With Sweet Dreams and Even Sweeter Days

Monday, February 17, 2014

Lemon Lime Chess Pie

I'm normally not someone who suffers from the typical "winter blues".  I enjoy living somewhere that experiences the change of seasons and don't feel the need to rush right from Christmastime straight into summer.

Don't get me wrong, come March when the weather is still a little icky and sometimes pretty cold I'm ready for warmth but up until then I'm usually set.

This year however, I seem to be craving the sunshine and dreaming of warm weather and beaches a little more than usual.

Homemade pie crust is a labor of love.  And totally worth the extra time and effort.  The perfect vessel to bring some sunshine, even if it's just in pie form for right now.  Buttery dough, filled with sweet lemon and lime sugar filling, and topped with silky lightly sweetened whipped cream, this pie is perfect for brightening any cold winter day, or really any day for that matter.

And until I can get some sunshine of my own, it's just what I need.

Lemon Lime Chess Pie
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Servings: 10-12


For the Crust:

For the Pie Dough:
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 10 Tbsp very cold unsalted butter, cut into Tablespoons
- 2 1/2 Tbsp very cold vegetable shortening, cut into 2-3 pieces
- 1/4 cup ice water

For the Filling:
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 Tbsp cornmeal
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 eggs
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 2 Tbsp grated lime zest
- 2 Tbsp grated lemon zest

For the Topping:

- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


Make Pie Dough:

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer filled with the paddle attachment.  Pulse to combine.  Drop in butter and shortening and pulse just until cut into flour.  Don't over mix.  Look for pieces of butter and shortening the size of green peas.  Pulsing the machine on and off gradually add 3 Tbsp water.  Use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour.  If after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn't look evenly moistened, pulse in remaining water as necessary to get a dough that will stick together when pinched.  Big pieces of butter are ok.  Combine dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Butter a 9-inch pie plate.  Roll out the dough into a 12 inch circle on a lightly floured work surface.  Fit the dough to the pie plate and cut excess to a 1/2 inch overhang.  Tuck overhang under itself and pinch into a design if desired (or press with the tines of a fork!).  Chill until ready to fill.

Make Filling:
In a large bowl combine the sugar, cornmeal, and salt.  Stir with a fork until fully mixed.  Add remaining ingredients and whisk until completely blended.  Pour the filling into the prepared pie dough and bake 40-45 minutes.  Cool completely.

To Make Topping:
Whip heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla at high speed until stiff peaks form.  Spread over pie just before serving.

Recipe adapted from: A Year of Pies

Monday, January 13, 2014

Things I'm Loving Lately: Fall/Winter 2013/2014 Edition

Fall views.

Nights in my favorite city.

Finding BBQ worthy of multiple trips in Philadelphia.

Weekend trips.

Nights like this.

Festive outfits.

Homemade fig newtons.

Science puns.

Candid happiness.

Loving everything about 2013.

But embracing what's to come.

To a fresh year and a happy start.
2014, here we go!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fudge Mint Double Cookies

If teaching has taught me one, it is that our differences most definitely make us stronger.

To suspect that age is the only marker of a human's intelligence is the perfect way to stop some of the best ideas imaginable to come into light.

Everyone you will ever meet knows something that you don't.
- Bill Nye

Around holiday times, however, these differences tend to sometimes be a sore subject, left with words unspoken so as to not offend and a lack of celebration seeming like the only safe way to make everyone happy.

Whatever holiday you celebrate, celebrate it well, and celebrate it with the people you love.  We may certainly be different, but truthfully that's half the fun.

The world could use a bit more reason to celebrate, and I'm happy to comply.

Cookies on cookies, during the holidays when indulgence runs second nature is the perfect time to debut these.  Five ingredients.  Maximum ease and wow factor.   More time for celebrating.

Let's do just that.
A very happy holiday to you.

Fudge Mint Double Cookies
Printer Friendly Version
Servings: Approximately 2 dozen cookies

- 1 box devil's food cake mix
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 Tbsp water
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 24 thin mint cookies (available all year round in various brands)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cake mix, water, and softened butter until well combined.  Beat in eggs until well combined.  Roll approximately 1 inch dough balls in powdered sugar and place at least 2 inches apart on baking sheets.  Bake 9-11 minutes (rotating pans halfway through) until cookies have begun to set.  Immediately push a thin mint into each cookie.  Cool on wire racks completely.

Recipe adapted from: Taste of Home

Monday, December 9, 2013

Open Faced Pumpkin Cream Whoopie Pies

Most days, it seems, were all just looking for some balance, most definitely myself included.

Described as a renaissance woman on a good day, and indecisive on a bad one, I myself am always searching for balance in my life in more ways than one.

Never was this more present than in my college days.  A self-proclaimed "future pharmacist" from the age of 5 years old onward, I arrived at Temple University and discovered *shockingly* that I didn't actually want to be a pharmacist.  From then on choosing what I wanted to do FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE (dramatically at the time) felt overwhelming and daunting in all senses.

Pharmacist -> Journalist -> Science Teacher -> Elementary School Teacher -> Science Teacher

Any time I turned my back on science I missed it and felt incomplete, and yet couldn't seem to find how to fit it all in.

I spent part of the time under the impression that nothing would in fact, make me happy and fulfilled in a career.

And then, slowly but surely, it snuck up on me.  Without a doubt, 7th grade science is where I am meant to be.  I look forward to Monday morning just as much as Friday afternoon.  But most importantly what I've come to realize is that I've found a career that inspires me to pursue all of my other interests as well.

If you're at a point in your life where something seems like it's out of place, keep searching.  It's out there.  Maybe a massive change of career isn't as a dramatic of a shift that you need to make.  Just pursue what makes you happy, and you'll find in time you'll get there.

I am a teacher.  A baker.  A blogger.  And probably always searching for even more.  Because if I've learned one thing, it's that being a life-long learner isn't the worst thing to be, and happiness comes from  figuring it all out - and it will never be figured all out.

And for the days when even this seems a bit too daunting - redefining a classic recipe fits the mold just fine.  A bit dense as two sided and filled whoopie pies, as open faced they are just enough.  Mildly sweet, soft, creamy, and filling.

It's true we can't always change or make the rules for life - but with whoopee pies, we definitely can.

The universe has its own way of balancing itself of (scientifically speaking and otherwise). We will all get there in time.

Open Faced Pumpkin Cream Whoopie Pies
Servings: Approximately 30 cookies


For Cookies:
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 3 cups pumpkin puree
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For Cream Cheese Frosting
- 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Make cookies.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with either parchment paper or silicon baking mats.  In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.  Set aside.  In another bowl whisk together sugars and oil.  Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine with sugar.  Sprinkle the flour mixture over top and whisk to combine.  Scoop rounds of batter 1- 1 1/2 inches in diameter onto baking sheets, flattening slightly if desired.  Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until cookies are beginning to crack on tip and a toothpick inserted into one comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Make frosting.  Combine butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until completely smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, maple syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Frost cooled whoopee pies and enjoy.

Recipe adapted from: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Honey Roasted Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

Some days, it feels like life keeps trying to teach me the same lessons over and over.

On good days I feel like I'm getting better with them, and on bad days it just feels like the same old strike out.

The sting of when things don't exactly go as planned, or when circumstances are out of your control.

Maybe there is no right way to handle hurt, but to just accept that is comes and goes in life, and to realize we do the best we can with where we are.

Being thankful for what's going well and letting what might not be push you to be better.
Remembering that joy doesn't depend on circumstance.

Find your balance, even if today it's just in something like this.

Happiness embodied in chocolate, honey roasted peanuts, and oatmeal cookie topping.

Simple indulgence. Made for sharing.

Just sweet enough for any and every day.

Honey Roasted Chocolate Oatmeal Bars
Printer Friendly Version
Servings: 22-24 bars


For Oatmeal Bars:
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 16 Tbsp unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 2 cups light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup salted honey roasted peanuts (roughly chopped)

For Chocolate Layer
- 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp sa;t
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup honey roasted peanuts (roughly chopped)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cover the bottom of a 9x13 inch paper with parchment paper.  Grease the sides of the pan with butter.

Make the oatmeal cookie layer.  In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Whisk to combine.  In a separate bowl beat the butter on medium-high speed until soft and creamy.  Add the brown sugar and beat until well combined, 1-2 minutes.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Blend in vanilla.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Mix in dry ingredients until just combined.  Stir in oats and peanuts.  Set 1 1/2 cups aside.

Press remaining dough into pan in an even layer.

Make the chocolate layer.  Set a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water.  In heat proof bowl combine condensed milk, chocolate chips, butter, and salt.  Stir until warm and combined.  Remove from heat and stir in remaining vanilla and peanuts.

Pour chocolate layer over cookie layer in pan.  Spread evenly.  Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over top of chocolate evenly.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until topping is golden town and chocolate layer has started to set.  Let cool on a wire rack completely.  Cut into bars and serve.

Recipe adapted from: Baking From My Home to Yours