Honey Baked Peaches

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You know those word association games/tests that psychologists (at least on TV) use to gain deep insight into your psyche? You know the one – they ask you to say the first word that pops into your mind when they say something seemingly innocuous like “mother” and then learn a lot about you depending on whether you reply with “love,” “lipstick,” “lazy,” or “laundry.” (Side note: this is not to say that those are my first four words for my mother; I was just going for some alliteration for your Sunday evening!) Well somehow I got to thinking about this in terms of dessert. If you were said imaginary psychologist and prompted me with “dessert,” these would be my words: “baking,” “oven,” “chocolate,” “sugar,” “sweet,” and “timer.” In my own self-psycho-analysis, I’ve concluded that I somehow only associate dessert with baked goods and a time-consuming process. This is, of course, not true at all. The moral of my story is that I need to branch out a little bit. (I played this game with Selim, and when I offered the word “dessert,” he immediately responded with “chocolate.”)

Tonight’s dessert is a perfect example. The prep-work is literally 2 minutes long, and you’re eating your dessert barely after you even thought about it! All you need is a couple peaches in your fruit bowl and a few standard pantry ingredients, and voila! You have a delicious dessert! Also, I think this is the perfect dessert to bridge summer and fall, aka the month of September. You’ve got the last of a your juicy summer peaches, but baked with some of your favorite fall flavors!

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Honey Baked Peaches

Ingredients: 
  • 2 peaches
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • Honey
Instructions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Slice peaches in half and remove the pit.
  3. Place cut side up on a foil-lined pie pan.
  4. Drizzle each peach half with some honey.
  5. Stir together all dry ingredients and then sprinkle over top each of the peach halves.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes.
  7. After removing from the oven, drizzle with honey again!
  8. Serve as is or top with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream!
Serves 2-4

 

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Strawberry Streusel Bars

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As we’ve mentioned before (see Mint Chocolate Bars), we like to bring a treats in for the staff when we finish a rotation. It’s the least we can do for the people who spend their time and effort training us! We’re not the only one’s who do this – but we do try to have the best treats! This means a little bit of variety from the standard brownies and chocolate chip cookies. It also mean a little bit of thinking, because I’m like everyone else – when I think of easy treats that everyone loves, my mind also immediately jumps to brownies and chocolate chip cookies! I’ve never made anything remotely like this before. (See previous comments about being intimidated by baking.) I found them to be fresh and summer-y. I think they’d be a great addition to a summer-time picnic or BBQ.

And they were a hit at the hospital today. I got rave reviews from everyone who tried them – hopefully they weren’t just being nice ūüėČūüėȬ†Side note – I ate mine chilled as they were after being cut, but I was informed by a few people that they warmed theirs back up before eating and highly recommended it!

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Strawberry Streusel Bars

(Adapted from this recipe here)
Ingredients: 
  • Base layer
    • 8 tbsp butter, softened
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 cup flour
    • 2 tsp cornstarch
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Strawberry layer
    • 2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • Streusel layer
    • 4 tbsp cold butter, chopped into small cubes
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup flour
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • Pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

  2. Line an 8×8 inch square baking pan with aluminium foil or parchment paper. Spray lightly with a cooking spray.

  3. First make the base layer: Using a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until well combined in a large bowl.

  4. Now slowly add the flour, cornstarch, vanilla, and salt until combined. (It may look a little crumbly, but it’ll be

  5. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan using your hands.

  6. Bake for 15 minutes.

  7. While the bottom layer is baking, make other two layers.

  8. For the strawberry layer: Stir together all ingredients for this layer and set aside.

  9. For the streusel topping: Using the hand-held mixer, mix all of these ingredients together. The mixture will be uneven.

  10. Once the bottom layer is done, remove the pan from the oven and turn up the oven to 350 degrees. Let it sit for just a few minutes before topping.

  11. Using a large spoon, layer the strawberry layer evenly over the base.

  12. Top with the streusel layer. This should look a bit messy/uneven.

  13. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

  14. Refrigerate until all the way cooled prior to slicing and serving.

Southwest Summer Corn Chowder

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I love so much of the produce in the summer… Berries, stone fruit, fresh veggies… But the summer corn might just be my favorite! The corn I saw this week was huge and beautiful! I tried to take it home by the armful, but restrained myself and only took home 8 ears. Mind you, there’s only two of us, so that’s a fair amount of corn for the week. But it allows us to create delicious corn chowder! Now, I know our last recipe also had “southwest” in the title, but y’all are just going to have to deal with that theme for the week.

This chowder recipe really highlights the delicious summer corn. If you’re wary of spice, and are looking skeptically at the jalapeno and poblanos in this recipe, don’t worry! They just serve to add a nice smoky depth of flavor to the dish. This isn’t a spicy dish. When you eat it, all you’ll be noticing is the sweet corn!

(Also. Please don’t judge the recipe on its unappealing photo. I know it’s not very pretty. If we’re being honest, when it was almost done simmering, I got all pout-y and grouchy, because I thought it was ugly. Selim had to remind me that taste > image – and he’s right. The chowder tastes good, and still tastes good even though it’s not pretty. Hopefully you agree!)

Southwest Summer Corn Chowder

(Adapted from this recipe)
Ingredients:
  • 1 tsp + 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 large poblano pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeno, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans (16oz) white beans
  • 4 ears of corn, kernels removed
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt & pepper
  • Optional toppings: lime, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, jalapenos, crushed tortilla chips, etc
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Slice poblano peppers in half and scrape out the seeds. Rub the outside with 1 tsp of oil.
  3. Roast peppers for 20 minutes and then remove to the side to cool.
  4. In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat.
  5. Once hot, add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Top with a few shakes of salt and pepper.
  6. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened – about 5 minutes.
  7. Once cooled enough to handle, coarsely chop poblano peppers. (A lot of people prefer to remove & discard the skins at this stage too – we don’t, but feel free to do so!)
  8. Add peppers, white beans, corn, spices, and stock to the pot. Bring to a boil, and then lower heat to a light simmer.
  9. Simmer over this low heat for at least an hour.
  10. Remove 2 cups of soup to a food processor. Combine with the cup of milk. Blend until smooth.
  11. Return this mixture to the pot. Stir to combine. [You can do more or less depending upon how thick you’d prefer your chowder.]
  12. Simmer another few minutes, and then serve. I’ve been eating it without any toppings, but surely a little cheese or something can only improve things.
Makes 8 servings

Zucchini & Feta Pie

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This is such a perfect summer dinner! Zucchini is usually so large and beautiful in the summer. And if you or a family member has a garden, you know that it is abundant this time of year. People are giving it away, begging everyone they know to take some! Try this dish, which features the zucchini itself, instead of relegating it to the side like usual! We’re always trying to find a new way to eat zucchini – we probably zoodle it more often than necessary! {‚ÄúChicken Lo Mein‚ÄĚ Zoodles,¬†Zoodles with Roasted Chickpeas,¬†Caliente Chicken & Zoodles,¬†French Onion Chicken Zoodles,¬†Mediterranean Cucumber-Zoodle Salad}

Oh and side note. Please feel free to make your own pie dough. I’m sure it would be better than my freezer-case dough, but I was just not feeling making my own today! And see our¬†Spinach & Feta G√∂zleme¬†recipe for my rant about feta cheese. Go try some delicious, not pre-crumbled feta today!

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Zucchini & Feta Pie

Ingredients: 
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • Pre-made pie dough
  • 6oz feta cheese
  • Fresh basil, chopped
Instructions: 
  1. Place all of the sliced zucchini in a colander over the sink and toss with salt. Allow to sit and dehydrate while preparing the onions.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the sliced onions and toss to coat the onions with the butter.
  4. Saute onions until caramelized, stirring occasionally and covering with pan’s lid in between stirrings. [Truly caramelized onions take AT LEAST 30 minutes, if not more like an hour! I get most of my cooking tips from The Kitchn, you should too!]
  5. Follow the directions on your pre-made dough. Spray a pie pan and place the dough in there to line it. (If the packaging indicates your dough should be baked for more than 30 minutes at 375 degrees, go ahead and pre-bake it a little bit.)
  6. When onions are done, place them in the pie pan, forming the bottom layer of the pie.
  7. Add the sliced zucchini to the pan that held the onions and cover for just 2 minutes, so they soften up a little bit.
  8. Place a layer of zucchini on top of the onions.
  9. Follow this with a layer of scattered feta chunks, followed by another layer of zucchini, more feta, and lastly, a layer of zucchini. Sprinkle some chopped basil through the layers.
    • To recap: layer 1 – onions; layer 2 – zucchini; layer 3 – feta; layer 4 – zucchini; layer 5 – feta; layer 6 – zucchini.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.
  11. Top with a little bit more fresh basil.
Serves 3 as a main dish; 6 as a side.

Hot Salmon with Pineapple Salsa

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When I think about a dinner that screams SUMMER! – for whatever reason, my go-to is fish with a fruit salsa. I don’t know about y’all, but I always am more interested in fish in the summer – I can mentally transport myself to the ocean and pretend that fish just got hauled in a few minutes beforehand. And as for fruit salsa, that’s kind of a no-brainer. Who doesn’t appreciate the sweet, juicy bounty of summer harvest fruits? As you can see from one of our first recipes from last summer, I have a template when making a dish like this. Salmon (my favorite fish of the easily-accessible-at-the-grocery-store varieties) + spicy flavoring on the salmon + cool, juicy, & sweet contrasting salsa. Hey – if it ain’t broke, why try to fix it?

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Hot Salmon with Pineapple Salsa

(Salmon inspired by Little Spice Jar blog)
Ingredients: 
  • Salmon
    • 2 salmon portions (~5-6oz each)
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tbsp hot sauce (we used Frank’s)
    • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 5 turns fresh ground black pepper
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
    • Pinch of ancho chili powder
  • Salsa
    • 2 cups diced pineapple
    • 1/2 medium onion, diced
    • 1 bell pepper, diced
    • 3 tbsp lime juice
    • 3 turns fresh ground black pepper
    • Pinch of salt
Instructions: 
  1. Prepare the salsa. Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate until time to eat.
  2. Whisk together all of the ingredients under the salmon bullet, except the salmon itself.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Place the salmon portions on a piece of foil large enough to fold around the salmon.
  5. Paint the hot sauce mixtures on all sides of the salmon.
  6. Close the foil around the fish, pinching the edges closed.
  7. Bake on a cookie sheet for ~15 minutes. [FDA recommends a safe minimum temperature of 145 degrees F.]
  8. Open the foil and turn oven to broil. Broil, which watching closely, for just a minute or two to crisp up the top.
  9. Serve salmon with salsa on top.
Dinner for two. There is a lot of salsa – we intended it to be a topping/side dish, but it’s plenty to serve with 4 or 6 portions of fish.

Thanksgiving Stuffing

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Last night was had Friendsgiving with our eight of our good friends. It was a great night to spend with some of our favorite people, pretend we’re grownups, and experiment with some Thanksgiving recipes. I don’t know about y’all, but my grandmothers, aunts, and mother have the handle on the main aspects of big family holiday meals. My generation can contribute a dessert or appetizer, but none of us have graduated to the important elements like turkey, potatoes, or gravy. Because of this, I’d never made stuffing before yesterday! And I’m not going to lie… I had no idea how to do it. But thanks to my subscription to Bon Appetit and the internet, I figured it out. For my first stuffing adventure, I wanted to stay pretty traditional. My only personalizing twist was the addition of the pretzel buns. It worked out well, I think because this stuffing had great texture and flavor. (And don’t tell anyone, but I think mine was better than ones I’ve had in the past.)

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Which brings me to my next controversial statement. I called this “stuffing.” I grew up in Virginia and always have known the herb-y, bread-y, Thanksgiving side dish that can either be found stuffed inside a turkey or¬†baked in a casserole dish as “stuffing.” Selim, the Ohioan,¬†agrees. I learned last night however, that all my native South Carolinian friends¬†refer to this as “dressing.” But they also felt like my dish “wasn’t quite dressing” like their moms/aunts/grandmas made it. What was the difference? Unclear. None of us could figure out if there truly was a difference between dressing and stuffing, or if it was just regional semantics.

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Good thing Google exists… In my googling I learned several things that sort of answered the question and sort of confused me even more. Some facts you never knew you wanted to know about stuffing:

  1. There is definitely a regional variation. The South uses the term “dressing,” while the Mid-Atlantic up through New England and most of the rest of the country prefers “stuffing.” Turns out there’s also a segment of the country (Pennsylvania Dutch country) that calls it “filling.”
  2. Many believe that¬†“stuffing” can only¬†be cooked inside the turkey (or another bird). This is logical based on the definition of “to stuff,” and is very commonly cited as the main difference between the two, but is not universally accepted.
  3. ¬†Many others believe that “dressing” has a cornbread base while “stuffing” has a white bread base.¬†This is even less universally accepted than above and likely is just based on the fact that Southern cooks frequently make their dressing/stuffing with cornbread or biscuits.
  4. The first documentation of this concept dates back more than a thousand years. Recipes for stuffing animals appeared in the Roman cookbook Apicius, which scholars date to the late 4th or early 5th century.
  5. Victorians in the mid to late 1800s first started using the word “dressing,” as “stuffing” was apparently too crude of a word. Our genteel Southern ancestors evidently agreed.
  6. The¬†National Turkey Federation says the terms can be used interchangeably. They’re probably the closest thing we have to an expert opinion, so we’ll go with that.

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Thanksgiving Stuffing

(Recipe based on several from Bon Appetit magazineone, two, three.)
Ingredients: 
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1 loaf of French bread, torn
  • 4 pretzel rolls, torn
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, divided (1/2 cup + 1/4 cup + more)
  • 2 tbsp fresh sage, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 3+ cups turkey stock, divided (2 cups + more)
  • 2 large eggs
Instructions: 
  1. Tear the bread & rolls into bite-sized pieces at least 24 hours prior to making the stuffing. Let sit out to dry.
  2. On the day you’re preparing the stuffing, place the bread into a large bowl.
  3. Slice bacon into medium lardons. Saute over medium heat until slightly crispy. Remove and add into the bowl with the bread.
  4. Leave the bacon grease in the pan, lower heat slightly, and add 1/2 cup of butter.
  5. Once butter has melted, return heat to medium and add onions. Cook for 5 minutes and then add herbs, salt, and 10 turns of pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally for another 8 minutes.
  6. Pour butter and onions over the bread in the bowl and toss well.
  7. Melt 1/4 cup of butter. Whisk together with 2 eggs and 2 cups of turkey stock.
  8. Pour that mixture over bread. Stir until liquid is absorbed by the bread.
  9. Add additional turkey stock by the 1/4 cup until the bread is saturated. Wait a few minutes between adding stock to ensure it all gets absorbed. (You want the bread to be very wet, but without pools of liquid in the bowl. I used an additional cup total.)
  10. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  11. Butter a large baking dish. Place the bread mixture into the dish.
  12. Butter a large piece of foil and cover the dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  13. Increase oven heat to 450 degrees. Uncover and bake for a few additional minutes for a crispy top.
Serves 8-12.

Slow Cooker Cider Brats

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Fall leaves, looking towards the Blue Ridge Mountains ‚̧ ‚̧ ‚̧

Not going to lie. I’m mildly obsessed with fall. It’s my favorite season. I may or may not have mentioned this in pretty much all of our posts since the beginning of October. Since this is our first fall in South Carolina, I’m learning that fall comes slowly down here. It’s halfway through the month; the majority of the leaves are still green and we’ve hit the upper 80s several days this week! Ho hum. But fall peeks through now and then. We’ve carved some pumpkins. We’ve made and eaten chili. I’ve worn jeans a few times (albeit with short sleeve tops and sandals…) There are decorative gourds topping every surface in our house. Our neighbors are rockin’ some Halloween window decorations and fake spiderwebs. And best of all, we’ve turned off the A/C and had the windows open for several days!!

So when thinking about making some brats for dinner tonight, I logically wondered how I could make them “fall brats.” Because the traditional and perennially delicious, grilled, topped with mustard, peppers, and onions, tailgate brats apparently don’t scream fall loudly enough for me? (Could have something to do with the fact that we don’t have a grill…)

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Peeking in the fridge/brainstorming, I noticed a bottle of my favorite cider.

[Side note: if you have access to Bold Rock cider, you should check it out. They distribute pretty much only in the Mid-Atlantic. As of today, you can find Bold Rock ciders in Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, DC, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. They have a variety of ciders for your tasting pleasure. My personal favorites are the Virginia Apple, which is a bit more tart, thanks to its origins as a Granny Smith apple, and their drier, champange-style ciders. And if you want to make an amazing and low-key road trip out of it, you should check out their Cider Barn in Nelson County, Virginia. It’s a gorgeous (especially in the fall!) and fun place to visit. Even better, you can combine your visit there with a trip to one of the many wineries and breweries in the area! (In all seriousness, if you want some suggestions of places to check out in the area, we love pointing people in the direction of our favorites!) End side note.]

Deciding to combine my favorite, quintessentially fall cider with these brats was an interesting experiment. I wanted the sweetness of the cider, but didn’t want to ruin the brats with a cloying sweetness. Hence the other ingredients. I think it worked out pretty well. For me, it definitely was a new, sweeter flavor profile. It’s interesting that there is still a strong “meaty” taste and smell, that is countered with the sweetness of apple cider. I think the other new and interesting part of the dish for me was the texture of the brats themselves. I’ve never had brats any way other than fresh off a grill or sauteed in a pan. They’re essentially braised in the crockpot, which gives them a softer texture, without that tautness you would normally feel biting through the sausage.

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Slow Cooker Cider Brats

Ingredients: 
  • 5 large bratwursts
  • 1/2 of a large onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 12 baby carrots
  • 12oz bottle of hard apple cider
  • 12oz bottle of ginger beer
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 turns of black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Place your vegetables in the bottom of the slow cooker. Top with the bratwursts.
  2. In a bowl, combine the ingredients from cider through black pepper. Whisk a few times to combine.
  3. Pour liquid over top of brats & veggies in the slow cooker.
  4. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  5. Serve however you’d like! Throw the brats and veggies on a bun like a traditional brat or serve them with a little bit of the liquid over top rice or lentils like we did. (I wasn’t really intending the liquid to be a “sauce,” which it’s not, but I enjoyed topping my bowl off with a bit of it.)