SAWDUST PIE – An Unfortunate Name For Such A Dreamy Pie!

sawdust pie textI hate wasting food! So, as the self-proclaimed Queen Of Freeze, I’m constantly freezing little bits of leftover this or that for future use. And it’s paid off many times.

One thing I always seem to have a plethora of is egg whites because so many dessert recipes call for yolks only. Unfortunately, aside from meringue (which I still have yet to perfect), there aren’t that many recipes in which to use them…..until now.

While watching a baking competition, I was ecstatic when a home cook from Kentucky made a Sawdust Pie that called for 7 egg whites! First of all, it looked amazing. And, second of all:  7 egg whites!!! I found and followed an online recipe. While I liked the general idea, I didn’t care for the coconut, wanted to change the consistency so it was firmer, add a variety of chips, and embed the pastry crust with graham cracker crumbs. I altered the recipe and made it my own.

This is a fast and easy pie to assemble, but needs to refrigerate at least 8 hours to firm up so it doesn’t gush when sliced. Thus, plan ahead!

By the way, I’m guessing the name “Sawdust” Pie comes from the abundance of graham cracker crumbs in the filling.

Note:  I strongly encourage you to make your own pie crust. Honestly, it’s simple and so much tastier (not to mention cheaper!). But, you can purchase one, if you must. I’ve included my recipe for you adventurous souls.


Single pie crust

  • 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/2 cup Crisco shortening, chill if it’s a hot day
  • 4 – 5 T ice water
  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs – about 2 rectangles

Preheat oven to 425º Fahrenheit.

You can either use a food processor or a pastry cutter to mix the Crisco and flour. (I prefer to use the pastry cutter since it’s easy and I hate to wash the food processor just for this.)

For the pastry cutter method, put the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl and mix with the pastry cutter. sawdust10Add in the Crisco and use the cutter to combine the flour and Crisco. sawdust11 Work until it resembles a coarse meal.sawdust12For the food processor method, put the flour, salt, and sugar in work bowl and pulse a couple of times. Add in the Crisco and pulse several times, until mixture forms a coarse meal. Empty into a mixing bowl. You are NOT adding the water in the food processor – your dough will be tough!!!

Sprinkle 4 T ice water into the flour mixture. Using a fork, gently slice with the side of the tines to mix. The goal is to use enough water to incorporate all the flour so it forms a ball, but not be too wet. You may need a little more water – I usually do. Don’t overwork the dough or it will be tough. sawdust5Form the dough into a tight ball and chill at least 30 minutes to make it easier to roll. sawdust6Sprinkle flour, then 2 T graham crackers on a flat surface to prevent the dough from sticking. sawdust7Place the dough ball in the center. With floured hands, push down the dough with one hand while pressing in the sides with the other. This will help keep the edges from fraying. sawdust8Sprinkle some flour on the flattened dough and spread it around so the rolling pin doesn’t stick. sawdust1Using a floured rolling pin, begin rolling the dough from the center out in all directions. When it gets to be about 8″ in diameter, push in the edges again – they’ll probably be fraying again. Lift up the edges and brush the graham cracker crumbs underneath. sawdust2Roll until the diameter is about 12½”. Sprinkle 2T graham cracker crumbs over the top of the pastry and lightly press them in with your fingertips. (Don’t use the rolling pin – the crumbs tend to stick to it.)sawdust3Place the pie pan next to the circle. Fold dough in half towards you, then carefully lift it to pan. Unfold and center it, gently adjusting pastry so it fits into the corners.  If the dough splits, just overlap it and press it together. Leaving a 1/2″ overhang border from the pie pan edge, cut away excess dough with kitchen scissors. Crimps edges by rolling this 1/2″ border in on itself, then pinching with thumbs and forefingers. sawdust4Cut a piece of waxed or parchment paper about 2″ longer than diameter of pie pan. Place on top of pastry and fill with pie weights or raw beans (that’s what I use). Very gently work the paper and beans into corners so the beans weigh down the entire bottom. sawdust14Parbake at 425º F for 7 minutes. Remove the paper and weights by pulling one corner of the paper slowly towards the center, then the opposite corner towards the center, then one of the other corners, and the final one. Grab all 4 and lift it out in a rolling motion – don’t pull straight up or the center may still be stuck. Bake another 5 minutes, then remove and cool.sawdust13 Filling

  • 7 egg whites
  • 1½ cups (5 oz, 145 g) graham cracker crumbs – about (10 rectangles)
  • 1/2 cup (41 g) raw oatmeal (OR 1/2 cup all-purpose flour)
  • 1½ cups (7½ oz, 215 g) dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1½ cups (5 oz, 135 g) walnuts, chopped and toasted
  • 3/4 cup (120 g, 4 oz) milk chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup (120 g, 4 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup (120 g, 4 oz) butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.

NOTE:  The oats or flour are a thickener. Either will do, but I prefer the oats just a wee bit.

If using oats, grind them finely in a food processor or blender.sawdust9Using an electric mixer or rotary egg beater, beat egg whites until frothy on medium/low  speed about 30 seconds – just to break them up.

Add in the graham cracker crumbs, ground oats (or flour), brown sugar, and salt. Mix on low speed just to blend.

Stir in walnuts, milk chocolate chips, semi-sweet chips, and butterscotch chips.

Pour into pie crust and bake at 350º F for 25-30 minutes. I find 28 minutes is perfect for my oven. You’re looking for a slight wobble in just the center, not the whole top. sawdust15Cool on rack completely, then refrigerate at least 8 hours.


CHEESE SCONES: An Afternoon Pick-Me-Up!

cheese scones textWhat could be better when that late afternoon hunger hits than a nice cup of tea and a freshly baked scone?

You might think scones are time consuming and difficult, but nothing could be further from the truth. If you have a food processor, then they’re even faster.

My favorite is a cheese scone. Traditionally, they’re circle-shaped, but you can also cut them into large wedges, if you prefer.

Note:  Due to my frugal nature (yes, I’m cheap), I use a 2½” diameter diced chilies can with the top and bottom removed, rather than buy a cutter.  scone6CHEESE SCONES – makes 10 circles or 6 large wedges

  • 1¾ cups (8 1/8 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • 4 T butter, cold
  • 1/2 cup medium cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup cream or milk (the richer the milk, the richer the scone)

Preheat oven to 450º Fahrenheit, rack in center position.

Place metal blade in food processor. Add in flour sugar, salt, and baking powder. Pulse a couple of times to mix.

Cut butter (make sure it’s cold) into 1/2″ cubes (you don’t have to be exact) and add to work bowl. scone1Pulse 10 times to form a coarse texture. scone2(If you don’t have a food processor, then crosscut the butter into small bits using 2 knives.)

Into a measuring cup (use a 2 cup size so you don’t splatter), crack eggs. Beat with a fork to break them up. Add in cream to the 3/4 cup mark (you’ll need about 1/3 cup). Beat well with a fork to blend. scone3Empty flour mixture into a mixing bowl. Pour in all but 1 T egg mixture (you’re going to use the reserved liquid as a wash) and stir gently to blend. (You don’t want to overmix or the scone will be tough.) scone5Lightly flour a flat surface and dump dough onto it. With floured hands, pat the dough into an 8″x5″ rectangle if cutting circles, or a 6″ diameter circle if cutting wedges. scone7If you’re making circles, dip circle-mold in flour then press straight down into dough. Don’t twist. Dip into flour each time before cutting a circle. If making wedges, slice 3 lines, intersecting in middle to form 6 equal wedges.

Grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper. Place cut-outs, spacing them apart as much as possible. Brush on reserved egg wash. (If you forgot to save some of the egg mixture, then just use a little milk.) scone8Sprinkle on a few strands of cheese, if you like. scone9Place in preheated oven and bake until golden brown – about 12 minutes for circles, 13-15 minutes for wedges. Remove to a wire rack to cool a bit, then serve.

FARRO-ASPARAGUS SALAD – A Lovely Summer Salad!

1/2farro asparagus salad textApparently, there’s yet another new-to-me ancient wheat grain called farro. It’s kind of similar to brown rice, but heartier with a nutty taste. As a gal who gets around (well, at least, is nearby) I figured I’d give it a try. After all, I’ve jumped on board the couscous, quinoa, barley, sorghum, and Israeli couscous bandwagons. May as well sample this.

Thank goodness for my adventurous spirit. Farro is FABULOUS! I randomly picked a brand of organic farro which, fortunately, was the right kind: Italian pearled farro. Other kinds need to be soaked overnight. Also, make sure the farro you purchase in NOT instant. Look at the ingredients – it should only contain farro. (organic or not – it’s up to you)farro salad 5Don’t follow the package directions for cooking. A better way is to cook it in a large pot of water, then drain it (like pasta). This alleviates the possibility (and, for me, the almost certainty) of burning when the water runs out.


  • 1½ T salt, divided
  • 1½ cups Italian pearled farro, raw
  • 6 oz asparagus (about 8 stalks), cut into 3/4″ pieces
  • 6 oz sugar snap peas, cut into 1/2″ – 3/4″ pieces
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
  • 2 T shallots, minced
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp dried dill, (or 3 T fresh)
  • 3 oz Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 6 oz grape tomatoes, cut in half

Rinse farro. Boil 2 quarts of water. (It doesn’t have to be precise, but should be close due to the salt – if you have too little water, the farro will be too salty.) Add in 1 T of the salt and the farro. Uncovered, bring to back to a boil, then reduce flame to keep a low boil for 15-20 minutes (17 minutes works for me) – until the farro is cooked, but still has a bit of chew. Stir now and then – especially at the rice salad prep2While the farro is cooking, in another pot, bring 2 cups of water to boil. Add in 1 tsp of the salt, the snap peas, and the asparagus. Boil for 2 minutes. Tip:  SET TIMER SO YOU DON’T OVERCOOK!!! – You want the veggies to have a crunch. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking.

Note: If you don’t want to dirty the second pot, wait until the farro is done, and cook the asparagus and snap peas in that pot.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, shallots, Dijon, 1/2 tsp salt, black pepper, and dill. Set aside.farro salad2Once the farro is done, drain in a sieve and then pour onto a rimmed cookie sheet. Spread out evenly in order to cool and dry the farro. This should take 15-20 minutes.farro salad1To assemble the salad, place the tomatoes, asparagus, snap peas, and Feta in a large bowl. Add the farro on top (this way the dressing will be absorbed into the farro). Whisk the vinaigrette briefly and drizzle on. Stir the ingredients to blend.  Let set about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to mix.

FARRO-ASPARAGUS SALAD is best served the first day. It’s still tasty after that, but a bit drier since the dressing has been absorbed.

PAN PIZZA: Thick & Crispy Crust!

pan pizza textIt occurred to me that while I make pizza quite often, I’ve never written a blog about it. So I decided to start with one that’s easy to make and is actually one of my favorites: PAN PIZZA.

This recipe calls for mixing in a food processor, but you could use a heavy-duty mixer, such as a Kitchen Aid, or even knead by hand – although I have no idea how long that would take. And don’t worry – there’s no tossing the dough involved!

Plan 3 hours start to finish – most of that time is hands off.

Note:  You’ll see some measurements are underlined.  This is to indicate it’s a portion of the total amount called for.

PAN PIZZA – makes 2  9″ pizzas

  • 16¼ oz (3¾ cup) all-purpose flour – it’s best to weigh for accuracy
  • 2 tsp salt, divided
  • 2¼ tsp sugar, divided
  • 2¼ tsp (1 packet) dry active yeast (any kind will do)
  • 1¼ cups water, room temperature
  • 9 T butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup onions, finely minced
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, discard stem ends & chop tomatoes
  • 4 T fresh basil, chopped, divided
  • 5 T + 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 12 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 4 T Parmesan cheese, grated

Melt 3 T butter. Also, set out 3 T butter to soften – cut it up to speed up the process. Set this aside for later.

Into the food processor put flour, tsp salt, 2 tsp sugar, and yeast. Pulse a few times to mix.  Pour the 3 T melted butter into flour mixture and turn on machine. Then slowly add the water through the pour tube. Let processor run until the dough clumps together – about 45 seconds or so.

Put 1/2 tsp oil in a bowl and coat bottom and sides. Smash dough ball into bowl, then flip it and smash down again (this will coat both sides).pizza5 Cover with a plate and let rest about 30 minutes.

While dough is rising, prepare the marinara. Into a saucepan melt 2 T butter. Add in the onions, oregano, and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes, until onions are golden. Add in garlic and cook 30 seconds more. pizza3Stir in the tomatoes and remaining 1/4 tsp sugar. Bring to simmer and cook uncovered over medium/low flame 25 minutes. pizza7The sauce will be thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in 2 T basil and 1 T olive oil. Set aside. pizza8When the dough has risen for 30 minutes, roll it out on a NON-floured surface to a rectangle 15″ x 12″. Spread on the softened butter that you set aside earlier over dough to 1/2″ from edges. pizza12Starting at one of the short sides, roll up all the way into a cylinder. pizza11Roll cylinder into a rectangle 18″ x 4″. pizza15Cut in half (so now there are 2  9″ x 4″ pieces). pizza14Fold each piece in on itself in thirds – like a business letter, pinching ends to seal. pizza13Spread 1/2 tsp oil in bowl and place in the 2 dough balls. Cover with plate and place in refrigerator for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425º Fahrenheit. Place rack about 2″ from bottom of oven.

Pour 2 T olive oil into each of 2  9″ cake pans (don’t use the kind where the bottom is separate, such as a springform – the oil will leak out). On NON floured surface, roll each dough ball into 13″ circles . Carefully, place each piece into a cake pan, pressing dough into corners and up the sides about 1″. Divide the mozzarella, sprinkling half onto each crust. Spread half the marinara over each pizza on top of cheese. Sprinkle with 2 T Parmesan each.  pizza9Place in oven and bake 20-30 minutes (rotating halfway through), until crust is well-browned. pizza10Sprinkle on remaining 2 T basil and let set in pan a couple of minutes, then remove to cutting board. Slice and serve immediately.