Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fresh Peach Pie

Fresh Peach Pie
It's peach season!  You can't let summer go by without making this amazing fresh peach pie! This pie is Grandma Carroll’s famous peach pie, made regularly during peach season. It’s nothing short of incredible, and yes I know it has Jell-O in it…it’s still incredible!  My family goes CRAZY for this pie and I know you all will love it too!  I photographed these peaches at local farm just outside Leesburg, Virginia and brought them home to make this pie. Note: This crust recipe makes 2 crusts, (freeze a round of dough if desired), and the peach pie recipe is for 1 peach pie.  

                                        Homemade Pie Crusts
 I admit, sometimes I like to use a store bought piecrust dough. However, they just don’t taste as good as a homemade crust. Pie crust are one of those things you can make on a whim out of basic ingredients in the morning and have a fabulous dessert ready for dinner that evening. Refer to this master recipe for all the piecrusts for the pies in this section of the book.

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 scant teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
4-6 tablespoons ice water
1 egg white, slightly beaten

In food processor, mix flour and salt slightly. Dice cold butter, and toss gently in flour, careful of sharp blades.

 With mixer running add ice water by the tablespoonful until mixture comes together in a loose ball.  

Remove from processor and divide dough in half. Form each half into a flat circle, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a half hour.

Roll out between two sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap into a large circle. Lay circle in pie pan and form into crust. Crimp edges and poke holes with a fork in bottom and side of crust. Brush crusts with egg white.  Bake at 400 degrees for 8-15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. As oven temperatures vary watch crusts closely for an exact baking time. Remove from oven, cool and fill as desired. Makes 2 pie crusts.

                                               for the pie!

Cream Cheese layer:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream

With electric mixer beat cream cheese and powdered sugar and whipping cream together until smooth. Spread in bottom of baked pie crust.  Set aside in the refrigerator.

Peach Filling:
7-9 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
3 oounce pkg. peach Jell-O
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups water
2 tablespoons lemon juice

In saucepan, mix Jell-O, sugar, cornstarch, and water. Boil for 3 minutes. Add lemon juice and stir with a whisk. Place saucepan with Jell-O mixture uncovered in freezer for 45-60 minutes, or until mixture has just set. While Jell-O mixture is thickening, cut up peaches and place in bowl. Stir Jell-O syrup into peaches and spoon into pie shells. If Jell-O sets you can still stir it into peaches until it is evenly distributed and has combined with juices. Be careful not to overfill pie crust.  Cover and refrigerate a few hours or until set. Serve with sweetened whipped cream.  You'll be heaven!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cozumel, Mexico

         Intercontinental Presidente Resort at Cozumel
                     We had a fantastic time in Cozumel and absolutely loved this resort!  
                                     Here's a little taste of our time on Cozumel...


The Virgin Miami Vice, a cross between a pina colada and a strawberry daiquiri, has become my new favorite!

This is the open-air dining pavilion, right on the ocean front.  It's an amazing structure with a dried palm tree leaf roof.  A talented native Mexican guitarist would play every evening, under the pavilion to our enjoyment. There are some fantastic chefs at this restaurant.  We loved the menu and enjoyed some delicious breakfasts here as well.  But we especially enjoyed dining here beside the ocean every evening.

The staff was is great!  Here's a guy cutting open a coconut for me!

 I fell in love with this light and healthy coconut water! 

Take scuba lessons, snorkel, jet ski, or paddle board right on the beach. This is a perfect beach for little kids!  

The Town of Cozumel, is a quick drive from the hotel.  It's a fun and colorful place to walk around and window shop.  We ate at a local favorite, Los Otates, where they make some awesome street tacos.


 The local school children were so cute in their uniforms walking home from school.  This little girl let me take her picture.

                                                                           Raw Cacao Beans

We came upon this fun little Chocolate Shop while walking around Cozumel.  Here they grind their own cacao beans to create these delicious Mexican chocolates.  We enjoyed sampling their beautiful chocolates and ended up coming home with some real cacao beans to show the kids.  Can't wait to grind my cacao beans and make some Mexican brownies, Mexican hot chocolate...

                                                           Pretty Mexican Pastries

                                      Punta Sur State Park, Cozumel, Mexico
This is a beautiful and rugged area.  On the tip of this island you feel like Tom Hanks in Cast Away.  Looking out to the ocean, you feel like you're on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean!   Here there is a natural crocodile lagoon of American crocodiles, but don't be afraid they stay in the lagoon during the day and only come out onto the beach at night!  We took a boat ride in the lagoon and were able to see several large crocodiles.  We had a snorkel guide swim us out to a beautiful reef with an amazing forest of corals, beautiful fish, conch, star fish, and rays. A nearby light house climb offers amazing ocean views. 

                                                                   Adios Cozumel!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Cucumber, Tomato and Bell Pepper Salad

Cucumber, Tomato and Bell Pepper Salad

           Hi friends!  The summer is finally starting to settle down a little!  We've been having so much fun and I hope you have too!  We had a fantastic time in Cozumel, Mexico, Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah. We've also had cousins come out to visit and had a great time with them in Washington D.C. I'll be sharing some photos from the trips soon! 
 I wanted to share this recipe from my sister- in- law and dear friend, Dawn Ann.  She served this salad at a family reunion years back and it's been a summertime favorite ever since.  It's so colorful and the flavor is so garden fresh, I love it! For a Mediterranean twist add a cup of Kalamata olives and a cup of crumbled Feta cheese.  Helpful hint: seed a cucumber by cutting it in half lengthwise and running  a spoon down the center scraping the seeds out as you go.  This salad lends itself well to grilled fish and meats or good old-fashioned Barbeque.   

2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1 green pepper, chopped

1 yellow pepper, chopped

handful of fresh basil, washed


1 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper


In salad bowl combine all vegetables and set aside.  Blend all dressing ingredients together. Pour dressing over vegetables and refrigerate for 30 minutes prior to serving.

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