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Simply Delicious Peach Pie

Simply Delicious Peach Pie

Padre’s birthday is August 31, so we got to celebrate his 49th birthday when my family came down to visit Craig and me over Labor Day Weekend.  So fun!  It was the first time our whole family was together for my dad’s birthday in a long time (probably since Michael, my older brother, was a high school senior, so that would be eight years) so it was extra exciting and special to get to spend it together.  Since I can remember, my dad has always requested that my mom bake a peach pie for his birthday, so I of course had to carry that tradition on.  It was a bonus because Craig is all about desserts that are chocolate, chocolate and peanut butter, or chocolate and mint.  I like chocolate, but I also love fruit-centered pies and cobblers, so it was nice to have an excuse to make a non-chocolate dessert!

We had a big day at the beach on Saturday and we were all ready for some afternoon naps when we got home.  Once we ate some lunch and regained some energy, we set out for dinner and dessert ingredients that we needed and got to work.  Michael worked on a low-country boil, while my dad did a beef tenderloin, and I worked on the desserts.  While I may try to be more creative with my pie-baking in the future (maybe by making my own crust or adding some sort of topping), it just was not going to happen this weekend.  Too much chaos and too many other things going on in our little kitchen at once.  Still, the pie was absolutely splendid, and we ate it right up!

I couldn’t find the recipe online that my mom has used in the past, so I just glanced through a few different versions and then made it my own.  I basically made this as simple as a pie recipe could possibly get, but it was still completely mouth-wateringly delicious!

Recipe:

  • pie crust pastry for a double crust, 9in pie
  • 6-8 peaches, peeled and sliced (about 5 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Mix the flour, sugar, and cinnamon together in a bowl.  Combine this mixture with the sliced and peeled peaches in a large bowl and mix together.  Mix until all the peaches are evenly and well-coated with the mixture.  In a 9in pie pan, fit one of the crusts along the bottom and up the sides.  You want to stretch it gently to make sure the whole pan is covered, but be careful not to leave any torn spots in the crust.  Spoon the peach mixture into the pie pan, and cover with the top crust, again stretching the crust to reach but not breaking it.  (I ended up having more peach slices than I needed, so I pulled some out before adding the top crust, and I got to have that on top of a waffle in the morning.  Delicious!)  Seal the pie crust edges together, cut a few slits in the top of the crust, and wrap foil around the edges.  Bake at 450 for 25 minutes, remove the foil, and then continue to bake for an additional 15 minutes.  The end result will be absolutely delightful!

Enjoy your slice of pie with a scoop of ice cream, a glass of milk, or however you wish.  I grew up enjoying a slice of hot pie in a bowl with milk poured right over it.  Yum!  Yum!  Yum!

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I hope everyone had a splendid Labor Day Weekend!  Labor Day Weekend at the McKinney home was crazy hectic, but it was unbelievably amazing!  My family came to visit us, which is basically my favorite thing in the world.  Happy chaos is setting a new record for how many people and animals can actually sleep in our two-bedroom condo at once.  We had eight people and two dogs total!  Yep, it took our queen bed, the full bed in the guest room, our queen Aerobed, a twin air mattress, and our couch, but we managed just fine for the three nights, and we had a wonderful weekend together!

My dad’s 49th birthday was the Friday that everyone got into town, but we weren’t celebrating until Saturday since everybody left after work to head here and arrived between 9:30pm and 1:30am.  I was planning on making our family tradition of peach pie for Padre’s birthday, as well as a chocolate cake recipe that I had gotten from my mother-in-law that I knew Padre liked.  However, a couple of hours before my parents got here (they were the first to arrive), Padre informed me that since his birthday was actually that day, he would be willing to accept some chocolate chip cookies upon arrival.  I knew that Padre loved chocolate chip cookies, so I had thankfully already double-checked to make sure I had all the ingredients.  I wanted to make them that night but wasn’t sure whether it would get postponed because of all the cleaning Craig and I were scrambling to do before they got here.  I obviously decided at that point that I was going to fit the chocolate chip cookies into my schedule for the evening.  Padre asked if I was going to be making Toll House cookies, but I informed him that I would actually be making McKinney House cookies…the kind from scratch so that Craig could eat them.

Confession: “McKinney House” cookies are actually the recipe for “Extraordinary Chocolate Chip Cookies” that I found on the Betty Crocker Recipes’ Photostream page on Flickr.  😉

Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 24oz bag (or 2 12oz bags) of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, beat butter/margarine, sugars, vanilla, and eggs until light and fluffy.  Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in the chocolate chips last.  Drop dough by the tablespoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet, about two inches apart and slightly flattened.  Bake 10-13 minutes or until light brown.  Pull the cookies out of the oven and let them cool for 1-2 minutes before moving to a cooling rack for the remainder of their cooling.  Finally, ENJOY!

Also, one important note is that I halved the recipe, and I still had close to three dozen cookies, so that’s definitely something to consider when you are deciding whether to use the whole recipe or not!

Happy cookie baking!  🙂

Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper, and Goat Cheese Lasagna

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Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper, and Goat Cheese Lasagna

A couple of years ago, Craig and I had a realization.  While he may have an intolerance to cow dairy protein, the proteins from goat milk are not at all the same thing.  That means that Craig can eat goat cheese!  Now don’t get me wrong, because this was obviously great news, but there is definitely a downside to it: Goat cheese is WAY more expensive than cheese made from cows’ milk.  So even with the knowledge that Craig can in fact eat goat cheese, we really don’t splurge on it that often.  It is mostly reserved for special occasions.  Luckily for Craig, I was a wonderful enough wife to put his 24th birthday into the “special occasion” category…especially since I made certain that my 23rd birthday was in the category.  😉

The truth is I’m really not what you would call a “cheese person.”  I mean, cheese is alright, and I like it on some things, but if I’m ordering a sandwich somewhere, I will most likely make a point to ask for no cheese.  For me, it really doesn’t add too much to life (except for macaroni and nachos!), and I’d survive just fine without it.  Craig, on the other hand, LOVES cheese.  He would have probably been more willing to give up just about any other food in the world than cheese.  So he was of course thrilled when I gave him a few goat-cheese-filled meal options that I was willing to try to make Craig-friendly, and he took his time deciding exactly which one would make the perfect birthday dinner.  Finally, Craig decided on chicken, roasted red pepper, and goat cheese lasagna.

I found this recipe on Pinterest, and it is from a blog called Closet Cooking.  Of course, as with most meals I prepare, I had to make some changes in order to make this lasagna Craig-friendly.  I was pretty nervous when I began, because I’m really not a big fan of trying “Ashley-edited” or “Ashley-created” recipes out for the first time for a special occasion…I’m still not entirely confident in my cooking abilities.  Thankfully, this turned out AMAZINGLY…I mean it was absolutely splendid!  I know that some people think that goat cheese tends to overpower other flavors in some dishes because it is so strong, but the spices and other ingredients in this recipe balanced it out perfectly.  It was so delightful, and I would absolutely recommend this recipe (regular or Craig-friendly version) to anyone!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken (cooked and shredded)
  • 1 handful parsley (chopped)
  • 6 lasagne noodles
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
    • I used almond milk, but I also think regular soy milk would probably work well.
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
    • I definitely say you should add it if you have it!
  • 6 ounces goat cheese
  • 3 large roasted red peppers
    • I used two 12oz jars of roasted red pepper from the store, but if you are interested in roasting your own, you can check out some directions here from the original author of this recipe.
  • 1 cup feta (crumbled)
    • I just used a little extra crumbled goat cheese.
  • 1 cup mozzarella (grated)
    • I used the mozzarella type of Daiya Cheese Alternative.  It is vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, and soy -free.  It tastes good and melts pretty well compared to other fake cheeses…and I am quite particular about not eating nasty smelling, weird textured fake cheese, so it’s saying a lot if I am willing to eat this without a problem.

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Mix in the chicken and parsley and set aside.
  7. Start cooking the noodles as directed on the package.
  8. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it is bubbling and it has turned a light golden brown.
  9. Mix in the flour and let simmer until it returns to a light golden brown.
  10. Mix in the milk, nutmeg and goat cheese and heat until it thickens.
  11. Lightly grease the bottom of an 8 inch square baking dish.
  12. Place a layer of noodles* followed by 1/2 of the tomato sauce followed by 1/2 of the feta followed by 1/2 of the roasted red peppers followed by 1/3 of the bechamel sauce. Repeat a second layer in the same fashion and top with a final layer of noodles, the remaining bechamel sauce and top with the mozzarella.
  13. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the top is golden brown and the sides are bubbling, about 30-45 minutes.

* To form one layer of noodles in the 8 inch square pan, cut two noodles 2/3 of the way down and use the 2 1/3 noodles to make a full row.

I recommend letting it sit for about 15 minutes or so before trying to cut and serve it, or it will fall apart like this: However, it tasted equally good either way, and Craig and I were SO ready to eat by the time I finally finished (I got a late start on dinner that night).  Yum!

You have GOT to believe me when I say that my sorry camera did not even come close to doing this meal justice.  It was amazing! I also wouldn’t be surprised if Craig began making up a lot more “special occasions” in the future so he can have more goat cheese delightfulness like this!  😉

First Married Birthday

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Last week, Craig and I celebrated the first of our birthdays as a married couple.  I turned 23 on March 14.  I’ve always liked my birthday, especially since it’s also Pi Day, but I’ve never been a person to make a huge deal out of birthdays in general. However, this birthday was different.  Not only was it my first birthday as a married woman, but this year, my birthday fell directly in the middle of Craig’s spring break. That’s right.  That means he had no school, no studying, no labs, and no hospital visits to claim his time.  Once I realized this spectacular timing sometime last fall, my birthday instantly skyrocketed to the top of my list of important things.  After all, 23 is basically the biggest milestone birthday in everybody’s life, right?!  😉

My birthday was terrific.  Of course, having my birthday fall in the middle of Craig’s spring break would have been even better if I had gotten a spontaneous week off of work, but I’m not going to get picky. 🙂  I loved spending time throughout the week with my wonderful husband.  We went out to eat at a Greek restaurant that we love down here, and we went on our SECOND movie date ever since we began dating. Craig made me a delicious breakfast in bed…that was awesome.  To make my week even better, Craig got to go with me when I went to the grocery store and when I walked Jada.  Now, that may sound like a silly thing to get excited about, but I would have never believed how lonely I would get doing things like that alone – especially in Publix, where I have no phone service and can’t even call people to talk while I’m shopping.  They may be my favorite grocery store, but that is definitely Publix’s one major downfall.

Ultimately, Craig did an amazing job making my birthday special, but the truth is, my birthday was going to be special no matter what, because I got to spend a lot of quality time with Craig throughout my birthday week.  It’s crazy how much you can miss someone even when they are living with you.  Med school is definitely a constant reminder to never take any quality time for granted.  What a blessing last week was!

And this was a must share: My First Married Birthday Card!  One of the things I love about Craig’s and my relationship is that we are constantly joking around and laughing at things.  This card is no exception.  I especially love that it’s my first birthday card from Craig as his wife because it’s definitely something I would have thought was hilarious before I was married, but it’s even funnier now that I have experienced even a tiny bit of what marriage actually is.

(I italicized some of the ones that were particularly funny to me.  I’m sure it changes from couple to couple.)

The Top 10 Things I Don’t Say Often Enough:

10. I hate to miss the game, but this floor could really use a good scrubbing.

9. Why don’t you buy a nice new pair of shoes to go with that outfit?

8. Let’s rent a romantic movie.  If I see one more car chase, I’m gonna hurl!

7.Yeah, I’m pretty tired, too, so let’s just cuddle.

6. Why can’t they show real-looking women in those lingerie catalogs?

5. My thumb’s getting tired.  Would you mind holding the remote for a while?

4. I’m not sure we’ve seen enough of your family lately.

3. You got enough blankets over there?
-Craig’s side-note he wrote for this: So actually I do say this one…just in my most sarcastic voice after you steal all the covers. 😛

2. Sure, I’ll be glad to hold your purse while were’s standing next to this construction site.

1. I love you forever!
-This one is in bold because I must say that Craig tells me how much he loves me all the time…basically non-stop, and I think he definitely deserves credit for that…of course me announcing that fact on this blog probably falls into the same category as #2 on the list above, but oh well.  😉

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