I thought we were just having coffee

Back in July, I received a text from a friend who I had not seen in awhile asking to meet up for coffee. We became friends several years ago sharing elementary PTA adventures. Now our kids were a little older and in different places. I was excited to see her name pop up on my phone. Also completely thrilled to actually get to share coffee and a conversation with her. We had so much to catch up on.

Our anticipated coffee date arrived. We started with catching up and she quickly moved to the reason she called the coffee date. My friend had recently became editor of a local magazine. She shared how the oppopportunity came up and her vision for the future of the magazine.

Then she dropped her big idea! Without a pause in her conversation or thoughts, my friend throws out “and in the magazine we will feature a monthly recipe. I WANT YOU TO WRITE THEM.” (WHAT!?! ME? Amanda Fuller, girl from small town Texas?). She goes on to tell me she needs my headshot. (What, again?) She gives me deadlines and criteria. Then she smiles, says she is so excited to work with me, and cannot wait to see my work.

So lots of details in between: One hour with my favorite photographer, a few test products and pictures, and my first article was ready.

I share all this with you because it was a big step for me to take and to believe in myself when others already had. This is my first time to be published for my work in the kitchen. I’m beyond thrilled to be a contributing recipe writer for Our Milton Neighbor.

As I publish my monthly recipes, you will find them added to my blog as well. Thanks for sharing along with me in this new adventure.  Here’s my first published article:

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Looking Forward,
Amanda

 

Strawberry & Blueberry Bruschetta

We are getting ready to celebrate the 4th of July.  Desserts that include strawberries and blueberries naturally give you a patriotic feeling.  This little recipe was inspired by my friend, Erin at The Speckled Palate.  Jump over to her blog to be completely inspired plus she makes meal planning fun!

This little dessert will leave your family and friends wanting more!  Prep is simple and can be done ahead of time.  Feel free to play with the ingredients and make it your own.  Have a happy and safe 4th of July! -Amanda

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2 cups strawberries, sliced

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 pint blueberries

1 pre-made Pound Cake loaf (I purchased a Vanilla Pound Cake at Whole Foods)

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter , melted

8oz of Cream Cheese,  allow to sit at room temp for 15 to 20 minutes

1/2 cup of powdered sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Wash & Dry your strawberries and blueberries.  Slice your strawberries.  Toss  strawberries with 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Slice your pound cake into 1inch (or less) thickness. I made sure to make 12 slices to have enough for dessert.   Brush the pound cake slices with melted butter.  On a preheated grill or grilling pan, toast both sides of your pound cake.  Let the pieces set long enough to get grill lines.  Once all slices are toasted, set aside and allow to cool.  

With a mixer, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  Once all combined, place in refrigerator until ready to create dessert.

When you are ready to serve dessert, place your pound cake slices on a serving platter or individual plates.  Smear the cream cheese mixture on to your cake slices.  Make sure there is enough cream cheese mixture to allow the fruit to stick to your cake slices.  Then top that with a tablespoon of strawberries and their juice. Add blueberries by giving them a little push to stay on the cake slices.  Serve immediately, or let stand in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  

Make Your Own Pizza Night

One item on our summer bucket was “Make Your Own Pizza Night” We have done this several times but we jazzed it up with our head chef, Whitaker!

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You can buy pre-made dough or make your own. This is my go to Pizza Dough. If you want to try something different, Trader Joe’s has a great frozen Cauliflower Crust.

We are all about the ingredients in this house. Chop up what you want and add some variety. In my mind there can never be too many toppings. I love them all! Some our favorites: Mozzarella cheese (shredded or sliced), pepperoni, olives, sausage (cooked ahead), bell peppers, onions, jalapeños, and mushrooms.

We use pre-made pizza sauce to keep it easy. Once your dough is ready, start adding all the fun. It’s a great way to get everyone on the kitchen.

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Cranberry Pecan Baked Brie

A couple weeks ago, I hosted a Noonday Party. It was a fun evening of trying on jewelry, catching up with friends, and noshing on some goodies I had prepared. One appetizer I introduced to the group is my Cranberry Pecan Baked Brie. Let’s just say that there were no crumbs left on the plate.

The way the cranberry pecan topping plays with the brie truly makes happiness. I served the brie with a sliced baguette and crackers. And now this little number will be added to other upcoming festivities this season.

Super easy, great presentation, and a crowd pleasure for sure.

Keep Singing and Dancing during the Holidays,
Amanda

What you Need:

For Brie
1 (8-ounce) wheel brie cheese, rind trimmed
2 T brown sugar, packed

For Cranberry Pecan Drizzle

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 T honey
2 T maple syrup
1 T unsalted butter
1/4 t ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Place brie on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Place into oven and bake until softened. This should take about 12-15 minutes. Remove brie from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Occasionally stir, until foamy. Then stir in pecans and cranberries.

Serve brie warm topped with pecan mixture. I like to serve with crackers or a baguette.

Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

I recently discovered Natasha’s Kitchen. She has tons of great recipes that have awesome pictures, easy to follow directions, and a fun sense of humor. The other night I made her Pumpkin Creme Brûlée for dessert. Oh my goodness! It was a hit. Plus my hubby got to play with the torch to make the caramelized topping. He actually let Whitaker take a turn with the torch. This dessert is a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dessert bar or any fall time meal. Enjoy and check out Natasha’s site!

Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream

3 large whole eggs

1/2 cup sugar (plus extra for caramelizing)

1 cup pumpkin puree (make your own or use the can stuff)

1/4 t ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 whole eggs and 1/2 cup sugar until well blended. Heat 1 and 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream in a sauce pan, almost to a simmer; stirring frequently. You don’t want to burn the bottom. Slowly add hot cream into the egg & sugar mix. You need to pour & whisk slowly as you are combining the hot cream with egg & sugar mix. Or you will end up with scrambled mess!

Next, strain the mixture through a small mess strainer into a bowl. Whisk in 1 cup pumpkin puree and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.

Divide the mixture into 8 (4 oz) cups and place in a large casserole baking dish. You might need more than one baking dish. Fill the baking dish with boiling water about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake at 300 degrees for 35-40 minutes. The centers of the creme brûlée should barely move when you wiggle the pan.

Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate creme brûlée until ready to serve; you can refrigerate them even a week before your event.

When you are ready to serve, you can caramelize the top. Put 1 teaspoon of sugar on top. I used Vanilla Sugar from Beautiful Briny Sea made right here in Atlanta, Georgia. Spread sugar evenly over each custard. Heat the top with your torch. (This is my husband’s favorite part. Guys just love fire.) Keep torching until you have a caramelized top.

Once you have caramelized the top, do not refrigerate. This will cause your topping to not be crisp.

Cookbooks- My Favorites

I have shared before that I LOVE COOKBOOKS.  My collection is vast and eclectic.  Some of my cookbooks have tags and writing all through them as I have taken notes or made changes through the years.  I have special cookbooks that have been signed by the chefs. I take reading a cookbook very seriously.  I read my cookbooks from cover to cover before I will even cook one recipe out of it.  Cookbooks share stories from the chef.  You can understand the inspiration and influences as you read along.  You learn new techniques and terminology.  I love curling up with a new cookbook.  Page by page the stories and recipes unfold.

I know each Christmas (and other times of the year) that my husband, Chris, will search for the perfect cookbook for me.  He knows that he must write a little note on the inside cover complete with the date.  Over the years, I have grown to cherish many of my cookbooks but I wanted to share a few today in case you are looking for a last minute gift idea.

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Date Night In Chris gave me this cookbook last year.  I love it.  The book is organized by seasons and has a complete menu for your date night in.  We have looked forward to creating this meals together.  Each dinner has a dessert and cocktail to create.  Chris loves making cocktails so it is a win-win cookbook for us.

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The Southern’s Cookbook Recipes, Wisdom, and Stories– This is one of those cookbooks that is so fun to read.  The editors of Garden & Gun pulled together great stories and recipes all in one place.  You will love the “talk of the south.”

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Back In The Day Bakery Made With Love–  So true confession- I am obsessed with Cheryl and Griffith Day!  Their bakery in Savannah, Georgia gives me all the feels and is complete happiness.  When you visit the bakery, you will see Cheryl and Griffith in the back busy creating something yummy.  This cookbook is their second book.  I have own both  (obsessed) and both are signed (true obsession).

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Yes, I’m with Cheryl and Griffith Day at Back in the Day Bakery

The next time you are in Savannah, Georgia, you must stop by Back in the Bakery!  It does not disappoint and it is hard to make a decision. So do what I do, get one of each and share!

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Bread and Wine–  This is my favorite book to give as a gift.  One of my best friends gave me a copy and I fell in love.  Shauna Niequist tells beautiful stories of friendships that develop over food.  She encourages you to invite others over.  Break bread together and form relationship.  Shauna shares great recipes and wonderful insight on life.  She has many great books. Present over Perfect is her latest and it reminds us to present in every moment we have and don’t worry about the perfection.  I hope to meet Shauna one day. She is a true inspiration and mentor through her words.

 

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The Silver Spoon For Children is my favorite children’s cookbook right now.  The illustration are made where children can follow along and begin cooking like an Italian. Make pasta, meatballs, chicken Stuffed with marscapone, foccaccia, and the list goes on. I am a believer in having my children in the kitchen.

 

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Last recommendation is a cookbook that has been well loved that I did not want to take a picture of the front.  It has lots of battle wounds (in a good way) from the kitchen.  I have used my Gourmet Cookbook for the past ten years.  It is my kitchen buddy and has helped me cook some delicious food.

Let me know your favorite cookbooks.  I’m always looking for new ones.

Looking Forward,

Amanda

 

Cheeseburger Stuffed Zucchini

Complete CRAZY talk!  It’s a cheeseburger in a zucchini boat!  Honestly, all the goodness of a gouda cheese burger without the guilt of that carb-crazy bun.  Trust me, as you read through the ingredients you will question if I am a mad person!  Just give it a shot and you will see that deliciousness just arrived in a zucchini boat.  Set Sail!- Amanda  

cheeseburger zucchini

Cheeseburger Stuffed Zucchini

1 T olive oil

1 lb. ground beef

1 small yellow onion, diced

coarse salt and fresh black pepper

1/2 T Tony Chachere’s seasoning

1 cup fresh tomatoes, diced, seeds removed

1/2 cup dill pickle, diced

Sauce:

1 T butter

1 T all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

1 T Dijon mustard

1 + 1/2 cups Gouda cheese, shredded, divided

3 medium zucchini

green onions, snipped with kitchen shears, for serving

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat, add ground beef and onion. Season well with salt and pepper. Add Tony Chachere’s seasoning.  Brown the ground beef until cooked through breaking it up as it cooks. Drain off excess grease.

Add the ground beef mixture to a large bowl and mix in tomatoes and pickles.

In the same skillet heat the butter for the sauce over medium-low heat, whisk in flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in milk and mustard. Bring to a simmer and cook 2 minutes. Turn heat down to low and add 1 cup of the Gouda stirring until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little.

Meanwhile wash the zucchini and slice them in half lengthwise. Scoop out all the seeds leaving the zucchini intact. Place on a large baking sheet or roasting pan.

Stir the cheese sauce into the ground meat. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Spoon the meat into the zucchini boats, sprinkle the tops with the remaining 1/2 cup of Gouda.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes until heated through. Sprinkle with green onions to serve.