Just a Georgia peach ....

 
JUSTAGEORGIAPEACH.COM

Few and far between!

Well, obviously it has been a while since I posted anything ..... but that doesn't mean I've forgotten my readers of Just A Georgia Peach!  I have just been very busy and as I explained to a dear friend.... "when something has to give it's most likely going to be a thing, not a person!  In my case (sadly), the something that had to give was this blog. 

As many of you who are not just my readers but my friends know, my mom has Alzheimers and so lately been I've spending a good bit of time on the weekends cooking for my parents and visiting them.  I believe that at this juncture in my life - my time is best spent on them.  It is so very much fun cooking different recipes and taking them to mom and dad.  My sweet mom has a HUGE sweet tooth and considering she weighs a whopping 105 lbs (soaking wet), I'm loving getting to indulge her sweet tooth.    

Recently, I came home from work and found a 8x11 manila envelope in the mailbox -- from my Dad.   He had been straightening up drawers/cabinets at Whispering Pines (their home) and he gathered a whole bunch of my mom's recipes and sent them to me!  I immediately sat down and went through every recipe one-by-one.  My momma was an incredible cook and so what a thrill it was to browse through a bunch of recipes -- some in her handwriting, some off of her old Smith Corona typewriter and some simply clipped from the newspaper.  I sat there for over an hour, reading, laughing & crying!  What a gift from both my mom and dad!! 

One of the recipes in that envelope was the one below!  I had never made it, but remembered my mom making it -- especially when we would go camping!  It is so incredibly easy, you are not going to believe it!  It is also unbelievably MOIST and delicious!   I hope you all enjoy it and to my dear friend Diane ..... this is especially just for you!!   Thanks for being such a good friend and always being there to listen to me! 

            

MARGARET'S COCONUT PECAN SURPRISE CAKE

1 - Betty Crocker Super Moist butter yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1 cup water
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 - can Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy Coconut Pecan Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Grease your pound cake or bundt pan.  Mix the first five ingredients until well-mixed.   Right before you pour the batter into the pan, stir in all of the frosting (yes into the batter) and mix well. 

Pour into cake pan and cook for one hour.  Take out and let cool -- remove from pan and serve!  OH MY.... just gorgeous and yummy!!

SO -- to complete the circle, my posts may be few and far between, but please know that I haven't forgotten the Peach and I will still be around from time to time! 

Merry Christmas!!

Short and sweet today......

            

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Love,

Your Georgia Peach

Healthy and tasty: Cranberry Applesauce Muffins

Since I've been posting a whole bunch of luscious, decadent deserts - I thought I would post a healthy recipe that will be perfect for your New Year's resolution of getting healthy....... oh wait.... that's MY New Year's resolution..... AGAIN! 

Seriously, I found these muffins on allrecipes.com and since I love cranberries - I thought I'd give them a try.  I made my first batch, just like the recipe "said to" and then I tweaked it a bit since James & I both thought they could be a little sweeter.  I also added a tad more cinnamon just so they would have a little more kick to them.

Lastly, I used fresh cranberries for my first two batches - but will probably use frozen cranberries from now on because they are easier to use!  Yep - I'm lazy that way!

These are yummy and super easy to make.
   

NOTE:   Be sure to use unsweetened applesauce or cut down a good bit on your white/granulated sugar.



            
            
Oh and I'm sure you've loving my "Chernobyl-looking" muffin pan??  LOL - it was actually my mom's and even though I have newer and prettier ones -- this pan cooks the best.   <shrugging shoulders>

CRANBERRY APPLESAUCE MUFFINS

1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a muffin pan - or use paper liners.

In a small bowl, mix together applesauce, oil and egg.   In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Pour in egg mixture and well until well-moistened.  Then fold in cranberries and pecans.

Spoon into muffin cups -- about 2/3 full.   Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for at least 5 minutes before removing.

            

These make great gifts..... if you're so inclined! 

ENJOY!

~Your Georgia Peach

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake.... I just couldn't help myself!

Recently a very good friend of mine celebrated his 60th birthday!  Now this friend weighs about 90 lbs soaking wet and can eat anything he wants..... anytime!  Yeah, I'd like to hate him too.... but he's just so darn nice that you have to love him. 

Well, anyway, I thought this friend of mine (lets' just call him Joe 'cause that's his name - LOL)..... well, Joe needs some fattening up!  LOL!  SO, for Joe's big 6-0 birthday I decided to make him a Mini Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake.  I found this fab recipe and I just cut it down to make him a mini cheesecake!  I was afraid that if I made he and his wife a full-size cheesecake - they would eat themselves into a stupor.  LOL!  Well, at least his sweet wife would. 

Anyway -- since I made the mini cheesecake for his birthday, I've since made a full-size of the recipe for a party James had at his office.  Both cheesecakes were a hit and I just knew I had to share this recipe with y'all.  You are NOT going to believe how you prepare the mousse that goes on the top of this delectable treat!!  Seriously.....   is this little mini cheesecake not adorable??

            

NOTE:   I used crushed chocolate graham crackers for the mini cheesecake crust and then sprinkled the crushed crackers on the top.  This is a little different than the full-size cheesecake recipe (and photo) below.

This recipe below is for the full-size cheesecake BUT feel free to switch out the crusts like I did..... it all works just great and being flexible when cooking always makes your life easier! 

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CHEESECAKE

24 
Shortbread Cookies, finely crushed (about 1-3/4 cups)
     *I used Lorna Doone cookies*
3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1/4 cup butter, melted
oz. Baker's white chocolate
3 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 cups thawed Cool Whip - Whipped Topping
1 tub of Duncan Hines whipped dark fudge frosting
Tsp of cocoa -- just for garnish


Preheat oven to 325ºF.   Grease your 9-inch springform pan

Mix cookie crumbs, 1 Tbsp. sugar and butter; press onto bottom of springform pan. Bake 10 min.   Remove and set aside.

Melt 4 oz. white chocolate as directed on package.  Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended.  Add melted chocolate; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended.  Pour over crust.

Bake 50 to 55 min. or until center is almost set.  Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim.  Refrigerate 4 hours.

NOW -- here's the amazing part.  To make the "chocolate mousse", take the entire tub of thawed cool whip and stir in about 3/4 cup of fudge frosting.   Slowly fold in together -- do not beat hard.   You can then decide if you want/need more frosting or not.   Just grab a spoon and taste..... your call on how chocolate-y you want the mousse.  (yum!)

Once blended, spread over cheesecake. Garnish by lightly dusting with cocoa powder.  Refrigerate for at least another hour before serving.   Serve cold.

Isn't that so purty??      Seriously, it's very elegant and super yummy -- perfect for any party or celebration!

            


ENJOY!

~Your Georgia Peach

Beef Tenderloin - perfect for any special celebration!

As many of you know, my hubby is a carnivore at heart!     James could never be a vegetarian 'cause he loves beef, pork, chicken, lamb and all kinds of seafood!  Now, he does love his veggies -- but rarely is a meal complete without meat!  God love that man, cause I feel the same way! 

This recipe is the perfect dish for a special dinner -- whether you're celebrating a birthday, anniversary or just having the family all home together at Christmas time.  It's easy and really, quite fool-proof!  As you can tell from the photo below -- we like our meat served rare, but check out the cooking times below and cook the meat just as you like it. 

I served the tenderloin with these Roasted fingerling potatoes - which are yumm-o-licious and super easy AND these little green guys!!  WOW -- what a great dinner and while everything was in the oven, I had plenty of time to whip up dessert!  Gotta' love it when a plan totally comes together! 


             

BEEF TENDERLOIN

1 (3-1/2- to 4-pound) center-cut beef tenderloin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 stick butter, at room temperature
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Meanwhile, pat the beef dry with paper towels. Using your hands, rub the tenderloin all over with the oil, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and rub until evenly coated; set aside.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat until just starting to smoke. Place the beef in the pan and sear, turning occasionally, until golden brown all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and set aside until the surface of the beef is no longer hot, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the butter mixture.

Place the butter, garlic, rosemary, and thyme in a medium bowl and smash with the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula until evenly combined. When the beef is ready, evenly rub the butter mixture on the top and sides of the tenderloin.

Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the beef registers 120°F to 125°F for rare or 125°F to 135°F for medium rare, about 25 to 35 minutes.

Transfer the beef to a cutting board and tent it loosely with foil. Let it rest at least 20 minutes before slicing.  Letting the meat rest is REALLY important as it lets the juices settle and your meat will still nice and moist. 

ENJOY!

~Your Georgia Peach

    "Lush" and delicious.... Tequila Lime Coconut Bars

    Several months ago two very dear friends of mine gifted me with the Southern Living Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook!!  Do they know me well or not??      


             

    This cookbook is just wonderful!  Not only are the recipes fabulous, but the photos are phenomenal AND they have stories and traditions about ALL of the football teams in the SEC, including my beloved Georgia Bulldogs!  I have so enjoyed browsing this cookbook -- I've read every page and trust me, when I tell you that you will be seeing more of these recipes over the next couple of months! 

    The very first recipe that I tried from this book is the one I want to share with you today!  I served these bars at one of our tailgates this year -- along with BBQ, deviled eggs, chips and potato salad.  They were a big hit and are pretty to look at too!  (NOT that you can tell from my photo...... SIGH.... sometimes I'm a really crappy photographer).  Oh well...... just take my word for it.


              

    Now for those of you who know me well, you know I'm not a fan of alcohol - not because I'm against drinking (HA!), but because I don't like the taste & burn of alcohol..... BUT that is not to say I don't love to cook with it.     Remember my now *famous* Rum Cake  and this yummy Bread Pudding with Brandy Sauce??   Oh yes, I love cooking with alcohol and these bars are really tasty - whether you like Tequila or not. 

    Also, I fed these to a bunch of young folks (teens and twenty-somethings) and even though several of them said they *really* didn't like coconut - they loved these!!  Hope you'll give them a try.

    TEQUILA LIME COCONUT BARS

    2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
    2 cups sugar, divided
    1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
    4 large eggs
    1-1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
    1 teaspoon lime zest
    1/3 cup fresh lime juice 
                        (I used a mixture of one fresh lime & Nellie's key lime juice)
    3 Tbs Tequila
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp salt
    Powdered sugar -- for sprinkling 

    Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottom and sides of a 13- x 9-inch pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, allowing 2 inches to extend over sides; lightly grease foil.

    Stir together 1-3/4 cups flour and 1/2 cup sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Press mixture onto bottom of prepared pan.

    Bake at 350° for 20 to 23 minutes or until lightly browned.  Take out of oven and set aside.

    While crust is baking, whisk eggs in a medium bowl until smooth; whisk in coconut, next 3 ingredients, and remaining 1-1/2 cups sugar. Stir together baking powder, salt, and remaining 1/4 cup flour; whisk into egg mixture. Pour over hot crust.

    Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until filling is set. Let cool 1 hour on a wire rack. Lift from pan, using foil sides as handles. Remove foil, and cut into bars. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

    Perfect for any party, tailgate or taking to a friend.

    ENJOY!

    ~Your Georgia Peach

    Pickled beets - don't knock 'em until you've tried 'em! :)

    Back in November, James & I took my sister-in-law up to the North Georgia mountains for the day.   We shopped, ate at The Dillard House and enjoyed the beautiful fall foliage.  We also stopped at a wonderful road-side stand and bought VEGGIES!     LOL -- we bought brussel sprouts, peppers, yams and lots of big, beautiful beets!

    Check this out??   Aren't they huge?  I just love them.   James grew beets in his garden last year but they were very small -- these babies are monster-sized in comparison. 


                

    SO, last year I did not *know* the trick to peeling beets and I made my two sweet sons peel a bucket of beets for me.  I swear Schmoo is still giving me the stink-eye for that *fun* afternoon.  LOL!  This year two new friends of mine from Missouri gave me the '411' on how to peel beets the easy way -- AND it worked like a charm!!

    Once I had boiled, peeled and sliced the beets -- here is what I ended up with -- look at the gorgeous color of the beet slices!!  

                

    So, once I had the slices ready --  I was ready to pickle.   This recipe is very simple and I hope you will give it a try!

    PICKLED BEETS

    To get your beets ready for pickling:

    Clean and wash your beets, also trimming the ends so that they are clean.   Fill a large pot with water and put the beets on to boil.  Once the water/beets are boiling, let them boil for 30 minutes.  Once done - drain and put the beets in a pan of ice-cold water.  This will stop the cooking process immediately. 

    Take the beets out of the water to let them cool for about 5 minutes -- do NOT discard the cooking water.   As for peeling the beets, truthfully, the skin will be so loose - you can almost just pull the skin off - but you may need a knife to get all the skin off.  Once peeled -- simply slice the beets into thin slices.   Put the slices in water until you ready to place in in your jars.

    To pickle the beets:

    Mason jars -- size is up to you -- I used pint jars
    3 cups water (from cooking the beets)
    3 cups vinegar
    2 Tbs white sugar
    2 Tbs plus 2 tsp kosher salt
    Pickling spice
    Cinnamon

    Wash and dry your mason jars, then fill tightly with sliced beets.  Put 1/2 tsp of pickling spice and 1/4 tsp cinnamon in each jar.   Set aside.

    In a large saucepan, combine vinegar, water, salt and sugar.  Bring to a boil and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.

    Carefully fill jars with the vinegar brine to within 1/4 inch of the rim - covering the beets completely.   You can throw away any leftover brine.

    Place the lids on the jars and refrigerate for at least 12 hours before serving.  You can store in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 months.


                

    ENJOY!

    ~Your Georgia Peach

    Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake.... oh the possibilities!

    Last week I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond - which is total nirvana for me - and found this absolutely adorable pan!  It makes twelve mini bundt cakes - using one pan.   Is this not the coolest thing??  

               
    IF you are so inclined, you can buy it here and it really is super affordable: 

     
    http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/Wilton-Avdvance-reg-12-Cavity-Nonstick-Mini-Fluted-Pan/1041707753?Keyword=mini+cak+pan

    So then I just had to decide which cake recipe to use with my new little pan. 

    Well for quite some time I've been trying to recreate my mom's famous, old-fashioned chocolate pound cake. She used to make it all the time while I was growing up. It had the most perfect consistency and texture and we all loved it! For some reason I can't find the recipe at my mom's house. I'm beginning to think that it was only in her mind and not written down somewhere.

    Anyway, I've been playing around with recipes and hoping to find the perfect one...... with this one I do believe I have hit paydirt.   Now, I know it's not the one that my momma used to make, but dang if it isn't close!   


    SO, I mixed up the batter and using my nifty, new pan - I made 36 little cakes!  Check out these babies.   Aren't they adorable??


                

    Now, of course, you can always make a full-size pound cake.      I made this delectable cake with my second try and took it to my mom and dad yesterday.  They both loved it and my dad laughingly told me..... "not to lose this recipe!"   <big smile> 

                

    As you can see I decided to lightly dust with powdered sugar..... and as rich as the cake is, this is the perfect topping for this luscious pound cake. 

    CHOCOLATE SOUR CREAM POUND CAKE

    2 tsp instant coffee
    1/2 cup boiling water
    1/2 cup cocoa, unsweetened
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp salt
    3 sticks butter, softened
    1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
    2 cups granulated sugar
    2 tsps vanilla extract
    4 eggs
    1 cup sour cream
    1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees.   Grease and flour your pan - personally I use a pastry brush and crisco to grease my tube pan and I also use a piece of wax paper (cut to size) on the very bottom of the pan to keep it from sticking.

    In a small bowl, dissolve instant coffee in boiling water, then stir in cocoa powder and mix well.  Set aside to cool.

    Now put the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in the sifter and sift once.   Set aside.

    In large mixing bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar - until light and fluffy.

    Once mixed well, beat in eggs - one at a time.  Add vanilla extract and mix well.

    Combine cocoa mixture and sour cream.  Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating after each addition until smooth.

    Fold in chocolate chips and spoon batter into prepared pan.   Bake for 75 minutes (yep, you read that right) and take out when toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.   Cool cake in pan on wire rack for at least 15 minutes.

    When cooled appropriately, run thin, sharp knife around the outside of the pan.  Now turn cake onto pan to cool completely.  Lightly dust with powdered sugar and serve. 

    Oh my goodness -- this cake will melt in your mouth. 

    ENJOY!

    ~Your Georgia Peach

    Don't know who Candace is... but I like her chicken casserole! ;-)

    So, how many of you sign up for things on the internet, not realizing that you will now be the recipient of a daily email trying to sell you something, send you alerts, etc?  Yeah, me too!  I don't do it a whole lot, but somehow I ended up on an email list for food.com daily recipes.  I quickly browse these daily recipes e-blasts and then decide to keep or delete.  Truthfully, I do delete alot of them simply because nothing catches my eye.  Other times, I save or look at them right that moment because some recipe looks too yummy to pass up!

    In the case of the recipe I want to share with you today -- I just couldn't hit delete.    It looked super easy and very good.  I read the author's note and decided that really "Candace" is just some wife/mom somewhere who created this recipe, posted it on some site and it was a hit.  It had received some excellent reviews so I definitely put it on my "to-do" list.

    One of the things that I loved about this recipe was that I had everything I needed - already in my fridge, freezer or pantry! Oh yeah -- sweet! 

    This is a photo of the casserole just out of the oven!  (Oh and yes - I was a little heavy-handed with the paprika!)  <shrugging shoulders>

                

    I used a small 9" x 13" glass dish and this worked perfectly.  I also put it all together (except the biscuit topping) and then ran to Boot Camp, came back and popped it into the oven.    Serve this with either a fruit salad or green salad (and maybe even some cranberry sauce - YUM) and dinner is done.   
     
    CANDACE'S CHICKEN CASSEROLE

    Ingredients

    1-1/2 cups cooked chicken
           *I cooked chicken breast and then shredded the meat*

    1-1/2 cups frozen vegetables  
           *I used mixture of beans, corn, peas & carrots I had in my freezer*

    1 - 12 oz can diced white potatoes

    1/2 cup chopped onions   
           *I used green/spring onions because I had them in the fridge*

    1/2 Tbs parsley

    1/3 cup parmesan cheese  
           *I used the green can in the fridge - nothing fancy*

    3/4 cup Bisquick

    1-1/2 cups milk

    1/2 cup cheddar cheese

    1 - 11 oz can cream of chicken soup

    Paprika

    Directions

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

    Combine chicken, vegetables and potatoes in large bowl.  Combine soup, onion, parsley and parmesan cheese in a medium bowl - once mixed well, then add to chicken mixture and combine gently.

    Place in baking dish - which I sprayed with Pam - then top with cheddar cheese.

    Put Bisquick in a small bowl and add milk.  Once stirred together, it should be thin, like pancake batter.  Pour over your casserole and sprinkle *lightly* with paprika.

    Bake uncovered for 45-50 minutes until top is golden brown.

                

    Very yummy and this dish should serve about 8 people.   Also, according to Candace (LOL) - each serving is only about 250 calories! 

    ENJOY!

    ~Your Georgia Peach

    50 and fabulous!

    YEP, this man right here is 50 years old today!

                     

    James Allen Deal, Sr. was born on Friday, December 13, 1963!  His momma always said he was her most favorite Christmas present ever!  LOL - I used to tell her that James was an "accident" since he was 13 and 15 years younger than his siblings and his Momma would quickly tell me that NO, he was a blessing!   AND... she was right!

    James (not Jim, Jimmy or Jimbo) is one of the kindest men you will ever meet.  Animals and small children follow him around like the Pied Piper because they can immediately tell that he is a total softie and always good for a scratch behind the ears or a fun tussle on the floor! 

    I met James during college at the University of Georgia and the last thing his sweet Momma told him was "...not to go to Athens and let some little girl convince you to get married."   Yep -- that's exactly what happened.  I met James, promptly dispatched his current high school girlfriend and we were inseparable from that moment on.  We graduated from college in 1986 & 1987, respectively and married in 1987.  Thus embarked the great Deal adventure.       We've had many wonderful years together and "Let the insanity begin" has always been our family motto!   

                

    (James & Stephanie in Tampa at the UGA Outback Bowl in 2012.  Don't you love the way Schmoo & JQ are standing back like they really aren't "with" us?)

    We've been blessed with two wonderful sons and now one lovely daughter-in-law and a beautiful girlfriend.   The six of us have so much fun together and I know that James & I feel blessed that the fantastic four *like* to spend time with us!!

                

    (James, Stephanie, the Ensign, Cutie-Pie, Schmoo & JQ ziplining in 2011.)
                      
    Over the years I have watched James wear many hats:   father, husband, son, brother, church deacon, choir member (ha!), uncle, great-uncle, friend, cousin, brother-in-law, son-in-law and now father-in-law!!   He is a man of many talents with a HUGE heart!  As you can see below, he is incredibly supportive of his kids - always happy to cheer on their teams, spend time with them and help them to attain their dreams! 

                

    (Navy Dad and the beautiful Cutie-Pie at the Army/Navy game in 2010.)

                

    (Schmoo, the lovely JQ and James at a Ga Southern football game in 2011.)

                

    (Schmoo, Stephanie, the Ensign & James - USNA Graduation 2012)

    He is an avid Georgia Dawg fan, a fun-loving deer hunter and a somewhat fanatical X-Box Gamer who goes by the name "Furhunter"!  His friends and family love him and know that they only need ask for his help and he will drop everything to help them anyway he can!  He's the man who always stops to help total strangers change a flat tire, rescues wounded birds and stranded turtles, has an incredible green thumb & can grow anything, a super handyman around the house and boy, can he smoke a mean pork butt!    We are SO blessed to have him in our lives!! 

    YEP -- he's 50 and fabulous and I think we'll keep him for another 50 years!!

                

    HAPPY 50th B'DAY SWEETIE!  Hope you have a wonderful day ~ you certainly deserve it!

    Love,

    Your Georgia Peach

    Run or DYE....... crazy, but oh so much fun!

    Hello my friends!!

    SO, no recipe today but I wanted to share with you all the story about how I became a *runner*  ..... and yes, I say that a little facetiously!   

    As some of you know, back in March of this year -- my endocrinologist and I came to a mutual understanding!  He told me I needed to lose a boat-load of weight and I agreed.  LOL!  I started counting my calories and made a major overhaul on my eating habits -- which were not *very* good.     The change in diet was great, but after a few months I knew I needed to add exercise into my new "ME" plan.  

    I tried going to the YMCA and getting on the treadmill, but oh my, that was sooooo boring and I found myself blowing it off because plain and simple -- there was no one to keep me accountable to exercising.  I then looked around and found a local company that runs a Boot Camp near my house.  I signed up for *only* two months thinking that those eight weeks of exercise & training would jump start my weight loss and then I'd go back to the gym on my own.

    WELL guess what?  I discovered that I love boot camp!!   I love the camaraderie, I love the competitiveness and I love the way that exercising makes me feel!  Who knew??  I mean, seriously whoda thunkit?  When I was younger, I was pretty athletic and I was always in shape, then as those middle-age years crept up on me..... so did the weight. 

    So, as boot camp continued, I started running...... I mean, heck - they "made" me run!  LOL!  My very first one-mile timed run was over 14 minutes.  OY.... I thought I was going to have a heart-attack while I was running around the track.   I seriously could not believe I was paying for this torture. 

    Anyway, a couple of months went by and I started feeling stronger and more fit.  THEN.... one of the trainers mentioned that the group was going to participate in the Travis Manion Heroes Run 5K.   (
    http://www.travismanion.org/about-travis/)   I was so excited..... Travis Manion was a U.S. Naval Academy grad and Marine who was killed in April 2007 in the Al Anbar province of Iraq.   I knew I couldn't *run* the 5K but I was bound and determined to participate!   AND..... I did.  

                

    (Notice the really cool DOG tag around my neck???)  

    WOW..... I became totally inspired and decided right then and there that I would run one 5K every month!  AND, believe it or not .... I have! 

    So far, I've participated in four different 5K runs and I find that slowly but surely my time improves on each run!  Not to mention how much I enjoy the runs!   It has all been simply amazing to me and so in my zeal to find new and fun races.... I came across the Run or Dye 5K!  It's this insanely fun run where they throw packets of dye/colored powder at you while you run the 3.1 miles.   LOL -- I ran it with a friend of mine from Boot Camp and we had a blast!  

                

    OH and believe me when I tell you it has taken DAYS for me to get all the pink out of my scalp!  ROFL!

                
                

    Now, by no means will be I running a marathon in the next week or so (HA!)..... but remember that old saying about teaching an old dog new tricks???   WELL, it's true!  LOL!   SO - stay tuned my friends..... cause I'm going to be running in the Hot Chocolate 5K in January and who knows what will happen there?!?  

    ~Your Georgia Peach

    Cherry Brown Butter Bars.... rich and oh, so delicious!

    For anyone that knows me well - you know that I love anything containing cherries!  I love sweet Bing cherries, sour cherries, etc. SO, when I saw this recipe in the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, I knew I had to give it a try.  Unfortunately, this is SO not the time for fresh cherries in Georgia - but I really wanted to make these bars, so I bought frozen cherries.   GASP..... yes, I did and you know what?  They worked just great!

                

    Now, I'm not sure about you guys - but I've never really tried to make any recipe that calls for "browned butter".  I've always been a little leery about it and truthfully - wasn't really sure what all the fuss was about.  LOL!   Mmmm.... now, I know.  Brown butter has a nutty flavor and definitely makes a difference in the taste of the recipe.  Also, I had no problem browning my butter..... I wasn't worried about it burning at all. 

    SO - let's get started shall we?  

    CHERRY BROWN BUTTER BARS

    Crust:

    7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    1/3 cup sugar
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
    Pinch of salt

    Filling:
    1/2 cup sugar
    2 large eggs
    Pinch of salt
    1/4 cup all purpose flour
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 stick unsalted butter, diced
    1 pound sweet cherries (I used 36 cherries)

    Crust:  Preheat over to 375°F.   Spray your pan with Pam.  Now, I used my fabulous removable bottom pan that James bought me at Walmart.  Here's how to find "my" pan:   Pan    I swear when he bought me this pan, I thought what a waste of money, but dang -- I use it ALL the time and I just love it. 

    What Deb Perelman of the Smitten Kitchen suggests is to cut two 12-inch lengths of parchment paper and trim each to fit the 8-inch width of an 8×8-inch square baking pan. Press it into the bottom and sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, perpendicular to the first sheet.  Disclaimer:  I've never done this, but she says it works great.

    SO - grab your butter and melt in in a medium size saucepan.  Using a rubber spatula, mix in sugar, and vanilla in with the melted butter.    Add flour and salt and stir until well mixed.   Scoop dough out and put in your pan, and use the spatula to press/pat the dough evenly across the bottom of the pan.  Bake the crust until golden, about 16-188 minutes.  Do not let it get too brown - like I did.      Transfer pan to rack and cool.

    Filling: Cook butter in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until deep nutty brown (do not burn), stirring constantly and watch carefully - mine took about 4 minutes to change colors.  Immediately pour browned butter into glass measuring cup to cool slightly.

    Whisk sugar, eggs, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add flour and vanilla and whisk until smooth.  Slowly (as not to slosh it out of the bowl) whisk browned butter into sugar-egg mixture; whisk until well blended.   (Truly - I did not use a mixer - just my large whisk.)

    Arrange pitted cherries in bottom of cooled crust.  It's ok to be a little anal-retentive about this part.   
      
                

    Now, carefully pour browned butter mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake bars until filling is golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 36-40 minutes.   Cool bars completely in pan on rack.

                

    Carefully remove cooled bars from pan and place them on a cutting board.  Be sure and use a very sharp knife to cut into squares.  Go slowly with the cherries so you don't "pull them out" of the bars.   

    OH MY - aren't they gorgeous??  So pretty and incredibly tasty!  James and I could NOT eat just one! 



    NOTES:   

    1.  If you use fresh cherries, you will need to pit the cherries.  I do not own an official cherry pitter, but I have pitted cherries before.    All you need is a chopstick and a bowl.  Simply hold the cherry (remove stem) and pop the chopstick through the cherry and the pit will come right out into the bowl.

    2.  IF you do not eat these bars immediately, be sure to put them in an airtight tupperware for storage in the fridge.  I did not do this with some of my bars and they got a little soggy - in my opinion.

    3.  I cut them very small, so I ended up with about thirty 2" x 1" bars. 

    4.  According to the Smitten Kitchen - you can easily substitute other fruit for the cherries, such as raspberries, pear slices, apple slices, etc.  Since these were so good and easy to make -- I may just try this with pears since I have a bag of them in my fridge. 

    ENJOY!!

    Your Georgia Peach

    Southern-style Brunswick Stew

    SO, I'm assuming that most of my readers know how fanatical we Southerner's are about BBQ.  People drone on and on about vinegar-BBQ sauce vs sweet, thick BBQ sauce vs South Carolina mustard sauce?   Do you serve it with Texas toast, white bread or rice?  Do you like PORK barbecue or BEEF barbecue?  OY!  People will argue for days! 

    I once read a quote in the Saturday Evening Post that said.....  "Get ten people together, and where the Irish would start a fight, Georgians will start a barbecue.”   This is so funny AND very true!   

    You see, barbecue is not just food -- BBQ is an event!  We Southerner's don't have picnics - we have BBQ's.  LOL!  James and I always serve BBQ (smoked pork butt to be exact) at our UGA football tailgates!  Dang it -- it's a tradition and there's only one way to do it!  <stomping foot>

    WELL.... not really!     Actually, there are so many options and what you like -- usually simply depends upon where you were raised!     Considering that I'm a Georgia Peach..... raised right here in Georgia .... my personal favorite is smoked pork bbq!  YUM..... I can eat it 'til it runs out my ears and truthfully, my husband is a master at smoking a boston butt!  He has this "secret" spice mix that he puts all over it and then he tucks it into the smoker until it emerges tasting (and smelling) just glorious!  He also makes his own vinegar-based BBQ sauce - which has a really nice 'kick' to it.   

    AND if you are having BBQ, you must have Brunswick Stew.  My Nanie used to make a delicious brunswick stew, but unfortunately I never got her recipe.     That totally breaks my heart........ but nothing I can do now.

    Anyway, recently we had several events back-to-back and ended up with an entire smoked Boston Butt left over!  I really didn't want to freeze it, so I decided to chop up all the meat and make Brunswick Stew.   I perused 5-6 different recipes and then started making small batches until I came up with what James & I consider the perfect recipe!  ALSO - and yes, it is my mantra - but, you are going to love HOW easy this is!!

                

    BRUNSWICK STEW

    Now, before we begin -- I want to share with you that you have several options for the shredded boston butt that this recipe calls for:   You can smoke your own meat or if you really want to make this quick, you can run by your favorite local BBQ joint and buy some shredded pork. 

    Also, you will notice that the recipe calls for shredded chicken -- be sure to use your mixer to make this a quick, easy step:   Shredding chicken


    Ingredients

    1-1/2 pounds smoked pork shoulder roast (Boston Butt), shredded
    3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
    1 16 oz can chopped white potatoes
    1 large onion, chopped
    2 (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
    3/4 cup bottled BBQ sauce – I used KC Masterpiece
    1-1/4 cup bottled vinegar based BBQ sauce
    28 oz chicken broth
    1 (16 oz) can baby lima beans
    1 (16 oz)) can whole kernel corn
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon pepper  

    Stir together all ingredients in large pot.  Bring to a boil, then cover and cook on low for 30 minutes.   Ladle stew into bowls. 

    Lastly, you will want to serve this fab stew with spicy saltines.  DO this:  
    Spicy Saltines.  You will not be disappointed!! 

    ENJOY!

    ~Your Georgia Peach

    The smitten kitchen and popcorn cookies!

    For several years now I have been a huge fan of Deb Perelman's blog, The Smitten Kitchen (www.smittenkitchen.com).    Her recipes are refreshingly "new-fangled" and so interesting!  Now I will admit that some of her recipes contain ingredients that can be a little difficult to find at times, but when you have all the ingredients,  her recipes are wonderful!

    Sometime in 2012 Deb came out with her "Smitten Kitchen" Cookbook.   I immediately wanted it but the $25 pricetag (it is hardback) kind of stopped me.... don't forget we had a wedding to pay for in 2012.      Anyway, fast forward to November 2013 and I'm browsing my local library -- one of my MOST favorite things to do -- and there is Deb's cookbook.   S-C-O-R-E!  I snatched it up quickly and checked it out thinking I would have three long weeks with this bad boy and I would read every page at my leisure...... and I have! 

    My opinion:  I love this cookbook and will likely purchase it -- maybe in e-reader form for my Kindle since that is only $15.   The stories are funny, the recipes divine and her photos are to die for!  Anyway, one of the recipes that totally caught my eye, is the following recipe which is fun and yummy (and amazingly enough, I only edited the recipe slightly).  LOL!  According to Deb P, you should make your own popcorn on the stove using a pot, oil and kernels.  Huh?  Uh yeah, no way.  I used a bag of Kroger brand microwave popcorn and it worked just fine.  Now, I did buy the butter popcorn type since Deb's recipe calls for butter too.....

    Aren't these great?  SO neat...... and really chewy and delightful!  Totally not what you expect -- but it really works! 

                


    BUTTERED POPCORN COOKIES

    4 cups buttered popcorn
    1 stick butter, softened
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/3 cup white sugar
    1 large egg
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    3/4 tsp baking soda

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.  

    In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda and flour.   Set aside. 

    Cream together the butter and both sugars, until smooth.  Now add egg and vanilla extract.  Beat until well mixed.

    Now mix the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture and beat until smooth.  Using a spatula, fold the popcorn into the mixture.  It is going to look like there is too much popcorn for this to work -- but trust me, it will work.  Just keep folding it all together and don't worry if some of the popcorn pieces break up a bit.  

    Once all mixed together, drop the dough onto the pan in heaping tablespoons, being sure to space the cookies 2 inches apart.    Bake for 10-12 minutes and take out when the edges are light brown.  Once you remove from the oven, let the cookies cool on the pan for at least 3 minutes, then remove them to a rack and them the cool completely.  

    (Recipe makes approx. 2-1/2 dozen cookies)

    ENJOY!

    ~Your Georgia Peach

     

    This Seoul Chicken has soul.... :)

    As some of you may know, James really prefers a low-carb diet.  He finds that he is able to maintain and/or lose weight while watching his carbohydrate intake.  As for me, I'm more of a calorie counter.  I know myself well enough that I cannot deny myself certain foods I love - such as bread, potatoes, sugar - without it getting really ugly really quickly.  LOL!

    To keep us both happy, we try hard to cook entrees that both of us can enjoy.  This is one of those recipes.  This recipe can very easily be prepared as low-carb or "normally".  The low-carb count is 4 carbs per piece of chicken (yay!) and only 300 calories per piece of chicken.   That's a huge win-win in my world.   

    Also, remember how I mentioned that I like to prep dinner before I head out to boot camp/exercise?  Well - this recipe works perfectly for that time table as the chicken needs to marinate for at least one hour, so I whip up the marinade and let these babies soak up all the delicious marinade while I'm gone -- then cook the chicken when I return.   The other night, I served this dish with sauteed brussel sprouts & orange bell pepper and it was ALL really super!

    Look at the colors and textures of this dish?  The skin is crispy and oh so flavorful and the "sweet" Seoul flavor is light and nutty - but not too sweet!  James and I both gave this two thumbs up!!



                

    SO, now that I've whetted your appetite, let's cook!

    SEOUL CHICKEN

    6-8 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
    5 Tbs Soy sauce
    1/4 cup granular Splenda (OR 1/4 cup white sugar)
    1/2 tsp pepper
    1/4 cup green onion, chopped
    1 Tbs minced garlic
    1 Tbs sesame oil
    5 Tbs water
    1 tsp Xantham gum (OR 2 tsp cornstarch)

    Place the chicken pieces in a gallon size ziploc bag.  Mix the remaining ingredients (except the Xantham gum/cornstarch) in a small bowl.  Pour the marinade into the bag with the chicken pieces.  Close the bag and knead gently to coat all of the chicken pieces.  Put in the fridge and marinate for at least one hour.  If YOU remember (I did not - LOL), turn the bag over occasionally.

    Now dump the entire contents of the bag in a 9x13 glass baking dish.  Arrange the thighs skin side up.  Pop into a cold oven and turn oven on to 425 degrees.  Bake for 45-55 minutes until the meat is done.  Remove the chicken from the dish to a serving platter and cover to keep warm.  

    Skim most of the fat off the juices in the pan and pour into a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then lightly sprinkle the Xanthum gum over the liquid while whisking briskly.  Be careful not to let it get too thick or you will end up with glue.      IF you are using cornstarch, lightly sprinkle the cornstarch into the hot juices and sprinkle vigorously -- it will thicken up nicely.

    Serve immediately.

    **Of course, you can also serve the unthickened juices over the chicken if you like.**

    ENJOY!

    ~Your Georgia Peach

    About me:

    Hi, I'm Stephanie and I am a true Georgia peach! I was born and raised in Atlanta, GA and still live there today! I am a 40-something mom to two boys. Schmoo is a Junior at the University of Georgia along with his sweet GF, JQ. The Ensign graduated from the US Naval Academy in 2012 and he and his adorable wife, Cutie-pie, are stationed in Norfolk, VA. I've been married to my college sweetheart James for 26 years and even though we are now empty nesters - our house is still brimming over with 3 dogs and 2 cats! As for me, I love to read, cook and spend time with my family & friends. :-)

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