Think outside the tin: Make tasty treats with pie crust


While there’s nothing like a delicious home-cooked meal made from scratch, it’s nice to have a helpful hand in the kitchen every now and then. Whether it’s those pre-mixed spice packets that you like to use for your weeknight tacos or a box of a spring salad mix, there are some shortcuts that we as cooks are not ashamed to take because they don’t take away from the integrity of the dish.

A great example of an approved-by-us shortcut is a refrigerated pie crust. Sure, there’s nothing better than flour on your face, the therapeutic rolling of a pin, and a homemade, flaky pie crust, but hey, sometimes we just don’t have the time, and a store-bought version can be a quick alternative.

Try some of these creative, mouthwatering out-of-the-pie-tin uses for store-bought pie crust that Pillsbury share with us.

Gorgonzola-fig and walnuts tartlets

Looking for an elegant yet easy appetizer for your next cocktail party? These gorgonzola-fig tarts are the perfect combination of savory and sweet, and are easy to make using refrigerated pie crust.

· One package refrigerated pie crusts

· 6 dried figs or pitted dates, coarsely chopped

· 1 cup packed brown sugar

· 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

· 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

· 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

· 1 tablespoon honey

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Unroll the pie crust onto a flat surface. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut 24 rounds from the pie crust, rerolling the crust scraps if necessary. Gently press the rounds into 24 ungreased mini muffin cups.

In a small bowl, mix together the figs, brown sugar, cinnamon, and walnuts. Spoon slightly less than 1 teaspoon of the fig mixture into each cup. Break up any larger pieces of cheese and top each tartlet with slightly less than 1 teaspoon cheese.

Bake for 7-11 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Remove the tartlets from the pan to a serving plate. Drizzle the tartlets with honey. Serve warm.


Salmon pastries with dill pesto

Perfect to serve at your spring dinner party, these tiny pastries are easy to make ahead of time with the help of a refrigerated pie crust, but are delicious enough to impress your guests.

· 1/2 cup lightly packed chopped dill

· 1/3 cup olive oil

· 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

· 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

· 1 clove garlic

· 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

· 2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

· Salt and pepper, to taste

· 3/4 pound salmon fillet, patted dry

· 1 package refrigerated pie crusts

· Dill weed sprigs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor bowl with a metal blade or in a blender, place the chopped dill weed, oil, walnuts, lime juice, garlic, mustard, and ½ cup of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cover. Process, stopping once to scrape side of bowl, until smooth.

If salmon has skin or bones, remove them and rinse the fillet well and pat dry with paper towel. Cut the salmon into 24 (1-inch) cubes.

On a cutting board, roll 1 pie crust into 12-inch round. Cut into 4 rows by 3 rows to make 12 rectangles. Repeat with the remaining crust. (Rectangles cut at edge of crust will have rounded side.)

Spoon 1 level teaspoon pf the dill pesto onto the center of each rectangle and top with 1 salmon cube. Bring the 4 corners of each rectangle over the filling and into the center. Pinch at the top and the corners, leaving small openings on the sides to vent steam. Place the pastries on an ungreased baking sheet about 1 inch apart.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Place the remaining pesto in small resealable food-storage plastic bag. Cut a small tip off 1 bottom corner of the bag and drizzle the pesto over the serving plate. Place the pastries on the serving plate and sprinkle them with the remaining cheese. Garnish with the dill weed sprigs and serve warm.


Chocolate-dipped peanut butter empanadas

Serve this Latin American specialty as a dessert with this recipe, which is easier to whip up by using refrigerated pie crusts.

· 1 roll peanut butter cookie dough

· 4 ounces cream cheese, softened

· 3 refrigerated pie crusts, softened

· 1 egg, beaten

· One 1-ounce bag Reese's peanut butter baking cups

· 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening

· One 12-ounce bag Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate baking chips

· 1 teaspoon powdered sugar

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Let ½ of the roll of cookie dough stand at room temperature for 10 minutes to soften. (Refrigerate the rest for another use.) In a large bowl, break up the cookie dough. Add the cream cheese and beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Set aside.

Unroll 1 pie crust and roll it out into a 12-inch round. Using a 4-inch round cookie cutter, cut the pie crust into 8 rounds, rerolling the dough as necessary. Repeat with the second and third crusts.

Spoon a scant 1 tablespoon of the cookie dough mixture on 1/2 of each round and flatten slightly. Bring the dough over the filling and press the edges together with a fork to seal. Cut a small slit on the top of each empanada and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Brush the tops with the beaten egg.

Bake for 12-16 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 2 minutes and then remove from the cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small microwavable bowl, microwave the peanut butter chips and 2 tablespoons of the shortening on high for 1-1 ½ minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth. Dip 1 corner of each empanada into the melted chips on an angle, creating a diagonal line. Place on a piece of waxed paper and let stand 10 minutes, or until coating is set.

Meanwhile, in small microwavable bowl, microwave the chocolate chips and remaining 2 tablespoons shortening on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth. Holding the undipped corner of the empanada, dip the peanut butter-coated empanadas into the melted chocolate on the opposite angle so that some of the peanut butter coating is still visible. Refrigerate for 10 minutes or until the chocolate is set. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Store covered in refrigerator.