The Pie Notes

A celebration of life with a touch of sweetness

Tag: Auburn

Take a Vacation with Caramel Pecan Apple Pie

I spent last week in Auburn for an almost-end-of-the-summer vacation.

For the second time, Matthew and I went bowling with his roommate, Christian, and his girlfriend, Emily. They’re my favorites.

And for the second time, the girls lost to the boys. I didn’t mind too much since I finally got a strike.

With victorious grins, they requested that their prize be a homemade dinner.

Emily and I were on board with that! We went grocery shopping on Thursday and picked up ingredients to make chicken pesto paninis: sourdough bread, mozzarella, tomatoes, and chicken. Matthew had lots of basil from his gardening class, so we whipped that up in the food processor with some pine nuts, olive oil, and parmesan.

We sauteed a few thin chicken breasts, sliced them up, and built the sandwiches. Luckily we both had George Foreman grills, so it went pretty quickly.

We wanted a light side dish, so Emily thought of making a fruit salad, which is now one of my favorite snacks in the world. Diced Granny Smith apples, bananas, grapes, and strawberries = perfection.

And for dessert…you guessed it.


Caramel Pecan Apple Pie.


It’s such an interesting pie that you won’t get tired of eating! (I warned you.)

As much as I love traditional pecan pie and apple pie, it can get a little boring sometimes.

This one has a gooey filling with caramel, pecans, and tender slices of apples. IMG_20160718_172601210

And according to Matthew, it is now his favorite pie.

The good news is it’s one of the easiest to make!

You blind bake the crust using pie weights, rice, or dry beans for a few minutes, like this…


…and then bake it with the filling for a little while. It will transform into something magical and sweet.

In the midst of this sweltering hot summer, take a vacation to the crisp days of fall with all of the wonderful feelings and aromas that this pie provides. No harm in that, right?



Unfortunately this is my last week to make pies for Copper Kettle Tea Bar since the summer is coming to a close and I’ll be returning to Auburn, but it has definitely been a rewarding and educational experience! They are so supportive of “locals with dreams” and it has truly been an honor baking pies for them. They are top-notch in every way…I couldn’t recommend them enough!

Recipe adapted from Aimee Broussard

Gardens, Farmer’s Markets, and Sweet Peach Hand Pies

Aren’t peaches the perfect summer fruit?

They are sweet and incredibly refreshing, especially after working in a garden.

During my little Auburn vacation, I went to SpringHouse to help out in the culinary garden on-site. Matthew goes there every week to  assist the gardener and he invited me to tag along.

It was an absolutely beautiful day. Surprisingly not too hot (probably due to the sprinklers soaking us from head to toe) and clear blue skies.


Pre-gardening Matthew

All of the vegetables are grown organically, so naturally there is quite a bit of work to accomplish.

We weeded, picked more red onions than you could ever imagine, and staked tomato plants.

Somewhere in between I got attacked by giant ants. I threw off my gloves and ran towards the sprinkler…the sprinkler that was moving in a circular motion. I tried not to get right on front of the stream of water, so I ended up running around the bed of eggplant chasing it while swatting at my arms.

Not my best idea.

I got all of them off eventually, but let’s just say they left their mark on me.

All of that aside, I absolutely love gardening. There’s something about pulling your food out of the ground or picking it off the vine that is so comforting and rewarding.

Plus, it tastes worlds better than the stuff in the grocery store.

They grow black cherry tomatoes there, and a couple weeks before Matthew had called me just to tell me how delicious they are.

He plucked a perfectly ripe one off the vine for me and I was immediately hooked. Best tomato I’ve ever tasted. It’s sweet and plump and juicy, and the color is a deep deep purple.

After our gardening adventures, we headed back to Auburn, but not before stopping at a roadside stand to buy a few peaches to snack on.

We ravenously pulled them out of the bag. I had one, Matthew had five.


Post-gardening Matthew

They hit the spot.

And our shirts were completely covered in peach juice. Were we complaining? Nope.

Fast forward to last week. The Auburn Farmer’s Market happens every Thursday during the summer and I had never been! I was planning on making roasted chicken thighs with roasted vegetables for dinner, so I needed some fresh local ingredients to make it even better.

We got new potatoes, the most beautiful onions I’ve ever seen, a green bell pepper, and black cherry tomatoes. For the salad, we found bibb lettuce, cucumbers, and microgreens which really sent it over the top.

And of course, we got distracted by all of the sweets.

My sister Sarah had told us about Cindy Cakes a couple weeks ago, saying it was the best pound cake she’s ever had. We took her word for it and bought a peach pound cake. We ended up slicing it and warming it up on a cast iron skillet. The sugars caramelized and a yummy crust formed. Perfect with a cup of coffee.

We also picked up a bag of kettle corn–sweet and smoky–and a couple individual pies that were very tasty.

And in true Matthew/Anna Claire style, we got a couple Chilton County peaches to snack on in the car.


Post-farmer’s market Matthew

I just realized how many pictures I take of him while he’s in the driver’s seat…

That was one of my favorite experiences I’ve ever had in Auburn. There’s nothing quite like the charm of a farmer’s market, and the opportunity to meet the people behind your food is special. If you have some extra time in your day, stop by and support your local farmers. It’s so important that they have a community to back them up.

And your tastebuds will thank you profusely.

In the spirit of local ingredients and portable snacks, I’ve decided to experiment with some hand pies. Never heard of such a thing? Take a look at my previous post and scroll down to the dessert section of our SpringHouse meal.

Since the peaches have been so wonderfully delicious lately, I made some peach hand pies.


If you like flaky crust, this is the dessert for you.

Every bite has buttery crust and ooey gooey sweet peachy filling.

I can’t stress this enough–buy fresh, good quality peaches! Every time I have used Chilton County peaches from the farmer’s market, I’ve had good luck. You’re taking a risk if you use anything else.

These are good at room temperature, but even better when warmed up in the toaster oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

It’s the perfect summer bite–go try one at Copper Kettle Tea Bar this week!




Peach filling adapted from Bakerella

Peachy Keen

I take back what I said last weekend about wishing it was spring. Winter isn’t so bad when snow is involved.


snow 2

rhonda snow


Looks like we got a couple furry friends visit our front porch last night…

paw prints snow

(that is my footprint by the way)

The snowman fam.

snowmen 2

And now with a bit more sass..


I’ve found that I am terrible at making snowballs, which means I’m terrible at making snowmen. That was as good as it was going to get!

I’ve been frolicking around all day. Trying to crack the super thick layer of ice on our cars, making snow angels, freezing to death. Yeah, it’s been a good day.

Since we are basically trapped at our house because of the icy roads, we’re running out of food. Not really, but you know how it goes–you always want what you can’t have.

I want chili, but we don’t have any ground beef.

I want chicken parm, but we don’t have chicken.

I want turkey burgers, but we don’t have turkey.

I guess I just want meat. And we don’t have any.

I shouldn’t complain though…I can’t believe all of the chaos that is happening on the interstates and roads across the South. Getting stranded in cars and sleeping overnight in schools are certainly not common occurrences. I hope that all who found themselves in scary situations made it safely home and are warming up next to a fire on this pretty Wednesday afternoon.

So we have peaches, and that’s about it. I was flipping through my pie book and the only other option was an old-time vinegar pie. This was made during hard times when vinegar was used as a substitute for cream and milk. It sounded like it could be good, but not as good as peach cobbler.

peach cobbler

This cobbler is a winner.

Although it’s not summer time, the fresh peaches Sarah bought smelled delightfully sweet and turned out perfectly in this dessert.


Fresh Peach Cobbler

Ice, Ice Baby

What’s that I hear?


Snow? In Alabama?




Little Lucy. Gotta love her.

Auburn has served me well this year. First the National Championship, and now two days off of classes for “winter weather.” Life is good.

ac and sarah snow




Little Miss Rhonda is frozen to the core.


rhonda the honda snow


And so am I!


You can always tell where a person is from judging by his or her reaction to snowfall.

I’ve been freaking out all day long. I’m definitely a Southerner.

I should be reading 20+ pages of Middle English British literature, but since I have the attention span of a four year old during major life events, I have been staring out the window waiting for the sleet to transform into flurries for the majority of my day. Besides, I’ve never seen snow fall from the sky, just a little accumulation on the ground.

Thank goodness it happened. Sarah was napping, I peeked out the window for the 438th time, and there it was–little happy flakes shimmying down from the sky!

I screamed and woke Sarah from her slumber. We proceeded to carry out the typical snow day activities, including her throwing a snowball at my face while I was opening my mouth to speak. In it went.

I’d rather not think about where that snow has been!

It was a blast, though. The snowflakes are still coming down pretty steadily, so hopefully it’ll still be there tomorrow for us to play in!

I’m such a child.

Especially since I have yet to do that assignment.

Procrastination at its finest right here.

No pies were made today to allow for maximum recess time. We have some yummy peaches just waiting to be devoured, so that will be coming soon.

Enjoy the snow, or the sleet, or the sun…wherever you may be!

And happy, happy birthday, Aunt Debbie! Love ya.



Simply the Best.

I have the BEST family, friends, and school in the world.

It was difficult, to say the least, leaving my warm, comfortable home after a relaxing Thanksgiving break. The food was phenomenal, the fellowship was wonderful, and the Iron Bowl was…….well…….unbelievable.

As much as I would have loved to have been in Jordan-Hare Stadium at that miraculous moment, sharing that experience with my family at home was epic. I know I’m biased, but Auburn and everything about it is magical.

I thought I had proof after the Georgia game. I witnessed “The Prayer in Jordan-Hare” five rows up from the in-zone. Magic.

But now, that proof is just reinforced. War Eagle!

This tree was still rolled after my class this afternoon.

rolled trees

Ahh. All I can say is I’m blessed to be a student during this incredible season. I’ll never take that for granted!

And it just kept getting better from there.

My nineteenth birthday would not have been the same today without the outpouring of love I received from everyone!

Including my sweet friend, Kat. After our 8 AM class we headed to Starbucks for some much needed coffee. She got me a white mocha and a peppermint cake pop. BLISS, I tell you.


Thank you for making our early mornings so enjoyable–today, and all throughout the semester! I sure will miss it!

Amid our ecstatic Iron Bowl chatter in the festive Student Center, we even watched Santa and his reindeer being strung between the balconies.

student center decorations

It’s things like this that make me so happy. I guess you could say I’m easily amused.

This evening, Sarah (who turned 22 yesterday!!!) and I had a lovely dinner at Olive Garden. Our waiter brought out an adorable, delicious mini cake.

mini birthday cake

As you can see, there’s no flame. After our waiter sang “Happy Birthday to Anna-Kia” (he couldn’t comprehend Sarah’s silent word-mouthing) in a smooth jazzy voice, I was about to blow out the candle. Sarah reminded me that I had to make a wish. Before I knew it, I accidentally puffed a miniscule amount of air through my lips and that flame disappeared instantly. It was just gone! Hysterical moment. Luckily, I was thinking of my wish right as it happened. Hopefully that still counts!

Thanks again to all of my family and friends! This really has been one of the most special birthdays ever. And happy, happy birthday to you, Sarah! You deserve all the happiness in the world!

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