Peanut Butter Lover’s Brownies

pb.brownies

With the abundance of snowy, sub-freezing weather, numerous sick days from all members of the household, and general lack of outdoor time, these peanut buttery bars have been baked several times in the past couple weeks.  They have been prepared with both boxed brownie mix and from scratch.  I can happily report that both ways are equally tasty, but the box is ready in a jiffy.  Both baking methods are at the bottom of this post.

chocolate

When I made these brownies from scratch, I had no unsweetened baking chocolate on hand.  So I whipped up my own using the substitution of 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder mixed with 1 tablespoon melted butter, per 1 ounce of needed unsweetened baking chocolate.

marbling

The best part of this recipe is that your marbling doesn’t have to be perfect – the baking process will cause your peanut butter to practically sink into the batter and make delicious pockets of peanut buttery goodness.  Plus, you can cover any ugly spots with peanut butter chocolate candies.  Be sure to use smooth peanut butter – if it is very thick you can stir in some water.  However, I have found that using the all-natural, no additive peanut butter works very well, as it often has a higher natural oil content and is easier to spread and drip to make the marbled effect.

m.m.sI set my cabin fevered child to work decorating with peanut butter candies.  Delighted, she only reserved a few to eat.  These brownies never last long in our household and the best part is how easy they are to make.  Not a peanut butter fan?  Swap out the peanut butter for caramel or butterscotch sauce.  You are welcome!

Peanut Butter Lover’s Brownies

To make with brownie mix:

1. Prepare 1 box of brownie mix as directed.

2. Drop dollops of creamy peanut butter on top of batter.  Use knife to draw vertical lines through batter, and then use knife to draw horizontal lines through the batter, creating a marbled look.  Top with chocolate peanut butter candies.  Bake as directed.

To bake from scratch: (Better Homes & Gardens, 2002)

1. In a medium, microwave safe bowl, melt 1/2 cup butter and 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (or substitute additional 3 tablespoons butter and 9 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder).  Stir well and allow to cool.

2. Meanwhile, grease an 8x8x2-inch or 9x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside.  Stir 1 cup sugar into cooled butter mixture.  Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating with a wooden spoon after each addition just until combined.  Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.

3. In a small bowl, stir together 2/3 cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.  Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture; stir just until combined.  Spread batter into prepared pan.  Drop dollops of creamy peanut butter on top of batter.  Use knife to draw vertical lines through batter, and then use knife to draw horizontal lines through the batter, creating a marbled look.  Top with chocolate peanut butter candies.

4. Bake in a 350° oven 30 minutes for 8-inch pan or 25 minutes for 9-inch pan.  Cool on wire rack.  Cut into bars.

Bourbon Apple Pie

bourbon.apple.pieA looming due date creates all sorts of projects for me – cleaning, organizing, packing hospital bags, readying the baby room, and even baking pies.  Actually, it was not a looming due date that caused me to bake these two pies, but the return of family from out of town.  Eric’s sister and her family just arrived in town to become residents of the Des Moines area, so these were welcome back pies.

pie I did try something slightly different with my tried and true apple pie recipe though – the addition of bourbon and brown sugar in the filling.  See below for the recipe.  strawberry.rhubarbThe second pie was a strawberry rhubarb pie – one of my all time favorite flavor combinations.    The strawberries do an excellent job mellowing out the tart rhubarb.  I am ever so grateful to be able to buy reasonably priced and high quality fresh rhubarb now that we are back in Iowa.  The only way to actually get decent rhubarb in North Carolina was to buy it frozen.

 

Dad’s Pie Crust – makes a double crust for a pie

Ingredients:
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
3 tablespoons ice cold water
3 tablespoons cold vodka

1.  Preheat oven to 400°.  In a medium mixing bowl, use a pastry blender to cut in cold butter until pieces are coarse crumb size.

2.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon ice cold liquid at a time; gently toss with fork.  Push moistened dough to side of bowl.  Repeat using rest of liquid.  Dough will be dry, do NOT give into temptation to make dough moister by adding more liquid.  This will make your dough tough.  Divide dough in half; form into a ball.

3.  On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to flatten ball of dough.  Roll dough from center to edges into a circle 12 inches in diameter.  Do not overwork the dough and do not allow dough to warm up.  Refrigerate while preparing filling.
4.  Carefully transfer dough to pie pan, by wrapping around a rolling pin, not allowing it to stretch.
5.  Transfer filling into pie pan.  Repeat step 3 and 4 for second ball of dough.  Gently drape second circle of dough over the filling.  Use your fingers to seal the edges of the dough.
6.  Optional: brush dough with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Cover edges in foil.  Place piece of foil on bottom rack of oven.  Place pie in preheated oven, on middle shelf.  Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400°. Reduce oven to 350°, remove foil, and bake another 35-45 minutes longer or till crust is golden and filling is bubbling.
7. Let cool on wire rack.

 

Bourbon Apple Pie Filling

Ingredients:
3 lbs of tart apples, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/8 cup flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons of bourbon
1. Peel and slice 3 lbs of tart apples.  Place in large mixing bowl.  Add lemon juice, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and bourbon.  Mix well and allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Toddler Collage Art + Strawberry Graham Yogurt Pops

Greta and I have both been busy working on collages lately.  Greta has watched me make collages countless times and I haven’t yet thought to have her make her own at home.  I know she’s made them at school, but she blew me away with her collage skills.  Little collage artist in training, I tell ya!
This particular collage was my favorite one that she made yesterday.  It was the third one in a series of four that we completed in the morning before nap time.  She was tickled at the way the holes would allow colors beneath to show through.  She quickly learned that the glue had to go on the edges and so had to slide her papers around in order to move the glue.
The large glue bottle was perfect for her little hands.  We practiced squeezing the glue out onto the paper while the bottle was just above the paper.  She enjoyed slowly squeezing out the glue and watching it pool, as it was pooling she would ask me, “Good, Mommy?” to check on the amount of her glue.  Only a couple times did I say, “Ok that’s good,” most of the time she figured out the amount of glue on her own.

Next, Greta placed her cut papers onto the glue dots.  I enjoyed watching her choose papers based on color, size, and shape.

I used the color issue of In Style magazine for all of her shapes.  Fashion magazines make the best collage magazines due to their textures, variety of color, and size of colors.  The first collage she made was full of random shapes.  For her second one, she decided she wanted mostly circles.

This is her mostly circle collage.  As she got more used to making collages, she began to request particular colors, sizes, and shapes.  Her most frequently requested were yellow circles.  As I flipped through the magazine, she would ask me to cut out certain items she liked – such as the eye.  Her final collage used overlapping pieces with small areas cut out of the middle, this is at the top of this post.

Greta has plastic scissors and we are working on her cutting technique, but in the meantime, this mommy daughter collage collaboration is a fun way to spend a morning.

We spent part of our morning on Friday making yogurt pops.  Greta helped me layer strawberry yogurt, crumbled graham crackers, and chocolate syrup to make these delicious freezer pops.  Frozen desserts are a good way to practice patience for little kitchen helpers!

Gluten Free Blackberry Orange Cake + Mother’s Day

I made this gluten-free cake, with Greta’s help, a couple weekends ago to take to dinner with Eric’s family.  It is a simple cake and the addition of yogurt makes it moist and dense.  It was a nice ending to a family meal with a just a hint of orange to the tangy blackberry.  Scroll down for the recipe.

I simply served it plain without any topping.  Though a glaze or a berry sauce as a topping would be quite good.  It makes a single layer 8 inch cake and so it went fast.  I even caught Eric toasting a slice and eating it for breakfast one morning.

For Mother’s Day weekend, we traveled to Minneapolis to see my sister and her new baby girl, Dylan.  It just kills me that the cute little newborn dress my new niece is wearing was once worn by Greta.  Greta enjoyed her time meeting her new cousin and hanging out with her aunt and uncle.  In this photo she is still holding an armload of toys that belong to her cousin – she was trying to work with Dylan on grasping toys.  We explained it would be a little while before that could happen.  In any case, I think Greta is going to be an excellent big sister and extremely helpful.  I am not even sure how many times she told my sister, “I help!”

Sunday morning we ate at a lovely cafe, The French Meadow Bakery & Cafe on Lyndale in Minneapolis.  They specialize in organic, vegan, gluten-free, and slow foods.  I had the two egg breakfast which came with sourdough toast.  Eric had the chicken chorizo Cajun hash browns, which he reported were spicy and chock full of garlic cloves.  As you can see, we had the place to ourselves on this Mother’s Day Sunday.  Although, we were there by 7 AM – we are all early early risers on trips.

After a perfect breakfast, we headed off to Lake Calhoun for a walk.

Greta and Eric practiced their soccer skills lakeside.  Greta picked up quite a few ball handling tricks right away.  Maybe we have a future futbol girl on our hands.

Other than visiting family and work we have been just laying low.  I am enjoying seeing lilacs in bloom for the first time in 9 years.  The scent is just heavenly and lilac is not a plant that grew very successfully in Greensboro.

Greta has a new-old sandbox that was once mine.  I am impressed it is still in one piece, considering the abuse it endured from my sister, friends, and myself as a kid.  Greta has been putting it to good use in the mornings before I head off to work.  I am trying to soak up as much relaxing time and one-on-one Greta time as I can with a mere 8 weeks to go until baby boy arrives.

Gluten Free Blackberry Orange Cake – serves 8. 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan and dust with gluten free flour, knocking out any extra.  Stir together 2 cups gluten free flour1-1/4 cups sugar1 teaspoon baking powder1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk together 2 large eggs1/3 cup vegetable oil1 cup plain low-fat yogurt, and 2 teaspoons vanilla in a bowl.  Pour the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until moistened.  Add the zest from one orange and 1 cup blackberries (fresh or defrosted), fold into batter.

2. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top of the cake is light and golden and a knife or toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 40 minutes. 

3. Let the cake cool for about 5 minutes in the pan.  Then, place on a wire rack too cool completely.  

4. Wrap in plastic wrap or store in cake keeper for 2 days at room temperature. 

S’mores Cupcakes

I dreamed up these bad boys in celebration of Eric’s birthday celebration with our families.  I made them late Saturday evening after a day-long celebration of kids’ birthdays at a friend’s house and then later at Chuck E. Cheese.  This was Greta’s first time at Chuck E. Cheese and she was not at all disappointed.  I, on the other hand, was a little anxious as she crawled around in the tunnels far above my head on her own.  I kept having nervous thoughts about what would happen if she decided she was claustrophobic or panicked – how on earth would I get her down?  Luckily, a friend of hers from school had an older sister there who helped her down when she did decide that she was not going to take the tunnel slide down.  Anyways, we both survived and after she finally tumbled into bed, I stayed up making these delicious cupcakes.  It was late and I was tired, hence the cell phone images.
To make the graham cracker base, I crushed graham crackers in a large bowl with a spoon.  I then layered them in the base of the cupcake liners.  Next time I am going to create layers of graham crackers within the cupcakes for more of the graham flavor and add chocolate chips of pieces of chocolate for an even better s’mores experience.
I poured the batter on top of the crushed graham crackers.  Even adding a layer of grahams on top of the batter could be very tasty.

After the cupcakes were finished baking, I added the marshmallows on top and returned them to the oven to soften.

For the large cupcakes, I used 2 marshmallows.

Once the marshmallows are soft, simply flatten them with a spoon.

Once they are flat, allow to cool or place them under the broiler to brown them.

We celebrated Eric’s birthday Saturday with our two families with a nice lunch and then these tasty treats.  It was a cold and down-pouring kind of day, though the two previous days were warm enough to wear tank tops and enjoy time outdoors.  Today we awoke to a snowy landscape – not the first time Eric has had a snowy birthday!  Such is spring in Iowa.

S’mores Cupcakes – makes about 2 dozen standard cupcakes, cake recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

1. Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare cupcake pan with parchment cup liners.  Add crushed graham crackers to the bottom of each cupcake liner.  In a medium bowl combine: 2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoons baking powder.

2. In a large mixing bowl or mixing stand beat: 3/4 cup butter on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Gradually add 2 cups sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium speed until well combined (3 to 4 minutes).  Scrape sides of bowl; continue beating on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add 3 eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition (about 1 minute total).  Beat in 2 teaspoons of vanilla. 

3. Alternately add flour mixture and 1-1/2 cups milk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.  Beat on medium to high speed for 20 seconds more.  Drop batter into prepared cupcake liners.

4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Place large marshmallows on the tops of each cupcake and return to oven for 1-2 more minutes or until marshmallows are soft enough to flatten with a spoon.  To brown the tops of marshmallows, place under broiler for 30 seconds.  Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes, remove from pan and allow to cool on wire racks.

Lemon Chia Seed Blueberry Bread {dairy-free}

I made this delicious quick bread last Sunday during nap time, and it was gobbled up before work on Monday.  The chia seeds are a nice swap for butter and the typical poppy seeds.  The almond yogurt replaces the need for milk or sour cream, and the blueberries and lemon complement each other perfectly.  

Be sure to mix the 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 1/2 cup of water in advance – at least 2 hours.  This gives the seeds time to do their magic and gel.  If you prefer to mix them in advance, just cover and store in the fridge.

The fresh blueberries and lemon flavor create a nice balance of sweet and tart.  I like to keep dried lemon peel around – I never know when I’ll need it and I am not always great about keeping fresh lemons in the house, as much as I adore lemons.

The batter is a lovely golden color.

This bread shapes nicely and looks no different than bread made with dairy.  You will, however, noticed that the bread is slightly denser and moister than quick bread made with dairy.  Do not under bake this bread – be sure to check with a knife or toothpick, even if your timer has run out.  Enjoy!

Lemon Chia Seed Blueberry Bread – makes 1 loaf

1. At least 2 hours prior to baking, combine 1/2 cup water with 1 tablespoon chia seeds.  Allow to stand at room temperature.  If preparing the day before, cover and place in refrigerator.

2. Grease with margarine, and lightly flour a loaf pan.  Preheat oven to 325º.  In a medium bowl combine: 1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/8 teaspoon baking soda and set aside.

3. In a medium mixing bowl or with mixing stand, beat together 1 cup sugar, prepared chia seed mixture, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, zest of 1 lemon OR 2 teaspoons dried lemon peel, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Add in 3 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Scrape bowl frequently.  Alternately add flour mixture and 6 oz of almond yogurt to the chia mixture, beating on low speed after each addition, just till combined.  Scrape sides frequently.  Fold in 1 cup of fresh blueberries.  Pour batter into prepared pan.

4. Bake in a 325º oven for 60 to 75 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool on rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool completely before slicing.

Thanksgiving Pies

My Thanksgiving contributions to my in-laws celebration this year were in the form of two gluten-free pies.  If you’d rather have a gluten crust, read a previous post on the perfect pie crust.  Both the pumpkin pie and the pecan pie were made using the Williams-Sonoma gluten-free pie crust mix.  The maple vanilla real whipped cream added some extra oomph to these pies without extra work.  Recipes are at the bottom of this post.

This pros of this crust mix: easy to use, easy to follow directions, takes the guessing out of gluten-free substitutions.  The cons: stickier than normal pie dough and browns much more quickly, even with the use of foil or a pie crust shield during baking.  However, this crust is delicious and the fact that no one can even taste the difference between this and a real crust far outweighs the cons.  

Like I said, the real whipped cream is a breeze.  Simply whip the cream until stiff peaks are formed.  Then add sweeteners and/or flavors.  

Just be careful not to over whip the cream or you will achieve the final result of butter.  

Both of my pies were baked and cooling the day before Thanksgiving.  They looked so good it was a miracle they both made it to Thanksgiving untouched.

I made a pecan pie next.  I have no issues making this pie for others who appreciate it.  However, I am not a fan of it – far too much sugar in it for me.  It is always a good looking dessert with its pecan textures and lovely browned top.

With the extra crust dough I made a turkey for the top of the pecan pie.  I baked it in a separate baking sheet and simply added it on top of the pie when both were done baking and cooled.

The turkey’s legs did not survive the transfer from baking sheet to pie.  It certainly shows how much this gluten-free crust browns in the oven.  This pie even had a crust shield on for the entire duration of baking.

My contributions to my mom’s Thanksgiving came in the form of assisting in the making of lefse.  This Norwegian flat potato bread is a time-intensive delicacy that we make twice a year – Thanksgiving and at Christmas.  Read here for the full scoop on lefse.

Amidst all the bustle of Thanksgiving prep, we have made time to get Greta outdoors and on a few sled rides.  She is adjusting well to the colder climate of Iowa and sometimes even cries when it is time to come in!  
Pumpkin Pie – makes 1 pie (from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)
1. Prepare and roll out pastry for single crust pie.  Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry.  Trim and crimp edges as desired.  
2.  For filling, in a medium bowl combine: 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.  Add 2 eggs, beat lightly with a fork just until combined.  Gradually add 3/4 cup half-and-half; stir until combined.  
3.  Place prepared pie pan on oven rack.  To prevent over browning, cover edges in foil.  Carefully pour filling into prepared pie pan.  
4.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.  Remove foil (leave on for gluten-free crust).  Bake another 25 minutes more or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.  Cover and refrigerate within two hours.  
Maple Vanilla Whipped Cream 
1. Pour 8 ounces of cream into mixing stand bowl.  With egg beater attachment, beat until stiff peaks form.  Watch carefully and do not over beat, or butter will form.  
2.  Add 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon real maple syrup, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to cream.  Beat for 30 more seconds.  Pour into serving bowl and use immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  
Pecan Pie – makes 1 pie (from Betters Homes and Gardens Cookbook)

1. Prepare and roll out pastry for single crust pie.  Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry.  Trim and crimp edges as desired.

2.  For filling combine: 3 slightly beaten eggs1 cup corn syrup2/3 cups sugar1/3 cup melted butter or margarine, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Mix well, stir in 1-1/2 cup pecan halves.

3.  Place prepared pie pan on oven rack.  To prevent over browning, cover edges in foil.  Carefully pour filling into prepared pie pan.

4.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.  Remove foil (leave on for gluten-free crust).  Bake another 20 to 25 minutes more or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.  Cover and refrigerate within two hours.

The Perfect Cherry Pie – A Family Event

One of the things I love about being at my parents’ house are the gardens and fruit orchards.  Each year is a little different too, depending on what it is a good year for.   The summer of 2013 is a cherry year for sure.   
 

 This is only a fraction of the cherries that have been picked this season.

True to our family, the cherry prep last weekend became a family production.  My mom and sister pitted bowls upon bowls of cherries.

Greta played with her measuring cups and goldfish crackers while I prepared pie crusts.  I think I have a budding chef or baker on my hands. 

Usually, I use my own tried and true pie crust recipe.  However, since I was under the tutelage of my father, I decided to go ahead and try his recipe. 

I started flipping around the plethora of cookbooks and magazines and had a hard time finding a simple cherry pie.  So many of the recipes called for so many additives.  I almost overlooked the easiest pie, Fresh Cherry Pie.  

The crusts got a little on the warm side, which makes them difficult to roll out and transfer smoothly.  A cold marble or stainless steel rolling pin and a cold work surface makes this easier. 

Caroline got to work on the fillings for not one, but two cherry pies.

Meanwhile, dad hunted for seasonings.  We debated adding a teaspoon of almond extract, but ultimately decided to be purists.

The filling turns into a sugary thick mass when allowed to sit for a bit.

One pie is sealed up and ready to bake while the other awaits its top.

Post baking perfection.  One pie went home with my sister and her husband, one to my father-in-law for his birthday, and two to be eaten with afternoon coffee and breakfast.  My family is well known for enjoying pie at any time of the day.  A fresh pie is always better, so why not enjoy them for breakfast?

Dad’s Pie Crust – makes a double crust for a pie

Ingredients:
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
3 tablespoons ice cold water
3 tablespoons cold vodka

1.  Preheat oven to 400.  In a medium mixing bowl, use a pastry blender to cut in cold butter until pieces are coarse crumb size.

2.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon ice cold liquid at a time; gently toss with fork.  Push moistened dough to side of bowl.  Repeat using rest of liquid.  Dough will be dry, do NOT give into temptation to make dough moister by adding more liquid.  This will make your dough tough.  Divide dough in half; form into a ball.

3.  On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to flatten ball of dough.  Roll dough from center to edges into a circle 12 inches in diameter.  Do not overwork the dough and do not allow dough to warm up.  
4.  Carefully transfer dough to pie pan, by wrapping around a rolling pin, not allowing it to stretch.  
5.  Transfer filling into pie pan.  Repeat step 3 and 4 for second ball of dough.  Gently drape second circle of dough over the filling.  Use your fingers to seal the edges of the dough.  
6.  Optional: brush dough with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Cover edges in foil.  Place piece of foil on bottom rack of oven.  Place pie in preheated oven, on middle shelf.  Bake for 20 minutes at 400. Reduce oven to 350, remove foil, and bake another 40-50 minutes longer or til crust is golden and filling is bubbling.  
7. Let cool on wire rack.  
Fresh Cherry Pie Filling – makes filling for one pie
1. In a large bowl: combine 3 cups pitted, fresh ripe red tart cherries, 1 to 1-1/2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, and dash of salt.  Turn into prepared pie pan.  Dot with 2 tablespoons of butter.  Seal top of pie with second half of pie dough.  Bake 50 to 55 minutes in a 400 degree oven.   

Boozy Snooki Peach Pie

What is one of the best things about living in the South?

Peaches, of course!

The following is the making of my Boozy Snooki Pie, using the vodka crust.  Great thanks to Instagram, which is now my favorite app.

I use my trusty pie recipe wheel.  My sister got the template from Martha Stewart and gave this to me for a bridal shower gift.
Peel and slice 4 lbs of peaches into approximately 3/4 inch cubes.

Mix peaches in a bowl with 3/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, and 2 tablespoons butter.

For the crust, I used the Better Homes & Gardens red plaid cookbook recipe.  It is the simplest and best out there.  Before we move on though, a few important things to remember about pie crusts:

a. Always use butter, high quality butter.

b. Keep the butter, water and/or vodka, and dough as cold as possible. Work fast and handle the dough as little as possible.  If the dough becomes too warm, refrigerate before continuing,

c. When transferring dough to the pie pan, do not stretch, this will cause shrinkage during baking.

I use butter from a local dairy.  It comes in a tub, so measuring is a little tricky.
Cut butter into flour with a pastry cutter.  Pieces should be pea-sized.  A pastry cutter is a must if you are making pie crusts. 
 
Cut in 8-10 tablespoons freezer-temperature vodka in place of water to make a flakier crust.
Flour and butter mixture post vodka.  It should still seem dry.
Quickly form dough into 2 disks.  Handle the dough as little as possible.
Flatten dough and roll into a circle roughly 12 inches in diameter.  This is where a cold marble rolling pin is very handy to keep the dough cold.
Wrap dough around rolling pin and ease into pie pan.  Do not stretch the dough.  Transfer prepared filling into pie pan. Roll out remaining dough, same as first dough.  Transfer to top of pie.  Press edges together with fingers or fork edge.  I am not a fancy edge pie person – it needs to taste amazing, not look pretty to be on the cover of a magazine. Notice the rough edges below.
 
Cut vents for steam to escape.  These can be simple lines or a fancy design, such as shapes, letters or numbers.
Brush top with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Wrap edges in foil to prevent over-browning.
Place a sheet of foil with edges turned up on bottom rack to catch drippings.
Bake in 425° oven for 20 minutes.  Remove foil from edges.  Reduce heat to 350° and bake for 30 to 40 more minutes.  Insides should be bubbling and crust golden.

Cool on wire rack.  I firmly believe that a pie is always better with ice cream and on the second day, after it has had a day to set up.

Boozy Snooki Peach Pie

1. Peel and slice 4 lbs of peaches into approximately 3/4-inch cubes.

2.  Mix peaches in a bowl with 3/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, and 2 tablespoons butter.

For Crust:

1. Cut 2/3 cup butter into 2-1/4 cups flour with a pastry cutter.  Pieces should be pea-sized.

2. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cold vodka over part of flour and butter mixture.  Toss gently with fork.  Push moistened dough to one side of bowl.  Repeat using 1 tablespoon at a time until all flour is moistened, use 8-10 total tablespoons of cold water/vodka mixture.  Divide in half; form into 2 disks.

3.  On a lightly floured surface, use hands to slightly flatten dough.  Roll into a circle approximately a 12 inches in diameter.

4.  Wrap pastry dough around rolling pin and carefully transfer to pie pan.  Do not stretch the dough, this will cause shrinking during baking.  Trim excess dough off, if needed.  Transfer prepared filling to pie pan.

5.  Roll remaining dough into circle about 12 inches in diameter.  Cut slits to allow steam to vent.  Place pastry over filling, trim excess to 1/2 inch past edge of pie pan.  Press edges together with fingers or using a fork.

6.  Brush top with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Wrap edges in foil to prevent over-browning.

7.  Place a sheet of foil with edges turned up on bottom rack to catch drippings.

Bake in 425° oven for 20 minutes.  Remove foil from edges.  Reduce heat to 350° and bake for 30 to 40 more minutes.  Insides should be bubbling and crust golden.
The vodka makes the perfect flaky crust.
 The peaches are almost too good to be real!
 P.S. The pie doesn’t taste like vodka at all.