Chocolate Chip & Peach Cookies

My kids drew things they know I love them more than.

After a parent told me that my empty bulletin boards made the room “look sad,” I had the kids decorate them.

Last Thursday was the 180th school day. My kindergarteners and I celebrated in the most appropriate way we could think of: by watching a Disney movie and eating sprinkle cookies. At 12:30, I hugged each of my kids goodbye, tried not to ugly-cry (at least, not in front of them), and sent them off for summer break.

However, just because my students are on summer break does not mean that I’m done and beach-bound. For the past two days, we teachers have packed up our rooms and stripped the brightly colored decorations off our walls. Our classrooms are huge, empty shells and the whole thing is, frankly, incredibly depressing.

My coworker and friend Lindsay has been using the hashtag “#99daysofsummer” in her Facebook and Instagram posts, so I’ve got to believe that’s how many days we’ve got until we head back to school for pre-planning. And knowing how fast 180 school days went by means that I’ll blink and all 99 summer days will be gone. Since I’m not willing to miss out on pretty much anything, I need to jump start myself. Enter: peaches.

For me, no fruit screams “it’s summer!” louder than a peach. (I know, I know, watermelons, but aside from using them in seed-spitting contests, I’ll pass.) There isn’t a dignified way to eat a whole, ripe peach. Go ahead, try to bite into a really ripe, sweet peach and not have juice drip all over your face and fingers. That mess means summer.

#99daysofsummer. Don’t miss a single one!

Chocolate Chip & Peach Cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tbsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup fresh diced peaches
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ.
2. Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Add in egg and vanilla and continue beating for 1-2 minutes.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt.
5. Add flour mixture into egg mixture 1/4 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as-needed.
6. Add peaches and chocolate chips. Use a spatula to combine.
7. On a parchment-lined cookie sheet, scoop dough and roll into 1 1/2″ balls and place on cookie sheet about an inch apart.
8. Bake for around 10 minutes, until golden brown.
Note: because of the moisture of the peaches, cookies with more peach chunks may need to be cooked a bit longer.

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Strawberry Pie

A few weeks ago, my sister told me about a contest a grocery store chain was running. It was the start of strawberry season here in Florida (one of my favorite seasons, by far) and all you had to do was upload a picture and a recipe of something you made with strawberries to their contest page on Facebook. From there, the general public could vote on which recipe they liked best and the winner would get $500 in gift cards to that grocery store. I debated whether or not I’d actually enter the contest, because I am ridiculously competitive. Usually, if I don’t think I’m going to win, I’m not going to play because I hate losing that much. But Katie sent me the link to the other entries and after seeing what I was up against (one person just submitted a picture of blueberries with a spoonful of sugar on them. Blueberries. In a contest about strawberries. I mean, really?) I was pretty sure I could win.

I didn’t win first place. And it’s taken me this long to get past the fact that my strawberry pie recipe, which takes a few hours to make, lost to two canned Pillsbury cinnamon rolls cut into hearts and baked with strawberries between them. Ok, so maybe I’m not 100% over that one yet.

The good that came out of this, though, is this pie. Every person that’s tried it has enjoyed it and that’s more important to me than some silly contest.

Though, the $500 would’ve been nice.

Strawberry Pie

Strawberry Pie

For the crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for the surface)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp table salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks

1. In a large food processor, pulse together flour, sugar and salt. Add in the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add egg and egg yolks and combine until the mixture just begins to come together.
2. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface, shape into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap for about an hour.
3. Grease/generously spray with cooking spray one 9-inch pie or tart pan. Press dough into the pan and trim excess dough, leaving between 1/4″-1/2″ around the edges. [I baked my pie without a top crust, but this recipe has extra dough so you can make a pretty lattice on top of your pie.]

For the filling:
4 pints of fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp corn starch
1 1/2 tsp gellatin
dash salt

1. Place 1/3 of the strawberries into a food processor. Pulse until pureed.
2. In a medium pan, whisk together sugar, corn starch, gellatin, and salt. Using a heat-proof rubber spatula, mix in the strawberry puree and heat over medium-high heat.
3. Stir constantly, scraping down the sides and bottom of the pan, until the mixture turns dark and thickens (about 2-3 minutes after it starts boiling).
4. Remove from heat and place in a heat-proof bowl to cool.
5. Once cooled, take the remaining 2/3 hulled and halved strawberries and mix them into the cooked strawberry mixture, trying to coat every strawberry.
6. Pour strawberries into pie crust. [If you want a lattice top crust, place the lattice pieces over the top of the pie and brush with egg whites. If not, crimp the 1/4″-1/2″ edges with your fingers.]
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes (until crust is golden brown).
8. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours and serve.