Calling All Girlfriends, Gal Pals and Galentines! Let’s Have a Party!

“Life is too short not to say “I Love You” often, to save the fine china or to skip the whipped cream! It’s too short not to play dress up and drink champagne with your girlfriends on a Tuesday night!”

Sabrina Pflug

Planning a fun party for the girls can really be executed anytime of the year, but I find it especially festive to throw an “over the top” girly party around Valentine’s Day!…a Galentine’s Day Party, if you will. Add a theme to your party and the fun can begin before guests even knock at your door! With only one guideline for party attendance, guests were asked to arrive dressed in their favorite Sex and the City character. So in the days leading up to the event, friends were scouring their closets for their best Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte or Miranda outfits! So. Much. Fun.

Continue reading

Peach and the Willow Dip

“I’m sorry.  I don’t think I heard you correctly.  I thought I heard you say you were taking a veggie tray to this weekend’s Super Bowl party.  My bad.  (slight pause)  Wait, what?!!!!!  You’re saying I heard correctly?  So you’ve gone all nutty on me????   Do you realize what you’re doing…what you’re saying???  A Super Bowl party is no time to break out the cold, raw vegetables with some blasé  ranch dressing!  We want fattening, heart rate spiking, testosterone raging, artery clogging, finger licking, tongue smacking, belly rubbing  football food, for goodness sakes!  Dude food, if you will!  Come on man!”

Sad, but true.  Every last bit of hyperbole. Continue reading

Chocolate Apricot Marble Cake

apricot and chocolate marble cake

This.  Cake!

Ok…you know I can be fickle when it comes to my love for cake.  I love this one and that one and that other one over there and easily vacillate between fruit and chocolate and spice and cream as my favorite.  But today…on this wintry, rainy day in January when Nashville is preparing for twenty degree temps, this is my FAVORITE cake of all time and it fits the bill perfectly!  It’s sweet, but not too sweet…it’s perfectly moist…it’s complex without being complicated and it is just SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL!   So gather your seven ingredients (yes…only 7!) and get to baking!  Don’t forget to have a cup of coffee, a fire or favorite blanket and a good book at the ready!  XO

dried apricots and dark chocolate
Dried Apricots and Dark Chocolate elevate this simple pound cake

CHOCOLATE APRICOT MARBLE CAKE                                                                               (Adapted from Scandinavian Baking by Trine Hahnemann)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter (I always use salted butter)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 7/8 all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 oz best dark chocolate, at least 60% cocoa solids; finely chopped (I used Lindt Excellence with Sea Salt)
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 oz organic dried apricots, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (3 – 4 minutes).

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Sift in the flour and mix again, just until a smooth dough forms.  Halve the batter and put each half in a bowl (I left half in my standing mixer for the chocolate).  Add the chocolate and cocoa to one bowl and mix well.  Mix the dried apricots into the batter in the other bowl (I mixed this half by hand).  Butter or spray a loaf pan.  (I also use four mini loaf pans.)

Pour the chocolate batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly, then pour over the apricot batter and spread that evenly, too.  Take a spoon and dip it into the batter, going right to the bottom of the pan and pulling up to make a swirl inside the cake.  Repeat three times in different places in the pan.

Bake one hour (or for mini loaf pans, bake 30 – 35 minutes).  Insert a toothpick into the middle of the cake; it should emerge clean.  If not, bake 5 minutes more, then check again.

Let cool in the pan.  Serve morning, noon or night!

fireside cake and coffee

 

It’s Go Time! And Your Thanksgiving Spread is Begging for a Tasty, Easy, Gorgeous New Side Dish (that’s not beige)!

I look so forward to the Thanksgiving meal every year.  I roast a no fail Rosemary Turkey, my grandma’s Chicken and Dressing, my sister’s Three Cheese Mashed Potatoes, my mom’s Squash Casserole and Ambrosia, and my spin on turnip greens and corn soufflé.  These menu items are non-negotiable and always present.  But besides the greens and cranberry relish, this feast turns out looking pretty darn beige on the table!  What do you say we invite a new side dish this Thanksgiving?  You know…one that will impress your taste buds and add vibrant color to your plate!  I created it a couple weeks ago, very much by accident, and immediately knew I was on to something.

MIXED GREENS WITH ROASTED SWEET POTATOES AND ONIONS, DRIED CRANBERRIES, GRANNY SMITH APPLES, TOASTED PECANS AND PARMESAN                      

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Greens, Roasted Fruit and Nuts

This beautiful, warm salad personifies all things Thanksgiving! Continue reading

Summer’s Go-To Party Dip

Peach and the Willow Dip with Farmers Market Array

Hold on Ranch Dressing and boring ol’ Onion Dip!  There’s a new dip boss in town!  Peach and the Willow Dip, “please stand up, please stand up, please stand up”!  (Go ahead and rock the Slim Shady song here….it’s Friday and you’ve been itching’ to dance all week!).   Continue reading

Peach Carrot Cake – Carrot Cake with a Delightful New Twist!

Peach Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Blackberry Garnish

Oh how I love Carrot Cake! I think not so much for the carrot part, but more for that decadent, fail proof cream cheese frosting part. For me, the cake is a medium just to get to the frosting! Is that awful??? SNS? Same goes for Hummingbird Cake…but I digress…just look at this beautiful Carrot Cake!

Peach Carrot Cake...slice of heaven

Easter is a little over a week away and millions of folks around the world will celebrate this holy holiday by “brunching and lunching” with family and friends.  My hunch is that Carrot Cake will make its share of appearances at dessert tables far and wide.  If Carrot Cake is one of your favorites like it is mine,  then you will definitely want to add this new twist on a traditional dessert to your Pinterest board.  It just so happens that my blog’s namesake, the glorious peach,  is the added ingredient that creates such a delightful new riff on a classic cake.  The peach notes in the cake are subtle…the perfect balance of fruit and spice.  I decorate my Peach Carrot Cake in the naked fashion, not to overwhelm the cake with too much of that beautiful cream cheese frosting.  Believe me… it’s hard for an icing addict like myself to admit, but this cake is so good it doesn’t need frosting!!!  Trust me on this one and keep the frosting layers thin.  I also love the rustic elegance the cake renders…especially with the addition of peaches and blackberries.  So earthy and beautiful…like spring and summer wrapped into one!  Peach Carrot Cake

PEACH CARROT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING & CARAMELIZED PEACHES

Makes one 6-inch cake; Serves 8 – 10

Ingredients for the Cake:

  1.  3/4 cup salted butter
  2. 3 large eggs
  3. 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  4. 1/3 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar, firmly packed
  5. 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  6. 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  7. 2 tsp baking powder
  8. 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  9. 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  10. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  11. 1 3/4 cups grated carrots
  12. 1 can of peach halves in juice (2/3 cup of peach pure will be used in the cake, save the rest for the filling)

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1.  3/4 cup softened butter
  2. 7 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  3. 3/4 – 1 cup powdered sugar
  4. 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

For the Filling:

  1.  Remaining Peach Puree Peach Carrot Cake with Peach Glaze and Blackberries

Caramelized Peaches:

  1.  3 – 4 fresh peaches (you may also use frozen peaches, thawed)
  2. 3 tbsp butter
  3. 3 tbsp light brown sugar, loosely packed
  4. Fresh Blackberries

Cake Directions:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Line with parchment and butter sides of two 6-inch cake pans
  • Melt the butter and leave to cool.
  • Beat eggs and sugars until fluffy and lighter in color and texture, about 3 minutes.  Add melted butter and vanilla and beat until combined.
  • Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl, then stir into the batter until just smooth.
  • Peel and grate the carrots.  Put the peaches (without the juice) in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
  • Add grated carrots and 2/3 cup of the peach puree to the batter and stir until combined.  Divide the batter between the two cake pans.
  • Bake for about 40 – 43 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  • Leave to cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • Beat butter until pale and fluffy.  Add cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until just smooth.
  • Put the bowl in the fridge while you cut the cake.

Assembly:

  • Cut both cake layers in half with a serrated knife so you end up with four cake layers.
  • Put the first cake layer on a cake board or directly onto a plate or cake stand.  Spread a layer of frosting on the first layer, then spread a layer of peach puree over. Repeat this until you’ve used up all layers.
  • Spread a thin layer of frosting all over the cake and put in the fridge while you prepare the topping.

Caramelized Peaches:

  • Slice the fresh peaches.  Heat the butter over medium heat in a non-reactive skillet. Add brown sugar and swirl with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts.
  • Add the peach slices and caramelize for 2 -3 minutes.  Let cool completely, then put them on top of the cake with the blackberries.

***Cake recipe credit:  Award winning baker, writer and blogger, Linda Lomelino               ***Peach Carrot Cake Photo Credits:  Robyn Rodehaver

Looking for other great cake ideas for Easter (or anytime!)???  Try this one from Peach and the Willow!  Click HERE for recipe!Mandarin Orange Pound Cake

Everyone Enjoy and Happy Easter! He is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed!  Love ~ Sabrina

 

Lemon Ricotta Cake with Strawberry Frosting and Balsamic Strawberries

Balsamic Strawberries and Pomgranates.jpgAre you feeling it like I’m feeling it…seeing it like I’m seeing it???   The warmth of the sun, the pop of greens, the new melodies of the song birds???  Spring, albeit too early, is bursting all around us!  From tree blossoms to grass weeds…the signs are everywhere!  Soon…crates of Strawberries will be showing up from Plant City, Florida to satisfy our strawberry indulgences and vices.  And although a nasty freeze will surely make an unwelcome appearance before it’s all said and done…we can still be excited about Spring’s beautiful, life renewing arrival.  Continue reading

Tea (or Champagne!) Party 101 and 3 Must Have Tea Cookie Recipes

 

hearts-and-kyss

Tea  Champagne Party 101.  Start with three really good cookie recipes, a few bottles of champagne and some of your best girlies!  Done!  It’s that easy!  You’ve made a party.

But seriously…with a little pre-planning, you can throw the most heavenly tea champagne party that’s ever been.  The pay off is so worth the effort!   Like with any party, once you’ve determined what you’re celebrating…birthday, engagement, baby shower, etc…you can then settle into some details.  My planning/brainstorming looked something like this:

Tea Party…Around Valentines Day…A “Gal”entines Day Affair…Marie Antoinette Style…One Year Blog Anniversary…around 8 – 10 ladies…all in shades of blush Continue reading

“That Calls for a Celebration!” A Modern Day Tea Party

CHEERS!.jpg

So your kid went pee-pee in the potty for the first time?  Let’s Celebrate!  Your pups got a clean bill of health at the vet?  Let’s Celebrate!  Your rude co-worker didn’t give you the stink eye in the hall today?  Let’s Totally Celebrate!  Point is, it really doesn’t take much to whip me into a frenzy and pop a cork in celebration.  But with the one year anniversary of my blog approaching, I knew I wanted to do something a little over the top to commemorate the occasion.   Soooo… (pronounced long and drawn out…very southern-like), being the self proclaimed prissy pants that I am and having never shied away from anything girly or glamorous, I decided to throw a tea party…but not just any garden variety tea party.  A modern day Marie Antoinette style tea party where there is, in fact, no tea, only champagne, and plenty of delectable treats on which to feast your eyes and tickle your taste buds.  Since the party was to occur just before Valentines Day, I made it a “Galentines Day” affair and invited a few girlfriends, making it the most fabulous, frolicky, gorgeous party I’ve thrown in a very long time!  Friends came dressed to the hilt and we spent Friday afternoon laughing, loving, sharing, being a little serious and a tad silly!  I’m guessing Marie Antoinette would have felt right at home! Continue reading

When Life Gives You Muscadines…Make Jelly!!! (Duh.)

The last time I was at Gloucester Vineyards, it was the end of the Muscadine harvest.  The stately rows of grape leaves had begun to yellow, crisp and scorch; some falling from the vine;  exposing the last of the season’s most syrupy fruit to ripen and raisin in the Indian summer sun.  I consumed all the ripe grapes my stomach could bear…just standing there and “grazing” as we call it.  It was only when I could simply eat no more that my dad and I began picking fruit for my jelly making…about 40 lbs in all, I’d say; enough fruit for about 30 pints of jelly.  I know I’m biased…but there is no better jelly than Muscadine.  Don’t even try and sway me…nope…it’s the “end all- be all” of homemade jelly.  And just when you think you’ve reached the pinnacle of taste bud satisfaction with the perfect bite of homemade buttered biscuit smeared with Muscadine jelly, try cooking with it!…As in Muscadine Jelly Baked Ham!!!!  Eyes roll back, I tell you.  Eyes roll back…

muscadines
Black and Bronze Muscadines…washed and ready to hit the stove (or pop in your mouth!)

muscadines-cooking
Cooking the grapes releases the juice

muscadines-popping-and-releasing-juice
The grapes pop and break down when cooked on medium high heat…releasing their syrupy juice

straining-the-muscadine-juice
Strain the juice from the cooked grapes

muscadine-juice-with-pectin-and-sugar
Muscadine juice, sugar and pectin…back on the heat

rapid-boiling-point
Jelly is almost done when it reaches a rapid boil

muscadine-jelly
Voila!  The beautiful color comes from the muscadine skin…just those few black grapes thrown in provided this perfect pink!…no food color added!

jars-of-muscadine-heaven
Plenty  Muscadine Jelly to share!

the-perfect-mascadine-jelly-bite
One decadent bite!  A flakey, buttery, buttermilk biscuit glistening with Muscadine Jelly

 

Interested in making your own stash of Muscadine Jelly but can’t find the fruit locally?  Send me a message and I’ll tell you how you can have muscadines sent to your doorstep next season.  Cheers!!!