Peach Cobbler

So, this post is a little late, peach season is winding down and we’re on to apple season already. I can hardly believe its September! Not only is its September but its already September 4th. I had a small heart attack this morning thinking it was still September 1 and although the humidity still says August, I’m hoping we start to have some cooler Fall evenings soon. Two weeks ago I finally got around to making peach cobbler. I had been thinking about it and wanting to make it for weeks but needed the time and a reason to make it. My parents were coming over for dinner and my mom loves peaches so this was the perfect occasion; I had people to help me eat it, people who I knew would enjoy it!

It may be hard to believe but I’ve actually never made peach cobbler before. I’ve made peach pie, peach crisp, peach crumbles, but never cobbler. This means I needed a recipe. Of course I immediately went online and began searching my usual sites, Epicurious and The Food Network and landed upon Paula Deen’s recipe for peach cobbler. I figured, if anyone can make it a good peach cobbler, its her.

I started the recipe by blanching my peaches and peeling them. If you’ve never peeled peaches before, this is by far the easiest way. All you do is boil a large pot of water and drop in your peaches. I let them boil for about 2 minutes and then move them into a bowl of ice water to cool them down. Once they’re cool, you can cut a small slit in them and pull the skin right off. It’s nice and easy, if not a little messy!

Once the peaches are peeled and sliced, this recipe called for you to boil them, along with sugar and water on the stove for about 10 minutes. I also chose to add in a split vanilla bean to the mixture for more flavor.

This step was key to making the cobbler extra delicious. The boiling peaches, sugar, water and vanilla bean created an incredible sauce, and yes, the whole kitchen smelled divine.

After making the peaches and syrup, place your baking dish with the sliced butter, into the preheated oven. You want the butter to melt completely before you pour in the cobbler mixture.

While the butter is melting, mix up the dry and wet ingredients for the biscuit part of the cobbler. When the butter is melted, first pour in the biscuit mixture, into the butter in the dish. This might seem backwards to you and it is, typical cobbler recipes call for the peaches on the bottom and the dough on top but this one calls for the opposite. The reason is that the dough actually rises up through the peaches and in doing so soaks up all sorts of flavor. It’s SO good!

Top the dough mixture with the peach mixture and do not mix it. Place it right in the oven and bake it for about an hour, until the middle has set.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. I’m telling you, this was the best peach cobbler I’ve ever had. Paula knows her peaches.

Here’s the recipe, adapted from FoodNetwork.com:

Peach Cobbler
Print
Author: Adapted from Paula Deen
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 30 mins
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 4 cups peeled, sliced peaches
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean split
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • Ground cinnamon, optional
  • Ground Nutmeg, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the peaches, 1 cup sugar, vanilla bean, and water in a saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in 2 pinches of nutmeg and sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.
  3. Put the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place in oven to melt.
  4. Mix remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, and milk slowly to prevent clumping. Pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup. Batter will rise to top during baking. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. To serve, scoop onto a plate and serve with your choice of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

 

Have You Missed Me?

It’s been about a month since my last blog post and I hope I haven’t lost all my readers with this break! What happened? You ask. I think the best explanation is that I got the blog blues. Somewhere along my first year of blogging I burnt myself out. My goal to post 3-4 posts a week and keep on top of things was a good one but, having never blogged before, I didn’t realize the time and commitment that amount of writing, photos, edits and of course, cooking that 3-4 posts per week takes. After my first blogiversary, I looked at my web stats and my survey results and allowed negativity to creep in. I’ll be honest, only 4 people took my survey and one of them was my husband, another one was likely my mom and maybe even my dad. I took the turn to negative town and felt like I was writing to no one and all this time I had spent, over a long year, was for nothing. I allowed my dreams of “making it” in the blogosphere to get the better of me and somewhere in my year of blogging my focus had shifted from enjoying the writing, pictures and cooking, to making sure my blog stats were growing and focusing on gaining readership.

Finally, amidst a short and very negative rant about all the work I’d put in, Eric gently reminded me “I thought you weren’t doing it to be successful, I thought you just enjoyed it. Who cares if no one reads it, you like cooking and writing, remember?” I love it and hate it when he’s right about me.

And so, after some time “off” to have a crazy work event (that was held on Monday) I finally have some time again to get back to basics. I do love cooking. I do love writing about it. I do love having a log of my successful and unsuccessful recipes. But most of all, I love my tiny readership. Considering about 95% of my blog comments are spam, that one gem that I get every month or so really makes my day week month.  I want to get back to basics, back to the cooking and living I love and I can’t wait to share it with you all again.

This weekend is the unofficial start of Summer and it’s so nice to welcome warm weather, grilling season, fresh fruits and veggies. Not to mention baseball, time at the beach and warm Summer nights. We’re hoping to soak up as much Summer as we can this year.

Thanks for reading my blog. Stay tuned, more is in store this week!

“Real” Popcorn

There’s a joke between Eric and I that was created by Eric’s mom, she always uses the adjective “real” to describe anything that is made from scratch or is hand crafted or requires a lot of skill; it is deemed as “real” as opposed to, well not as good. Example: cake from a mix is fine but cake from scratch is “REAL” cake or jam that you made at home and didn’t buy from the grocery store is “REAL” jam. We commonly use this terminology and always have a nice laugh, each visit from his parents includes a reference to something that is truly “real”. It’s the REAL thing!

Well, Eric’s mom would be proud of us because this weekend, we made REAL popcorn. Not in a popcorn popper and not in the microwave but in a pot on the stove. It was SO easy and tasted better than any other popcorn you can get.

All you need is a large pot with a lid, canola oil, popcorn (I got Orville Redenbocker) and butter and salt for on top.

Start by coating the bottom of the cold pot in 3-4 tablespoons of oil.

Add 1 cup of the popcorn kernels to the cold pot and shake them to coat with oil. Turn the heat onto medium and gently shake the pot back and forth every minute or so. Keep the lid off and wait for the first kernel to pop.

Once it pops, put the lid on and continue to shake the pot back and forth until the popping stops.

Melt some butter in the microwave and pour it over your popcorn and then season with salt.

Talk about yum! None of the kernels burnt, the popcorn didn’t taste like it was coated in chemicals and the fresh butter was so delicious. The only drawback was that 1 cup of popcorn made a ton! We had to throw more than half of it away so I think next time I’ll try making only 1/4 cup of the kernels in a little bit of a smaller pot, but not too small you need to give the kernels room to pop.

What is it about popcorn that as soon as you see it or smell it you want to eat some? Even writing this post right now I have a strong desire to go down to the kitchen and pop up some more. How about you guys? Has this post given you a popcorn craving?

I’ll never make microwave popcorn again. I love “REAL” popcorn!

Here’s how you make it:

“Real” Popcorn
Print
Author: Red Velvet
Prep time: 2 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 12 mins
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 3-4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup popcorn kernels
  • salt
  • salted butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Pour canola oil into a large pot with a lid.
  2. Add the popcorn kernels to cold oil and shake gently to make sure each kernel is well coated with the oil.
  3. Cook the popcorn over medium heat with the lid off, shaking the pot gently back and forth until the first kernel pops.
  4. Place the lid on and continue to shake the pot back and forth until the popping slows and stops.
  5. Remove from heat and pour over the melted butter and toss with salt.

 

Christmas Cookie Time

Since it is officially December today, I feel it is acceptable to begin the popular Christmas cookie discussion. Everyone loves Christmas cookies; there are so many different varieties that it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t have a favorite. There are the classic cookies, chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin and the elegant cookies like gingerbread and iced sugar cookies and then there are cookies that are unique to each family, sand tarts or pumpkin.

Growing up, my mom would make many different kinds of Christmas cookies and on top of that my grandmother would make totally different kinds than my mom made. For a kid, this was a perfect situation and my brother and I would eat Christmas cookies well into the New Year. Another “use” for all the cookies was gifts. My mom made nice bags of cookies for our teachers at school, neighbors and friends, all decorated in holiday bags and ready to be opened and eaten immediately. They really are a great gift; what is better than homemade cookies?

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Now that I’m grown, there is not as much need for SO many cookies and my mom has decreased her production levels in an effort to save those few extra cookie pounds from attaching to her and my dad’s waist. I have started making a few kinds of cookies but no where near what my mother used to take on. I have discovered that I like to spread out the Christmas cookies all month long and now operate on system in which I made 1-2 kinds of cookies each week for the weeks leading up to Christmas. This way we can enjoy each kind and no cookies go to waste. It also eliminates the marathon baking sessions I remember participating in as a child where we churned out 7 varieties of cookies in 1 day. Those were a lot of work, and a lot of fun, especially when my aunts, cousins and grandma got together but its not as easy to find a time when we can all do that anymore.

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I’m going to adopt the same strategy this year as in years past with a little exception. We have decided to have a Christmas party again this year (which we like to have during the week between Christmas and New Years). This means I’ll be needing extra cookies for the party. I’m going to attempt to make cookies that freeze well earlier in the month and freeze some and then make a larger amount close to Christmas. I plan to start this weekend!

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One of my Christmas wishes, is to get some more dialogue going here on the blog. I have a feeling there are people reading this that want to comment but hesitate. Please feel free to comment! Nothing makes my day more than the little email I get saying I got a comment but even better is when that comment is not spam (I get alot of spam)! So let’s hear it, what is your favorite Christmas cookie? Got any great memories of baking cookies during the holidays? Or of finding cookies half eaten by Santa on Christmas morning? I love hearing what you think!

Pumpkin Cookies

In the spirit of the season and the spirit of all things pumpkin, I’m about to give you the best cookie recipe on the planet. I’m not kidding, these are seriously the best cookies I’ve ever eaten. Most people hear pumpkin cookies and don’t think much of them but one bite into these and your mouth is filled with the soft sweetness of pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon and icing packed into a soft and delicious cookie. Every time I make them for people I get asked for the recipe.

These cookies were a special treat that my mom made around the Fall and Christmas time each year growing up. As soon as we felt the first chilly winds of Fall, we would start asking for pumpkin cookies. My favorite pumpkin cookie story happened a few years ago. Eric had been working at his company for just over a year and I decided to make a batch of cookies around Christmas time for him to share at the office. As you will see, this recipe makes ALOT of cookies. I think it may be triple the original recipe but that’s just a hunch. I sent almost a whole batch with Eric to work because his office isn’t small. Mid morning I received an email from him that all of the cookies were gone within the first hour of work and he was getting emails thanking him for the cookies and saying how good they were. I was surprised how quickly they were eaten, but happy that so many could enjoy them (including the CEO who stopped by Eric’s desk personally to thank him for the cookies, yep, I’ll do my part for his next promotion!). About two weeks later, his company held their annual holiday party. As Eric introduced me to some of his coworkers a common theme emerged, the cookies. Wives were asking me for the recipe and husbands were talking about how great the cookies were. Some of the wives even seemed a bit annoyed because their husbands would not stop talking about the cookies! I had no idea cookies could have such an effect. Needless to say, I now make an entire batch of pumpkin cookies each December for Eric to take to work.

The recipe is simple and starts with Crisco, alot of Crisco. Sidenote: do you buy Crisco in a tub or in sticks? My mom always bought the tub so I remember scooping it out of measuring cups as a kid, when I helped her bake, but I have since discovered the sticks. They’re just like butter and you can cut exactly the amount you need. I love them and I’m never going back to the tub. Plus the sticks take up much less room in the pantry, but I digress. Mix the Crisco and sugar in an electric stand mixer until light and fluffy.

Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Add in the vanilla and lastly the pumpkin puree. I choose to use my homemade pumpkin puree for this recipe, in the end I didn’t have quite enough of the puree for the recipe so I added about 1/4 of a can of the organic pumpkin puree. I can’t say I can taste a difference in the puree but I do know that the cookies tasted great, like always. I’d say the organic pumpkin is just the same as Libby’s, just more expensive because its organic. I’d use it again if I needed to.

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Drop the cookies onto parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 12-14 minutes at 350 degrees.

While the cookies are cooling, mix up the glaze. It’s simply powdered sugar, a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg and add milk until its the right consistency. Add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time and if you add too much and the glaze is too thin, simply add some more powdered sugar to thicken it.

Dip the cookies into the glaze, allow excess to drip off and then let the glaze set for an hour or so before putting the cookies in their container.

My favorite snack combination is pumpkin cookies and cold apple cider. Nothing says Fall like that!

 

Here’s the recipe:

Pumpkin Cookies
Print
Author: Red Velvet
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 can solid pumpkin
  • 5 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Cookie Recipe:
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy, with an electric mixer.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well.
  5. Add vanilla and mix well.
  6. Add in 1 can of pumpkin puree, mix well.
  7. In a medium size bowl mix together all dry ingredients. With the mixer on low, slowly add the entire flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl.
  8. Drop cookies onto baking sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes until just beginning to brown.
  9. Icing Recipe:
  10. Mix 2 cups of powdered sugar a dash of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg.
  11. Add enough milk until desired thickness.
  12. Once cool, dip the top of the cookies into the icing and allow to set.