Fresh Peach Pie

By popular demand: my family’s fresh peach pie recipe!

peachpie1

Fresh fruit pies, as I mentioned on Thursday, differ from regular fruit pies in that you don’t bake them, thus making them great for hot summer days. You do need to bake the crust and do a little bit of work on the stovetop, but on the no-bake to baked spectrum, this falls much closer to the “no-bake” end of things.

peachpie4

Like many no-bake recipes, however, the fact that you don’t need to bake the pie doesn’t necessarily mean that you can whip this recipe up in an hour. This recipe requires very little active time, but does require a lot of hands-off time. From start to finish, the entire process took me 24 hours, though I did admittedly choose to bake the pie crust the day before, which you don’t necessarily have to do, though it does help things along. Regardless, you need to have a decent amount of time to dedicate to making this pie, and as such I’d recommend it for a weekend or other day when you don’t have to go to work rather than as a weeknight recipe.

peachpie3

The press-in pie crust you use to make this pie is, quite possibly, the easiest pie crust you’ll ever make. Unlike normal pie crust, which requires you to cut cold butter into flour without letting the butter get warm, along with additional chilling and rolling, this pie crust uses vegetable oil. Your crust will not turn out flaky like a normal pie crust (due to the lack of butter), but it’s not supposed to. Continuing with our spectrum theme, on the spectrum of cookie to pie crust, this crust falls much closer to “cookie” than “traditional pie crust” (but is no less delicious, I promise).

pressincrust

The pie keeps in the fridge for about a week, but the crust will get soggy the longer it sits in the fridge. It doesn’t get soggy to the point where you wouldn’t want to eat it, in my opinion, but perhaps soggy to the point where you may not want to serve it to others if you’re going for style points.

If you’re going for taste points, however, you can’t go wrong with this pie.

Fresh Peach Pie

  • 4-5 c. peaches (about four large peaches), peeled and sliced
  • 1.5 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • dash salt
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 9-inch baked pie shell (see recipe below)

1. Place sliced peaches in a bowl, and sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice. Let stand one hour.
2. Transfer contents of bowl into a strainer placed over a large liquid measuring cup. Allow to drain for at least an hour (or more, depending on the time you have available) and add water to drained syrup to make a total of 1.25 c. liquid. The more juicy the peaches, the less water needed and the more flavorful the end result.
3. Transfer liquid to pot and slowly add cornstarch. Mix well, dissolving the cornstarch as much as possible. Ideally, you want no clumps of cornstarch to remain.
4. Cook over low heat until thick, stirring constantly. It will take a while to begin to thicken, but once it does, it will thicken quickly. Remove from heat.
5. Add butter, salt and almond extract to mixture and allow to cool to room temperature. If you’re in a hurry, you can put it in the fridge to speed up this process, but it’s best to let it cool naturally if possible.
6. Place peaches in baked shell and pour cooled mixture over peaches. Chill for at least four hours. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

freshpeachpie

Press-In Pie Crust

  • 1.5 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. corn or vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. milk

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl.
3. Press pie dough into pie pan, including up the sides and edges. Make sure it isn’t too thick on the bottom. Prick the bottoms and sides of the crust with a fork.
4. Bake 10-12 minutes, until slightly brown. Allow to cool before placing peach pie ingredients inside.

Kitchen Adventures

I love a good football game, but I’ve got to be honest: when it comes to the NFL, I really couldn’t care less. I grew up in a house where TV, amongst other things, was strictly verboten on Sundays, which made for an NFL-less childhood and a consequential disinterest in the league and all its teams.

Regardless, I’ve always wanted to “celebrate” the Super Bowl. I remember looking through ads in the newspaper when I was younger, seeing all the food advertised for The Big Game and wishing I could participate in all the fun (read: eat the food). I also always felt a little excluded on the Monday after the Super Bowl when it seemed like all anyone could talk about were the commercials, none of which I had seen.

Perhaps this, then, can explain my brief moment of insanity last week. A good friend of mine asked if she could come over to my place to watch the Super Bowl, and I hesitantly agreed. Hesitantly, because despite the fact that I dearly treasure my friendship with her, girl knows nothing about football. I made the mistake of watching the 2012 Super Bowl with her and found myself swearing to never watch football with girls again after she watched a team score a PAT and triumphantly declared, “That’s a field goal! See? I know things!”

*headdesk*

Anyway, I had an almost-full jar of salsa in my fridge, so I originally planned to have a Super Bowl party for one with a bag of chips, said salsa jar, and my traditional Sunday night supper tuna melt (also a relic from my childhood). Once my friend asked to come over, though, I immediately scrapped those plans and decided instead it would be in my best interest to throw caution to the wind and make this Super Bowl one to remember. On my menu:

Granola Bark
– Barbecue Meatball Pizza (an at-the-time uncreated Bethany original)
Whole Wheat Brownies
– That jar of salsa and chips, obviously.

Like I said: insanity.

Having a limited supply of baking utensils meant I had to strategize how I’d go about making everything I had in mind. After taking a bit of my Friday evening to plan my Saturday and Sunday to the minute (oh, I wish I were kidding…), I decided it’d be best to make the granola bark early Saturday afternoon. The recipe was easy to throw together, though my results turned out slightly different than I originally expected. I melted the peanut butter/coconut oil/honey combo to the point where it melted the chocolate chips in the dry mix. This was disappointing from a what’s-a-granola-bar-without-chocolate-chips standpoint, but also gave the entire batch a chocolate taste, so I suppose I can’t complain.

granolabark

Later, I got to work on the Whole Wheat Brownies for Sunday.

brownies

Hello indulgence. These brownies are incredible. Also, they use whole wheat flour and applesauce. Thus, they are a health food. A super food, really. I’m pretty sure they’re better for you than blueberries. So there’s that.

Sunday brought my real challenge, though. While I had never made brownies from scratch before, I’ve been around the baking block enough times that I wasn’t too concerned about that task. Meatballs and pizza dough, however, were another story. I rarely cook with ground meat because I find it pretty gross, so I had certainly never made meatballs before. I’ve also never baked with yeast before because it has always struck me as something way, way too easy to mess up–you know, chemical reactions and science and all of that. I had my boots on ready to run to Jewel at a moment’s notice in case things went south.

The meatballs ended up being a pretty low-key affair. I found a really simple recipe for Slow Cooker Barbecue Meatballs, so my BFF the crock pot took care of most of that.

meatballs2

The pizza dough was relatively simple as well but definitely involved a lot of planning and a decent amount of labor on my end. I’m not married nor am I independently wealthy, so I definitely do not have a KitchenAid or other stand mixer. I had to knead the dough by hand for ten minutes, which kinda made me feel so hardcore and 19th century. Haha. This may be one of the weirder things I’ve ever written on the blog, but honestly, hand kneading the dough was really a cool way to get to know the dough. When you use a mixer or even a spoon to combine things, you can observe things changing, but when you’re actually in there using your hands, you not only see things changing but can feel them changing. My hands were a doughy mess when I started kneading, but by the end the dough had gotten the point where it bound to itself much easier than my hands, and it was kind of cool to see that whole process happen.

dough1

I left the dough to rise while I knocked out some Best Body Bootcamp and came back an hour later to punch it down and divide it. Since I only needed half the dough, the other half went into the freezer (all fingers crossed this was the right time to do that). The instructions said to then let the dough rise for another 45 minutes in a warm place, so that’s what I did.

dough2

Wait, what is that up there on top of my clothes?

dough3

Oh, right. That’d be my pizza dough. Is that not a normal place to let dough rise?

Haha. My building heats the apartments through the floors, so the warmest spots are on the floor and right under the ceiling. I tried the floor for the first rise, but I wasn’t convinced it was warm enough. The second rising, however, went quite well.

dough4

Too well. It exploded! Attack of the pizza dough!

It was all good, though. I tamed the beast on a cookie sheet and got ready to go to town on my pizza.

dough5

After removing the meatballs from the crockpot with a slotted spoon, I poured the barbecue sauce over the pizza.

pizza1

I then chopped up the meatballs and sprinkled cheese over the whole shebang…

pizza2

…and fifteen minutes later…

pizza3

Voila! Homemade barbecue meatball pizza! I feel a little weird taking any sort of credit for this, because all I really did was follow other people’s recipes and assemble things. Regardless, I was THRILLED with the results and ate myself into a food coma while watching the game with my friend.

Oh, and that salsa was pretty good, too.

Do you enjoy cooking for company?
Have you ever tackled an intimidating recipe? 

Meal Planning

After last weekend’s flurry of activity, I had a feeling this weekend would not compare. I was right! The most exciting events of my weekend included staying under budget for the first time since moving to Chicago on my weekly grocery shopping and discovering that there’s a dryer in my building’s laundry room that will happily eat your quarters, but will not dry your clothes in exchange.

On the bright side, my bedroom smelled like clean laundry all day on Saturday!

I also want to give a quick shout-out to Chobani for really impressing me with their social media strategy on Saturday. Matt Grevers is one of their athletes, and on Saturday he was on Michael Phelps’s final relay team. Chobani tweeted their congratulations to Matt Grevers before the race aired on NBC, and I was SO mad that they spoiled the results. It was kind of a last-straw sort of situation for me, as I had had results spoiled for me in various ways every. single. day. of Olympic competition last week. I tweeted Chobani letting them know that I was frustrated with their spoilers, but fully expecting to be  ignored. Chobani not only replied, but they kept up the Twitter conversation with me about the 10K, which I was watching and tweeted about at the time. While I was still a little bummed that the relay results had been spoiled, I was so impressed with Chobani’s social media customer service that any anger I felt towards Chobani completely went away. A+ social media management, Chobani. You’re still my favorite Greek yogurt company 🙂

Since I have no exciting weekend shenanigans to share, I thought I’d use today’s post to talk about meal planning. I’ve wanted to post about this since Meghann included a post on meal planning while participating in the Survive on 35 Challenge, and now seems like a good opportunity!

source

I started really cooking for myself when I did my internship in Chicago about a year and a half ago. I found that around 3 p.m. every day, I would start thinking about what I wanted to eat for dinner that night. Normally I could come up with something, but last minute decision making can really limit your options, especially with foods that require defrosting.

At the start of my senior year of college, I decided to start meal planning. Meal planning has made grocery shopping significantly easier, helps me include variety in my meals, and, most importantly, keeps me from standing in front of the refrigerator or pantry for absurd amounts of time every evening, hoping ingredients will magically hop out and make themselves into something good.

I usually do my meal planning on Friday afternoons. When I plan, I take three things into consideration:

– What does my evening look like each day next week?
– What do I already have on hand?
– What’s on sale?

I’m in the midst of half marathon training right now, which means as soon as I get home from work I’m out the door for my workout. By the time I’m done, it’s been about six hours since my last full meal and I’m not interested in taking a lot of time to put dinner together. Leftovers or super quick meals are the mainstay of my Monday through Thursday dinners.

(Nothing for today because I have plans with a friend, so dinner is very up in the air)

In order to have leftovers, I have to cook meals that make leftovers a possibility. During college, I would often alter recipes created for four to single servings. Now, however, I try to make something larger on Friday and Saturday–days when I have lot more free time–to give me enough food to last at least through Wednesday of the following week. This week isn’t the best example because I’ve got weekend wedding plans, but you get the picture.

Because of my reliance on leftovers, I really only need to come up with ideas for two or three dinners a week. Every time I cook something, I write the recipe down on a 3×5 notecard. Occasionally I’ll go through my notecards to look for inspiration. Lately,  I’ve relied on Pinterest for new ideas.

 

In college I made a point of creating my own recipes, but unfortunately that’s fallen by the wayside since graduation. Definitely something I need to bring back to my life!

I gravitate towards recipes that include the staples I keep stocked in my apartment: pasta, shredded cheese, chicken, marinara sauce, garlic — anything Italian, apparently haha. If I find something that really sounds great but requires ingredients I don’t have, I’ll usually either alter the recipe to make it fit what’s on hand or, if I absolutely can’t make substitutions, I’ll put the necessary ingredients on my grocery list.

And that’s that! I also do a little lunch planning on Sundays, but tends to be a lot more straightforward and takes maybe five minutes. I used to eat the exact same thing for lunch every day, but lunch planning guarantees variety and eliminates the need to be creative the night before. Having to make last minute decisions always means I go for the easy and familiar, but meal planning keeps my diet interesting and varied.

On a COMPLETELY unrelated note, I flipped out when I saw this morning’s RedEye:

Heyo! I’m famous! Now all of Chicago’s commuting population know how I feel about Olympic spoilers.

Do you meal plan?
Have you ever gotten the attention of a large company because of social media? Clearly Twitter is doing good things for me lately!