is oranges sliced placed on a baking cooling rack, which is then placed on cookie sheet and into the oven on low 200 degrees, for a total of three hours. If I ever make this again, I am going to go straight for making these slices in my dehydrator. Why, because you can essentially set it & forget it. Rather than having to come back and keep checking your oven timer/or worry that you forgot to turn your oven off…. I can’t be bothered! For future reference, I am slapping these babies in my dehydrating rack, place them where they need to, one & done and not looking back. End of story. But that’s just the orange slices part…..)

After my slices were arranged and under way to dry, I went ahead and started working on my crust.

Okay, vanilla wafers crushed up as my crust instead of graham crackers? Count me in!

I am here for it, honey!

I didn’t know how much of a difference that simple switch up would make but I was willing to try. What I was most intrigued by was the thought of what the crushed vanilla wafers with melted butter would taste like vs. what crushed graham cracker cookies with melted butter would taste like.

IT SEEMS LIKE AN EXECUTIVE DECISION WAS MADE ON SOME LEVEL…

Once again, I’m here for it.

I made up the crust & pressed it into my large tart pan, which was also different. I don’t think that I will use a tart or pie pan that is larger than 9-inches in diameter, because the depth (or lack there of) of the pie crust wasn’t right to me, but okay, the flavor was there, so I have to count my losses and I have to count my wins. Flavor-2, Depth-1. Flavor wins but I like to be shooting on all cylinders and my pie depth got a minus one. (lol!)

Making up the pie filling itself (you’ll have a printable recipe card from this, don’t worry. I just have to get through my ramblings on what made this a win and critiques, so that you can get the benefit. I want you winning. I always want you winning, mama!)

The filling was easy: with a hand mixer combine and blend until smooth one full 8 ounce stick of cream cheese with one full can (14 oz) of sweetened condensed milk, completely blend these first before adding any other juices etc.

So here’s where I went wrong.

I was rushing & I wasn’t paying attention and I neglected to follow my own rule.

Two baking rules: #1- Always, always, always, combine your dry ingredients first before ever adding any wet or else you’ll have clumps

and

#2- Always, always, always combine your smooth ingredients first, to make sure that they’re smooth before adding any other liquids or you’ll have clumps.

I had clumps.

I wasn’t paying attention.

I threw the whole cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk and the blood orange juice all in the same bowl and started blended.

As I began to mix it, I saw the clumps from the cream cheese form and my heart sank.

Now, could I just make an absolutely perfect one and post that for you?

Sure.

Are you going to learn anything from my mistakes by it, though?

No, absolutely not.

So……

Always,

always,

always fully combine your creamed items together before adding any liquid to it.

Okay?

Okay.

There, I feel better now. (Danger adverted).

Nevertheless,

The flavor was still there.

So let’s recap:

*We made our crust- one box of vanilla wafers crushed, mixed with one stick of melted butter, pressed down into the bottom and the sides of a pie or tart pan. Set in the fridge overnight. -Done.

*We made our filling- one 8 oz. stick of cream cheese, combined with one 14 oz. of sweetened condensed milk, and then 1/2 of blood orange juice combined and poured into the crust for another 6 hours. -Done

*We made up our dried orange slices, either in our dehydrating machine or in our oven on low (200 degrees) for 3 hours & set those aside. Ready to go to make our topping. -Also done.

Keep in mind that this pie is going to take you a minute.

Like, don’t promise that morning, that you’re planning to bring this pie anywhere that night because…..

IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

Good things take time.

This pie is going to take time.

But when you get to that end result honey……child, listen!

Trust me.

Okay?!

Okay.

The topping is also quite delectable but it too, takes time.

You’ll need to bring 1 1/2 cups of orange juice (not blood orange juice for this recipe), 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and all of your orange slices to a boil.

Another take away note: Set aside 25-30 mins to bring this to a good thick boil and a good thick syrup of the orange juice and sugar.

Before I served it, I let it cook a rough 10 minutes and that wasn’t long enough, at all.

Allow yourself at least 30 minute to perfect it. Twenty to twenty-five minutes to boil your simple syrup (that is what your orange juice and granulated sugar is going to create -even without the orange slices) and then another 5-10minutes to let it cool). If I had my way, it would even be 45 minutes in total just for the sauce. Why? Because cool sauce, cool pie and cool orange slices, seemed to go better than hot sauce, hot orange slices and cool pie that’s coming out of the fridge. This is a no-bake pie, so you’re using that setting time in the fridge, whether it’s overnight or 4-6 hours in the fridge as your “baking” time or “setting” time.

Lastly,

get those beautiful oranges, on that pie.

Another great reason why you’d want your mixture of orange juice with sugar and orange slices to completely cool down, is so that you’ll be able to then turn it over and cover your pie with it.

It didn’t want to do that.

My simple syrup was hot and my pie was cold and I was afraid that my hot orange slices were going to melt the whole thing. Boo-who!

So, the next time that I make this thing and hopefully the very first time that YOU make this thing, you’ll do it the right way, with all of my take away notes added in!

************

Did you make this pie?

Did you love this recipe?

Did your family love this recipe?

Then I want to hear from you!

Drop me a line in the comments below or email me at thingsshemakes@gmail.com & give me a shout.

I want to know that you loved this pie just as much as I did.

Talk soon,

Chemeeka

Canning 101: The Boil Water Canner Method

My house has never been cleaner…..

As in, (of course we’re in the middle of spring cleaning season, but…) now that the schools are closed due to the quarantine, all & I mean, ALL of our common areas are cleaned multiple times per day.

It’s a good thing!

Trust me when I say that I am not complaining.

There’s a lot of good that has come out of this time & I am most definitely embracing it, as I hope that you are too!

I have long felt a calling to the old-fashioned way of living: the way that our grandparents used to. Part of this whole virus and restructuring our daily lives has brought all of that back into focus for me.

My friends know that I am their baking-girl, their home-cooking-girl, their sewing-girl, and only few know me as their canning-girl.

Why?

Because I actually used to can a LOT more than I do now, and 5-6 years ago, what I canned, also became their Christmas presents & they loved it. Some of them would even look forward to it, and ask me before hand if I could throw in an extra jar. (Sweet!)

I love canning.

I don’t think that there is anything that I love more than canning, other than sewing.

I mean, there is something very invigorating about the whole process to me.

*Sidenote: This invigorating process that I speak of, doesn’t happen often for me, because I am using really hot stuff & I lot of hot boiling water, that I usually either wait until everyone is asleep or a time when everyone won’t be in the house so that I know for sure, for that couple of hours, no one could possibly get hurt. And when they walk back into the house, I’ve got jars resting. #missionaccomplished.

Let’s Talk Equipment:

There are a couple of ways to do your canning process:

1- Is to use a boil water canner

and the other

2- Is to use a pressure cooker

I have always done the boil water canner method. I do know people that do the pressure cooker method and there are things that you can can with the pressure cooker that you can’t with the boil water canner: green beans is one of them.

Equipment list:

  • a boil water canner or pressure cooker
  • a jar lifter
  • clean, sterilized mason jars
  • brand new mason jar lids
  • clean, sterilized mason jar bands
  • a couple of pot-holders and kitchen towels (as there is going to be a lot of hot stuff)

In general, you’re going to start out with fresh fruits or vegetables.

Next, there will be a process or a recipe, to your finished product that you will need to complete BEFORE you move on to the actually canning process, itself.

For example, if you were making a strawberry jam, to be canned, (that’s different from a freezer jam that stays in the fridge. I’m talking about processing it for shelf life, right now). You would want to have a pot, separate from your canner to cook your jam in. You will need to follow a recipe. For strawberry jam, most call for:

Fresh strawberries

sugar

pectin or some sort of acid, like lemon juice.

Once your jam is done cooking, you will have your jars, bands and lids, washed, dried and hot and sterilized ready to go, because you don’t want to pour hot steaming jam or jelly going into cold mason jars. They’ll bust!

Following a recipe, you will fill the jars up to the “headspace” required for that particular recipe, before you secure the canning lids & bands before placing them into the boiling water.

Let’s talk about “Head space”.

Head space is important.

The proper head space when canning is the difference between a lid that seals properly & one that does not.

You know when you snap open that fresh jar of pickles or that new jar of spaghetti sauce & you here that “pop”?

That’s the same sound that you want to hear when someone opens one of your jars….or it wasn’t done right.

(There, there, I have to tell you the truth about the process. Or else, what good is it?)

So back to head space, you want to “hear” that pop- twice. Once when the jar seals during canning & the other when your jar, after resting a while of course has been opened.

Canning can potentially be a dangerous process, if not done right.

The author of Things She Makes and/or it’s constituents take no responsibility or liability for events that occur during your canning process.

Readers of this blog should be aware that any recipes or processes that are tried are done so at the risk of the reader/participant.

Closing Thoughts.

I have never used a pressure cooker as my canning method but have loved the times that I’ve “put up” jars with my boil water canner.

The next time that we talk, I’ll walk you through a little more of the vocab on the canning end.

I hope that you get something out of this.

Talk soon.