Saturday, August 30, 2014

Peach Pie

I was at a client's house the other day, and his wife was making a peach pie. It smelled so delicious, so I of course had to make one for Evan and I to enjoy! I love peaches, and they're probably my favorite fruit. I especially love all the delicious things you can make with them. I'm so thankful the peach season lasts a while! I spent my Friday night making a peach pie and homemade vanilla ice cream. All that work was totally worth that warm piece of pie right out of the oven. 

To make the pie, you first peel and cut up 6 large peaches. In a bowl, mix the cut peaches with 2 TBSP of corn starch (to thicken the filling), 1 tsp of cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of sugar. Let this mixture sit for about 15 minutes.

While you are waiting for your peaches to be ready, make your pie crust. I use a pretty simple recipe.

Pie Crust:
Mix 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of crisco, 1 tsp of salt, and 1/2 cup of cold water. Roll it out on a floured surface, and then transfer it to your pie plate. Form the edges of your crust however you would like. 

After your peaches have sat at room temperature for 15 minutes, pour them into your pie crust. I often have a little extra dough with my pie crust recipe, so I roll it out so I can make a lattice crust. If you use a different crust recipe, you may have to make two batches so you can do the lattice top. Lastly, bake your pie at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes. 

Ta Da! A delicious peach pie. Don't forget to eat it with vanilla ice cream!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Farm To Table Dinner Party

This has been a very busy, but fun weekend! We hosted our Farm to Table dinner party with 10 of our friends. Each dish on the menu incorporated local produce - most of it from our own garden. I spent Friday and Saturday cooking and cleaning, and today I'm happy to be able to relax some! I was hoping to be able to get more pictures during our evening, but I was so busy keeping up with the food. I sadly didn't get any photos after the guests arrived. Things turned out great, and it was a wonderful evening. I hope to share some of the recipes I used for the meal in the next few weeks. For now, here are a few photos of the tablescape and other decor.

I realized quickly that our tiny kitchen did not have space for all the dishes I was going to be using. My handy husband happened to just build this shelf for the garage, and let me use it to keep my dishes on for the evening. I loved the way it looked with the linen table runner across it - a little rustic!

And this was the appetizer station. I love artichokes, and they make lovely decorations!

Beverage Station: Beverage tags are from Ballard Designs, Drink Dispensers are from Pottery Barn.

I managed to get one "food" photo of our soup for the evening. This Tuscan Vegetable Soup was absolutely so flavorful!

After months of planning and days of preparation, it was a great success! I had a lot of fun with the theme, and all the food turned out great. I tried many new recipes that I'm sure I will make again. Now I need to start thinking about a theme for the next one we host!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dinner Menu

This Saturday we're hosting a Farm to Table dinner party at our house. Earlier this year we starting getting together with a few other couples and having themed dinner parties. We go all out with the theme and plan a huge meal. My husband and I decided to do the Farm to Table theme as right now our garden is giving us lots of great produce! I finshed our menus, and I'm happy with how they turned out! I was going for a simple look, and I love the radishes at the top. I'll be spending the next few days cooking, cleaning, and decorating. I hope to do a blog entry on the dinner party next week sometime!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Right now my kitchen smells so amazing. I just pulled out two loaves of freshly baked chocolate zucchini bread. I've been freezing lots of shredded zucchini just so I can make this throughout the year. Earlier in the summer we were at a picnic and had this bread. It was delicious - the best zucchini bread I've ever tasted! The recipe comes from Taste of Home, and it is very simple. It makes a great hostess gift for all of those summer get togethers, and it is yet another great recipe for all that zucchini growing in your garden. I know in the fall and winter when I'm craving some comfort foods, this will absolutely satisfy!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pickled Veggies

Yesterday was a canning and freezing day for us. We've been doing everything in small batches, as we have to go with the flow of our garden. We picked a bunch of chili peppers, jalapenos, and a few cucumbers this week to pickle. We also were able to freeze some bell peppers and shredded zucchini. Thankfully our pickling recipe is versatile, and we can use it for both cucumbers and peppers with a few easy adjustments. For the basic pickling "juice" we boiled 4 cups of water, 4 cups of vinegar and 4 TBSP of pickling salt (pretty simple to remember, and really easy to cut in half or double)! This receipe makes about 8-10 pints.

For our Dill Pickles:

Fill pint jars with sliced cucumbers, a garlic clove, and a sprig of fresh dill. Pour the boiling vinegar/water combination over the cucumbers, and leave a half inch head space from the top of each jar. Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

For our Pickled Peppers:

Fill pint jars with hot peppers (we did some with chili peppers, and some with jalapeno peppers), a few onion slicies, and chopped chives. Pour the boiling vinegar/water combination over the peppers, and leave a half inch head space from the top of each jar. Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Hope you enjoy these recipes!!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sunday Baking - New Bowls!

For months I regularly looked at these mixing bowls on Pottery Barn's website wishing they were in my kitchen. I kept hoping they'd run a sale or go on clearance - I loved these bowls. I tried to forget about them and tell myself I really didn't need them -but they're just so pretty! And it is of those purchases that I don't regret at all! After talking with my husband about how wonderful it would be to have them, he said " buy them." I was a bit surprised at his response, because he doesn't often encourage me to buy stuff (he usually talks me out of it!) After thinking about it though, I bake A LOT. At least 2-3 times a week! I'd get plenty of use out of these bowls, and my other plastic mixing bowl set was cracked. I felt I could justify this purchase, even if it was a bit more than I'd normally spend for mixing bowls. I finally caved in the beginning of July and ordered these mixing bowls (with a free shipping coupon to save a little bit of money). Then I waited, and waited. They went on back order for like three weeks. As soon as I got the "shipped" email, I checked the tracking information like 10 times a day. Finally, the day they were at my front door, I was so excited - only to open a package filled with broken and chipped bowls; what a let down! Pottery Barn was quick to replace my order though, and a week (a very loong week) later they arrived in tact. This time perfect! 

This Sunday evening was a perfect night to get some use out of them. I was craving some chocolate, so I used my favorite Brownie Recipe. Mmm, great way to end the weekend!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Homemade Bread

This morning my kitchen was filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread - one of the most amazing smells ever! About once a month I bake my bread, and then freeze the extra loaves, and use as needed. Today was a bread baking day for me. The recipe I'm sharing with you today came from a friend - along with a "starter mix." It it the best white bread recipe I've found yet.

In order to make this bread you need to make a "starter." To do this, you combine the following ingredients into a large glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap:

1/2 cup of sugar
3 TBSP of instant dry potato flakes
1 cup of warm water

Put the initial starter in the refrigerator 5-7 days. Then take it out and feed the starter with the following:

1/2 cup of sugar
3 TBSP of instant potato flakes
1 cup of warm water

Mix this well and stir into the starter.

Take out 1 cup of starter to use in bread and return remaining starter to the refrigerator. Keep refrigerated 5-7 days, then feed it again. If you do not make bread on the day you feed, throw out a cup of the starter (or give it to someone as their starter). The bread has to be fed every week, and a cup has to be removed each time. 

To make your bread:

In a large bowl, make a stiff batter of:
1/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 TBSP salt
1 cup starter
1 1/2 cup warm water
6 cups of flour

Grease a large bowl, put in the dough and roll it around. Let it rise overnight (or 8-12 hours) covered lightly with a dish towel. Do not refrigerate the dough.

Punch down the dough and divide it into 3 parts - knead each part 8-15 times on a well floured surface. Put into greased loaf pans and brush the top with oil (I also separate it into rolls, and put the rolls into a cake pan). Cover and let it rise 6-12 hours.

Bake on the bottom rack of the oven at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Remove and brush with melted butter. Cool on a rack. Serve fresh, or wrap to freeze. 

We have a picnic later today, so I made a bunch of rolls this time and will take some homemade peach jam along to enjoy with them!

*Note - this bread is especially delicious toasted for BLT's and other sandwiches.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Blackberry Season

Well, the blackberries are in and the other evening we picked quite a few. I love just snacking on these, but I also wanted to incorporate them into some other recipes to switch it up a bit. I found a recipe for Peach and Blackberry Slaw from Better Homes and Garden, so I thought I'd give it a try! It looks pretty, and if you like cabbage, you'll love this recipe. I don't particularly like cabbage, so it wasn't my favorite dish I've made. I thought it would be amazing with spinach or mixed greens - next time I think I'll make it that way. 

Only a few days left of these yummy berries - better get my fill of them!