Let’s challenge ourselves. Let’s move beyond what we know we can do and into something we’re not sure of. Let’s leave it all on the field, balls to the wall, and just go for it. I’m talking
Not interested? Well, initially I wasn’t either. But tempted by a recipe contest on Food52, I decided to try my hand at making a dairy free frozen dessert.
What started as an idea became an obsession, and I will tell you that I am now a believer in dairy-free ice cream.
To be honest, this was scary for me. I don’t typically like to mess with a good thing and let’s be honest- ice cream from cow’s milk is good. Reeaaal good. But I threw it out there and what I got back after a few misfires was worth the effort. Zesty lime, macerated strawberries, and an extra thick graham cracker crust makes this coconut milk based ice cream pie a home run for any summer gathering.
Trust me on this one. Don’t knock it till you try it.
This vegan coconut lime ice cream pie, made up of zesty lime, macerated strawberries, and an extra thick graham cracker crust is a winning option for lighter, frozen desserts.
Total Time:1 hour
For the crust
2 sleeves of graham crackers
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
For the ice cream filling
28 ounces whole fat coconut milk, refrigerated and divided
2 teaspoons lime zest
3 tablespoons lime juice
2.5 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the strawberry topping
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons of lime juice
To prepare the crust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place graham crackers in a food processor and process into crumbs. Pulse in salt and coconut oil until the crumbs are moistened and clumping together.
Pat crumbs into a 9″ metal pie pan being sure to cover the sides of the pan in a thick layer of crumbs. Reserve any extra crumbs to use as pie topping.
Bake pie crust in the oven for 8-9 minutes or until crumbs are firm in the bottom of the pan. Allow to cool to room temperature.
To prepare ice cream
Open the refrigerated cans of coconut milk and separate the watery portion of the coconut milk from the solid portion.
Combine the solid portion of coconut milk with the lime zest, lime juice, sugar, and vanilla.
Add about 1/2 of the coconut water and stir until smooth and combined. Mixture will be about as thick as melted ice cream.
Pour this mixture in to an ice cream machine and churn according to the machine’s directions. It took my machine about 15 minutes for the coconut ice cream to be done. It will look like soft serve frozen yogurt when done.
Spoon ice cream into prepared pie crust and freeze until solid.
Once pie is frozen and ready to eat, prepare the strawberry topping. Mix strawberries with sugar and lime juice and allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Serve on top of pie slices along with extra crust crumbs.
Be sure to use full-fat coconut milk and NOT low-fat or cream of coconut. Trust me: I tried and they will not work.
Substitute another berry or different fruit topping for the strawberries. If it’s delicious- email me! I want to hear all about it.
Friday, you sweet son of a gun, am I glad to see you or what?!
Have you all had some bright spots this week? I really hope so. Over here, the days feel long when they’re spent attached to a 5 week old while running after an almost two year old but thank goodness and hallelujah that summer + maternity leave = weekends at the lake. My parents have a little spot on the water at Lake Martin, so during the summer, they spend a couple months in these parts and I have a location for weekend retreats. And, to be clear, by “retreats” I mean no makeup, extra hands to help with chi’rens, and all the grilled chili dogs and burgers my post-natal body can handle. PRAISE!
I’m excited to be able to share with you all twice this week. Ever since we talked about pie crust earlier this week, I’ve been trying to determine which recipe I was going to post today. I have a few pies up my sleeve but, you know, I can’t show you all my cards at once so let’s settle for one recipe at time, okay? In preparation for today, I did a little more research (read: made and consumed way too many pies) to make sure I gave you the most appropriate of appropriate pie recipes today. After much deliberation and several scoops of ice cream to make my pie tests “a la mode”, I’ve decided on a summer staple: mixed berry pie. Well, berry almond streusel pie, to be precise.
Me and the berries get along real well in the summer on account of all the farm stands and pick-your-own berry fields that have popped up here in central Alabama. Also, is there anyone who doesn’t like at least one variety of berry? I don’t think so.
I decided on a mix of blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries for this pie, but the beauty of this recipe is that you can go any direction. Use whatever you have on hand, whatever is growing in your backyard, or whatever is BOGO at the supermarket. Once you have made the ultra-critical decision of picking your flavors, and given that you read my last post and know how to make stellar pie crust, the hardest part of making this pie is waiting for it to cool to room temperature and set up completely. No judgement here if you dive in spoon first the second it’s cool enough to shovel in to your mouth. Been there, done that.
The crumb topping on this berry almond streusel pie comes together easily and is a terrific alternative to making a double-crusted pie. I’ve included a photo of a double crusted pie I fixed earlier this year when I was testing dough braiding. Let’s just say that whole braiding thing is easier said than done. With two babies on the hip this summer, I’m going to stick with streusel toppings for now.
This recipe for berry almond streusel pie will fill a standard 9″ pie plate. If you’d prefer to use a deep-dish pan, increase the filling by 1/3 and cook a bit longer. I’ve even halved this recipe and prepared pies in mini 6″ dishes that turn out great and make for a terrific pie for two! My favorite though is the standard 9″ pie because it’s great for sharing manageable-sized slices with friends.
Let’s embrace the weekend and the onset of summer by making this berry almond streusel pie and let me know how you love it! Cheers to the weekend and to summer baking!
For my favorite double pie crust recipe, click here!
This berry almond streusel pie is stuffed with juicy, mixed berries and topped with a buttery, almond specked crumb topping.
Total Time:2 hours
For the streusel
1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, cold and diced
1/2 cup sliced almonds
For the pie
1/2 recipe of double pie crust (see link above)
1 tablespoon water
2 pounds of mixed berries, stemmed and cut into similar sized pieces
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
To prepare the streusel
Combine the flour, oats, sugar, and salt in a medium sized bowl and stir to combine. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter until it comes together in pea-sized clumps. Toss in the sliced almonds. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To prepare the pie
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Toss the berries, lemon juice, and extracts together in a large bowl. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the berries bowl and toss to combine. Allow to sit for 20 minutes while you prepare your pie plate.
Roll your pie dough to 1/8-1/4″ thick and place in a 9″ standard pie plate. Trim excess dough from the edges and crimp your crust as desired.
Spoon the berries into the prepared pie plate and drain off any excess juices. Top the pie evenly with the crumble topping.
Whisk together the egg and water to create an egg wash. Brush evenly over all of the pie crust edges.
Place pie in the preheated oven and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an addition 1 or 1-1/2 hours, or until the filling bubbles thickly around the outside of the pie.
Once done, cool on a cooling rack until room temperature, at least 6 hours or overnight.
Keep your pie crust and streusel cold until it is placed in the oven. Cold crust and streusel is easier to work with and will perform best in the oven.
Keep in mind that this recipe works best in a standard 9″ pie plate and is not intended for a deep-dish pie plate. Increase filling ingredients by 1/3 in order to fill a deep-dish plate.
Use another 1/2 recipe of pie dough to top the pie if you prefer a double crust pie. Be sure to brush all of the crust with the egg wash. This will help the crust to brown beautifully.
Let’s get one thing clear. I don’t do pie. Or pie crust.
Before I moved to Florida, dessert in our house meant one thing: Kone King. Our suburban neighborhood in Upstate New York didn’t have much to boast in the way of food but they definitely knew good soft serve ice cream. I can remember begging my parents to take me to Kone King after supper on warm summer evenings (read: any night of the year that they were open) where we would make bets on what the flavor of the day would be. Orange and vanilla swirl with sprinkles for me and black raspberry swirl for my parents. Twenty years later, I still think of Kone King just before I take my first bite of a new frozen treat. Will it measure up? Will this be the bite I’ve been waiting for? Usually, no, although there have been a few worthy contenders over the years.
That was a long way of saying that frozen dairy is my thing. It’s my jam. It’s the butter to my bread and the frosting to my cake. I know ice cream and am crazy about it in a weird way that would probably make most people feel a little uncomfortable. My husband even orders extra yogurt when we go out and I dig in to his once I’ve polished off mine. I’m not embarrassed about it; that’s just part of our routine and 75% of the reason why I’ve decided to spend my life with him.
When I married Brett, I didn’t understand why he didn’t like ice cream as much as I did. That first time, in fact, that he let me finish his yogurt, I remember thinking that it was a really sweet gesture. But alas, Brett was not being generous. He was simply sparing his stomach from the internal apocalypse that was imminent upon finishing his cup of frozen bliss. God bless the people who have dairy intolerance. Let’s have a moment of silence for them.
So what was I supposed to serve my dairy-hating man friend? I posed this question to him one day. His response?
Pie? Your favorite is pie?
Ok. I can work with pie. But… But, how? I had never made pie crust from scratch in my life. Isn’t that why they make that delicious processed pastry in a box at the grocery store? Or that perfectly patted out graham cracker crumble in a tin? My future husband, the man I so desired to please and serve well, liked a dessert that I really had no idea how to go about making.
So I set out to learn. I started small with crumb based crusts and along the way I ground and patted my way to sweet Oreo glory and buttery Biscoff bliss. My Mimi gave me a lesson on pies at Thanksgiving and after six sticks of Crisco were sacrificed on behalf of my apple and pumpkin pies, I scarfed down more than my share of pie with little hesitation (or dignity).
There were a few not-so-glamourous moments too including an apple crumb pie with a doughy center (???) and a banana cream pie that never really set up (but thank goodness, we’ve since resolved that). Even after the lesson from my grandmother, there were still times I found myself covered in flour and wanting to dump my pie in the trash.
That is, until it happened. The day that me, my deep dish pie pan, and a few stalks of rhubarb walked the hall of victors to the glorious podium of success. A pie crust equal parts buttery and flaky, lightly golden, and perfectly baked around a tart and juicy filling of berries and rhubarb. Perfectly set slices of pie were shared with friends and it was agreed that this was a recipe for the books.
So this recipe for pie crust is for my husband. Yes, it’s just the crust, but it’s the product of hours in the kitchen and it’s a gesture that says, “Honey, I respect that you don’t know crap about ice cream and that you prefer pie. So here, this is yours.”
Try this recipe next time you’re looking to make a pie. Trust me one this one. And stay tuned for another recipe later on this week. (HINT: it’s a pie!)
A pie crust equal parts buttery and flaky, lightly golden, and perfectly baked- this is the only recipe for a double pie crust that you’ll ever need.
3 ½ cups (420 gm) all purpose flour
3 teaspoons (12 gm) sugar
3/4 teaspoon (4 gm) salt
2/3 cup (135 gm) chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
3/4 cup (1–1/2 sticks, 170 gm) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
10 tablespoons (approximately) ice water
Give the dry ingredients a whiz in the food processor to combine.
Pulse in the shortening and butter, just until barely evenly dispersed.
Begin adding ice water, 2 tablespoons at a time until moist clumps begin to form.
Remove dough from food processor and separate in two round disks. Wrap in Saran wrap and chill for at least two hours prior to use.
When ready to use, roll out to 1/4″ thickness and line the bottom of a 9″ pie pan. This is enough dough to fill a deep dish pan as well. Prior to baking, brush with an egg wash, if desired. This is done by whisking 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water and lightly brushing crust prior to use.
This recipe makes a double crust. If you want extra dough for decorating the top, I recommend doubling the recipe and saving leftover crust for a future pie! The dough freezes nicely when wrapped well.
Chilling the dough is essential. If your dough gets too warm while you are rolling it out or decorating the top, you may not get as flakey of a crust as you might desire. So work swiftly!
Patch up holes or tears in the crust with leftover dough. Even small holes on the bottom of the pie plate can make a burned and sticky mess of your pie and you’re not going to want to waste a drop of this deliciousness!
You can easily substitute the shortening for butter and visa versa, however I cannot vouch for any other substitutions. Unless you’re super anti-shortening or anti-butter, I strongly recommend this combination for a buttery, flaky crust.
For most of us, Throwback Thursday is an opportunity to post 10 year old bikini shots from before we had stretch marks, or the photo from that time we ran into some obscure daytime television star in the airport, but Throwback Thursday can also be used as an opportunity to reminisce on on fun, tasty memories. While I know today is not Thursday, we can totally pretend it is, or, if you’d prefer, we can say today is “Throwback Tuesday.” Cool? OK, awesome.
Today I’m throwing it back to my early teenage years (mentally wincing). As a now late 20-something, my teenage years were heavily characterized by AOL instant messaging via my dial-up desktop computer, making up dance routines to N’Sync songs in my best friend’s bedroom, and trolling the mall for cute boys and a Cinnabon. Thank God, I’ve since moved on from instant messaging and checking out long-haired, pimpled skater boys, but I am still 100% into Cinnabons. Let’s be honest- you didn’t go to a shopping mall 10 years ago without stopping at Cinnabon, did you? If I close my eyes and think hard enough, I can still smell the scent of warm Cinnabons wafting through the heavily perfumed entryway of Abercrombie and Fitch, while a friend and I try to decide on which matching polos we’re going to buy for the upcoming weekend’s JV basketball game (pause for more mental wincing). I can remember as a kid being able to put away 2 or 3 Cinnabons in a day (assuming I had saved enough babysitting money to purchase that many) with little to no effort. There’s something super nostalgic about those flavors for me and while I have yet to find a recipe that comes close to those gooey, giant rolls we all know and love, I’m still really OK with logging the man hours required to whip up those hot little buns. Today, I’m sharing a recipe for a grown up cinnamon roll: hazelnut cinnamon rolls
The recipe for this dough is adapted from The Pioneer Woman, and if you know ANYTHING about her, it’s that she makes ridiculously awesome breakfast rolls. This dough is buttery, soft, and the perfect platform for a a variety of fillings and toppings. My take on her rolls is prepared with a crunchy hazelnut filling that is sweetened with brown sugar and warmly scented with cinnamon. Instead of cutting smaller, shorter rolls, these buns are closer in size to a traditional Cinnabon: large and in charge. Once risen and baked, they’re topped with a sweet, cream cheese glaze that can easily be thickened or thinned out according to your preference.
I’ve also prepared this dough into a hazelnut cinnamon roll cake by rolling 2″ strips of dough into one giant cinnamon roll that I let rise and cook in an 8″ springform pan. If you get ambitious, I highly recommend it. A great tutorial for this method can be found here.
If you’re wanting to go even more next level, I would totally try out a Nutella cream cheese glaze. Whisk a couple of tablespoons of Nutella into the cream cheese and butter and thin out with milk as needed. YUM. If you try this, you better send me one in the mail because I’m dying to taste it.
Give hazelnut cinnamon rolls a try and proudly re-live your version of Throwback Thursday. If you need me, I’ll be attempting to recall my original choreography to Christina Aguilera’s “What a Girl Wants.” Don’t judge.
These hazelnut cinnamon rolls have a sweet, buttery dough, with a crunchy hazelnut and cinnamon brown sugar filling.
Total Time:2 hours 30 minutes
For the dough
2 cups (480 mL) milk (whole or 2%)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick, 85 gm)) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (100 gm) granulated sugar
2–1/4 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
4–1/2 cups (540 gm) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the filling
1/2 cup (60 gm) hazelnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup (100 gm) brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 gm) sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick, 110 gm)) unsalted butter, softened
For the glaze
4 ounces (110 gm) cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons (55 gm) butter, room temperature
2 cups (250 gm) powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons (30 mL) of milk or cream, plus more as desired
To prepare the rolls
In a large pot, combine the milk, butter, and sugar over medium heat and allow to warm just before the milk is scalding. Remove from burner and allow to cool until luke warm. Add the yeast and allow to dissolve, about 2 minutes.
Add 3-1/2 cups of the flour to the milk mixture and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and allow to rest and rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour. If your dough hasn’t doubled in size within that hour, place the dough in a slightly warmer spot of the kitchen.
Combine the remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and add to the risen dough. Stir to combine. At this point, you can refrigerate the dough overnight or roll out to use immediately. If you decide to save it, punch dough down into bowl if it over-rises.
Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface to a 12×14″ rectangle. Combine the hazelnuts, brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Spread softened butter out across the dough , leaving a 1/2 inch border around the sides. Evenly sprinkle the hazelnut mixture over the dough.
With one of the long ends closest to you, begin to roll the dough away from you, pinching the dough together at the end to seal your roll. Trim off any shaggy ends (no more than 1 inch) Using a sharp knife, cut 8 equal slices buns from your log of dough.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Space out buns on a large sheet pan and cover again with a sheet of plastic wrap or a tea towel. Allow to rise for 25-30 minutes, or until buns are puffed and rounded. Bake in the oven until buns are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool on pan for 10-15 minutes and then top with glaze.
To prepare the glaze
Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla, beating until evenly combined. Add milk slowly, 1-1/2 teaspoons at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Add extra liquid to thin out frosting to a drizzling glaze.
We have officially survived one whole week at home with two children under two. I’m thrilled to announce that last Saturday, after a very long feeling 10 days, we were able to bring baby George home from the NICU. Pulling into the driveway with our little guy in the backseat felt surreal, and I was relieved to have my baby home, healthy, and unplugged from all the machines and wires he was connected to during his stay in the hospital.
Once home, our first order of business was to introduce George to his big sister, Aimee. I’ll be sure to share photos of that exchange later because it was really just so sweet. Aimee has been a dream with George, and while she sometimes has the tendency to love him a little too hard (read: squish/ smother/ trample him in every way possible), her affection for him is an answer to prayer and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Can I tell you one of my favorite parts about bringing a baby home… and please don’t judge me?
I really like the food. Yes, the food.
I’m not sure if bringing a meal is a thing people do everywhere or if it’s just another one of the awesome ways that Southerners dominate in the field of hospitality, but where we live, if you have a baby people will bring you meals. It’s an excellent deal for us, if you ask me.
Let me be clear: I would not survive without the carbs and generosity from our friends here in Selma. What’s that saying about, “Man cannot live on bread alone?” Well, we probably wouldn’t even have bread in the house by now if it weren’t for all the croissants and Sister Shubert rolls that people have been dropping by our house. It’s magical.
Since this is our second go-around with the having a baby thing, I’m starting to develop a mental list of recipes I’d like to keep in my arsenal to potentially share with friends when they have babies. The recipe for this lemon almond poppyseed bundt cake is definitely one that I am mentally bookmarking. Bundt cakes, in my opinion, are terrific because they easily pass as a dessert, but also make a convincing argument in the breakfast department too. This lemon almond poppyseed bundt is no exception. It’s sweet, light, and fluffy like you would expect of any respectable cake, but its fragrant lemon and almond aromas and the little speckles of poppyseeds somehow remind me of a breakfast loaf that you might enjoy with a strong cup of coffee early in the morning. And because we all know that new parents operate on adrenaline and caffeine, this cake is a shoo-in gift for new parents.
A while back, my friend Lauren asked me to work on a lemon poppyseed cake recipe and after several tries and errors, this cake was the ultimate product. I have baked this batter in round cake pans and I’m pleased to announce that it works just as splendidly. While I haven’t tried this recipe in a 9″x13″ pan, I feel confident that it would bake up well and would be terrific with the almondy glaze poured right over top of the warm cake.
If you don’t know any new parents that you can share this lemon almond poppyseed bundt cake with, let me recommend weekend brunch, housewarming parties, bridal luncheons, church picnics, and whatever other events your social calendar has to boast as the perfect opportunity to test out this recipe. Bundt cakes are versatile and almost always appropriate to bring as a special treat for sharing.
So give this lemon almond poppyseed bundt cake a try and bless someone this week with the gift of food. Everyone loves a thoughtful friend, and friends who bring food are always invited back. And to all of our friends and family who have dropped by to share a meal: YOU ARE ANGELS. My thighs won’t thank you later, but our family is grateful for your love and generosity.
A light, sweet, and fluffy bundt cake scented with almonds, lemon, and little speckles of poppyseeds. This is the perfect cake to share or gift your friends and family!
Total Time:1 hour 30 minutes
For the cake
2–1/4 cups cake flour
1–3/4 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1–1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, but not warm
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon extract
Juice of one lemon
3 egg whites, room temperature
2 whole eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)
2 tablespoons poppyseeds
For the glaze
Juice and zest of two lemons
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons of milk milk
To prepare cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with baking spray or grease lightly.
Combine dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed for one minute until thoroughly mixed. While stirring on low speed, add small cubes of butter, one at a time, until all 1-1/2 sticks have been added. Continue to mix on low speed for another 1-2 minutes until butter is uniformly dispersed in the dry ingredients.
Meanwhile, combine the buttermilk, extracts, and lemon juice in a measuring cup and pour this into the stand mixer bowl, reserving 1/3 cup of the mixture. Beat on medium speed for two minutes until smooth and uniform. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the remaining milk mixture while mixing on low speed. Slowly pour in the egg whites and eggs, increasing the speed back to medium. Beat for another two minutes, scraping the bowl as needed to ensure that all of the batter is uniform. Add the lemon zest and poppyseeds and mix on low until combined, about thirty seconds.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes or until the center of the cake is set and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan on a cooling rack.
To prepare the glaze
Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk. If the consistency is too thin, allow to set out briefly or add additional powdered sugar. Add additional milk if the glaze is too thick. Drizzle over the top of the cooled cake.
I know what you’re thinking. “Blueberry cornbread? Is that a thing?”
As it so happens, blueberry cornbread is officially a thing and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Cornbread is one of the many things I received an education in when I moved to the South. In my 10+ years here, there have been a number of other learning opportunities and today, I wanted to share a few fun facts about Southern culture. If you’re not from the South, my money says you may learn a thing or two, but if you’re a born and bred Southerner… well, just try not to laugh too hard at my ignorance.
Tea, in the South, is offered two ways: sweet and sweeter. Unsweetened tea is a beverage kept around only for our Northern friends and those trying to “watch their sugar.”
You can fry anything. I tried my first fried pork chop when I was having Sunday “dinner” (this is actually a lunch hour meal) with my husband’s family. Not surprisingly, it was delicious.
God comes first, football is second. When I first moved to Alabama, I kept hearing people saying “ROLLLL TIDE.” It took a while to figure out why this one liner was exclaimed loudly with such frequency around here, but after unknowingly posing that question to a group of excited University of Alabama fans, I was brought up to speed. It took even longer to understand why we say “WAR EAGLE” when Auburn’s team mascot is clearly a tiger. Actually, I’m still kinda working on figuring this one out.
Grits. Okay, so I know grit dishes are trending on menus all over New American restaurant menus now, but 10 years ago, I had never tried them even once. The South knows how to do them right, and I prefer mine thick with a healthy addition of cheese and black pepper.
Camo is a color. My husband’s wardrobe is approximately 20% camouflage. He’s earned this right because he’s an actual hunter. I don’t always mind it, but I’m considering creating a line of hunting gear that reads Gail from “The Hunger Games.” [Insert all of the heart eyes]
No one is too old to be called ma’am. I’m 28 years old, and I get called ma’am daily. Here, this is good manners- a sign of respect. It’s also grounds for feeling like an old lady.
Lace is appropriate for little girls AND boys alike. Most of these delicate clothing items are handmade or have been passed down multiple generations. But to my Yankee friends: if you see a cute little one wearing an all white outfit with a scalloped lace collar, don’t assume this is a girl.
It’s not pop or soda… it’s Coke. Yes, Coca-Cola is king in the South and if you ask your server for a “pop” around these parts, you’re likely to get chuckled at. Don’t even think about asking for a Pepsi.
Similarly, “sneakers” are not a thing here. All athletic shoes are tennis shoes. Whether or not you’ve ever seen a tennis court has no bearing on what your shoes are called… it’s just always “tennis shoes.”
People are nicer here. I felt kinda like a big turd when I moved to Alabama because everyone was always SO NICE. People walking down the street would smile, tip a hat, or say “hello.” We’re talking complete strangers here. When I go back home to Florida, I get weird looks when I smile and wave at people passing by, and that secretly makes me happy because who doesn’t deserve to be treated with that kind of out of the ordinary friendliness? Next time you visit the South, prepare to have your socks knocked off by kindness.
Another thing I’m learning about the South? Cornbread.
I’m really okay with this aspect of Southern cuisine. I like my cornbread buttery and fluffy, but down here, you’ll find everyone has their own spin on it. This variation, blueberry cornbread, is a more delicate, sweet confection than its savory counterparts. A little honey, a scattering of blueberries, and more than a pinch of baking powder make this bread closer to a dessert cake than a side or breakfast item. This recipe for blueberry cornbread is adapted from one of my very favorite cookbooks, “Vintage Cakes,” by Julie Richardson that features a number of Southern favorites. I love that this cornbread feels casual enough to serve for breakfast but is still decadent enough to call dessert. And the fact that is comes together in a cast iron skillet makes me feel all kinds of Southern.
I photographed this cornbread a day or two after making my favorite strawberry shortcake that we talked about a couple of weeks ago. Because I still had some leftover honey whipped cream, I added a dollop to the top of the warm cornbread and HOLD THE PHONE– It was next level. I highly recommend whipping some up while this cake is in the oven.
Blueberry cornbread is a sweet and buttery skillet cake that is perfect for your next down-home, Southern affair. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Blueberry cornbread is a sweet and buttery skillet cake that is perfect for your next down home, Southern affair.
Total Time:1 hour 30 minutes
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup fine cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups of blueberries
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a 10″ cast iron skillet, melt the stick of butter over medium-low heat just until melted. Swirl butter in the pan to grease the sides and bottom and then set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, pour the butter and stir to combine with the honey. Add the eggs and buttermilk and whisk together to combine.
Pour the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
Fold in half (1 cup) of blueberries and pour batter back into the skillet.
Sprinkle the remaining blueberries over the top of the batter and finally, sprinkle the brown sugar over the batter.
Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out nearly clean with just a few moist crumbs.
Allow to cool slightly and serve with honey whipped cream (see link in text above), if desired.
Be sure you are using a 10″ skillet. This batter will bake out of the pan if you use one that is too small.
If your edges begin to brown too quickly before the center is becoming adequately baked through, tent the edges with a bit of aluminum foil to protect them from additional heat.
This cake will keep for 2-3 days at room temperature but is best eaten the day it is made.
This time last week, I was very pregnant. 37 weeks, large and in charge, swollen feet, hot flashy… pregnant.
This time last week, I had plans to get a mani/pedi, finish the baby’s nursery, and type up a few blog posts before my maternity leave.
This time last week, unbeknownst to me, I was very much so in labor.
I am overjoyed to announce that last Wednesday, May 11th, at 1:52 pm, Brett and I welcomed a baby boy into the world. At 6 pounds and 10 ounces, 19 inches, and a shade that would be best defined as mauve, our son, a few weeks early, took his first breaths of this world’s air.
I don’t know if I believe in love at first site, but I will tell you that there is nothing quite like holding your newborn child for the first time. The sight of a tiny person made up of your own flesh and blood provides a rush of emotional adrenaline that is the perfect mix of exhaustion, joy, and heart explosion. We still hadn’t picked a name, but after he was taken away to be cleaned up, Brett and I settled on George Ellis Wood. George, a nod to Brett’s grandfather and uncle, and Ellis, which means “mouthpiece of God” and “the Lord is my God”, was chosen after a few minutes of deliberation, and week into his golden little life, I will tell you I couldn’t be more excited about our choice.
George experienced some difficulty breathing almost immediately, and after a few hours of observation by our pediatrician, it was decided that he would require treatment at a facility about an hour away. After being held by his mama only once, George was whisked away by ambulance and I was left to recover in my original hospital room, completely overwhelmed by the day’s events.
Fast forward to today.
George is still in the NICU, but he’s doing splendidly and getting closer and closer to breathing on his own. I’ve held him three times since then (4 if you count holding hands), and every time feels like the first.
When unexpected things happen, it’s easy for me to become overwhelmed, ask “why?”, and to question God’s sovereignty in my life. This past week, however, has been a uniquely different experience. While overwhelming at times, we have been supported and covered in prayer in a way unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. We’ve been on the receiving end of hundreds of calls, texts, and hugs, and I feel so at ease and peace with leaving our son in the care of his medical team. I’ve seen answers to prayers and evidence of God’s action over the course of this week, and instead of “why?”, I’m just really grateful to have a little baby’s hand to hold. We’re not home yet, but baby George is doing well and that’s all I could hope for at this point. If you have been joining us in prayer- thank you. You have given us the greatest gift you have to give.
Also, can we take about these photos? My best friend, Jesse, of Dreamtown Co. flew to Alabama the morning I went into labor. Friends that will cancel their entire week of plans to hold your sweaty hand while you push a baby out are a rare commodity. She’s a terrific lady with photography skills to boot, so check out her site here. Also, as you can see, she’s a babe.
And ok, I know what you’re thinking: “Um, hello, where’s the food? Where’s the recipes”
I couldn’t agree more.
Today I’m sharing with you my recipe for honey oat bread. As luck would have it, I baked several loaves to store in our deep freezer just three days before baby George decided to wiggle in to the world. It’s a good thing too because we would all be lost without this bread. Jesse, who stayed at my house while I was in overseeing George at the hospital, texted me asking, “WHERE IS THIS BREAD FROM, I’VE EATEN THREE SLICES ALREADY?!”
I was proud to tell her that I was the one responsible.
In creating honey oat bread, I started with my no fail whole wheat sandwich bread recipe and then modified it a bit to include oats and honey. It’s not 100% whole wheat, but the extra gluten from the all purpose flour makes it soft and chewy which is perfect at breakfast time under a shmear of peanut butter or jam. I highly recommend this bread toasted with salted butter and honey or a little cinnamon and sugar. I also highly recommend making multiple loaves at a time and cramming them in your freezer in case you happen to go into labor unexpectedly.
Please continue to love on little George. It makes my mama heart glow. And happy bread baking!
This honey oat bread is light, fluffy, and slightly chewy. I recommend toasting and serving warm!
Total Time:2 hours 15 minutes
1 cup warm (but not too hot) water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/4 cup milk (I use 2%), room temperature
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons canola/vegetable oil
1 cup quick cook oats, plus more for sprinkling on top of loaf
5 (or more) cups of all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons cream
Pour water in a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer,and sprinkle the yeast over top of it. Allow to sit for 5 minutes while yeast dissolves and activates.
Meanwhile, combine milk, honey, and oil. Stir the wet ingredients into the activated yeast water and stir until combined.
Add the oats, 1 cup of the flour, and the salt and stir until loosely combined. Add the remaining 4 cups of flour and mix until combined.
Using the dough hook attachment on the stand mixer, or by hand, knead the shaggy dough together until a soft ball of dough is formed. Add additional flour 2 tablespoons at a time if it remains too wet, however, keep in mind, this is a fairly moist bread dough. When finished, it should feel tacky to the touch and won’t be completely smooth because of the oats. I knead for 3-4 minutes on low speed on my stand mixer.
Place dough ball into a large, lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to rise in a slightly warm environment for about 1-1/2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Once doubled, dump dough out on to a floured surface and separate in to two equal pieces. Form dough into a loaf shape and place each piece in its own lightly greased bread pan (8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ x 2 3/4″).
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cover bread pans with dough inside with plastic wrap and allow to rise for a second time, about 1- 1-1/2 hours, or just until the dome of the bread has risen one inch above the lip of the pan.
Lightly brush the top of bread with cream and sprinkle with remaining oats. Place in the oven and immediately lower heat to 375 degrees. Bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until the top is a light golden brown.
Allow to cool for ten minutes inside the pan on a cooling rack, then remove from pan and cool completely before packaging.
If I ended up on death row and tonight’s dinner was destined to be my last meal, I would you ask you for an over-sized portion of my mom’s baked spaghetti. It’s nothing fancy, really- diced onion, ground beef, and canned tomato sauce, baked together with cooked spaghetti noodles under a blanket of shredded mozzarella and parmesan- but to me, no baked spaghetti could ever taste as good to me as hers. Other contenders for my last meal just may include something similar to today’s recipe: strawberry shortcake .
One of the first foods I can remember learning to make is biscuits. Growing up, my Mimi would prepare her famous chicken and dumplings, and I would watch her cut the fat into the the flour, rolling out the dough and cutting each biscuit round out with the lip of a slender drinking glass. Mimi’s take on chicken and dumplings included baking the biscuits in the oven and smothering them with the chicken and thickened sauce. If we were lucky, she would prepare extra biscuits and these would become the foundation pieces for a dessert of strawberry shortcake. We would macerate berries in sugar and make a generous bowl of whipped cream to dollop over the sweet berries and warm biscuits. The words “strawberry shortcake” will always be synonymous with Mimi and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
And isn’t that the one of the coolest things about food? Food can take you somewhere- to a place, to a time, to a feeling. Just the smell of certain foods make me feel like I’m a kid again, or on a first date, or fanning the kitchen after scorching something on the bottom of the oven. Foods jar memories, emotions, and a range of other things because those moments become apart of us. Baked spaghetti and strawberry shortcake, to me, is more than just a meal- it’s a memory of home.
I want to create moments like that with my kids. I want them to grow up and say their version of some food was better because it was apart of their memories… because eating that food was like sharing a meal with their mom again.
Okay, I swear I’m not crying over here. (Read: I am.) #pregnancyhormones
We should move on. Let’s get to the good stuff. The nitty gritty. Let’s talk strawberry shortcake.
Starting with my Mimi’s biscuit recipe and modifying to make a sweeter, more scone-like shortcake, this strawberry shortcake recipe features roasted strawberries and really, realllly good honey whipped cream. Roasting the strawberries intensifies their strawberry-ness and makes an otherwise ordinary dessert really something to talk about. And the honey whipped cream? Well, let’s just say I’m putting this bad boy on everything now.
If I were you, I’d double the batch of shortcakes and plan on eating those little nuggets for breakfast all week long. Monday could be butter and honey, Tuesday could be fresh preserves and left over honey whipped cream, Wednesday could be hazelnut spread and marshmallow fluff… the possibilities are endless. The bottom line is that with summer just around the corner and fresh berries on the verge of taking over your grocery store, you NEED a strawberry shortcake recipe that is for the books. Done and done.
This strawberry shortcake recipe features roasted strawberries and really, realllly good honey whipped cream.
Total Time:1 hour 30 minutes
For the shortcakes
2 cups flour
1–1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cold
1 cup whipping cream
For the roasted strawberries
2 pounds of strawberries, stemmed, hulled- cut large berries in half and leave petite ones whole
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the honey whipped cream
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sugar
1–1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
To prepare the shortcakes
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
Using a pastry cutter or the back of a fork, cut in the butter until well combined and with pea-sized clumps uniformly throughout.
Add the cream, stirring until a soft, shaggy dough is formed.
For rustic shortcakes, use an ice cream scoop or a spoon to portion out 1/4 cup mounds of dough and flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand. For more biscuit-like shortcakes, gently pat dough out on to lightly floured surface until 3/4″ thick. Using a 3″ biscuit cutter, cut out rounds of dough. Lightly brush the remaining cream over the mounts of dough. Sprinkle a little extra sugar on top, if desired.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until shortcakes are golden and cooked throughout. Allow to cool on a cooling rack.
To prepare the strawberries
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Toss together the strawberries, sugar, and salt on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes or until juices are released and strawberries are fragrant. Add two tablespoons of water to the berries and juices and stir with a spatula. Allow to cool slightly.
For the honey whipped cream
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until most clumps are smoothed out, about one minute. Add the honey and sugar and beat to combine, about one minute.
Add about 1/4 of the cream and beat just slightly until the cream cheese mixture is thinned out, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining cream and beat until cream is whipped to stiff peaks. Avoid over-beating.
To assemble the shortcakes
Set aside about 1/2 of the strawberries, leaving the juices behind with the other half. Using a potato masher, mash the half of strawberries with the juices remaining until all large bits of strawberry is smooshed. Fold in the other half of intact strawberries.
Slice each shortcake in half, removing the tops. Spoon a generous dollop of whipped cream on top of the bottom.
Spoon a generous helping of strawberries over the cream, saving enough liquid and intact strawberries for the rest of the shortcakes.
Replace the top of the shortcake and enjoy immediately!
Before starting this blog, I promised my husband I wouldn’t air out his dirty laundry online. That was, of course, so long as he managed to put in in the hamper where it belonged. Jokes aside, both Brett and I have learned a lot through this blogging venture and he’s been really supportive by listening to ideas, stories, ingredient lists and technical woes. While I’m certainly able to go to him about the vast majority of my blog-related needs, the disparities between mine and Brett’s food preferences have become more and more apparent since the recipe testing began months ago. Exhibit A: Peach semifreddo with blackberry mint compote.
If you’re thinking to yourself right now, “what is semifreddo?”, then you and Brett are tracking on the same page. Upon first hearing of semifreddo and spotting it in the freezer, Brett made his patented stink face and asked me if I had any cookies instead. Truth be told, it’s not much to look at while it’s resting in the freezer, but sliced on a plate with a warm smattering of compote, this semifreddo has effortless good looks to boot.
Semifreddo means “semi-frozen” and is a fluffy, mousse-like dessert made up of whipped cream, eggs, and sugar. The air incorporated during the whipping process causes this little sweet treat to freeze up light and airy, similar to the consistency of frozen whipped topping, making it 100% mouth-meltable and refreshing.
I first tried semifreddo only recently at Bottega, one of my favorite restaurants in Birmingham, and proceeded to have dreams about roasted strawberries, toasted pistachios, and this newfound love of mine. Even more recently, I purchased the fruit-heavy cookbook by food blogger goddess Yossy Arefi called “Sweeter off the Vine: Fruit Desserts for Every Season.” Her take on semifreddo includes roasted rhubarb and it is an absolutely stunning addition to the book. In a cookbook filled with numerous promising recipes, the rhubarb semifreddo called my name and I knew I had to give it a try.
We’ve already established that ice cream has a major place in my heart (Exhibit B: confetti ice cream cake, mocha brownie fudge ice cream, and apple crisp ice cream ), but semifreddo is really quite different. I love this recipe because it feels like a more polished dessert option than ice cream and because both the peach semifreddo and the compote can be made up to a week in advance, it’s a terrific make-ahead option for a crowd. With sweltering summer months just around the corner, I’m happy to have this recipe in my arsenal as a potential late night treat for Brett and I to snack on.
If you’re not a fan of peaches, feel free to roast up a different fruit like strawberries, plums, or raspberries and swirl that in instead. The blackberry compote is an entirely optional addition to this recipe, however, I certainly recommend it. The contrast of the tart berries against the sweet and creamy peach semifreddo is really delightful. I also chose to top my dessert with a dollop of whipped cream, mainly because I have a hard time not believing everything is better with a little cloud of cream and sugar on top.
Give this recipe a try and be sure to check out Yossy’s book here. The recipes and images are gorgeous and it’s definitely a book you’ll want on your shelf this year. Happy Wednesday!
Peach Semifreddo is a fluffy, mousse-like dessert made up of whipped cream, eggs, and sugar, and it is 100% mouth-meltable and refreshing.
For the peach semifreddo
16 ounces (3 cups sliced) peeled peaches
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1–1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the blackberry mint compote
1 cup blackberries
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 sprigs of fresh mint (optional)
1/2 tsp vanilla
To prepare the semifreddo
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Line a bread pan (9″x5″x3″) with plastic wrap or parchment paper, allowing an inch overhang on every side.
Place the peaches on a sheet pan with 1/4 cup of the sugar and salt. Toss to combine. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes or until the peaches have begun to release their juices and are tender. Allow to cool slightly, then puree the peaches and juices in a blender until smooth. Cool in the fridge while you continue to work.
In a double boiler, or in a pot with a glass bowl fitted on top (but not touching the water), whisk together the eggs and 1/4 cup of sugar. Continue to whisk, cooking gently over the simmering water until sugar is dissolved and the egg mixture registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. This took me about 6 minutes.
Pour the eggs into the bowl of a stand mixture and, using the whisk attachment, beat until the mixture is pale, fluffy, and nearly tripled in size.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, beat the cream, final 1/4 cup of sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form.
Gently stir 1/2 cup of the peach puree into the eggs. Fold 1/2 of the whipped cream into the eggs. Once combined, fold the remaining whipped cream into the eggs.
Spread about 1-1/4 cup of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and then drizzle with 1/3 of the remaining peach puree. Repeat this process three more times, ending by smoothing out the final quarter of cream and egg mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 6 hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, remove from pan by pulling up on sides of the parchment paper and flip out onto a plate or serving platter. Slice as you would a loaf of bread and serve slices with warm blackberry compote and whipped cream, if desired.
To prepare the compote
Combine the blackberries, water, sugar, lemon, and mint in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until thick and bubbly. Remove the mint and stir in the vanilla. Allow to cool slightly before topping the semifreddo.
There’s something about eating oatmeal cookies that makes me think of breakfast. Maybe it’s years of oatmeal with sliced banana and honey for breakfast or dried fruit and oat topped yogurt snacks, but I tell ya what- oatmeal cookies have got me thinking, “man, this dessert feels pretty healthy.”
Yeah, yeah. I know. Wishful thinking. You can’t blame me for trying.
I have yet to come to a firm stance on my oatmeal cookie preference. Thin and crisp? Puffy and cake-like? Buttery, crisp edges with a chewy center? The jury is still out on this one, but one thing I do know is that I like my oatmeal cookies fully loaded. If someone created the cookie equivalent to the everything bagel, I would buy and consume them er’ryday. Dried fruit, chocolate chips, a browned butter drizzle… really, just feel free to have your way with my oatmeal cookie. The more the merrier.
These cookies are a toned down version of my ultimate fantasy, maxed out, loaded oatmeal cookie, mainly because I know my husband would be ultra-grossed out by any cookie with a dried fruit to cookie dough ratio any greater than 1:1, but this oatmeal cookie also boasts a super chewy texture alllllll the way through, and enough of a variety of add-ins that nearly every bite is a bit different. They’re also super adaptable in that you can mix and match your add-ins according to your preferences. Don’t like dried cranberries? No problem- try apricots! Want to pack a nutty punch? Sub in chopped pecans or peanut butter chips! This oatmeal cookie is pretty much your oyster, so do as you please with it.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! If anyone has any extra luck with a certain flavor combo, give me the dirty deets below in the comments!