The Holiday Pie of Your Dreams

“I dreamed about your pie last night,” one of my cousins told me as we were sitting at a family get together. “Did you make a pie? Please tell me you brought a pie.” Since everybody should have a holiday pie recipe in their cooking arsenal that’s worthy of a dream or two, I’m going to share my two favorite holiday pie recipes. We’re going to start with the easy one and work our way up to the more complicated endeavor.

Spicy Pumpkin Pie

If you often think that the standard recipe on the back of the Libby’s can is just a little too bland or wish that your pumpkin pie had a little more of an exciting flavor, give this recipe a try.

This is an easy recipe – perfect for having little helpers to join you in the kitchen for some holiday fun!


 15 oz. can of pureed pumpkin (pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling!)
 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
 2 eggs
 1/2 teaspoon of salt
 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
 1 teaspoon ground ginger
 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
 1 unbaked pie crust (I use half the pie crust recipe below.)

Tip: When you roll out the pie crust, instead of using flour to keep it from sticking to your rolling pin, you can use graham cracker crumbs or crushed up gingersnaps to make it a little crisper and more flavorful.


1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Combine all the ingredients (except the pie crust) in a large bowl and stir together with a spoon or baking spatula until mixed well.
3. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pie crust.
4. Bake for 15 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 350 (without removing the pie from the oven) and bake another 35-40 minutes until a knife inserted into the pie comes out clean.

Optional: I trim the pie crust to be just about ¼ inch above where the pie filling comes to. Then, I bake at 350 for closer to an hour instead of starting at the higher temp and adjusting down.

Amazing Apple Pie

(Seriously, this is good stuff!)


Pie Crust:

 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
 ½ teaspoon of salt
 ½ cup butter flavored vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
 ½ cup ice water


 About 3 pounds of Granny Smith apples (6-7 medium sized apples)
 ¾ cup sugar
 1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 ½ teaspoon of salt
 ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
 1 tablespoon chilled butter, cut into small pieces


 1 tablespoon milk
 1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar (I make my own mixture using 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Stir it up in a little cup or bowl and then use the leftovers to enjoy cinnamon toast for breakfast!)


1. Make the dough for the pie crust.

• Lightly spoon 2 ½ cups flour into measuring cups and level with a knife.
• Combine flour and salt in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
• Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or two knives until it looks like coarse meal.
• Gradually add ice water and toss with a fork until the mixture is moist.
• Separate the dough into two equal sections. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Make the pie filling.

• In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, 1 ½ Tbsp flour, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.
• Peel and slice all of the apples. This will take you a long time if you are doing it right. This pie comes out best with very, very thin slices of apple. Check out the picture to see what I mean. I know I’m doing it right when they look almost see-through.

This is how thin you should aim to slice the apples for best results with this recipe.
This is how thin you should aim to slice the apples for best results with this recipe.

• Put all the apples in a large mixing bowl, pour the sugar mixture over the apples and stir it all up until the apples are coated.

3. Preheat the oven to 425.

4. Roll out the dough into 12 inch circles. Place one of the circles of dough on the bottom of your pie pan. Tip: I like to roll out pie dough between layers of plastic wrap, that way there’s no mess and I’m not adding flour to the dough. See more tips like this in 10 Kitchen Tips and Tricks I Wish I Had Known Sooner.

5. Pour filling into pie. Add small pieces of butter scattered over the top of the pie filling.

6. Put the top layer of pie dough on. Fold the edges of the bottom and top layers of the pie crust together and flute them. Cut several slits in the top of the pie crust dough to allow steam to escape.

7. Brush the top of the pie with milk and sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over the dough.

8. Line a baking pan with foil; place the pie on top.

9. Put the pie in the oven and bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 without removing pie from the oven and bake for another 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.


This apple pie recipe is from “The Best of Cooking Light 2007” and is a tried-and-true hit, getting rave reviews from my guests ever since I baked my first pie with it in 2007. Hope your friends and family love it, too!

Happy baking!


Laura is a mom of three who works full-time from home as a Development Director for a children’s charity. Laura grew up in Maryland, spent her 20s living in Southern California and South Carolina, and has spent her 30s and now 40s in Iowa, moving to Iowa City in 2010. Laura loves dancing, reading, baking, and music. She and her husband Ryan started dating in college (gasp – over 20 years ago!) and they have been sharing life’s adventures ever since. Their biggest adventure is, of course, parenthood. With three kids, the action is non-stop - which is just the way Laura likes it.


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