Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Blueberry Nectarine Pie (TWD)

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia recipe was hosted by Hilary of Manchego's Kitchen and Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake: Blueberry Nectarine Pie.  This pie is about as summer as you can get.  I love taking advantage of fresh fruits that are in season. 

In this recipe, the blueberries and nectarines get cooked down in a little bit of lime zest and brown sugar and then they're tossed in some fresh lime juice with more fresh blueberries and nectarines.  The lime is what really brings out the flavors in the fruit.  This pie was delicious, and the only thing I'd probably change is to double the fruit next time, as my pie came out a bit thin.
Thanks to Hilary and Liz for hosting; you can find the recipe on their blogs here and here.  Make sure you check here, too, to see what everyone else thought of this fruit-filled summer treat.

* Recipe notes:
- You'll definitely want to use a pie crust shield or cover the edges of your pie with some foil about half way through the baking process to prevent the edges from getting burned.
- I had to bake my pie about an extra 10-15 minutes before the crust was golden and the fruit juices were bubbling.
- I did not bake my pie on a baking sheet; in my experience that only causes the bottom crust to be undercooked.  Instead, I simply laid a piece of foil at the bottom of the oven to catch any juices that might bubble over.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Homemade Crackers: Pepper Jack and Oregano Crackers and Cheddar Rosemary Icebox Crackers (DB)

Our July Daring Bakers' Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers! Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.

It's been quite some time since I made homemade crackers, so it's hard for me to compare this experience with my previous one.  However, I found that both of these recipes were extremely quick and easy to execute.  The icebox crackers, in particular, were very simple.  Just mix everything together and form the dough into a log and refrigerate; then slice and bake when ready.

My schedule is a bit hectic these days, so I stuck with the recipes as written and didn't take any creative license with them.  The only thing I changed was to omit the walnuts from the cheddar rosemary crackers because I don't care for nuts.

Both types of crackers were very flavorful.  My only complaint would be that the cheddar rosemary crackers were way too salty; so I'll definitely cut back on the salt next time.  These crackers reminded me of a gourmet version of cheezits; the rosemary is such a wonderful addition.

I really enjoyed this challenge because it reminded me of how much I love making my own crackers.  With a toddler to feed, I love that I can make her a snack that doesn't have all the additives and preservatives that are found in store bought crackers.

Thanks Dana, for hosting this month's challenge.  You'll find the recipes below.  Also be sure to check out the Daring Bakers' Blogroll to see what everyone else thought of these savory homemade treats.

Pepper Jack and Oregano Crackers (Roll with pasta rollers or by hand):

Servings: Approximately 80 crackers


1⅔ cups (400 ml) (235 gm) (8¼ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
2¼ cups (540 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) grated pepper jack cheese, firmly packed
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (1 gm) dried oregano
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) salt
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (½ gm) black pepper
½ cup (120 ml) (4 fl oz) vegetable oil
½ cup (120 ml) (4 fl oz) water

Spice topping

¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1/8 gm) cayenne
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) kosher salt
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) sugar


1. Combine the spice topping and set aside.
2. Grate the cheese and put in the bowl of a food processor with flour, oregano, salt and pepper and pulse to combine. This can also be done by hand.

3. Add the oil and pulse until the consistency of wet sand is reached.
4. Add enough water for the dough to come together.
5. Form the dough into two disks, wrap with cling film and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
6. Heat the oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
7. Working with a quarter of the dough at a time, either use a rolling pin or roll out in your pasta rollers to 1/8 of an inch (3 mm) thick. If you use pasta rollers, ensure the dough is well floured so as not to stick.
8. Cut the strips into cracker shapes or cut out using a cookie cutter.

9. Transfer to a parchment lined cookies sheet and sprinkle with the spice mixture.
10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until medium golden brown.
11. Store in an airtight container and eat within three days

Cheddar, Rosemary and Walnut Icebox Crackers (form into a log and slice):

Servings: Approximately 48 crackers


½ cup (120 ml) (1 stick) (115 gm/4 oz) butter, well softened
2¼ cups (540 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) grated aged cheddar cheese (the better the cheese, the better the cracker), firmly packed
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (285 ml) (190 gm/6oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt (I found this to be way too much! try 1/4-1/2 tsp)
1/2 cup (120 ml) (60 gm/2 oz) finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (1¾ gm) finely chopped rosemary


1. Combine butter, rosemary and cheese in a stand mixer and beat well (can also be done by hand)

2. Add the flour, salt and nuts and stir to combine
3. Form the dough into two tight logs and wrap with cling film

4. Chill for at least an hour and up to several days. The log can be frozen at this point for several months.
5. Heat the oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
6. Slice a log into 5mm (1/5 inch) coins and place on a parchment lined baking sheet
7. Bake about 10 minutes until golden brown
8. Store in an airtight container and eat within three days
9. Try this recipe with different cheeses, nuts (or no nuts), and spices. Get creative!

Storage and Freezing Instructions/Tips:

Generally crackers with less fat and cheese last for weeks in an airtight container and richer crackers only a few days. Dough can be made days ahead, stored in the fridge and baked when needed. The icebox cracker dough can be frozen for several months before thawed, sliced and baked.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dove Visible Care Body Wash & Spa Certificate Giveaway

I'm a busy working mom.  Sadly, since the birth of my little girl, I've had less and less time to devote to this blog.  I'm thankful to all my readers who still check in on this blog, despite the less frequent updates.  I know the other mothers out there can relate to what I'm talking about.  Sometimes life is so hectic and chaotic, that something as simple as taking a hot shower feels like a day at the spa! It's my own "me time" where I don't have to worry about getting anything else done for anyone else but myself.

I was recently sent a sample of Dove Visible Care Renewing Body Wash to try out at home. It's part of a new line of premium body washes made by Dove that contains the highest concentration of Nutrium Moisture technology of all Dove products.  I was a bit skeptical that you could really see any kind of difference in a short amount of time, but after using it for just a week, I could actually tell that my skin was softer.  I love that I can improve the look and feel of my skin by using a product that is already part of my daily routine - a body wash - instead of adding another step to my regimen because quite frankly, as a busy mom, my skin care regimen is quite minimal these days!

It is available in three varieties: New Dove® VisibleCare Toning Crème Body Wash helps to promote skin’s elasticity and strength, Renewing Body Wash nourishes and replenishes skin, and Softening Body Wash softens skin and dry spots.
Not all of us have the time or money to go pamper ourselves at the spa... but this is one small way that you can pamper yourself with more beautiful looking skin in one easy step.  Of course we'd all love some real pampering at the spa, though, right? So, if you'd be interested in entering a sweepstakes to win one of two $500 spa gift cards, follow the instructions below to enter. Even if you don't win, be sure to visit Dove® VisibleCare® to get a coupon for $1 off!

Enter to win one of two $500 Spafinder gift certificates!


You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Follow this link, and provide your email address and your response to the Promotion prompt
b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: "#SweepstakesEntry"; and then visit this link to provide your email address and the URL to that Tweet.
c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and then visit this link to provide your email address and the URL to that post.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. Winners will have 72 hours to claim the prize, or an alternative winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 7/18/2012 - 8/22/2012

Be sure to visit the Dove® VisibleCare™ Crème Body Wash brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!