Summer Sweets: Peaches-and-Cream Ice Pops

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

I’ve got another long weekend ahead of me since I took this coming Monday off from work as a bit of a “personal day.” Originally, I had plans in the Cape with some friends- but it ended up not happening due to scheduling conflicts for a few of us so now I’m simply taking the day to rest, recharge- and maybe hit the beach or Ashfield Lake again.

And while temperatures are soaring here in New England- I thought today would be as good a time as any to share a really delicious, super easy-to-make-and-freeze Popsicle treat for yourself and/or your guests to beat the heat with!

If you like real fruit, Greek yogurt and refreshing desserts- then you are going to *love* this recipe!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 pound (453g) peaches, peeled and cut into wedges
  • ⅓ cup (66g) light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1½ cups (340g) plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup (112g) crème fraîche
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Arrange the peaches in an even layer on a baking sheet. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt; toss to combine.
  2. Roast the peaches until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt, crème fraîche, vanilla and almond extract to combine. Transfer about three quarters of the mixture to a container with a pour spout.
  4. Add the cooled peaches to the remaining yogurt mixture in the bowl. Use a potato masher to mash the two together (it’s okay if there are chunks of peaches left)
  5. Pour 2 tablespoons of the yogurt mixture into each ice-pop mold. Follow with 4 tablespoons of the peach mixture, then 4 tablespoons of the yogurt mixture. Continue alternating the two until the molds are full. It’s okay if the layers swirl together.
  6. Place an ice-pop stick in the center of each mold and transfer to the freezer. Freeze until solid, at least 2 hours.
  7. Run the molds under warm water and then unmold the ice pops. Keep frozen until ready to serve.

Honestly, the hardest part of this recipe was the waiting for the ice pops to freeze so I could finally enjoy one in front of my air conditioner! And, once I did- I was so relieved these tasted just as good as they looked.

I love a good ice pop this time of year- and I’m thinking I may try to incorporate pineapple or mango instead of peaches the next time I attempt this one. Something with a little more citrus and sour behind it. We’ll see how it goes!

I’m off to get some work done before I take off for the next few days- but here’s wishing you all a wonderful weekend ahead. I’ll be back- bright and early- on Monday morning. ‘Til then- have fun, wear sunscreen and stay hydrated out there!

xx

– Ashley –

Brunch Bites: Mini Quiches with Hash Brown Crusts

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

While I don’t leave for vacation until Wednesday morning- I’m pretty much already there mentally at this point. Although I have a longtime fear of flying- I’ve reached such a point of emotional and physical exhaustion that I know I’m going to sleep like a baby the second the plane takes off and will hopefully wake up feeling refreshed and ready to soak up the sunshine when I land in Vegas!

I digress. My perpetual feeling of sleepiness is the result of being a bit overworked and overwhelmed with my move right now (as well as all the rain we’ve been getting!) and thankfully has nothing to do with poor diet- as made evident by this positively exquisite dish I prepared for brunch over this past weekend.

With just a few ingredients and under an hour of your time- you can make these little and totally customizable quiches, too!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

FOR THE CRUST

  • 3 cups frozen hash browns, thawed and drained well
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Pinch of salt

FOR THE FILLING

  • 6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled into bits
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 7 eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup white cheddar cheese, grated

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. MAKE THE CRUST: Preheat the oven to 425°. Lightly grease a standard-size muffin tin. In a medium bowl, toss the hash browns with the butter and salt until well combined.
  2. Place 2 tablespoons hash browns into each cup of the muffin tin. Press gently into the base to form a crust. It’s OK if the potatoes come up slightly around the edge of the cup.
  3. Bake the hash-brown crust until it’s golden and crisp, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°.
  4. MAKE THE FILLING: Place about 1 tablespoon bacon into each crust, then top with a few pieces of tomato.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk and season with salt and pepper. Pour the custard into each cup, stopping about ¼ inch below the top rim. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake until the quiches are puffed up and golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin. Serve warm.

Honestly, I could probably eat an entire dozen of these on my own in one sitting- because they were delicious and one or two didn’t feel like nearly enough for me by the time I was finished. Between the hash brown crust and the fluffy egg loaded with bacon and tomato- I was on Cloud Nine during my entire brunch get-together.

I know I’ll be whipping these up again after I’m moved into the new apartment and I finally have a chance to go grocery shopping!

I’m off to do some last minute crunching at my office to get things done before I take off to the West Coast- but I’ll be back on Wednesday morning with a pre-flight recap of my weekend!

Enjoy your Monday, everyone! Here’s hoping it’s easy and stress-free for all of you!

xx

– Ashley –

Easter Eats: Cookies-and-Cream Shortbread Cookies

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

In my family, both immediate and extended- making the time to have occasional big, family dinners with lots of food and conversation is really important. The older everyone gets, and the more responsibilities and other commitments/engagements that come up- the harder it is to get everyone together.

We all know and understand that- which is why we treasure holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter (and sometimes the 4th of July or Memorial Day during the Summer!) It’s when everyone can be together and eat, drink and be merry.

My mother hosts Easter at her home every year- and while she typically enjoys taking charge and putting together the menu- she never says no to any dishes anyone wants to bring with them to share. When I bring food, I typically gravitate towards appetizers (they’re so much fun!) and side dishes- but I’m also known to whip up some pretty good desserts, too.

This year, in lieu of my usual “safe desserts” like thumbprint cookies or my experimental cakes and pies- I thought I’d bring this fun spin on shortbread cookies, instead- which is a chocolate lover’s dream!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

FOR THE COOKIES:

  • 15 chocolate sandwich cookies
  • ½ cup (56g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup (226g) cubed unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (241g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

FOR THE GLAZE:

  • 1 cup (113g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. MAKE THE COOKIES: Preheat the oven to 300°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the cookies until they form fine crumbs, about 1 minute. Remove 2 tablespoons of the cookie crumbs and reserve in a small bowl.
  3. Add the confectioners’ sugar to the food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and process until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl of the food processor well.
  4. Add the flour and salt, and pulse until the dough comes together, about 30 seconds. Add the vanilla and process until combined.
  5. Divide the dough in half and then form each piece into an inch-thick disk. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to ⅓ inch thick. Cut the dough into circles using a round fluted cookie cutter and then transfer to the prepared baking sheets.
  6. Bake until the cookies start to brown at the edges, 15 to 17 minutes. Cool completely.
  7. MAKE THE GLAZE: In a medium bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar and cream until a thick glaze forms. Working one at a time, spoon 1 teaspoon of glaze on top of each cookie. Let the glaze set for 5 minutes, then sprinkle the reserved cookie crumbs on top of each cookie. The glaze will fully set in another 10 to 15 minutes and then the cookies are ready to serve.

I had opted to sprinkle crumbled up sandwich cookie chunks on top of the still-setting glaze as opposed to the finely pulsed cookie crumbs I’d initially used to create the dough- since I thought it gave these a more fun look- but you can do it by the book if desired!

The result is a sweet, decadent dessert that serves as the perfect finale to a great meal! I can’t wait for my mother to see (and eat) these when I bring the next batch to her house.

And with that being said- there are lots of big changes happening at my job this week, which I’ll discuss at a later time when I have a free moment- and I’m here bright and early to get the jump on them and stay on top of things!

I’m off- but here’s wishing you all an easy start to your day and your work week!

xx

– Ashley –

Brunch Bites: Berry Ricotta Croissant French Toast

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Although I’ve been working pretty much non-stop since Monday and will more than likely be working through the weekend, as well- I did find some time this past Sunday to whip up a quick, easy, creative- and delicious- brunch recipe that I had been inspired by while browsing PUREWOW.

Ricotta in French Toast was something I’d never considered before- since i usually only put it in on my pizza or in my salads and lasagna- but I’m really glad I gave this a shot because it was so unbelievably sweet and tasty!

This recipe, which only takes about a half hour total to prep and assemble- is completely customizable, as well. You can use any type of berries and toppings you like- and it will taste incredible regardless!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 small croissants
  • Butter, for greasing
  • Cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling (this is optional!)
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup fresh berries (your choice! I used strawberries this time around.)
  • Maple syrup, for serving

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In a shallow, medium size bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon until combined. Dip the croissants into the egg mixture, allowing each side to sit for 1-2 minutes in the egg mixture.
  2. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat and coat generously with butter. When the skillet is hot, cook the croissants in batches (do not overcrowd) until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, if desired.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the ricotta. Stir in 1 tablespoon honey for added sweetness.
  4. Carefully slice open the croissants length-wise, and using a small spoon- fill each croissant with portions of the cream/ricotta mixture.
  5. In a small bowl, mash half the berries. Stir in the remaining whole berries. 5. Serve the french toast topped with additional ricotta, berries, and maple syrup.

This was another huge hit for me and my friends- who cleaned their plates and came around looking for seconds! I know I’ll be making this again- but I intend to find some more ricotta-filled recipes moving forward since it’s a much more universal ingredient than I previously gave it credit for!

But the morning is underway and I’m off to answer e-mails, voicemails, and maybe sneak in a nap under my desk- but you didn’t read that and you certainly won’t tell anyone- right?

Have a great “Hump Day”, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Festive Foodie: Mom’s Corned Beef

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I didn’t forget that yesterday was Saint Patrick’s Day when I posted my “Spring Cleaning” update last Friday- but when you live in Massachusetts and St. Paddy’s falls on a weekend- the party sort of extends into the days leading up to and following the actual holiday until everyone eventually gets tired/hungover and collectively decide it’s time to pack it up until next year.

Such was the case this past weekend, which consisted of plenty of Irish breakfasts, brunches, celebratory parades and green-tinted everything. While I managed to avoid overzealous college students chugging green beer and people dressed like leprechauns loudly trying to trace back their family’s lineage to Ireland (as is tradition!)– there was one thing I made it a point not to skip- and that was my mom’s annual corned beef dinner.

My family isn’t Irish enough for it to actually count- but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate our Irish friends with a traditional meal of meat and vegetables. I asked my mom for her recipe to share here this week- and although she doesn’t actually measure out anything (it’s all from memory!)– she was kind enough to oblige and give her best “guest-imates” on how much of everything to use.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 corned beef brisket (point cut or flat cut)
  • 1 bag of red or yellow potatoes
  • 1 bag of carrots (whole or cut)
  • 1 head of green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup brown sugar

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Put corned beef in a pot, and cover with water and seasoning (optional.) Boil the corned beef until fork tender.
  2. Add potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Finish boiling under vegetables are tender.
  3. Heat oven to 400°F.
  4. Take the cooked corned beef and place it in a baking pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top and bake until the sugar is melted and a little crispy- about 20-25 minutes.
  5. Plate the corned beef with the vegetables and serve.

Now, admittedly the cabbage went right into the garbage because, you know- cabbage is gross– but everything else was delicious! I love tender carrots and potatoes- and the brown sugar that was added to the corned beef gave it a pleasantly surprising sweetness I hadn’t expected.

I hope that all of you who celebrated yesterday are recovering smoothly and that today is as easygoing as possible for you. Naturally, I’m back at work and keeping two steps ahead of everything (or trying to, anyway!) so this morning is all about answering e-mails, voicemails, and prioritizing tasks. Living the dream as always!

Here’s wishing us all a good week ahead. I’ll be back on Wednesday with my weekend recap!

xx

– Ashley –