Oh hello middle of August. How quickly the last month went by! It’s been busy and full.. travels, outside time, and now school time. Life never stops changing with kids and it’s a journey I truly love. So bare with me when I check out for a bit here and there, I’m just doing the family life adjusting to whatever we are going through. Sometimes it exhaustion from over demanding and growing kids and other times it’s because we have too much going on and cooking/blogging takes the back burner. But whatever the reason is it always feels good when I find the time, energy, and motivation to step back into this page and share some of my creations.
As August rolls in so do the peaches! One of my favorite parts of the season. Palisade peaches are incredible and I buy a bag every week until the season runs out. Worth every penny and every bite. For years I have had intentions of making pies and such but I never do as we always eat them raw before I get a chance. Well this year at our local Lafayette peach festival I bought two large bags, enough to eat as I desire and still have enough to bake with. I wanted to buy a box, but Josh wasn’t on board. Party pooper!
Growing up I spent many summers with my grandparents in Hart, Michigan. One of my favorite memories is buying a bushel of peaches from a roadside stand with my family. The bushel would sit out on the porch and anytime I was inspired I’d head out and eat one. For me it was peach heaven! My mouth is watering and smiling just thinking about those summers. One can never have too much fruit at their home!
Here's a minimally sweetened peach crisp. The crumb topping is gluten free, using almond flour. I love the flavor of almond and peaches! I added in a bit of lemon zest to give a little zing to the peach flavor but feel free to leave it out if you desire.
- 6 peaches, peeled and sliced
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
- lemon zest, optional
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour
- 3-4 tablespoons ghee
- 1 tablespoon almond extract
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- dash salt
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Places sliced peaches in a bowl. Sprinkle in arrowroot powder, lemon juice, and zest (if using.) Gently mix.
- Grease a 9x9 pyrex dish and add peaches.
- In a large bowl mix the almond flour, ghee, almond extract, maple syrup and salt with a fork or with your hands. (I used three tablespoons ghee but after baked I realized I should have used 4.)
- Crumble mixture over peaches. Bake 35 minutes or until topped is golden brown.
I am a true lover of rhubarb. I don’t know what it is about the flavor but it is one I cannot get enough of. Since before me, my Grams has always made jam. I grew up on the stuff. Like for real. My parents never, literally never, had store bought jelly/jam in the house. How awesome is this! Grams had quite a few varieties but my favorite has always been strawberry rhubarb. I loved finding rhubarb chunks in the jam, always the best bite. But it gets even better. Grams is still making her jams and I’m one of the lucky ones she shares it with. It’s a special day when I get a box in the mail and inside is a jar of her jam. In fact the last box came with a jar of strawberry rhubarb! Even those these days I keep my sugar intake to minimum, I have a soft place in my heart for this traditional style jam. I eat it by the spoonful when I’m looking for that special treat : ).
Last year I bought and planted a rhubarb in our yard. It happily grew and I had to use serious restraint not to harvest any. Some say wait one year until harvesting after planting, Grams says three. But no chance I was going to wait three years! And this spring my plant has been growing out of control, so I’ve been graciously harvesting. I have made a few small batches of jam, stewed rhubarb, roasted rhubarb, and now rhubarb crisps. My preferred method is to cook a few stalks at a time to continually enjoy it in a new way.
This round I decided to go for rhubarb crisps. I picked just enough to make a small batch so I split it into two mason jars. Sweetened with a bit of maple syrup and topped with a basic almond flour crumble. A perfect taste of summer! I used the tall skinny mason jars, since this is what I had clean. But if you have them available use the short wider jars.
Mini Rhubarb Crisps (gluten-free)
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups chopped rhubarb
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/3 cup almond flour
- pinch salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon walnut oil (or grapeseed oil)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 350.
- In a bowl mix the chopped rhubarb, arrowroot, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and 3 tablespoons maple syrup. Divide into two 8oz mason jars.
- In the same bowl add the almond flour, salt, baking soda, walnut oil, and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Mix, divide, and crumble on top of rhubarb.
- Place filled mason jars on a parchment paper rimmed baking sheet (to catch any juices that may bubble over). Bake 30 minutes.
Happy Labor Day!! I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend. We kept ours low key keeping close to home while fitting in a few errands and spending some time with visiting friends. Josh took over food responsibilities this weekend which has been a real treat. Tempeh tacos, pigeon peas and rice, goat cheese brie and lox on local bread to name a few. Having the break for a few days gave me a chance to rest my swollen ankles and gain some inspiration. Today I stepped back in making a large batch of tomato sauce with local roma tomatoes and basil from our garden. I kept it simple and froze most of it to have for after the birth. Last pregnancy I froze a bunch of meals but this time I’m going a different route freezing sauces. So far I have tomato basil sauce and pesto, both made with local ingredients. I’m sure in the next week or two I’ll make a few more.
My curious little helper
While I was buying local tomatoes for the sauce I figured I should buy a few more peaches before the season comes to an end. We have enjoyed lots of local fruit this summer but I have cooked with very little of it. Most of the time I think it’s too delicious raw to make desserts or anything else. I have fond summer memories eating fresh produce while visiting my grandparents in Michigan. We would always buy a bushel of peaches and leave them outside on the deck. The bushel would never last long as we would eat peach after peach throughout the day. Consuming 5+ peaches a day was such a treat! Of course we would also buy plenty cherries, blueberries, and really anything we could get our hands on at local farm stands. Growing up in St. Thomas I didn’t get to experience this and I really cherish those summers off island. There were also numerous blackberry and raspberry bushes to pick from on my grandparents property. And if we were there in the fall their grape orchard to pick the sweetest concord grapes. Fruit is by far my favorite of the food groups and it’s becoming clear it’s Cia’s too. We have consumed ridiculous amounts of watermelon between the two of us. So as the summer fruit season is starting to come to a close I decided to make a peach cobbler. The peaches are still delicious but as I was slicing them I noticed the texture was starting to change. Not quite as juicy as they were a week or two ago. At least as the peaches fade out I have apple season to look forward too!
Most peach cobbler recipes are loaded with sugar and butter. Unless you are buying peaches out of season I don’t see the need to sweeten already juicy and sweet fruit. This recipe is simple and you can easily substitute frozen or canned peaches if it’s the off season. A little bit of vanilla flavoring the peaches with a nice helping of cinnamon flavoring the topping. Served with some vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or in my case vanilla frozen yogurt this is the perfect way to send off summer.
- 4 large peaches (~2.5 lbs), peeled and sliced or chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter (or 2 if you’d like it to be a bit richer)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 cup spelt flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch salt
- 1/4 cup almond coconut milk, or regular milk or any other milk substitute
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- In a pot, I used Miss Fennel – my 2 qt Le Creuset french oven, add the peaches, brown sugar, vanilla, 1 tablespoon butter, and pinch of salt. Over medium heat allow peaches to cook down releasing juices, 10 minutes. Mix lemon juice and cornstarch and add to the peaches. You can always try your peaches and add more sugar if you’d like them sweeter.
- Meanwhile prepare topping. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and pinch of salt. Add butter and milk mixing with a fork until the dough is just combined.
- In an even layer distribute the dough over peaches. It doesn’t have to cover the whole top.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the sides are bubbling and the dough is slightly browned and cooked through.
** If you do not have a french oven you can cook peaches in a pot and transfer to an oven safe dish such as a Pyrex or skillet before baking.
Traditionally shepherd’s pie consists of ground meat and some veggies topped with a layer of mashed potatoes. Many times the meat and vegetables are mixed with some sort of tomato sauce to make a ‘gravy’ on the bottom of the dish. I chose to follow this concept but take a different turn. I used mashed sweet potatoes and carrots for the topping, which to me was a much better substitution. For the meat I made mini meatballs from some lemon herb and thyme turkey sausages. I also omitted any sort of tomato sauce. I have been lucky enough not to have much heartburn at all this pregnancy but as I’m on the home stretch I am more aware of the potential and avoid foods (for the most part) that will bring it on. The few times I have experienced it I’ve taken a gulp of apple cider vinegar and it’s immediately taken it away. You can also drink some apple cider vinegar before you eat your meal which will prevent the onset. This meal was pretty simple to throw together but I have come to realize I need to start modifying my recipes to spend less time in the kitchen. The prep work takes a toll on my back and by the end all I want to do is sit down. I feel somewhat conflicted about this as my job just ended so I have the time to cook but not the stamina. I guess this is all part of the fun.
Mashed sweet potatoes and carrots
Browning the turkey meatballs
Cooking the veggies: leeks, garlic, celery, mushrooms
Meatballs tossed in along with some pecorino romano
Layered and ready to bake
Baked until it’s heated through and lightly browned on top
- 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 yam, peeled and chopped
- 1 white sweet potato, peeled and chopped
- leek, sliced into half moons
- garlic, chopped
- 2 large stalks celery, chopped
- 8 oz baby bellas, sliced
- 2 links turkey sausage, I used lemon herb and thyme from Whole Foods
- pecorino romano
- thyme, 1-2 tsp
- olive oil
- First make mashed carrots and sweet potatoes. Place sweet potatoes and carrot in a pot and just about cover with milk. Bring to a low boil and cook until all are for tender. Drain reserving the milk. Mash, I used my immersion blender, adding milk until desired consistency is reached. Season with s&p. Set aside.
- Remove the turkey sausage from the casing and roll mini meatballs. In a sauté pan, heat up a bit of olive oil and brown meatballs. Once cooked remove and set aside.
- In the sausage drippings add the leek and garlic cooking until lightly browned. Add in the celery and thyme; continue to cook 2 more minutes. Next add in the mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid. Mix in the meatballs and grate in some pecorino romano, as much as you’d like. Season with s&p.
- In a casserole dish spread the veggie/meatball mixture in an even layer. Top with the mashed carrots and sweet potatoes. Make small peaks for them to brown as the dish cooks. I was impatient and hungry so I didn’t let mine brown as much as I could have. Bake for 30 minutes in a 350° oven until everything is heated through.
My original idea was to make individual apple pies using my large muffin tin. Well it’s nice when you decide to do this, prepare everything, and when it comes time to roll out the dough your muffin tin is no longer in your house. So plan B, I’ll just make a pie. But then you realize someone decided to use both your pie pans for a little side project and forgot to replace them. So plan C, go pie a pie pan. But of course it’s Thanksgiving around 3pm and there are no stores open and the ones that actually are happen to be sold out of pyrex pie pans. So plan D, galettes. If only I were in my right mind I would have though about galettes before plan C, but what can I say.
I am not a dough fan. And lucky for me Josh would rather make one for me than have me bye a premade one, so thank you Joshua for making and rolling out my crust. We used a spelt recipe. Here’s the link. This crust was good but maybe a bit heavy due to the shortening. We use a good quality shortening from Whole Foods, but still not quite my style. The taste was good though.
As for the apple filling I did not measure out anything. It was just one of those days. And it’s a good thing I didn’t measure since I prepared about 8 apples, cooking them with the ingredients listed below and realized I wanted more apples. So I peeled more and cooked another round!
- ~ 14 Apples, peeled and sliced, I used my Fuji’s from the Market
- Lemon Juice
- Lemon Zest
- Light Brown Sugar
Most people recommend using a tart apple for apple pies but I have so many Fuji’s I used those instead. But since they are a sweeter variety I went light on the sugar. I cooked the above listed ingredients in a pot until just tender. As I mentioned I wanted more apples so I went ahead and cooked another batch and combined them both. In doing this my apples produced a lot of liquid which I didn’t want to drain out and lose the flavor. So I ended up draining it out into a small saucepan, adding some tapioca pearls, cooking it until thickened up, and adding it back to the apples. See you can fix anything!
Josh rolled out my pie dough into circles maybe 12 inches across. I placed a heaping cup of apples in the center and then folded up one side creasing it as I went around. Sprinkle dough with sugar. Place galettes on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper and bake in a 375° oven for ~35 minutes until crust is nicely browned. I did rotate them every 15 minutes so the back ones wouldn’t cook more than the front ones.
A few notes…
- Next time roll the dough out a bit thinner and also make them smaller. Way too much dough for me.
- Since the apples aren’t completely closed into dough they get much more heat while cooking. So next time I will cook them less or cut them fatter. I like nice hearty bites of apple.
- Use more apples per galette.
- Pull the dough up harder when forming the galette as mine flattened out a bit more than I would have liked while baking.
All in all not bad for my first free form pies!