Graham Cracker Crust – Lower Calorie Version

Low Fat Graham Cracker Crust-2055 on Whisk Together

Books:  I am doing another presentation on “Making Your Favorite Foods Healthy” at the library.   I’m very excited about sharing all the wonderful recipes and techniques I have accumulated in making foods healthier.  The idea all started when I made brownies from black beans and no flour and no butter.  The first section of the presentation will be food substitutions like applesauce for oil – and WHEN to use the substitution.  Helps to know from someone that has done it like 50 times instead wasting the ingredients yourself!  🙂

OR IF YOU HAVE AN UNUSUAL SUBSTITUTION – LET ME KNOW!  I would love to hear about it and share it!

The second section will be about food techniques.  Cooking with fewer calories and/or less fat requires another way of cooking sometimes.  This way people can have their lower calorie food and eat it, too.  🙂

Or there is always ……

The Twinkie Diet!  He lost 27 pounds eating Twinkies.   This sounds yummy… but might get boring.  Not convinced?  His cholesterol actually got better, too 😉

Low Fat Graham Cracker Crust-2058 on Whisk Together

Recipe:    Instead of the typical pie pastry, I wanted a graham cracker crust.  LOVED this crust.  This will be my go to graham cracker crust from now on.  Flavorful and easy!  Most recipes for graham cracker crust use

Now, I wouldn’t make it with fresh strawberry pie again – the strawberry filling made the graham crust pretty soft which is probably why strawberry pie is made with pie pastry instead.  I will use this from on in my pudding pies and anything else that needs a graham cracker crust.

The photo is of a graham crust that will be slightly smaller than yours.  I only had 8 sheets of graham crackers and didn’t want to run out to get 2 more.  It turned out great anyway!

Low Fat Graham Cracker Crust-2051 on Whisk Together

Graham Cracker Crust – Lower Calorie Version
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
  • 40 graham crackers (10 cookie sheets)
  • 2 Tb. sugar
  • 2 Tb. butter, melted
  • 1 large egg white
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add the graham crackers to a plastic bag for crushing or to a food processor. Let the food processor run about 30 seconds, or until everything turns to crumbs.
  3. Pour in the sugar, butter and egg white.
  4. Pulse the food processor until the mixture comes together and is moist. About 5 pulses.
  5. Spray a 9″ pie plate with cooking spray.
  6. Pour the crumb mixture into the plate and press it around the sides and bottom of the pan.
  7. Bake 15 minutes
Recipe from Cooking Light


Fresh Strawberry Pie

Fresh Strawberry Pie-2065 on Whisk Together

Recipe:  So this is like my favorite dessert ever.  I’m not sure why it took 4 years to post it.  There are other versions like the one my mom makes for my birthday.  (Yes, I get a strawberry pie instead of a cake.)  Most have lots of Jello brand strawberry gelatin and some cut up strawberries in a pie crust.  

Fresh Strawberry Pie-2069 on Whisk Together

America’s Test Kitchen said, “Woah!  Wait a minute!  Strawberries have pectin.  Why don’t we use their pectin to help gelatinize the strawberry pie and make it taste better?”

Fresh Strawberry Pie-2080 on Whisk Together

And everyone replied, “Amen.”

Fresh Strawberry Pie-2059 on Whisk Together

So, here is the recipe you need for next month’s strawberry season.  The low calorie graham cracker crust I used will be posted next!  Unless I get sidetracked…. which never happens.  SQUIRREL!

Fresh Strawberry Pie-2062 on Whisk Together

(My spellchecker says “gelatinize” is not a word.  If it isn’t, well it should be.)


Fresh Strawberry Pie
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
  • 3 lbs. fresh strawberries, washed and dried and tops cut off
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tb. cornstarch
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. Sure Jell for low -sugar recipes
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tb. lemon juice
  • 1 pre-baked pie shell or graham cracker crust
  1. Take about 1 and 1/2 cups of strawberries and puree the strawberries until liquid . This can be done in a blender or food processor.
  2. In a medium pot, mix the sugar, cornstarch, Sure Jell and salt. Add strawberry liquid puree. Turn the burner to medium high and cook until the mixture comes to a hard boil (where when you stir the bubbles do not go away). Stirring constantly, continue to boil for two minutes.
  3. Take the pot off the stove and add the lemon juice. Let it sit out until it cools to room temperature.
  4. Once cool, add the pretty strawberries to the strawberry gelatin in the pot. Stir until coated. Pour it – strawberries and all – into your baked pie crust. Allow to set up in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  5. Try to consume within 5 hours. Why 5 hours? Well, I found out after 6 hours it becomes more like strawberry soup. But still delicious.
Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen


How to Make a “Pi” Pie for Pi Day!

Update:  I am slowly but surely transforming all of my winter and fall decorations into spring.  I think the easiest and cheapest way to accomplish this is to simply use my current decorations.  Here, I covered the Halloween wall decor that I purchased at Home Goods for $6 with some fabric.  I took photos, but really it is all duct tape.  Seriously.  My favorite fabric to work with – outdoor fabric – and some duct tape.   I still want to use those paintings for Halloween in the Fall, so I couldn’t staple them.  I do love how it turned out!



Canvases-0023 on Whisk Together


Recipe:  Here is my contest winning pie and how to make one yourself for Pi Day next weekend.  I used my Cherry Blueberry Pie recipe for this one, but you can use any of your favorites that use a double crust:  apple, cherry, blueberry, peach, blackberry, etc.





Pi Pie Tutorial



How to Make a “Pi” Pie for Pi Day!
Author: Mary Ellen P. Riley / Whisk Together
  • 2 store-bought pie crusts or favorite double pie crust recipe for a 9″ pie
  • Set of number cookie cutters – about 1″
  • Another 1″ shape like a star
  • Straw
  • paper
  • scissors
  • sharp knife
  • 1 egg
  • favorite pie recipe (apple, cherry, blueberry, peach, etc.)
  1. For the Pi symbol, I printed out the Pi here on this website.
  2. Cut out the pi symbol with scissors. Set aside.
  3. Make the pie filling for your favorite pie. Set aside.
  4. Preheat oven per the directions for the cooked pie. Probably 425 degrees.
  5. Spread 1 pie crust into the bottom of a 9″ pie pan. Flute the edges.
  6. Pour prepare pie filling into the pie.
  7. Take the second pie crust and place it on a floured surface. Keeping the numbers close together so you don’t run out of pie crust: use the number cutters to cut out the letters for pi: 3.14159265358979
  8. For the period, I used a straw to cut out a small perfect circle. The dough will probably get stuck. Blow it out from the other side of the straw. It’ll pop out the other side.
  9. I used one of my small Pampered chef cutters for the star. Or use any similar 1″ cutter for the spot in between the beginning and end of Pi numbers. Place numbers and star in a circle around the outer edge of the pie as shown in the photo.
  10. Lay the paper pi symbol you set aside earlier on the remaining pie crust. Press it down a little so that it doesn’t move around a lot. Using a short, sharp paring knife gently cut around the pi shape. Using a small spatula, lift the pi shape and place it into the middle of the pi.
  11. Important: mix 1 egg and 1 Tb. water in a small bowl. Brush onto the top of the crust. This will help browning of the decorations on top.
  12. Bake as directed, but since there is little top crust to bake – check 15 minutes prior to the normal cook time just in case!. This will probably bake faster than a regular 2 crust pie. I like to use my pie shield after the first 15 minutes or so of baking time to keep the crust from getting too brown.



Chocolate Pudding Pie

Chocolate Pudding Pie_7 on Whisk Together

For years our family served Chocolate Pudding Pie at Christmas.  It was really quite delicious and simple – a couple packages of Jello chocolate pudding thrown into a baked pie crust.  Here I made something *almost* as simple and JUST as delicious.  The only difference is that I frozen the pie.  Why?  One, I could make it ahead of time!  Two, it was yummy that way.  Three, the pudding is a little runny when not frozen.  It doesn’t hold up as well as the box because of the lack of chemicals.  BUT, it does hold up when partially frozen.

Chocolate Pudding Pie_6 on Whisk Together

Even in the fridge, it does taste delicious and slices well.  I wouldn’t say you must freeze the pie, but it does make it easier to serve.  I’ve made this several times – frozen and refrigerated.  The family like the freezer one and I liked the one from the fridge better.

Chocolate Pudding Pie on Whisk Together

The crust is up to you.  I used a traditional pie crust here, but you could use a chocolate crumb crust as well.

Chocolate Pudding Pie_2 on Whisk Together

Chocolate Pudding Pie


  • 2 and 1/2 cups milk
  • 5 oz. semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips or a bar finely chopped)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tb. cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cookie crumb or pie crust


  1. In a saucepan: Add milk and chocolate. Whisk until melted and melt over medium-low heat. The milk will have specks and that's okay.
  2. In a great big bowl, whisk together the yolks and sugar. The color will be dark yellow (or orange if using farm fresh eggs) and will turn to pale yellow. Keep whisking until it is pale yellow. Now, add the cornstarch and vanilla. Temper the egg mixture by ladling a little of the hot milk into the eggs. Then, a little more and a little more. Once whisked together, pour all the eggs into the pot with the hot milk mixture in it. Cook about 8 minutes. The mixture should coat the back of a spoon. Take off the heat and whisk another minute.
  3. Pour into a prepared baked pie shell or crumb crust. Take plastic wrap and place the wrap directly onto the pudding surface. This will keep a skin from forming. Put in the fridge for 2-3 hours. It will firm up. Slice and eat! If you want to freeze it for a week or so, simply wrap the pie again in plastic wrap and in a layer of foil. Freeze. When ready to eat, place it in the fridge the night before. The pie should thaw some overnight. Let sit out for 15-30 minutes if it has been previously frozen.
  4. Recipe from

Chocolate Pudding Pie
serves 8

2 and 1/2 cups milk
5 oz. semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips or a bar finely chopped)
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tb. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cookie crumb or pie crust

In a saucepan:  Add milk and chocolate.  Whisk until melted and melt over medium-low heat.  The milk will have specks and that’s okay.

In a great big bowl, whisk together the yolks and sugar.  The color will be dark yellow (or orange if using farm fresh eggs) and will turn to pale yellow.  Keep whisking until it is pale yellow.  Now, add the cornstarch and vanilla.  Temper the egg mixture by ladling a little of the hot milk into the eggs.  Then, a little more and a little more.  Once whisked together, pour all the eggs into the pot with the hot milk mixture in it.  Cook about 8 minutes.  The mixture should coat the back of a spoon.  Take off the heat and whisk another minute.

Pour into a prepared baked pie shell or crumb crust.  Take plastic wrap and place the wrap directly onto the pudding surface.  This will keep a skin from forming.  Put in the fridge for 2-3 hours.  It will firm up.  Slice and eat!  If you want to freeze it for a week or so, simply wrap the pie again in plastic wrap and in a layer of foil.  Freeze.  When ready to eat, place it in the fridge the night before.  The pie should thaw some overnight.  Let sit out for 15-30 minutes if it has been previously frozen.

Recipe from Williams-Sonoma


Cheeseburger Pie

Cheeseburger Pie_4 on Whisk Together

Cheeseburger Pie_5 on Whisk Together

Another hit from my America’s Test Kitchen book “Comfort Food Makeovers”.  This was sooooo good.  Comfort food to the max – burger and cheese in pie form.  The calorie count is 270 calories, 12 grams of fat and 5 grams of saturated fat.  My topping isn’t as pretty as theirs because I had lots of regular American cheese to use up instead of reduced fat.  So, I reduced the cheese instead.  This was so easy and good.  Even the leftovers were yummy microwaved.

Cheeseburger Pie
6 servings

2 – 10″ flour tortillas
cooking spray
4 oz. reduced fat American cheese*, shredded (1 cup)  (I tore up pieces of my existing cheese)
1 tsp. oil
1 onion, chop fine
2 garlic cloves, mince
1 pound of 93% lean ground beef
3 Tb. flour
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 Tb. ketchup
2 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp. mustard (plain yellow kind) (reduce or omit if you don’t like mustard.  You can really taste it)
salt and pepper
1/3 cup dill pickle slices (I eyeballed the amount)
1 tomato, core, seeded and sliced thin (like 1/4″ thick)

*America’s Test Kitchen Recommended Boar’s Head brand

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (375 degrees for convection).  Spray a 9″ pie plate with cooking spray.  Microwave your tortillas for about 30 seconds.  Gently mold 1 tortilla into the pie plate.  Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of American cheese on it.  Then, mold the second tortilla on top.  Spray some cooking spray on top and bake 10 minutes.    Cool on wire rack.

2.  In a 12″ skillet on medium heat, add your oil.  Then add the onion and cook with the cover on for 5 minutes – until soft.  Take off the lid and add in your garlic for 30 seconds.  Add in your beef and cook about 5 minutes – it does NOT have to be completely brown.  You can have some pink because we will cook it more later.

3.  Add the flour.  Cook that 1 minute and stir it in.

4.  Stir in your broth, ketchup, Worcestershire and mustard.  Turn the heat to medium low and simmer for about 3-5 minutes.  It will get thicker.  Add salt and pepper.

5.  Pour your meat mixture into the tortilla pie plate.

Cheeseburger Pie

6.  Layer on top the pickles.

Cheeseburger Pie_1

7.  Layer the tomato.

Cheeseburger Pie_2

8.  Layer the 3/4 cup american cheese.

9.  Bake 10 minutes or so – until the cheese is melted.  Cool a little bit and eat!

Cheeseburger Pie_3

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Comfort Food Makeovers

Happy Pi Day!!!

Pi Pie_1


Happy Pi Day!  This is still my favorite pi recipe – Cherry Blueberry.  Have a GREAT day!

Smooth and Spicy Pumpkin Pie

pumpkin pieCR

I hope everyone had a good Christmas!  I picked up “Holes” by Sachar to add to my YA reading list.  Between YA books, I have been reading “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” by Thomas Foster.  Boy, where was THAT book when I needed it ten years ago?  It sums up pretty much every literary analysis ever written.  Well, not all of them, but many of the huge literary themes and references:  quests, blindness/seeing, scars, sickness, life/death, season/weather, etc.  The only downfall is that it does not go into poetry and that is because he doesn’t see poetry analysis of much general use beyond the iambic pentameter thanks to good ol’ Shakespeare.  Many of the practice tests I have taken use poetry analysis.  But, I agree with Foster.  Beyond the iambic pentameter, knowing a poem is in anapestic tetrameter is not generally useful.  Unless you major in English or something.  And who would do something stupid like that?  Oh wait…..  Well, I minored in it anyway.

On with the recipe:  I brought pumpkin pie again to Christmas because Costco for the second year in a row has failed to fill its bakery with the basic pumpkin pie on Christmas Eve.  I’ve given up on them – but not the best pumpkin pie recipe!  I thought last year’s recipe was pretty good.  I think this one is better and my husband agrees.  This one is smooth, rich and creamy. The spices can be added heavily or lightly, depending on your tastes.  I like to go on the heavy side.  Due to having lots of leftover graham crackers, I used a graham cracker crust.  This was a great alternative to the traditional shell.  I bet gingersnaps would have been exceptional.  King Arthur Flour has this recipe with the most 5 stars and I would have to agree!

Recipe Science Note.  The directions say to add the eggs last.  This is to avoid cracks in the pumpkin pie.  Many pies have cracks in the middle because the pumpkin mixture wasn’t allowed to rest and absorb all the liquid.  If the eggs are added too early, the acidity of the pumpkin and brown sugar may partially cook and coagulate the eggs.

Smooth and Creamy Pumpkin Pie
yield 8-10 servings

1 and 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
6 Tb. butter, melted and slightly warm
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

or use a 9″ single pie crust

2 Tb. flour
1/4 to 1 and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon (I used 1 tsp.)
1 pinch to 1/8 tsp. cloves (I used 1 dash)
1/8 tsp. to 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg (I used 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg)
1/4 tsp. ground ginger (optional, but tasty)
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup brown sugar (I used light)
1 and 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (1 can)
2 Tb. light corn syrup
1 and 1/2 cups or 12 oz. can evaporated milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten

For the crust:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix everything in a large bowl until it is like sand, or pulse in the food processor.
2.  Press the crust into the 9″ pie plate.  Use your fingers and the bottom of the glass to get it even.
3.  Bake in the middle of the oven for 10-15 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

For the filling:
1.  In a big bowl, mix up all the flour, spices and salt.
2.  Whisk in the sugar and pumpkin.
3.  Whisk in the syrup and milk.  Now, let this sit for a good 30-60 minutes at room temperature or up to overnight in the fridge.  This makes the flavors meld and taste REALLY good.
4.  *Preheat oven to 450 degrees!*  Now mix in the 2 eggs really well.  Pour into the pie shell.  I did have a little pie filling leftover.  Even some of it came over the shell, but it shrank back and it ended up great anyway.
5.  Bake your pie on the bottom rack for 15 minutes.  (If it is too nerve racking to transfer the pie up and down, just skip to the reduced temperature of 350 degrees and increase your bake time.  I believe this extra temperature step keeps the crust from being underdone and soggy though.)
6.  Now, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and place the pie in the middle of the oven.  Bake 35-45 minutes.  Mine was perfect after 40 minutes.
7.  Remove and let cool.

“I’m partying at the Pi Day Pie Party at Crazy for Crust today. Come party with us!”

Close up of crust:

pumpkin pie_1CR

Recipe for filling from King Arthur Flour

Pumpkin Pie with a Secret Ingredient

I couldn’t just post any old pumpkin pie recipe, could I?  I mean it’s on the back of every Libby’s Pumpkin can in America.  This pumpkin pie is smooth and pumpkiny – just the way I like it.  Not bland and ho hum.  And don’t even think of putting that nasty hydrogenated oil (oops, I mean Cool Whip) on it – tastes great just plain!

For a great pumpkin pie, try these tips you don’t see on the back of the can:
1.  Blind bake the pie crust – or you will get a soggy crust on the bottom instead of… well, crust!
2.  Try to use fresh spices – nutmeg keeps much longer whole anyway
3.  Grab a pie shield – it’ll save you hundreds of headaches messing with foil.  I got mine for $5 at Bed Bath and Beyond
4.  Mixing the filling the day before saves on time the next day and it helps enhance the flavor.

Pumpkin Pie

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (Yep!  That’s Right!)
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups evaporated milk

1 pie crust

1.  In a large bowl (I like the Classic Batter Bowl since it has a spout and lid),  mix together all the filling ingredients.  Cover and let it sit in the refridgerater overnight.
2.  The next day,  preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray cooking spray into the pie pan.  Place your pie crust on the pie pan.  Flute the edges.  Prick the dough all over with a fork and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
3.  Next, place a piece of parchment paper or foil onto the crust carefully and then fill it with dry beans (or uncooked rice, uncooked barley or pie weights).  Place your pie shield on the crust edges.  Bake about 10-15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.  Cool completely.
4.  With the oven at 350 degrees.  Pour the pumpkin filling into the crust and bake for 45-55 minutes.  Mine was pretty jiggly at 45 minutes, but my oven is weird sometimes too.  The filling will be wobbly, but not watery.  Remove from oven and let the pie cool for at least 2 hours.  (Caution not to overbake the pie as the proteins in the eggs will tighten and cause the pie to crack.)

You CAN do without putting the filling in the fridge overnight.  It won’t hurt the pie.  It just might not taste as great.

You CAN just put the filling in the unbaked pie crust.  You don’t need to blind bake to get a finished product.  The bottom just ends up a little soggy, but most pumpkin pies I have eaten do.

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Breville

Recipe from

National First Place Winner Lemon Meringue Pie

Shirley Jarman submitted and won the National Beekman Contest with this recipe.  That’s right, she won a trip to NY and everything from our very own St. Louis, MO.  We’re so proud of her!    She is wonderful and so is her pie.  It was the BEST lemon meringue I’ve ever had!  And now we know it is the VERY best because she won the national contest!

“Makes My Mouth So Happy!” Lemon Pie
yield 8 servings

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup + 1 Tbs. shortening
2-3 Tbs. cold water

3 eggs yolks (you’ll use the whites later!  Don’t toss ’em.)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup + 1Tbs. cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
3 Tbs. butter
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (not that bottled stuff.  You squeeze these lemons with love :-))

3 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
6 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

1.  To Make Pastry:  In medium bowl, mix flour and salt.  Cut in shortening (with pastry blender or 2 table knives) until coarse crumbles.   Sprinkle with cold water 1 Tbs. at a time.  Toss with fork until all flour is moistened.  Gather pastry in a ball.  Shape into flat disk about 1-2″ thick and wrap in plastic wrap.  Fridge for 45 minutes or overnight.

2.  Preheat oven 475 degrees.  Thaw pastry 5 minutes at room temperature.  Roll 2 ” larger than an upside-down 9″ pie plate.  Fold into fourths and place into pie plate.  Unfold and crimp edges.  Dock the bottom and sides of the pastry with a fork.  (Dock is an hold term for creating a deficit like in the term “dock your pay.”)  Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool

3.  To Make Filling:  reduce oven to 400 degrees.  In small bowl, beat yolks with fork.  In saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch; gradually stir in water.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until boiling.  Boil 1 minute.  Temper the eggs (add a little of the hot mixture to the eggs until half of the hot mix is in the yolk mix, then add the entire yolk mix into the saucepan.  Add raw yolk into a hot mixture and you’d get scrambled eggs.)  Boil and stir 2 minutes.  Remove heat.  Stir in butter, lemon peel, and lemon juice.  Pour into crust.

4.  To Make Meringue:  Beat eggs whites and cream of tartar on high until foamy.  Beat in sugar 1 Tb. at a time.  Beat until stiff and glossy.  Beat in vanilla.  Spoon onto hot pie filling.  Spread and seal over the topping.  Sprinkle the meringue lightly with sugar.

5.  Bake 8-12 minutes or light brown on top.  Cool 2 hours.  Cover and fridge until serving.

This has been shared on Well Seasoned Life

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