Friends! I’m here, after the most glorious and jam packed two and a half weeks ever! Working at a University (or, let’s be honest, anywhere in academics) during August is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure!
Anyway, I’m back to the blog, and restarting things with a completely ridiculous Bourbon Peach Pie Ice Cream. I’m a little peach obsessed- when I lived in Egypt, there was a street vendor right outside my apartment that sold the most perfectly ripe, sweet, juicy peaches for something like a dollar a pound. I was pretty wary of a lot of local food at first, and this fruit was so amazing, that I ate several a day…for several months. Instead of getting sick of peaches, I grew increasingly obsessed. So, here we are six years later, and I’m using peaches every way possible, any time I can get my hands of a batch of ripe fruit
Recently, my peach obsession coincided with my nearly constant craving for ice cream, and this Bourbon Peach Pie was the delicious result. Like any ice cream, there were a few steps involved, so it’s not really a quick and easy dessert. But it was out-of-this-world amazing, so I highly recommend giving it a try- there’s no way you could be disappointed.
Bourbon Peach Pie Ice Cream
- 2 cups milk
- 4 tsp cornstarch
- 1 ¼ cup whipping cream
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp corn syrup
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1 ½ oz cream cheese
- 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
- Single pie crust
- 2 peaches
- 2 tbsp butter
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 2 tbsp bourbon
- Kosher salt
Make the ice cream base: In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and 2-3 tbsp of the milk, and set aside. In a saucepan, bring the rest of the milk, the cream, 2/3 cup sugar, and the salt to a boil, and boil for 4 minutes exactly. Stir in the slurry, and boil for about a minute. In a small bowl (I used the same one I had the starch mixture in) mix the cream cheese with about ½ cup of the milk mixture, until it’s completely lump free. Mix the cheese and milk mixtures together, stir in the almond extract, and cool completely. Note: some people use an ice bath to cool the base immediately, but I like to make the base the day before, and let it sit in the fridge. This is also helpful because it reminds me to put my ice cream maker into the freezer to sit overnight, as well.
Make the crust: prepare a recipe for a single crust pie, roll it out, and bake until lightly golden brown. (To be completely transparent- when I was blind baking my crust of the Peanut Butter Banana Pie, the entire thing folded in because I did a poor job of crimping the edges. I let it keep baking, because I knew I would use it elsewhere.) Let the crust cool, then break up into small pieces and set aside (you can definitely freeze the baked crust for a while, so if you every ruin a crust aesthetically…here’s your alternate use!).
Make the peach pie filling: first, peel your peaches and dice them into small pieces. Add those to a saute pan with the butter, brown sugar and salt. After the butter is melted, stir to combine and let the butter and sugar mixture get nice and foamy and bubbly over medium heat. After it bubbles for a minute or so, remove from the heat and give it a stir- it should be thickened and a little syrup-y. If it hasn’t reached that stage yet, return to the heat and check every thirty seconds or so. Once it hits the syrup-y stage, add the cinnamon, nutmeg, a sprinkle of salt and bourbon, and cook for another 60 seconds. Remove from the heat and let cool…you definitely don’t want to add this mixture, hot, to the ice cream base.
Make the ice cream: This is the easy part! Add your base to the ice cream machine, following the manufacturer’s instructions. About five minutes before the end of freezing, stir in your peach pie filling. Let that keep freezing for three or four minutes, then add the pie crust pieces. Transfer the ice cream to freezer containers and freeze until a bit more solid, at least two hours. Or consume immediately. Either way, so good!
Friends, as I looking inspiration for future Taco Tuesdays it occurred to me that, although I make them constantly, I’ve never shared recipes for Pico de Gallo or Guacamole. I guess that since they are so familiar to me, I assume that everyone knows how to make them. When I started to add ‘pico’ as one of my ingredients in a recipe, though, I realized that not everyone is as obsessed with eating Mexican-ish food, and perhaps is not familiar with how to make them.
So, here I am today, using Taco Tuesday to share my two favorite accompaniments to tacos and things- pico de gallo and guacamole. My versions are very basic, and you’ll find that the only real difference between the two is that one uses chopped tomatoes while the other uses smashed avocados. For full disclosure- when Evan is on duty, I just make these recipes and consume them on chips and call it dinner. Other times, when I’m being a member of polite society, I serve them before dinner at parties to stave off the starving masses. So- perfect for all situations!
Pico de Gallo and Guacamole
- 2 jalapeno peppers
- 1 small red onion
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- 2 limes
- 1 avocado
- 2 good sized tomatoes
- Kosher salt
Prepare your ingredients: Slice the jalapenos in half, lengthwise. If you’re like me and a bit heat sensitive, remove the seeds and the membrane. Mince incredibly finely. Similarly, mince the onion very finely (also, as an aside: it’s really hard to describe onion quantities, since they vary so much in size. For reference, I prefer to use roughly the same amount of onion as I have peppers). Take a bunch of cilantro and chop an inch or so, so that you have around quarter cup of chopped leaves. Slice each lime in half. For the avocado, Slice through the skin, around the pit, and twist to open. Use a large knife and whack the pit, so that the blade sticks in the pit; twist to remove from the fruit, and disgard by flinging forcefully, ideally towards the trash can. Dice the tomatoes into small cubes.
Prepare the pico: in a mixing bowl, add half of the peppers, onions and cilantro, and all of the diced tomato. Juice a lime over top, sprinkle with salt, and stir to combine. Set aside for a bit to meld flavors.
Prepare the guac: In a mixing bowl, remove the flesh of the avocado with a spoon, and mash with a fork. Add the juice of one lime, and mix until it reached your desired consistency (I like mine a bit chunky, many people prefer smooth- choose what suits you best!). Add the other half of the peppers, onion and cilantro, sprinkle generously with salt, and stir to combine. Enjoy!
***some notes on guacamole: I use an incredibly basic recipe, but always add things to it- grilled corn, pineapple, red peppers, etc. So play around, and let your imagination and taste buds guide you! One thing I never add, though, is garlic- it’s so pungent when it’s raw, and I think it takes over the flavor of everything. I love garlic, and I know it’s a controversial stance, but I cannot abide by garlicky guacamole.
What are your thoughts on garlic, or other favorite flavor additions? Anything inspired?
August 1…that means fall is coming, my friends! I adore fall, because it kicks off the seasons when I don’t have to worry about the struggle between covering all of my skin to avoid sunburn and making sure I don’t overheat and die. This struggle has never been more real.
Anyway, with fall comes an obsessive need for many people, myself included, to check out school and office supplies and select the all important PLANNER. I keep a few digital calendars (outlook for work, g-calendar for personal) but, like a lot of people, I really like keeping a paper agenda where I can write things in like birthdays, assignment due dates, dinner plans, grocery lists, etc. This leads to struggle numero dos for this post: which agenda to choose? Luckily, I’m here with your Friday Five, prepared to check out my five front runners for an agenda for the upcoming year.
- My first option is an Emily Ley Simplified Planner. EL’s planners are as adorable as they are functional: there is a calendar for each month, and then a page for each day. Each day has room for to-do items, as well as an hour-by-hour planner, room for notes and a dinner planner, and a quote of the day. The entire thing is about two inches thick, and sandwiched between heavy duty covers, and is held together with an elastic band. I used an EL planner this year and, while I love it, I don’t think that I have enough going on to warrant a page for each day, and it’s mostly blank; it was also a bit bulky to actually carry around. She’s offering a weekly version this year, but it won’t start until January (it’s 12 months rather than 17) so…I’m considering it, but am not sure it’s my best option.
- Then there are the Erin Condren planners. These planners have a customizable cover, so you can add your name for easy reference. There are a few special sections in the front (perpetual calendar, notes page, etc) and then each week is laid on in a spread, with sections for morning, afternoon and evening for each day; there’s also a column for weekly goals and notes. Also included are some stickers, a ruler and a zip top pocket. I’ve read that the pages can bleed with some pens, and I don’t know how I feel about a laminated cover (doesn’t it get bent/destroyed in other people’s bags?) but I do love the smaller size of this binder,the fact that it covers 17 months, and the monthly view in the corner of each page, so you don’t constantly have to flip around. At $50, this isn’t cheap, but might meet my needs.
- Next is Kate Spade’s planner. Mainly, I love gold polka dots, and this planneris covered in them. Sold. Seriously,though- there are two side options for this planner, 7.75” x 5.5”, or 9” x7”. Both sizes feature hard covers, gold spiral binding, and an elastic band closure. There are a few pages for notes and tabs for each of 17 months with clever sayings. The weekly spread shows Monday-Wednesday on the left, and Thursday-Sunday on the right. This isn’t really my favoritelayout- I don’t think I would be happy making notes like that. On theotherhand, it’s really gorgeous and, at $30, less expensive than the previous two options.
- Oh, Lilly Pulitzer. I don’t think I understand the obsession with this brand, yet, but the LP agenda seems to come up every time I ask for recommendations, so I thought it was worth a look. This planner comes in four sizes, so everyone should be able to find something that works for them in that perspective. This planner features a thick cardstock cover, with heavy duty spiral binding and an elastic band closure. It’s crazy colorful and fun, with monthly tabs, stickers, notes pages, a horoscope section, and a few other interesting parts. This might be my winner, but it has the same weekly layout as the Kate, neither of which are really useful to me for planning. Still super cute, but probably won’t meet my major needs.
- Plum Paper Planners. Is this a case of saving the best for last? Maybe. First, the basics: this is a 7.5” by 9” planner with a clear frost plastic cover, with a personalized front page. Included is a contacts page, 2 notes pages for each month, and 2 sided pocket folder. While it’s only a 12 month calendar, it can begin on any month you choose, and you can also choose to add extra months for a small charge. Yep, that’s just the first awesome thing. Beyond that, there are four weekly spread options (morning, afternoon, evening spots; 30 minute increments; days with just lines; or lines notes pages instead of a weekly breakdown) and then different options for style: regular planner, wedding planner, meal planner, fitness planner, teacher planner, or student planner. Pretty much, something that’s perfect for everyone for $31 (and $10 in shipping…). There’s a bit of research left to do, but I’m pretty sure I’ve found a winner.
So, what say you all? Have you found a planner you love? Or are you a normal person that goes to Target and picks out a reasonably priced planner, without worry about all the bells and whistles? I’d love to hear what you do to keep yourself organized!
Friends, it seems odd, but pizza is far and away one of my favorite things to grill! And it could not be easier- grill dough for a few minutes, add some topping, return to the grill to melt and enjoy. I’ll admit being insanely skeptical the first time a friend suggested it, but it turned out perfectly at a party, so I decided to bring the idea home.
A few notes on my version: first, I outsource the dough. I’ve heard that making pizza dough is pretty easy, but its even easier for me to pick some frozen dough up from my local grocery. Second, I make my own sauce- to each her own, right? There’s just something about being able to season my own sauce (and spice it up!) that’s appealing to me. However, you feel free to sub jarred sauce for the homemade, if that’s your thing. Third, Evan and I actually eat sauce-less pizza. This is completely his influence, but apparently we’re pizza dippers. So.
Beyond those small things, this pizza is definitely in the fast and easy category. I think it also gets bonus points for being ‘participation food’. As I mentioned, the first time I had grilled pizza was at a party, and everyone used the toppings bar to make their own creation. Fun for kids and adults alike!
- 2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- Frozen pizza dough, thawed
- 8 oz shredded mozz
- Toppings: goat cheese, Kalamata olives, roasted garlic, grilled peppers, mushrooms, diced tomatoes
Prepare the sauce: Combine the tomato sauce and seasonings in a sauce pan, and cook on low for 10-20 minutes. You want the sauce to thicken a bit and take on a deep red color.
Prepare the toppings: Depending on what toppings you have, chop everything down to size so that it’s ready to be added to the pizza.
Prepare the dough: Make sure that you’ve thawed the dough and allowed to rise according to the instructions. Then, make sure your hands are well oiled and stretch the dough into pieces the size of a saucer (or, really, into whatever shape and size you like). Don’t worry about stretching the dough too thin- it puffs back up on the grill. Place the oiled dough in a hot grill and allow to brown lightly on each side. Once the dough has a bit of color, remove from the grill and prepare for toppings.Prepare the pizzas: you know…pile on the toppings! What I do is add a tiny spritz of olive oil, sprinkle with oregano, then a layer of mozz, then add garlic cloves, mushrooms and peppers, and a little goat cheese. Set gently back on the grill, on medium-low heat, cover and cook until the cheese is melted. This is the point where I add fresh tomatoes and maybe shredded basil, but otherwise- enjoy!
Well, friends- July is drawing to a close! This was really a great month, and a great start to the second half of the year. As you may know, I participated in a Blogger Challenge this month with the intention to post one each weekday…and I met that goal! Check out the links at the bottom of this post to see some of the other bloggers that also participated in this challenge.
I also took on a personal challenge this month- 30 days of yoga. I started my yoga practice in college, and through the years have fallen into and out of practice. I love yoga because it’s a bit meditative and spiritual, but it also takes dedication, perseverance and acceptance in order to have a productive practice. Also, I find it physically challenging- holding your body in various poses for several breaths is hard, and yoga flow goes fast enough to make me sweat!
Columbus has so many yoga studios, but I’ve struggled to find a studio that I love, that is close to home, and is also affordable. After taking classes around the city, I accepted defeat and turned to the internet. My YouTube results were also a bit disappointing- practices that were too short, or too impersonal, or too-aerobic-and-not-yoga-enough, or frankly, just uninspiring. And then….I found Yoga with Adriene.
Friends, I cannot possibly rave any more enthusiastically about Adriene, or her videos/YouTube channel/website. She is hilarious and encouraging, offering challenges for poses as well as modifications to make it easier, and she constantly encourages her viewers to personalize their practice, in a mission to “find what feels good.” Her website offers full length practices for beginners and advanced students, some vinyasa flow, some practices for weight loss and, amazingly, a series of videos explaining the most foundational poses- I can finally do pigeon and crow!
About halfway through July I found out that Adriene was starting another ‘challenge’- she sporadically does these challenges where you pay for an online yoga course, and you get a series of full length and shorter practices that you can download (which is surprisingly handy) and you have access to the community of other students doing this challenge, and you get an inspiring daily email. It would usually not be my style to pay for fitness videos, but honestly- this is $100 that I am thrilled to have spent. The EMPOWER series that I purchased is hard, it makes me work to finish, it’s very instructive, and I’ve done it without fail each day for the past two weeks.
So, all of this to say- if you are looking for a yoga practice, or an in home fitness routine, or even some undefined self care/me time, I encourage you to check out Yoga With Adriene. The yoga that she offers has been my personal act of self-kindness that I mentioned a few weeks ago. I’m stronger, leaner, more flexible, happier, calmer and, frankly, a better person that I was last month. So- give her a try.
Does anyone else have a fitness or wellness initiative that they want to shout out? I love getting recommendations, which is why I felt compelled to make the one above. What do you want to suggest?
It’s Tuesday, and you know Tuesdays mean tacos around this blog…or something like tacos. This week we’re looking at some Chipotle Beef Flautas. When we made quesadillas last week, I used a three pound beef roast. Since we’re a two person household, you know there was some (a ton!) left over, so we just froze it in a ziplock bag, and set it in the freezer to thaw when we wanted to make flautas.
Here’s the thing about flautas- they are arguably indistinguishable from taquitos, and they’re usually deep fried, and I have a somewhat irrational affinity for them. (Also, they don’t look lovely in photographs, but you’ll just have to suffer through that.) I’m not so comfortable with deep frying, so I did a quick pan fry instead. Since I used the leftover beef, they took about five minutes to assemble and less to inhale. Serve with some pice and yesterday’s Summer Salad, and you have a delicious and somewhat balanced weeknight meal.
Chipotle Beef Flautas…Taquitos?
- 1 cup shredded beef (whatever you have left over) from last week’s recipe
- ½ cup shredded cheese
- ½ small red onion, minced
- 4 flour tortillas
- Pico, salsa or guacamole
Prepare filling: in a small skillet, saute the beef until it is warmed through. Mix in the cheese and onion (you can do this in the pan, but I didn’t want the cheese to stick so I used a separate bowl).
Prepare flautas: Heat about ¼ inch of oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Divide the filling evenly between tortillas, and roll tightly (make sure to leave some space at each end, so the filling doesn’t fall out). One at a time, set the flauta in the oil, seam side down. Turn regularly, so that all sides are a deep golden brown. Drain briefly on paper towels, and enjoy immediately with a topping of your choice.
Like many of you (some of you?) I try to organize my life a little with meal planning, so that I know what we’re planning to make every night and can, hopefully, do one main shopping trip each week. With the help of Pinterest, deciding on meals isn’t usually difficult. Choosing side dishes, though, is another story- for some reason side dish options are either not readily apparent to me, or don’t appeal at all, or don’t meet the needs of my household (our needs our usually vegetables, and the hard part is finding veggies that will satisfy everyone…so).
Welp, friends, what has solved all of my problems in the chopped salad. Chopped salad is somehow different than regular salad, even while seeming the exact same. I suspect the difference is in the lettuce- a) that there’s a lower lettuce to not-lettuce ratio and b) that it’s diced, and not in those unwieldy leaves. This summer I’ve grown particularly fond of this chopped salad with a bright lime vinaigrette, made a tiny bit spicy with some smoke chipotle powder. As a side dish, it’s perfect for Taco Tuesdays (similar flavor profile), but it also makes a great main with the addition of some black beans or chopped chicken. Leave out or sub what you don’t like- this salad if full of options!
Summer Chopped Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette
- 1 small head lettuce
- ½ English cucumber
- 1 colored pepper
- 1 tomato
- ¼ red onion
- 2 ears corn
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 lime
- 1 tbsp honey
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ tsp smoke chipotle powder (or cumin, or chili powder, or some red pepper flakes)
Prepare veggies: rinse everything. Then, chop lettuce into about 1-inch pieces. Halve the cucumber lengthwise, remove the seeds with a spoon, and chop into small cubes; dice the tomato and pepper into similar sizes. Finely dice the red onion. Spray the ears of corn and grill, either on a grill, over the flame on your gas stove, or under a broiler; let them cool, then cut the corn from cobs. Put all of these ingredients into a medium sized bowl and toss.
Prepare dressing: it’s so easy to make your own vinaigrette! Clean out an old jelly jar, or use a sealable Tupperware. Add the mustard, juice of one lime, honey, olive oil, chipotle powder and generous pinch of salt. Seal the container, and shake vigorously. Remove the lid, taste, and season again.
Prepare the salad: Salt and pepper your veggies. (If you’re looking for a heartier salad, toss in a can of drained and rinsed black beans, or a chopped chicken breast.) Then, dress with about half of the dressing and toss. IF you need more dressing, use more dressing. If you don’t….don’t. Enjoy!
Welcome, friends, to our weekly installment of Friday Five. This week I was a bit inspired by that post that’s making its rounds on Facebook- you know the one, asking women to post five photos that make them feel beautiful? I’m not above feeling beautiful, by any means, but I wanted to move in a slightly different direction.
Today, I’m posting five photos that represent some of the many blessings that make my life beautiful. Cheesy, for sure, but that’s how we roll around here- gratefully
- Friends! Where would we be without our family of friends,amiright? Somehow, I found an amazingly diverse, talented, witty and all around awesome group ofladies before I even went to college, and I couldn’t be more thankful for our friendships. And that’s to say nothing of the friends that I made in college or as an adult. We had our undergrad reunion weekend last month, and our group of about a dozen people realized that we still keep so well in touch, we don’t really even need an organizedweekend- we see other so often anyway! Friends, man.
- These guys. After a brunch on Father’s Day, one of my sisters and I asked our grandparentsto be in their firstselfie- I die at this result. Beyond my adorable grandparents, though, I’ve been pretty blessed with an awesome family. Though we have our differences (hello, who doesn’t?) it’s so nice to come from such a supportive, happy, welcomingplace- I really dig my family.
- I truly believe that travel has played a huge role in shaping my life. I spent eighteen years living in Midwest USA, then took a semester in Hawaii, a semester in Egypt, travelled a bit of the Mideast and haven’t stopped exploring since then. When we travel, I like to choose destinations that make me atiny bit uncomfortable; after all, how can you grow unless you constantly test the bounds of your comfort zone? I’m constantly thankful to have the resources in my life to enable this exploration.
- My sweet Howard Winston. Though Howie looks relatively low key in this photo, he has personality to spare. This is a dog that is a little irritated when you wake him up in the morning and asks to climb back under your covers and sleep some more. He doesn’t like to give you the satisfaction of eating his treats when you give them, but prefers to hide them around the house to discover later. He is a master of judgmental glances, but adores being dressed in jammies. He also likes to participate in yoga, by either taking over the mat, or climbing up to your face when you’re in tricky poses. In short, Howie is puppy perfection.
- And finally- this guy. This marriage, maybe. I am so grateful for the relationship that Evan and I have built over the last six years. Respectful, supportive, hardworking, hilarious- I won’t go on, but I think it’s clear how much I appreciate Evan. What a great man
So, what makes your life beautiful? Promise, I won’t judge you if your answer includes coffee or ice cream!
Guys, can we talk about breakfast for dinner? And then briefly touch on the bananas that are too ripe to eat, but every time that Evan attempts to throw them away I freak out and insist that I’m going to make banana bread, even though I think I’ve only made banana bread twice, and then I stopped trying because the middle is always still liquid when the outside is dark brown? And I know that’s not only me, right?
Anyway, here’s the thing: breakfast for dinner is possibly my favorite thing, because breakfast is usually sweet things, and potatoes, and bacon. All of those things are good. Evan, for who knows what reason, really protests breakfast for dinner, suggesting that breakfast only belongs in the morning. This man is a stickler for rules.
Obviously, this means I make BFD on duty days, and relish it hard core. This week, as I was contemplating my menu, I glanced at the past-their-prime bananas that almost got trashed over the weekend and knew exactly how I would use them (spoiler: not making bread). No, these bananas were destined to be mixed into a glorious bourbon caramel and spooned generously over golden French toast triangles. It’s not hard, at all, and is way more satisfying than syrup- really.
French Toast with Bourbon Caramel Bananas
- 1 Tbsp butter
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 Tbsp bourbon
- 1 Tbsp cream (heavy, or half and half, or milk…no rules)
- 2 bananas, at any stage of ripeness
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup milk (let’s just say dairy product)
- ½ tsp vanilla
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 6 slices bread (thick, old bread is the best option, but I only had Texas Toast this week. Use what you have)
Make the caramel: in a skillet, ideally one with a heavy bottom, melt the butter and stir in the sugar, salt and bourbon. Let it bubble up and, once it gets nice and foamy, allow to cook for about a minute- it should be a slightly thick, syrup-y consistency. Remove from the heat, and stir in the cream, and gently fold in the banana slices. Set aside, and allow to cool a bit.
Make the toast: whisk together the eggs, milk or dairy product, vanilla and cinnamon. Add some butter to a skillet or griddle that’s over medium heat and coat the bottom. Working with one slice of bread at a time, dip each side into the egg mixture and lay on the griddle. Allow to cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until lovely and golden. Plate the French toast, spread with butter if you like, and spoon over the banana caramel, and try not to explode with joy.
What say you, friends- what’s your favorite breakfast for dinner? Or, like Evan, are you irrationally opposed to the concept?