Book Releases

Holding On (Colorado High Country #6) —
The Colorado High Country series returns with Conrad and Kenzie's story.

A hero barely holding on…

Harrison Conrad returned to Scarlet Springs from Nepal, the sole survivor of a freak accident on Mt. Everest. Shattered and grieving for his friends, he vows never to climb again and retreats into a bottle of whiskey—until Kenzie Morgan shows up at his door with a tiny puppy asking for his help. He’s the last person in the world she should ask to foster this little furball. He’s barely capable of managing his own life right now, let alone caring for a helpless, adorable, fluffy puppy. But Conrad has always had a thing for Kenzie with her bright smile and sweet curves. One look into her pleading blue eyes, and he can’t say no.

The woman who won’t let him fall…

Kenzie Morgan’s life went to the dogs years ago. A successful search dog trainer and kennel owner, she gets her fill of adventure volunteering for the Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue Team. The only thing missing from her busy life is love. It’s not easy finding Mr. Right in a small mountain town, especially when she’s unwilling to date climbers. She long ago swore never again to fall for a guy who might one day leave her for a rock. When Conrad returns from a climbing trip haunted by the catastrophe that killed his best friend, Kenzie can see he’s hurting and wants to help. She just might have the perfect way to bring him back to the world of the living. But friendship quickly turns into something more—and now she’s risking her heart to heal his.

In ebook and soon in print!

About Me

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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.


Seductive Musings

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Baking holiday pies with Natalie Benoit McBride

 Today, I’m excited to have a special guest visiting us. Natalie Benoit McBride and I have been trying for quite a while to get together to talk about baking pies, but we haven’t been able to work it out until today. But finally we’ve managed it, and she’s going to share a recipe with us.

As you all know, Natalie left the I-Team and stayed home, hoping to help build stability into her life as a newlywed, rather than having two people with stressful jobs coming home exhausted and hungry five days a week. Part of what she wanted to do was to bake pies. I thought we’d look in on Natalie and see how she’s doing and what she’s baking for Christmas this year.

Pamela: It’s been a long time since we last spoke. How are you doing? How is married life these days?

Natalie: I’m doing really well, thank you. It was a bit of an adjustment to leave the paper, but it’s working out well for us. We have good days and bad days, but when I think about what Zach and I have been through together, I’m just grateful for every moment, even the tough ones. 

Overall, we’re very happy. Zach is loving his new job with the U.S. Marshal’s office in Denver, and I’ve learned so much about managing a household. I’ve developed a whole new level of respect for stay-at-home moms. I’m busy all day every day, and I don’t have kids.

Pamela: Are you and Zach thinking of starting a family soon?

Natalie: Not yet. We’re really enjoying what we have right now — time for each other, time for friends, time for new experiences in our lives. Parenthood can wait for a while.

[Back door opens. Zach walks in wearing jeans, a black sports jacket, and a gray T-shirt, beneath which I can see body armor. I can tell he's wearing a sidearm in a shoulder holster, too. And those jeans look good on him. He walks to Natalie, kisses her on the cheek.]

Zach: Hey, angel. Hey, Pamela. Good to see you!
Pamela: Good to see you, too.

[Zach walks off to change out of his work clothes.]

Natalie:  You were staring at my husband’s ass.

Pamela:  You bet I was. Okay, so let’s talk pies.

Natalie: I’m going to be baking a pecan pie for Christmas Eve. My mother always made a pecan pie during the holiday season, and it was my favorite. But I think I’ve improved upon my mother’s pecan pie.

Pamela: Did you add maple syrup to the pecan mixture?

Natalie: I bet that would taste delicious, but, no, that’s not what I did. During the months that I’ve been learning about baking, I got tired of those prefabricated pie crusts you find at the supermarket. I’m not too wild about most pie crusts in general. Rather than being part of what’s delicious, they seem like they’re just there to hold the pie’s innards together.

Pamela: I certainly agree about the pre-fab pie crusts. I think those are made of flour and Elmer’s glue.

Natalie: I bet you’re right. So what I did was stop using those entirely and begin using shortbread crust. It’s delicious all by itself and it’s very easy to make. Plus, if you use a shortbread crust with a pecan pie, all the yummy pecan goo kind of bakes into the crust. It’s perfect.

Pamela: What recipe do you use for a shortbread crust?

Natalie: It’s so easy! You just cream a cup of softened butter — don’t substitute margarine — together with one half cup of powdered sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Stir two cups of all-purpose flour together with one-quarter teaspoon baking powder, then stir that into the butter/sugar mixture. There’s no kneading or rolling it out. You just take this mixture — it will be very soft — and press it into a deep dish pie plate. I say deep dish because this recipe makes a lot of crust and you want to leave room for the pie filling.

Just press this evenly into the pie plate, remembering to press it against the sides. It won’t look sexy, but it will taste delicious.

If you’re using the shortbread crust for a no-bake pie, like a maple cream pie, you’ll need to bake it in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for about 12 to 15 minutes. I sometimes take it out halfway through and press the crust down again, because it tends to rise a bit.

But with a pecan pie, the pie itself has to bake. So once the shortbread mixture is in the deep-dish pie plate, I make the pecan mixture and pour it straight into the crust. Then I bake it according to the directions for the pecan pie recipe. The crust bakes with the pie.

I’ve tried making it with whole wheat, and you can do that, but it will be drier and more difficult to work with.

Pamela: I think it’s a great idea. You turn the crust into something worth eating by itself. Who doesn’t love shortbread? But what about the pecan part? 

Natalie: There are lots of different recipes for the pecan filling. It’s pretty simple to make. Here’s the one I use.

    •    3 eggs
    •    1 cup brown sugar
    •    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    •    1 cup corn syrup
    •    2 tablespoons butter
    •    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    •    1-1/2 cups pecans
    •    1 (9 inch) unbaked pie shell (Ick! Use these as litter boxes if you want, but don’t bake with them.)
    1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place pie shell in a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. (A regular pie pan can do in a pinch.)
    2.    In a medium bowl, gently beat eggs. Stir in sugar and flour, then the syrup, butter and vanilla. Fold in pecans. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. A knife inserted in center of pie should come out clean.

Pamela: Thanks for sharing that, Natalie. It looks delicious!

Natalie: It is! I got to test the recipe for Thanksgiving. I loved it, and so did the rest of the gang. I made two pies, thinking that would be enough, together with the pumpkin pies Kara brought and the apple pie Sophie brought. But every crumb, every sliver of pecan, was gone.

Pamela: So you got everyone together for Thanksgiving?
Natalie: Not everyone. Tom wasn’t here. Syd wasn’t here. Matt and his wife went to her parents’ place for the holiday. But Kara and Reece, and Marc and Sophie, and Julian and Tessa were here, along with Kat and Gabe. They all brought their kids. Holly came, too, and Joaquin. It was a full house, but lots of fun.

Pamela: What are your plans for Christmas? Isn’t this your first Christmas together?

Natalie: Yes, it is. We’re having Zach’s father over for dinner and gift-giving on Christmas Eve, then it will just be the two of us for Christmas Day. Gabe wanted to get us all into the mountains for a bit of skiing that weekend, but we’re staying home. I’m really excited for the chance to start our own traditions.

[Zach walks into the kitchen wearing jeans — and nothing else.]

Zach: So are you making pies or just talking pies? ’Cause I’m hungry.

Natalie: We’re talking about them. Go put on a shirt.

Zach:  What? Why?

Natalie: Because our guest can’t quit staring at you.
Zach: [Shrugs] Hasn’t she seen it all already?

Natalie: No, of course she hasn’t!  Go put on a shirt.

[Zach grabs a beer from the fridge and leaves the room.]

Natalie: You haven't seen it all, have you?  When you wrote those scenes, you didn't describe—

Pamela: No, no, I didn’t. Ahem.  Well, um, thanks for having me over. I know I’m dying to try this recipe for pecs... er, pecan pie. If we get time, maybe I’ll share with you the recipe I’ve used for almost 30 years for Christmas cookies. My kids and I decorate them together each year, and then we fight over them.

Natalie: I would love that! And you’re welcome! It was good to see you again.

Pamela: It’s good to see the two of you, too. I’ve missed you.

Okay, there you have it. I highly recommend you try this recipe. The shortbread crust is delicious!


Lady Jayne said...

Awww...I love this post Pamela! And this, particularly, made me smile ^_^:

"Natalie: You were staring at my husband’s ass.

Pamela: You bet I was. Okay, so let’s talk pies."

Go, Pamela! LOL Thanks, Pamela and Natalie for sharing this recipe for yummy pecan pie! I'll have to try and make it, myself, soon.

landin said...

I sooo agree on the pre-made pie crusts,they don't have nearly enough flavor and yumminess for me.I'll definitely have to write down this short bread crust for the holiday pies,sounds delicious!

Loved the dialogue,so cute,loved when Zach came in without a shirt, lol.Bet that was a sight! A shame he didin't come in wearing less....

Thanks for the yummy recipes,I'll be sure to try out that pecan pie,you just can't go wrong with pecan pie for christmas!

krisgils33 said...

totally LOL'ed on the "staring at my husband's ass". nice seque into the pie business. :-)

Hi, Jayne — I'm so glad this made you smile. I wish I knew how to post the recipe with metric measurements, but that's a bit beyond me.

Yes, Zach's ass is pretty irresistible! :-)

Hi, Landin — Aren't those premade crusts just awful? I swear they are made out of flour and glue.

Yes, Zach naked would be even better!

Pecan pie and maple cream pie are our faves here. :-)

Hi, Kris — Caught red-handed. Or is it red-eyes? Hard to say. LOL!

AWESOME! So great to hear from Natalie and Zach! I love me some pecan pie. As always, you rock Pamela!

Lady Jayne said...

Mmmm...Zach naked covered in pie? Now your putting IDEAS in my head, Pamela! LOL

P.S. No worries about the conversion. I have a book here with the conversions. ^_^

Dalila G. said...

Great post Pamela!

I will have to try this Pecan pie recipe, especially with the shortbread crust, sounds soooo yummy!

Tonya said...

Oh, I loved this interview! It's so good catch up with Natalie & Zach's ass! I have never made a pie in my life but I think I might have to give it a try. Or atleast make the shortbread pie crust. My mama is the pie maker in our family & I know she'll love that recipe. Thanks!

CMD said...

I'll pass on the pie (bleh, Imperial measurements! :P) and just take Zach-- with or without the jeans. Besides, everyone knows that nougat/turrón is where it's at for the holidays :-)

KayH. said...

LOVED it !! Thank you Pamela, I really needed that 2-night.

AW!! How fun! I love it. I wish I liked pecan pie, but alas, it isn't in me. :( those cookies though, I might look for those ;) Thanks for catching us up Pamela.

Doreen said...

Pamela..this is great! I'm not the world's best pie maker but I'm going to take stab at this recipe. It was great to catch up with Natalie and Zach. I miss them too! Thanks for the fun post!

What a fun, yummy post!! My daughter had her college chemistry final tonight so she's freed up for the holidays and we'll be making this pie for sure! I've never made a pie from scratch, but the crust sounds very easy and reminds me of the kind my grandmother used to make. When there was dough left over, she'd make cookies with sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top.

Thank so much, Pamela and Natalie!!

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