1. Peach, basil, and balsamic chicken salad with crispy prosciutto The weather is still too hot around here to convince my mind that it’s Fall and as a result I’ve had a resurgence of summer salad cravings. This salad is a perfect end of summer entrée filled with peaches and made hearty with the balsamic and chicken. Bits of crispy prosciutto add a salty accent and the whole salad just comes together beautifully.
2. Marinated tomato peach salad with herb butter toast I love mixing sweet with savory and this marinated peach and tomato salad with buttered toast is a simple, end of summer meal. Make sure to grab a nice crusty Italian loaf and your taste buds will be singing. You could even chop the tomatoes and peaches a little smaller and create a tomato/peach bruschetta.
3. Grilled peach, brie, basil sandwich I don’t know what it is about brie, but I’m drawn to it. I might as well create an entire Pinterest board it. Anytime there’s a recipe that calls for brie I pin it. It’s something about the creaminess that is magical and it’s distinct, yet subtle flavor. It can stand alone or be paired with other fixins. It’s just the bomb. So when I saw this recipe for peaches, brie, and basil I let out an audible, “Yessss!” Then when I saw the recipe was from Two Peas and Their Pod I was even more excited because Maria and Josh never let me down. So get fancy and make this “grown up grilled cheese.” Treat yo self.
4. Bacon-wrapped grilled peaches with balsamic glaze Excuse me, duh, why didn’t I think of this? When is wrapping something in bacon a bad idea? Hmm….never. I can’t actually think of something that was wrapped in bacon that I didn’t like. So naturally sweet peaches and salty bacon are a fantastic combo. I haven’t tried this one yet, but I’m itching to. So if you beat me to it let me know how amazing it is, okay?
5. Peach Galette with Honey Vanilla Pistachio Brittle and Cardamom Rose Whipped Cream I mean, whoa. Peaches, pistachios, cardamom, and rose whipped cream!!!! Talk about an all-star cast of ingredients wrapped up in a flakey pastry carb. Holla! I’m a sucker for interesting combinations and complex flavor profiles. They just speak to my inner adventurer and creative. If this were on a menu at a restaurant hands down I would order it. But since this is a recipe on a Pinterest board I have only yet stared at it longingly. I mean who has rose water laying around? But if you’re like me and you like having a few of these fancy ideas laying around for the perfect dinner party or fancy gathering, this guy needs to be added to the list.
6. Peach Caprese Salad You don’t need more than a picture to figure out this simple recipe. Peaches + Mozzarella + Basil + Balsamic = Caprese Perfection.
7. Pavlova with roasted peaches, blackberries, and mascarpone I ate this last night and it was amazing. In fact, I ate two of these last night. It was so good. The pavlova was not as intimidating to create as you may think and the mascarpone cream middle was heavenly. I could have stopped there, but then we added the roasted peaches and blackberry sauce and my taste buds began to chirp a sweet summer tune. Mmmm. It was a perfect combination of sweet and creamy. We made just a couple adaptations to the recipe by not smashing the blackberries (we left them whole), we cooked the blackberry sauce until it was an extra thick syrup, and we garnished with some fresh basil to balance some sweetness and enhance the awesomeness. And it worked. This was a crowd favorite for sure.
8. Peach blueberry pie Not all recipes or food blogs are created equal. This is true. But Joy the Baker has been winning my trust over the years and is now one of my go-to spots for sweet treats and desserts. So when this recipe for Peach and Blueberry Pie was recommended by a friend I knew I had to try it. And you should too.
10. Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce Whenever I need a solid, tried-and-true, classic, crowd-pleasing, recipe for something I always turn to The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drumond. I’m sure you’re also a fan of her ability to turn classic recipes into mouthwatering home-runs. She’s got skills. And this iconic American peach crisp recipe is no different. She creates a classic peach crisp to perfection and jazzes it up with a maple cream sauce. It’s the perfect transition dessert from Summer to Fall.
Father’s Day is coming up and it is time to celebrate! But let’s be real, finding the perfect dad-gift for your husband or father can be tricky. Most of the time if dudes need something they just buy it for themselves—they’re so practical like that. But have no fear, we’ve got a post full of some fun gift ideas so you wouldn’t have to rack your brain. There’s something for everyone and maybe these will even spark some ideas of your own.
The Food-Loving Father:
They say a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so obviously food is always a great option for the Father’s Day man in your life. You’ll probably already be whipping up his favorite meal or dessert, why not get a basket full of his other food favorites? You know, the stuff that he wants to buy at the grocery store that always gets vetoed (ah hem spiced pork rinds, meat sticks, you get the idea). I’m never mad when I get box full of my favorite food. What’s not to love?
The Golfing Guru:
If your dad is like my dad he always talks about golfing being one of his favorite hobbies, however he never actually gets the chance to go. Inspire him to reconnect with his hobbies (whether it is golfing or something else) by putting together a random gift of hobby accessories. Trust me, he’ll be dying to use those shiny new golf balls in no time!
The Fitness Fiend or Wannabe Weightlifter:
Maybe he’s been mentioning that he’s been wanting to be more active or get heart-healthy or maybe he’s already an athlete extraordinaire, either way, some fitness focused gifts might hit the spot. Fitbit, work out gear (clothing, water bottle, etc), some new fancy headphones (go wireless if you want to get real fancy—just be prepared to spend a few buckaroos), or maybe a gym membership would brighten his Father’s Day. And if expensive gear or gym memberships are blowing your budget, consider making a gift certificate or coupon book for him that helps him meet his fitness goals. For example, you could agree to work out with him for 30 minutes every morning, go on a walk every night, ride bikes, or help take care of some of his other responsibilities so he can sneak away for 30 minutes of cardio. This is definitely a cheaper option and will probably be the one he loves the most because he will get to spend time with YOU.
Dad’s love quality time. And if he’s not into cardio, just get him the “Dad Bod” shirt and a box of Twinkies and tell him you love him just the way he is! Because you do. Muscles are over-rated. 🙂
The Grill Master:
There’s something about open flames and a hunk of meat that make some men weak in the knees. If you’ve got a pyromaniac on your hands a grill-themed gift is the way to go. Grab his favorite BBQ sauce, a fun apron, new grill utensils, and some meat. Is it weird to put a bow on a really nice cut of steak and pop it in the fridge for him to see Sunday morning? Absolutely not. That’s true love in my book.
The Office Aficionado:
Wait, hear me out, before you roll your eyes and say that a tie and some pens is the most generic Father’s Day gift possible, there’s more. Men are very practical creatures and may actually appreciate a new tie or some office supplies, but let’s take it to the next level and add some meaning to the mundane. Write a note telling your dad, hubby, grandpa how grateful you are for all the hard work that they do. Whether it’s working long hours to put a roof over your head or spending their hard earned money on Doc Marten shoes because you just HAD to have them or else you would have been the laughing stock of junior high (I mean, that was all of us, right?), tell them of your gratitude. Tell them their efforts don’t go unnoticed. Thank them for their sacrifices. Next time they put on that new tie it will mean a whole lot more to them as feelings of appreciation and gratitude wash over them.
PS: All of these gifts can be purchased at your local Target, but you better hurry, the “Dad Bod” t-shirts are going fast!
I just got back from a weekend in Waco living my “Fixer Upper” dreams. You know the show. It doesn’t matter if you’re 12, 25, or 65, chances are you’ve heard of Chip and Joanna Gaines and their wildly popular HGTV show, “Fixer Upper.” And if you’re like me, after one episode you’ve fallen in love with their down-to-Earth attitudes, Chip’s goofy antics, Joanna’s stunningly simple, fresh décor, and the shocking before and after reveals that accompany each episode.
I’ve always been a sucker for home remodeling shows. I think it was TLC’s “Trading Spaces” that first got me hooked. You know, the one where two sets of neighbors got to spend $1,000 and redecorate a room in each other’s houses in two days? I remember watching episode after episode during my freshman year in college and wishing that hottie-handyman Ty Pennington could make me a built-in bookcase. Trading Spaces ended, but I followed that quirky, tan carpenter over to ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
I’m a sucker for “big reveals” and a cause, so naturally this show literally had me crying each week when they said, “Move that bus!” In 2009, hurricane GRADUATE SCHOOL hit and I was forced to say goodbye to free time, cable, and happiness. It has taken me years to recover from that bomb and find TV again, but I’d like to thank the Food Network for reeling me back in and Hobby Lobby for re-igniting my love of home décor with their endless aisles of stuff. I’m back in the creativity game and it feels good. Take that science degree.
Now back to Waco and the country-chic-flea-market-finding-shiplap-loving mecca that Chip and Jo are creating there. What a blast. The market was actually a little smaller than I thought it would be, or maybe that’s just because it was crawling with well-meaning, decorating wannabes like myself. But the space was enchanting and full of fresh ideas and “Fixer Upper” staples. Many of the items rotate through seasonally, making it a unique selection of goods each time you go.
In addition to home goods, they had a few of Joanna’s favorite items for purchase as well—like her favorite perfume or candle. I only wish I had suitcase to bring it all home on the airplane with me. Given my rationed space I was forced to buy only packable items, which included a #shiplap t-shirt, tea towel, and a black Magnolia canvas tote. If I could buy whatever my heart desired I would have purchased some cool light fixtures, some dishes (if you know me, you know I have a slight addiction to bowls), some fun florals and vases.
Magnolia is to Waco what Disney is to Anaheim. No, but seriously. The fun doesn’t just stop at Magnolia Market, next to the market are “the Silos” where they have a huge turf and lawn games, dozens of picnic tables, swings sets, food trucks, and gardens. The atmosphere is unique with a clean, urban design among the farmland backdrop. The area is very family-focused and a perfect spot to hang out and enjoy lunch. They are also working on a garden shop that is slated to open up later this year. People love this place and are flocking by the thousands to experience all things Magnolia. I have a feeling there may be a Magnolia Amusement Park in the near future, but that’s just a guess, haha.
People love this place. It is a perfect day trip if you’re in the area or an easy weekend getaway. But if you’re wanting to stay onsite at the Magnolia House you’re going to need to plan ahead, way ahead. That place and practically every other B&B and hotel in Waco is sold out until 2017. Can you believe it? But if you’re itching to get down there sooner, I know a nice roadside Marriott just out of town that you can stay at. And if you’re making a weekend out of it like we did you’re going to need a few more things to do while in Waco, so check out these fun spots while you’re down there…
OTHER FUN THINGS TO DO IN WACO:
Spice Village: A huge market full of different booths and shops from locals and other larger brands. It’s like Etsy, but in real life.
Dr. Pepper Museum: Yep, Dr. Pepper was created in Waco and the town couldn’t be prouder. Stop in here for a self-guided tour and pick up a Dr. Pepper float when you’re done.
McLane Stadium: Home of the Baylor Bears, even if you’re not into sports this place will “wow” you. Nestled right on the Brazos River, this state-of-the-art facility is a fun stop on your Waco tour, especially if it’s filled with 45,140 screaming fans!
Food Trucks: Xristo’s, Club Sandwich and Pokey O’s to name a few. Waco’s food truck scene is small when compared to larger cities, but it’s a niche market that is continuing to grow. Look for them around town mid-morning to mid-afternoon (even at the Magnolia Silos!) or check out the top 10 Waco food trucks.
Torchy’s Tacos: A classic Texas taco joint and one of my favorite. With fried chicken, shredded barbacoa beef, slow-roasted pork carnitas, beef brisket, blackened salmon, jalapeno sausage, hand-battered shrimp, seared ahi tuna and Jamaican jerk chicken on the menu you can’t go wrong. Order it “trashy” and you’ll your taco will be topped with their amazing, green chile queso. If only this was a universal term, I’d prefer most things I eat in life covered with melted queso.
Manny’s on the River: This is actually a pretty basic Tex/Mex restaurant, but if you sit out on the back patio the breeze and river make up for the generic food. That being said, this restaurant is basic and casual enough to accommodate kids, large groups, grandparent taste buds, and everything in between. Not to mention the chips, salsa, and queso are great!
I know cake pops are so-4-years-ago, but they are tastier than you remember, less complicated than you think and a fun way to celebrate your favorite person or holiday. So read on and give them a try!
Like most ideas I have, this idea for a Spring-y treat came while wandering the aisles of Target. I’m sure you all know the feeling when you walk through those red double-doors and suddenly begin to see unreasonable potential in your creative self and/or your timetable to accomplish such creative endeavors. “Sure, I’ll buy twelve of these gold and mint shelf organizers at the Dollar Spot. This is totally the solution to my cluttered, drab pantry woes.” But then somehow those gold/mint organizers never make it to the pantry and end up cluttering some other closet.
This time the “Dollar Spot” wowed me with some fun, patterned tins (you know the ones, they have them every season just with a different pattern), I saw a few weeks ago. I had visions for some sort of Easter treat basket for my nieces. However, much like those gold and mint shelf organizers, I failed to transform these tins in a timely fashion (why was Easter so early this year???). I should know by now never to pick a time-sensitive creative project, it never works for me (as evidenced by the foam sticker hearts and yet-to-be-painted wood shamrocks in my closet). With Easter long gone and my strong resolve not to put these in the closet for next year (clearly, I already have two projects waiting in the wings already), I thought it would be fun to turn these into a springtime treat…Easter/Spring, same thing, right? As I stared at these pastel tins, it popped into my head to make cake pop “flowers” and to fill the tins with Oreo “dirt” for a fun, blooming treat for my nieces (a peace offering, really, since I failed them on the Easter baskets).
Now I don’t know if you’ve been following the blog long enough to realize that I am not the baker of this sweet lemon group—that’s Ashley—and I have only attempted cake pops one other time in my entire life, and, I’ll be honest, that endeavor belongs on one of those “Pinterest FAIL” blogs because it was seriously the worst. The middle of the cake pops were too gooey due to an inappropriate frosting-to-cake ratio and the supposed thin, chocolate outer-coating was more like a lumpy, rock-hard slab of confection, all on a stick. I took them to my coworkers and they about lost a tooth just attempting to take a bite.
Naturally I was a little nervous to try again, especially knowing that I was going to be putting it out there for all the blogging world to see (I know, it’s only 12 of you, but still), but I was determined to get these tins outta my closet! So I called up Ash and bamboozled her into helping me with this spring cake pop project (note: one of my favorite parts about Ashley is that she is easily bamboozled by my crazy ideas—bless her).
Tip: While waiting for cake to cool cut it into slices so the heat escapes faster.
While the cake balls were chilling we prepped our pots with styrofoam (those pops have to have something to hold them up). We found that the small styrofoam balls worked better than a square, but honestly, you can use whatever you have lying around. We just chopped off some sides until it nestled in nicely. You want it to be snug so the foam and the pops don’t slide around. You also want to make sure that your foam is below the rim of the pot about an inch to allow space for your Oreo “dirt.” Once you shaped and chopped to size add the crushed Oreos to the top of the foam.
Tip: Pre-punch your holes where you will be putting your sticks into the styrofoam. Trust me, you will not want to forget this step! It is much harder to do when your cake pop is on the stick (you might end up losing a few cake pops).
This is where you gently tap and rotate the cake ball so that the candy coating lays (somewhat) flat and smooth on the cake ball. If your candy coating starts to cool down, it gets thicker and heavier, making it harder to coat the cake ball. Also, if your cake balls are no longer cold and become room temperature they are more prone to crack like this when dipping. Tip: The consistency of the candy coating should be thin enough to coat the cake pop but, not too thin that the cake pop shows through the candy coating. Use an extra cake pop to test out the consistency of the candy coating and if it needs to be thinned out add a tiny amount (1/8 of a teaspoon at a time) of vegetable oil until you reach a good consistency. Also, make sure to get your sprinkles on before the candy coating hardens.
Bake the cake as directed on the box, using the 9-by-13-in cake pan. Let cool completely.
Once the cake has cooled, line baking sheets with wax paper.
Crumble the cooled cake into the large bowl. You should not see any big pieces of cake.
Add up to three-quarters of the container of frosting to the bowl. (You will not need the remaining frosting. Save it in the refrigerator for a later use.) Mix it into the crumbled cake, using the back of the large metal spoon, until thoroughly combined. If you use the entire container, the cake balls will be too moist. The mixture should be moist enough to roll into 1 1/2-in balls and still hold a round shape. After rolling the cake balls by hand, place them on the prepared baking sheets and let them rest for about 20 minutes before chilling.
Cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap and chill for several hours in the refrigerator, or place them in the freezer for about 15 minutes. You want the balls to be firm but not frozen.
Place the candy coating in the deep microwave-safe bowl. These bowls make it easier to cover the cake balls completely with candy coating while holding the bowl and without burning your fingers. The coating should be about 3 inches deep for easier dipping. Work with about 16 oz of coating at a time.
Melt the candy coating. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring between each interval. (You can also use a double boiler.) Make sure you do not overheat the coating.
Now you’re ready to dip. Take a few cake balls out of the refrigerator or freezer to work with, keeping the rest chilled. If they’re in the freezer, transfer the rest of the balls to the refrigerator at this point so they stay firm but do not freeze.
One at a time, dip about 1/2 inch of the tip of a lollipop stick into the melted candy coating, and then insert the lollipop stick straight into a cake ball, pushing it no more than halfway through.
Holding the lollipop stick with cake ball attached, dip the entire cake ball into the melted candy coating until it is completely covered, and remove it in one motion. Make sure the coating meets at the base of the lollipop stick. This helps secure the cake ball to the stick when the coating sets. The object is to completely cover the cake ball and remove it without submerging it in the coating more than once. If you do resubmerge the cake pop, the weight of the candy coating can pull on the cake ball and cause it to get stuck in the coating. The thinner the consistency of your coating, the easier it will be to coat the cake pops. (If you find that your coating is too thick, add some vegetable oil to help thin it and make the coating more fluid.)
Remove the cake pop from the candy coating, some excess coating may start to drip. Hold the cake pop in one hand and use the other to gently tap the first wrist. Rotate the lollipop stick if necessary to allow the excess coating to fall off evenly, so one side doesn’t get heavier than the other. If you didn’t completely dunk the cake pop, this method of tapping and rotating generally takes care of that. The coating will slowly slide down the surface of the cake ball until it reaches the lollipop stick. If too much coating surrounds the base of the lollipop stick, you can wipe the excess off with your finger. Simply place your finger on the stick right under the cake ball and rotate the pop, allowing any excess coating to fall off and back into the bowl. When most of the excess coating has fallen off and it is no longer dripping, stick the cake pop into the Styrofoam block.
Repeat with the remaining cake balls and let the pops dry completely in the Styrofoam block.
As you’re learning, food is my love language and trying new restaurants is like opening presents on Christmas morning…it’s exciting, you’re not quite sure what you’re going to get and you’re hoping to not be disappointed. Christmas disappointment is bad, but food fails are the worst. Seriously. So when hunger hit us as we wandered the galleries and shops of Park City, we naturally turned to the 249 Yelp reviews and the positive word of mouth from the overly-chatty art gallery hostess we ran into earlier and ventured down to Vinto on Main Street in Park City.
The atmosphere was modern, but comfortable. On a Friday night it was bustling with customers that had come post ski day in their Patagonia fleece with sun-kissed cheeks and fresh goggle lines, while others took the classy Friday night approach with a string of pearls and some heels. So clearly they have a pretty wide dress code and no one will give you judgy looks about your matted ponytail or ski pants.
Now, the food. After perusing the menu it was clear that this meal would require a coordinated order to ensure that we had maximum exposure to the delicious menu options. And after seeing a bundino (more on my bundino love affair later) on the dessert menu it was a given that regardless of how full we were, dessert was definitely happening. There were multiple things we wanted to try and after much deliberation we chose the roasted cauliflower with almonds, truffle oil, and fresh mint as the starter and then shared the butternut squash pizza with pancetta, caramelized onions (side note: I’ll order anything that has caramelized onions—insert heart eye emoji!), fontina cheese, and fresh oregano and then the pear, ham, and brie panini with a spicy honey drizzle. Oh yeah, and we also ordered the classic Margarita pizza for the conservative palate of the group.
And let me tell you, the pear, brie and ham panini with the spicy honey…like, whoa. It stole the show. So simple, but it packs a flavor punch. That spicy honey should be patented–it belongs as a regularly scheduled part of my diet. Two thumbs up. The butternut squash and pancetta pizza was full of classic savory flavors, with a hint of sweetness from the roasted squash. And the desserts did not disappoint. I ordered the bundino dessert, oh bundino. I fell in love with bundino years ago when I was living in Philadelphia for grad school. The food scene in Philly is legit and one of my favorite places, Barbuzzo, is where I was first introduced to this simple, Italian custard-like dessert. It was literally life changing. The mere mention of the word “bundino” to my crew of Philadelphia peeps will trigger an instantaneous sigh “ohhhh, bundino…..” as they longingly recall each creamy bite. I have lived a few places since Philly and haven’t seen a bundino on a menu since! When I saw it on the menu at Vinto, I practically had to restrain myself from ordering it as an appetizer. Although a slightly different composition than its Philly predecessor, this creamy, rich rendition brought back all the beautiful bundino memories from my Philly days.
But wait, don’t let my nostalgic rant about bundinos distract you from the other star of the show, the apple crostata. The centrifugal arrangement of perfectly sliced, steaming cinnamon apples atop the rich, buttery crust, sealed together with a subtle apricot glaze and garnished with a scoop of house-made gelato is what dreams are made of. And if your dreams aren’t made of this then we shouldn’t be friends.
As you can tell, Vinto was the perfect ending to a great day. Check out the rest of the menu and try it next time you find yourself hungry in Park City.
(Side note: if you are ever in Philly you HAVE to go to Barbuzzo and order the bundino. You won’t be sad about it. It’s THE BEST. End rant.)