July 9, 2014

ricotta chocolate chip pie with candied orange peels + vanilla coffee bourbon whipped cream.


you know how on some cooking competition shows, they give the chefs a grade on how pretty their dishes look?  well, if i were ever judged on my presentation, i'd lose.  badly.  every time.  as you can see, i tried -- i really did.  but my pie just came out looking like a retarded triceratops.

for flavor, however, this one would take the whole enchilada.  i mean, just look at it!

since i'm giving you three recipes in one here, i'm going to be brief.  but i can't rightly continue talking about anything until i've mentioned that MY ETSY SHOP HAS REOPENED OMG!  it's all wedding-y and pretty and i've gotten over 2,000 views in a month!  i'll be featuring some items in my next post, just you wait!

onwards to pie goodness!

first, you'll want to make the candied orange peels, because they take quite a while to dry {especially in this floridian humidity}.



candied orange peels.

makes enough peels for snacking and keeping and pie-making and other nefarious purposes.  adapted from use real butter.

ingredients.

  • 3 oranges, peeled
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 oz chocolate, melted for dipping {optional}

directions.

  1. to peel the oranges, slice them in half continually until you have 8 slices per orange;  then, use a paring knife to cut the orange pulp slices out and save them for another use.  or eat them.  make sure you also remove the stem and any other tough pieces of peels, leaving a bit of pith {the white part} on each slice.
  2. cut the peels into long, thin strips and place the peels in a large pot;  cover with cold water, then heat on high until the water comes to a boil.  drain the peels and repeat this step twice more before draining the peels one last time.
  3. combine the sugar and water in the pot and bring to a boil over high heat until the temp. reaches 230º on a candy thermometer.  add the peels and reduce the heat to a simmer.  simmer until the peels are translucent, about 50 mins.
  4. quickly remove the peels from the syrup with tongs and place on a rack to dry.  save the simple orange syrup for another use - such as making cocktails or as glaze for cornbread.
  5. the peels will ideally be dry in about 6 hours, but allow up to 2 days to fully dry {especially in a humid environment}.  once the peels are dry, you can dip them in melted chocolate and place them on a piece of wax paper to set.
  6. save them for my delicious ricotta pie recipe, or give them as gifts!


if you've never had candied orange peels {especially chocolate-covered ones}, you're missing out!  they're chewy and orangy and i deeply approve of recipes that make use of the whole fruit.  peels get a bad rap, man.  why make 'em into compost when you can make 'em into candy??

once you've got your dried candied orange peels, you can make the pie to end all pies!


ricotta chocolate chip pie.

adapted from moo milk bar.

ingredients.

  • crust
    • 1 frozen pre-made pie crust, because we all know ain't nobody got time fo' dat
  • filling
    • 1 15-oz container whole milk ricotta
    • 1 cup micro chocolate chips {or regular, if you can't find micro}
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • ¼ tsp ground vanilla bean
    • ½ cup nutella
  • crumble
    • 3/4 cup crumbled graham crackers
    • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
    • ¼ cup butter, melted
    • 1 tbsp. whole milk or half & half
    • 1 large egg

directions.

  1. follow the directions on the frozen pie crust for preparing the crust.  once prepared, set aside and make the filling.
  2. place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325ºF.  combine the ricotta, vanilla bean, and sugar in a medium mixing bowl and beat with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth.  add the chocolate chips and mix until combined, then set aside in the fridge while you make the graham cracker crumble.
  3. combine the graham crackers, brown sugar, melted butter, egg, and milk / half & half until all crumbles are wet.
  4. spread a layer of the nutella onto the inside bottom of the pie shell.  scoop the ricotta mixture over the nutella layer, then spread the crumble mixture over the top of the pie.
  5. bake until the pie is golden brown on top and the crumble is crispy, about 1 hour.  let rest for 20-30 mins., then top with delicious vanilla coffee bourbon whipped cream {recipe below} and candied orange peels {recipe above}.  devour.

nothing is as creamy and rich as a sweet ricotta pie.  add nutella, and BOOM, it's taken to another level.  oh, and a crispy graham cracker topping too.  OH OH and cool, light, boozy whipped cream.  OH RIGHT, and candied orange peels as well.  flavorsplosion like you wouldn't believe, people!

this pie is absolutely not complete unless you make this amazing whipped cream to slather all over it.  trust me.  i fed three hungry boys with this pie and it did not disappoint; but the selling point?  the whipped cream.  it is ALL about the whipped cream.


vanilla coffee bourbon whipped cream.

makes enough whipped cream to cover a pie, or have a whipped cream fight.  adapted from the splendid table.

ingredients.

  • 2 tsp ground coffee or espresso powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground vanilla bean
  • 1 heaping tbsp. granulated sugar {i don't like my whipped cream too sweet}
  • 1 tsp bourbon
  • 1 cup heavy cream

directions.

  1. stir all of the ingredients together in a cold medium glass bowl.
  2. whip until just after soft peaks form {and slightly before stiff peaks}, tasting and adjusting the sweetness as you go.
  3. pipe or dollop generously onto a delicious pie, like my ricotta chocolate chip pie!  or just shove it all into your face hole!

i love making variations on whipped cream because the result is almost a guaranteed hit.  these recipes have been tested and approved for your tasting pleasure by the ultimate frisbee dudes of jacksonville. :)

June 19, 2014

savannah vacation 2014.

the oak arch of the wormsloe historic site.
 
ahoy, all!  we are back from vacation in savannah, georgia, and boy was it a relaxing breath of fresh {but hot} air!  we covered basically everything we set out to do in just three days, so we were quite happy with the result.  plus, our car didn't break down this time - automatic win!

we decided to take this trip partly as respite from our daily lives and partly in celebration of cheats' 26th birthday.  happy birthday again to the love of my life - i am so happy that i was able to share this unforgettable trip with you!  here's to many more! 

let us get right on to it!

day 1 - exploring downtown.


when we arrived, i have to say, we were stunned at how pretty this city is!  everywhere you go is a historic district, boasting victorian and old southern-style houses and buildings, positively crawling with ivy and hydrangeas in full bloom.  there seriously wasn't an eyesore in the bunch.

we started out by visiting several shops downtown, and in true allie/cheats fashion, our first stop was a chocolate store.  everything was crazy expensive, but we allowed ourselves our first indulgence in the form of a honeycomb chocolate bar.  we continued on to some strange and fancy design stores until deciding we should probably eat.  we stopped at the coffee fox and got a quiche, a cheeseboard {with a lavender goat cheese - so good!}, and i began my day-drinking with a sticky toffee pudding ale.  yup, you read that right. 

also, i discovered that day-drinking is probably my favorite thing to do on vacations.  who but allie?

a lovely wall o' honey.

next, we ventured into the savannah bee company's flagship store.  we sampled at least 10 different types of honey {my favorite was the very light acacia honey}, and i replenished my stock of beeswax lip balm, which i go through faster than all get-out.  we visited a couple more stores before venturing deeper downtown, in search of antiques stores and a particular bookshop.


the book lady bookstore was a recommendation i had found on pinterest, and cheats sure seemed to appreciate it.  he managed to pick up some more sci-fi books {add 'em to the heaping pile} while i marveled at books from the 1800s.


we then entered a fancy antique shop where everything looked ultra-breakable so we quickly left.  by then, it was about time to put food in our faces again, so we went to the flying monk noodle bar and split a very scrumptious bowl of short rib stew noodles.


we got the idea that we should wash down this stick-to-your-ribs meal with a pint at the six pence pub, a quaint, dark british establishment with an eye-catching telephone booth out front.  unfortunately - being the beer snobs that we are - we were disappointed to find that the most exotic beer on tap there was guinness.  so we opted for world of beer instead, and ended up trying no less than 8 different craft beers between us there all weekend.  mmmm, beer!


we were originally scheduled to take a ghost tour of the pubs of the area {complete with more drinking}, but the tour guide canceled on us.  instead, we walked around, pointing out statues and making up our own ghost stories about the people that inspired them.  the guy above met a ponce-y end by mistakenly laying on the sharp part of his tri-cornered hat.  but it's okay, because he was a jerk to all his friends {and in real life, turned out to be one of the founders of georgia}.

we ended our night by walking through the lively city market, bustling with late-night music and tourists.  we stopped for a drink in a new bar called ampersand and ordered some truffle fries as a snack.  then, we turned in.

day 2 - wandering midtown.


to start our day, we went to a "gourmet grocery store" called form, for which we had bought a groupon.  but this store was nothing like either of us had imagined, and was a strange, sparse smattering of meats and cheeses and wines and cheesecakes.  we quickly settled on a local piece of honeycomb before blowing that popsicle stand... and ending up at an equally strange antique store.

i'm pretty sure they're in a locked case because they will steal your soul if they touch you.

the whole of the antique store wasn't innately pants-shittingly terrifying - just the back three rooms with no air conditioning and literal meat hooks hanging from the ceiling.  i present the next segment of this blog post very simply with captions only.  please enjoy the horror of these monstrous abnormalities, and try to imagine if you had been in the room with them.

a happy headless child mannequin.  all that stabby hand is missing is a butcher's knife.

a blurry photo of what can only be described as the devil dressed in drag with his pet gimp.

an entire cabinet of perpetually cheery clowns. "we all float down here!"

meat. hooks.  definitely totally 100% meat hooks.

"oh this? this is just a perfectly normal portrait of a colonial wom--- HOLY SHITBALLS KILL IT KILL IT WITH FIRE!"

after this life-changing experience {and i failed to capture ALL of the ridiculously scary things this shop had to offer}, cheats and i understandably couldn't handle a big lunch.  so we ate salad at a super-eco-friendly place called butterhead greens.  mostly because it reminded us of our little butter-head waiting for us at home.


we continued to amble around midtown/downtown looking for random shops to explore, and taking pictures of the gorgeous architecture of this city.  seriously.  the picture above is not a museum or an art gallery, it's a law firm.  that's how pretty this city is.

eventually, our wanderings brought us to the antique shop we were searching for on day 1 - alex raskin antiques.  its reputation as "the most interesting store in savannah" left us with much to wonder upon first sight.  this place was a cluttered mess on the first floor, and we seriously considered leaving after seeing the exorbitant prices.  but the clerk mentioned that there were more items upstairs, and curiosity thankfully got the better of us.

the pretty greenery, wood, and wrought iron outside alex raskin antiques.

this place had four floors of interesting, ancient pieces of furniture - including a $26,000 mirror that looked like it belonged over a castle's fireplace.  we were so in awe that i forgot to take any pictures.  we saw literal thrones and gigantic armoires and with every staircase we climbed, the items got weirder and more expensive.  even if you don't like antiques, i guarantee you'll be intrigued by this store.  if not for the dusty old family portraits and gilded chairs, go for the view of forsyth park from the fourth floor.


speaking of forsyth park, our next destination was just as beautiful as i had imagined.  a tunnel of old oaks leading to a glorious fountain marks the north side of this long stretch of beautiful scenery.  i'd been to forsyth park before for an ultimate frisbee tournament, but never had a chance to appreciate its beauty {or see this famed fountain} before now.


around forsyth park is more of a residential area, so we decided to ogle some houses.  this blue one in particular caught my eye because of its hundreds of well-maintained potted plants and flowers.  if i lived in a house like this, i'd think that i died and went to heaven.

we spent the rest of the day relaxing at the hotel before going out at night for dinner {and more beers at world of beers}.  we ventured back down to city market {past the paula deen store and restaurant, where they literally had butter flavored lip balm and everything said "y'all" on it} to a place called b & d burgers.  i had a burger with a fried green tomato and a fried egg on top, and it was divine.

last, we went to a 24-hour gourmet market and got tea biscuits before heading back to the hotel for a hot cuppa and some sweets.

day 3 - botanical gardens & river walk.


we started this day with a lovely trip to the coastal georgia botanical gardens, which was under a bit of construction but looks like it will be the most astonishing place in a couple years.  even so, it was beautiful - everything was in bloom.  a rose garden with a fountain is the first thing you see, and heading further back, you'll find everything from a lovely gazebo to picnic tables under a huge shady tree to a tranquil bench surrounded by multicolored flowers to a rock waterfall near a lily pond and a lake. 




but arguably the best part about the botanical gardens were the fields of you-pick blackberries.  we got close to 2 pounds of berries for only $4.75, and we picked the fattest and darkest berries we could find.  i can't wait to whip up a blackberry pie with these big beauties!  good thing i wore my sun hat, too, because it was bright and hot!


after the garden, we went to the farmer's market at forsyth park and had coffee stout-flavored ice cream and bought ginger syrup and locally-made goat cheese nougat & caramel candy bars.

we stopped for lunch at foxy loxy and had pulled chicken tomatillo tacos and beers in rocking chairs on a lazy second-floor porch.  sounds nice, but there was no breeze at that point in the day, and it was probably close to 95 degrees outside.  i needed a fan like a proper southern lady, but instead i was grumpy and sweaty and happy to return to the hotel and jump in the pool.


we relaxed in the pool for a while and took a nap on the pool chairs before coming inside to get ready for dinner and walking by the savannah river.  but nature had other plans, and it stormed hard for a good hour or so.


when the rain cleared up, we suited up for a nice stroll through the markets along the river.  the peanut shop was pretty cool, and we ended up being super adventurous and buying a bacon-flavored soda there {we still haven't tried it, but i'm convinced it'll taste like dog food}. the shops were cute and it was very pleasant to walk slowly with cheats, listening to street musicians pound on their buckets or croon out 'la vie en rose' on their saxophones.


one part of our trip we're sad we didn't get to experience was a riverboat cruise.  i had signed us up for a southern belle tea party cruise where everyone dresses up in poofy floral dresses and huge hats and is served full afternoon tea, but that was cancelled too.  what's up with cancelling things, savannah??  not cool, brah.  it was a little less than exciting to just stand near a riverboat {as you can plainly see in my face}, but that was the best we could do at the time.


for dinner, we opted for the distillery, a craft beer ONLY place where we had cheesesteak egg rolls and split a thing called 'hog hammers', which were obviously delicious and definitely sound like something ron swanson would approve.  i also found my new favorite beer there! - a horny goat chocolate peanut butter stout that tastes as good as it smells. 


at the suggestion of some friends we made at the bar, we had dessert at leopold's ice cream shop, a famed shop with... ehhh... decent ice cream.  but there was a line out the door!  at 10:30 pm!  but it just wasn't that great...  i'm a brat when it comes to ice cream, and so far nothing has been able to touch bruster's.

we also sought out a fabled place called abe's on lincoln, where apparently you could have the weirdest/best night of your life if you were sloshed enough.  i guess the ice cream sobered us up, because it looked less-than-savory when we got there and we pretty much turned tail to head back to the hotel.

on the drive home day 4 was when we visited wormsloe - only briefly though, since they charge to go deeper into the preserve.  we hurried back for father's day festivities, listening to nick offerman's book, paddle your own canoe, in the car the whole way.


savannah was gorgeous and relaxing and everything we wanted in this particular getaway.  if you haven't been yet {and especially if you live in jacksonville, which is just 2 hours away}, you need to get off your butts and go.  it is so worth it.




disclaimer: this post was not sponsored by any of the aforementioned companies, products, or bloggers {no matter how much i would have liked for it to be}. therefore, all opinions expressed are my own.
copyright for all photos featured in this post belongs to the apothecary bee and may not be used for commercial purposes without express written consent. 

June 16, 2014

burlap + moss initial wreath.


hey guys!  i just got back from our vacation {a separate post on that later} and i figured since summer is basically in full swing, i'd share with you this easy and relatively inexpensive craft to brighten up your front door.

i made this wreath for my mom for mother's day and i loved it so much, i just had to make it for my own door.  hopefully, you'll love it too!

i'mma make this quick, because i've gotta make some cheesy squash soup for dinner, so read on for the tutorial:

burlap & moss initial wreath.


materials.

  • 1 12'' grapevine wreath
  • 1 large wooden letter
  • 2 stalks of artificial white cherry blossoms, or your favorite flower
  • 1 roll moss ribbon, or sheets of moss {a little pricier for the sheets, but easier}
  • 1 roll wire-lined burlap ribbon
  • 1 twist tie {for making the bow}
  • hot glue & scissors

directions.


first, you're going to lay out all your materials.  i like to work on a piece of cardboard because it's durable and large and easy to clean up.  unroll the moss ribbon and cut it into strips that will easily cover your wooden letter.  glue the moss down with hot glue, taking care not to burn your fingers.


some of the moss will inevitably shake loose and you'll see some patchy areas - fear not!  just dab a nice spot of glue on the bare area and sprinkle the loose moss over top.  my moss ribbon roll was just barely enough to cover two letters.  clean up the edges of your letter with the scissors.


next, prepare the wreath base.  cut and/or bend the flower stems to your liking around the wreath.  for my 'l' wreath, i had a the wreath on a vertical orientation and placed the flowers cascading across the top, like in the picture above.  for my 'c' wreath, i went with a horizontal orientation and thought the flowers would look better flanking the letter on either side like laurels.

glue the flower stems down to the larger grapevine stems at the bending points.


now, you'll want to make a burlap bow.  fold the ribbon as you see in the picture above, end over end.  i cut a triangle out of each end of the ribbon to give it that classic bow shape.  with two fingers, pinch the middle section all together and secure with a twist tie.


use a small piece of the same ribbon or a different ribbon {i used a simple white grosgrain ribbon} to hide the twist tie and glue it in place.  then, glue the bow to the wreath in a spot that makes sense {somewhere along the sides for a vertical orientation, near the bottom for a horizontal orientation}.


lastly, hot glue the letter so that it is anchored in at least two spots on the wreath.  the 'l' was much harder to glue than the 'c' because that bottom left base had to be left hanging.  hold the letter straight and level while the glue is drying to avoid the extra step of re-gluing.

and there you have it!  all in all, the materials cost me about $15-20 per wreath.  my mom absolutely loved receiving this wreath, and my sister liked it so much she pouted that she wanted one too...  even though she lives with my mom.  now that she's a full time 5th grade teacher {congrats, tracey!!}, maybe she'll venture out to a place of her own.  and when she does, you better believe i'll be presenting this as a housewarming gift!