Oh my pies! We are finally having some nice weather around here… the Midwest winter has finally moved on, the sun is shining, and flowers are blooming. If you’re like me, you want to take advantage of as much sunshine as you possibly can! But between making morning breakfast, working out, and prepping dinner/dessert late in the afternoon, sunshine time can become limited – and let me tell you, we Midwesterners savor every minute of sunshine we can get!
One of my favorite things to do is make meals ahead of time. Stir fry, soups, stews, you name it! It all gets cooked and portioned out to be refrigerated or frozen. It becomes a huge time savor for me, especially when I want to maximize my free time. I love a nice healthy dinner, but sometimes I want something sweet to finish it off. Wouldn’t it be nice to have bite-sized desserts right in your freezer? Of course it would be! Today, I decided to make mini pies… and quiche for breakfast (because why not?).
Since going gluten free, I’ve been searching for different products to try out. I feel lucky to live near a Fresh Thyme grocery store, where they sell TONS of gluten free items for a very affordable price. I found they carry just about the entire line of Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free products! I absolutely love Bob’s gluten-free oatmeal, and have been using a few different types of flour, but came across this pie crust the other day. I was tempted to try it out.
Now, gluten-free flours and flour mixes do tend to work differently than regular wheat flour. They sometimes need extra moisture added to the ingredient list, and aren’t always moist or pliable (no gluten, right?). But I have to say, Bob’s Red Mill has it down. This pie crust was pretty easy to make, although I used all butter since I had no shortening on hand. I did roll out my crust on the thick side, so I would make sure to thin it out a little more next time. Either way, this dough came out pretty great.
It doesn’t stretch like a normal pie dough would, but it does make a pretty flaky and delicate crust. Once my dough was made, I divided it into two potions (it makes two 9-inch pie crusts), rolled it out, then cut out a whole bunch of circles….we’re going mini here! Once my dough was cut, I portioned it between two (different sized) muffin tins – one for breakfast, and one for dessert! Here’s an overview of what I made:
- Place the pre-cut circles (about 4 inches wide or so) into a greased 12 portion muffin tin, making sure to press the dough up and around the sides.
- Make a custard mixture from whisking 3 eggs with about 3/4 cup of half and half (you could use milk or heavy cream here instead). Grate in about 1/2 cup of gruyere cheese, then whisked it all together. If you like cheddar, then switch it up!
- Pour the egg mixture into each muffin cup, about 1/2-3/4 the way full. Don’t overfill here, they will puff up in the oven!
- Add your fillings/toppings. I did one row of the plain egg and cheese mixture, added ham to the second row, ham and spinach in the third, and some chopped broccoli to the last row. You can add whatever you like! Try some sautéed onion, mushrooms, or even peppers. The possibilities go on and on.
- Bake at 425F for about 15 minutes, or until the custard mixture has puffed up and the crust is slightly golden brown. Don’t worry if they puff up so much they look like they will explode…they will deflate back to normal as they cool.
- Let them cool before you enjoy!
Mini quiche are a fantastic way to get in a good bite a breakfast if you are in a hurry, or for your kids on their way out the door for school. Make them ahead of time by refrigerating them once cooked and cooled, then save some time by just warming up whenever you need one.
Mini Fruit Pies
- Place the pre-cut circles (about 4 inches wide or so) into a greased 12 portion muffin tin, making sure to press the dough up and around the sides. For these, I used a larger 6 portion jumbo muffin tin
- Pick your fruit filling
- Mix fruit with your sweetener of choice and a little cornstarch
- Add any spices or additional ingredients depending on the fruit you pick (apple goes well with cinnamon and nutmeg)
- Evenly distribute the filling between all muffin cups. Try to fill no more than 2/3 the way full, as the filling may expand and rise in the oven (you can see filled mine a little too much)
- Leave as is, or use the other half of your dough to create a top over each pie (pierce the top with a knife if you do, or create a small lattice like I did)
- Bake at 375F until filling is bubbling and crust is slightly golden brown (about 15-20 minutes). If using a pie filling recipe, bake according to the recipe’s instructions.
I filled my pies with finely diced strawberries, a few tablespoons of orange blossom honey, and a squeeze of lemon. There are so many things you can do with pie crust, other than make pie of course. Although these are the two that I chose, here are some other mini options:
- Empanadas: fill with meat and cheese
- Homemade pop-tarts (or breakfast pastries): fill with a fresh fruit compote or jelly of choice, or a chocolate spread and marshmallows for a smore’s version
- Roll-up cookies
- Fruit pizzas
Just a quick note: when using a muffin tin, it’s best to use a nonstick one. I didn’t have a problem getting them out of the tin, but if you’re not sure about it you can line the bottom on each with a pre-cut piece of parchment – or cut a strip of parchment and line it across the bottom and sides. Especially when making pie. That way, you can just pull up on the parchment to release!