Saturday, August 5, 2017

Peach Fluff

I am so excited to be sharing this very famous (at least in our house) recipe today! This one brings up so many memories for me as we had this at a close friend's home quite a few times when I was growing up. This also happens to be one of my dad's favorite recipes, and since his birthday was recently I was able to surprise him with it! Food gifts are my favorite to give! 

This recipe is a summer staple. It's fairly easy to make, and it makes A LOT so if you have a picnic or BBQ to go to this would be the perfect option. This dessert also looks impressive in the pan, and it's a great way to use up the best summer fruit....PEACHES! 

This dessert starts with a shortbread-like crust with delicious pecans in the crust. I toasted mine and it gave it an extra nutty flavor. The crust is topped with a sweet cream cheese mixture, and then all of that gets finished with a peachy, fruity, delicious topping. Crunchy, nutty, sweet, tangy, peachy! This hits all those delicious notes all in one bite. 

May I introduce you to: Peach Fluff!

Peach Fluff

recipe from a sweet lady at church who was gracious enough to share it with me!

To Make the Crust

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and press into a 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. 

To Make the Cream Cheese Filling

1 8oz tub Cool Whip, defrosted 
1 8oz brick cream cheese, softened 
1 cup powdered sugar

In a large bowl combine all ingredients with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. 

Spread mixture onto cooled crust.

To Make the Peach Topping

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 3oz box peach Jello
8 fresh peaches, chopped

Add water, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved and mixture is thick and clear.

Remove thickened mixture from heat and add in box of peach Jello. Whisk until combined.

Add chopped peaches into thickened sugar mixture and stir to combine.

Pour peach topping over cream cheese filling.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

I hope your family enjoys this dessert as much as my family does! Happy summer to you and yours! 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Warm Honey Mustard Potato, Spinach, & Salami Salad + An Egg!

Let's talk about summer and easy summer meals. Have you guys done anything fun this summer so far? Any plans coming up? I honestly just want to buy a blow-up pool and lounge in it for days. We have a concert coming up which will allow us to get away for a weekend. I am REALLY looking forward to it. 

I've also been reading so much more, and it's making me wish I had a porch so I could spend the evenings out there. I usually like to read non-fiction, but summer always makes me want to read those summer specific books that come out every year. This is a great list from one of my favorite bloggers, and I'm hoping to work through a lot of those recommendations. Our vacation isn't until the beginning of October, so I'm extending my summer reading until then. 

On to the recipe! This is one of the most delicious recipes I've made in a long time, and it's so quick. It's also easy to customize to fit the produce that's in season, or the tastes of your family. Please make this, and tell me how you like it. 

Honey Mustard Potato, Spinach, & Salami Salad

2 lbs red potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
12 ounces of salami (I used pre-cut)
a few handfuls of baby spinach
2 green onions, sliced thin

Boil potatoes until tender.

Whisk together oil, mustard, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add potatoes, salami, green onions, baby spinach, and toss gently to coat in dressing and allow spinach to wilt. Serve warm with a poached or fried egg. This also tastes fantastic cold!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

blackberry & nectarine galette

Ok friends. Let's talk about The Great British Baking Show. Have you seen it? Do you know what I'm talking about? My sister introduced me to the show a few weekends ago, and now I'm hooked. Like, hooked to the point that I watched all three seasons in their entirety in about 2 weeks. I consider the show educational (because it teaches you science and complicated baking techniques) so I can justify the amount of hours spent watching was basically school!

All that educational programing (HA) has me so inspired to start baking on a regular basis again, and it's given me some confidence to start trying things I wouldn't have tried before. The bakers on the show try their hand at pastries and treats that I've never even heard of, and they offer explanations on the "why" behind baking. 

Their explanation on why homemade crust works inspired me to make my own pie crust in this galette! This is my third attempt at homemade crust, and believe me when I say the first two were not pretty. This time the crust turned out perfectly, and it really is so delicious. 

This galette was originally supposed to be cherry a la How Sweet Eats, but I could find cherries or a cherry pitter, so I used what was freshest: blackberries and nectarines! I think what makes this galette work is the tart fruit with the sweet and buttery pastry. If you can't find blackberries or nectarines you can successfully sub in a tart fruit of any kind. 

Blackberry + Nectarine Galette

pastry recipe from How Sweet Eats
filling recipe adapted from The New York Times

For the pastry (makes two)

4 cups all-purpose four
1 tablespoon sugar
3 teaspoons salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 cup ice cold water
1 1/2 cups (24 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
sugar for sprinkling over crust
1 egg + a little water for brushing over the crust

Sift together flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and whisk together.

In a small bowl whisk together egg, vinegar, and water.

Add butter chunks into the flour mixture and combine together by hand until the mixture resembles a sandy texture. 

Pour egg mixture into the flour mixture and combine with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together. 

Turn dough out onto your counter top and knead until the dough is smooth and pliable. Roll into a large ball.

Cut dough ball in half. Cover both dough balls in plastic wrap freeze one for later use, and refrigerate the other for no more than 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For the Filling

2 pounds nectarines, pitted and sliced 
6 ounces fresh blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch 
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl and let rest while crust rests in the fridge. 

To Assemble the Tart

Roll dough into a loose circle shape on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. 

Place dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Scoop fruit mixture into the center of the dough, leaving about a 2 inch border around the edges. 

Fold and pleat crust over the filling. Brush beaten egg and water over the exposed crust, and top the entire galette with a generous sprinkle of sugar. 

Bake galette for 40 - 45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. 

Serve to friends with ice-cream, or eat in bed while watching reruns of The Great British Baking Show. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

blueberry pie fudge and a chat about disappointment

Today I have blueberry pie fudge, folks! It feels so summery and it involves very few ingredients which I like as well. Before we get to the recipe let's have a little chat about....


Yep, disappointment. Why? Well, because this week has been rough and I believe in sharing stories because maybe someone else will feel like they aren't alone in their circumstances. 

I'm not even sure where to begin because I'm still in the stages of feeling super overwhelmed. More specifically, I'm feeling super disappointed in connection with something that I've been praying about for a very long time, and a feeling that I have no direction in life right now. There are so many wonderful changes and good things coming in the next few months in my personal life, but at the same time those changes have made me feel a sense of misdirection. Or if I'm being truthful, no direction. A lot of the things I've found identity in - ministry, career, relationships, etc. - are changing and I'm feeling quite off balance. Some things have changed as an answer to prayer, but I've been left feeling lost because the new things weren't nearly as exciting or fulfilling as I anticipated them to be. It's left me feeling empty and without a sense of direction. 

As I've tried to process through these feelings, I've just made myself feel guilty that I'm not happy. I've seen myself in a not so flattering light this week as I've had an adult temper tantrum on the inside while trying to keep a smile on my face on the outside. I'll let you guess how that turned out (answer: terribly). My point here is this: it's ok to be disappointed. It's ok to feel that feeling. It's ok to have a moment of panic when things don't turn out the way you expected. What's not ok is settling in to those emotions and buying a one-way ticket to pity-party-town. Believe me, I've done that too many times to count and it's not a great tourist spot. 

What should we do with all those feelings? I believe we should use them as a compass. Sometimes gathering information about what we don't like is as valuable as the information about what we do like. For me, I'm not a fan AT ALL of where I am in my career. My job is a snoozefest, and it's an endless cycle of delivering bad news to college students. What I've learned is I don't like to be the bearer of bad news, I don't like telling students there aren't options, and I don't particularly like to enforce federal regulations (many that I don't even agree with), and THAT'S OK! I don't have to love everything about everything.  What I do like is creativity in a good, supportive team and being an advocate for students who feel like they don't have options (if I were to stay in higher education). 

My point in all of this? Well, I think I just needed to write it out. This just seemed really therapeutic and my mind is already more at ease. 

How does all of this tie in to fudge? Well, I had a really bad attitude this week and allowed the confusion about my career and a few upcoming things in my future to plunge me into one of the worst weeks of anxiety that I've had. When I get anxious I close off, and I made this fudge for a person who loves me very much that I pulled away from. 

If you've displayed a bad attitude toward someone you love may I present these affection confections are a way to say, "I'm sorry for being a buttface for 5 days." 

Find the recipe over on Baker by Nature


Saturday, February 4, 2017

buffalo & cheddar pretzels

 Hey, hi, hello! I saw these pretzels on Half Baked Harvest this week and scrapped my plans for a coconut cake to replace it with these!

These perfect pretzels would be a fantastic Super Bowl snack since they're incredibly easy, extra tasty, and super quick. In the time it takes for the dough to proof you can prep the rest of your snacks and have your kitchen clean! I, of course, am just imagining this in my head because I will actually getting my hair cut during the Super Bowl! Will I be the only person not watching, or do you also have other plans?

These pretzels are perfect, seriously. That's the very first thing I thought when I bit into one of these. Absolutely perfect! They're soft, loaded with flavor, and the most satisfying size for a small snack. I also want to note that the inside of the pretzels are brushed with buffalo sauce lending the tiniest bit of spice. You can add more sauce for dipping obviously, but I was so happy with the flavors that I found I didn't need any. 

Buffalo & Cheddar Pretzels

recipe from Half Baked Harvest

2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly 
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 1/4 cups of AP flour**
1/2 cup buffalo sauce
12 cheddar cheese sticks, unwrapped
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 teaspoons minced, dried onion
2 teaspoons minced, dried garlic
2 teaspoons coarse salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook combine sugar, yeast, and warm water until just combined. Let stand for about 5 minutes to bloom.

Once yeast has bloomed add melted butter, salt, and flour** to yeast mixture and mix on medium speed until dough comes together and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl to form a ball. 

Place dough ball into a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let dough rest and rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add baking soda to boiling water right before adding pretzels. 

Once dough has risen, remove from bowl and roll into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick on a clean surface. Cut dough widthwise into 12 even strips and brush liberally with buffalo sauce. 

Wrap each cheese stick with a strip of dough making sure the buffalo sauce is on the inside. Seal both ends. 

Boil pretzels 1 - 2 at a time for 30 seconds in the soda water. Remove pretzels with a slotted spoon. Place 6 pretzels each on two baking sheets covered with parchment then brush with the egg wash. 

Place sesame seeds, poppy seeds, onion, garlic, and salt in a small bowl and mix generously. Cover unbaked pretzels liberally in "everything" spice before baking. 

Bake pretzels for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. 

** Original recipe calls for 4 1/4 cups of flour. I recommend adding only 4 cups of flour and letting it combine before determining if the dough needs more. If it does, add a few tablespoons of flour at a time until you get the right consistency. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

brown butter snickerdoodles + a secret ingredient!

Happy 2017 everyone! I hope your new year is off to a grand start, and that you're still excited about this new, fresh, exciting year! January is so motivating to me, and while I don't always follow through with my grand new year plans, it feels nice to reevaluate, organize, and reset.

Most of my plans for 2017 are large and a lot of them require getting out of my comfort zone and won't actually produce results until a little later. However, i'll be 30 this year (what?!?!) and that's made me a little introspective. My perspective on goal setting this year was, "what do I want my life to look like in the next 5 years", and I have some clear goals for both personal and professional areas.

What does all of that have to do with cookies? NOTHING. Not one thing! Ha! Maybe I can segue this blog post super gently into cookies by saying: if your resolution is to make super delicious cookies, this recipe will rock your world!

I'm sure you're just dying to know what that secret ingredient is, huh? Well friends, it's toasted PECANS. Yep, you read that correctly. Pecans! Toasty, fragrant, delicious, pecans that are pulsed in a food processor that add the best nutty flavor, especially when paired with the brown butter. 

I didn't realize that snickerdoodles were hit or miss cookies. Did you? It seems like people either love them, or they really don't. I am actually not a huge fan of snickerdoodles (give me chocolate chip any day), but I just couldn't pass on these cookies with the yummy extra additions so I gave them a try. I am so glad I did because not only are they delicious and impressive, but they're incredibly easy, too!

Brown Butter Snickerdoodles

2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup whole pecans
1 cup oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for rolling
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a heavy-bottomed metal pot brown your butter. If you've never done this before I use this post! Once it's browned pour the entire mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer to cool.

In a large skillet over medium heat toast whole pecans until lightly browned and toasted. 

Immediately transfer the toasted pecans to a food processor. Add flour and pulse mixture until nuts and oats and combined. 

Transfer oats and pecans to a large mixing bowl and whisk in flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined. 

Meanwhile in the stand mixer, add both sugars to the browned butter and mix well (about 3 minutes on high). Add in eggs one at a time until combined, then the vanilla extract. Scrape the sides of the bowl. 

Add in flour mixture to the wet ingredients beating on low speed until combined. 

Use a medium cookie scoop to form dough balls then roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Place dough on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack then enjoy!