Scratch Baking & Blueberry Picking in The Peach State

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Bundles of ripened blueberries gleam in the sunshine on a farm in Baxley, Georgia.

I had lunch with a good friend the other day, and toward the end of our meal together, she asked, “What are you doing Sunday afternoon?” When I replied with “Not too much, what’s going on?” She said, “Would you like to come pick blueberries with me?” To anyone else, this may have seemed an arduous way to spend the Sabbath, but the wheels in my brain immediately started turning. Would you believe the only way I’ve ever purchased or eaten a blueberry has been from the pint-sized packages sold in the produce section of the grocery store? Pick blueberries, I thought? That sounds like a blast! Continue reading “Scratch Baking & Blueberry Picking in The Peach State”

Toasted Almond Berry Bites Perfect for Cocktails

I hadn’t planned to blog about these, but they were just too cute not to share. With a package of sugar cookie dough and a little creativity, the options are endless! I created these Toasted Almond Berry Bites with Independence Day in mind, but this dainty dessert is elegant enough for an afternoon tea or to serve as an attractive appetizer with cocktails.

My Toasted Almond Berry Bites took less than 30 minutes to prepare and you’ll only need a few ingredients. Cream cheese is like a blank canvas. You can flavor it however you wish! The kosher salt and lemon juice will just enhance whichever flavors you choose to use. Is there a flavored wine you like? Use it instead of the coffee. Don’t like vanilla extract? Use coconut or lemon extract. What’s your favorite fruit? Dice strawberries for the topping or toss on freshly picked blackberries. Be creative and have fun!

You’ll need a mini cupcake pan. This pan makes everything cute! It’s one of my favorite baking supplies. Of course, roasted almond slivers would have been perfect to top off these berry bites, but I didn’t have any, so I used Honey Roasted Peanuts. I put a few handfuls in a Zip Lock bag and beat them on the counter top with my rolling-pin until they were the right consistency for sprinkling. I was still able to achieve the crunch I was looking for with the peanuts.

Fill your mini cupcake pan with little balls of sugar cookie dough, pressing your thumb print in the center of each to make a whole for the filling. Then bake your sugar cookie tarts in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whip up your filling. Whisk the cream cheese together with the Toasted Almond Coffee, vanilla extract, lemon juice and sugar. Once the cookie tarts have cooled, add your filling and then decorate with fresh berries. Sprinkle with nuts. If you’d prefer, you can put them in the fridge to allow them to set but this isn’t absolutely necessary.

Place them on a pretty platter and enjoy! These are especially good with a cold glass of Pinot Grigio.

Let me know if you make these. I’d love to hear about how you enjoyed them and how you made them your own!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 package of refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbs brewed Dunkin’ Donuts Toasted Almond Coffee, cooled
  • Sugar, to taste
  • Kosher Salt
  • Lemon Juice
  • Pure Vanilla Extract, to taste
  • Fresh berries – I used raspberries and blueberries
  • Honey Roasted Peanuts, chopped for sprinkling or Almonds, toasted

Happy baking, eat well.

Farmers Market Fun and One Souped-Up Strawberry Shortcake

Few things get me out of the house before Noon on a Saturday morning, but fresh ingredients and a fantastic recipe was all I needed to get motivated over the weekend. I packed up my Shih Tzu, Ewok and off we went to the Statesboro Mainstreet Farmers Market for some locally grown strawberries. We returned home to make Ina Garten’s Strawberry Country Cake featured in the cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Parties. Watch the video below to get the highlights from our trip!


Continue reading “Farmers Market Fun and One Souped-Up Strawberry Shortcake”