Peach Vanilla Bean Pie

Peach Vanilla Bean Pie

Okay, I swear this is the last peach recipe for a while!  I just couldn’t resist sharing this recipe with you.  Vanilla beans are one of my favorite additions to any dessert.  They always add a great depth of flavor.  And, they can take any classic/plain dessert to a whole new level of greatness.  So, when I saw this recipe for a classic peach pie, I thought, why not incorporate vanilla beans!

Peach Vanilla Bean Pie

I don’t think I have ever actually made a peach pie.  So strange, I know.  Most likely because only in the last few years, I have discovered my love for peaches.  So, I was pretty excited to try this pie out.  Since the addition of vanilla beans to my favorite jam worked so well, I figured it would work well in this pie.  Boy, oh boy, I was definitely right!  This pie is pretty much like eating warm forkfuls of peach jam, sandwiched between a flaky, buttery crust.   Oh, and topped with whipped cream, of course.  I’ll wait while you go and make this pie.  Right now.

Peach Vanilla Bean Pie

Peach Vanilla Bean Pie

  • chilled pie dough for two crusts (homemade is definitely better, but store bought is acceptable)
  • 3 lbs. ripe peaches
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • Dash of ground nutmeg
  • 1 vanilla bean, split with the seeds removed
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoon cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water, for egg wash


Preheat the oven to 425ºF.  Roll out half of the pie dough to about a 12-inch round.  Transfer to a pie plate, then place in the refrigerator while making the filling.  In a large bowl, place the sugar with the vanilla bean seeds and rub together with your fingers until fragrant and evenly distributed.  Whisk in the cornstarch, flour and nutmeg.  Peel the peaches and slice them to 1/4-inch thick slices. Combine the peach slices with the sugar mixture.  Toss to coat.  Add in the lemon juice and stir until combined.

Remove the lined pie plate from the refrigerator and pour in the peach filling in an even layer.  Dot the top of the peaches with the pieces of cold butter.  Roll out the remaining pie dough to a 12-inch round.  Cut into strips with a pastry cutter or knife (a pizza cutter works well here too!) and weave together to form a lattice top.  Trim away excess dough and crimp the edges together to seal.  Lightly brush the top and edges of the pie dough with the egg wash.

Place the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips, then place in the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 350ºF and continue baking until the pie is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 40-50 minutes more.  Remove the pie to a wire rack and let cool until just warm, about 2 hours.  Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

Source: Roughly adapted from Annie’s Eats


Peach Vanilla Bean Jam

Peach Vanilla Bean Jam

If you have been following my blog for some time, then you probably know by now that I like to make all of my own jam.  In fact, I haven’t bought jam in several years.  I process and can several different kinds every summer, in hopes that it will last us until next summer!  And, we eat A LOT of jam.  I love knowing exactly what goes into the jam, rather than eating all those preservatives and goodness knows what else.  It also just tastes so much better than store bought.  I like to be able to play around with different flavors.  Definitely more exciting than the typical kinds you find in the grocery store.

Peach Vanilla Bean Jam

Of all the kinds of jam I have made, this is one of my all-time favorites.  I made it last year for the first time, and couldn’t wait to make it again this summer.  Vanilla beans are a wonderful addition to anything, but combining with peaches?  Amazing!!  I love how there are little chunks of peaches in the jam.  Especially when I spread it on toast, it’s like little flavor explosions in each bite.

Peach Vanilla Bean Jam

This is a no-pectin jam, but don’t let that intimidate you.  Even if you don’t cook it as long as it should, it will still taste great.  So, grab the last of the summer peaches, and make this jam.  It is well worth the effort!

Peach Vanilla Bean Jam

Yield: about 6-7 half-pint jars

  • 3 pounds ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped out, pods reserved
  • Juice of 1 lemon


In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine all ingredients (including vanilla bean pods) over medium heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce to a simmer.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has partially caramelized and turned a dark orange color, about 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours.  To check if the jam is ready- spoon a little on a small plate.  Place in the refrigerator or freezer until cool.  Then, run your finger through the center.  If the jam separates then slowly returns to the streak, then it is ready.  Remove and discard vanilla bean pods.

Divide the jam evenly among sterilized half-pint jars and can using the water bath method. Process the jars for about 15 minutes.  Or store in sterilized jars in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. (They may last longer, but I have never experimented, so do so at your own risk.)

Source: Cook Like a Champion

Triple Vanilla Scones

Triple Vanilla Scones

Yesterday, we got hit with a classic Nor’easter. It snowed and blew all day long. We probably got a whopping 14 inches. On top of the 6 we already had. And now they are talking more snow Friday and another big storm Monday! At least we can sled and snowshoe! I much prefer a winter with a lot of snow. It makes the cold that much easier to bare.

With all this snow and cold weather, it makes me want to bake. Who am I kidding- I love to bake no matter the weather or season! These scones have been on my to-do list for a while. Vanilla anything gets me excited. I have all these vanilla beans sitting in my pantry just waiting to be used. Especially since my ice cream making has slowed down. And, these scones are another perfect excuse to use some of that wonderful vanilla sugar I told you about.

Triple Vanilla Scones

Sitting down with my cup of coffee, a warm scone, and snuggling up with a quilt to watch the snow, was the perfect way to start my morning. These scones are moist, a little flaky, and full of flavor. The vanilla is heart warming. And they remind me of summer. The perfect way to start any day.

Triple Vanilla Scones

Triple Vanilla Scones

Yield: 10 scones

For the scones 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tablespoons vanilla sugar*
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 8 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup low fat plain greek yogurt (I used whole milk plain yogurt and it was fine)

For the glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 4-5 teaspoons milk


Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, vanilla sugar, baking powder and salt. Toss in the butter pieces to combine. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the largest butter pieces are the size of peas and the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the milk, vanilla and yogurt to the bowl.  Mix together lightly with a spatula or fork until a sticky dough comes together.  Very gently, knead lightly with your hands to incorporate the remaining loose flour. Don’t over knead, or your scones will be dense.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Pat the dough out to approximately an 8-inch square. Fold into thirds like a business letter.  Pat the dough out into a 5×10-inch rectangle.  With a lightly floured large knife or a bench scraper, slice the rectangle in half lengthwise. Then cut each half into 5 equal rectangles to make 10 scones total.

Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet.  Bake, rotating halfway through the baking time, until golden on top and just set, about 12-14 minutes total.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.

While the scones are still warm, make the glaze. Combine the confectioners’ sugar and the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean in a small bowl. Whisk in the milk a teaspoon at a time until you have a glaze that is slightly thick but pourable. Drizzle the glaze over the warm scones.  Let set a few minutes before serving.

*To make vanilla sugar, split a vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into 1 cup of sugar.  Rub the vanilla seeds into the sugar with your fingertips until well combined and fragrant. Bury the vanilla bean pod in the sugar.  Cover and let stand for at least 2 days to allow the flavors to meld.

Source: Annie’s Eats

Hot Chocolate Mix

hot cocoa mix

Happy New Year! 2015! Gosh, it sounds like something of the future. Did everyone have a good new year’s eve? I sure hope so.

Now that Mother Nature has decided that it’s going to be more like winter, I wanted to share with you this fabulous diy hot cocoa mix. Lately, it has been my best friend. Yesterday’s temp was -8 when I got up. The coldest it has been yet! With howling winds and blowing snow, all I want to do is curl up inside next to the fire with a cup of hot cocoa. And of course snuggle with the baby. Speaking of said baby, she has her first tooth working through! Also, she is basically sitting up on her own, AND she is trying oh so hard to crawl. To the point that she is getting so frustrated that she can’t get her legs moving. She rocks back and forth thinking about it, but the brain connection isn’t there yet. She is already 6 months old! My baby is growing up way too quickly.

hot cocoa mix 2

On to this hot cocoa mix.

It blows the pants off store bought mixes. I honestly don’t think I could go back to Swiss Miss anymore. This stuff is the real deal. It’s rich, velvety and all around delicious. In the past, I have decorated little jars and gifted it to friends and family. It makes a great hostess gift for the cold months! I mean really, who doesn’t love hot chocolate? This is well worth the effort and ingredient list to make this yourself. It keeps for months. So it will last you the winter without going bad. Well, that is if you can resist drinking every day.

Hot Chocolate Mix

Yield: about 76 2-tablespoon servings*

  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 lbs. good quality semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 9 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder


Split and scrape the vanilla beans into a large bowl or jar with the sugar.  Work the vanilla seeds into the sugar with your fingers until evenly distributed. Bury the pods under the sugar, cover tightly and let stand overnight (or up to months) at room temperature. (You can do a large batch of this vanilla sugar and keep the pods in the sugar to add extra flavor. It’s fantastic to use in homemade ice cream or any vanilla flavored desserts.) Remove the pods when ready to use.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the sugar, semisweet and bittersweet chocolate, and Dutch process cocoa powder.  Process in 4-second pulses until the chocolate is very finely ground and the mixture is well combined.  Store the mix in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

To serve: combine 2 tablespoons cocoa mix with 8 oz. of hot milk and stir to combine until well blended.

*You can easily cut this recipe in half if you don’t have a large food processor. This is what I do and works just fine!

Source: Annie’s Eats, originally from Gourmet, 2005

Banana Ice Cream with Caramelized White Chocolate Freckles

Banana Ice Cream with Caramelized White Chocolate

I don’t understand why they don’t sell banana ice cream in the stores. I don’t know about you, but I love banana ice cream. It is definitely a pronounced flavor, but that’s what makes it so great. The idea of caramelized white chocolate is just brilliant. I had a jar of coconut oil sitting in my cupboard from Trader Joe’s that I got ages ago for one small thing. When I was flipping through this cookbook, I knew that this would be an excellent way to use some of it!

Banana Ice Cream with Caramelized White Chocolate

This ice cream is full of flavor and the caramelized white chocolate puts it over the top. Out of the three ice creams I made in one day, this was my daughter’s favorite. I definitely look forward to a scoop (or three) of this after dinner!

Banana Ice Cream with Caramelized White Chocolate Freckles

Yield: about 1 quart

For the ice cream

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 ounces (3 Tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half
  • 2 ripe bananas, chopped

For the caramelized white chocolate

  • 12 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil


In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the milk to create a slurry.

In a large bowl or plastic container, mix the cream cheese and salt together until smooth.

In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining milk, heavy cream, sugar and corn syrup. Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the pot, including the bean. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Let boil for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Place the saucepan back over the heat and bring to a boil again over medium-high heat. Stir constantly with a heatproof spatula until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth.

Place the chopped bananas in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Stir the bananas into the ice cream mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill, several hours or over night.

Meanwhile, make the caramelized white chocolate. Combine the white chocolate and coconut oil in a small saucepan. Set over medium-low heat stirring until melted and smooth. Continue to cook, stirring constantly until the mixture becomes a deep amber color, 12-15 minutes. Make sure to stir constantly, or else the chocolate will burn. Remove from the heat and let cool until ready to use.

When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean and discard, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In the last few minutes of churning the ice cream, drizzle in about half of the caramelized white chocolate. Store in the freezer.

The remaining caramelized white chocolate can be stored in a jar in the fridge up to a month.

Source: Adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home

Vanilla Ice Cream with Berry Sauce Swirl

Vanilla Ice Cream with Berry Sauce Swirl

So a few days ago, I went crazy and made three different types of ice cream. And now, I want dessert after every meal. I made the delicious backyard mint ice cream again, this kind and a banana with caramelized white chocolate. I told you I love ice cream!

Vanilla Ice Cream with Berry Sauce Swirl

This ice cream is divine. The blackberry and raspberry bushes around the house are in full berry at the moment. My three year old son is out there almost daily picking and eating berries. It’s a great little side snack to have when walking down the driveway to get the mail! So, I had him help me pick a variety of berries to make for the sauce. You can’t beat fresh berries! This vanilla ice cream is very simple, yet so creamy. With the fresh berry sauce swirled in, oh my word. I wanted to eat the whole container. You need to go make this right now. Really.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Berry Sauce Swirl

Yield: about 1 quart

For the ice cream

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half

For the berry sauce

  • 2 cups fresh raspberries, black raspberries and/or blackberries (I used a combination of raspberries and blackberries)
  • 1 cup sugar


To make the ice cream, whisk together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the milk in a small bowl to create a slurry

In a large bowl or plastic container, mix the cream cheese and salt together until smooth.

In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining milk, heavy cream, sugar and corn syrup. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the pot and as well as the vanilla bean. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Let boil for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Place the saucepan back over the heat and bring to a boil again over medium-high heat. Stir constantly with a heatproof spatula until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Cove and place in the refrigerator until completely cool, several hours or overnight.

Remove the vanilla bean then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store in the freezer

Meanwhile, make the berry sauce. Combine the berries and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Clip a candy thermometer to the side. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 220ºF, about 8-10 minutes. Let cool slightly, then strain the seeds out through a fine mesh sieve. Discard the seeds and refrigerate the sauce until completely cool before using.

When churning the ice cream, drizzle the sauce into the machine while it’s running during the last few minutes.

Source: Adapted from Jeni’s Splended Ice Creams at Home

Vanilla Almond Orange Cloud Cookies


Last week it was my sister’s birthday. The whole family decided to do a little BBQ on the beach in celebration. It turned out to be a beautiful evening, low tide and perfect for grilling! The kids had a blast having all their aunties and uncles in one place at the same time. And really, what’s better than the beach?

As you all probably know by now, I don’t like to buy presents for people. I generally make something. For birthdays, I usually bake something sweet. Since my sister is gluten free, my choices were limited. I am not set up for baking gluten free, so I was determined to find a recipe that didn’t involve buying a lot of specialty ingredients. I knew exactly which blog site to check out.  Just as I had hoped, there was a very large section of gluten free goods. These particular cookies caught my eye immediately.

I just had to save one or two cookies for myself so I could try them. They were oh so good. But, they were a little on the sweet side, even for me, and the orange did not come out as much as I had hoped it would. So, hopefully, I have made the appropriate adjustments to the recipe below.

Vanilla Almond Orange Cloud Cookies

Yield: About a dozen cookies

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 10 ounces almond paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • confectioner’s sugar


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Have ready two baking sheets lined with silpat or parchment paper.

In a small bowl, mix together the granulated sugar, orange zest and vanilla bean seeds. Use your fingers to work the zest and seeds into the sugar, creating a moist, fragrant sugar.

Place the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the almond paste and salt. Beat on medium speed to thoroughly mix together.

In a separate small bowl, whisk the two egg whites with a fork until light and frothy. With the mixer on medium speed, gradually pour in the egg whites. Beat until a smooth paste is formed. Add the almond extract and beat until combined.

Scoop the batter by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle generously with confectioner’s sugar. Using the tips of three fingers, make indentations in each cookie.

Bake cookies for 20-25 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned on top. Let cool completely before serving or storing.

Source: Adapted from Joy the Baker