Friday, January 23, 2015

Brown Butter Pecan Pie

We love pie.  

So much so that we had it at our wedding instead of cake.  When we first suggested that we wanted to do away with the tradition of wedding cake we were met with much resistance.  

"No cake at a wedding?"  "How can this be?" "People expect cake!"
We held our ground on this one and it paid off in the end!  We had about 40 delicious homemade pies at our wedding!  I made 20 of them and a family friend made the other 20.  Our only regret is that we didn't take a pie with us when we left the wedding!
I have tried out so many pecan pie recipes, really I have.  For a while I was on this "corn syrup free" pecan pie kick.  It is also a delicious recipe, but the consistency of the filling was just always too wet and loose.  My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe calls for brown butter so I figured since most pecan pie calls for melted butter it could probably be swapped with brown butter.  After some searching I found a few recipes for "Brown Butter Pecan Pie"
This pie is amazing.

The brown butter adds this extra layer of deliciousness to the pie that is unexpected and smooth.  The crust recipe is from  the cookbook "A year of pies" which I first found from my friend who made the most amazing apple pie one day which the most perfect crust imaginable.
Whenever an occasion calls for pie I make this recipe and am never disappointed!  This pie also freezes well - I know because I froze 20 of them for my wedding!  Just make sure you either a) bake it in a foil pan or b) bake it in a cake pan with straight edges and you can pop it out of the pan after it cools completely and freeze it without a pan (this is what I did - the pie ends up looking more like a tart with straight edges, but it still tastes amazing!)

My husband texted me yesterday informing me that it was "National Pie Day" today...a very subtle hint if you ask me to make him some pie.  This is what came up when I googled "National Pie Day"

"It's National Pie Day, a holiday dreamed up by the American Pie Council. The holiday encourages Americans to "pause amidst the hectic pace of everyday life and express their love, gratitude and appreciation for one another, for their blessings, and for the simple things in life." And enjoy a slice of pie of course."

What is the "American Pie Council" and how do I get into that club?

Brown Butter Pecan Pie
adapted from a bunch of recipes from the internet 

Crust: this recipe makes 2 pie doughs, and the filling only makes one, so double the filling if you want 2 pies, or freeze this extra crust for later.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
3/4 cup ice water

Make sure you work quickly when making the crust and use cold ingredients and even a chilled mixing bowl if you like.  I cheat when making crust and use my stand mixer because it speeds up the process.  In a cold mixing bowl combine flour and salt.  Stir.  With mixer running add the cold cubed butter and mix until broken into pea sized pieces.  Slowly add 1/2 cup of the ice cold water, then slowly add the additional 1/4 cup of water.  Mix just until combined and dough comes together.  If you don't have a mixer you can cut the butter into the flour/salt with a pastry blender or with 2 knives.
Place in fridge and chill for at least one hour.

On floured surface roll out the pie dough into an even circle. turning the dough and adding flour to the surface when necessary.  Quickly line a pie pan with the dough and crimp edges like you like to!


5 tablespoons unsalted butter browned
3 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt (not kosher)
1 1/2 cups toasted pecan halves (toast plain pecans in the oven for a few minutes)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat lightly. Add brown butter, sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt. Whisk to combine. Pour toasted pecans into prepared pie dough that is in the pan. Pour filling into prepared crust.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the center is set and the crust is browned. Cool in pan before serving.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Dairy Free/Refined Sugar Free Peanut Butter Cups

Did you make a resolution to get healthy in the New Year?  If you did, this recipe is your friend!  I was super lazy this year and didn't make any resolutions.  Oops.  I am a bad human.  My diet has been off the rocker since Christmas - instead of baking once a week it has turned into once a day!  Oh Lord....what have I become!  My work schedule is pretty light these days, so I find myself being drawn into the kitchen more often.  I swear my mixer is calling my name...pretty creepy if you ask me...wait...did you ask me or was that my mixer talking to me again? : )

We made some new friends a few months before our wedding and they were kind enough to share their recipe for these with me...then I moved and lost the I typed the ingredients that I remembered into Google and it found a similar recipe for me!  Whatever did we do before Google existed?  Remember encyclopedias or Encarta?  Man, do I feel ancient!

Are you going to the March for Life?  January 22nd marks the 42nd year since the Roe v.Wade decision to legalize abortion.  42 years of babies being murdered.  Sick.

“A Nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.” 
- Pope John Paul II

Hopefully my generation will live to see the end of abortion!  We are taking a group out to the Austin March for Life this Saturday to stand up for LIFE!  If you have never been to a March for Life I highly encourage you to find one in your State or make the trip to D.C. for the big March for Life.

Now onto the recipe!  Even my husband likes these...and he does not usually like "healthy" "alternative" desserts.  Win win all around!  If you do try it out leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Dairy Free/Refined Sugar Free Peanut Butter Cups

1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
1/2 cup natural peanut butter or almond butter (I like it w/PB better)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract 
Kosher salt

Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan over low heat, whisk until melted and combined.  Portion out evenly with a spoon or small scoop into a 12 cup muffin pan lined with liners.  Sprinkle the top of each cup with a little bit of kosher sea salt.  Place in fridge until set, about an hour.  Remove from pan and store in fridge until ready to eat.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Simple Meatballs!

Now that I am a married woman with a house to keep up with, a husband to feed and my own kitchen - I find myself always wanting to cook and bake!  Someone stop me!!!  Some people might go to sleep and dream of tropical vacations or being rescued by a prince, but I dream about cookie recipes, what kind of stew should I make next, really is quite absurd.

We had the princess over for dinner this weekend and she requested "Spaghetti and Meatballs"!  Her wish is my command!  This was a super fast and simple meatball recipe without a huge laundry list of ingredients.  So delicious, seconds were had by all!

Before the movie we went and watched the musical movie "Into the Woods."  It was super fun and the songs were catchy!  It was so nice watching a fun movie for a change...seems like so many movies are sad and gloomy these days!  This is our favorite song from the movie:

Adapted from Betty Crocker

lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
cup Italian-style bread crumbs, or plain bread crumbs and add some Italian Seasoning
cup milk, we used almond milk and it worked just fine
teaspoon salt
teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
teaspoon pepper
small onion, finely chopped (1/4 cup)

Mix all ingredients together in bowl until well combined.  Form into about 20-25  meatballs using small cookie scoop or just grabbing chunks and rolling into balls.  Over medium/high heat in large frying pan with high edges- melt a tbs of coconut oil or olive oil.  Add the meatball into pan and brown a few minutes on each side rotating once browned.  Cook until no longer pink.  Meatballs are fragile so avoid turning them too much.  I used tongs to do this.  Once cooked add your favorite red sauce to the meatballs and cook until sauce is hot, about 3-5 minutes.  Serve over pasta of your choice!

Friday, December 19, 2014

White Chocolate Gingerbread Blondies

Adjusting to married life is a lot of change, but totally doable. (side note: I fully endorse marriage - it has proven to be a very wonderful thing indeed! )

On the other hand, adjusting to a new kitchen and oven is a lot tougher than I thought it would be.  No one told me it would be this hard.  Many nights I go to bed crying after another failed attempt at baking something in my gas oven...half baked brownies and the other half burnt?  Ugh.  Is it me?  What can I do better?  How can I be better?  After over a month of trying to figure out how this new oven works I think I finally baked something that came out good!!!!!  

A real Christmas Miracle!!!!!

Just in time to bring some goodies to work!

I am wrapping up my last week of work at the company I have been at for the last 3 1/2 much change in my life over the last few months.  I am sad to go, but it is the right thing.  I have been blessed to be working with a great family of people over the last few years.  I started working here as a receptionist, and the plan was to do that for a few months then move on.  Somehow a few months turned into a few years and a few different positions within the company, it was a few good years!  Guess God had another plan for me.  Figured he needed me to stay grounded and in Texas for a while so I could somehow meet this wonderful man from East Texas and then marry him.  I really think that if I hadn't started working here I would have ended up relocating to another State again and never met my husband...

 Speaking of happens to be my husband's birthday today!  So big shout out to the most wonderful man I have ever met and ever been married too...haha : )  He has brought so much joy into my life that most days I can't even believe it.  I am so blessed to be his wife!  When he ate these bars last night he looked confused, don't think he was sure what he was eating : )

If you are reading this please say a birthday prayer for my man as he enters another year of life!

  • White Chocolate Gingerbread Blondies
  • Adapted barely from Martha Stewart
  • 2 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 10 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped, or chocolate chips (I used the Ghirardelli chips - I don't like the toll house ones - they don't melt as smoothly)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 17-by-12-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. (Or if you don't have that - I used a 13x9 and an 8x8 cake pans) Line bottom with parchment cut to fit, and coat parchment. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  2. Beat butter and brown and granulated sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs and yolk, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Stir in white chocolate.
  3. Spread batter into prepared pan (s). Bake until edges are golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 2-inch squares or desired shape.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Be sure to not over bake or they will not be chewy and will be dry. : (

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Carolina Turkey and Sausage Gumbo

I am willing to bet money that most American families still have leftover thanksgiving turkey in their fridges.  Turkey is like this weird miracle bird that no matter how much you eat - THERE IS STILL MORE TURKEY LEFT!  So crazy!  If Jesus had fed the crowds with rolls and turkey instead of loaves and fishes there would still be turkey in those baskets today!  True story.

In other news...I GOT MARRIED!  We are recovering from the wedding chaos et all and are trying to settle into our new home and our new lives.  God is good.  I have a whole laundry list of recipes to post - hopefully one day I will get around to them. : )

CarolinaTurkey and Sausage Gumbo

adapted from a Food and wine recipe

  1. 3 tablespoons vegetable  oil
  2. 3 tablespoons flour
  3. 2 onions, chopped
  4. 2 ribs celery, chopped small
  5. 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  6. 1 10-18 ounce package frozen sliced okra
  7. 1 bay leaf
  8. 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  9. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  10. 2 teaspoons salt
  11. 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  12. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  13. 1 3/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (one 15-ounce can)
  14. 6 cups chicken stock (broth)
  15. 1/2 pound smoked sausage, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  16. 1 pound leftover turkey chopped up (you can also use chicken here if you want! )
  17. In a large pot, heat the oil over moderate heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, until starting to brown, about 4-8 minutes - whisk continuously and make sure it doesn't burn!  Reduce the heat to moderately low. Stir in the onion, celery, and bell pepper and cook until starting to soften, about 7 minutes. Add the okra, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and tomatoes. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  18. Stir in the broth and the smoked sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the turkey and cook until just done, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Remove the bay leaf.
  19. Serve gumbo over rice.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Gluten, refined Sugar, and Dairy free Pumpkin Bread that actually tastes good!

I'm getting married in 19 days.

I'm tired.  

My eye is twitching.

I can't sleep at night since I have millions of ideas running through my head...I mean who wouldn't be thinking of table runners and salt and pepper shakers at 2am?

I decided I hated my first dress option, so I bought a second one...haha...yeah I did...and now the mad rush to get it altered asap has begun.

I cry every time I get a negative RSVP from someone I really thought would come to my wedding, and who I really wanted to be there!  Turns out...most people who don't RSVP or RSVP late are not as we are following up with people this week the tears are more present then ever!  Blah.

Being a bride to be is stressful.  Seems like everyone has this ideal bride image in their head and I feel like people are pushing me to fit into that mold - updo hair, heavy makeup, sparkly high heels, uncomfortable dress that makes your waist look like it got eaten away at by termites and exposes your bare shoulders which makes you most likely to catch a cold or get frost bite.  I would like to say this is all a joke, but it is not - it is real.  I speak the truth.

I am not any of these things.  

I hate my hair up.  I like my hair down - it serves as a protection shield against the world...if I get scared I hide behind it - if I start to cry I can wipe my tears away on it - if I want to avoid conversation with someone I just turn my head and avoid eye contact with them...really, my poofy curly hair is like a secret weapon, and I need it more then ever as I enter into battle against....the WEDDING.

I do not like wearing heavy makeup!  It makes me feel so uncomfortable - makes me feel like I look like a drag queen, and an old one at that!  It makes me feel not like myself, and on my wedding day I would prefer to look and feel like myself...pretty sure my fiance wants to marry me and not some made up version of myself.

Dresses.  Oh Lordy, wedding dresses these days are so uncomfortable!  They are all poofy and princessy, with bodices that break your rib cage, over exaggerate chests, and over exposed all around! Shopping for one made me develop a nervous twitch, and I am glad I never have to do that again!

Now these are all my opinions and feelings - if you like these things and want to be a princess on your wedding day then that is great - wear your hair the way you like, the dress you want, and the makeup you love!  To each their own, and to me this is what I want.

Now in between all this madness and endless appointments I have had some pretty amazing showers thrown for me.  Andrew and I are blessed to have such a supportive community as we begin our married lives together.  My childhood friend and her Mom threw me a shower a few weeks ago, and everything they made for brunch was healthy!  It was so delicious and I ate everything!  Elizabeth was kind enough to share with me her recipe for pumpkin bread that was gluten, dairy, and refined sugar is so tasty!

I made this recipe this weekend and used the second loaf to make french toast on Sunday, which I dipped in the french toast batter then rolled in ground up pecans and Yummy.

19 days, and then I get to be married to the most wonderful man in the world.  Keep my eyes on the prize and my heart right with the Lord and it will all be good.  See you on the flip side of this WEDDING! : )

Perfect Pumpkin Bread (ie tasty, but healthy!)
Recipe from Elizabeth Elliott

¼ cup oil (I used canola, but other oils should work too!)
¼ cup coconut/palm/date sugar
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup applesauce
5 eggs
1 small can pumpkin
2 T vanilla

Mix well, then add:
1 ½ cup rice flour
¾ cup oat flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 T cinnamon
1 T nutmeg
1 T allspice
1 t cloves

Preheat oven to 350. Pour into 2 loaf pans (or makes approx. 18 muffins).  Bake approx. 20-30 minutes (until top cracks and toothpick comes out barely clean)  

Please note - these spice amounts are correct!  I thought they looked really high, but they make the bread very spicy and delicious - don't skimp on them!  I served this bread with honey butter and then maple butter.  Super good.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fresh Peach Cake

I'm getting married in less than 2 months.  2 months.  Oy.

So much is going on that I am pretty sure I cannot tell the difference between left and right.  If you tell me to jump I won't ask "how high?", instead I will probably just go to bed.

Besides getting married I am also planning some big events in the next 3 months at work:

Charity Golf Tournament
Charity Lunch Fundraiser
Company Halloween Party
Company Christmas Party

On top of that, most of our marriage prep is happening in the next 2 months!  There was some confusion with getting a sponsor couple when we first got engaged, and now we are making up for lost time...which means...pretty much every single day up until we get married is booked solid.  Most days I feel like I will drown if I miss a beat and don't stay on task.  It really is overwhelming and daunting!

We were really looking forward to enjoying our engagement, really we were.  I pictured I would be this beaming person who couldn't stop smiling from my abundant happiness that was over flowing in my heart.  We would go on lots of dates and talk about how excited we were to get married and start our lives together.  We would both exercise like crazy every day so we would be in the best shape of our lives on our wedding day.  Lies.  All lies.

Instead, our engagement has been an endless slew of meeting after meeting, trip after trip, obligation after obligation, wedding planning and then more wedding planning.  Date night?  Um, what's that?  Ug.  And...I would be remiss if I failed to share with you that I still don't have a bartender lined up, invitations will be mailed out 2 weeks later than they should be, my dress is tight on me and I decided I don't like it, I don't have linens, I don't have flowers, I don't have dessert lined up...oh, and there may or may not be a party after our wedding...hell may freeze over - even here in Texas this is a real possibility.
photo by our awesome photographer Asia over at
I tell you these things, not to complain but to tell you I am grateful for the chaos.  I am grateful that I get to Marry the man God hand picked for me that will make the most amazing husband I could ever hope for.  I am grateful.  Even though things are crazy busy, and not what we expected, and at any moment I am sure I will get a call that our venue has been crushed by a semi truck...still...I am wicked excited to be getting married to this awesome Man of mine and have peace in my heart!  I keep waiting for someone to pinch me and tell me this is all just a dream, how could such a wonderful person want to marry little old me?  Sometimes things just don't make sense.

Like this cake.  Why on earth did I make this cake when I have so many other things I should be doing?

I have been taking a baking hiatus in an attempt to fit into my wedding dress from Hell...but then I got sick.  Knife in throat sore throat, feverish, you know how it goes.  So in the midst of being sick I decided to do the most sensible thing I could think of - I made this cake.  I am confident I made the right decision.

It was so yummy - perfect way to use up the peaches that were just a little over ripe.  I used yogurt instead of sour cream - either will do.  Also, I think it needed more peaches, so next time I would use 4-5 peaches instead of the 3.  Ina for the win again.  Trust her, she will not lead you astray.


Also, if you can - can you keep me and my fiance in your prayers as we approach the altar - we sure do need them!