Treatsie Tuesdays! (Baked Apple Chips)

Ahhhh … So I’m back.

I went on a little mini hiatus last week and decided to opt out of updating my blog posts and, instead, traded it in for a thorough enjoyment of the fall weather and all the merriment that goes with it.

You see – updating blog posts is often what I look forward to in the week, being able to share life stories and homey recipes with you. However, sometimes updating blog posts requires a lot of work. And last week demanded time away from the screen. It was a delightful little break, much needed. We caught up on some quality Andy & Krystina time.  We snuggled in and had long conversations. We took chilly walks outside. We read books and sang songs and kissed a little. (Okay – a lot.) And we did something extra special. We hopped in the car and drove to the coast where we visited a little town called Ipswich. Andy found his new ride.

We stumbled onto the quaintest farm where we dined on fresh cider donuts, watched creepy looking quail run about, and gathered heirloom apples.

We picked out pumpkins to carve and blasted potatoes out of high-power shooters. See that creepy laughing pumpkin in the background? I was trying to hit it in the face. Not so that I could win, but so that it would get that creepy grin off it’s face.

Even with all that fun, I have to say … it’s good to be back. I like sharing fun things with all of you.

So much so, I think I’ll start now.

Apple Chips … Let’s do this.

The victims: Apples, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Sugar, and a pinch of Salt.

Grab a little bowl and throw in your cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and salt – then mix it all up.

Next, you have to slice your apples really thin. I used a mandolin on it’s thinnest setting. The thicker the slice, the longer it will take to crisp up (if at all). They will crisp so nicely if you slice them oober thin.

Now, take your apple slices and place them in a single layer on a few parchment-lined baking sheets.

Sprinkle the apples with a touch of your spice mixture and rub it into the apple with your fingers.

Stick them into a 200 degree oven for a half hour. Flip them. Let them bake for an additional half hour to an hour, depending on the slice of the apple. You want them to come out lightly browned and just about crispy.

The apple slices will continue to crisp up once out of the oven.

And there you have it! Apple Chips.

Eat them as a snack. Or dip them into your Pumpkin Cream Cheese you just got from Trader Joe’s. Or use them as a frisbee.

Skip the spices and just bake the apples straight up and you have a lovely sweet-tart addition to a green salad!

My friends? Enjoy!

Baked Apple Chips

(Adapted from A Cozy Kitchen)

1 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 apples

Preheat oven to 200F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

In a small bowl, mix together spices and salt.

Crosswise, cut off both ends of each of the apples. There’s no need to core the apples. Using a mandoline (or sharp knife), slice the apples as thin as possible. (Approximately 1/16″ inch). Remove and discard any seeds from the apple slices.

Transfer the apple slices to the baking sheets, in a single layer, being sure they do not overlap. Sprinkle apple slices with a touch of the spice mixture. Rub it in with your fingers. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, then flip them over. Bake for another 30-60 minutes, or until crispy in appearance. Let cool and enjoy!

Treatsie Tuesdays! (Pumpkin Donut Holes)

Donuts.

Donuts. Donuts. Donuts.

Wowza. I mean, donuts are pretty much the epitome of junk food.

Next to french fries, maple glazed donuts are probably my favorite junk food.

Good grief … I can hardly believe I’m saying this on the world wide web.

But somehow I think Paul was thinking of this very moment when he said, “It is for freedom He set us free.”

Freedom to come right out and say it.

I love donuts.

Freedom.

Done and done.

So, here’s the dealio. I’ve got this friend named Vicki who reads these crazy Treatsie Tuesday entries and, in honor of the refreshing Autumnal air, she requested something pumpkin.

I could have made my good friend some pumpkin pie – but we know that’s coming just around the corner. (I stinkin’ love Thanksgiving.) I could have made her mini pumpkin cheesecakes, or a pumpkin latte, or even salted pumpkin caramels. But I did not. I … well, I did what any good friend would do. I made donuts.

These little babies are cute and round and exploding with pumpkiny goodness. And you know what? They’re actually full of some serious nutrition. Crazy, right?

Settle down, though. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a dessert. Because anything brushed with butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar is most definitely a dessert. But the inside – oh the inside. The inside is full of whole wheat and rich spices and deep orange potassium-laden pumpkin. They’re baked, not fried. Major plus. And they’re mini – so a little goes a long way.

Ready to get in the kitchen? Let’s do this.

The victims:  Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, Brown Sugar, Canned Pumpkin (or your own cooked down pumpkin), Baking Powder, Salt, Pumpkin Pie Spice (I made my own), Egg, Butter, Vanilla, and Milk.

Alright – First you’re going to want to grab a medium sized bowl and dump in your flours, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.

Whisk it up.

Next, grab a separate large bowl and dump in your egg, vanilla, sugar, milk, and pumpkin.

Whisk that up.

Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients and stir just until combined.

When the batter is ready, grease a mini muffin tin and dollop a spoonful of that crazy orange batter into the molds. Fill it just about 2/3 full.

Pop it in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Then remove the little donut holes from the tin and let them cool completely on a rack.

Once they’re at room temp, melt your butter in a little bowl and combine your extra sugar with some more pumpin pie spice. This is the good stuff, right here.

Take a donut hole and brush some butter on. Then roll it around in the spiced sugar mixture.

Plop it on a plate and voila! You’ve got pumpkin donut holes, baby.

It’s been years since I’ve had a donut. It’s true. But these may show an appearance in my life from time to time. Now … if only I can drum up a recipe for maple glazed donut holes. Oi vey!

These are ridiculous – in a completely great way. Moist on the inside, slight crunch on the outside. Ai, ai, aiy!

It’s like Autumn … for your tastebuds. Delicious.

My friends? Enjoy!

Pumpkin Donut Holes

(Adapted from Eighty Twenty)

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose  flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 1/2 Tbsp warmed coconut oil or room temperature olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup skim milk

TOPPING
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Spray each cup in a mini muffin tin with baking spray.In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. In a large separate bowl whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix just until dry ingredients are moist.

Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full with batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove donuts from oven and transfer to a cooling rack or a sheet of waxed paper to cool completely.

When cool, melt butter in one bowl and combine granulated sugar and pie spice in another bowl. Brush each cooled donut with melted butter, then roll in sugar mixture to coat.
Let sit about 15 minutes before serving or store in an air-tight container.

Treatsie Tuesdays! (Apple Galette with Cinnamon Frozen Yogurt)

This time last week, my man and I were frolicking about Boston celebrating three years of marriage together. We rode the T. We ate cannoli. We walked the North End. We watched sailboats. We talked to strangers. (Sorry Mom and Dad) We shopped. We dined on amazing Italian food. And then … then we did something that made my heart come alive.

We plopped ourselves down in the Agganis Arena, eyes glued to the stage, and we watched the top ten contestants of So You Think You Can Dance perform. It was beautiful. I cried through some portions. I love dance. If I had another shot at life, I’d be a dancer. For sure.

Sigh.

Okay, back to reality here.

So – It’s officially fall! And the apples are here.

In all their juicy plumpness, they’ve trampled right in and said “See ya later, berries and peaches. I’m the queen now.”

They’re everywhere. They’re in the grocery stores, they’re at the farmer’s market, they’re covering trees on the side of the road, they’re dangling from teacher’s earrings. (It’s true – kindergarten teachers wear the craziest earrings.) They’ve infiltrated our lives – and I couldn’t be happier.

Today is all about letting the bright sweet-tart flavor of the apple shine. We’re going rustic, simple, bare-bones.

This month’s issue of Organic Gardening Magazine featured the most charming apple galette that was full of hearty whole wheat, bronzy raw sugar, and fresh crisp apples. I was so excited about it, I decided to make it today and jazz it up a bit by pairing it with a maple-cinnamon frozen yogurt.

Ready to hit the kitchen? Here we go.

Your victims for the galette: Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Butter, Sugar, Sea Salt, Egg Yolk, Apple Cider Vinegar, Ice Water, and Apples.

In a medium bowl, dump in your flours, your sugar, and your sea salt.

Whisk it all up.

Grab your butter and grate it on a box grater. (If you don’t have a box grater, just cut the butter into cubes and cut it into the flour mixture until coarse.)

Doesn’t it look like cheese? It’s not. Please remember that it’s not. When you go to snag a strand and plop it in your mouth as you would cheese, please refrain. It’s butter. An entirely different sort of yummy from cheese.

Plop the butter in, a little at a time, and combine it with a fork.

It should look a bit coarse like this:

Good! Now, in a separate bowl, whisk together your egg yolk, vinegar, and ice water.

Drizzle that over the flour-butter mixture.

Combine it all with a fork until it seems like it would bind together if you molded it with your hands.

Mine was a bit on the dry side so I ended up adding an extra two tablespoons of water. No biggie.

Once it’s comprehensive enough to smush together (not too wet, though), take the dough and bind it into a ball with your hands.

Now you need to separate the dough into two. This makes two galettes, but I only needed one so I froze the other half of the dough.

Cover the dough in plastic wrap. Then squish it down with your hand to form a thick disk.

Put this in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Okay, this is where things get a little funky on my side. I did the dough yesterday but didn’t have time to finish up the galette. So I decided to wake up early and finish it up this morning. Well, in case you didn’t notice … it was dark and rainy and thundery out this morning. When I woke at 7:30 there was little-to-no light in my house.  So, I brought all my stuff into the living room and photographed next to one window that was letting in just an eentsy bit of light. Good thing I have a low-light lens. Or else, I’m not sure you’d be having a Treatsie Tuesday today!

Want to see my set up?

It was dark, I tell you. Sometimes when you photograph things, you just have to go with what works. I have photographed food in my bedroom, in my bathroom, on the floor in a bright area. Whatever works. Lighting is key.

Anyway – that is why some of these next photos will seem a bit dark. But you know what? I dig ’em. I think they’re moody and add to the rustic charm of the galette.

Okay – onto the next part.

When the dough is just about chilled through, slice up your apples real thin.

Now, roll out your dough until it makes a 11-12″ circle. Don’t make it perfect. The cracks and rough edges on the side is what makes this galette so charming. And it’s easier on you. Imperfect things are often the most beautiful.

Once the dough is all rolled out, carefully transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Don’t worry if the dough hangs over the edge. We’re going to fold some of it in.

Now – assemble your apple slices in a circle in the center of your dough. Leave an inch of overhang on the sides.

When that is finished, fold the dough over the apples, pleating the dough as you go ’round the circle.

Brush the top with some melted butter and sprinkle it all with raw sugar. I used demerara.

Look at that! Now you just have to plop it in the oven for 40 minutes, and voila! You’ve got a gorgeous galette.

See what I mean? So beautiful. Super flaky, buttery crust. Soft sweet-tart apples, with a crunch from the raw sugar. Get out of town.

This is such a lovely fall treat. And to pair it with Maple Cinnamon Frozen Yogurt? I’m telling you – it’s absolutely divine!

My friends? Enjoy!

Rustic Apple Galette

(From Organic Gardening Magazine)

For the dough:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1⁄2 cup whole-wheat flour

1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon sugar

12 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, grated with a box grater

1 egg yolk

1⁄4 teaspoon cider vinegar

4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flours, salt, and sugar. Add in grated butter and combine with a fork, leaving some chunks slightly larger than pea-sized. (Or cut the butter in by hand).

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk and vinegar together with 4 tablespoons of the ice water. Drizzle into the flour-butter mixture, tossing with a fork until you can bring the dough together with your hands. If the dough is too dry, add the last tablespoon of ice water.

Divide into two pieces weighing about 9 ounces each. Wrap each one in plastic film, then gently press each into a round disk. (If you wish, freeze one disk for later.) Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, as a chilled dough is easier to roll out, easier to handle, and absorbs less extra flour, keeping the texture as it should be.

Makes enough for 2 (10-inch) tarts (if planning to make only one tart, you can freeze the other portion of dough for later use)

For the apple tart:

1 round of dough, 1/2 recipe

2-3 apples (Macoun, Cortland, or Empire), sliced real thin

1 1/2 Tablespoons melted butter

1 Tablespoon raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Roll the dough into a circle 11 to 12 inches across, then transfer it to the parchment paper. Arrange the apples on the dough, overlapping the slices and leaving a one-inch rim. Fold the rim over, making pleats to create a circle.

Brush melted butter over the dough and apples, then scatter the sugar over the apples. Bake in the top third of the oven until the apples are soft and the crust is golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove, and cool slightly before serving.

Maple Cinnamon Frozen Yogurt

(From Vegetarian Times)

2/3 cup pure maple syrup
4 cups plain low-fat yogurt (Not fat free! 2% milkfat worked great)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Place yogurt in cheesecloth-lined strainer and set over bowl. Let drain in refrigerator overnight. (Or just use greek yogurt like I did.)

Whisk together drained yogurt, maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon in large bowl until smooth. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions until thick and scoopable (about 25 minutes). Serve immediately, or keep frozen until ready to use.

Treatsie Tuesdays! (Peach Butter)

I’m not gonna lie.

I look like a crazy person right now.

I’ve got some floppy sideways bun happenin’ on top of my head, with hair sticking straight out the sides like I’ve just slid down the slide seven times. My lips are chapped. My legs, unshaven. I’m pretty sure I’ve yet to brush my teeth for the day. I have a semicircle of black beneath my eyes from yesterday’s leftover mascara. Coming out of those semicircles are tear streaks, caused by the beautiful and heart breaking film “Lovely, still” I just watched on Netflix. I’ve got my grandma slippers on and ginger tea in my hand.

I’m a mess.

But I’m not feeling well today.

So, I’m pretty sure the mess is allowed.

However, no illness of mine can keep me from sharing lovely things with all of you beautiful people. Lovely things like peach butter.

Here is my last ode to peaches, as we will see them slowly slip out of season. It’s a fun way to keep that bright and flavorful peach around even while the winter months approach.

So, peach butter is pretty much a sister to peach jam. However, fruit butters tend to be less sweet than jams. They are also smoother and less translucent.

This particular recipe calls for much less sugar than even typical fruit butter recipes. I really wanted to peach flavor to shine and not get swallowed up in sweetness, you know? Sweetness is good, but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.

Ready to get working?

Gather your victims: Peaches, sugar, water, and a lemon. (Lemon isn’t pictured because, well, I just plain forgot. Your forgiveness is much appreciated.)

First, put a pot of water on to boil. Enough water to submerge the peaches in.

Now, grab a pairing knife and score an “x” on the bottom of each peach.

When the water is boiling, prepare an ice bath for the peaches to cool off in. No, I’m serious. They’re gonna need an ice bath.

Just fill a bowl with cold water and a few ice cubes.

Now – it’s time to do a quick blanch of those peaches. This is going to help their skins slide right off.

Just slip the peaches into the boiling water for 30 seconds, then transfer them over to the ice bath. Let them sit in the cold water for a minute.

Now, this was supposed to allow the peach skins to slide right off, but mine didn’t take to the blanching so well. However it did soften the skins to help with the peeling process. I just took my pairing knife and cut the peels off. No biggie.

Once the skins are off, de-pit and cut your peaches into cubes.

Add them to an empty pot, along with your water. Let this hang out in there for 15-20 minutes. And please stir it every once in a while. We don’t want burnt peach butter.

When the peaches are finished simmering, you’ve got to smooth it out. I used an immersion blender, but you can easily transfer the peaches to a tabletop blender or food processor. You can also use a food mill, if you have one. We just need to get these puppies smoooooth.

Check it out – It’s all smooth. Except, I did leave a little bit of peach pieces in there. I like mine with some bite to it.

Next, pour in your sugar and squeeze in your lemon juice. Stir it up real good and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Again, watch those peaches! Stir it every once in a while, especially near the end. It doesn’t take much to push the peaches over the edge. Feisty little things, they are.

And, there you have it! Peach butter.

This stuff is so amazing. The peach flavor gets even stronger when it cools down in the fridge.

Use it to spread on your whole wheat toast with cream cheese, or dollop a bit of it on some raspberry muffins. Drizzle it on top of your yogurt and add in some crunchy granola. Spoon some on top of mango ice cream, or allow it to be the sweetener in your morning oats.

So many uses for this beautiful spread. So many. It’s delicious. Oh! I just thought of another – use it as a sweetener for homemade barbecue sauce. Peach barbecue sauce, slathered on top of chicken, then grilled over some hot coals. Oi vey! Yes, please.

Please make this. And share it with people you love.

My friends? Enjoy!

Peach Butter

Yield: 4 cups

4 pounds peaches
1 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
Juice of one lemon

Without a food mill: Cut a small “x” in the bottom of each peach. Dip each into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, and then into a bowl of cold water for a minute. The peels should slide right off. [If you have a food mill, skip the peeling step and I’ll tell you where to use it in a moment.]

Halve your peaches and remove the pits, then cut each half into quarters (i.e. 8 chunks from each peach). Place peach chunks and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until peaches are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they cook evenly. If you have a food mill, run them through it to puree them and remove the skins. If you don’t have a food mill — i.e. you already peeled your peaches — you can puree in a food processor, blender or with an immersion blender.

Return the peaches to the large pot, add the sugar and lemon juice and bring the mixture to a good strong simmer/gentle boil, cooking them at this level for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally in the beginning and more often near the end, as it thickens up and the fruit risks scorching on the bottom of the pot.

There are several methods to test for doneness: You can drizzle a ribbon of sauce across the surface; when that ribbon holds its shape before dissolve into the pot, it is done. Some people use cold or frozen plates; dollop a spoonful in the middle of one and if no water forms a ring around it in a couple minutes, it is done. Others use a spoon; if the butter remains rounded on a spoon for two minutes, it is done. You can also check the pot itself; the butter is usually done when a wooden spoon leaves a clear train when scraped across the bottom.

Let peach butter cool (unless you’re canning it, in which, follow the directions below). If you’re not canning it, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. It should be good for at least two weeks.

To can your peach butter: First, sterilize your jars, either by boiling them in a large, deep pot of water (which should cover the jars completely) for 10 minutes or washing them in lots of hot soapy water, rinsing and drying the parts well and then place the jars only in a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes. Then, divide your hot piping hot peach butter between your jars, leaving a little room at the top. Wipe the rims clean with a dry towel and cover the jars with their lids. Submerge the jars in a large, deep pot of boiling water for 10 minutes, either in a removable basket or using tongs to dip and remove them. Let cool completely on towels, a process that can take overnight. If canned properly, the peach butter should last indefinitely at room temperature.

Treatsie Tuesdays! (Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova)

That’s right.

I did it.

I made a treat called Pavlova.

Go ahead – you can say it out loud.

C’mon. Say it out loud.

Okay –  if you can’t say it right now without looking like a strange-o, just politely excuse yourself to the restroom and say it to yourself.

Or, try and work it into a sentence.

And … go.

Heh.

Pavlova.

It’s fun to say.

This thing is the strangest dessert I have made yet. Deliciously strange. I have never tried such a thing, let alone attempt to make it. But, I’m a brave girl. I strapped on my boots, hiked up my skirt and got to getting my hands dirty. (That’s not true. I wasn’t wearing a skirt. I was wearing stretchy yoga pants, like any bum, ahem, classy gal would on her day off.)

So – Pavlova. Ha! There it is again. I wan’t to shout it as a joyful exclamation. “Oh! You just got engaged? Pavlova!” (Pavlova, Sam and Adrienne! Pavlova!)

This dessert has a sweet chocolate meringue base, topped with fresh whipped cream and raspberries. It’s very simple to make but will impress the socks off of anyone. The crackly meringue gives it a rustic charm, but the taste is elegant. It’s a bit crunchy on the outside, then it’s chewy gooey on the inside.

It’s not too sweet, as the cream on top is just that – Cream. No sugar. (Also how I take most of my coffee, in case anyone was wondering.)

Want to know how to make it? Alright, alright. I’ll show you.

The victims: Superfine Sugar, Cocoa, 6 Eggs, Heavy Cream, Chopped Chocolate, Raspberries, Red Wine Vinegar.

First, you need to line a baking sheet with parchment – then trace a circle on it. Gosh, I wish I still had my math compass. That would have been a blast to make a circle with. I need to get me one of those.

I just grabbed a smallish plate (maybe 8 inches?) and used it to trace my circle.

Flip your parchment over so the batter doesn’t touch the pencil markings. You’ll still be able to see your circle through the paper. Don’t worry.

Then, you’ve got to separate your eggs and keep the whites. Keep the yolks, too, to make other things like ice cream or custard.

I don’t have a photograph of the separation, because I actually already had some whites leftover from mine and Andy’s date with our nephews, brother, and sister. We made ice cream and used all the yolks.

Once you have the yolks ready, pour them into a large bowl.

Beat with a hand-held blender until soft peaks form.

Now, grab your sugar and add it to the egg whites a spoonful at a time.

Now, take it out back and beat it up. Yea. Rough house it a little. Show it who’s boss.

I’m sorry. That was inappropriate. We don’t want to rough house anyone or anything. That wouldn’t be very kind.

But, we do want to beat the sugar into the egg whites. Just, maybe in a less aggressive way. Plus, you’ll save yourself from a huge mess if you refrain from violence. Just beat it with a blender. Eggs don’t mind that … because then they turn into Pavlova. And that makes them happy.

Beat just until stiff, shiny peaks form. If you over-beat, it will begin to separate. The true test to see if meringue is done is to hold your bowl upside down. If nothing falls out, you’re golden.

Grab your cocoa, and sift it over your meringue.

Add in your red wine vinegar.

Then, add in your chopped chocolate. I don’t have a photo of this. Probably because I’m sometimes a scatter brain.

Take a rubber spatula, and fold it all in until incorporated.

Now, dab a little of the batter under each corner of the parchment. This will help the parchment to stay put while you assemble your base.

Next, pile your batter onto the parchment, using your circle as a guide.

Pop that in the oven, reduce the heat, and let it hang out for an hour. Yep. An hour.

When it’s all done baking and cooling – you get this crazy looking thing!

While that is cooling, you can make your whipped cream.

Just pour the cream into a bowl, and whip!

At this point, I carefully put my meringue base on a cake stand. This is hard. This is so hard. Mine split and crumbled all over the place, but since it’s already crackly it didn’t offend me too much.

You should probably just leave yours put. Or, be adventurous and transfer it. But I warned you. Oh, I warned you.

Top the chocolate meringue with whipped cream.

Then, top it all off with fresh raspberries and shaved chocolate.

You are outstanding. Look at that! The people will love you.

So impressive.

My friends? Enjoy!

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

(From Nigella Lawson)

For the Meringue Base:

6 large egg whites

2 cups superfine sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar

2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

For the Toppings:

2 cups heavy cream

4 cups fresh raspberries

1 to 2 ounces dark chocolate, shaved or chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Draw a circle on the paper with a pencil, tracing a plate about 8 to 9 inches in diameter. Flip the paper over so your meringue doesn’t touch the pencil marks – you’ll still be able to see the circle.

Beat the egg whites with a mixer until satiny peaks form, then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny.

Sprinkle the cocoa, vinegar and then the chopped chocolate over the egg whites. Gently fold everything with a rubber spatula until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.

Secure the parchment to the baking sheet with a dab of meringue under each corner. Mound the meringue onto the parchment within the circle, smoothing the top with a spatula.

Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees and cook for one hour. When it’s ready, it should look crisp and dry on top, but when you prod the center you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers.

Turn off the oven and open the door slightly; let the chocolate meringue disk cool completely in the oven. When you’reready to serve, invert onto a big flatbottomed plate and peel off the parchment.

Make your whipped topping: Beat the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue. Scatter the raspberries on top. Coarsely grate the chocolate haphazardly over the top so that you get curls of chocolate rather than rubble, as you don’t want the raspberries’ luscious color and form to be obscured. You want the Pavlova to look like a frosted cake.

Treatsie Tuesdays! (Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins for My Man)

Yesterday.

Oh, yesterday.

It was a hard one.

At first it was clenched fists, biting words, turned backs.

And then, by the grace and relentless heart of God, it was a single touch, on the bathroom floor, through aching eyes that brought back us.

Marriage is one of the best, and hardest, things you could get swept up in.

Andy and I don’t always get it right. We get selfish and prideful and ridiculously opinionated – and we fight. It’s never pretty. And it’s never easy to find our way back home. It’s gasps for air, and dizzying circles, and beaten hearts. It’s ugly. And we hate it.

But if we can allow ourselves to get out of our own way, and be about each other, it’s the most harmonious reconciliation on the planet. The consonance to the chaotic dissonance.

We were spat on, lied to, and struck down by the enemy. But our God forced his way through the thickness of insecurity, and fear, and distrust – pressed one hand against the enemy’s face and outstretched the other for us to take refuge beneath. We found our way home under those wings. We swallowed our fear, and collapsed into each other – right there on the bathroom floor, we found home again.

I can’t even begin to tell you how worth it it is to love. Through all of it, every deep pit, it is always the best decision I’ve ever made. Just to love. Despite.

My man is my hero. He loves me with so much passion and sincerity. He says sorry when I’m too prideful to say it first. He reaches out when I want to run away. He doesn’t let me speak abusive and volatile words over myself. He’s safe. He’s home. And he’s my absolute best friend.

“A good marriage is where both people feel like they’re getting the better end of the deal.”

– Anne Lamott

For sure, I am getting the better end. That guy is incredible. And it is an absolute privilege to be called his girl. I’m blessed.

I wanted to bless my man back for his tenderness with me after yesterday’s rather bleak day. I often enjoy speaking love through food. If you’re close enough to me, you may remember times when I’ve asked you what your favorite meals are, or your favorite treats, because I love to make things that really mean something special for people. I have this rolodex in my brain of everyone’s favorite foods – because that’s one of my love languages. Food.

When I flip my imaginary rolodex over to Andy’s name, there are a plethora of things that come up. But one of them is a classic. One that I’ve been making for us ever since we’ve got married. The smell of them baking brings me back to living in our first home. Back to me learning the gentle warmth of Andy’s arms. Back to settling in so sweetly with him. Back to laughing at the poppy seeds stuck in our teeth.

These nostalgic little things are for my man. They are my personal “toast” to our love, and friendship, and the home we’ve created in each other.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins!

First, your victims: Flour, Sugar, a stick of Butter, 2 Lemons, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Salt, Vanilla, Sour Cream, 2 Eggs, Powdered Sugar, and Poppy Seeds.

Grab a large bowl, pour in your sugar and lemon zest.

Now, you need to get your sugar to be super lemony, so go ahead and rub the zest and sugar together with your fingers. This will release the oils from the lemon and will give the sugar a soft lemon flavor. It’s delicious.

You want to rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar has a strong lemon scent. My sugar starts to turn yellow. It’s fun.

Now take a quick second to melt your butter in the microwave. You need melted butter for this recipe, but it needs to be cooled melted butter. By the time you’re done incorporating your other ingredients, your melted butter should be cooled.

Grab your flour, and add it to the lemon scented sugar.

Next, add in your baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds.

Whisk all of that goodness together.

Set that aside so you can work on your liquid ingredients.

Grab your bowl of cooled melted butter. Add in the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice from the zested lemon.

Now, whisk it all up.

When that is all smooth and cohesive, pour it into your flour mixture.

Here is where the secret part comes in.

Everyone wants moist muffins. There is nothing more disgusting than a dense, dry muffin. It’s just not right. The first secret to a moist muffin is to just barely incorporate the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Honestly, it’s better to have a few clumps of flour mixture than to over-stir the batter. I only stir it in until I can see just a tad bit of flour. Trust me on this one.

Fold in the egg batter to the flour mixture.

Ready for trick number two? A baking sheet. Under your muffin pan. Yes. This will prevent your muffins from getting too overcooked on the bottom, creating a dry muffin. Do it. I dare you.

Grease your muffin tin and dollop in your lemony batter.

Pop it in a 400 degree oven. My oven runs a bit hot, so I put these in for 16 minutes and they were good. I actually could have taken them out at 15 and that would have been perfect. You may need to leave yours in for about 18 – 20 minutes, depending on the oven. I suggest to check them at 15, and if a few crumbs stick to a toothpick, you’re golden!

When they’re done baking, grab a butter knife and lift the muffins onto their sides to let the steam escape. This will prevent them from overcooking and getting dense.

As soon as you can touch them without scorching your fingers, transfer the muffins to a cooling rack.

When the muffins are completely cool, you are free to drizzle them with icing!

Place some powdered sugar in a bowl and squeeze in the juice from your second lemon.

Stir it up. It should be drizzly.

Drizzle the icing over your muffins, and voila! You’ve got yourself a scrumptious little treat.

These are lovely. If you have a man who loves lemon, I hope you make these for him. He’ll kiss you. And I know you’ll like that.

My friends? Enjoy!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

(From Dorie Greenspan)

For the muffins:

2/3 cup sugar

Zest and juice of one lemon

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sour cream

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 Tablespoons poppy seeds

For the icing:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2-3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-sized muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lemon strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds. In a separate bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend until just incorporated. Don’t worry about being thorough – a few lumps are better than overmixing the batter.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes (testing at 15 minutes), or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. (I like my toothpick to still have a few crumbs clinging on.)

Transfer the muffins out of their molds and onto a cooling rack.

When completely cool, put the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl and add about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the lemon juice. Stir with a spoon to moisten the sugar, then add enough additional lemon juice, a dribble at a time, to get an icing that is thin enough to drizzle from the tip of the spoon. Drizzle on top of cooled muffins.

Treatsie Tuesdays! (Chocolate Banana Ice Cream)

Holy. Stinkin’. Smokes.

I’m almost speechless. I mean, really. I just sat here for about 10 minutes with my curser blinking, longing for me to type out a description of this magical concoction, but I’m too busy trying to pick my jaw up from the floor.

This ice cream is knock-your-skirt-off fabulous. (Was that a little brash? I apologize. I can get that way when I’m stunned from delicious desserts. Please excuse my misdemeanor.)

Here’s the deal. The title sounds simple, right? Chocolate Banana Ice Cream. What could be the big deal? Most of us have experienced a chocolate and banana combo once in our lives. And it’s … good. But, I’m telling you. This ice cream is not just good. It’s explosively delectable – and I have no idea why. Maybe it was just what my taste buds demanded in that moment. Or maybe it was the fact that it was a pretty grueling day on the emotions, and this ice cream was just the thing to pick me up. Emotional eating, anyone? Yikes. Maybe it’s that it was blazing hot out and all I wanted was to not be sweating profusely from my armpits. (Ice cream is a top runner in my anti-sweat campaign. Oh – you didn’t know I have an anti-sweat campaign? Well, I do. It’s … a work in progress. We’ll get there.)

Regardless of why this tasted so amazing, it has changed our life a little bit. Andy, who is loyal to the bones about his Orange Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, said it was the best ice cream he’s ever had. Say what?! (I really need to stop doing that. Trying to be all ghetto. Jeesh.) This boy dreams in orange-infused chocolate. He’s a sucker for it. So the news of his adoration for this frozen cream left me at a loss. Wow. This stuff has power.

Let’s talk about the ice cream, shall we? It’s super smooth and very creamy. It’s the real deal, made from homemade custard. No cutting corners with this guy. He’s all calorie-laden and completely worth it. It has a deep chocolate flavor with a subtle banana undertone. There are no chunks. There are no bells, whistles, or harmonicas involved. There are just the simplest of ingredients that meld together to form a paradox of simply complex flavors. It is the kind of cream that is good all on it’s own. It doesn’t cry out for toppings or whips or drizzles. It is so beautifully independent. And it deserves every second of spotlight.

Remember when Andy and I went to Vermont a few months back for a wedding? I wrote about our trip to The Special Place and our ice cream cone treats. I had Chocolate Banana, and it was unreal. I wanted to try and recreate it. So, Andy and I did our research, then went out and got an ice cream maker (best investment ever).

I have a special guest photographing with me today. He’s tall and handsome and has kissable lips. (Not for you. Just for me. He’s all mine.) It’s the one and only … Andy!

*Special Note: Some photographs have man hands, and some have lady hands. Andy wanted me to ensure you that his hands are indeed manly and the lady hands are not his. They are mine. We traded cooking and photographing every once in a while. Cuz we’re a team like that.

Alright, let’s dig in. First up! The victims… mwah, ha, ha, ha, ha. (So creepy.) You’ll need: Half and half, sugar, eggs (you’ll only want the yolks from these bad boys), unsweetened cocoa powder, a banana, and a pinch of salt.

Now, you want to add your half and half to a medium sized pot. Slowly heat it over low – you do not want it to boil. Check on it periodically while your working on assembling the other ingredients.

While that is heating, work on separating your eggs. And yes, I do mean work on it. Poor Andy had some troubles trying to separate the yolk from the white. Want to see?

Yep, that yolk is on its way to the whites bowl. After multiple attempts, we decided to switch spots. He’d photograph. I’d separate.

Do you know how to separate the yolk from the white? All you do is crack the egg, gently pull the shell apart in half, and slowly rock the yolk back and forth between both sides, allowing the white to fall into a bowl underneath. Please put a bowl underneath. Your counters don’t desire to be covered in egg whites. You can even keep the whites and make a meringue! Or mousse! Or an omelette!

Once you’ve got your egg yolks in the bowl, add in some sugar, a pinch of salt, and cocoa powder.

Grab your banana, peel it, and mash it all up. Feed it to your baby, if you have one. Then grab another banana, peel it, and mash it all up – this time adding it to your cocoa mixture.

Whisk it all up, my friends.

Now – you’re going to need to add the hot cream to this mixture, but listen up. That cream is hot – and your eggs are cold. When cold eggs interface with hotness, they cook. We don’t want scrambled egg ice cream. Blech. What we need to do is temper it.

Dunk your 1/2 c. measuring cup into the hot cream. (Please don’t scald yourself. Be careful.) Now, while whisking your cocoa egg mixture, slowly drizzle the hot cream into the batter, whisking constantly. This is going to slowly heat up the yolks, but not flash-cook them. Soon your batter will be warm and your eggs will turn custardy and not scrambly.

Repeat this until you have a half cup of cream left in the pot. Return the pot to the stove over lowish heat.

Grab a strainer and put it on top of your pot. Slowly pour your batter through the strainer and into the pot. This will remove any clumpage from the bananas or over-heated cream. It’s not a necessary step, but it allows the ice cream to be super velvety.

Heat that up over medium-low heat and stir constantly until custard-like and can coat the back of a spoon. (About  7 minutes for me.)

Now, here’s the hardest part. You’ve gotta pop that sucker in the fridge and let it chill for a few hours. I know, I know. I wanted ice cream right away, too! But it really won’t freeze right if goes into the maker all hot. It’s got to cool down. Be patient, dear friend. Go watch a movie, or clean the bathtub, or go on a bike ride, or snuggle with your children, or scrub permanent marker off your walls (Marissa!), or call a friend. These things will help you in your waiting.

Once your few hours is up, you get to churn your ice cream!

Umm … well … you see … the thing is … I don’t have photos of the ice cream churning process. 😦

I know. I’ve let you down. But, you see, I was hanging out with Andy and sometimes we have too much fun together and I forget to do important things like photograph steps to Treatsie Tuesday. Please don’t be mad. Just make this ice cream, eat it, and you’ll forget that you were even upset with me.

I’ll tell you that I used a Cuisinart ICE-21 model ice cream maker. It works magically. And is one of the best rated on Cook’s Product Reviews. They know their stuff.

Churn your ice cream and enjoy! Straight out of the maker, it was so creamy. It set up real nice, and when you gave it a taste, it would melt perfectly on your palette – sort of similar to a frosty. After a few hours in the freezer, it will harden more like ice cream.

Also – this could be really great with agave nectar instead of sugar. I tossed around using agave, but decided I would use sugar since it was my first time. If you’d like to substitute agave nectar, use 2/3 cup agave for every 1 cup of sugar.

It’s amazing, as is. But you can get jazzy and give it a good drizzle of salted caramel sauce and a sprinkling of chocolate confetti.

My friends? Enjoy.

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

(from All Recipes)

I halved the recipe to serve just Andy and myself, with a good cup of leftovers. This recipe should yield about 8 servings.

Also, the first four ingredients make up your ice cream base. Play around with other ingredients to make various flavors. Omit the cocoa, add a splash of vanilla and substitute fresh mashed strawberries to get strawberry ice cream. Take out the banana and add in chopped peanut butter cups and pretzels near the end of the churning process to get a fun spin on chocolate peanut butter cup ice cream. The sky is the limit.

4 cups half-and-half cream
8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup mashed banana (about 2 bananas)

Instructions:

Pour the half-and-half cream into a heavy saucepan, place over medium-low heat, and heat until barely simmering, stirring frequently. Turn the heat down to low.

Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, salt, cocoa, and banana in a large bowl until thoroughly combined.

Slowly pour about 1/2 cup of hot cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Repeat three times more, whisking thoroughly before adding each additional 1/2 cup of hot cream to the egg yolk mixture. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining hot cream, and whisk constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens and will coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 8 minutes. Do not let mixture boil.

Pour the ice cream base into a bowl and allow to cool in the refrigerator for a few hours. Once chilled, pour into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. Remove the ice cream and enjoy! Pack the leftovers into a freezer safe container. Freeze for up to 2 months.