The Pie Notes

A celebration of life with a touch of sweetness

Tag: summer

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.

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Caramel Pecan Apple Pie.

Mhmmm.

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…

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…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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Peach filling adapted from Bakerella

Picnics, Dancing, and Jazzy Key Lime Pie!

What a weekend.

Between all of the pie recipe testing, grocery shopping, and preparation for some of my family coming in for the weekend, I decided it was high time for a picnic.

Matthew came home from Auburn this weekend so in addition to pies, I whipped up some picnic favorites. Roast beef sandwiches, pasta salad with every veggie known to man, deviled eggs, fresh fruit salad, banana bread, fruity water, and rhubarb spritzer iced tea from Copper Kettle Tea Bar made for a perfect afternoon meal in the Foley Heritage Park.

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It brought me back to when I was a kid. That folded picnic blanket was made by my mom, and probably explains why I am obsessed with gingham. My sisters and I spent many an afternoon under the sycamores with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on that blanket.

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Ah, the memories…

We spotted an Airstream trailer parking near some festivities in the park, so we strolled over to discover that it served coffee! I ordered my typical hazelnut latté and Matthew enjoyed a café au lait. Talking with the owners was just as much of a treat as the coffee.

Before we knew it, it was time to go DANCING!

Seaside Stomp, a swing dancing workshop in Pensacola, FL, was kicking off the weekend with a dance complete with a live band.

We had a blast seeing all of our friends from Auburn and scenes from across the south.

Speaking of swing music, I can’t think of a better way to describe this week’s pie at Copper Kettle Tea Bar: Jazzy Key Lime Pie.

This one is rich, thick, and zesty! The almond graham cracker crust is inspired by my trip to Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House in Savannah, GA almost 6 years ago. It adds a little extra flavor and texture to the creamy, refreshing pie.

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When I spend time baking I enjoy listening to music that reflects my mood, the food that I’m preparing, or even the weather. More often than not, that music ends up being jazz.

I’m convinced that the sweet sounds of Louis Armstrong’s trumpet alongside Ella Fitzgerald’s vocals make any pie taste better.

It’s funny how so many swing-era songs have desserts in the title–everything from “Banana Split for my Baby” and “Shoo Fly Pie” to my all-time favorite, “I Like Pie, I Like Cake.”

There’s one thing that may be better than listening to this music…that’s dancing to it!

This video pretty much encompasses everything I find to be joyful and perfect about swing dancing. Watch it if you like to smile.

And this may be part of the reason I’m growing my hair out again 🙂

Here’s to summer, jazz, dancing, and dessert!

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Filling recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen.

A Sweet Mother’s Love

Peaches are currently occupying a large chunk of my life. The mere thought of the fresh aroma, sweet juices, and glorious texture of this season’s beautiful ripe summer fruit makes me very, very happy.

I thought I’d add to my peach repertoire on the good ole blog.

I’ve made a couple peach pies this summer, but I am still in the process of tweaking the recipe. A girl can only eat so many slices.

So here is an extraordinary Blueberry Peach Crisp. It’s an easy to assemble, easy to serve option for a last minute party or after-dinner dessert. If you already have the oven on for your meal, slide this crisp right in there and in less than an hour, you’ll start catching whiffs of those bubbly blueberries and peaches beneath a layer of warm, crumbly, crispy goodness. Oh, the joy. By the time you’re finished feasting on that roasted chicken or plate of spaghetti, your crisp will be ready!

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Growing up in the farmhouse, all eight of us would be sitting around the dining room table sharing stories from the day, enjoying the wonderful homemade meal that Mom prepared for us (as she did essentially every night…talk about a super-mom!) and right as the plates started clearing, I’d breathe in the scent of her peach cobbler baking in the oven. All seemed right with the world. Even doing the dishes afterwards wasn’t so bad, as long as that cobbler was in my life.

My mom really is a miracle worker. And knowing that she cherished every minute of raising her six kids is comforting and refreshing all at the same time. The love that poured (and continues to pour) out of her every moment gives me a ton of strength to try to better myself in order to help those around me.

I guess what I’m saying is to make everything you do special and enveloped with purpose. Sit at the table with your family for supper. If you’re alone, invite a friend over. Get to know those around you on a deeper level. In the digital age, distractions run rampant, but don’t get sucked into that nonsense. There’s a time and place for everything, and I think it’s about time we all try to recognize what it means to be present. Simplification helps.

As my dear mom always said to me, “Simplicity is happiness.”

I’ve been faithfully saying the same for quite some time now. Every time I make an effort to simplify my thoughts and actions, the reward is exponentially more fulfilling than fleeting accomplishments that further complicate my life. And I am fully aware that the world can throw curveballs without the slightest warning. That’s why we simplify – to be prepared for the unexpected.

Gee, blueberry peach crisp must stir up my philosophical principles.

Just look at it!

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I love this one. An updated peach cobbler I’d say, for the experimental days. The blueberries really add another level of flavor and complexity…a winning crisp in my book!

Thanks Two Peas and Their Pod for the great recipe!

Here’s the printable version for you –

Blueberry Peach Crisp

And don’t forget that you can scroll through all of my other recipes here

Enjoy!

 

 

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