Alaska from Scratch Seasonal. Scenic. Homemade. Sat, 27 Sep 2014 15:40:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Baked Pumpkin French Toast with Ginger Orange Cream Cheese Fri, 26 Sep 2014 20:27:30 +0000 Weather: 43 degrees, mostly sunny What I’m listen […]

Weather: 43 degrees, mostly sunny
What I’m listening to: Love, Matt White

In preparation for making the very first pumpkin dish of the season, I took to my cupboards and pulled out my cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice to make a big batch of my homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix. I’m intent on using every last bit of the warm, spicy autumnal goodness between now and the holidays in anything from hot beverages to oatmeal, and from quick breads to pies. Today, it was some marvelous baked pumpkin french toast with a layer of lightly sweetened ginger-orange cream cheese in the middle, all topped with salted pecans. Swoon city.

IMG 0240 Baked Pumpkin French Toast with Ginger Orange Cream Cheese

Pastor Alaska, who had been working on his computer in another part of the house, came into the kitchen. Being clearly led by his nose as it uncharacteristically jutted out and up as he walked in, he asked, “What is that amazing smell?!” I responded, “Something for the blog.” He had a hard time waiting patiently as I styled and photographed the steaming pan of heavenly amazingness before letting him dig in. He wants me to tell you that the wait was most definitely worth it.

Baked Pumpkin French Toast with Ginger Orange Cream Cheese

Yield: 6 servings

IMG 0239 Baked Pumpkin French Toast with Ginger Orange Cream Cheese

Baked pumpkin french toast with ginger orange cream cheese in the middle and salted pecans on top. Adapted from Damn Delicious.


    For the Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, minced
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • For the French Toast:
  • 12 slices french bread, cubed
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste)
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • fine sea salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese with the orange zest, ginger, and powdered sugar until smooth, scraping sides of the bowl as needed. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, pumpkin puree, eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice until well combined.
  4. Place half of the bread cubes in a layer in the greased 9x13 pan. Drizzle half of the pumpkin mixture over the bread. Using a rubber spatula, spread the cream cheese mixture over top of that (it doesn't need to be perfect). Then top with the remaining bread cubes and drizzle the remaining pumpkin mixture over top of everything. Press the bread down into the liquid to saturate. Sprinkle the top of the french toast with the pecans and finish with fine sea salt.
  5. Bake 35-40 minutes, until cooked through in the center. Serve hot with pure maple syrup.


This can be assembled ahead. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake. Baking time may be extended if french toast has been chilled prior to baking.

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 Baked Pumpkin French Toast with Ginger Orange Cream Cheese


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Quinoa Chili Thu, 18 Sep 2014 23:24:39 +0000 Weather: 48 degrees, rain for days and fall colors ever […]

Weather: 48 degrees, rain for days and fall colors everywhere
What I’m listening to: You Are the Best Thing, Ray LaMontagne

Although the calendar always disagrees with Alaska, autumn has been surging in. Wild mushrooms are growing plentifully in the yard, the rain puddles are full of yellow leaves, and the smell of wood stoves burning is in the air. Here, the seasons are fierce, and it’s one of my favorite things about this massive state I get to call home.

IMG 0230 Quinoa Chili

Chili and football are always on the menu at our house in September and this year is no exception. Except, this time I opted to bypass my favorite go-to Black Bean Chili and try a new meatless recipe with quinoa, black beans and corn. Holy smokes this stuff is good and nobody missed the meat. Be sure to have your favorite toppings ready to go. Mine include gobs of cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese, minced red onions (or green onions, if you prefer), slices of ripe avocado, and a generous handful of corn chips (like Fritos). If you’d like your quinoa chili on the spicier side, add thinly sliced fresh jalapeño slices to the mix.

Quinoa Chili

Yield: 6-8 servings

IMG 0228 Quinoa Chili

A smoky and delicious meatless chili with quinoa, black beans, and corn. Adapted from Cooking Classy.


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken/beef broth if not going vegetarian)
  • 2 teaspoons adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo)
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained(I used one dark red, one light red)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can corn, rinsed and drained
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Topping options:
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • cilantro, chopped
  • corn chips (like Fritos)
  • red onion, finely chopped
  • ripe avocado, chopped
  • sour cream


  1. To a large pot over medium heat, add the oil. Saute the onions 1-2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook another minute until fragrant. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, cocoa, paprika, cayenne (if using), and salt, toasting the spices in the oil for one minute. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, quinoa, broth, adobo, beans, and corn. Bring to a simmer, turn the heat down to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (add more broth if needed for consistency).
  2. Stir in the lime juice. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Serve with toppings of your choice. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Makes great leftovers.
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Sriracha Roasted Broccoli with Cheddar Cheese Fri, 05 Sep 2014 14:35:37 +0000 Weather: 48 degrees, heavy rainfall What I’m list […]

Weather: 48 degrees, heavy rainfall
What I’m listening to: My Beloved, Crowder

The other day, friends of ours from church brought us a bag of broccoli from their garden. Fresh seasonal food gifts are some of the best gifts. Something from their garden makes its way to my kitchen and all at once transforms into something for the table – the place where we get to be nourished and start the process all over again – the process of cultivating and creating and enjoying.

IMG 0214 Sriracha Roasted Broccoli with Cheddar Cheese

This is quite possibly one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever put on the blog, and one of the most addicting. Roasted broccoli is pretty magical all by itself, but the addition of spicy, complex Sriracha and melted cheese is out of this world amazing. Go make some. Like right now. And I dare you to try not to devour it all with your fingers.

Sriracha Roasted Broccoli with Cheddar Cheese

Yield: 2-4 servings

IMG 0211 Sriracha Roasted Broccoli with Cheddar Cheese

Roasted broccoli with Sriracha and melted cheddar cheese.


  • 2 pounds broccoli, cut into large florets
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil (I used avocado)
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha (or to taste)
  • kosher salt
  • ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a large sheet pan with foil.
  2. Add the florets to a bowl. In a smaller bowl, stir together the oil and Sriracha. Drizzle over the broccoli and toss to coat well. Season with kosher salt to taste. Spread the broccoli evenly onto the sheet pan.
  3. Roast the broccoli 15-20 minutes (or until tender-crisp, depending on the thickness of the stalks), stirring halfway through. In the last 3 minutes, sprinkle on the cheese and return to the oven until melted and golden. Serve with more Sriracha drizzled over top or on the side.
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Blueberry Banana Bread with Cinnamon Crunch Topping Fri, 29 Aug 2014 17:09:24 +0000 Weather: 50 degrees, bright sunshine breaking through g […]

Weather: 50 degrees, bright sunshine breaking through gray and white clouds
What I’m listening to: Many the Miles, Sara Bareilles

I’m often asked about the evolution of a recipe – how recipes begin, how they develop and grow, how they end up on the blog to be shared. This is a hard question to answer because there really is no rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes a recipe begins as a gust of wind blows outside and a yellow leaf flitters down and suddenly I have an urgency to make a pot of soul-warming soup. Sometimes I miss a person who lives far, far away and it makes me crave a dish that we enjoyed together, a food that brings fond memories back to life. Still other times, like today, it’s as simple as a bowl of  fragrant bananas, distracting me from my other projects, summoning me to make something with them. Often I just inexplicably need to cook something, anything, and all will feel right in the world again.

IMG 0202 Blueberry Banana Bread with Cinnamon Crunch Topping

So, there was this one day that I made a loaf of bread and she was a beauty. She is a variation of my beloved Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, but instead of chocolate chips, I used blueberries because they are wild and in season here in Alaska. Then I opted to top her with a buttery golden cinnamon layer, because cinnamon and blueberries are a delightful pairing. Where sometimes I conceptualize an entire recipe in a moment, this one developed gradually, steadily, step by step. A little here, a little there, until she was just right.

Blueberry Banana Bread with Cinnamon Crunch Topping

Yield: 1 loaf

IMG 0198 Blueberry Banana Bread with Cinnamon Crunch Topping

Moist banana bread bursting with blueberries and topped with a buttery cinnamon topping.


  • 3 large ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • For the Topping:
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, diced


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a standard loaf pan.
  2. Peel bananas, break them up and toss them into a bowl. Mash with a potato masher (I leave some banana pieces so you get occasional nice bites of banana in the bread; don't mash until the bananas are completely liquefied).
  3. To the bananas, add the rest of the wet ingredients and stir. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Fold the blueberries into the dry ingredients. Add the flour/blueberry mixture to the liquids and stir until combined. Do not over mix.
  4. To make the topping: in a small bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles crumbs.
  5. Spread batter evenly into prepared loaf pan, sprinkle the top of the loaf with the cinnamon mixture, and stud the top of the loaf with a handful of blueberries. Bake for 60-70 minutes or cooked through in the center.
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The Best Blondies Fri, 22 Aug 2014 23:17:21 +0000 Weather: 60 degrees, sunny and bright What I’m li […]

Weather: 60 degrees, sunny and bright
What I’m listening to: Give Me Love, Ed Sheeran

When we have company, it’s always important for me to learn all about the food that they love as well as the foods they might despise (or be allergic to or have an intolerance for). I pride myself on knowing these details about my friends. For the past two summers, our dear friend, Tim, has come to live with us. I can tell you that Tim hates bananas and loves BBQ Chicken Pizza. He hates mushrooms and sweet potatoes but loves hot black tea with sugar and an icy Homemade Horchata. He adores all things salmon and a good plate of chicken parmesan, but will most likely pass on the pork chops. And while to my utter dismay, Tim doesn’t really care for super chocolatey things, he loves my S’mores Cookies and, especially, these blondies.

IMG 0187 The Best Blondies

Earlier in the summer, the first time I made a batch of these, I asked Tim what kind of morsels he wanted me to use. Dark chocolate? White chocolate? He suggested I use both, half and half. And so I did. And they are the absolute best. I made them many, many times over the course of the summer, always the same. They are rich and gooey and all kinds of brown-sugary. I have the recipe memorized and I can whip up the batter faster than it takes to preheat the oven to 350 degrees. It’s a go-to recipe in this house. Now that Tim has returned to his home in California, I am reminded of him every time I make these. I hope you love the blondies as much as he does.

If you enjoy these, you may also like my Apple Butterscotch Blondies.

The Best Blondies

Yield: 9 large blondies

IMG 0190 The Best Blondies

Rich and gooey blondies with dark and white chocolate morsels. Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.


  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x9 square baking pan.
  2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and egg. Add the flour and salt and mix until combined. Fold in the chocolate morsels. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, being careful not to over bake (you want the top of the blondies to be set, but the interior to look just slightly underdone). Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.
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 The Best Blondies


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Salmon BLT Sandwiches with Spicy Garlic Mayo Fri, 15 Aug 2014 17:38:06 +0000 Weather: 58, damp and gray What I’m listening to: […]

Weather: 58, damp and gray
What I’m listening to: Hold My Heart, Sara Bareilles

Summer in Alaska always flies by. A flood of people come to visit, our home fills up with guests, our church doubles in size, and motorhomes command the roadways. Normal life is suspended for just a moment, leaving room for the spontaneous, the carefree, the adventuresome. Then suddenly, it’s August and everyone steadily heads back home. Summer is one giant, welcoming hello and one gradual, bittersweet goodbye all at the same time.

IMG 0142 Salmon BLT Sandwiches with Spicy Garlic Mayo

This particular summer had more of the goodbye than the hello. Some visitors we’d rather keep here forever had to leave. And some dear friends we thought were going to be here forever moved out of state. They were all the kind of people you do life with, eat around the table with, share coffee and hopes and dreams with. The kind of people you feel more alive with, the ones who make your days brighter. But in all of these goodbyes I’ve decided something. I’ve decided that to miss people dearly is a privilege, because it means we have loved them deeply. That, to me, is always worth it. So, here’s to missing people. Until next time…

IMG 0154 Salmon BLT Sandwiches with Spicy Garlic Mayo

This Salmon BLT with Spicy Garlic Mayo might rival my beloved Salmon Burgers with Cilantro Mayo. That’s really saying something. Those salmon burgers are one of my favorite recipes on this blog of all time. These BLT’s come close – and toss in the fact that they’re easier to make than the burgers – and we’ve got ourselves an absolute keeper.  Pan-seared salmon fillet, smoky bacon, crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes, and a quick spicy mayo with garlic and lemon, all on a ciabatta bun. I swoon. Psst… avocado would be a welcome addition, too.

Salmon BLT Sandwiches with Spicy Garlic Mayo

Yield: 4 sandwiches

IMG 0152 Salmon BLT Sandwiches with Spicy Garlic Mayo

Pan-seared salmon with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and a spicy garlic mayo, all on a ciabatta bread bun.


  • 4 (3-4 ounce) wild Alaska salmon fillets, pin bones and skin removed
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 8 slices bacon, crisp cooked and drained
  • 8 tomato slices
  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • 4 sandwich rolls, sliced in half (I used ciabatta)
  • For the Spicy Garlic Mayo:
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika


  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the salmon fillets generously with salt and pepper. Sear the fillets in the hot pan until golden and cooked medium-medium well, about 3 minutes per side. Allow salmon to rest while you prepare the toppings and mayo.
  2. For the mayo: To a small bowl, add the mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, cayenne, and paprika. Stir to combine.
  3. To assemble the sandwiches: Slather the top buns with a generous amount of the spicy garlic mayo. Place the salmon on the bottom bun, followed by 2 bacon slices, 1 lettuce leaf, and 2 tomato slices. Top the sandwich. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve promptly while the salmon is still warm.
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 Salmon BLT Sandwiches with Spicy Garlic Mayo





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Grilled Brats with Pineapple Avocado Salsa Tue, 05 Aug 2014 15:48:23 +0000 Weather: 52 degrees, breezy What I’m listening to […]

Weather: 52 degrees, breezy
What I’m listening to: Free Fallin’, John Mayer

I love a juicy, smoky grilled brat – your classic smoked bratwurst or a healthier chicken or turkey brat option, flavored brats like chili cheese, jalapeño cheddar, or stadium brats. I like them all. They are super handy to keep around for a quick and easy summertime dinner after a busy day. Just fire up the grill, heat through, grab a bun and done.

IMG 9853 Grilled Brats with Pineapple Avocado Salsa

As for toppings, you can go classic with ketchup and mustard – my eldest insists I add relish to this list. Possibly some sautéed onions. Top with chili, cheese, and raw onion for a chili brat. Or one of our favorites is a jalapeño cheddar brat slathered with loaded guacamole. On this particular day, I had a fresh pineapple on the counter, so I made a spicy-sweet pineapple and avocado salsa. This flavor combo is fantastic. Then, I drizzled mine with a little Sriracha to finish it off, because… well… some like it hot. And when they say some they mean me.

Grilled Brats with Pineapple Avocado Salsa

Yield: 4 brats

IMG 9859 Grilled Brats with Pineapple Avocado Salsa

Grilled brats topped with a spicy sweet pineapple avocado salsa. A quick and flavorful summertime meal.


  • 4 smoked bratwurst, grilled
  • 4 hot dog buns, preferably grilled or warmed
  • For the pineapple avocado salsa:
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, finely chopped
  • 1 large ripe avocado, chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño (or to taste), seeded and finely minced
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • juice of half a lime
  • salt to taste
  • Sriracha, on the side (optional)


  1. In a bowl, gently stir together the pineapple, avocado, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime. Salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. To assemble:
  3. Place a grilled brat on a warm hot dog bun. Top generously with the pineapple avocado salsa. Repeat with all the remaining brats and salsa. Serve with Sriracha on the side.
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Salmon Recipe Roundup Sun, 27 Jul 2014 18:59:36 +0000 Weather: 63 degrees, blue skies, no breeze What I’ […]

Weather: 63 degrees, blue skies, no breeze
What I’m listening to: Down, Jason Walker

I was sitting at our church rummage sale fundraiser as folks from the community steadily wandered in and out. Conversations consisted of niceties like, Good morning. Lovely day out. And inevitably, we always landed upon that one prevalent topic that informed all other topics: FISHING. Specifically, salmon fishing.

Every year, in our small community, particularly in the month of July, salmon is just about all we talk about. Red salmon, pink salmon, silver salmon, king salmon. Commercial fishing, sport fishing, subsistence fishing. Lines or nets. Various fishing limits according to methods and species. We read the weather according to what it might indicate about the day’s fishing conditions. We look at the tides, examine the wind speed in knots rather than miles per hour, and consider 4 foot, 6 foot and 8 foot seas. We battle traffic on the streets, on the shore, and in the water. The newspapers and local media outlets fill with fishing stories, fishing politics, fishing photos… salmon fishing all day long.

In our home, and in the homes of most of the Alaskans I know, wild local salmon is beloved – a prized, distinguished resource. Salmon feeds our history, our culture, our economy, and our stomachs. Salmon run to our shores year in and year out and these marvelous fish have helped shape who we are as a community, as a state.

We bring them home – clean them, cook them, smoke them, can them, freeze them, eat them. Then next year, we will do it all over again. When company comes to visit, we pull out our prized salmon. We share it with others, not just a delicious and healthy meal of wild-caught local salmon, but we also share the experience of it all. When we put salmon on a plate and serve it to others, we always serve it up with a large portion of fishing stories paired what it means to live in this unique and beautiful place. Salmon is more than a meal, it’s a way of life.

So, in honor of all things salmon, I’ve prepared for you a roundup of all of my favorite go-to salmon recipes. Please enjoy and eat lots of wild Alaska salmon!

1. Salmon Burgers with Cilantro Mayo – our family’s favorite and a crowd-pleaser among guests. 

burger Salmon Recipe Roundup

2. Sugar Crusted Salmon with Avocado Peach Salsa – make a smoky homemade spice rub and top your salmon with a seasonal, spicy fruit salsa, like this avocado and peach version.

salsa Salmon Recipe Roundup

3. Honey Glazed Salmon with Brown Butter Lime Sauce – an elegant way to jazz up your salmon with acidity, richness, and a little sweetness, while still showcasing the natural flavors of the fish.

lime Salmon Recipe Roundup

4. Salmon Jerky – transform an abundance of salmon into a hearty trail-worthy, backpacking and camping friendly homemade snack.

jerky Salmon Recipe Roundup

5. Superfood Salad with Pan-Seared Salmon – kale, avocado, pomegranate, and quinoa topped with a pan-seared salmon fillet and drizzled with honey mustard vinaigrette. So healthy, so good.

salad2 Salmon Recipe Roundup

6.  Salmon Bisque - salmon makes a stunning and flavorful soup, like this creamy bisque with smoked paprika.

bisque Salmon Recipe Roundup

7. Salmon Tostadas with Mango & Black Beans - salmon makes some of the best tacos and tostadas. Mix and match toppings to create your perfect Mexican-inspired salmon dish.

tostadas Salmon Recipe Roundup

8. Apricot-Jalapeno Glazed Cedar Plank Salmon – spicy-sweet, succulent, and restaurant quality.

cedar Salmon Recipe Roundup

You may also like:

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

Salmon Skewers with Rosemary Birch Syrup

Blackened Salmon Tacos with Avocado Corn Salsa & Cilantro Ranch Dressing

Teriyaki Salmon

Smoked Salmon Bagel

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Cast Iron Roasted Peaches with Bacon, Bleu Cheese & Rosemary Thu, 17 Jul 2014 20:51:03 +0000 Weather: 61 degrees What I’m listening to: The Jo […]

Weather: 61 degrees
What I’m listening to: The Journey, FM Radio

“Why can’t you fly now, mother?”
“Because I am grown up, dearest. When people grow up they forget the way.”
-J.M. Barie, Peter Pan

This summer as thousands of dandelions turn into seedy, feathery keepers of wishes, I’ve been pondering what it means to wish, to hope, to dream. I remember how easy it was as a child to pick a dandelion, make an outrageous – possibly courageous – wish and then, dash off to the next dandelion and do it all over again. My kids do this and I see the flicker of a secret wish in their eyes – the optimism, the naiveté, the pure, unadulterated sense of hope.

Where has mine gone, I wonder?

IMG 9343 Cast Iron Roasted Peaches with Bacon, Bleu Cheese & Rosemary

IMG 9345 Cast Iron Roasted Peaches with Bacon, Bleu Cheese & Rosemary

I don’t know the answer, perhaps because there are so many answers that only layered one upon the other do they shape the reason.

Is it because dreaming requires change?

Is it because hope demands risk?

Is it perhaps because my hopes and dreams became all wrapped up in my children long ago and I don’t know how to make wishes for myself any longer?

Or is it that I feel so very underserving of good things because wanting those things feels selfish and self-serving and wrong?

Is it because life is hard and wishing feels like an exercise in futility?

It’s all of these and so very much more. Because I am grown up, I am forgetting the way.

IMG 9353 Cast Iron Roasted Peaches with Bacon, Bleu Cheese & Rosemary

IMG 9360 Cast Iron Roasted Peaches with Bacon, Bleu Cheese & Rosemary

But, I still believe in dreams coming true, in hopes exceeded, in wishes fulfilled. I am willing to dream big for others, hope courageously for others, tell others that they are absolutely worth it.  I just simply need to learn to do it for myself again, to give myself permission to make wishes and blow all my cares and objections away like dandelion seeds on the wind.

Here’s to giving flight to our dreams.

*     *     *

Bacon, brown sugar, rosemary, bleu cheese and a cast iron skillet may be the very best things to ever happen to a peach. Ever. I ate two of these over salad greens drizzled with balsamic and another two straight out of the pan. I could eat these any meal of the day all summer long and be one very happy girl.

Cast Iron Roasted Peaches with Bacon, Bleu Cheese & Rosemary

Yield: 8 peach halves, 4 servings

IMG 9367 Cast Iron Roasted Peaches with Bacon, Bleu Cheese & Rosemary

Sugared peaches roasted in a cast iron skillet with bacon, bleu cheese, and rosemary. A beautiful summer appetizer, side dish, or salad. Adapted from How Sweet It Is, originally from Pittsburg Post Gazette.


  • 4 slices bacon
  • 4 peaches, sliced in half, pits discarded
  • coarse salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • ½ cup bleu cheese, crumbled


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a cast iron skillet, over medium to medium high heat, cook the bacon until browned and crisp. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain and cool. Pour off most of the bacon drippings, reserving 1 tablespoon in the bottom of the pan. Return the pan to the heat.
  3. Season each peach half with salt and pepper. Sprinkle each peach generously with brown sugar. Place the peaches cut side down into the hot skillet with the bacon grease. Add the sprigs of rosemary to the pan. Turn off the heat and transfer the skillet to the preheated oven. Roast the peaches for 5 minutes, turn the peaches over, and roast another 5 minutes, or until browned, fragrant and softened, but not mushy.
  4. When peaches come out of the oven, crumble the bacon and sprinkle it evenly over the peaches, followed by a sprinkle of bleu cheese. Some of the rosemary can also be finely chopped and sprinkled on top, if you like, otherwise you can discard it. Serve a la carte as an appetizer or side dish or serve over salad greens with a drizzle of good balsamic.
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Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Summer Berries Thu, 10 Jul 2014 18:29:49 +0000 “I like it silky and when it jiggles just so.R […]

“I like it silky and when it jiggles just so.” -Kim Sunée, A Mouthful of Stars

And jiggle just so it does.

I had bookmarked this recipe to be one of the first I tried when I received my copy of A Mouthful of Stars. Then, when the Fourth of July rolled around and I was imagining a dessert to serve for our guests, I immediately thought of this. Pure, remarkably delicate white panna cotta with flecks of vanilla bean topped with fresh summer berries in shades of red and blue.

IMG 93821 Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Summer Berries

Dessert for eight was a smashing success, as I knew it would be, because one can never go wrong with Kim Sunée – a lesson that has been a joy to learn through both food and friendship. My out of town visitors from Arizona had never tried panna cotta. They sat marveling at the texture – how it’s impossibly rich and light at once – creamy and cool and dancing on the plate with every slight movement of the table. When all the panna cotta was gone, some of us unceremoniously brushed our fingers across the plate trying to pick up the very last drops of sugared berries and vanilla-scented cream.

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Summer Berries

Yield: 8 servings

IMG 93841 Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Summer Berries

Delicate, creamy panna cotta topped with ripe seasonal berries. Adapted from Kim Sunée, from her cookbook A Mouthful of Stars.


    For the Panna Cotta:
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 ½ cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • For topping (optional):
  • 1 cup fresh seasonal berries
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar, to taste
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice


  1. Place 8 ramekins on a tray or baking sheet. Lightly grease the ramekins with neutral-flavored oil.
  2. To a small bowl, pour ½ cup of the milk. Sprinkle the gelatin over top of the milk and allow the gelatin to dissolve, about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the remaining ½ cup milk, cream, and sugar. Scrape the caviar from the vanilla bean into the pan and add the vanilla bean pod to the pot as well. Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the gelatin/milk mixture and bring back up to a simmer, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes. Strain the mixture with a fine mesh sieve, removing the vanilla bean pod and any lumps from the gelatin. Pour the strained mixture evenly into the 8 ramekins. Transfer the ramekins to the refrigerator and chill until set, 4-6 hours.
  4. To a bowl, add the fresh seasonal berries, sugar to taste, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Stir to combine.
  5. To unmold the panna cotta, run a sharp knife carefully around the edge of each ramekin and gently turn them out onto individual serving plates (I found it helped to hold the ramekin at a slight angle above the plate, rather than completely inverted). Top each panna cotta gently with fresh seasonal berries. *The panna cotta can also be served in the ramekins, topped with fresh berries, if you'd prefer to skip the unmolding step.


*I added small basil leaves and lemon zest just prior to serving, but this step is completely optional. *Rather than summer berries, Kim Sunée also recommends citrus marmalade or a warm chocolate sauce to accompany this panna cotta.

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 Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Summer Berries

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