What I Learned This Summer // Baseball, Basil, and Brad

1. Nothing says summer like minor league baseball, and next summer we won't wait until the end of season to go to a game. 

 

2. Matt Saracen from Friday Night Lights is married to Nikki from LOST.

 

3. I've been repressing my inner teenager since I was six, and now she's coming out like a crazy person. 

 

4. I figured out the best way to store basil - in a cup filled with water, covered in a paper towel, topped with a plastic bag, and stored in the fridge.

 

5. I hate scratching people's backs. More worse than even the worst thing.

 

6. Movie trailers should be released every day because they're fun, free, and almost as good as seeing the movie. Almost.

 

7. If we ever have a zombie epidemic, I want Brad Pitt in charge, and World War Z is my favorite summer movie (from last summer I'm boring whatever).

 

8. Sometimes summer means you need to take a tiny vacation, sit in a coffee shop with a friend for a day, and just dream.

 

9. Parades are never boring when you watch them with kids. 

 

10. Pie always wins.

I'm joining the group over at Chatting at the Sky to share what we learned this summer.

Easy Peach Cobbler for Two // An Ode to Lazy Couch Desserts

"Peeta! I've had the worst day! Can't you tell by my face?! Of course you can. That's why you made us a peach cobbler to share while we watch Cupcake Wars. I love you, Peeta."
 

Monday nights require desserts and Netflix. It's in our country's bylaws. Otherwise, we'd all look like Katniss up there. 

But some of you have zero desire to make a chocolate soufflé, plus you already have enough stains on your yoga paints. And apparently most recipe developers create desserts only for the Duggers and assume we all need to feed an army whenever butter and sugar are involved.

No more, my friends. It's time to reclaim dessert-making for you.

Simple.
Hardly any dishes.
Just enough for two.
Done in one episode of Scandal.
Pairs well with jammies.

Let's do this.

 

Easy Peach Cobbler for Two

To make sure you know I'm not messing with you, these are the dirty dishes, not including the tiny pan you'll cook it in. 

That's a cereal bowl. Totally doable. You're starting to believe me now, aren't you?

Perhaps you're like me and are incredibly overzealous at the farmers market, toting home a bushel of peaches like you're some kind of jam/pie-making grandma. I am not. I'm currently potty-training my two year-old; my family is lucky if they get microwaved hot dogs for dinner. 

So what to do with these peaches? Other than eat them over the sink like an animal?

Grab two fairly firm ones, and let's make a Monday night cobbler.

ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS

  • peaches
  • sugar
  • flour
  • salt
  • butter
  • baking powder

(Ingredients Worth the Extra Pull-It-Out-of-the-Pantry Time)

  • brown sugar
  • cornstarch
  • milk or cream
  • vanilla
  • cinnamon
  • vanilla ice cream (obviously)

ESSENTIAL TOOLS

  • cutting board and paring knife
  • cereal bowl
  • big soup spoon and a fork
  • tiny baking dish, two ramekins, or anything small that's oven-safe

HOW TO MAKE IT

  1. Preheat the oven to 425, and pull out all of your ingredients.
  2. Cut the two peaches. Slice them in half first, remove the pit, and then peel. If you peel and then do that twist-and-pull-apart situation with a peeled peach, your peach will be on the floor. Monday nights should not include mopping. Slices are easiest, but chunks are fine. Put them in the baking dish.
  3. Sweeten and thicken. Grab that soup spoon and sprinkle three heaping spoonfuls of sugar on top of the peaches. All granulated, all brown, a mix... do yo thang, gurl. Brown sugar, of course, adds a delicious caramel flavor, but it also takes away a bit of the fresh flavor of the peach. Choose your poison. Use that same spoon and fill the tip with cornstarch, about 1/2 tsp. Don't you dare measure it. Don't have cornstarch? Flour is not ideal but an acceptable substitute. Add the cornstarch/flour, a pinch of salt, and cinnamon if you want, about the same amount as cornstarch. Drizzle in a splash of water to give everything a place to go (or better yet vanilla extract), and stir it together until there are no more visible lumps of white.
  4. Bake. Pop those peaches in the oven for 10-12 minutes while you get the biscuit topping together.
  5. Make the biscuit topping. You rinsed off that spoon, right? Awesome. Grab it, dry it off, and get a cereal bowl. Add four spoonfuls of flour to the bowl along with two spoonfuls of sugar (white is preferred here), two big pinches of salt, and the tiniest spoon-tip of baking powder. Now get three tablespoons of butter, and use the same knife and cutting board you did for the peaches to dice that butter into cubes. Put the butter in the cereal bowl, and use the fork (or your fingers) to work the butter into the flour mixture. You've heard the "about the size of peas" description? That's about right, but don't sweat it. Just smaller pieces of butter equality distributed. No big thing. Now grab some milk if you have it, water if you don't, and cream if you're awesome and add a splash or two. Use the spoon to bring it all together, a sticky dough that is full of butter amen. 
  6. Top the peaches. By this time, your peaches are probably done. Pull them out, smell the glory, and then drop that buttery dough evenly on the top of the peaches. If you still see peaches peeking through, they're just saying hi. Let them. 
  7. Finish baking. Put the pan back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes until the filling is bubbly and the top is golden brown and set. Let it cool maybe five minutes before digging in.

Clean-up is just putting the ingredients away and loading 2.7 things in the dishwasher, so by the time the cobbler is out of the oven, Jeopardy is over, and it's time to choose what to watch on Netflix. This is how Monday nights are supposed to work. 

A Final Word

  1. Don't skimp on the salt. 
  2. Try and add something with flavor - brown sugar, vanilla, and/or cinnamon. It's like seeing a hot guy in a suit. He's still hot without one, but holy moly give the man his suit.
  3. If you want to be crazy but up the flavor even more, do this whole thing in a cast iron skillet. Do everything the same except cook the peach mixture on the stove instead of in the oven along with a little butter to get the peaches caramelized and awesome. Then top with the biscuit topping and put in the oven. Boom. 


How The Princess Bride Can Make Food Taste Better & Make Your Family More Fun

Did you know that in this world there exists a universally perfect movie? And you and your people need to watch it. 

Here's the scene. An oddly-mustached Peter Falk (Columbo) is grandfather to a tiny and sick Fred Savage (Kevin from The Wonder Years). Grandpa has come to keep his grumpy grandson company by reading him The Princess Bride. It's the best story time you'll ever be part of.

As Grandpa tells us, the story is full of "fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles..." and that's not all. It's full of the greatest lines ever brought together in one movie. I daresay, it's the most quotable movie ever made. 

Your kids will love the adventure and general silliness, and you will laugh at the nuanced script and ridiculous characters. You also get to see Billy Crystal, Mandy Patinkin, Christopher Guest, and Robin Wright in some of their best performances ever. It's simply a blast.

So how can this movie make food taste better and make your family more fun? 

Food always tastes better when it has a connection with something else. Food in a vacuum is there for taste; food that reminds you of something completely separate is magic. The Princess Bride is one of the most inspiring movies to create desserts from, and I've come alive doing just that. 

If you're local, you can order a Princess Bride-themed Sugar Box right this moment. Then you can order your copy of the movie from Amazon, invite your friends over, and settle in with your Sugar Box on August 15th. 

Don't live in my area? Check back on that same day for Princess Bride food and party ideas. I like to bring the fun to you wherever you are.

And I guarantee that if your kids start walking around the house saying "Anybody want a peanut?" and the "Twu Wuv" speech, you will find them to be even greater human beings than you previously thought. A family that watches The Princess Bride together automatically has more fun together. It's been scientifically proven, y'all.

So what are you waiting for? 

Rob Reiner and I have done all of the work for you. All you have to do is gather your people and make your memories.. supremely tasty and crazy fun memories.

The Princess Bride Sugar Box
25.00

It is inconceivable how much you will love this!

Here's what you'll get:
Four different handmade desserts (enough to feed eight people as long as they're not as big as Fezzik) and a few fangirly extras that will remind you how awesome this movie is and make you smile.

Here's why you want it:
The Princess Bride is one of the only movies in existence that will make everyone happy, so if your crew invites over another family for The Best Movie Night In History, you will never in your life be happier. Guaranteed. 

FREE DELIVERY!
Hey, Greensboro friends, I want you to have this Sugar Box so much, I'm going to bring it to your door! Completely free. Because our love is true, I will always come for you... as long as you live within the delivery range shown on the map below.

Your Sugar Box will arrive between 3:00pm and 6:30pm on Friday, August 15th. 

Quantity:
Gimme Some Sugar

This includes the greater Greensboro area, including Summerfield and Oak Ridge. FYI the N-shaped lake on the top left is Lake Brandt.

Trashy Tamales To Go With Your Trashy TV

trashy TV [tra-shee tee vee] noun
that stuff we watch that's so dumb but so awesome

I watched Joe Millionaire. I've done weekly corporate viewings of a couple of seasons of Bachelor(ette)s. Laguna Beach. The Real Housewives. While I feel my brain cells leaving me and cover my eyes through much of it, like I'm watching Jaws or something equally horrifying, I still love a little trashy TV.

One F skinny jeans Jef? UhDORable.

Until he turned into a fame-hog and left poor Emily Maynard to suffer in her giant house with her perfect hair. Bring in Chris Harrison for a pep talk, y'all. Because those conversations seem so authentic

Just because something isn't the real thing doesn't mean it can't be great though. Take this recipe. I call them Trashy Tamales. Because they're not tamales AT ALL. They are Mexican food like Trista and Ryan are a classic love story. ::gag:: But they're reeeally good, and you should try them. And eat them while you watch that new Married At First Sight show... which is exactly what it sounds like. 

Our intellectual death is imminent, but pass me the remote anyway.

trashytamales

Trashy Tamalas

Do you notice how ugly these are? Look beneath the sour cream and pop of cilantro green. Yeeeah. Have low expectations on the aesthetics, people. Questionable at best. 

INGREDIENTS

1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 can creamed corn
eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
a good pinch of salt
8 oz shredded Mexican cheese blend, Monterrey Jack, or cheddar
10 oz enchilada sauce (Ortega is your best regular-store brand. Old El Paso is from the devil.)
3 cups already cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
sauteed onions and/or peppers (optional)
black beans (optional)
avocado, sour cream, lime, cilantro to garnish (optional but kind of a game changer)

HOW YOU MAKE THEM

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix together the Jiffy, creamed corn, eggs, milk, spices, and about 2/3 of the cheese. You can even mix it in the 9x13 baking dish you'll bake this in. No one cares. Just check the corners to make sure everything is mixed well. Just saved you some dirty dishes.
  3. Bake it for 20 minutes until the top is just set. 
  4. While that's baking, gather whatever extras you want - the chicken, beans, vegetables, anything. 
  5. Pull the pan out of the oven, and poke a few holes in it with a fork. Pour half of the enchilada sauce over top, put all of the chicken and vegetables on top of that, pour the remaining sauce over that, and finally top it with the rest of the cheese. 
  6. Put it back in the oven for another 20 minutes. 
  7. Serve it with all of the toppings mentioned above; lime and cilantro elevate it from trashy to... well, just a little less trashy.

Enjoy every bite. Because this mess is DELICIOUS.

How My Mom Changed My Life With One Yes

When I was eight years old, I snuck out of the house. Hold, please. Not the house. Just my room. But it felt like sneaking out of the house because I was such a freakish rule follower, and the rules said I wasn't supposed to leave my room. As I crept down the hallway, I imagined the integrity gods swooping down from on high with their rulers and rapping my knuckles until I left my wicked ways. 

You would be right in assuming that I was a killer hall monitor. 

Still, I pressed on because I heard something coming from the living room, and my curiosity got the better of me. As I finally got close enough to peek into the dark room, I saw Mom on the floor in front of the television, wrapped in a quilt, her face glowing in the light.

She was watching Willow, one of the greatest trippy fantasy movies ever, and I was hooked. Up until that point, my movie experiences were limited to Disney cartoons and The Sound of Music, so this felt like something important, something I knew I needed more ofI sat behind the couch where I hoped she wouldn't see me and watched with as much intensity as I could squeeze out of my second grader's body, gulping the world down quickly in case I was suddenly banished to my kingdom I mean bedroom. 

But Mom didn't banish me.

I wonder what she was thinking as she certainly heard my feet padding down the hallway (I have a disappointing lack of covert skills), sure that I knew what I was doing. But instead of punishing me for breaking a rule, she lifted up her blanket, and welcomed me in.

We sat on the floor together and watched Willow and Madmartigan (Val Kilmer in freaky braids) journey through a magical land of monsters and crazy people to help fulfill an ancient prophesy. Wolf soldiers, bug-sized dudes in warpaint called brownies, a sorceress who was under an enchantment and looked like a possum, a bald dude getting pooped on by a bird... everything a Ron Howard Oscar-nominated movie should have. (Not a joke. Two nominations - sound and visual effects. It also got a couple of Razzies and Val Kilmer improvised most of his lines, so let's be realistic here.)

Creepy and kitsch and fantastical, it remains one of my favorite movies to this day, not only because of the sweet memory attached to it or because it's crazy and awesome and Val Kilmer's braids, but because it awakened my inner fangirl. And all because my mom let me break a rule.

As a parent, I don't have to say no just because it's easy. One of the most pivotal moments in my childhood, one that ushered me into the beautiful world of movies that I now hold so dear, was because my mom chose to say yes. Thanks, Mom. 

Do you remember the movie that woke up your inner fangirl? Will you tell me in the comments? Those stories are my favorite.