Shauna’s Mom’s Blueberry Crisp

Confession: I’m writing and posting this from my phone. I’ll either be impressed with the WP iPhone app or not. We’ll see how it goes… 

This summer I’ve been nannying two little boys (Kiddo #1 is 6 and Kiddo #2 is 4). They eat fruit like monkeys at the zoo. I can say that because we have been to the zoo a lot over the last 6 weeks – perk to living outside San Diego!

 When I saw a bunch of blackberries not being eaten, I knew I needed to find a creative use for them before they molded. Enter: Shauna Niequist and her book, “Bread and Wine”. It was just sitting on the kitchen counter and one morning, while I was doing the “Eat your breakfast” song and dance with Kiddo #1, I cracked it open to find good stories paired with what looked to be good recipes.   

Ingredients

4 cups fruit (There were 3 cups of blackberries, so I supplemented them with 1 cup frozen blueberries.)

Crisp Topping:

1 cup old-fashioned oats (We only had plain instant oatmeal packets; 3 packets is 1 cup and they sufficed well enough.)

1/2 cup raw, unsalted pecans, chopped

1/2 cup almond meal

1/4 cup maple syrup (I’m not Ina Garten, so I don’t care if you use the “good” stuff or Aunt Jemima. We used Auntie J and it was just fine.)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Mix crisp topping ingredients together. I had a 4-cup measuring cup and measured and mixed everything in there. Hey, fewer dishes and its topping, not science. 
  2. Pour fruit in 8×8 baking dish. Spoon the topping over it. 
  3. Bake at 350 degrees 35 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and delicious.    

 I added a pinch of cinnamon to the topping because I love cinnamon. This crisp is not terribly sweet, so it would be good with vanilla ice cream or maybe a good sprinkling of brown sugar on the top. It also goes well with a cup of coffee in the morning, kind of like a dressed up oatmeal.   Sorry, I was halfway through my fancy oatmeal crisp breakfast snack before I thought to take a picture. 

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Easter, Springtime, and Cobbler – oh my!

Sorry for the sporadic posts last week. As a general rule, I avoid the internet at all costs on April Fools Day and Good Friday is a dearly-held, technology-free time for me to spend reflecting on the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

But I come today bearing strawberry-flavored gifts! ‘Tis the season for potlucks, cookouts, and general gatherings. Yesterday I made both a roasted vegetable and kale salad, as well as a gluten-free strawberry cobbler. The strawberries at the market were beautiful, but you can make this recipe with just about any cobbler-type fruit: peaches, blueberries, cherries, apples, pears. It’s gluten-free and delicious, even for the most gluten-loving among us.

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Gluten-Free Fruit Cobbler

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 box gluten-free cornbread mix
  • 1 pint strawberries, rinsed, de-stemmed, and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk (substitute water for dairy-free)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 disposable 8×8 baking dish
  • Butter (or bacon grease if dairy-free) for pan greasing

IMG_7748Preheat the oven to 375. Set aside 15-20 strawberry quarters. In a tupperware, put the rest of the strawberries and the white sugar, then seal the lid and shake it around to get the sugar evenly distributed. Place in the refrigerator overnight or let it set on the counter for at least an hour if you can. If not, it won’t be the end of the world, I promise.

In a large bowl, combine the box of cornbread mix, egg, milk (or water), cinnamon, and brown sugar. You’ll only really need half of the batter, so put the rest in a zip-top bag and freeze it for later use. Chop the 15-20 strawberry quarters you set aside earlier, as fine as you’d like, then add them to the batter. Stir to combine, and no lumps, people!

IMG_7750Grease the baking dish. Need I remind you how much I love using bacon grease for this kind of task? Coconut oil would also be good. Pour the strawberries into the greased dish. Spoon the strawberry-infused batter onto the fruit. Put the cobbler into the oven and check it at 28 minutes; it should take between 28 and 32 minutes. You’ll know it’s finished when you insert a toothpick in the middle of the batter and it comes out clean. I like to turn the broiler on to get a little bit of color on the top; you can sprinkle sugar on top to brûlée it if you’d like, but it isn’t necessary. Ice cream isn’t necessary either, but it’s good!

And there you have it: a relatively guilt-free dessert. No gluten, no dairy, not that much sugar. I like to keep these easy recipes on hand because it’s so easy for the gluten-free crowd to be overlooked when it comes to potlucks. While some people avoid gluten by choice, others (like my brother and one of my best friends) have a serious allergy that can make their lives miserable for days. There are some allergies worth suffering for and I’d say dessert would be one of them, but why suffer if you don’t need to? Friends don’t let celiac friends eat gluten.

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Looking for a gluten-free chocolate dessert? Try these no-bake chocolate-peanut butter cookies!

Christmas Cookies: Bah! Humbug!

Yup. I’ve reached the point of being tired of baking. Let’s be honest, I’m just tired. BUT this is the last batch of the day! Oh, p.s., I made another batch of “spreads” on a smaller sheet and I am much happier with the way they turned out. Thicker cookie, neater edges, thicker chocolate layer.

Nothing says, “Merry Christmas!” like Lynyrd Skynyrd. Or something. Everyone has bills to pay, right? I chose this song for this recipe because 1) it’s something unexpected, 2) you’ll find yourself tapping your toes, and 3) I don’t want my gluten-free friends to have the run-runs, Rudolph. (Pretty sure my dad is the only one who will laugh at that one.)

This recipe comes from my seester, Lacy, who is married to my brother who has Celiac. I have always respected my brother’s cookies (they always made sure they had plenty of gluten-loaded goodies for everyone else), so for as many times as I’ve seen/heard about them, I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten one. My brother, though, inhales them.

Lacy Lou’s No-Bake Gluten-Free Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies
(Totally just made that name up. Lacy’s middle name isn’t even Lou.)

IMG_70402 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter

  1. Combine sugar, cocoa, butter, and milk in a saucepan. On medium heat, bring to a boil for one full minute.
  2. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter, vanilla, and oatmeal.
  3. Drop by spoonfull onto wax paper and let cool for at least 30 minutes.

I saved this recipe for last because, honestly, it seemed like the easiest one and I knew I’d be tired. (I was totally right.) The hardest part about this recipe was opening the cocoa. You’d think with all of the money, brainpower, and time Hershey’s has, they’d come up with a better way of sealing their cocoa powder. I pulled the corner of the paper seal and it tore away, leaving nothing more than a weakened spot on the plastic underside. Naturally, I put my finger through the broken part and, of course, the force with which my finger landed sent cocoa flying everywhere. Seriously, it’s like I face punched the cocoa powder. First and only mess of the day. Ugh. Thanks, Hershey’s. Punks.

1st World ProbsThe process was pretty painless, aside from HersheyGate. Using a wooden spoon, I stirred the mixture constantly until it came to a boil, then I set the timer for 1 minute, stirring halfway through to prevent burning. As Alton Brown would say, “That is not good eats.”

FarleyLunchLadyI managed to spoon out 39 cookies using teaspoons. The mixture was so sticky though (uh, hi, 2 cups of sugar) that they’re more like rounded tablespoons, which is fine. Oh, and I only had chunky peanut butter. Don’t look at me, the man of the house likes chunky peanut butter – we take turns and I just happened to use the rest of his turn for these cookies. Love ya, babe!

Now I’m going to go bleach my kitchen, floor to ceiling, pour myself a glass of wine, and sit my happy butt down on the couch.

To recap, all of these recipes are fantastic and I have no problem recommending them:

Feliz navidad, y’all!

Christmas Cookies: Merry Christmas from the Family

Aren’t families great? All of the drama love, politics togetherness, and noise tradition. This is one of my all-time favorite REK songs, and not just for Christmas; you’ll catch me signing it in May and again in October. Honestly, though, I love my big, loud, fun-loving family and am so glad I get to add a whole new branch to the tree in 11 days.

Make no mistake about it, I am a Mega Nerd™ and will read just about anything, including cookbooks. You can imagine my pleasant surprise when I found a cookbook of Adam’s family’s recipes hiding above the microwave. Pleasant surprise turned to excitement when I saw “Aunt Jan’s Chocolate Chip Shortbread.”

girl-reading-book1Scotland has given us many wonderful things, like scotch whiskey, tartan, and history plagued with scandal (paging Mary, Queen of Scots), but one of the unsung heroes of Scotland is a sweet, humble little biscuit called “shortbread.”

william wallaceNo, I haven’t given William Wallace a new nickname, although I think he’d have appreciated being called “shortbread.”

“…they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our FREEDOM!”
– William “Shortbread” Wallace

Aunt Jan’s Shortbread

1 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Because I already have a chocolate cookie for the party, I’m substituting the chocolate chips for toffee bits. Gotta keep it all in the UK family, y’know. Burnt sugar is one of my favorite flavors, so I don’t mind having praline and toffee options. Besides, one is pecans and the other almonds. Totally different. Sorry, chocolate, I’m just not that into you.

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  1. Heat oven to 350*F.
  2. Combine butter and sugar in large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl down often until creamy (1-2 minutes)
  3. Reduce speed to low, add flour and cornstarch. Beat, scraping bowl often until well-blended (1-2 minutes)
  4. Stir in chocolate chips (toffee bits) by hand.
  5. Press into ungreased 13×9″ baking pan and prick all over with a fork.
  6. Bake 35-40 minutes, until edges just begin to brown
  7. Cool in pan 15 minutes, then cut into bars while warm.

Alrighty, Aunt Jan, I’m gonna trust you on this cornstarch thing. For all I know, she just taught me a fantastic baking hack! If it all goes south, my friend Susanna reminded me, “It’s nothing a trip to Whole Foods can’t fix.” Right you are, dear.

The recipe was easy enough to follow. The hardest part was scraping down the bowl; there wasn’t exactly a load of liquid to keep it all centrally located in the bottom of the bowl.

IMG_7037Confession: The toffee bits package had 1 cup…and a third. What am I going to do with a third cup of toffee bits? Exactly. I dumped them all in. Merry Christmas!

I want this crispy corner piece…

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After 15 minutes, I cut the shortbread into bars. I got 24 little squares out of the pan. Half will go to the party, a quarter will go to a neighbor and a quarter (less one, because I’m going to eat it right this second) will go in a little baggie for me to snack on during my Here Comes The Bride Road Trip this weekend.

Ruling: These shortbread cookies will literally melt in your mouth. The butter and sugar just fall apart, meaning the only texture comes from the toffee bits, which are gooey, sticky, and delicious. If you don’t want something “too sweet” but still want something for dessert, you cannot lose with this recipe. What the cornstarch did, I have no idea.

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Christmas Cookies: Naughty AND Nice

I love The Band Perry. I don’t think it’s possible to listen to their version of this song and not at least have a mini dance party in your kitchen. She’s just so dang sassy: Hey, you! Yah, you. Santa Claus is comin’ to town, dang it, so get your act together, okay?

Previously, I reviewed The Pioneer Woman’s spread cookies. Verdict: Definitely keeping that recipe around for future use! Now, we’re going to move to Southern Living‘s crispy praline cookies. Pralines (say it with me PRAY-leens) have a special place in my heart because they remind me of Texas: pralines, praline cookies, praline ice cream, praline french toast… Delectable pecan candy. Before I had any idea what Louisiana was, I was gumming on these sweet treats at Espinosa’s, our favorite Mexican place. If I had a candy thermometer, I’d just make pralines all the time, weigh eleventy gagillion pounds, and have Type 7 Diabetes, but I don’t and, let’s be honest, that’s for the best, so cookies baked for others it shall be.

Crispy Praline Cookies
Southern Living’s 1001 Ways to Cook Southern, pg 284

IMG_70301/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup chopped pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 350*. Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; add egg, beating just until blended. Add vanilla, and mix well.
  2. Gradually add flour, beating just until blended. Stir in pecans.
  3. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
  4. Bake at 350* for 13-15 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 1 minute, then remove to racks to cool completely.

First of all, Step 1 is pretty much 4 steps. Nice try, Southern Living. Secondly, and just for the record, it’s “p’KAHN” or “puh-KAHN.” Now that all that is out of the way, the recipe itself was pretty simple.

As far as getting 2 dozen cookies out of this recipe, everything is bigger in Texas, including our tablespoons, apparently. I got a dozen cookies out of this because, hey, if I’m gonna eat a cookie, I’m gonna eat a cookie.

IMG_7031If I would have been more focused on my spooning and spacing, I would have done a better job, including making a 13th cookie so I can try it and still have a dozen. Also, I’m pretty sure I just realized where “a baker’s dozen” comes from…

High-Five-GIF-1I pulled the less crowded sheet out at 14 minutes, let it cool for a minute on the sheet, then moved them to the counter. The more crowded sheet, well, that needed another minute; I pulled it at 15 minutes, let it sit on the hot sheet for 60 seconds, then moved those to the counter.

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Know how I know they’re going to be great? I can smell the calories. It smells like the childhood treat I remember. I bet I can find a way to sneak a bite… Don’t worry, I’ll run another mile on the treadmill to make up for it.

FullSizeRender (1)Think anyone will notice?

They’re sweet, but not cloying so. The pecans are wonderful, but I bet I could pack another half cup in there. Southern Living says you can put a cup of chocolate chips in there, but why? These are praline cookies, not brown sugar-chocolate chip-pecan cookies. Look at me, being all Judgy McJudgerson. Oops. Sorry, y’all!

Verdict: If you want a taste of the south, these little morsels are worth the sticky trouble. You could easily serve ’em up with a cup of chickory, coffee, or (if you want to be an adult about it), bourbon.

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Christmas Cookies: Little bit of chocolate

Oh, King George. Definitely one of my favorite Christmas songs. If you haven’t heard it and you feel like tapping your toes and channeling your inner fat kid, I highly recommend it. Then again, I highly recommend all things George Strait and all things cookies.

I have a Christmas cookie exchange party tomorrow morning, plus a few neighbors and a winner for the caption contest, so it’s a baking frenzy up in here! I’ve gathered 4 cookie recipes and will review them for y’all:

“These small, yummy bars are called Spreads for three reasons. First, the cookie dough base is spread all over the baking sheet. Second, the melted chocolate chips are spread all over the top of the baked cookie. Third, and most important, one’s bottom spreads after eating too many of these.” -The Pioneer Woman

IMG_70251 cup (2 sticks) butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 to 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350* F.
  2. Add the butter and brown sugar to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  3. Mix together until it’s all smooth an wonderful.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla…
  5. And the flour and salt…
  6. And mix again, scraping the sides to make sure everything mixes and mingles.
  7. Throw the dough onto a baking sheet and use a dinner knife to spread it into a rough rectangular shape about 1/3 inch thick. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until golden brown.
  8. Sprinkle the chocolate chips all over the top, then return it to the oven for about a minute. When you take it back out, the chocolate chips will have softened.
  9. Use a knife or spatula to spread the chocolate all over the surface of the cookie.
  10. Then set it aside for a while, long enough for the chocolate to set!
  11. When you’re ready to serve ’em up, use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to slice them into uniform squares.

If you want the variations Ree suggests, you’re going to have to buy the cookbook. I’m not gonna give away all of her secrets! There are tons of good recipes in there, like homemade tortillas, eggs in hashbrown nests, and watermelon sangria! If you have a foodie on your Christmas list or a gift exchange with ladies who love PW (they all do, trust me), this is a great gift. 

helpful_tipsI used a big piece of parchment paper on my baking sheet, just to be on the safe side, and I’m glad I did. I was able to move the cookie to the counter, have a clean baking sheet, and move on to the next batch lickety split! I also used softened butter since all the other recipes called for it; might as well leave ’em all out on the counter. After all, we’re not making biscuits – ain’t that right, Cookie Monster?

cookie monsterMy grocery store didn’t have semisweet chocolate chips (they were out – womp, womp), so I used milk chocolate. Clearly I’m not losing any sleep over it. Use whatever you want: peanut butter, dark chocolate, butterscotch, white chocolate. Before the chocolate sets, crush some candy canes and throw ’em on top or sprinkles if you want to be festive.

Swedish ChefY’all, Ree wasn’t kidding when she said use a knife to spread the dough. That was the hardest part! I usually rely on my trusty rubber spatula, but that was most definitively a poor choice. Sorry, Spatula…

IMG_7027Spreading the dough was the hardest part. I used my biggest baking sheet; maybe next time I’ll use a smaller one so I can make the edges a little more uniform. The crispy edges are my favorite, though, so I think I’ll just cut them off and hoard them for myself.

IMG_7029The spoils of baking are delicious!

The only other thing I noticed was the chocolate had a hard time setting on the counter. Chalk it up to heat, humidity, sugar content, I don’t know, I’m not a scientist, but I popped it in the fridge and it was perfect in 2 hours.

Overall, this recipe was easy, cheap, and delicious. Definitely one to keep!

Them Good Ol’ Boys Were Drinking Whiskey & Rye

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe on here. For that, I am terribly sorry. I’ve been so busy lately I just haven’t had time to get in the kitchen! Hopefully, after this unbelievably easy recipe, you’ll forgive me.

Buttermilk-Coconut Pie

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  • 1 frozen pie crust
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature

“Ashley, you said this was easy. What’s with the room temperature stuff?”

It’s not extra work, I promise. I came home from the grocery store, left the stuff on the counter, put away the clothes in the dryer, talked to my mom, talked to my neighbor when I checked the mail, and next thing ya know, 30 minutes had passed and it’s room temperature. Play Candy Crush. Stalk your friends on Facebook. Whatever floats your boat.

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In a bowl, dump the sugar, coconut, butter, vanilla, and buttermilk. In the empty measuring cup, crack the eggs, beat them and add them to the bowl. Mix it up.

Pour it in the pie shell. I’m serious. That’s it. It’s not magic or rocket surgery.

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Bake it at 350 for 30 minutes. Check the pie to make sure it’s not burning. Carefully close the door and bake for another 5-10 minutes.

There you have it. Easy peasy coconut squeezy.

The original recipe calls for topping it with whipped cream and toasted coconut BUT I just got a stand mixer and saw a perfect opportunity to make meringue, so I ditched the cream for eggs. If you want to use whipped cream, more power to ya. If you want to do meringue, that recipe is as follows:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine the sugar and salt in a small bowl.

In your stand mixer bowl, add the egg whites and vanilla. Beat them at a high speed (I used 8) until they are foamy. No, really, they will look like the foam you see on the waves at the beach. SLOWLY add the sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time and beat 2-3 more minutes, or until stiff, glossy peaks form.

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IMG_7011To make sure your sugar is completely dissolved, rub a little bit of the meringue between your fingers – it shouldn’t be grainy!

At the 30 minute mark when you check your pie, remove the pie from the oven and quickly spoon the meringue over the top, making sure you take it all the way to the crust, unless you want dewey meringue. Weirdo…

IMG_7012Put the pie back in the oven for 5 minutes, or until it’s just dry to the touch. If your meringue is a lovely golden brown color, congratulations! Your pie is finished! If not, wait patiently in 2 minute increments until it’s done.

IMG_7013There you have it, ladies and gents, just in time for the weekend. Speaking of the weekend, whiskey, and rye… I’ll have some of that!