Tuesday, July 31, 2012

TWD: Blueberry-Nectarine Pie with Crumble Topping

Do you ever put things away in the wrong place?  Like putting the orange juice in the cupboard, or your keys in the fridge or throwing something important in the garbage?  I must have have one of those days the other day because I KNEW I bought brown sugar at the store!  And when I set out to make my pie today I glanced at the blogs of our hosts for the week.  This post captivated my attention and since I just made a peach pie last week, I welcomed the idea for more of a crumble.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Grilled Zucchini Caprese Sandwiches with Avocado

We have made these twice now and I know we will be making them again.  I wish I had a garden right now, but I don't.  If I did, there would be zucchini and tomatoes (and probably some basil somewhere!) in my backyard right now.  Maybe next year.  For now, I will just pretend I got these veggies from somewhere other than the grocery store.  Consider yourself lucky if you do have fresh vegetables in your yard.  You are cooler than me and I am completely jealous.  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bake 52: Lattice-top Peach Pie

 This week, I stopped being a snob long enough to try a pie crust recipe from the book.  Every time we have made a pie for the group, I have always stuck with what I know.  I was starting to feel like a poor sport for not stepping out of my comfort zone and trying a new recipe.  I even did all the steps like I was supposed to.  I made the dough, the refrigerated it, then I froze it and then I froze some more of it....and I liked it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fresh Corn Soup

So the picture doesn't really do it justice, but this soup was completely delicious.  I love fresh corn in the summer and part of me wondered if it was a form a blasphemy to add fresh corn to a soup rather than just cooking it and eating it with butter.  I was worried it was going to decrease the awesomeness of fresh corn somehow.  I was wrong.  There are few ingredients in this recipe yet it's so flavorful.  The fresh corn flavor was preserved and complimented by the creaminess of the soup.  Everyone loved it.  Instead of straining through a mesh strainer like the recipe states, we just served it after processing and it was delicious.  I am not sure the straining is necessary, but use your judgement there. :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Berry Cheesecake Squares

I've talked about being obsessed with fruit and cream desserts lately.  I wonder if you guys knew that I was this serious about it. :)  When we were looking for baking ideas for the 4th of July, one of my friends posted a link to this on Facebook and it was love at first sight.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bake 52: Cinnamon Rolls

I had to constantly remind myself to stick to the recipe this week.  Because I genuinely wanted to see how they would turn out.  I have a very intimate relationship with cinnamon rolls (yes, I just said intimate).  And these were good but it's hard to compare a recipe I have tried for the first time to one I have over-hauled and made exactly how I like it.  It's really not fair.  I don't know if you've heard though; life isn't fair.  Even though they had some stiff competition, they made a decent showing, they were pretty good cinnamon rolls.  I will probably stick to the recipe I love but I did learn some things this week (of course!).  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

TWD: Semolina Bread

 I am not going to lie to you.  I really don't know what Semolina Bread is.  I have never eaten it before (that I know of) and I have never made it before.  This was the first time purchasing semolina flour.  It's known for it's pasta uses which I am excited to try since I usually just use all purpose flour when I make pasta.  I am not sure my pantry can handle storing one more type of flour though.  I am still on the fence as to whether I would make this again or buy the flour once I run out.  Don't worry, I will keep you posted about this super important decision I am about to make.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Chick-fil-A Sauce

{I was going to make waffle fries but I am still scared of my mandolin since the 'accident'}
I don't hide the fact that I am in love with Chick-fil-A.  And most of the time I take it upon myself to bring up Chick-fil-A Sauce in every conversation I have, whether it's relevant to the topic or not. It's my favorite fast food place to visit and when we/if go, I get fries (with 80 packages of Chick-fil-A sauce) and a Diet Coke with lemon.  Have I mentioned I quit drinking Diet Coke?  It's been 2 weeks and I have only had one.  Does that count as quitting?  It's a miracle really and now I am going to try moving mountains with telepathy.  Anything is possible.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Beef and Bell Pepper Stir-Fry

We have eaten this twice now.  The first time was a night that I was just in a hurry to feed everyone and myself before there was a giant meltdown at my house.  Probably by me.  Just one of those nights.  Of course, I didn't feel like taking pictures, I just wanted to feed everyone and put them all to bed.  I knew we would have it again but I had ideas on how to make it a little better.  This time, I felt like it was just how I would want it.  I am all about stir fry dishes lately.  Maybe it's because they are quick, but flavorful and healthy-ish.  {If we left out the rice I am sure it would be even healthier but I've heard we all need a vice. ;)}

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bake 52: Fresh Fruit Tart

This is my week to host!  I chose this recipe because I am completely obsessed with fresh fruit desserts right now, and it doubles if they have some kind of cream.  And, I think, pastry cream is what Heaven will be like.  I think you just get a spoon and giant tubs of pastry cream for being good on Earth.  For those reasons, all rolled into one, I chose this recipe.  I also don't have a lot of experience with tarts so that was an added bonus, I got to learn something new.  And what I learned, didn't really have to do with tarts at all.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fresh Corn Salad

If you like corn at all, you need to make this.  ASAP.  I took one bite at dinner about a week ago and said, "Is it just me or is this salad freaking delicious?"  Yeah, it's freaking delicious.  And I don't often say the 'f' (freaking, never the other one) word.  I reserve it for special occasions such as this.  Tyler doesn't care for fresh parsley so he would have been fine if that was left out but I liked it.  To make the salad extra delicious, make sure you wait and cut the corn from the cob after preparing all the other ingredients so it stays as fresh as possible.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cashew Chicken

My cousin, Kaycee, sent me this recipe a while ago (she said it originally came from Southern Living).  It took me FOREVER, it seemed, to get around to making it and then it's taken me almost as long to post about it.  Mainly because our trip got in the way.  This is super easy and super delicious and will now be in our rotation of go-to meals.  The only draw back is that the chicken has to be marinated beforehand (which means my chicken also needs to be defrosted!!).  I am not sure I can expect myself to ever remember something like that.  But special circumstances arise and challenge us to change who we are.  To become better.  Maybe I can change myself for this dish.  I am counting on it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

TWD: Cinnamon Biscotti with Fruit Bruchetta

I have only made biscotti one other time and it just happen to be for a TWD post.  Luckily it was incorporated into something super chocolatey and I found it to be delightful.  I had sampled one of the cookies last time I made them and wasn't super impressed.  I am not sure what all the biscotti hype is about.  I am also not a coffee drinker so maybe that's it?  Do you have to be a coffee drinker to appreciate biscotti?  Needless to say, I was kind of dreading today.  With all the yummy-looking 4th of July desserts flying around and my obsession with fresh fruit lately, this wasn't really doing it for me.  But I also really want to bake every week with this group-that's my goal and I haven't missed a week yet.  What to do?  Then I remembered this post and thought maybe I could use the biscotti and top it with a fruit bruchetta.

It was good, I think I would still rather have something else underneath the fruit.  It's just too much crunch for me.  I like a little crunch and a little soft and these are all crunch.  After they had sat for a while, the biscotti did soften up slightly under the fruit which made me like it a bit more.

I didn't see hazelnuts at the store, nor did I spend anytime really looking for them, so I just left them out.  I subbed the liquor with water and added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon to the dough (I halved the recipe).  I liked the idea of fruit brushetta but next time, I would do something else with the cream.  The honey, sour cream sauce wasn't really my thing, but it didn't stop me from eating a few of them just to be sure.  I think even just some Nutella and the fruit would have been better.  (I should also mention that Hadlee loved them.)

If biscotti is your thing, you should give it a go.  You can get the recipe at one of the blogs of our hosts for the week:

If you'd like to see how the other TWD bakers did this week you can go HERE.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Patriotic Pavlova

We got home from our trip yesterday.  I am not sure why sitting in a car for hours on end makes me tired for days to come but I guess that's a lot of work for me.  Just sitting there.  Every once in a while turning my head to yell something at my kids in the backseat.  Not because we have a huge car and I have to yell for them to hear me but because we have a tiny car and everything they do starts to get on my nerves by the 11th hour.  The end of this trip marks the 8 billionth mile we have traveled since we got married.  And as of right now, going even to the grocery store seems too far.  (Although I did grudgingly go to the grocery store this afternoon, it was beyond ridiculous around here before that.)  

Another break from school has come and gone and today it was back to classes for the hubby.  It really went by in a flash, as it always does.  Some of our friends had a get together tonight to commemorate the start of another year.  They said to bring a side dish.  Doesn't dessert count as a side?  I really think it should also count as a main dish.  I have had this pavlova in my head since I saw this post the other day and knew if I made it for our family alone, I would eat it by myself.  

I have previously mentioned my love of pavlova.  And if you haven't tried it yet, I really don't know what you are waiting for.  I thought it would be an especially nice treat to bring because one of the guys can't have gluten.  (You really should have seen how excited he was when he found out it was gluten free.  It was worth it just for that.)  It is easy to make and everyone was impressed by it.  I felt a little guilty about how impressed they were knowing how little of my time it really took.  It does bake for 90 minutes and have to cool after that but it requires few ingredients and is simple to put together.  I understand your reservation, it has a weird name but you are just going to have to get over it!  

I am all about fresh fruit desserts right now, I can't seem to get enough.  The texture of the actual meringue is lovely.  It's light and pillowy with a slight crunch and then it melts in your mouth.  And not at all what everyone will expect you to bring. :)  It's traditionally shaped as a circle, but I opted for the rectangle since I had the flag theme going.  You can really put any kind of fruit you feel like on top, this is just what I used today.  Previously, I baked it at 200 for 90 minutes, turned off the oven and let it cool in the oven for 2 hours.  It seemed to crack less using that method and it stayed more white in color.  Today I was in more of a hurry and baked it at 225 for 90 minutes, then removed it from the oven to cool completely.  Either way works but if I have time, I will opt for the former.

Patriotic Pavlova
6 egg whites
1/4 + 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
1 & 1/2 cups sugar

large container of cool whip
1/4 cup sugar
8 oz cream cheese

watermelon, cut into star shapes with cookie cutter.
strawberries (about 3/4 to 1 cup chopped)
blueberries (about 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 200 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Add egg whites, cream of tartar and vanilla to the bowl of your mixer.  Mix on medium speed until frothy and light.  Add sugar a little at at time until all combined.  Turn mixer speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form. (about 5-10 minutes)

Spread into desired shape on parchment paper.  The meringue should be about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick.  My rectangle was about 9x13 inches.  Bake for 90 minutes, then turn off oven temp and allow to sit in the oven for 2 hours.  Remove and cool completely.

For topping:
Mix 1/4 cup sugar and cream cheese until smooth and combined.  Mix in Cool Whip and refrigerate about 20 minutes.  Spread onto the cool meringue.  

Top with chopped strawberries, watermelon and blueberries.  Serve immediately.  (Since it was a rectangle, we cut it into squares)

Now if only I could sleep for a week to recover from all that hard sitting and yelling work I have been doing. ;)  Oh and on top of that, I picked now to try and quit drinking Diet Coke.  Feel free to shoot me in the head.  Anyone?

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