Raw Cherry Pie


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I obviously love to bake.  But that doesn’t mean you’ll find me making Ice Cream Sammies or Frosted Brownies on the weekdays, for no special occasion other than to be enjoyed by my husband and myself.

Although, he wishes.

I reserve my crazy deep urge to bake for special occasions or for impromptu occasions (like taking to neighbors or friends).  But sometimes I have to indulge my sweet tooth, so I look for healthy alternatives.
DSC_1455While shopping at Whole Foods last week, I was intrigued by one of their taster stations with “raw cherry pie”.  Cherries were on sale and I was contemplating buying them, so I paused.  Then I tasted.  And next thing you know, I had a pound of cherries in my cart, along with a $13 cherry pitter.

I knew I should buy the OXO cherry pitter some place else, like Bed, Bath, and Beyond (where I had coupons) but I had to make this pie RIGHT.NOW.AND.COULD.NOT.WAIT.  And I convinced myself I would be pitting so many cherries in the future, this makes a great investment!

But, all jokes about my full-price pitter aside, it really is a great tool that I hope inspires me to make cherry pies and cobblers ever more.

Back to this pie, though.
DSC_1447With no baking needed, six ingredients (half of which are always in my pantry), and minimal prep time…..this is a gooooood summer treat.  It’s cool, it’s fresh, and it’s healthy.

Raw Cherry Pie, slightly adapted from Whole Foods Market
serves 4-6

1 cup natural almond butter
1 cup crushed pecans
1 pound cherries (I used Ranier)

In a pie plate, evenly cover the surface with almond butter and pecans, pressing the mix evenly across the bottom to serve as a crust.  I used three smaller dishes, as you’ll see below.
DSC_1440Pit cherries, then place all pitted cherries in a large glass bowl.  Using clean hands, break cherries up by crushing them with your fingers.  I used both hands with fingers wiggling, sort of like if I were breaking up clumps of soil in the garden.

Your cherries will have released some juice, so go ahead and carefully drain most of that juice out so it does not water down your pie.

Drizzle honey over the cherries, generously.  Add a pinch of cumin, then a heavy layer of cinnamon.  Use your hands again to mix ingredients.  I was very heavy-handed on the cinnamon, so taste and add more as you go along, if you like.

Our contents of cherry mixture onto your crust.
DSC_1451Refrigerate until serving.  I sprinkled a bit of crushed pecans and the slightest pinch of turbinado sugar on top for some texture.


Hospitably Yours,

Homemade Ice Cream Sammies


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*Update – my husband informed me, after being the grocery-shopper for this recipe for a weekend BBQ, that rolls of refrigerated cookie dough are no longer called “slice-and-bake”.  I do use the refrigerated roll, not the “ready-to-bake” squares, which tend to be small and a bit squarish when completed.

These are a favorite easy summer dessert for any event (or non-event).
DSC_1386I mean, really.  Look at that melty ice cream.

Summer BBQ?  Ice Cream Sammies.  Treat for the pool?  Ice Cream Sammies.  Lake/River time?  Ice Cream Sammies.

They are the answer to all.

And everyone is always sooooo excited that they’re “homemade”.  Sure, the cookies are slice-and-bake and the ice cream is from a container.  But I assembled these bad boys!  I made them.  At home, no less.
DSC_1428So I’ll call them what I want.

Homemade Ice Cream Sammies
Makes 8-10 sandwiches

1 roll chocolate chip slice-and-bake cookie dough (Pillsbury is my preference)
2.5 cups vanilla ice cream (approximately)
Chopped nuts or sprinkles for garnish, optional

Bake cookies according to package instructions, until cookies are just golden. Softer cookies work best in this recipe, so don’t overbake!  Let cookies cool thoroughly.

Let ice cream sit for about 10 minutes before working with it, to soften it up just a bit.  With a metal baking sheet nearby, start assembling your sammies.  Holding one cookie, top down, in your hand, spoon 2-3 generous tablespoons of ice cream onto center of cookie.  As you place the other cookie on top, you’ll slightly and slowly press cookies together, allowing ice cream to spread towards edges.  Add more ice cream around edges, if needed.

Use a knife or a clean finger to run around the edge of the sammie, touching up the ice cream.

At this point, if you want to garnish the edge, you can roll the sammie in chopped nuts or sprinkles.  Sprinkles are especially fun when kiddos are eating these!

Set finished sammie on baking sheet and start assembling the next one.  You might find – after two – you need to put the baking sheet in the freezer.  Keep adding your completed sammies to the baking sheet in the freezer until you’ve assembled them all.  Let ice cream sandwiches set on baking sheet in freezer for at least two hours.

Serve immediately or save longer by wrapping, individually, in plastic wrap. Store in the freezer.


Nothing beats the summer heat better than this, I assure you!

Hospitably Yours,

Lanna Bear Boat Sangria


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While in DC, we enjoyed a day outing on the Lanna Bear, which is the affectionate pet name for my cousin Lanna’s boat.
IMG_5586The Lanna Bear is a fantastic way to enjoy the DC sights.  We viewed the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Pentagon, and more as we cruised towards Georgetown.
IMG_5576DSC_1055We enjoyed watching planes landing at Reagan National, too.  RIGHT over us!
IMG_5564Then we headed as far south as Mt. Vernon, to view it from water.
DSC_1030DSC_1001There was even time for a nap!

IMG_5585There’s my skipper, lounging on a Lanna Bear embroidered towel (and pillow).  Yes, there’s a terrycloth pillow.

The first time I cruised on the Lanna Bear, we enjoyed Lanna’s refreshing and entirely-addictive sangria.  It has been my summer sangria of choice ever since, rightfully titled “Lanna Bear Boat Sangria”.

Of course I made some the other day as I was reminiscing over trip photos.
DSC_1483Yum, yum, yum.

Lanna Bear Boat Sangria, from Lanna
makes a large pitcher

1 bottle red wine
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 orange, cut into wedges
1 lime, cut into wedges
2 Honeycrisp or Gala apples, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons sugar
Splash of orange juice
2 shots of gin
Ginger Ale

Pour wine into a large pitcher.  Squeeze a bit of juice from lemon, orange, and lime wedges (being careful to avoid pulp and seeds) into pitcher.  Toss citrus wedges into wine, leaving out seeds if possible.  Add apples, sugar, orange juice, and gin.  Chill overnight.

To serve:

  • For self service, add ginger ale and ice to pitcher, and let guests serve themselves or
  • To serve guests individually, put ice into each glass, then fill each glass half full (or more, depending on how strong you want your drink) of wine mixture and top off with ginger ale.

DSC_1479I usually slice some limes and oranges too, as you can see, to add to each individual glass for looks.

One of the best parts of sangria is the apple boozy fruit.

Boozy fruit: Fruit that has soaked for hours in an alcoholic mixture, thus infusing it with booze.

The apple slices are delicious.  Everyone wants a wine and gin soaked apple slice!
DSC_1482Sip slowly, with eyes closed and imagine you’re on a boat.  Or, better yet, drink while on a boat.

Hospitably Yours,

Culinary Tour of DC


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So, after my leisurely weekend at the bay, I headed towards our nation’s capital to visit my lovely cousins.  The hubby met me and we had a fantastic trip that included…

These hosts (Lanna and Tim, super hosts!):
IMG_5516These adorable boys (+Lanna):

Sights like these: DSC_1096And quite a bit of food and drink.

Now, let me be clear.  This trip was most certainly about seeing family.  But, being the foodies we are and being hosted by foodies, the trip quickly became about food.  Like, about food A LOT.  Our planning e-mails and texts revolved around links and messages exclaiming, “this was in Food & Wine…must go!” and “I heard about this place on NPR” or “Southern Living mentioned this restaurant…”

As you can see, it was pretty pathetic.  Well, pathetically awesome.

We were welcomed off our evening flight with an immediate trip to Hank’s Oyster Bar.
IMG_5518Hank’s has a superb fresh menu that chef Jamie Leed delivers fantastically. Hank’s blackboard menu changes daily, so we ordered a dozen oysters of the day from it. Our waiter wonderfully recommended a sampler that gave us each a tasting of three different oysters.  We followed up with small plates of roasted cauliflower, fried oysters, crab cakes, avocado & romaine salad, and their signature fries. Everything was delicious.  The cocktail menu feature enough gin drinks to make my head spin (and enough variety for the non-gin drinkers like 85% of the world). The boys enjoyed Manhattans and the Shine & Circumstance, and I’d give anything to remember which gin drink I ordered!

A trip to the newly opened Union Market was our first stop the following day.
DSC_0817With plentiful vendors, we enjoyed Greek treats, empanadas, and cupcakes.  The market was busy, but not overly crowded, and the cheerful artisans made it a happy place to be.  I loved that this market included a few shops, as well.  Salt & Sundry featured linens, coffee table books, Rifle Paper Co. and more!  I was quickly wishing I brought an extra empty suitcase for some shopping.

This display featured every one of my favorite Middle Eastern treats!  So tasty and so special….

Grant enjoyed a pretty amazing Oreo cakeball (I can vouch for this, as I ate the other one!)
That evening, we got dressed up for date night and headed to the historic Bombay Club.  Here we are, all fancy schmancy:
IMG_5556IMG_5558The Bombay Club, near the White House, has been the dining choice for former presidents Clinton and George H. W. Bush, President Nelson Mandela, and a host of other world leaders and celebrities.  The old Club setting is a relaxed elegance that makes it perfect for a special dinner.

Literally everything on the menu sounded tasty and – with six hungry stomachs – we started with an array of appetizers.  From Crispy Spinach Arugula Chat to Chicken Tikka to Kebabs, we tried a bit of it all.  For dinner, the men each chose a thali dish, which arrives with an array of delicious meats, sauces, and naan for dipping. Service was outstanding, the pianist made for perfect background music, and the wine list complimented the Indian food flawlessly.

After dinner, our four hosts directed us towards The Hay-Adams for a nightcap. The Hay-Adams is a historic part of DC, sitting on the site were former homes of friends John Hay (personal secretary of Lincoln) and Henry Adams (of John Adams and John Quincy Adams family fame) stood.  Nowadays, each newly elected President resides in the top floor suite of The Hay-Adams during the inauguration period!
IMG_5551Their bar, Off The Record, situated right across from the White House on 16th Street NW, was swanky and felt exclusive, but comfortable.  Their signature Pimm’s Cup was the best I’ve ever had, and the favorite of the entire table!

Our third day called for doughnuts.  Astro doughnuts, to be exact.  And fried chicken!
IMG_5561A Food & Wine article on Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken sparked our interest. Pastry Chef Jason Gehring does such creative, whimsical things with these doughnuts…and I don’t even care much for doughnuts! The options were so brilliantly absurd that we ordered an entire dozen of doughnuts to share among the group for breakfast.  We each had bites of Salted Caramel, Pistachio, PB & J, Crème Brûlée, and Maple Bacon, among other delicious ones.
IMG_5560While all really fantastic, my favorite was the jelly-filled and peanut butter iced specialty.  Oh boy. That was something special.

We grabbed a couple fried chicken sandwiches for a later lunch on our Potomac boat cruise.
DSC_1012That’s Lanna beautifully displaying a bit of the large fried chicken sandwich…that was actually two savory doughnuts hugging a piece of free range fried chicken. We had no idea a doughnut was part of the sandwich.  Our minds were blown.  And our pants’ buttons.

A stop to DC’s Eastern Market for breakfast the following day meant another market full of cheerful vendors with delicious treats.
IMG_5595 IMG_5599Our cousins frequent here often enough that they’re chummy with the cheese lady, who graciously loaded us up with many samples.  We took in the sights and smells of the fresh flowers and produce as we made our way down the aisles.

To round out our “culinary tour”, we ended with lunch at DGS Delicatessen, which is a modern take on Jewish deli.
IMG_5607But with dishes like reubens, it’s definitely not kosher!  We all enjoyed unbelievable sandwiches (my bagel and lox on the right was killer) and shared their fries (with za’atar and roasted garlic yogurt), along with potato latkes and a pickle plate.  The cocktail menu featured many tasty options, but I went for a gin and rosé (everyone’s SO SURPRISED I know) and loved it.

DC has such gorgeous sights – which we did enjoy too! – but after multiple trips there doing the typical “tourist” thing, it’s so nice to have a grown-up trip that revolves around fellowship with friends, great food and drink, and some late-night card games of spades:)

In the DC area soon?  Hit up one of these great eateries…or all of them!

Hospitably Yours,

Swiss Chicken Crepes


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Remember when I vowed – as a blogging New Year’s Resolution of sorts – to work my way through my entire recipe book, trying out all the filed away recipes I’ve collected?

Here I am, still trudging away.

About halfway into the year and I’ve made good progress, but man oh man is there a way to go.  If anything, this “challenge” has helped me filter the items I actually do tear from magazines (or print from online etc.).  Gone are the days of senseless tearing of every single recipe that sounds good!  I’m a little more careful now.

But enough about my growth as a recipe collector…on to the crêpes!
DSC_0642These turned out super delicious.  And serving a dish with the word “crêpe” in it just seems a bit classier – perfect for a dinner party or a special dinner.  But it’s a simple elegance; these crêpes are not difficult and don’t take a lot of time.

And most importantly, they look and taste pretty amazing!

These use egg roll wrappers as the crêpe, and it was my first time cooking with egg roll wrappers.  I had to ask, but was directed to find them in the refrigerated section of my grocery store, near the biscuits and pie crusts.
DSC_0639But enough on those.  Again, let’s get back to the crêpes!

Swiss Chicken Crêpes, adapted from Southern Living
makes 4-6 servings

1 (12 ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained
Swiss Cheese Sauce*
3 cups finely chopped cooked chicken
1 (5 ounce package) fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 cup shredded Fontina cheese
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/3 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
8 egg roll wrappers

*Swiss Cheese Sauce
1/3 cup dry vermouth
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 cups half-and-half
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Process peppers in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.  Pour into lightly greased 9″x13″ baking dish.

Prepare the Swiss Cheese Sauce bringing vermouth and garlic to a boil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 7 to 10 minutes or until vermouth is reduced to approximately 1 tablespoon.  Whisk together half-and-half and cornstarch. Whisk salt, pepper, and half-and-half mixture into vermouth mixture; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Boil, whisking constantly, 1 minute or until mixture is thickened. Add cheese; reduce heat to low, and simmer, whisking constantly, 1 minute or until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Remove from heat.

Stir together chicken, spinach, cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper, along with 1 cup Swiss Cheese Sauce.

Divide mixture among wrappers, spooning down the middle and rolling the wrapper up around the filling.  Place, seam side down, atop the red pepper purée in the baking dish.  Once the dish is filled with the crêpes, top with remaining Swiss Cheese Sauce.

Cover with foil and bake – covered – for 25 minutes or until bubbly and thoroughly heated throughout.

DSC_0643I topped with a bit of chopped chive – basil would be fantastic as well.

Something special coming up?  These are great, paired with a gorgeous salad and a striking dessert (like this)!

Hospitably Yours,