Croque Monsieur Handpies

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We've fallen in love with the croque monsieur in our household. The croque monsieur, a grilled sandwich featuring ham, Gruyere cheese and béchamel sauce originated in the brasseries of France as a hearty snack or light meal. You can turn the sandwich into a croque madame with the addition of a fired egg on top (health food, this is not). For the Cleaver family, the addition of ham and sauce take the grilled cheese to a dinner-worthy level, so when it came time to come up with a savory pie for my annual pie-luck, rec-creating this sandwich in pie form seemed like a no-brainer.

Typically, I use shortening in my pie crusts for it's ease of use, but for a French inspired recipe, I had to use butter. Instead of fully incorporating the butter into the dough ("the damp sand" look), I suggest leaving a few beads of butter intact, which, when rolled flat into the rounds, leaves pockets of butter to create an almost puff-pastry like crust. Make sure to chill the dough before rolling for maximum flakiness.

Since I originated this recipe for an event were there was 11 pies for 7 people, I went light on the filling. To use as a main dish, simply double the ham and cheese. The béchamel sauce should be sufficient to cover both amounts. 

Croque Monsieur Handpies


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  •  2 sticks unsalted butter (cold)
  •  2/3 to 3/4 cup cold water


  • 6 oz sliced ham, diced into small pieces*
  • 6 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded*
  • Fresh parsley (optional)

*filling sized for appetizer portions, for a meal-sized pie, double the filling

Béchamel Sauce

  •  1 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 pinch pepper
  • salt to taste


Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.

Make crust. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter or food processor, cut in shortening until mixture mostly resembles damp sand, leaving a few small pea-sized chunks of butter. Add water, a little bit at a time, until dough sticks together. You will want it slightly more elastic than crust for a pan pie. Break dough into two evenly sized pieces, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator up to a day in advance.

Make béchamel sauce. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When butter starts to bubble, add flour and whisk until combined, mixture will be clumpy. Cook flour mixture (roux) for 2 minutes. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly to break up any clumps and prevent scalding for approximately 8 minutes, or until sauce is a thick consistency. Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Make filling. IN a bowl, combine 3/4 of the shredded cheese, the diced ham, and enough béchamel sauce to thoroughly coat the filling. 

Line two rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Remove crust from refrigerator. Cut each ball of dough into four equal pieces. On a well-floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a 7 to 8 inch square. Place dough on cookie sheet. Scoop filling into the center of the square making sure to avoid the edges.

Fold dough over filling, so top portion of crust is about 1/4 inch shy of the edge of the bottom. Fold up bottom crust to meet top crust and pinch/crimp to seal. Slice a few holes in the top to let steam escape. Repeat for remaining pies.

Whisk together 1 egg with 1 Tablespoon water. Brush egg wash generously over pies.

Place cookie sheets in oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, until filling bubbles and crust is golden brown, rotating pans halfway through cooking time.

To serve, sprinkle on remaining shredded cheese. Broil briefly to melt cheese. Sprinkle finely chopped parsley on top (optional) and eat warm.

To store, cool completely on a wire rack, wrap in tin foil and place in refrigerator for up to one week. To reheat for 10-15 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.

To print, see button at bottom of post.

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Croque Monsieur Handpies

Serves 8 Ingredients: 3 cups all-purpose flour, melted 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 2 sticks unsalted butter, 6 oz sliced ham, 6 ox gruyere cheese, 1 1/4 cup milk, 2 tablespoons flour 2 tablespoons butter nutmeg pepper parsley
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Gluten Free White Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Coconut and Lime

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I use my annual National Pie Day potluck to expand my pie-making skills. Fueled by a desire to work with white chocolate, I came up with this show-stopping tart with a coconut flour crust, white chocolate mousse filling, and topped with fresh raspberries and a coconut lime streusel, which just happens to be gluten-free.

I'm not gluten-free myself, but I have many friends who are, and the pressed-into-the-pan crust used here is easy for a gluten-free beginner.  The coconut flour, with its subtle coconut flavor compliments the bright flavors of the lime and raspberries, even if you aren't gluten -free. 


White Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Coconut and Lime (Gluten Free)


  •  1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour

Lime/Coconut Streusel

  •  1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  •  1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) melted butter
  •  Zest and juice of one lime

White Chocolate Mousse

  • 7 ounces white chocolate, chopped into very small pieces
  • 2 egg yolks 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar 
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream 


·         12 oz Fresh Raspberries


Preheat oven to 320 Degree F.

Make crust. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs and melted butter. Combine wet and dry ingredients until a dough forms. Pat dough into a 9” greased pie or tart pan. Prick crust all over with a fork. 

Bake crust for 10 minutes, cover edges with foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove crust from oven and cool completely before filling.

Make Streusel. Combine streusel ingredients, adding lime juice until mixture clumps nicely. Spread streusel on a lined cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until evenly browned. Set aside.

Make Mousse. In a saucepan, whisk together 1/4 cup of the cream, eggs yolks and sugar. Cook over medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and whisk in chopped chocolate. Strain through a sieve into a bowl and chill until cool.

Beat remaining cream until stiff peaks form. (If doing this by hand, chill your bowl, cream and whisk in the freezer before you start).  Stir half the cream into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold the remaining whipped cream in.

Scoop mousse into completely cooled pie crust, cover, and chill at least thirty minutes and up to overnight.

Bring pie out approximately 30 minutes prior to serving. Line top of pie with fresh raspberries and sprinkle  streusel on generously (you will use about half the streusel – use the rest to top yogurt, pancakes, etc.) Top pie with grated white chocolate (optional). Serve at room temperature.

To print, see button at bottom of post.

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White Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Coconut and Lime (Gluten Free)

Serves 8 Ingredients: 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted 2 eggs 1/4 tsp sea salt 1 1/4 cup coconut flour 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut 1/3 cup granulated sugar 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted lime 7 oz white chocolate 2 egg yolks 1 1/4 cup heavy creams 12 oz fresh raspberries
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6th Annual National Pie Day

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This is the sixth year I've hosted a "pie-luck" for National Pie Day and I don't have much new to say. Pie is awesome. You can do so many different things with it: sweet pies, savory pies; tarts and quiches; empanadas and shepherd's pies; fruit and ganache and meringue. There's a reason I call Pie Day the most delicious day of the year. I love that my knitting friends bring such an amazing variety of pie and that we get to sit and eat and knit. I love that Ms. Maggie surprised us all by coming down from Orono. I love that I get to try something new and complex (in this year's case, a brown-butter lemon zest and cranberry tart) that puts all that Great British Bake-Off watching to good use. But mostly I love that there's no happier combination than good food and good friends.

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5th Annual National Pie Day Pie-Luck & Blackberry Pie with Lemon Streusel

Blackberry Pie with Lemon Streusel
Serving Up Pie
Sweet Pie Sampler
Valentine's Day Cherry Pie
On the needles
Roses and Snow
Blackberry Pie with Lemon Streusel

For the fifth year in a row, my knitting friend and I gathered at Casa Cleaver to celebrate National Pie Day with lots and lots of pie.

Due to the seemingly never-ending snow and some scheduling conflicts, our group was slightly smaller than usual, but we still managed to have 11 kinds of pie represented. There was a spicy meat pie, lentil shepherds pie, empanadas, cauliflower quiche, chocolate tart with hazelnut crust, nutella/banana, raspberry ribbon, ginger pear, lemon meringue, cherry and blackberry.

Much pie was eaten, much tea was drank, and much knitting was done. We also managed to cover all 70 toes present with hand-knit socks.

I intended to make my traditional cherry cup-pies, but due the lack of tasty ingredients in unbaked pie-dough, my baking assistant started losing interest and I went for simple(r), by making a regular pie and using a heart cookie cutter for the top crust, which would make a great valentine's day dessert, methinks.

I also tried out a new recipe that I've been dreaming of for a while, inspired by my much-beloved Katie Cakes from Chicago. While I'd like to try one at least one more iteration before I'd call it final (adding a bit of cinnamon and clove to berries), it was pretty delicious, so I thought I'd share it here.

Blackberry Pie with Lemon Streusel:


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening or unsalted butter
  • up to 1/2 cup of cold water


  • 4 cups blackberries (boysenberries would work great too), fresh or thawed frozen berries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch


  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 stick melted butter
  • zest of one lemon

Pre-heat Oven to 350 Degrees F.

Mix together flour and salt for crust. Using knives or a pastry cutter, cut in shortening until mixture resembles course meal. Add cold water a small amount at a time, until dough holds together. Separate into two equal-sized balls. Flatten balls into discs and wrap separately in plastic wrap and place in fridge for about 30 minutes, or at a minimum, while filling and streusel is prepared.

Mix together filling ingredidents and set aside.

Mix together streusel ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Roll out chilled dough for bottom of pan. Insert pie filling. Roll out dough for top of pan, making a lattice structure is recommended.

Sprinkle streusel on top. It seems like a lot of streusel, but I'd recommend using it all as the pie expands slightly while baking.

Put in oven and bake for 1 hour, or until pie bubbles. Briefly broil top to brown if needed.


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A Shower for Maggie (+ Pie!)













Untitled Last week was National Pie Day, so this past Sunday my knitting group gathered for our annual Pie Day celebration, but far more importantly, we invited a few more folks over and held a baby shower for Ms. Maggie.

Maggie's expecting twins in the early spring, so we took the opportunity to shower her with pie, love, and handmade baby things!

As is now my typical baby gift, I made two sets of envelope tees from Growing Up Sew Liberated,  tag blankies from Simple Sewing for Baby and Made by Rae's Basic Newborn Pants. All versions of things that we used/use often with Little Miss Cleaver and all of which, I seem to have forgotten to photograph, except for that glimpse of green corduroy above.

We ate pie, played match the baby photo to the party guest (harder than you'd think), opened gifts, ate more pie, and stenciled bibs and onesies.

Can I talk a minute about stenciling clothes? Why have I never done this before?! So fun.

I found a perfect Handmade Charlotte Woodland stencil collection and we used Tulip Soft Fabric Paint at Michaels. I'll have to get a report back on how they hold up to washing, but having the stencils took the pressure off of a) coming up with ideas and b) having the skills to pull it off, that free-hand drawing would require. I kinda want to stencil everything now.

As per usual, the food was delicious and the versatility of pie continues to impress. There was veggie quiche, apple/cheddar/leek tart, mixed berry pie, cranberry custard, chocolate caramel, chocolate pecan caramel, as well as an array of other lovely snacks and  hors d'oeuvres.

Pie Day may be one of my favorite days of the year (especially in the midst of a cold January), but it's even more fun when you get to celebrate a dear friend. Now to wait a few months for the little guys' arrival!

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Happy National Pie Day!

2012-A-Year-in-Food.gifIn America, the National Pie Council (what, your country doesn't have one of those?) declared January 23rd National Pie Day. Being as we for some strange reason don't get this as a day off, I had to do my celebrating yesterday in my now-traditional fashion, with a pie-luck!


I made a batch of cherry cup-pies and a chocolate/raspberry pie that I neglected to photograph.

(Note to all bakers out there, when making a recipe for the first time, read the whole recipes before the morning you attempt to make it. I neglected to do this and caught myself running out of time when I realized that my raspberry pie took FOUR HOURS to make due to refrigerating time for the different parts.)

I think I need to make cup-pies more often, they're adorable and take only a tiny bit more work than a regular pie.

Egg Pie

As usual we had a range of savory, sweet, and tart pies.  A pie-luck requires at least three rounds to the table and generous amounts of tupperware for the leftovers.

Eating Pie

Pie Plate

We also got in a fair amount of knitting and Aimee, Chris, and Maggie split up several balls of Jamieson and Smith yarn for our sheep heid knit-a-long. (I'm spinning mine).

Sheep Heid Shares

Pie Carnage

So for those interested, here's a run-down of the pies (if I forgot any my apologies!):

  • Savory
    • Red Lentil & root vegetable pot pie
    • Goat cheese and leek egg pie/quiche
    • Pizza Pie
  • Fruit-Based
    • Apple Cranberry
    • Cranberry Pear Shortbread
    • Cranberry Sage
    • Cherry Cup-pies
    • Chocolate Raspberry
    • Apricot Cheese
  • Cream
    • Chocolate Satin
    • Butterfinger

With all the leftovers I ended up with - I'll be celebrating pie all week!!

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I Think I Ate a Whole Pie Yesterday

So the day after I moved in, I naturally invited a bunch of people over for my second annual National Pie Day celebration, like you do. Karen & Chris

Maria & Bristol

There were knitting quizzes and pie trivia!

There were door prizes!

There was much tea consumed!

There were rows knitted!

And there was a pie per person! (and some creme brulee that snuck in, but who can complain?) Dessert Pie Sampler

Pies!(Counterclockwise from bottom right: quiche (egg pie), shepherd's pie, vegetarian shepherd's pie, banana's foster pie, cherry cream pie, spinach feta and phyllo pie, lemon meringue, and s'more pie.)

In other news, it's -10° F outside, but the house is warm and there were a pair of beautiful cardinals chirping outside my living room window as I ate my breakfast this morning.


And I have a bunch of leftover savory pies for my lunch. Not a bad start to a cold day!!

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Quick Stitches

Sewing the Bias Tape

One of my new year's resolutions was to sew more and since Jan first I've managed to finish four - yes four! sewing projects.

For being one of the slowest sewers I know,  this is unheard of.

There are two main contributions to my productivity

  1. I bought a 6-foot folding table, which means I no longer has to do all my fabric cutting/set up on the floor. I also means I can leave my stuff out instead of having to pack it up between sewing sessions (thanks to a very gracious Mr. Cleaver, since my sewing nook is in our bedroom).
  2. I have embraced the quick & dirty sewing project.

I'll admit that I have a strong preference for garment sewing over craft sewing, particularly if that garment comes with a large number of pintucks/pleats/darts/gathers/buttonholes or other lovely details that inevitably make the project take forever. That said, of the four projects only one was a garment (which I'll post about in a few days - let's just say today is my MIL's birthday and we're celebrating later in the week due to the crazy weather we're having).

The other included a cheery bunting and table runner set for my pie potluck.

Triangles all made!

The bunting was roughly based on this tutorial, while the table runner was improvised to use up all (and I mean all) the scraps from the bunting project. The with the runner I threw my perfectionist tendencies to the wind and eyeballed and zig-zagged my way to a cute little decoration.

Table Runner

My quickest project was this 5-minute flower brooch I whipped up last night on a whim and that totally brightened my day today as I wore it.

Gingham Brooch

Of course all this rapid-fire sewing wasn't without its trials: I broke my seam ripper a few weeks back, so any undoing was a challenge and there was a lot of undoing because my sewing machine seems to be firmly set against doing anything other than a straight stitch in a forward direction - any attempts to back stitch or zig-zag generally were followed with bobbin-rethreading and mild curses.

I'd take any recommendations for possible repairs, but this may be a sign that it's time for me to upgrade from my little $78 dollar sewing machine. So I'll also take any sewing machine recommendations. :)

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National Pie Day

According the American Pie Council, today (Jan 23) is National Pie Day . Loving all things pie the way I do, when I read about this in a magazine back in December, I knew I had to celebrate. So I invited all my knitting friends over for a Pie Day potluck!

Seven People, Nine Pies

We had a meat pie, chicken pot pie, two apple pies, a blueberry pie, a lemon meringue pie, a turtle pie cream pie, a chocolate pie/tart, and some cherry cup-pies (which I've wanted to make every since cup-pies were mentioned on the tv show Pushing Daisies). It was a yummy pie-extravaganza!


Eating Pie


Knitting Time!

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