A Summer Beach Picnic + Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust!

Some of early summer’s star produce comes together beautifully in this perfectly balanced Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust.

This Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust is the perfect dessert recipe for any beach picnic, BBQ or fancy dinner party!
Photo: Meg Sorel

As someone who left a sufficiently cushy job in the corporate world to become self-employed, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is, “Do you ever miss being in an office with coworkers?” And my answer is always, “Honestly, no.” Sure, the self-employed world can be lonely at times, but I consider myself AMAZINGLY lucky to have found a solid group of like-minded ladies (and yes, even some men) who have also set out on their own and forged a path for themselves in the world of entrepreneurship, specifically in the food, beverage and entertaining bizzes.

Recently, a few of us got together to kick off summer with a beautifully styled beach picnic featuring some incredibly delicious food and wine. Since I’ve been itching to refine my pie-making skills, I offered to bring one showcasing some of my favorite fruits of the season thus, this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust was born.

A fun and fresh Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with a flaky amaretto crust. The perfect summer dessert!
Photo: Meg Sorel

Here’s what everyone else brought/contributed (with live links to their posts/websites!)

Le Petit Chef

Denisse is a private chef and food photographer based here in Santa Barbara and brought the most refreshing Poached Lobster Salad with Peaches, Shaved Fennel and White Corn and delectable Crab Toasts with Heirloom Tomato & Charred Scallion Aioli.

The Oyster Tin

Jamie (also a private chef) just started this “micro-shuckery” here in SB and, let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve tasted these oysters. She brought both raw and BBQ oysters to our little picnic and the BBQ sauce on the cooked ones was just insane!

FOLD

Not only does Viktoriya make some of the most beautiful table linens, she’s also a pro at food and prop styling, She made our entire picnic set-up look like a dream…I only wish I could bring her (and her beautiful napkins and tablecloths) along with me for every picnic I go on!

Wander & Wine

If you plan to serve wine at any get-together you’re hosting, you’ll want to invite Hana-Lee. She chose the perfect wines to pair with each of our dishes. I couldn’t believe what a perfect match the Riverbench Demi-Sec Sparkling Wine was for my Strawberry Rhubarb Pie!

Meg Sorel Photography

Even though she stepped in for another photographer at the last minute, Meg was an absolute dream to work with and captured all of the beautiful images you see here and on the others’ posts.

Seafood, pie, wine and friends. What more can you ask for with a summer beach picnic?
Photo: Meg Sorel

Okay, now back to this pie. First, raise your hand if you (like me) are totally intimidated by pie-making because of the difficulty of making pie dough, rolling it out and then not only getting it to fit just right in your pie plate but also baking it to a beautiful golden brown in perfect synchronization to whatever filling you put inside.

Well, I’m here to tell you good news and bad news:

First, the bad news – it is hard. And it’s most likely not going to be perfect on your first attempt. You will most likely need to refine your practice in order to get it “just right.”

Next, the good news – it gets easier! Practice makes perfect. Once you find a recipe you like and practice it a time or two, you start to get a better feel for how it should look, feel, etc. I’m happy to say that, now that I have a basic pie crust recipe that I feel totally confident in, I’ll be making so many more pies and, after trying this recipe, I hope you will, too!

This Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust is the perfect finish to any 4th of July picnic or summer BBQ!
Photo: Meg Sorel
A picture perfect summer beach picnic with seafood, pie, wine and great friends!
Photo: Meg Sorel

There are just a couple of little secrets I want to let you in on that make this “not-your-average” Strawberry Rhubarb Pie recipe:

  1. It’s a fairly popular notion that adding chilled vodka to your pie dough (instead of water) will make it extra tender and flaky due to the alcohol dissolving during the cooking process. You know I’m all about using booze when needed, but for this recipe you’ll find me subbing in amaretto for the vodka, adding that slight nuttiness that goes perfectly with the rest of the components of the pie. For all other aspects of the dough, I turned to my favorite Model Bakery (affiliate link) recipe as a guide – I knew they wouldn’t let me down!
  2. Although the ingredients for the filling are all pretty typical, there is one ingredient that may look a little odd – balsamic vinegar. I added this to bring depth and a slight tang to the filling that pair perfectly with all the almond notes tied in throughout.

I have to say, for being such a novice in this particular aspect of baking, this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust was a pretty huge hit.

A perfect piece of Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust is just what you need to cap off a summer meal.
Photo: Meg Sorel

It’s also perfectly portable which makes it a great dish to contribute to any 4th of July celebrations you may be attending this week.

Read on for the recipe!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 20 mins
Chilling time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 50 mins
 

Some of early summer’s star produce comes together beautifully in this perfectly balanced dessert that's perfect for any warm weather get-together.

Course: Dessert
Keyword: pie, rhubarb, strawberry, summer
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter-flavored shortening, cut into cubes (Can use regular shortening too)
  • 1/4 cup amaretto, chilled
For the filling:
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced (about 3 cups sliced)
  • 2 stalks rhubarb, sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
For the streusel:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon amaretto
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, crumbled
Instructions
  1. Begin making the dough at least an hour or two before you plan on baking your pie. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. 

  2. Next, using a pastry blender, cut in both the butter and shortening until dough is blended but crumbly with some pea-sized pieces. 

  3. Slowly mix in the amaretto using a fork until a loose dough begins to form.

  4. Using your hands, shape the dough into a thick disk. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or even overnight.

  5. To make the filling, combine strawberries, rhubarb, balsamic vinegar, sugar and flour in a large bowl. Mix until the fruit is evenly coated with the sugar, flour and vinegar. Refrigerate until you’re ready to bake your pie.

  6. Finally, assemble the streusel topping. Mix together all streusel ingredients in a medium bowl, using your fingers as needed to break up the butter pieces and make the mixture even and crumbly.

  7. Pull out your refrigerated pie dough about 15 minutes before you’re ready to start baking. This will allow it to come back down to room temperature a bit and make it easier to roll out. Once your dough is at a “roll-able” temperature, roll it into an approximately 13-inch circle and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. You may need to trim some edges and work the dough a bit once it’s in the pan to get the crust as uniform as possible. Crimp the ends as desired and then freeze for 15-30 minutes.

  8. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove your crust from the freezer and pour in the filling, then top with the streusel. 

  9. Bake pie in your 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also at this point I recommend putting on a pie shield or covering the edges of your crust with foil to prevent it from burning. Bake pie at this new reduced temperature for one hour to one hour and 15 minutes, or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Let cool before serving (preferably with vanilla ice cream!)

 

Maple Apple Pie Stuffed Apples

Let’s just write this week off already.

Maple Apple Pie Stuffed Apples | CaliGirlCooking.com

In terms of trying to eat healthy, that is. It is the week before Christmas, after all, and all I can think about are sweet treats and all of the little indulgences we get to make in the days to come. These Maple Apple Pie Stuffed Apples are no exception.

Let’s chat about this whole “writing off the week” thing, because I feel like it is soooo important to understand in terms of balanced living, especially at this time of year. You see, when I say we can “write off the week,” I don’t mean that we should go to town on sweets and unhealthy food for every single meal. I simply mean that we should understand that we are in a celebratory time of the year, and we should feel okay with the fact that we might be eating a few more not-so-good-for-you foods than usual.

Take what I ate yesterday, for example. Being a food blogger and culinary consultant (and refusing to waste any food,) I sometimes find myself with a random selection of foods that need to be eaten, whether it’s logical to be eating said food at said time.

Yesterday, I was baking cookies for a blog post and also teaching a candy making class at night. I knew it was going to be a sweets-filled day, so I focused on making sure I got tons of nutrients and healthy foods into my meals in between. Smoothie for breakfast, hummus and turkey meatballs for lunch, and a huge salad with grilled chicken for dinner. This not only gave me energy, but also kept me satiated enough throughout the day that I wasn’t jonesing for a second or third cookie or truffle.

Maple Apple Pie Stuffed Apples | CaliGirlCooking.com

All I’m trying to say is that, even during these cookie or candy cane-filled days, it’s completely possible to stay “fairly” on track, knowing your diet will normalize once we hit the New Year. (Also, don’t skip your workouts! They’ll make you feel so much better when you’re indulging a bit more.)

Which brings me to these Maple Apple Pie Stuffed Apples. These are actually a fairly healthy sweet to enjoy during this holiday season, as we’re substituting the majority of the pie crust for a hollowed-out apple. In fact, I wouldn’t judge if you wanted to enjoy these with a little bit of Greek yogurt for breakfast. Just sayin’.

I’m still working on my pie game, so stuffing a typical pie filling into an apple is the perfect solution for me in the meantime. Plus, we’re upping our nutrient game! But when I say “typical” pie filling, I’m somewhat lying because of course I had to go ahead and glug some real maple syrup in there to really put it over the top. (I did just get back from Quebec City and it’s made me want to add maple to alllll the things.)

Maple Apple Pie Stuffed Apples | CaliGirlCooking.com

So here’s all you need to do: First step is to whip up some easy pie crust. I just used the same recipe I use for my Cream Cheese-y Pumpkin Pie, substituting maple sugar for the regular granulated stuff (although the regular would also work just fine here.) We want to do this crust first because it needs some time in the refrigerator to chill out.

The next step is to hollow out some Pink Lady apples. This was a little tricky for me at first, but I eventually discovered that the easiest method is to start with an apple corer (without going all the way through to the bottom, or else the baked stuffed apples will get messy!) and then use a paring knife to carve out the rest of the center of the apple. You’ll definitely want to discard the seeds and core, but save any other apple pieces/shavings you get when doing this step, we’ll use them for the filling!

Maple Apple Pie Stuffed Apples | CaliGirlCooking.com

Once our apples are hollowed out, we make the filling. We use the scraps mentioned above, as well as one more Pink Lady apple, and saute them with some toasted walnuts, maple syrup, brown sugar and spices. We scoop the filling into the apples and then cover them with disks of our rolled out pie dough.

Maple Apple Pie Stuffed Apples | CaliGirlCooking.com

Maple Apple Pie Stuffed Apples | CaliGirlCooking.com

I had some extra filling and dough (my apples were a bit small) so I also made some apple pie pockets, basically taking two of the pie disks, stuffing them with a scoop of the filling and pinching them together. Kind of like a hand pie!

Maple Apple Pie Stuffed Apples | CaliGirlCooking.com

Maple Apple Pie Stuffed Apples | CaliGirlCooking.com

A quick egg wash and a 25-minute turn in the oven and you’ll have perfectly golden, sweet, tart and juicy Maple Apple Pie Stuffed Apples ready for breakfast, dessert or a quick snack. Who said indulgent had to be unhealthy?

Maple Apple Pie Stuffed Apples | CaliGirlCooking.com

Maple Apple Pie Stuffed Apples
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

A lighter take on the traditional apple pie - a delicious maple, apple and walnut filling scooped into hollowed apples and topped with a buttery crust.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 apples
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 9 ounces flour
  • 2 tablespoons maple sugar (regular sugar would work too)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons water
For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • 7 Pink Lady apples
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 egg
Instructions
  1. First, make the crust. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers, mix in the butter, until mixture becomes crumbly. Using the dough hook of the stand mixer, mix in the water until a dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a disk. Wrap in saran wrap and place in refrigerator while you prepare the apples.

  2. Next, hollow out six of the apples. Use an apple corer to get it started, but be sure not to go all the way down to the bottom. After you’ve gotten it started with the apple corer, move to using your paring knife. You want to scoop out enough to make a little bowl in the middle of the apple that you can put the filling in. Discard the core and seeds, but save any other apple scraps for the filling. Place the apples in a small baking pan lined with aluminum foil.

  3. Now it’s time to make the filling. Chop up the one remaining apple and add it to the other apple scraps you’ve saved. In a small saute pan, cook the chopped apples, toasted walnuts, maple syrup, butter, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and cloves over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until the sauce becomes syrupy. Turn off heat and scoop a heaping tablespoon (or more, if your apples are larger) into each of the hollowed out apples. If you have extra filling, save it to make little hand pies.

  4. Preheat oven to 390 degrees Fahrenheit.

  5. Remove the pie dough from the refrigerator and roll it out to ¼-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using an 8-inch culinary ring (or round cookie cutter), cut out circles of dough to place on top of the apples. Cut two little slits in the top of each circle to allow for venting while baking. Mold each disk gently on top of the apples. 

  6. If you have extra dough and filling, make hand pies. Simply use two of the dough disks, and scoop two teaspoons or so of filling in between, pinching the two disks together to form a seal. Use the tines of a fork to further crimp the edges and ensure that none of the filling leaks out during baking. Place these hand pies in a separate baking dish lined with aluminum foil. 

  7. In a small bowl, gently beat the egg to make the egg wash. Brush this over the tops of the apples and onto the hand pies (if making.)

  8. Place both baking dishes in the oven and bake at 390 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or Greek yogurt.

Maple Apple Pie Stuffed Apples | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

Cutest little apple pies you ever did see!

This post contains affiliate links. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make CaliGirl Cooking possible!

Cream Cheese-y Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

Cream Cheese-y Pumpkin Pie | CaliGirlCooking.comI know you all are probably running around like crazy trying to get last minute dishes together, go grocery shopping, clean house, or just plain get to whoever’s house you are going to for Thanksgiving. And I realize that this recipe is just a little late in the game and you may very well already have a pumpkin pie baked and smelling up your house with its wonderful delicious-ness, but, JUST IN CASE, I wanted to share this little piece of heaven with you. And hey, there’s always next year, right? Or even Christmas! The pumpkin pie buck does not have to stop here.

Cream Cheese-y Pumpkin Pie | CaliGirlCooking.com

My recipe is based loosely on Meike Peters’ recipe, Pumpkin Pie with Coriander Caramel. I loved the simplicity of the pie crust (this gal is the farthest thing from an expert in pie crust making, but don’t hate, because I’m working on it!) and also the fact that there’s the option to use canned OR homemade pumpkin puree. I grew up eating my mom’s fairly basic pumpkin pies (easy store bought crust, using the recipe on the back of the can of pumpkin puree) – simple, but still delicious and traditional. But this whole food loving gal wanted to be that snob and perfectionist that made everything from absolute scratch. I wanted to see if using REAL pumpkin could actually taste as good as that stuff in the can. So, with a few adaptations to Peters’ recipe, I dove right in.

First step is to make the HOMEMADE pumpkin puree. We use Sugar Pie Pumpkins because, when choosing blindly, that description just shouts “Use me for pie!” Right? Cut in half, de-seeded, and drizzled with a little butter, into the oven they go to get nice and roasty toasty.

Cream Cheese-y Pumpkin Pie | CaliGirlCooking.com

Once the pumpkins done and have cooled down a smidge, we scoop all of the flesh out from the skin and into the food processor. We add some milk and pumpkin cream cheese to help move the pureeing process along. This also adds a nice creaminess.

Now, let’s make the crust. The dry ingredients get mixed in there nice and well, then it’s time to cut in the butter. We want to make sure our butter is nice and cold and cut into little cubes (less work when we’re knife-ing). Usually after about 2 minutes (max) of this arm workout I throw in the towel (er…knives) and get in there with my fingers. God gave us fingers for a reason, right? Don’t be afraid to get dirty.

Next we add in the water and use our trusty stand mixer to create a nice, crumbly mixture.  Form the dough into a nice round disk and pop in the freezer for a bit.

Cream Cheese-y Pumpkin Pie | CaliGirlCooking.com

Now, we have TWO pie fillings to make: our traditional pumpkin pie filling (from scratch!! [Fist pump]) and our delicious pumpkin cream cheesiness.

Let’s start with the basics. We take our pumpkin puree and add our sugars and spices. Mix ‘em up real good. Boom. Filling #1 = Done.

Now on to the not-so-basic: Pumpkin cream cheese gets blended with an egg, some sugar and vanilla. Because as good as pumpkin cream cheese is, sugar and vanilla make everything better. Now we’re all set with Filling #2.

We take our pie crust out of the freezer and roll it out nice and flat and round. Let’s make it as big of a circle as we can while still being able to get it into our pie pan.

Crust into pie pan. Crimp up the sides as best you can (I always inevitably end up with an…ahem…more “rustic” looking crust, like I said, I’m working on my pie crust skills) and pop in the oven for a little par-baking action.

Cream Cheese-y Pumpkin Pie | CaliGirlCooking.com

Once our crust has a nice golden tinge, we take it out and get ready to add the fillings.

Cream Cheese-y Pumpkin Pie | CaliGirlCooking.com

First in is the traditional pumpkin pie filling, next up is our cream cheese concoction. Next we take a knife and get some swirling action going…we want a good mix of pumpkin and cream cheese fillings.

Into the oven again. Our pie is done once it is just set (jiggling the pan is the best test for this.) Let cool slightly and then dig into this cream cheese-pumpkin hybrid. You won’t be sorry.

Cream Cheese-y Pumpkin Pie | CaliGirlCooking.com

Note: If you’re not eating the pie right away, be sure to pop it in the refrigerator since there is quite a bit of cream cheese involved. It tastes good cold too!

Cream Cheese-y Pumpkin Pie

Yield: Makes one 9-inch pie

Ingredients

    For the Pumpkin Puree:
  • 14 ounces Sugar Pie pumpkins (this should be about one small pumpkin)
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin cream cheese
    For the Crust:
  • 9 ounces plain flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 ounces chilled butter, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons water
    For the Pumpkin Pie Filling:
  • 14 ounces homemade pumpkin puree (see above)
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 ounces sugar
  • 3 ounces brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    For the Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 8 ounces pumpkin cream cheese (Trader Joe’s has a great one this time of year, but if you can’t find it or don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, regular cream cheese should also work)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste, which is my personal favorite, but you can usually only find it online)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 390 degrees Fahrenheit. Place pumpkins on a baking sheet lined with aluminum. Place one pat of butter in each pumpkin half. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes or until easily poked with a fork. Remove and let cool slightly.
  2. Once pumpkins are cool enough to touch, scoop out flesh into a food processor and begin pureeing. Add cream cheese and milk. Puree until smooth. Set aside.
  3. For the crust, combine flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add butter and cut in using two knives or a pastry blender or your hands (or a combination of all three.) Add water and use the hooks of your mixer until a crumbly dough forms. Form dough into a disk, cover in plastic wrap, and place in freezer for 10 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, start working on the fillings. In a clean stand mixer bowl, combine homemade pumpkin puree, milk, eggs and all spices. Mix until smooth and transfer to another bowl (you will need to clean the stand mixer bowl one more time and use it for the cream cheese filling.)
  5. In your clean stand mixer bowl, combine pumpkin cream cheese, egg, sugar and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Set aside.
  6. Remove pie dough from freezer and roll out into a round that is large enough to fit into your pie pan with a decent amount of overhang around the edges. Transfer to pie pan and crimp edges. Place into 390 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until crust is golden. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  7. Once crust has cooled slightly, pour in pumpkin puree filling, then cream cheese filling. Take a knife and swirl the two fillings together. [If your pie seems to be close to overflowing, place pie pan on a baking pan to catch any drips and prevent a mess in your oven.]
  8. Place in 390 degree oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until pie is just set. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.
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Cream Cheese-y Pumpkin Pie | CaliGirlCooking.com

This post contains affiliate links. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. As always, thank you for supporting the brands that make CaliGirl Cooking possible!

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