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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Vanilla Praline Pumpkin Pie

Well, if you haven't noticed, I've been hesitant to return to my blog. An apology is now in order, and I am sorry!
So, when I last posted, we were about to move. The move went fairly smooth thanks to the tremendous help of my parents. A potential disaster with a 7 month old puppy and a 7 year old cranky cat was diverted, and all of the thanks goes to my mom who sat in the backseat of the Element for over 20 hours to control the kids! Our return to Minnesota has been glorious. We've been introducing Dinah to the lakes (we can't keep her out of them!!), running and biking on the trails, eating at our favorite restaurants, visiting with our friends, and working. In September, I began working in a seasonal position that involved a lot of travel. I traveled locally to places in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. But I also had the chance to head to Miami, New York City, Boulder, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Boston, and Seattle. I'm not going to lie: it was very difficult to be back in Seattle, I was sick, and the timing of the recruiting events, and memories of one year prior, made my visit extremely hard. But in some weird way, I think I found some sort of closure while I was there. 

A number of people have asked me why we returned to Minnesota. So many people are confused as to what happened. Strangers (who have inquired about where we got Dinah) have given me funny looks when I tell them that we just moved back to the cities and Dinah was from Washington state. "Why? Why would you leave there? It's incredible. It's amazing!" I've also been referred to as "the only person I've ever met who hated the Pacific Northwest." Despite these anticipated questions, we are truly happy about our decision. It's so good to be back by our friends and closer to family. Our quality of life has improved. And we're smiling again. Real smiles, not fake ones. And laughing.

For whatever reason, blogging was not high on my list of priorities as we settled in to our new surroundings. But I realized how much I have missed my blog, and after meeting a fellow blogging friend from Virginia (Hi Elizabeth!) on the road this past recruiting season, I was inspired to start back up. I've missed it, I've missed the variety in our dining, and what better a time to start than the holiday season! And by posting this amazing pumpkin pie! (I know I promised a different post for Texas Cavier... eventually it will come. But as I have left months go by, and seasons have changed, and temperatures have dropped, I felt that a warm and comforting holiday pie would be a better return post.)

There are some things I miss about Seattle. Truthfully, the food is probably the highest on my list. The Seattle dining scene, the plethora of farmer's markets, and the quality of grocery stores are out of this world. I was reminded of this when I was back in the city, so I returned to my old stomping grounds - my most favorite cafe of all time - to pick up some soup, and the latest cookbook. This recipe for Vanilla Praline Pumpkin Pie is adapted from Macrina's first cookbook, and I already know that it will become a staple at our Thanksgiving table. Ron, the resident pumpkin-pie hater, said that it was incredible. As the resident pumpkin-pie lover, I had to agree.
Vanilla Praline Pumpkin Pie
from Kitchen Treaty, adapted from Macrina Bakery's Maple Pecan Pumpkin Pie
Yield: one pie, 8 servings
Cook time: 1 hour 20 minutes   Total time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Pie Filling
  • 1 pre-baked pie crust, cooled
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 cup fresh pumpkin puree (note: you can also use 2 cups canned pumpking or 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree instead of a combination of both, however, I'd encourage you to mix!)
  • 2 Tablespoons sour cream
  • 5 Tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped plus 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place pre-baked pie shell on a lined baking sheet to catch any spills.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin purees and sour cream. Whisk in the brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, cloves, and flour.
  3. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth, then whisk in the buttermilk, half and half, and vanilla bean paste.
  4. Pour filling into the pie crust. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 50-60 minutes, or until the center of the pie is just set and no longer jiggly.
  5. Remove the pie from the oven but leave the oven on.
  6. In a small bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients. Gently spoon the pecan praline topping over the top of the pie. Do not press.
  7. Return pie to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes until the top if set and golden.
  8. Let pie cool to room temperature. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream or ice cream.

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