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Peachy Keen Crostata

9 Sep

Peaches are summer in a fruit. Nothing better than eating a sweet, ripe peach with the juice running down your chin. And believe it or not, for the few years that I lived in Georgia, I never ate a Georgia peach! Another thing; I did not know that peaches grew in New Jersey until just recently and they are delicious!


After buying too many peaches at the farmer’s market a few weekends ago I decided to make a peach pie-my favorite kind of pie. Now I don’t know about you but I’m not very good at making a pie look pretty…so my new friend is the crostata. A crostata is basically a pie with only one crust that doesn’t need to look pretty.


Crust Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small cubes

1/3 cup ice water, plus 1-2 Tbs as needed

Filling Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs peaches, pitted, peeled and cut into 1/2″ slices

1/4 cup sugar

1 Tbs lemon juice

2 Tbs corn starch

1 pinch of salt

2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Glaze Ingredients 

1 egg, beaten

1 Tbs apricot preserves

1 tsp water



For the crust, combine flour, salt and cold butter cubes in the bowl of a food processor (I did it by hand with a fork). Pulse several times until cubes become the size of peas. Transfer the flour mixture to a large mixing bowl and 1/3 cup of ice water. Stir gently adding additional water if necessary until dough forms a ball that is moist but not sticky. Take the dough a shape into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap, refrigerate for 45 minutes.

Once the dough has chilled, preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove dough from refrigerator and place on floured work surface. Roll the crust into a 14″ to 16″ circle, dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Roll the dough around the rolling pin to prevent the dough from breaking as you transfer it to the baking sheet.


To make the filing, toss the sliced peaches, sugar, lemon juice and corn starch in a large bowl until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Spoon the filling into the center of the crust, leaving a 2″ border all the way around. Fold the crust over the filling then brush some egg wash under any dough that overlaps, it helps the folds of dough stick to each other. Dot the top of the filling with butter then brush the entire surface  of the crust with the remaining egg wash.


Bake 20 minutes then rotate the pan and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Remove from oven. Stir apricot preserves with hot water and brush over the filling. Allow crostata to cool enough so the filling sets. Cut into wedges and enjoy! And a little bit of vanilla ice cream doesn’t hurt!


Blueberries + Custard = Yummy Pie!

4 Jul

It is blueberry season which means blueberry pie! Blueberry pie is one of my favorites but I was on mission to find a recipe that was a little different and I found it. I found it on the blog The Girl Who Ate Everything; it has custard which I love and and a streusel topping, what could be better than that?!

The only thing that I changed was that I made my crust from scratch, she uses a store bought which makes it super easy. You can find the recipe for the crust on the blog The Gracious Wife. Either way, it is delicious and a big hit with pie lovers.


Ok, so my crust needs work….I have a shrinkage problem that I can’t seem to figure out. Any suggestions people?


1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 Tbs flour

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

2 1/2 cups blueberries

1 (9 inch) pie crust

Streusel topping:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 flour

1/4 cup softened butter

1/2 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl mix sour cream, sugar, flour, egg, vanilla and salt until combined. Add blueberries and stir gently until coated. Spoon filling into unbaked pie crust.


Bake for 25 minutes.

While pie is baking prepare topping by putting the brown sugar and flour into a medium bowl, add butter. Mix (you can use your hands) together until it resembles coarse sand. Add the pecans.

After the pie has baked for 25 minutes sprinkle the streusel topping all over the top of the pie, bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes until pie is set and nicely browned. To avoid the crust burning use a crust shield or tin foil for the last several minutes.

Remove from oven and let sit for at least 15 to 20 minutes and then enjoy! And of course with ice cream or fresh whipped cream it is even better!

Carrot Cake, Vegan Style

3 Apr

Love me some carrot cake! So I decided to make one to celebrate Dominic the donkeys birthday, we sponsor him at the Barnyard Sanctuary where we volunteer. All the folks who work there are vegan so the cake had to be vegan and it was delicious! You would never know the difference.  My husband who doesn’t eat sweets had 3 pieces so that says a lot!

The recipe is from Gimme Some Oven and is gluten free, I used regular flour and I did’t put walnuts-don’t care for them at all. I didn’t use the pecans either, I just don’t care for the hardness of nuts in cake.


Cake Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (plus extra for dusting pans)

2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

pinch of ground cloves

pinch of ginger

1 pound carrots, peeled

1 cup granulated sugar (vegan)

1 cup light brown sugar, packed (vegan)

4 flax eggs (*1/4 cup ground flax meal and 3/4 cup water, see below)

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Icing ingredients

8 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups vegan butter or margarine

3 Tbs unsweetened almond milk

1 Tbs apple cider vinegar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon juice

pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking spay or vegan butter to thoroughly grease baking pans and dust with flour until grease is completely covered and shake out excess.

You can use:

1 13 x 19 inch baking pan, or

2 9 inch round cake pans, or

3 8 inch round cake pans

In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, cloves and ginger until combined.

In a food processor fitted with the large shredding disk, shred carrots. Then transfer them to the mixing bowl with the flour. Wipe the food processor bowl clean, and fit with metal blade. Add sugar, brown sugar and flax eggs, process until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. With the processor running add oil in a steady stream. Process the egg mixture until it is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 more seconds.

Transfer the egg mixture to the bowl with the flour and carrots. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in nuts if using them.

Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

9 x 13″ pan about 30-35 minutes

2 – 9″ pans about 25-30 minutes

3 – 8″ pans about 18-23 minutes

Let cake cool in pans until still slightly warm on a wire rack. Run knife around the edge of the cake to loosen, remove cake, transfer to platter and frost.

Combine all icing ingredients in a bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, mix until smooth and combined. If you want it thicker add more powdered sugar, if you want it thinner you can add more almond milk.

Serve and enjoy!

*Flax eggs: Simply stir together the ground flax meal and water until combined and refrigerate for 15 minutes until mixture becomes thickened, stir again before using



Gluten Free Goodies

20 Dec

Lots of people are going gluten free, so desserts can be tricky in room where half the people won’t eat goodies with wheat flour. My friend shared this super easy and really yummy cookie recipe with me. And who doesn’t love chocolate and peanut butter?!  They were such a huge hit at Thanksgiving, I’ll be making them again for Christmas!


Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup creamy peanut butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 salt

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

parchment paper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together peanut butter, sugar, egg, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by spoonfuls onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 12 to 14 minutes or until puffed up and slightly browned. Cool on the baking sheet for about 4 or 5 minutes, (They will most likely fall apart if you skip this step) then transfer to wire an allow to cool.


And for those of you who love to bake and want to help our communities The Food Network with donate $1 to NOKIDHUNGRY for every photo of baked goods posted to instagram with the hashtag #bakeitforward. All you have to do is post a photo, use the hashtag #bakeitforward and tag a friend to do the same. This simple gesture can help feed hungry children all over America. Go to for more information.

*Recipe courtesy of

Crunchy, Yummy Perfection!

21 Nov

I have been on the quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. As much as I love the traditional Nestle Toll House cookie, my husband is a big fan of the Tate’s Chocolate chip cookie, so I set out to find a recipe to make them myself. I did find a recipe that said it was Tate’s but that’s not how they turned out. I found another one on the Girl Who Bakes blog and that is the one! I am sharing that recipe here and highly suggest you give them a try…absolutely delicious.



1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (I was out of parchment paper so I lightly buttered the baking sheet.)

Beat the butter in a stand mixer, add sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, mix until evenly combined.

Add flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon to butter mixture until combined. Add chocolate chips and stir with a spoon by hand until evenly distributed.

Drop the cookies using a spoon onto baking sheet and cook for 8 to 12 minutes or until golden brown, rotate the baking sheet halfway through.

Let the cookies rest for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Pour yourself a glass of cold milk and enjoy!

*I use different kinds of chips-milk chocolate, semisweet, white chocolate and sometimes Heath Bar bits, whatever makes you happy.

Crostata or Deconstructed Pie?!

19 Aug

I love pie! I know that I say “I love…” a lot but I do, which is why I started writing this blog. Pies are just a great dessert anytime of year but there is something about summer fruit pies that are extra delicious. Peaches and blueberries are my favorite kinds of pies and when I saw this recipe by my “friend” Ina, the Barefoot Contessa, I knew I had to try it, it has peaches, blueberries and plums. And it’s not really a pie but it’s like a pie; a deconstructed pie.


Now I have some pretty strange food issues as some would call it, I do not like fresh blueberries but I love them when they are used in baking. And as for apples, I like to eat apples but do not like them in baked goods, strange I know. But I really like peaches just about any ol’ way! So here is a fabulous recipe for a Summer Fruit Crostata. Thanks again Ina!

IMG_6290Pastry (makes enough for 2)

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated or superfine sugar

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 lb (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, diced

6 Tbs ice water (3 oz)

Place flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and toss quickly (and carefully) with your fingers to coat each cube of butter with the flour. Pulse 12 to 15 times or until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once through the feed tube. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine, but stop the machine just before the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board, roll into a ball, cut in half and form into 2 flat disks. Wrap the disks in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour. (I froze the other one and used it a few days later to make it again.)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll the pastry into an 11 inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to parchment paper lined baking sheet.


1 pound firm,ripe peaches, peeled

1/2 pound firm ripe black plums, unpeeled

1/2 pint fresh blueberries

1 Tbs plus 1/4 cup all purpose flour, divided

1 Tbs plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided

1/4 tsp grated orange zest

2 Tbs fresh orange juice

1/4 tsp kosher salt

4 Tbs cold, unsalted butter, diced

*I did not peel the peaches and they were fine.

Cut the peaches and plums in wedges and place them in a bowl with the blueberries. Toss them with 1 Tbs flour, 1 Tbs sugar, orange zest and the orange juice. *I only used 1 Tbs of orange juice because when I made it the first time I made with 2 it was too juicy and the crust got soggy and broke up.

Place the mixed fruit in the middle of the dough circle, leaving a 1 1/2 inch border.

Combine the 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of the food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Pour into a bowl and mix it with your fingers until it starts to hold together. Sprinkle evenly over fruit. Gently fold the border of the pastry over the fruit, pleating it to make an edge.

Bake the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the fruit is tender. Let the crostata cool for 5 to 10 minutes and then using 2 spatulas transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Serve warm or at room temperature and of course with ice cream!


Tart, Tart? Who said Tart?!

14 Apr

I love a fruit tart; the sweet crust, creamy custard and of course the fruit! Recently out to dinner in the city (New York City, that’s how we refer to it in the tristate area) I had one for dessert, it was a peach tart and absolutely delicious. I thought I can make that…so I did. And guess what? It was absolutely delicious. I made it for our friends that came for dinner and we ate the whole thing!

Now you’ll need a few things before you get started, like a tart pan with a removable bottom, a rolling pin and a bag of dried beans for when you cook the crust. You will also need a strainer for the custard. But don’t let this intimidate you, it’s not hard and definitely worth it.



The recipe is from Ina Garten aka The Barefoot Contessa, love her and her recipes.


1 1/4 Cup flour

3 T Sugar

1/2 t Salt

8 T Unsalted butter

3-4 T Ice water

To make the crust combine flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl (I used my KitchenAid mixer). Cut butter into 1/4 pieces and a few at a time to flour mixture, using medium speed, mix until dough forms small bits. Add ice water a Tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together. Shape the dough into a disc shape, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Let the dough sit out at room temperature for 5 minutes or so and then roll out into a large circle. Place dough into a 10″ tart pan with removable bottom, cutting off excess dough with a sharp knife.  Line the dough with foil and fill with rice or dried beans. Bake the tart crust for 10 minutes and then remove the foil and beans or rice. Prick the crust with a fork and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. Now, I have used a 10″ and a 9″ tart pan, personally I like a bit of a thicker crust so I prefer the 9″ tart pan.


3 Extra large egg yolks at room temperature

6 T Sugar

1 1/2 T Cornstarch

1 Cup milk

1 T Unsalted butter

1 T Heavy cream

1/2 t Cognac or Brandy or Vanilla

Using electric mixer with paddle attachment beat egg yolks and sugar on medium-high for about 3 minutes until mixture is light yellow. Beat in cornstarch on low speed.

Bring milk to simmer in saucepan and slowly pour warm milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly (make sure milk is not too hot, it will cook the eggs). Then pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat while stirring constantly with a whisk until the mixture is thick, about 4 minutes. Bring to a boil, then bring heat to low and cook for 3 more minutes.

Remove from heat. Mix in butter, vanilla (or cognac) and cream.

Pour through strainer and into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly onto custard and refrigerate until cold.


Assorted fruit such as: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, sliced nectarines, sliced kiwis, sliced oranges or sliced peaches

*1/2 Cup apricot jelly (I omitted this part)


Put baked tart crust on serving plate. Assemble tart by spreading custard into crust evenly. Place berries and sliced fruit onto custard. Viola, ready to eat and enjoy!

*If you want to use the apricot jelly, melt it with 1 T water in a small saucepan and brush it over the fruit, it will give a shine and add a bit of sweetness.



What’s Better than Oreo’s and Cake?… Not Much!

10 Jun

I love cake, especially chocolate cake, so when I saw this recipe on Pinterest I knew I had to make it. It is devil’s food cake with a OREO cookie and cream cheese filling-two things I love.  We were invited to dinner at a friends who have children so I knew this would be a big hit and it was.

OREO Cookie Cake


Here’s what you’ll need: 

1 Pkg Devil’s Food Cake Mix

1 Pkg Cream Cheese-softened

1/2 Cup Sugar2 Cups Thawed Cool Whip

12 OREO cookies-crushed

Prepare the cake according to package directions for 2 (9-inch) pans. Cool the cakes completely.In the meantime, beat the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until blended. Gently stir in Cool Whip and the crushed cookies.Place 1 cake layer on a plate, spread with all cream cheese mixture, top with remaining cake layer. Now, the original recipe on calls for the top of the cake to be iced with a chocolate icing, I thought that would be too much so I just dusted mine with a bit of powered sugar and it was delicious!  Let the cake set and cool in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes so the cookies have a chance to soften. Very easy to make and everyone loved it – You will too!

Icing Dipped Cupcakes….So Yummy!

19 Dec

I love cupcakes! White cake cupcakes are my favorite. A few years ago my sister Nancy gave me a Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook called Christmas Cooking from the Heart that has a recipe for Little Peppermint Cakes which looked really good but of course I had to change it to meet my needs. The recipe uses pound cake and peppermint flavoring, I don’t use either of those; I prefer cupcakes and not everyone likes peppermint.

Pretty in Pink!!!
The other thing about this recipe is that it’s basically “almost homemade” because it uses canned frosting and boxed cake-mix. Now of course you can make it all homemade if you choose, sometimes I do, but this is the recipe for the easy way.
Icing Dipped Cupcakes
1 box white cake mix
Make cupcakes according to package instructions. When cooled take cupcakes out of the wrappers.
For the icing you will need:
4 ounces white chocolate baking squares with cocoa butter, chopped
12 ounces of canned vanilla frosting
In a heavy small saucepan cook white chocolate on low heat until melted then add frosting and cook stirring until smooth. Once the icing mixture is nice and smooth you can food coloring if you like. Keep mixture on very low heat and dip the top of each cupcake into the icing, wait a few seconds and dip it again to get a thicker coating then add any type of sprinkle or garnish if you choose. I put waxed paper under cooling racks and put the dipped cupcakes on them to catch any icing that drips off. These are so simple and taste so good~great for the holidays as you can decorate them anyway you want to. Enjoy and have a great holiday!

Summertime Chocolate Cake

2 Aug

I LOVE cake! And I really love chocolate cake. So when I was having my mother and mother-in-law for dinner on a hot summer evening I wanted chocolate cake but felt that chocolate icing would be too heavy so I changed it up a bit.  I used whipped cream for icing and added fresh strawberries to jazz it up.  I used the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe, Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, it is wonderful. The first thing you should do is prepare the strawberries, then make the cake and then the whipped cream.

Summertime Chocolate Cake


1 quart fresh strawberries-washed, stems removed and cut up pretty small.

2  Tablespoons Sugar

Mix the sugar with the strawberries, refrigerate. The berries will get a bit soft and juicy, perfect to put in and on the cake.


Butter, for greasing the pans

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

2 cups sugar

3/4  cup good cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk, shaken

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 extra-large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee ( I used 3/4 cup hazelnut coffee-I have found that 1 cup is just too much liquid)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter 2 (8 inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.   This just seems like alot of work to me so I just butter the pans well and don’t seem to have a problem.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low-speed until combined. Now, not everyone has an electric mixer and I don’t always use one, you can certainly use a whisk or even a fork if you must.  In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.  With the mixer on low-speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.  With the mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean – in my house that means a toothpick.  Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely. This is when I make the whipped cream.


1 1/2 cups heavy cream

3 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Put a metal bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes to make it nice and cold to make the whipped cream in. Pour in the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the cold bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form, about 15 minutes.  For this, an electric mixer is best, a whisk or hand beater will work but can make your arm go numb.

Once the cake has cooled completely place one layer flat side up on a cake plate. With a knife or spatula, spread the top with whipped cream then place about 2/3 of the strawberries on top of the whipped cream.  Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the remaining whipped cream evenly on the top.  Put the remainder of the strawberries on top of the cake, I put them in a pretty ring around it but you can do as you like.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.  And Voila! A tasty, cool chocolate cake that is perfect for a hot summer evening!

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