#FoodieFriday Apple Mascarpone Cobbler

One day last month it occurred to me that there should be an apple and cheese cobbler. I took to the Internet like I usually do when I come up with a brilliant idea. Most of the time, my “brilliant ideas” are brilliant ideas that other people already came up. In this case? Not so! Apples and cheese pair well in so many other recipes, but I couldn’t seem to find a recipe that paired apples with a good dessert cheese in a cobbler recipe. I decided to create my own and selected the ultimate dessert cheese — mascarpone. The result? A delicious treat just perfect for the fall harvest!

½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups ground gluten free rice krispies
1 tbsp baking powder
1 pinch of sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ginger

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside. Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in milk and egg. Mix in the dry ingredients. Put half the crust on a greased 9×13 pan. (Or you could split the recipe between 2 pie pans or 2 8×8 pans.)

Apple Filling
8 small apples, peeled, cored, and sliced*
⅔ cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Sprinkling of cloves, nutmeg, and ginger

Stir together apples, sugar, and spices. Pour over the cobbler crust.

*I used 8 small macintosh apples, which produced a ridiculous amount of apples. Feel free to scale back on the apples if you wish.

Mascarpone Filling
8oz mascarpone
1 egg
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 pinch of sea salt

Beat together mascarpone and egg. Beat in cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Pour over apples. Put the reserved cobbler crust over the top.

Streusel Topping (From Southern Living)
½ cup butter
⅔ cup brown sugar
⅔ cup grounded rice krispies
1 tsp cinnamon
Sprinkling of cloves, nutmeg, and ginger

Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in ground krispies and spices. Put on top of the cobbler. Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

Salted Caramel Sauce (Lifted entirely from Nadia G.)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter
Pinch of sea salt

Using a food processor, pulverize the granulated sugar into fine powder or dust. In a pot, heat the water over medium heat. As the water begins to slowly heat, carefully pour the pulverized sugar into the center of the pot, creating a mound. Do not touch or mix the sugar into the water, let it dissolve on its own. Once the sugar-water begins to boil, keep a close eye on it: in a few minutes the water will boil away and then the sugar will begin to boil. Watch closely, the second the molten sugar begins to turn a light brown or caramel color, take it off the heat and add the whipping cream and butter. [Nadia G’s] Note: Careful, it will spatter. Whisk the mixture until smooth. Add a big pinch of fleur de sel and whisk to incorporate. [Meredith’s Note]: Melt the butter in the molten sugar first — I end up with rock sugar stuck to my whisk if I don’t!

Serve the cobbler with salted caramel sauce — and ice cream and/ or whipped cream and more caramel sauce!


#ThankfulThursday Breathing Room

Nothing really spoke to me for this week’s Monday Meditation post. I was feeling… less than myself. Tuesday brought more of the same, leaving much to accomplish on Wednesday morning — and so I never took the time to capture even the smallest bit of beauty for a picture post. However, yesterday and today I somehow found some much-needed space to simply exist with myself — to be with myself in comforting solitude. I internalized.

These days, moments of solitude are quite rare indeed — I’m the mother in a family of five, and I work with a lot of people 5 out of 7 days a week. “Alone time” just doesn’t typically happen for me. But when that alone time comes — when those moments of solitude finally arrive — I gratefully bask in the peaceful silence. It gives me time to focus on the rise and fall of my breath, the signals my body’s sending, and the obvious answers to my questions. (In one such moment of solitude, I discovered that I deserve more credit as a problem-solver than I previously believed.) Some times we just need a moment to breath. The answers might be clearly sitting in front of us, waiting for us to take notice of them.


#FoodieFriday Field Trip!

So, I was going to post pictures of our lunch and dessert at Chocolate Therapy Cafe, but I both forgot the camera and forgot about taking pictures while enjoying the food, service, and company. Instead, here’s a picture of me enjoying some delicious pumpkin cheesecake! Let me reassure you that it was like mixing pumpkin pie into cheesecake, smooth, creamy, and spiced. The chai latte washed it down perfectly. And for the record, my exposed fang/ snaggle-tooth indicates my sincere pleasure.

Foodie Friday Goof


#ThankfulThursday Vehicular Freedom

It is with great joy and relief that I can share that we once again have a vehicle. In early August, our van overheated and stopped running. The diagnostics gave us a quote that left us stranded in the mountains of Northwest Georgia with no end in sight. Fortunately, we seem to have landed in an area that still believes in Southern Hospitality and community. I have been incredibly grateful for the assistance we’ve received from friends, as well as getting to know them better along the way. Yet there’s something to be said about not needing to think about scheduling a ride when it’s time to go to work. There’s something sort of special about being able to load up the family, turn up some of our favorite songs, and go for a drive just to spend some time together. I missed that time with my family — well, maybe not the screaming and whining parts, but you get the point.

Two years ago, this wasn’t something I’d worry about. Two years ago, I lived in a city with fairly decent bus service. But now we’re here, and now I’ve lived life without a vehicle in a rural community. It’s easy to go car-free when you’ve got public transportation and everything within a reason distance. Riding a bike 7 miles one way along a treacherous mountain road to get to work? No thank you! Give me my gas-hungry, money-hungry vehicle any day. It grants me the freedom to live in a such a beautiful area.


#TuesdayTreat Gluten Free Chocolate Gingerbread

Right, so I got lazy over the past few days, but I figured out a great save — the Tuesday Treat! I baked some very delicious mocha spice cupcakes a few weeks ago and came up with a great idea — gluten free chocolate gingerbread. While I’m not ready to share my mocha spice recipes with the world yet, I am ready to adapt a recipe I’ve been enjoying since March.

Chocolate Gingerbread (Adapted from Healthy Flourless Chocolate Cake)
1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
5 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil (or 1 stick of butter)
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1.5 tsps ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan. Put drained and rinsed beans, 3 eggs, vanilla, and salt into a food processor or blender. Crank it to high and run the machine into you’ve got a liquified concoction in the bowl of the processor (or blender). Add the other eggs, sugar, molasses, and oil. Turn on the processor/ blender again. Put your dry ingredients in, and blend it again. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan. Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool. Makes 12 slices.



#MondayMeditations The Crossroads of Change

There comes a point in life — usually more than once — when you’re faced with inevitable changes that must occur for the sake of growth and staying in the same old rut. That rut is known and somehow comforting, even if it’s not a comfortable place to be. It’s just comfortable knowing what to expect from day to day. But that tired routine of stagnation isn’t healthy or fulfilling. Change has to happen. But of course, the fear of change, the fear of the unknown, the fear of failure all come into play. Doubting one’s self leads to a lot of second-guessing and procrastination. There are so many opportunities waiting to be grasped firmly and confidently — so why then is it that we (or more specifically I) are squandering these opportunities? What’s holding us back?

I’ve been questioning myself and second-guessing myself a lot, lately. I’ve got so many ideas in my head, but it seems I’m just leaving them as unfinished projects in my spiral notebooks. When it came to school and comes to work, I see my projects through to the end — why can’t I translate that into my own personal pursuits? What prevents any of us from achieving the same sort of greatness that only a handful actually obtain? Why do we allow barriers to block us from our dreams and goals? We should surpass these obstacles. We should channel our strength and live our dreams. Blame it on my recent affinity for the lunar phases, but I’ve been very philosophical and introspective as of late. I’ve practically torn through everything in my life, scattering everything on the floor, searching for the answer, and now I’m trying to put everything back together in the right order — trying to find a new balancing point. The problem: I don’t know where I’d personally like to start. Add some more blame to the increasing number of candles on my birthday cakes — I’m a little over a year away from entering my 30s, and I’d certainly like to see my efforts blossom into something worth bragging about at the next high school reunion. It sounds silly, I know, but somehow I think we all get stuck in the mindset that we need to measure up to standards set forth by someone else at a set period of time. Maybe that’s where the problem lies.

Maybe it’s time to stop using someone else’s measuring stick. Maybe it’s time to evaluate myself — ourselves — based on our own standards. Maybe it’s time to be gentler with those standards, to be kinder to ourselves. Maybe it’s time to wake up from the day-to-day and embrace change as a necessity to growth and progress. Maybe we need to face our fears and step forward, telling those fears that we will not be controlled any longer. Maybe it’s time to face our problems and change them. Maybe instead of second-guessing myself, I should have more confidence in knowing that I’ve made it this far and have a fully capable head on my shoulders. Maybe it’s time to stop rehashing the same old story and start rewriting it.


#ThankfulThursday Cooler Weather

The weather we’ve had the past few weeks has been decidedly pleasant. The temperatures have stayed below the 85 degree mark, making for great outdoor time. My family and I have been spending a lot of time together outside. I enjoy writing on my porch or deck in the evenings, staring up at the bright stars periodically. We’ve also been opening the windows and letting the breeze be our air conditioner. While air conditioning and heater are a couple of the greatest inventions ever, nothing beats fresh air, sunshine, and pleasant breezes.

On top of the pleasant weather, the leaves are beginning to take on hues of yellow, orange, and red. It’s still subtle, but soon fall leaves will paint the landscape. It inspires me to add apples and pumpkin, cinnamon and cloves, and hot chocolate and cider to the menus. I’m looking forward to bringing out the sweaters and scarves. It really is the little things that make our quality of life better.


#MondayMeditation Playtime

Who exactly decided that you have to outgrow playtime? This thought has vexed me for quite a bit now. I don’t buy into that crap — that’s right, you heard me. Why should age dictate ability to go out and enjoy one’s self? It shouldn’t. And lately, I’ve been taking steps to separate my age from my play. Just today I spent a good chunk of time blowing bubbles, coloring on the front walkway, and hula hooping with the kids. The weather was far too beautiful to ignore, and the kids are growing up way too fast. To be honest, health is also fairly fleeting, so why waste time sitting around letting old age set in? Life is meant to be lived. I find myself surviving too much instead of living. I meditated a bit upon the floating bubbles that shimmered in the sunshine, contemplating life and my direction — and it was pretty relaxing, actually. I highly recommend spending an afternoon blowing bubbles just for the fun of it. Your whole perspective on life gets a little nip-tuck. I can’t quite advocate for taking up skate boarding in your late 20s, but you never know.

Playing helps me uphold my integrity, which is a very strong theme for me this year. In order to thrive, I must cultivate my life with integrity. I need to be authentic with myself. I need to embrace my desires to frolic in the sunshine, to embrace my need to enjoy the fleeting moments of youth before life pass me by. I cannot be anyone else but myself, and myself wants to play.


#FoodieFriday Gluten Free Pumpkin Cupcakes

Whoops! Never scheduled this in time, so let’s have Foodie Friday on Saturday! Today I’m moving to a different department at work, so I brought in some cupcakes to say goodbye to my co-workers. I decided to make gluten free pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting since it’s getting closer to autumn. Now, I’m going to admit to you right up front: gluten free baking can be very expensive in terms of buying flour substitutes. The boxed mixes are more expensive than regular boxed mixes, but they’re an easy alternative for me — especially since I live in a rural community. So, I decided to start with a simple gluten free yellow cake mix. Here’s what I did to turn a pre-made mix into a delectable delight:

1 box gluten free cake mix (15oz)
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 can pumpkin puree (15oz)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan (or 2, if you’re living the good life with a big kitchen) with liners. Beat the eggs and oil. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and spices. Beat until combine. Pour in the box mix and whisk gently until combine. Carefully ladle the batter into the liners, using about half the mixture. Bake for 25 minutes. Set them to cool on a wire rack and re-line your cupcake pan (or be finished if you had 2 pans to start with). Bake the rest of the batter — you should have 24 cupcakes from this recipe.

Now, I may have used a boxed mix to make my cupcakes, but I didn’t get lazy when it came to the frosting. Here’s what I do to make my cream cheese frosting:

1 8oz bar of cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup, 4oz), softened
1/2-1 cup of powdered sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Using a hand- or stand-mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium-low until combine. Turn OFF the mixer. Add in your powdered sugar. Carefully turn the mixer on low until the sugar is mostly combined. Pour in the vanilla and beat on medium until smooth, creamy, and whipped in appearance.

Frost your cupcakes. Sprinkle the tops with cinnamon for a nice touch, if you wish.