Monday, September 30, 2013

The Hand Pie Class

On Saturday night, I got to hang out with some very amazing women. We have all been friends for years, but rarely (as in we have never) get to all hang out together. It was a night full of every wonderful emotion...and pie.

The night was full of pie.

These fabulous women asked your favorite Gourmet Girl to Go to host a hand pie class. So I did what any respectable baker would do: I strapped on my John Deere apron and got to work.

On the Hand Pie Menu:
Salted caramel apple
Brie and berry jam
Chocolate and marshmallow.

But of course, you could mix and match all night long!

As you can see, it was a fairly intense lesson. Hand motions were involved.

There was also laughing. I mean, you can't take hand pies too seriously, people.

And then there was this. I just don't even know.


These women quickly got to work and created AMAZING pies!

Here is Tricia mixing the dough.

Others chopped up caramel and unwrapped chocolate.

And two of us sliced apples for the salted caramel apple filling.

Everyone made their own: rolling, cutting, filling, crimping, creating. The kitchen smelled incredible!

And the final result were these adorable, edible hand pies of heaven.

Angels sang above us. I am not even kidding.

And these women?

 I had so much fun with these incredible women. It was a night to cherish and savor, in every possible way.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Like The Ugly Version of Gollum

Do you know that scene in Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (NERD ALERT!) when Bilbo Baggins sees his precious ring again and momentarily turns into a wicked creature who looks like the ugly version of Gollum with heinous teeth and dead eyes?

Well, that happened to me yesterday.

All of a sudden, I turned into a creature that was horrible to be around and scary to look at. I could literally feel the change and the ugliness and the struggle.

Has that ever happened to you?

I don't know what it was. It could have been hormones, those nasty little things.

It could have been low-blood sugar, but since I have never experienced that a day in my life, I highly doubt that was it.

Or it could have been that slimy snake we call Satan, stirring up something in my mind and causing me angst and discontentment. And if Satan can't win my soul, he can certainly try to make me unsatisfied with my God.

So, I went for a walk. A long walk, by myself. I even put in my ear buds without turning on any music just so I could drown out the world and listen for Him.

And do you know what I heard? I heard:

I know, Sarah.

I know the heaviness on your heart. I know what it is like to live in this world. I know how hard it is to fight for the good things, the holy things, the things that last and to turn away the things that destroy. I know what it is like to feel disconnected. And I know what it means to fight Satan head-on.

But guess what?

I beat him.

I beat him and will continue to do so. And even when you are discontent, know that I am bigger, stronger, wiser. And next time you feel like the ugly version of yourself, I will still be here, waiting, loving, fighting.


And by the end of my walk, Gollum had vanished, leaving me with a quiet heart...and better teeth.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mini Cupcakes and the Land of Denial

Last week, I got a catering order for mini cupcakes. I had yet to make the miniature version of any cupcake, because, let's face it, why eat a small version of something when you can have the big version?!

Can I get an "amen?"

So, I quickly picked up a mini-cupcake pan (I got mine at Walmart for $5!) and got to baking.

On the menu: Yellow butter cake with vanilla buttercream, chocolate cake with salted caramel cream cheese frosting, and pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting.

If you counted, this means I had three batters and three frostings being mixed, baked and piped on all at once! It was an explosion of flavor and powdered sugar. In fact, I found frosting on my elbow THE NEXT DAY.

That either tells you a lot about my baking skills or my personal hygiene. I'll let you decide.

The end result: they are so cute! And full of flavor! And crazy addicting! And virutally calorie-free!

(SIDE NOTE: That is not true. They do have calories. I just love living in the land called Denial.)

And they are so easy to make! Next time you decide to bust out some cupcakes, try giving their little cousins a try.

And if you decide to vacation in Denial, you might as well make yourself a dozen while you're at it.


Friday, September 20, 2013

A Banana on the Beach

During the last day of my vacation, while I was basking in the hot sun, I just so happened to see the following:

This grandma (as evident by three generations of people around her), who proudly wore her bikini, was buried up to her waist in sand, holding an umbrella and eating a banana.

Well. Of course she was. I mean, who wouldn't want to do that?

Apparently it was delicious. And perhaps a bit gritty.

And on that note, happy Friday!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Recipe Round-Up: Bacon and Green Chile Corn Bread Muffins

You have probably heard me say this before, but I am a summer girl. I love everything about it, from the watermelon to flip flops and the endless possibilities that come from a few more hours of daylight. It is the most magical of seasons, which is why I usually do not want to let it go.
However, if there is one thing that will help me embrace the cooler temps and changing colors, it is comfort food. Chicken pot pie, big bowls of chili, pumpkin bread and apple pie. Yes, I'll take all of it, in that order.
On Sunday, during a very rainy day and a very full house, I made these muffins to go with chili. If you are in the mood for something warm and delightful, with a hint of spice and the amazing flavor of bacon, I encourage you to whip these up the next time you need a boost. They do not disappoint.

They are super simple to throw together. And do you know what is the best part: they can easily be gluten free! In fact, this batch was made with gluten-free flour so my sweet little darling baby sister could partake. All you have to do is substitute all-purpose flour with all-purpose gluten free flour.
TA-DA! Just that simple.
So, let's do this.
First off, fry some bacon.
(I personally think every recipe should start off this way.)

 Once the bacon is fried, set it aside and combine corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk, egg and oil.
Next up, add your fried bacon, a can of green chiles, mix and pour into a muffin tin.
See? Easy!
Now bake.
Your finished product is a savory bite of supreme deliciousness. I mean, it has BACON in it, how can it not be good?! And both the regular and gluten-free varieties turn out soft and chewy, with just a subtle bite from the corn meal.
Put a little butter on those suckers and watch it melt into the nooks and crannies. Eat one or two (or ten) and get ready for nap time because it is going to happen!
Bacon and Green Chile Corn Bread Muffins:
1 cup corn meal
1 cup all-purpose flour (substitute gluten-free all-purpose flour for gluten-free muffins)
3 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
4 slices bacon, cut into pieces, fried and drained
4 oz can of chopped green chiles
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray. Cut and fry bacon in pan and drain on a paper towel. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix to combine. Add egg, milk and oil and stir. Add bacon and green chiles and mix together. (The mixture will be a little runny, but don't worry!) Fill muffin wells 2/3 full. Bake in oven for 15-18 minutes. Makes 12 scrumptious muffins.
Dig in!

Monday, September 16, 2013

And Then My Phone Fell into the Cornbread Batter

Thanks for the blog love, peeps. You made my weekend! Let's just hope I can try to act as normal as possible to all the new readers. But I am pretty sure this post will do the exact opposite of just that.

You see, I was making you all a recipe yesterday. It was a new recipe, full of bacon, which really is the only kind of recipe you should make: Bacon and Green Chile Cornbread Muffins.

And yes, they were magical. Especially with chili and football.

Just as I had added the egg to the batter, and while I was deftly taking a picture of me gracefully pouring the milk into the bowl, my phone slipped from my hands and fell in. Right in. As in it fell right into the cornbread batter.

People. All I could say was "oh no" over and over again. My nephew Noah, who was carefully watching my every move, thought it was perhaps the most awesome thing he had seen that day. And he had already shot my leg with a Nerf dart as I attempted to Karate Kid him in the kitchen. So, needless to say, he had already seen some form of awesome from his favorite aunt.

But that is not the worst part.
The worst part is that my phone is ghetto. GHETTO. You see, last year, after this really horrendous blind date (you can read about it here), I dropped my phone in the parking lot and the screen cracked in a million places.

However, I am cheap frugal and have waited and waited to buy a new phone. Hey, this one still worked, even if I did miss every fourth word in my emails.

But, when you combine cornbread batter with a severely cracked phone you end up with a hot mess that sticks to your face and makes you smell like a farm truck. As I told my coworker about this mishap this morning, she let me borrow her phone to take a picture of it.


As you can see, cornmeal batter has found its way into every possible surface on my phone. It is in my speakers, my battery/re-charge portal, the cracks on the screen, under my phone case and in the ear bud hole.

Miraculously, the phone is still working. In fact, it didn't skip a beat, which is both tragic and budget-friendly at the same time. I just wiped it off with a wet paper towel and kept on cooking. I thought about washing it off and putting it in rice, but I thought that adding rice to the mix would make me smell like Thanksgiving. Cornmeal batter was plenty.

It reminds me of these commercials on TV:

So, in the future, if you see me talking on my phone and cornmeal falls from my ear, please just realize it came from my phone and not my actual head.

Because really, that would be ridiculous.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Pumpkin Madness and My Freak Show

If you open Pinterest these days, it is hard to miss the pumpkin explosion that has occurred since we rolled into September. Everything is pumpkin: cakes, pies, ice cream, cookies, candles, paint colors, Styrofoam wreaths, punch bowls and toilet paper.

I admit, I jumped on the bandwagon. Last week, I pinned my Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting recipe onto my Recipes board and thought that was that. I had done my part to add to the pumpkin madness.

But then, something happened. Something that has never happened before: people started pinning it. Pinning, pinning and pinning.  As in people actually wanted to bake these cupcakes. As of now, over 3,000 people have pinned it in four days.


I admit, this makes me nervous. What if the recipe isn't good? What if I miscalculated the amount of sugar? What if their pumpkin cupcakes turn into pumpkin bricks?

Oh great. Now I am sweating. And I don't sweat. I just keep thinking:

I am not a professional baker! 

I only have 4 readers! 

I talk about SPANX and falling into Portuguese fountains!

But then...BUT THEN, as I was looking at today's statistics (which, really, are just a measurement to make you go crazy), I noticed a new referring site other than Pinterest:

The Slow Way.

Some website picked up the recipe and made it the recipe of the week.

Recipe of the FREAKING WEEK.

I just don't even know.

Apparently people are loving their pumpkin.

Welcome to my freak show, everyone.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

If I Had a Rain Day

For those of you who do not live in Colorado, we are experiencing a bit of rain. It has been raining almost non-stop since Tuesday and it should continue through at least Friday evening.

Snow? Piece of cake.

Rain? Mass chaos.

We don't really know what to do with all of this water because we live in a high desert climate.

(I almost wrote "dessert climate.")

(Of course I did.)

Rain always makes me want to stay home. I have hit the snooze button more in the last week than I have in a month. There is just something about the water running down your window pane to make you think, "Nope, not gonna happen today."

(If I lived in Seattle, I would be paralyzed with lack of motivation.)

So, if I had a Rain Day, and got to stay home with a totally free schedule, these are the things I would do:

1. Sleep. Yes ma'am. I would sleep until I couldn't possibly sleep anymore then I would move down to the couch where I would rest from all of the sleeping.

2. Bake. Oh, friends. The things I would bake! Some of them include my favorite Warm Apple Cake and Caramel Sauce. Perhaps the Pumpkin Cupcakes, and of course, Pumpkin Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies. Then, I would tackle something new, like doughnuts. Oh, and I'd have a full pot of coffee available the entire time.

3. Read. I read the first two books in the "Divergent" series during my little beach getaway and I loved them. I can't wait for the next one to come out in October. So, if this rain day comes in October, that would be first on my list. I also need to catch up on some of my Joel C. Rosenberg, especially with all that is going on in Syria. And, I would probably read a cookbook because those feed my soul with inspiration.

4. Organize. It takes me a little while to get in the organizing mood, but it needs to happen. I have a year's worth of Bible study that needs to be sorted and filed, I have old clothes that need to be donated, budgets that need to be updated and ridiculous other things that are essential to me being able to function.

5. Invite a few friends/sisters/cousins over. They must wear stretchy pants. They must come hungry. And they must bring their favorite movie. Oh, and bring their own spoon for cookie dough.

(SIDE NOTE: The words "sweat," "exercise," or "muscle confusion" did not appear anywhere in my list. Let's just be clear.)

So, what would you do on a Rain Day?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How to Freeze Peaches

Today, let's talk about fruit.

You see, I love fruit. I eat it all the time, with almost every meal. And do you know who else loves fruit? Colorado. The entire state of Colorado loves fruit, and in particular, the peach.

Every August, Coloradans eagerly await, with reusable grocery bags and millions of dollars in hand, for the trucks to roll into town, loaded with the fuzzy-faced fruit of heavenly deliciousness. Once they hit the shelves, hoards of people race through the grocery stores to gaze upon their splendor. 

And we are not talking about any ordinary peach. Nope. We are talking about the PRIZED PEACHES OF THE WESTERN SLOPE OF COLORADO.

(I capitalize these things because of my respect for the peach madness.)

These peaches are only available for 3 to 4 weeks every year. During this time period, it is the only fruit people eat. And during the other 48-49 weeks during the year, it is the only fruit people talk about.

In an effort to prolong their shelf-life, my mom and I usually buy 20 pounds of peaches to freeze for
us to enjoy all winter. It's like we are pioneer women, except with actual freezers and cameras and Spanx.

Amen and Hallelujah.

So, if you have ever wanted to freeze your own peaches (or other fruit) this is how we roll:

First, grab your peaches, any amount you choose.

Now, grab your Fruit Fresh. This is a gem of a product that preserves the flavor and prevents browning of any fruit.

Fill a large bowl full of cold water and sprinkle in some Fruit Fresh. Then, start peeling...

And slicing...

And drop them into the cold water.


Once all the peaches have been peeled and sliced, drain the water from the bowl.

Now, add approximately 1/2 cup of sugar and a 1/4 cup of Fruit Fresh (for 20 lbs of peaches).

Stir them up.

And measure them into baggies.

We measure ours by our favorite recipes: deep dish peach cobbler, peach pie and then a few smaller baggies for times when you just want some cold peaches with breakfast.

These can last up to a year in your deep freeze.

And you'll have the AMAZING PEACHES OF HEAVENLY SPLENDOR to eat all year-round.

This really is so simple and you can do it almost every kind of fruit.

So go forth, fruit lovers, and freeze away! You'll feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder. Bonnets are totally optional.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Sea

I spent six days by the sea.

I freckled. I rested. I counted the waves.

I ate ice cream for dinner.

This long-awaited retreat, a removal from things that have gradually weighed me down, was spent right here, right in this sand.

The sea is a place where one goes to wash off the old, the tired, the burdened and replace it with the fresh, the new and the carried.

I could live here, in all of its sandy, salty glory. I could settle in and call this home.
It is a magical place, where the sand meets the sea. 
God knew we needed a lot of it.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Unfortunately Freckled

I am really, really freckled.

This is what happens to me when I spend a few glorious days in the sun.

However, there is a catch: sometimes the freckles gang up on me. They are no longer sprinkled on, they are smeared on. It is like someone connected all of the dots.

Normally, this isn't a problem.

However, I have a series of freckles that pop up on my upper lip.

Instead of looking like a sun-kissed princess, I now look like Tom Selleck.

So, there's that.