The Key Holiday Ingredient Is Always Family

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Read on for a delicious holiday recipe and to learn how you can win a $100 Visa® gift card and a LAND O LAKES® products gift pack!

I’m not sure what could be considered more American than a homemade apple pie. It’s my husband’s and son’s favorite and a must on our Thanksgiving and Christmas tables. It was also part of my family’s holiday table when I was a kid. A holiday just isn’t the same without a homemade apple pie.

But finding time to make a homemade pie is never easy. In a perfect world, I want my holiday table to be filled with tons of delicious homemade treats that I spent all day making, just like Grandma made. However, in reality I know I’m going to have to take some shortcuts to make those things happen. Between all my family’s errands, along with my own very busy job, life is a bit busier than my Grandma's used to be.

Over the years I have learned a few shortcuts and tips to make my life easier at holiday time. With my busy lifestyle, I just don’t have the time Grandma did. But you know, even if I did, I wouldn’t want to spend the amount of time in the kitchen that she used to spend there. I want to spend more time enjoying the actual holiday snuggling on the sofa watching a parade or movie or visiting with my extended family.

So, to pull it all off, I have a few things I do every year to make the magic of a homemade holiday happen. One of the most important things I do is to pre-make almost everything for the holiday the day before. I either do this late at night or during the day when I have the kitchen to myself for several hours.

I pre-prepare all my dishes so they are ready to go in the oven or on the stove top. That way, on the actual holiday, all I have to do is stick things in the oven and turn on the timer.

For instance, this year I will prepare a sweet potato gratin, a loaded mashed potato casserole, a dressing, and a green bean casserole. These 4 casseroles will fit nicely in my oven while my bird is roasting away in the countertop roaster. Then my gravy and greens will be on the stove top. When all the sides and my bird are done, I will bake my homemade rolls while the turkey is resting.

It’s a simple system I have developed to make dinner a snap, so I can have more time to spend with my family and make their favorite part of the holiday, the delicious, homemade apple pie.

If I am making a homemade crust, that is something else I prepared the day before. All I have to do on the holiday is peel, core, and slice my apples. Then I get the whole family involved to put the pie together. My son loves to help add the ingredients to the bowl and mix the apples and sugar with his hands. Then it bakes and cools while the casseroles are cooking.

One of my secrets to my apple pie is butter and lots of it. I make an all butter pie crust and add pats of butter on top of the apples in the pie. Yes, I may go a little overboard with butter, but it’s the holidays, so why not?

My favorite butter to use in all my holiday cooking is LAND O LAKES® Butter. It’s the brand my mother and grandmother used, so it’s just a natural staple in my refrigerator. I feel good about putting LAND O LAKES® Butter in all my recipes because it’s made from natural, quality ingredients that come from the farm families of Land O'Lakes, where they take great pride in producing the best for consumers’ families, as they do for their own families.

Here is my apple pie recipe. You can use the butter crust recipe below or a pre-made rolled crust to save more time. The crust isn’t nearly as difficult as some people think. This is an all butter crust, so it’s going to taste great, no matter what. It doesn’t have to look perfect; you're going for taste, not visual perfection.

This is a “rustic” apple pie. Calling your pie, and your other dishes for that matter, rustic means you meant for the crust to crack; you worked hard for the filling to overflow, and it took hours to create that lumpy, uneven look. (Note the sarcasm.)

This pie is just for fun, to tell your family you love them. Look, I’m not a pastry chef, far from it, and I’m sure most of you reading this aren’t either. The holidays aren’t about picture perfect dishes, they're about creating and spending time with the ones we love the most.

For the apples, I used a combination of Granny Smith and Honeycrisp. Any firm apple or combination of firm apples will work. Just pick out your favorite.

I used LAND O LAKES® Butter for the crust which worked out very well.

I combined the butter, flour and salt until it was crumbly, and the water until it just came together.

Then, after rolling out my crust and assembling my pie, it looks like this.

I always use a pie bird, instead of slits in the top of the crust. It’s a very old-fashioned but effective way to vent your pie, and it prevents the juices from running all over the outside of the crust.

You can see I am not the best pie crust crimper, but it worked.

I brushed the top of the crust with milk, but a whisked egg also works well. Then I sprinkled some raw sugar on top, just to add a little something to it.

Here it is, all brown and delicious.

Don’t forget to stop by the Land O'Lakes Facebook page too and “Like” them to get the latest recipes and information.

 

Apple Pie Recipe

A pre-made rolled pie crust or a Homemade Butter Crust, recipe follows.

 

Butter Crust

2 sticks, 1 cup, or 1/2 lb very cold LAND O LAKES® Butter

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup ice water or vodka or apple jack brandy (using alcohol instead of water in the crust helps it to be more flaky)

 

Apple Filling

8 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used Granny Smith and Honeycrisp)

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 stick, or 1/4 cup LAND O LAKES® Butter, cut in pats

the juice of a lemon

 

To finish pie:

1/4 cup milk (to brush on top of crust)

raw sugar (to sprinkle on top)

 

Instructions

1. If using the butter crust, ingredients are above. Cut butter in pats and add to flour either in a large bowl or a food processor. Add salt. Process or combine with a fork or pastry blender until butter is crumbly.

2. Add water and mix until dough just comes together. Form into two discs and refrigerate.

3. Peel and core apples. Cut into slices and place in a large bowl. Add lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss to coat.

4. Preheat oven to 375°. Roll out your homemade crust to fit pie plate, if using. Place bottom pie crust in pie plate.

5. Add apples to pie crust. Top with 1/2 stick of butter pats over the apples.

6. Roll out 2nd crust, top pie with crust, and pinch edges of crust together. Brush with milk and sprinkle with raw sugar.

7. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes, then turn to 350° and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Butter Crust recipes can be found through many, many online recipe sites and cookbooks, not sure of original origin. Apple filling recipe is my own.

 

So what are your tips or tricks to saving time in the kitchen during the holidays?

 

Tell me in the comments section below for a chance to win a $100 Visa® gift card from BlogHer and a LAND O LAKES® products gift pack from Land O'Lakes!

 

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