Classic Southern Pecan Pie

Classic_Southern_Pecan_Pie

Pecan pie is comfort food, period. The Chicago area faced blizzard like temperatures last week.  OK, maybe not that cold, but for beginning to mid September, 50 degree weather is too cold!  So with this premature cold snap, I had the desire for another comforting pie – Pecan Pie! Of course my impulsive taste buds crave desserts like pecan pie at 8 o’clock at night when there is no way of making one that would be ready by 9.   So I patiently waited to make one Sunday morning, so that it would be ready for dessert that night.

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I remember when I was little, like 10 or 12 years old, I was always curious as to what pecan pie tasted like.  My parents (who aren’t huge pecan pie lovers, but are now, because this pie is so good) wouldn’t order pecan pie, because their guess is as good as mine – I probably would have taken one bite and said, “yuck.”  I haven’t liked nuts in many desserts until recently.  Luckily my taste buds have come around.

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For those of you who have never had pecan pie, all I can say is that it is rich!  It’s gooey, custard like, sweet, but has bitter notes from the pecans.  The filling has become caramelized and rich.  This pie definitely makes you feel the love in every bite.  I recommend making this pie in the fall and winter for company, friends, the office, what ever! You’re going to want to share, believe me! Oh, and I especially love eating this pie with a cup of coffee or tea of course!

Classic Southern Pecan Pie Recipe:
1 C. White Sugar
3 tbsp. Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 C. Light Corn Syrup
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/3 C. Melted Butter
3 Eggs (Beaten)
2 C. Whole Pecans
Unbaked Pie Crust (Store bought (frozen) – I used Trader Joe’s Brand or homemade)

Preheat oven to 350.

Instructions:
1. In a large bowl, mix together your sugars and salt with a whisk. Add your corn syrup, vanilla, melted butter and beaten eggs. Whisk until combined and smooth.

2. Place the pecans at the bottom of the pie that has your raw dough. Pour your liquid mixture over the pecans. (Don’t worry, during the baking process the pecans will rise to the top.)

3. Place in the oven with foil loosely covering the top. Bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove foil and let bake for an additional 20 minutes. This pie should only jiggle slightly (barely at all) when it is done. You will probably need to add 10 – 20 minutes. If this is the case, place the foil bake on, so the top doesn’t burn.

Let sit for a few hours or over night to set up. I enjoy eating this pie cold.

Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman.

Enjoy! Thanks for reading!

xo,
Marlee

Individual Bumble Berry Pies

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Bumble berry pie is my absolute favorite pie of all time.  For me, this pie screams comfort food!   Whatever season, I could eat this pie, if only the ingredients were always in season.  How I discovered bumble berry pie was at a farmer’s market.  This Amish man would sell these delicious pies every Wednesday and Saturday.  I had always loved strawberry rhubarb pies, but when I saw bumble berry, I was intrigued, I had to try it.  I was instantly hooked, strawberry rhubarb shed a tear that day, because I moved on to better pie.

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My version/the Amish copycat of bumble berry pie has 4 fruity ingredients – rhubarb, green apple, strawberries and raspberries.  This pie pairs tart and sweet perfectly.  See?! Now you know why I ditched the strawberry rhubarb pie!

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So you might be thinking, why the individual pies, verse the homey big pie? Well, for one, I didn’t have enough rhubarb on hand, opps.  So what did I do, I made individual pies! Portion control, no sharing required and a nice amount of flaky crust in every bit! So, why don’t we make individual pies all the time!?

So I’ll let you in on a secret, I made my life easy and bought frozen raw pie dough. I know, shame on me.  I used Trader Joe’s frozen pie dough, and can I tell you, that it came out so flaky and delicious! I would use it again in a heart beat.

I’ll let you in on another secret, don’t cover your leftovers with a plastic cover, or plastic wrap. The crust will lose it’s flaky crust.  Instead, loosely cover you pie or storage container with foil.

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This pie is a great end of the summer, beginning of fall pie.  It’s fruity flavors are bright, but the warmth of the cinnamon and vanilla create a cozy feeling.

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Bumble Berry Pie Recipe:
1 3/4 C. Rhubarb (Roughly Chopped)
1/2 of One Lg. Green Apple (Peeled & Chopped)
1/2 C. Strawberrys (Roughly Chopped)
1/4 C. Raspberries
1 C. Granulated Sugar
1/4 C. Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
4 tsp. Cornstarch (Sifted)

Store bought raw pie dough or homemade.

Preheat oven to 400.

Instructions:
1. Chop fruit as specified above. In a large bowl, mix fruit, sugars, cinnamon and vanilla. Once mixed well. Add 1 tsp. of sifted cornstarch at a time and mix well. You will repeat this until each of the 4 tsp. are well incorporated. If you do not sift the cornstarch, you will end up with chunks of cornstarch throughout the fruit.

2. Roll out your pie dough and cut out 9 (4 inch) circles. Grease a muffin pan and line the pie dough in each round. Fill with the fruit filling just to the top.

3. Make sure to put a pan lined with foil under your muffin tin to catch liquid sugar. Cook for 40 – 45 minutes. Let cool and take a knife and round the edges, which will release them from the pan. Serve with vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

**For enough filling for a  9inch pie, multiply this recipe by 1.5.

I hope you try this recipe and love it! I promise you won’t regret it!

xo,
Marlee

Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Bars

 

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So it has come to my attention that there aren’t any recipes thus far with even an ounce of chocolate! Shame on me! All though these SUPER ADDICTIVE bars have two sources of chocolate, I can’t take any credit for them! This is an adapted recipe created by my sister, Rachel! She has been allergic to peanut butter her whole life.  It wasn’t until recently that we were able to find an almond butter that wasn’t processed and manufactured on the same equipment as peanuts.  Of course it’s even more expensive than regular almond butter, but hey, at least she finally get’s to eat a nut spread!

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In case you’re curious as to which completely peanut-free almond butter my sister uses, the brand is called Barney Butter and it costs about $14 for a 16 oz jar at Whole Foods.

These bars are fudgy and satisfy that sweet and salty craving! Despite the sugar, which I eat way to much of, they are a great protein bar.  The almond butter, almond milk and oatmeal provide great protein and fiber.  Slightly better for you than a Snickers bar.

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These bars can be anything you want – add different chocolate, nuts, candies, whatever floats your boat! Personally I wouldn’t change them, they were that good!

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Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Bars Recipe:
1/2 C. Brown Sugar
1 C. Creamy Almond Butter
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 C. All Purpose Flour
1 C. Old Fashioned Oats
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 C. Almond Milk or Regular Milk
1/3 C. Semisweet Chocolate Chips
2/3 C. Milk Chocolate Covered Raisins

Preheat oven to 350.

Instructions:
1. Grease an 8×8 baking dish and lay parchment paper on top to insure the bars come out. Set aside.

2. In a stand/hand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the brown sugar and almond butter. If your almond butter is super thick, zap it in the microwave for a few seconds to loosen it up. Mix on medium speed until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Scrap down the sides of the bowl as needed.

3. On medium speed, add the flour, oats, salt and baking soda. Don’t worry, it will come together! Slowly add the almond milk, mixing until the dough comes together. Mix in the chocolate chips and chocolate covered raisins. Use your hands if needed.

4. Press the finished dough evenly throughout the baking dish. Bake for 17-20 minutes. The bars will look slightly golden brown. Cut into squares, when completely cooled and enjoy!

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

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We hope you love these! They are AWESOME!

xo,
Marlee & Rachel

A Short Trip to EATALY

Eataly Margarita Pizza
Since Eataly’s opening in Chicago, I have been wanting to go! Well, I finally got to! If you’re around the area and looking for something to do with family or friends, this is a good place to spend 2 hours soaking in Italian cuisine and calories!

For those of you who don’t know very much about Eataly, it is part grocery store and part eateries! What’s cool about Eataly is that they sell produce, meats, seafood, cheeses, and everything Italian.   Many of the products and ingredients that they sell would be hard to find in your local grocery store.  With that being said, expect to pay a premium for this imported ingredients like raisins on the vine for $16/Ibs.

Dried Raisins on the Vine

Some ingredients made me laugh, “Like who’s going to spend $10/Ibs on “fancy” butter, or over $40/Ibs on mushrooms!?”  Although I had no intention of buying produce it was definitely fun to look! Along with produce, you can buy fruit spreads, olive oils, wines, chocolates and candies, coffee, etc.

Eataly Mushrooms

Olives

Eataly will display charts on certain products like olives and pastas with their corresponding region they originate from.

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Eataly

Pasta Sauces

So many jars and cans of sauces, from tomato to a truffle pesto.

Fresh Pasta at Eataly

Eataly Seafood

Eataly’s seafood looked fresher than any grocery store I frequent.

Eataly’s wide variety of sit down food options can be daunting, but my decision was easy.  I b-lined it straight to the pasta and pizza restaurant.  How can you say no to fresh pasta and pizza made the right way! I would eat their margarita pizza with mozzarella di bufala over a take out pizza any day! It was delicious, period.

If you choose to dine at Eataly, you will have to wait to be seated.  If you’re not one to wait, go during the week when the whole world isn’t there.  It makes the experience more enjoyable.  We were seated right away.  There is something for everyone at Eataly.  You can choose one themed restaurant or choose multiple, but you will have to pay separate checks and be waited on by different people. It’s not like a food court.  Needless to say, the pizza and pasta were great and the wait staff was very friendly and knowledgable.

Pizza Eataly

Peach Brioche Eataly

Although I didn’t have a piece, you could smell the peach brioche from behind the glass counter.  It was tempting!

House Made Breads Eataly

After lunch, we walked around, took pictures, looked at more food like the aisles of pasta. We had to do something to walk off lunch in order to save room for dessert!

One station at Eataly is their Nutella bar, where you can order made-to-order Nutella crepes and other Nutella goodies.  We started off with a cappuccino and for all tense and purposes – a Nutella croissant.  It was a denser than a croissant, but still yummy! They were not stingy when smearing on the Nutella! We also enjoyed raspberry and watermelon sorbetti! So refreshing!

Nutella Station Eatly

Gelato Eataly

Eataly Sorbetti

Despite these two yummy sweet treats, there was a dessert I was very disappointed with and that was their traditional tiramisu.  It had little flavor and barely any texture.  I’m still shocked by how bad it was.  On the flip side, the caramel salted peanut tiramisu was good.  It tasted like an Italian Snickers bar.

All of the desserts were beautiful and glossy, but I question how good they are if they can’t even make a good tiramisu.  I’ve also gotten picky over my desserts, since working at a French bakery, so I’m critical, but they’re expensive, so try at your own risk.

Desserts at Eataly

Caramel Salted Peanut Tiramisu Eataly

Eataly was a fun get away and a perfect place to enjoy food.  I will have to go again in the future and indulge in more pizza and pasta! It’s in a great location, surrounded by awesome shopping! Food and shopping, what could be better!?

Oh and I have to add this in, because it’s not a trip to Chicago with out Sprinkles Cupcakes!

Sprinkles Cupcakes

Hope you visit Eataly soon in New York or Chicago!

xo,
Marlee

Farm Stand Cinnamon Zucchini Bread with a Brown Sugar Topping

Zucchini Bread with Brown Sugar Topping

I have been fortunate enough to grow up with a local farm stand only 5 minutes away.  They grow and sell local and seasonal produce from May to October.  Produce that ranges from golden beets to local peaches to pumpkins and sweet corn.  It’s a small everyday farmers market that doesn’t make me wait for a whole week to shop at a city farmer’s market!   If you have a farm stand or an incredible farmers market, you’re really fortunate!

Zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables (well I guess fruit).  It’s super versatile! Savory or sweet, they are awesome.  I use them in fritattas, pastas, salads, and more! So why not feature this versatile veggie in a quick bread!

I love almost anything with cinnamon, so I loaded it, top to bottom! What can I say, I’m cinnamon happy! Oh, and by the way, don’t skimp on the brown sugar topping.  If you do, don’t bother making it, because it’s just that good!

Farm Stand Zucchini

Cinnamon Zucchini Bread with Brown Sugar Topping Recipe: (Makes 1 Loaf)
8 oz (1/2 Ibs) Shredded Zucchini
1 C. Sugar
5 oz. Canola Oil
1 Egg
1 Egg White
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1 1/4 C. plus 1 tbsp. All Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Cinnamon
Pinch of Salt

Brown Sugar Topping:
4 tbsp. All Purpose Flour
4 tbsp. Brown Sugar
2 tbsp. Butter (Softened)
1/8 tsp. Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.

Instructions:
1. Shred zucchini and squeeze excess water with a paper or kitchen towel. Try to remove as much water as possible. Set aside.

2. In a standmixer on low, mix the oil and sugar. Add one egg at a time and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients and add to the wet. Do not over mix.

3. Take the strained zucchini and toss in 1 tbsp. flour. Fold by hand, the zucchini into the batter.

4. In a greased loaf pan, pour in the batter. Meanwhile, make your crumble topping. Combine altogether, it will look like a paste. Place globs of the topping on the loaf. Place in the oven for 50-60 minutes. Place foil over the loaf after 30 to 40 minutes.

These recipe also makes 12 muffins. Cook for 15-20 minutes.

This quick bread is super easy to make and yummy. Thanks for reading! Buy local!

xo,
Marlee

Rugelach (Shhh… It’s Better Than Grandma’s)

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I’ve grown up around rugelach cookies, but they weren’t something I went straight for at the dessert table.  Half the time I wouldn’t even bother trying them, because they didn’t look like anything special or didn’t have enough fruity filling.

It wasn’t until I started working at the bakery that rugelach found a special place in my sweet tooth. These spiraled cookies with fruit fillings throughout and the sugary crunchy exterior crust with a soft inside…yummmmmm.

 

These cookies are my copycat version and I think I’m pretty close! The bakery uses ingredients that the average home baker doesn’t have on hand, so these are my simpler and similar version.

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It took me a few tries, but persistence pay’s off! I think I went through four small batches of rugelach dough, before I figured it out!  I guess wasting ingredients isn’t a terrible thing, if it means you have a recipe that could last generations.

Like every sweet treat that I make, these go well with your morning or afternoon cup o’ joe.  I almost don’t enjoy coffee as much if I don’t have something sweet to nibble on!   It’s becoming somewhat of a problem…  Why can’t sugar be a super food!?!?!?

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Rugelach Recipe:  Approx. 24 – 32 cookies
Dough:
8 oz. Cold Cream Cheese
1/2 C. Butter (Firm, but not cold)
2 1/4 C. All Purpose Flour
3/4 C. Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1/3 C. Cold Water

Fillings & Finishings:
Cinnamon Sugar/Jam/Marmalade/Pie Filling of Choice
1 Egg (For egg wash)
Turbinado Sugar

Before preheating oven look at step 4. Otherwise…
Preheat oven to 350.

Instructions:
1. In a stand mixer, cream butter and cream cheese on med-high for 2-3 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients and add to the creamed butter and cream cheese. Add the cold water and let the mixer run on medium-high for about 2-3 minutes. (You want to over mix the dough to activate the glutens). You know if you over mixed right, if the dough is glossy and slightly springs back like bread or pizza dough.

2. Let the dough chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. On a floured surface, try to roll your dough out in a thin rectangle shape. Take a knife and cut excess and oddly shaped dough. You will want a rectangle shape before rolling the dough into a spiral.

3. With an off set spatula, spread a thin layer of fruit filling ( I used Solo Raspberry Cake and Pastry Filling).  Roll the dough into a tight spiral.  Cut in 1 inch pieces.

4. I highly recommend freezing the raw cookies and letting them thaw before baking – the dough should feel cold, but not frozen (about 30 min). This isn’t necessary, but the cookie keeps it’s form better. Lightly brush with an egg wash and generously top with turbinado (raw) sugar. It will give the cookie and extra special crunch!

5. On a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, bake for 25-28 minutes at 350 degrees.
**The pictures above are slightly over baked, to enhance color, but it is best to follow the directions for best flavor and texture.

I hope you enjoy! Thanks for reading!

xo,
Marlee

Apple Cider Vinegar & Baking Soda

So I don’t know about you, but there are certain sweet treats that aren’t enjoyable – that of being from the dense and dry variety. I have never heard anyone say, “Nothing satisfies my sweet tooth like a dry and dense cupcake!” So you ask, “What can I do to make my pancakes fluffier and my cupcakes lighter?” Well, it’s super simple and the answer is:

Apple Cider Vinegar and Baking Soda

The combination of  vinegar and baking soda creates that timeless science experiment, which somehow ignites that, ‘wow’ factor no matter how old you are.   So you might be asking:

“Why choose apple cider vinegar over traditional white distilled vinegar for my baked goods?”

Apple cider vinegar is sweeter because it is made with real apple juice!  I love salt and vinegar chips, but I don’t want that pungent vinegar flavor in my baked goods.  So how do you use baking soda and apple cider vinegar together?  Here are my tips for this technique:

  • Use the same ratio of baking soda to apple cider vinegar. (If your recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of baking soda, you will want to use 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.)
  • Change up the baking instructions: Don’t add baking soda to the dry ingredients.
  • At the very end of the recipe, right before your supposed to place your batter into its baking device, add the apple cider vinegar to the baking soda in a small dish.
  • Once the apple cider vinegar and baking soda has reacted, pour the liquid into your batter and fold the mixture in, until combined.
  • Let your batter sit for about 5 minutes to let the reaction really do its magic.
  • This is important! DO NOT stir your batter after it has been sitting for 5 minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, without stirring, you can now scoop your batter!

The recipes that I most frequently use this technique is in red velvet and vanilla cakes/cupcakes as well as waffle and pancake batter.

 

I hope this trick works for you and helps you make even better baked goods!  Let me know how it goes!  Be creative! If you have a recipe that needs some added fluffiness, try this trick!  Baking is part art, part chemistry, and of course fun! Worse case scenario you have to start over, but that’s part of learning! Don’t be scared to try something different.

xo,
Marlee