Boozy Peach Pie

I love it when peaches are in season! I love walking into the produce section and their sweet aroma just hits you right in the nose. Summer peaches are perfection.

This pie can be made with frozen peaches too, but nothing beats a fresh summer peach.  Save this recipe to bring to your summer BBQs!  Don’t worry about the vodka; the alcohol cooks out so it remains kid-friendly!

8 peaches, peeled and sliced thin

¾ cup brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

¼ to ½ teaspoon each ground cloves, ground nutmeg, allspice

2 tablespoons lemon juice

½ cup ice cold peach vodka*

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Double crust pie dough, store bought or homemade:

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup butter, cold and cubed

8-10 tablespoons ice cold peach vodka**

*Can use unflavored vodka. I used Deep Eddy’s Peach vodka. Pinnacle also makes a really good peach vodka. No matter what you use, make sure it is ice cold.

**You can just use ice water here. The vodka make the crust really flaky.

In a large bowl, add your sliced peaches, both sugars, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, lemon juice, vodka, and cornstarch. Mix well and let sit for 10 minutes or so.

If making your own pie crust, combine the flour, salt, and butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Slowly add the vodka until it all comes together to form a ball of dough.

Cut the dough in half and roll it out and place in a pie dish as the bottom of the pie. Pour the peaches into the pie plate, careful not to add too much of the liquid. Set aside.

For the top, you can just roll it out and lay it on the peaches. Cut some vents in the top for steam to escape. You can also cut the rolled dough into strips and make a lattice top. Either way, brush the top with an egg wash to make sure your crust is nice a golden brown after baking.

Loosely cover with foil and bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes.

Serve warm or cold, with ice cream or whipped cream. Or however you want.  It will be good no matter how you eat it.

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Roasted Veggie and Goat Cheese Pasta

This dish makes a lot, which is good because it I makes for GREAT leftovers.  This is a good recipe to have on hand because it uses mostly pantry staples so you can make it anytime. I mean, I don’t usually have prosciutto just lying around, but this pasta is still really yummy without it too. The prosciutto was an added bonus this time around.

It all comes together really quickly, so it makes a good weeknight meal even when you’re busy.

Roasted Veggie and Goat Cheese Pasta

1 each red, orange, yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced

1 large zucchini, sliced

1 medium shallot, sliced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

Olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped

Goat cheese

4 oz package prosciutto, cut or torn into small pieces *optional

1 box small pasta, like penne or small shells

2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

*Note: Prosciutto is a bit salty on its own, so if you are using it, you can go easy on the salt on the roasted veggies.

Toss the bell peppers, zucchini, shallot, and garlic in a couple tablespoons of olive oil and salt & pepper. Roast in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until tender and a little caramelized on the edges.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, crisp up the prosciutto if you are using it and cook your pasta per package directions. I like using Banza chickpea pasta for this, but you can use any pasta you like.

When the pasta is done, drain and put it in a large bowl. Add the prosciutto and the veggies. Use any of the oil that comes off during roasting as well. That’s lots of flavor!

In a small bowl, whisk together a tablespoon of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Pour over the pasta mixture and toss.

Finally, add some crumbled goat cheese (as much or as little as you want; there are no rules here!) and the fresh herbs. Toss again and serve.

Cinnamon Orange Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast

This breakfast dish was inspired by the orange I had sitting on my counter and the half a tub of mascarpone cheese I had in my fridge that needed to be used. And it was a big hit.

I usually only get to make breakfasts on the weekends because I go to work so early, so when I am making my weekend dishes, I try to make it special, especially for the kids.  They loved this and now we have a new item to add to our home menu options.  Well, occasionally, anyway. Mascarpone isn’t exactly a fridge staple!

Cinnamon Orange Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast

Serves 4

5 eggs

½ cup milk or Half and Half

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

Zest and juice of an orange

4 oz mascarpone cheese

8 slices of stale bread

Butter

In a shallow dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ½ the orange zest, and 1 tablespoon of orange juice until well combined.

In another bowl, mix together the mascarpone, the rest of the orange zest, and another tablespoon of orange juice.

Spread some of the mascarpone on 4 of the slices of bread.  You want enough to taste it, but not too much that it all comes oozing out while it’s cooking.  Top each of those slices with the remaining slices.

Dip each “sandwich” into the egg mixture. Let it soak up the liquid for a few seconds on each side.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt some butter. Place the “sandwiches” into the skillet and cook until golden brown on each side.

Serve with some butter or syrup or even just as-is is really delicious!

Baked Green Bean “Fries”

I have to admit that getting my kids to eat veggies has been a struggle. When they were babies, I made their baby food, hoping that they would taste the real veggie taste and develop a love for it. They ate like crazy as babies! Then, as they grew older, they became pickier and pickier. Thankfully, my oldest (who’s 8) has started to head back to the direction of being less picky. He’s still not exactly where I’d like him to be, but he’s eating more variety of foods, is more willing to try new foods, and is willing to eat more green veggies. The youngest (4) is still a stubborn little thing, but I’m hoping she’ll take after her brother and eventually go back to eating more foods.

I’m not at all above disguising veggies. Sometimes it makes them more fun! These green bean “fries” were a big hit with my son and I can’t blame him; they are delish! He dipped them in ranch because I’m pretty sure he’ll eat a shoe if it’s dipped in ranch, but I would think the dipping possibilities here are pretty endless. Or you can eat them as-is.  They had a great crunch on the outside and they were nice and soft on the inside. The coating had a nice flavor without completely masking the green bean taste so you can still taste the veggie just enough.  Also, they are very quick to make! Great for a side dish for a meal or even just a quick snack.

Since I was just experimenting this time around, I only made a small batch—about 10-12 beans. This is very much an eyeball-it type recipe. Make however much you want and use however much coating you think is necessary for you.

I read through a bunch of recipes for green bean fries and just sort of made one that worked for me.

A dozen green beans, washed and trimmed

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup flour

1 cup panko bread crumbs

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tsp garlic salt

Heavy sprinkle of black pepper

*have fun with the seasonings here. For example, cayenne for a bit of a kick would be yum. Cajun seasoning for Cajun fries would be good too.

Make your dredging station:

1.       Beat your eggs in one dish

2.       Add flour to another

3.       Combine the panko, cheese, and seasoning in a third dish

Coat each green bean in flour, then dip in the egg, then coat in the panko mixture.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay the green beans out in a single layer. Spray the top  of the beans with a light spray of the cooking spray.

Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.

Red Lentil Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Veggies

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know how much I love a good quick weekday meal.  This one came together in about 10 minutes and I got all the ingredients at Trader Joe’s! And it is super healthy!  Winning all over the place!

Alternative pastas are having a major moment right now, but keep in mind they are not all created equally. Not all are as good as others. Studies* show this is one of the legit ones.

*Studies conducted by me.

1 bag of red lentil pasta

1 jar traditional marinara sauce (or your favorite tomato sauce)

1 package garlic and herb chicken sausage, sliced into coins

½ 12oz bag baby spinach

¼ to ½ bag frozen asparagus spears, thawed, cut into fourths

Grated parmesan cheese

While a pot of water is coming to a boil, slice the sausage and cut the asparagus.

Cook the pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a hot skillet with a little bit of olive oil, sauté the sausage until golden brown and warmed through. Add the asparagus and cook until softened and warm. Add the spinach and cook until wilted (won’t take too long).

Drain the pasta and add back to the pot. Add the veggie/sausage mix to the cooked pasta. Add the jar of marinara sauce. Use as much or as little as you’d like.  Mix altogether and serve with a sprinkle of parmesan.

Slow Cooker Brisket Enchiladas

I know Instant Pots are all the rage right now, and I do love mine, but my slow cooker is still the pride and joy of my kitchen gadgets. It is tried and true and never lets me down.

Not too long ago, there was a bulk meat sale at Bristol Farms. I went to “just check it out” and ended up a freezer full of brisket and pork shoulder. As much as I could just eat smoked meat all the time, smoking a brisket is a 12-hour process and we just don’t always have that sort of time commitment. Don’t get me wrong; we will still smoke the brisket at some point, but we have 4 good-sized briskets so at least one of them has to be less time-consuming to prepare.

That’s where these enchiladas came in. Not only were they super easy to make, they were really delicious too! And even though they still took about 10 hours, it was mostly all in the slow cooker so it was pretty much zero maintenance for me.

Slow Cooker Brisket Enchiladas

1 4-5 pound brisket

½ pound shishito peppers

1 brown onion, quartered

4 cloves of garlic

1 package taco seasoning (or homemade)

1 cup beef broth

6 flour tortillas

Shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese blend

Enchilada sauce (store-bought or homemade)

Put the brisket in the slow cooker fat side up. Sprinkle with the taco seasoning. Add the peppers (whole), garlic (whole), onion, and beef broth. Cook for 8-10 hours on low.

When the brisket is done, remove to a cutting board and shred with two forks. I also spooned over the shredded meat some of the cooking liquid for added flavor, but that’s optional.

Add about ¼ cup of enchilada sauce to the bottom of a baking dish.

Put a generous amount of the meat in the tortilla, enough that you can still roll it closed without a mess. Along with some shredded cheese. Roll up and add seam side down to the baking dish. Repeat until done.

Top the enchiladas with the sauce and more cheese.

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Sweet-and-Spicy Bourbon Peach BBQ Chicken

I used to think that finding healthy but tasty recipes was hard. People tend to associate healthy eating with plain baked chicken and broccoli, which is just not true. I love finding new flavor profiles and ways to eliminate overly processed foods and try to keep things as clean as possible while still having fun with the meal.

Food shouldn’t be complicated and it shouldn’t cause you to feel bad for eating. This dish, for example, uses peach preserves which have sugar. I could have used fresh peaches and maybe one of these days I will try that, but everything else in it is good, so the sugar from the preserves isn’t so bad. Plus, it isn’t like I’m eating the entire batch of sauce. Take that into account as well. The amount per serving makes a huge difference so enjoy yourself!

Sweet-and-Spicy Bourbon Peach BBQ Chicken

makes about 2 cups of sauce

1 tablespoon canola oil

½ poblano pepper, seeded and diced

1 small onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 10 oz jar peach preserves (try to get as all natural as you can)

½ cup orange juice (from 1 orange)

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup bourbon (I used Bulleit)

½ cup ketchup (organic if possible)

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the chicken, I used a package of 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, seasoned with salt, pepper, and paprika.

In a 350 degree oven, bake the seasoned chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet for 20-25 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce:

In a pot over medium-high heat, add your canola oil, pepper, and onion. Cook until starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the peach preserves and stir until melted in. Next, add the orange juice, apple cider vinegar, and bourbon.

Bring to a boil and add the ketchup, honey, Dijon, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne.  If you don’t want any spice, don’t add the cayenne.   (Leave the poblano, though. It doesn’t really add any heat, just a nice flavor). Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium. Let it cook down for about 15 minutes. After it has reduced and thickened up a bit, add the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.

Take the chicken out of the oven and pour/brush on at least a couple tablespoons of the sauce onto each piece of chicken. Then put the baking sheet under the broiler for about 3-5 minutes, or until the sauce has cooked onto the chicken and is a nice golden brown.