Peach Buckle

I recently (as in, this morning) realized that my Costco-size supply of peaches and nectarines is rapidly declining. Which is good, because I’ve had the opportunity to make lots of delicious things with them. It’s also bad, because I know we are on the tail end of stone fruit season. Although truth be told, most of the stock went straight into my mouth, sans accompaniment. Seriously. At one point, Alexander looked at me and said, “Is that all you ever eat”? I replied, “Of course not, silly, chocolate comprises the remainder of my diet.”

I was joking. 

Sort of.

Anyway, this buckle, made with a few of the peaches that had become super ripe, was off-the-charts good. Sabrina and I ate it several nights in a row, while Alexander proceeded to devour the pint of Stracciatella Gelato I made.  Alas, now that Blue Bell ice cream is back in the market, I suspect we’ll be purchasing it again instead of making our own. They had the ice cream prominently displayed in the market yesterday, along with an even more prominent sign that clearly stated, “Limit 4 containers per customer”. What, are they in danger of running out again? People here in Texas looooove their Blue Bell, as evidenced by the fact that the freezer display was down to the bare minimum supply.

I guess I just answered my own question.

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Peach Buckle – adapted from NY Times

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter,  at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar, more for sprinkling
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tbs. finely grated lemon zest ( I used orange)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 4 ½ cups summer berries (I used 3 peaches, cut in half)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, add butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then add the zest and vanilla and mix until combined.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, nutmeg and baking powder, and whisk to combine. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and mix until just combined.

Gently fold berries into the batter, then spread batter in pan and sprinkle lightly with more granulated sugar. (I just poured the batter over the top of the peaches).Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until top is golden and cake is cooked through.

Migas

The best laid plans of Mice and Men oft go astray. Well known idiom? Or facts-staring-you-in-the face true story?

The short answer, of course, is both. However, it rings especially true in this particular case for breakfast. I had grand plans for it. Grand plans to partake in this intoxicating combination of eggs, cheese, tortilla chips, and salsa. Allegedly, it cures a multitude of sins, most notably a raging hangover. Fortunately for me though, I wasn’t hungover, just hungry. Very hungry. I suspect that my ravenous state was due to the fact that I had given three-quarters of the previous evenings’ dinner to one of Alexander’s friends that unexpectedly stayed to eat. The days when you have enough food for the neighborhood, no one shows. Exactly enough for the three of us? Everyone wants to stay…

Murphy’s Law.

Anyway, I gathered my ingredients, warmed up my awesome Le Creuset cast iron skillet (thanks Mom and Dad!), and got to work. I carefully plated my creation, set it down on the kitchen table, snapped the necessary picture, turned my back to Instagram it, and then, unbeknownst to me, disaster struck.

By now, you’re imagining the scenario ~ the dog chowing it down… or perhaps the plate broke…. or something as innocuous as no clean forks in the cutlery drawer!

Nope – none of those. This was much, much worse.

Alexander, his 16 year old metabolism, and his daily spiel of “oh-I’m-not-really-hungry”, then boom the plate is empty got ahold of it.

Claims it was delicious.
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I’m definitely going to make this again tomorrow morning. But this time, I’ll make it at 5:00 a.m.

While he’s still sleeping…….

Migas – adapted (barely) from The Homesick Texan

  • 4 eggs
  • Splash of milk
  • 2 cups tortilla chips (doesn’t have to be exact)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 jalapeno peppers diced (I used Hatch Chiles)
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese cheddar (or Monterrey Jack)
  • 1 to 2 cups of salsa
  • 1 cup of cilantro
  • Pepper to taste

In a bowl, whisk eggs together with milk.  In a large iron skillet, heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat. Add onions and jalapenos to the pan, and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the tortilla chips and gently break them up a bit. Pour in the egg mixture and let eggs sit for about one minute or until set on the bottom and then gently stir. Sprinkle cheese on top of eggs and continue to cook until melted. Sprinkle with fresh black pepper, then top eggs with salsa and cilantro.

Serves two. Or one hungry teenage boy.

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread

musicalnote  The times, they are a-changin’….. musicalnote    …. which means two things:

  1. I’m getting older.
  2. And so are the posse.

Fortunately, “ability to adapt” is my middle name. No, of course it really isn’t, but that would be funny, wouldn’t it? Yes ……. and awkward. 

Anyhoo, I am finally feeling like myself again, now that the semi-migraine I’ve had for two days is gone. Thank god. I woke up with it on Tuesday, and despite multiple doses of Alleve, coffee, and lots of water, I just couldn’t shake it. No matter though, because it’s his-tor-y.

And with that, I give you another piece of good news – Sabrina is officially an employed member of society! Woo-hoo! Technically, her first day was last week (for training and orientation), and yesterday was her first “full day” to actually work. We had to go to the mall the other day to pick up work attire for her, since cut off shorts and Converse high tops were definitely not part of the dress code. Much to her chagrin…. 

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this story – since work, getting older, and dress codes don’t seem to have a point or a common theme. But they do. Since J has been out of town for the past three weeks – and even before that, honestly – I have noticed a huge shift in the dinnertime ritual. The posse have been enjoying their social lives and the last bits of summer, so getting everyone to the table at the same time has been – challenging. There have been multiple evenings where I cook dinner, and everyone eats at different times.

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Which isn’t bad, of course, it just requires adapting. And keeping up with changin’ times …

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread – adapted from Starbucks

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbs. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Cocoa Spice Mixture: 

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp dutch processed cocoa
  • Pinch of ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease two 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pans and set aside.

Beat together the butter, oil and sugar with an electric mixer until light and creamy, around 5 minutes. Then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times to get them fully mixed in.

Sift together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and vanilla. With your mixer on a low speed, begin adding the contents of each bowl to the butter mixture, alternating between the two until your mixture is fully blended, but not overly whipped. Then split your batter between the two pans. Smooth the tops. Sprinkle the cocoa spice mixture evenly over the top of each pan. Bake until a tester comes clean from the center, about 45 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, ginger and cloves.

Blueberry Buttermilk Bundt Cake

Yesterday, Sabrina and I took an unplanned excursion into downtown Austin. What prompted  the trip was a promise I made to her the other day, which was that if she cleaned out (read: organized) her closet, I would take her shopping for new clothes. Personally, I didn’t think she would do it. She takes after a certain family member, who shall remain nameless, that has a tendency to hold onto clothing far longer than necessary. Some items were so threadbare you could see through them, some were too big, some too small, and some made me ask her, what exactly were you thinking when you bought this?

She didn’t appreciate my commentary.

Our adventure began at the Round Rock Outlet Mall so she could pick up a new pair of jeans. We (and I’m calling her out on this as well) must have been temporarily insane to go anywhere near a mall, for school starts Monday (see previous post for proof of that). Everyone and their extended family, including their dogs, were out shopping. The mall was packed, and after about 20 minutes, I was done. Fortunately we located the Guess store location relatively quickly, and three pair of half price jeans later, we split.

However, during the drive to the mall, which only takes about 20 minutes (kind of like driving to Chicago, right Dad?), we started talking about food, and that evenings’ dinner plans, specifically. She’s been complaining for at least three months now on how she misses Chinese cuisine, how there aren’t any good Chinese restaurants here , she’s afraid to eat at any of them anyway because of her MSG/nut allergies and blah blah blah blah blah.

phew..

As luck would have it, I had received an email of this recipe for Takeout Style Sesame Noodles earlier in the day, so in a last ditch effort to halt the nonstop verbal assault on my eardrums, I said, let’s go to the MT Marketplace, find the required sesame paste, and make these dang noodles!

Suddenly, there was peace and quiet in the car. All you could hear was the hum of the engine. Ahhhhh. And then she said, “Really? We can do that tonight?” I handed her the address, told her to program the navigation system, and off we went. Of course, making our way through the market, where just about everything is written in Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Filipino, and Japanese, well, that’s altogether another funny story.

Side note: I am pretty sure we purchased Sesame Paste, unless Eye of Newt Puree tastes like sesame seeds…..
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Blueberry Buttermilk Bundt Cake – adapted from Food Network

This cake was the definition of “the bomb”. Sabrina and I loved it. I purposely picked up more blueberries from Costco earlier in the week, just so I can make another cake. It’s super light, moist and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups blueberries (about 1 pint)

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a nonstick 12-cup Bundt pan. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.

Beat 2 sticks butter, the granulated sugar and vegetable oil in a bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, at least 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low; beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the vanilla. Add about one-third of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk; beat until almost incorporated. Add another one-third of the flour mixture and the remaining buttermilk. Beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until just combined. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat 30 seconds. Finish incorporating the flour by hand to avoid overmixing.

Spoon one-third of the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle in half of the blueberries, then top with another one-third of the batter. Scatter the remaining blueberries on top and cover with the rest of the batter; smooth the top. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour, 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool 30 minutes in the pan. Run a small sharp knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake, then invert onto the rack to cool completely.

Oreo Brookie Bars

Grit your teeth and get your double-shot espresso latte ready…… for tomorrow, it starts. Back to school, back to facing the insane amount of traffic, and wondering which genius was responsible for only putting in a two lane highway on RM 2222. I’ve already told Alexander that although classes don’t start until 8:45 a.m., we need to leave the house by 7:45 a.m. to allow enough time to make the 5 mile trek.

Yes, it will take us that long to get there. 

Did I mention the traffic is insane?

This year, though, the drive will be markedly different, as it will only be Alexander and myself. And since he has his permit, he can drive us there, too. Truthfully, though, I’m more apprehensive about him driving than I am about Sabrina leaving for college.

Speaking of which, she still has a few months to go until she heads off to Indiana to attend Purdue University. Moving to Indiana. In January. Can you say, weather shock? I had to break it to her yesterday that the Victoria’s Secret sweatshirts she owns aren’t going to cut it. I told her she will need a heavy winter coat, hat, gloves, and boots that will be able to withstand the snow and slush.

I’m sure Dad is chuckling at the visual of her navigating her way through the wintry mess……

And to answer the omnipresent question of, “How do you feel about her moving away?” I will be honest and tell you that I am off-the-charts excited for her. I really am. Of course I’ll miss her (and so will the rest of the family, including the dogs..) but this is a prerequisite step toward her goal of becoming an aerospace engineer, and plotting world domination.

Ok, so the last part of that sentence isn’t true, although given her penchant for explosives, I do see her taking on Mythbusters in her spare time….
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Oreo Brookie Bars

For the Brownie layer:
    • 10 tbs unsalted butter
    • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
    • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
For the Oreo layer:
    • 1 package of Oreos
For the Cookie Dough layer:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temp)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated  sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the Brownie layer:

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the sugar and cocoa powder once the butter is melted. Whisk to combine and remove from heat. Add the vanilla and eggs and continuously whisk until the eggs are combined. Add the flour and continue to mix. Set batter aside.

For the Cookie Dough layer:

Cream together the butter and sugars in a mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla, making sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the flour, baking soda and baking powder and mix on low until everything is combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Set dough aside.

Assembly:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan with tin foil and then spray the tin foil with a layer of baking spray.

Spread the cookie dough on the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan, pressing down to form the bottom layer. Arrange a single layer of Oreos on top of the cookie dough. Spread the brownie batter on top of the Oreo layer evenly.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. Brookies are done when a tester comes almost clean from the center. Better to underbake than overbake.

Homemade Thick Greek Yogurt

While scrolling through my blog late last night, (with the hopes of narrowing down a banana bread recipe..) I couldn’t help but notice a recurring trend in my food photos.

They all look the same – and not in a good way. 

Yeah, that’s not conducive to attracting readers, I know, but let’s be honest…. no one is coming here for my photography skills.

However, they might be tempted to come for this outstanding recipe of extra thick and tangy Greek Yogurt:

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After doing a bit of (read: extensive) research on yogurt making methods, I have come to the conclusion that boiling the milk for 30 minutes really does make a difference. Now my opinion is somewhat biased, as I prefer my yogurt super thick. If that isn’t your preference, you might want to try the original method I posted here.

Homemade Greek Yogurt – adapted from Epicurious

  • 1 gallon milk – I used nonfat with excellent results
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (purchased or homemade)

Attach a candy thermometer to a heavy, large pot and add the milk. Place the pot over moderate heat and heat the milk until it boils, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming and making sure the milk doesn’t boil over. Set the timer for 30 minutes and keep the milk at a steady boil, again watching and stirring it every now and then so it doesn’t boil over. Remove the milk from the heat, and allow it to cool to 110°F to 115°F. In a small bowl, combine about 1 cup warm milk with the yogurt and stir to combine. Add the yogurt-milk mixture to the remaining warm milk and stir until completely incorporated. Do not stir vigorously. Cover the pot, wrap a towel around it to keep in insulated, and leave it alone for 24 hours.  Don’t peek or move the pot!

After 24 hours, line a fine mesh strainer with fine weave cheesecloth or a layer of paper towels and set it in a larger bowl. Carefully spoon the yogurt into the strainer, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to drain in the refrigerator for another 24 hours. Transfer the thickened yogurt into a glass container for storing. Reserve the liquid (the whey) in the bowl – it can be used as a substitute for buttermilk.

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

I had a great idea to make loaf of banana bread this morning. And, yes, it was in direct relation to the overripe bananas sitting on the counter, giving me the evil side-eye each time I passed them.

They’re threatening a hostile takeover if I don’t take action soon….

The problem I encountered is that when I went to find a recipe, I was confronted with 25 different variations on my site. Wait, what?

Um, yeah….. about that..

I have got to narrow the list down, and soon. After all, I am making great progress with the cookbook (obviously not in the banana bread department, thankyouverymuch….)

The way I see it, this is either going to be really easy, or really hard.
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The bigger question, though, is how in the world do I have 25 variations of banana bread?

Yeah, I’m betting this is going to be reallllllly hard…..

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake – adapted from Serious Eats

Although this isn’t a marble cake per se, I modified it by removing about a cup of batter, and blending in 1/4 cup of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. After spooning the chocolate chip batter into the pan, I poured the chocolate batter on top and barely swirled it through.

  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 plus 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips

    Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10 to 12-cup bundt pan. Stir butter with sugar in a large bowl until very creamy. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Whisk in sour cream and vanilla until combined. Add flour, baking powder, and baking soda to the bowl. Stir until almost combined. Stir in chips until combined and no white streaks of flour remain. Spoon into pan and bake until golden and just set, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cake cool in pan 45 minutes, then invert onto serving plate or cooling rack.