Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Picnic and Minny's Famous Chocolate Pie

We had a fabulous little picnic/luncheon featuring food from "The Help" about a month ago.  I threw it together for my good friend Tonya, as she absolutely adores the movie.  And I literally threw it together with the saving help of my mother and sister who were probably cursing my crazed, party-throwing obsessed self, because the day of the party was jam-packed from sunup to sundown.  I got up early to edit photos from the bridal session that had to be rescheduled due to my van's breakdown.  They had to be edited that very afternoon so they could be printed and used at the reception the following day.  Talk about pressure.  I was at my parents' house and therefore did not have my usual editing setup ready and waiting.  I brought my laptop and monitor from home to be sure of consistent color, but setting everything up always takes more time than you think and there are always glitches.  So in between editing photos and setting up my laptop, I was trying to make food and get organized.  I hurried and threw the meatballs in the crock pot.  My sister and I hustled and bustled, boiling eggs, cutting rye slices into circles, peeling, slicing and grating cucumber and perfecting our chocolate pie.  I had to edit photos in between and help my sister look after the six kids we had running around needing to be fed, changed, entertained, etc. and pick up my fixed van from the shop.  It was a day.

I had high hopes for this party.  I was planning on a lovely printable with Abileen's words, "You is kind. You is smart.  You is important." printed out and displayed amongst the food items.  I wanted vintage aprons, mason jars and clothes pins to be used in the decor.  I wanted recipe cards for the chocolate pie and cucumber sandwiches for guests to take home.  I envisioned pastel colors of yellow, pink and green.  But it was just not to be.  The food alone about did us in.  I finally let go and decided it wasn't about the perfect party set up.  It was about getting together, visiting, sampling some tasty foods and just having a little break from the regular humdrum of life.  And we did just that. 

For our delightfully southern menu (which I researched), we served deviled eggs (with paprika...sorry Hilly), cucumber sandwiches on rye, cocktail meatballs, fried chicken, eclairs, mini muffins, a delightful veggie platter with homemade dip (contributed by my lovely friend), pink lemonade and of course, Minny's chocolate pie.  

We sat out in the summer's heat under a tree in my mom's yard and sipped lemonade, ate goodies, laughed, tried out our best (or plain awful if you're me) Southern accents, traded movie quotes and enjoyed a slice of Minny's famous chocolate pie.  The kids enjoyed their picnic on a sheet and enjoyed the benefits of our labors.  It felt like we slipped back in time a bit...just sipping lemonade and trying to stay cool whilst the youngsters galloped around at our feet, sneaking treats with sticky little fingers.  It was a very nice, laid back couple of hours full of laughs, friends and good food.  Which just happens to be my preferred way to spend an afternoon.

My favorite dishes from the soiree were the cucumber sandwiches, cocktail meatballs, chocolate pie and the lovely and tasty veggie platter.  I could have eaten 27 cucumber sandwiches.  Wow.  So good.  So refreshing and light.  Definitely give them a try if you're a fan of cream cheese, cucumbers and rye bread (we used dark rye because we like the flavor, but it's up to you).  The chocolate pie was also a delight.  It was like no chocolate pie I've ever tasted.  In my dear friend's words, "It was light but chewy and wicked, wicked good."  The recipe calls for few, simple ingredients, with stellar results.  The beautiful veggie platter came with homemade dill sauce, slices of ham and Swiss cheese, ripe tomatoes, fresh carrots and olives... so scrumptious and so fitting for a ladies' luncheon, I think.  I could eat a whole platter by myself I am quite sure.  So simple and so good, especially with all of the heavy foods we were serving.  As for the cocktail meatballs, they were very tasty and just about the most simple thing to make.  Just three ingredients and a crock pot.  My kind of food.  And I'll let you in on a little secret.  Come closer...even closer.  We did not make our own fried chicken.  Shhhh.  We bought it from the grocery store.  It's easier that way.  Don't tell a soul.


2 12 oz jars Heinz chili sauce
1 32 oz jar grape jelly
1 bag meatballs (about 80 in a bag)
Put chili sauce and jelly in a large pot, heat until jelly is melted and sauce
is smooth, stirring often. Add frozen meatballs; heat until meatballs are
thawed and then simmer for 3 hours.

Cucumber-Rye Tea Sandwiches

  1. 1 large seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths
  2. 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  3. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  4. 1 tablespoon sugar
  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  6. 36 slices of party rye or 18 slices of rye bread
  7. 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  8. 1 scallion, finely chopped
  9. 1 Persian cucumber, thinly sliced
  1. Using a box grater, coarsely grate the cucumber lengthwise, stopping when you get to the seedy center. Transfer the cucumber to a bowl and stir in the vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and salt. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  2. If using rye bread slices, use a 2-inch-round cookie cutter to cut out 36 rounds from the bread. Cover with a slightly damp towel.
  3. Transfer the grated cucumber to a colander to drain; squeeze out the excess liquid. Return it to the bowl and stir in the cream cheese and scallion. Spread the cucumber cream cheese on the bread rounds, top each with a Persian cucumber slice and arrange on a platter. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The cucumber cream cheese can be refrigerated overnight. Return to room temperature before spreading.

Minny's Chocolate Pie

  1. 1 packaged pie dough crust, such as Pillsbury
  2. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  3. 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  4. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  5. 2 large eggs, beaten
  6. 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  7. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  8. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  9. Whipped cream, for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Ease the pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate and crimp the edges decoratively. Prick the crust lightly with a fork. Line the crust with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes or until set. Remove the foil and weights and bake for about 5 minutes longer, just until the crust is dry but not browned.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the sugar with the cocoa powder, butter, eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla and salt until smooth.
  3. Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake for about 45 minutes, until the filling is set around the edges but a little jiggly in the center. Cover the crust with strips of foil halfway through baking. Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool completely before cutting into wedges. Serve with whipped cream.
MAKE AHEAD The chocolate pie can be refrigerated overnight.


  1. HAH! Lou, oh, Lou... Now I have GUILT! I feel bad that you were so booked to the max that day, but extremely thankful that you would pull together a theme party just for me. That had been a secret dream of mine for a long, long time. We ate like pigs, gossiped like women, and laughed like drunken sailors. Oh, what a delightful party. I am still reveling in the fond memories of that day... :) You are the sweetest person there could ever be. {{LOVES}}

  2. It looks like yet another awesome E.L.P (Erika L. Party) You are quite the party thrower!

  3. I think that sometime we need to meet up and I need to come with you to your moms so I can have another party with you, oh we used to have so much fun together.

  4. its yummilicious and we would love to add flower bouquet along with such wonderful gifts for someone :) I regularly take flowers from my wife and send to her from Bangalore Flowers Delivery team of people for making her feel special and smiling.


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