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Moroccan-Spiced Lamb Meatballs in Minted Apricot Glaze

Today’s recipe is brought to you by school taxes and my freezer stash. School taxes were due this month. It’s a tax worth paying for the high quality education that my school district offers, which my children will most likely benefit from in the near future. But it’s like a punch in the gut every time that bill arrives.

With Christmas practically knocking at our door, I’ve been trying to reduce the impact of that big extra tax bill by cutting a few other things in this month’s budget…like groceries. This means that we’re mostly feeding off the freezer this month.

My husband’s intense love for lamb burgers means that our freezer is well stocked with ground lamb. Our grocery store irregularly stocks ground lamb, so when they have it, I buy it. And when I opened my freezer in search of cheap dinner, ground lamb it was! But I just wasn’t feeling like lamb burgers or even gyro salad, though my husband would have been eager for either. I was in the mood to experiment.

So, playing off of Moroccan inspired flavors, I came up with these delectable meatballs, which my husband talked about for three days afterward. Ground lamb gets combined with dried apricots, a touch of sweet honey, cinnamon, and cumin. Sliced almonds add an interesting texture to the otherwise tender meatball. Then, they’re tossed in a buttery apricot glaze with a touch of fresh mint. I served mine over couscous. They were good. Really good. We’ll be eating them again soon.

Focus on Technique – Tips for Tender Meatballs

Everyone loves a tender, flavorful meatball. Here are a few tips for crave-worthy meatballs:

  • Use ground meat with a bit of fat. If using beef, look for 80/20 ground chuck. The fat will add flavor and moisture. If using a leaner meat, like ground chicken, add some additional vegetables, such as chopped onion, celery, or peppers to add moisture.
  • Increase your egg to meat ratio. I tend to use two eggs per each pound of meat. Add enough bread crumbs as necessary to bind the mixture. About 1/4 cup of bread crumbs per egg usually does the trick.
  • Be careful not to overwork the mixture. Mix only enough to evenly disperse the ingredients. To reduce the need for over-mixing, combine all of your other ingredients before adding the meat.
  • Season, season, season – salt, pepper, garlic, cheese…give those meatballs some flavor!
  • Try adding a slice of soaked, then crumbled day-old bread to your meatballs. Though I have not personally tried this strategy, it’s a sworn by trick to others…so there’s got to be something to it!

What are your favorite meatball tips?

Moroccan-Spiced Lamb Meatballs in a Minted Apricot Glaze

Ingredients

  • 1 small or 1/2 medium onion, very finely diced
  • 10 dried apricots, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 pound ground lamb

For the glaze

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • 3-4 fresh mint leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wipe a baking sheet with a little oil or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine the chopped onion, apricots, almonds, honey, salt, cinnamon, cumin, black pepper, eggs and bread crumbs (everything except the meat) in a large bowl, until evenly blended. Add the meat. Use your hands to combine the mixture, just enough to evenly disperse the ingredients.

Form the mixture into balls, about 1 1/2″ in diameter. Place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through.

For the glaze, combine butter, apricot preserves and mint leaves in a pan over medium heat. Stir until well combined and warmed, about 3 minutes. Toss the meatballs in the glaze before serving.

Makes about 24 small meatballs

October Pumpkin Round-Up

Posted on

It’s a chilly October morning here in Syracuse. And I’ve got pumpkin on my mind.

Our first pumpkin has been sitting on our front steps since our little ninja party last weekend. It has the face of a ninja painted on it. Ninja pumpkin will be joined by other pumpkins in the next few weeks and our kitchen will take on the sweet and fragrant aroma of some of our favorite pumpkin recipes…of that I am certain.

Focus on Technique –  Pumpkin Puree

Preparing fresh pumpkin is a manageable process, which can be done in a number of ways. Small ‘pie’ pumpkins tend to produce the sweetest pumpkin flavor. Many people prefer to remove the skin, chop the pumpkin into chunks, boil the pieces until tender, then puree. My preferred strategy is to simply cut the pumpkin open, remove the seeds, roast the pumpkins until tender, then scoop out the smooth pumpkin and puree. It involves less tedious chopping than with the boiling method and produces a better end result, in my opinion. You can see my complete step-by-step photo guide HERE .

If you’re not up for preparing your own puree, canned pumpkin provides a convenient alternative. Most canned pumpkin puree is prepared without additional salt, sweeteners, or preservatives, but check the cans just in case.

Check out this round-up of previously posted pumpkin recipes and keep an eye out for a few new pumpkin recipes, coming up soon!

Fresh Pumpkin Coconut Pie

Autumn Harvest Buns

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Bread

Pumpkin Gingersnap Parfaits

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted Pumpkin Caramel Bisque

Fried Pumpkin Wontons

Pumpkin Vanilla Custard

Fettucine with Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce  

Pomegranate and Poached Pear ‘Salad’

I’d like to take a moment to officially declare pomegranate as the most fun fruit to eat.

First comes the game of removing the tiny, shimmering pomegranate gems, called arils, from the hard exterior rind. Some people recommend a process of scoring the outer rind of the pomegranate, soaking it in cold water for a few minutes, then breaking the pieces open and allowing the arils to fall to the bottom of the water while the rind floats on top. Others recommend cutting the pomegranate into pieces and smacking the rind with the back of a spoon to loosen the arils, which should eject from the fruit. I like to simply cut the pomegranate into pieces and go to work, pulling apart the fruit piece by piece, systematically releasing the gazillions of juicy arils from within. There’s something incredibly satisfying about peeling back the layers of membrane within the fruit to uncover pockets of the sweet, plump gems.

The small effort of removing the arils yields a great reward; a bowl full of sweet, ruby gems. Pop one in your mouth and enjoy the sweet burst of juice as you bite into each delicious seed. Pick one up the next time you spot them in the grocery store. Now is the time to enjoy this delicious, fun fruit! And they’re super healthy for you too!

If you can stop yourself snacking on this tasty fruit, save some of the pomegranate arils for this delicious composed ‘salad’ of sorts. This seasonally perfect dish would make a very elegant hors d’oeuvre for a holiday party or perfect first course for a seated dinner. (Pretty certain this is going on my Christmas dinner menu!) Fresh pears are poached until tender, then paired with salty gorgonzola and vibrant pomegranate arils, nestled into a crisp leaf of Belgian endive. A simple pomegranate balsamic vinaigrette and candied walnuts provide the finishing touches.

Poached Pears and Pomegranate ‘Salad’

Ingredients

  • 2 heads Belgian endive
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

For the Poached Pears:

  • 2 ripe, firm pears (Anjou, Bosc, Bartlett…)
  • 4 cups poaching liquid (water, white wine, champagne, apple juice…)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 vanilla bean (optional)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)

For the Candied Walnuts:

  • 1/2 cup shelled walnut halves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Pinch of cinnamon
For the Vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
Directions

For the pears: Peel pears, cut off tops and bottoms, and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the core, using a melon baller or knife. Place the pears in a saucepan with your poaching liquid. (Any combination of water, white wine, champagne, juice, etc. would be delicious.) Stir in the honey. If desired, add a cinnamon stick and/or a vanilla bean to the liquid. Bring the poaching liquid to a gentle simmer. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the pears from the cooking liquid and allow to cool. Once cool, chop the pears into small chunks and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the Walnuts: Heat walnuts in a pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until they begin to toast.  Add butter and cook for an additional minute.  Add brown sugar, cinnamon, and about 1 tablespoon water to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly until the water has evaporated and the nuts are glazed. **You may need to add small quantities of additional water to achieve a glaze. Allow to cool. The glaze will harden as the nuts cool. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

For the Vinaigrette: Whisk the oil, vinegar, pomegranate juice, and mustard together. Season with salt and pepper.

To Assemble the Salad: Rinse the endive. Cut off the core end and carefully separate the leaves. Fill each leaf with a bit of the pear, pomegranate, and crumbled gorgonzola. Top with candied walnuts. Arrange on a platter to serve as an hors d’ouevres or plate 2-3 prepared endive leaves per person as a first course. Lightly drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Serves 4-6

Cider-Braised Turkey and Garlicky Creamed Spinach

You may recall that my recommendation for roasting the perfect Thanksgiving turkey is to roast it in parts, rather than as a whole bird. By roasting the breast separate from the drumsticks and thighs, you can cook each part to juicy perfection, rather than allowing the the breast to dry out while waiting for the legs and thighs to come up to temperature.

If desired, you can roast a few drumsticks and thighs alongside the breast, at the same temperature and with the same seasonings. Cooked separate from the breast, the drumsticks and thighs will cook more quickly (in about the same time as the breast). Use an instant read meat thermometer to test for doneness, since cooking time will vary based on weight and your oven’s exact temperature. Aim for 160-165 degrees for the breast and 170-175 degrees for the thighs and drumsticks.

Or for a little something different, try braising the dark meat using this very simple, very flavorful preparation. The meat will become fall-off-the-bone tender and you’ll have a delicious, ready-made sauce to serve along with it! You can even braise the parts the day before and reheat on the stovetop at a gentle simmer when you’re ready to serve (though the skin will lose some crispiness with reheating).

Give it a try! I think you’ll like it!

And you can click back to HERE to see last year’s post on how to roast a turkey breast.

Bacon and Cider Braised Turkey

Ingredients

  • 8 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 turkey thighs, skin-0n, bone-in
  • 2 turkey drumsticks, skin-on, bone-in
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2-3 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat the thighs and drumsticks dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the flour over the thighs and drumsticks. In a large dutch oven pan, cook bacon over medium/medium-high heat until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon, leaving the bacon drippings in the pan. Place the thighs and drumsticks in the pan in a single layer, skin side down. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the skin is nicely browned. Then flip the pieces and cook for about three minutes on the other side. Pour the cider and chicken broth over the chicken. (The liquids should come about halfway up the sides of the turkey, leaving the browned skin exposed.) Return the bacon to the pan. Cover and place on the middle oven rack. Allow to cook for 90 minutes, undisturbed. Then, remove the cover and allow it to cook for 30 minutes more (to crisp up the skin and allow the sauce to reduce). Remove from the oven. Remove the turkey pieces and place on a platter. Pour the sauce into a measuring cup and allow it to cool for a few minutes. As it cools, the excess fat will rise to the surface. Use a spoon to remove the excess fat. Then, taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, as desired.

Serves 4

Garlicky Creamed Spinach

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 1 pound baby spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt (about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Ground black pepper

Directions

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach to the pan. (It will look like a tremendous quantity of spinach. Don’t worry…it will drastically shrink as it wilts.) Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until all of the spinach has wilted. Add the heavy cream, parmesan cheese, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Bring to a simmer and allow it to cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, until the liquid reduces by at least half. Allow to cool slightly before serving, which will help the cream to thicken up a bit.

Serves 4

Pumpkin Vanilla Custard

I call myself a runner. In fact, I’m going to run a 5k race this upcoming Sunday. Pretty impressive, huh?? More accurately, I will partially run, partially walk, and partially crawl a 5k on Sunday.

I am, in fact, a terrible runner. I can’t breathe. My muscles ache. I’m slower than a crippled snail. It’s not in my genes to be a runner. And yet I run. Diehard runners would probably call what I do “casual jogging”. But when I’ve got my running sneaks on, I feel like a runner. And so that is what I consider myself.

I started running sometime after having my second son. I was looking for a quick calorie burn to get rid of some of the extra weight I was hanging onto, without giving up my favorite foods. But what started as a means for losing the baby weight quickly became a treasured part of my day. The solitude. A chance to be alone inside my head for a few minutes. It made me feel strong and capable. It gave me peace and helped me recover a bit of the sanity that small children seem determined to abolish. And in that way, it made me a better, calmer mom.

I’d hoped to continue running throughout my third pregnancy, but fatigue and the waning evening light had other plans. Now, after months of not running (and some extra lingering baby weight), it’s been an uphill battle (both literally and figuratively) to regain my running ability.

This Sunday will be my first race since having my baby. I’m not ready. Not even a little bit. But I’m going to tie on some bells and run the jingle out of that Jingle Bell race.

I can run for 10 minutes (most of a mile) before I feel like I’m going to die. During the 5 minutes which follow, I start talking a variety of nonsense to myself. You’re a superstar. You’re strong. You can do anything! By the time I get to 15 minutes, I’m desperate and fully out of my mind. I’m screaming the lyrics to Pink’s Perfect in my pitchy off-key voice. They don’t like my jeans! They don’t get my hair! Which makes no sense since I almost exclusively wear sweatpants and keep my hair in an incredibly non-controversial pony tail. I’m quite a sight. Panting, crazy eyes, accusatory lyric shouting. Not exactly sure how I’m going to complete this race on Sunday… Ay! What was I thinking??

Run, Amy! Run!

The run will be good for me though, no matter how long it takes me, because I’ve been enjoying more pumpkin treats and apple pie (post coming soon) than any person should. Including this delectable pumpkin vanilla custard. It’s like a pumpkin pie without the crust. And it’s really good. Good enough to add a few more calorie-burning minutes to that run!

Pumpkin Vanilla Custard

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk*
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of ginger
  • 4 egg yolks
*Skim milk would work fine if you’d like to reduce the fat and calories.

Directions

Combine the milk, pumpkin puree, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and ginger in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking continuously so that the sugar and cornstarch dissolve. Once the mixture begins to bubble and thicken, reduce the heat. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks. Gradually whisk about 1/2 of the hot mixture into the egg yolks, starting with a slow drizzle. (Gradually incorporating the hot milk into the egg yolks tempers the eggs, allowing them to slowly rise in temperature without scrambling.) Gradually whisk the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture in the pot. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, whisking constantly for about 3 minutes, until thickened and smooth. Pour the custard into individual serving dishes and refrigerate until set. Garnish with whipped cream and crushed vanilla wafers.

We all enjoy an occasional pat on the back for a job well done! And as a stay-at-home mom there are no pleased supervisors or satisfied co-workers passing out the pats..only little people who need more apple juice. Urgently. So, it was such a delight to be informed that The Gourmand Mom has been awarded the Editors’ Pick Best Food Blog award by the editors of Parents Magazine. What a fabulous recognition! Thank you, Parents Magazine!

You can check out the complete list of blog award winners here.

Fried Pumpkin Wontons

A few weeks ago, I found myself at the McDonald’s drive-thru. Fast food is a rarity for me (well, except for our regular Friday night Five Guys burgers and fries). But McDonald’s was running their annual Monopoly game and I got it in my head that I was going to win. I could practically smell the cash. I was feeling lucky.

I was wrong.

But on the occasion, when I stopped at my McDonald’s dreaming of Park Place and Boardwalk, I ordered one of those little apple pies. Heck, I was already throwing dietary caution to the wind. Why not add dessert too?

Imagine my surprise when I bit into a pumpkin pie, which had been packaged in an apple pie box. Ewww. I like pumpkin pie, but the taste and texture just didn’t compute with the bite of apple pie my mouth was anticipating. The second bite was better than the first, though it was nearly impossible to get past the bitter taste of disappointment over the boring St. Charles Place game piece I’d earned.

These little fried pumpkin wontons are sort of like those McDonald’s pumpkin pies, only smaller and much tastier. A guaranteed Park Place win! Perfectly crispy wonton ‘crusts’ hold a burst of smooth, spiced pumpkin in the center. If you’re interested in putting a different twist on the standard Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, these little goodies are the answer.

Make them for Thanksgiving or any time you need to satisfy your pumpkin craving. They’re best hot out of the pan, but if you’d rather get the frying out of the way earlier, I suspect they’d warm up nicely with a few minutes in a 300 degrees oven. (They were gone before I had a chance to test that theory.) These little packets of heaven will have everyone feeling thankful on Thanksgiving!

Fried Pumpkin Wontons

Ingredients

For the Wontons:

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 40 wonton wrappers*
  • Vegetable Oil (for frying)

For the Spiced Sugar:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
*My grocery store carries the wonton wrappers in the frozen foods section. Some grocery stores may store them near the refrigerated produce.

Directions

Combine the pumpkin, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger until well blended. Place about a teaspoon of filling in the center of each wonton wrapper. Fold the wrapper around the filling, using a wet finger to seal the edges. (Check out my wonton folding tips in this Apple Cinnamon Rangoon recipe.)Place each folded wonton on a piece of wax paper as you work.

Once all wontons have been prepared, heat about 1/4″-1/2″ of vegetable (or other neutral tasting oil) in a skillet over medium/medium high heat. Test the heat by placing one wonton in the pan. It should immediately sizzle and cook very quickly (less than 30 seconds per side). Flip when the bottom is golden brown. Cook for a few seconds on the other side. If they are cooking too slowly, raise the heat. If they’re cooking faster than you can manage to flip them, turn down the heat. Use a spatula to remove the wontons from the oil and place them on a paper towel to drain. Immediately sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Serve warm.

Favorite Thanksgiving Ideas

Hard to believe Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. I’d better get my butt in gear and start preparing.

To be honest, I’d been struggling to come up with new Thanksgiving recipes to share with you. I’m just really in love with my standard Thanksgiving dishes. It’s a menu that’s evolved over the past several years and in my mind, it’s the perfect Thanksgiving feast. But, as my husband reminded me, Thanksgiving is very much about tradition.

So, this Thanksgiving, we will be enjoying what has become our traditional Thanksgiving feast, but I have come up with a few new ideas to share. Over the next two weeks, keep your eyes out for a Pumpkin Vanilla Custard, How to Make an All-Butter Pie Crust Photo Guide, Spiced Pumpkin Wontons, From-Scratch Green Bean Casserole with Homemade Crispy Onion Straws, Garlicky Creamed Spinach, a fun twist on a classic Apple Pie, and Braised Turkey Drumsticks.

Yikes! Ok…it’s probably unrealistic that I’ll be able to get all of that posted before Thanksgiving. But I’m gonna give it an honest effort. Let me know if there’s anything in that list you’re especially interested in seeing and I’ll try to prioritize that post.

In the mean time, take a look back at some of my classic Thanksgiving favorites:

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast with Pan Gravy

Spiced Sweet Potato Puree with Pecan Streusel 

Sausage, Apple, and Leek Stuffing

Cranberry Orange Sauce 

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Walnuts 

Hot Doughy Buns 

Soupy Soup Round-up

Are you on facebook or twitter?

Well, what do you know…me too! In fact, I’m hardly ever not on facebook, especially now that the temperatures are dropping and we’re retreating into full hibernation mode!

Come keep me company! Click on over to follow The Gourmand Mom on Facebook or Twitter!

See you there!

And speaking of dropping temperatures, has it cooled down by you too? Got snow in the forecast? Ready to throw on your Snuggie or Slanket (I promise, I own neither.) and hibernate for the winter? Well, here are a handful of toasty soups (and chilis), guaranteed to warm you up! Enjoy!

Creamy Bacon Mushroom Soup

Pumpkin Caramel Bisque

Italian Wedding Soup

Vanilla Carrot Bisque

Chicken Soup from Scratch

Sausage, Bean, and Rapini Soup

Spicy Beef Chili

White Chicken Chili

BBQ Beef Chili

Split Pea Soup with Ham 

Cheesy Cheddar Soup 

Chicken with Matzoh Ball Soup

Sweet Potato Bisque (with seared scallops and bacon)

Baked Potato Soup

Chilled Avocado Soup (Ok, so this one isn’t going to warm you up. But it’s yuuuummmmy!)

Creamy Bacon Mushroom Soup

Remember when I thought I didn’t care for soup? Then, remember when I woke up and discovered the glorious world of soup?

What a difference a year makes!

This new world is so much warmer than the old soupless world I was living in.

I like it here. I think I’ll stay.

Here’s a new favorite soup for you. It’s a creamy mushroom soup, kicked up with a punch of bacon flavor. (And bacon makes everything better, right??) Pureeing a bit of the broth and mushrooms helps spread delicious mushroom flavor throughout the soup. It’s seriously yummy. Even my mushroom adverse husband enjoyed this one!!

Creamy Mushroom and Bacon Soup

Ingredients

  • 8 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 4-5 cups button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • Splash of Marsala wine (optional)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/2  – 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper

Directions

In a large saucepan or dutch oven pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the diced shallots to the bacon grease and cook for about 3 minutes, until tender. Add the mushrooms, rosemary and garlic to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and golden. Return the cooked bacon to the pan.

Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and bacon and stir to coat. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Pour the chicken broth into the pan. If desired, add a splash of marsala wine. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently. It should begin to thicken as it simmers. Simmer for a few minutes, then reduce heat and add the half and half.

Remove about a cup of the soup. (Make sure to get lots of mushrooms in there.) When cool enough to safely handle, blend the cup of soup until smooth. Return the blended mixture to the pan with the rest of the soup.

Season with the salt and pepper.

Serve topped with croutons and/or bacon crumbles.

Serves 4

**For a person who claimed to be indifferent about soups, I’ve got quite a few soup recipes hanging around this site! Keep an eye out this weekend for a round-up of some delicious, warm-you-up soup recipes!!

Coconut Custard Pie

Halloween has come and gone. Just like that. The costumes have been washed and packed away (though I think I’d put my baby in his monkey costume everyday if it were socially acceptable to do so). The candy has been picked over for the good stuff. (You know who I’m talking about, Almond Joy.) And the daily morning frost makes it feel more like winter than autumn. We’re on the fast track to Thanksgiving.
And with Thanksgiving comes one of my favorite meals of the year. Comfort food just doesn’t get much more comforting than Thanksgiving dinner. Savory stuffings, tart cranberry sauce, vegetables doused in cream, doughy buttered rolls, and pie. Sweet, delicious pie.
This recipe comes by request of a reader in search of a recipe for a graham cracker coconut crust to use for a fresh pumpkin pie. I decided to use my crust to make a seriously satisfying coconut custard pie, but this crust would also work beautifully with a fresh pumpkin coconut pie filling or any other filling you can dream up.
This recipe is written for use with a deep pie dish. If you have a more shallow pie dish, you will probably have some extra crust and custard. Spoon the extra custard into cups and top with some of the extra crust mixture for a tasty little treat!
Coconut Custard Pie
For the Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) melted butter (I use salted butter.)

For the Custard:

  • 3 cups milk*
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
*If you’re looking to reduce the calorie and fat content, skim milk will work just fine!

Directions

To make the crust: Combine graham cracker crumbs, coconut, brown sugar, and melted butter. Press the mixture onto the bottom and sides of a deep pie dish. Bake for 13-15 minutes at 350 degrees.

To make the custard: Bring the milk, sugar, vanilla, salt and cornstarch to a simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently so that the sugar and cornstarch dissolve. Once the mixture begins to bubble and thicken, reduce the heat. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks. Gradually whisk about 1/2 of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, starting with a slow drizzle. (Gradually incorporating the hot milk into the egg yolks tempers the eggs, allowing them to slowly rise in temperature without scrambling.) Gradually whisk the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture in the pot. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, whisking constantly for about 3 minutes, until thickened and smooth. Stir in the shredded coconut.

Pour the custard into the prepared crust. Cool for a few hours, until set.

Garnish with whipped cream and toasted coconut or crushed graham crackers before serving.

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