On Turkey Day, the traditional meal includes a big bird, dressing, potatoes, greens and pumpkin pie, my favorite part of the meal. This year, I spiced up the popular round pie recipe and gave it a different shape, more spice and a 21st century sweet spin for the thrill of taste and presentation.
Several years ago, I whipped up a non-traditional dinner for Thanksgiving. On the menu was pasta with marinara sauce and turkey meatballs, garlic French bread, a Greek green salad with feta cheese and tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and red wine vinegar. I did give into tradition and served a store-bought pumpkin pie, the kind found in the frozen food aisle.
I served this meal of Mediterranean-type dishes to my sibling. I was happy, but he was a bit turned off, as were my bird dogs, because there was no bird, no leftovers. Worse, the pie was a bit boring. After dinner I played the classic Hitchcock film “The Birds” for comic relief, but I was on my own before the lovebird pet shop scene. So much for the holiday of turkey and all the trimmings.
So this year before the big day on Nov. 28, I tried my hand at creating a new, improved pumpkin pie dessert. I’m not sure what I’ll be cooking for the event, but these squares upstage the “normal” pie.
Since I’m not really a social bird, I may do a vegan meal and save a bird. Plan B is ordering a gourmet vegetarian pizza. And C is caving in with a squawk or two and cooking a turkey, cornbread dressing, and chunky mashed potatoes. Later, I’ll cuddle up with the carnivorous critters who will want to watch “Animal Planet.” This week I do know that I’ll whip up another batch of pumpkin pie squares for the fun of it.
Spicy Pumpkin Pie Squares
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
2 organic brown eggs
1/2 - 3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup organic half-and-half
1/2 cup organic 2 percent low-fat milk
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon rum flavoring (optional)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or butter
2 store-bought roll-out crusts (or homemade)
Whipped cream, Greek yogurt or honey to taste
1/2 cup store-bought ginger cookies, chopped into crumbs
In a mixing bowl, combine pumpkin puree, eggs, sugar and honey. Beat until smooth. Add vanilla and spices. Pour mixture into 8-inch-by-8-inch greased square baking dish lined with two layered pie crust. Flute edges around the square dish (it shouldn’t be perfect for a home-style effect). Sprinkle top with nutmeg. Cover pie crust edges with foil to cook evenly. Bake at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes or until knife comes out clean and pie is firm. Cool. Cut in squares. Drizzle with honey, top with a dollop of whipped cream, and top with ginger cookie (crisp but not hard) crumbs. Serves 9-12.
Spicy Pumpkin Pie Squares upstage a triangle slice of pie big-time. Not only does the cute shape turn heads, the sweet topping provides a creamy and crunchy bit that’s yummy. The double crust on the bottom gives the squares a thick, cobbler-like chewy crust texture. After trying this recipe you may never go back to the round pumpkin pie. The re-do is easy, and boasts rustic charm with the double crust, cream and cookie crunch.
Motto: Tradition is nice, but starting a new tradition can be sweeter and create memories, too.
— Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. The Healing Powers of Coffee is featured by the Good Cook Book Club; the series is sold at Walmart stores nationwide. Currently, she’s writing the Olive Oil second edition. Her website is www.calorey.com.