There are a lot of advantages to living in the South, not the least of which is the fact that there is no shortage of amazingly delicious and seriously authentic barbecue restaurants. If you live in the South - you know exactly what I mean. If you don't live in the South but you happen to find yourself passing through this summer, you will not want to pass up the opportunity to stop by one of these famous barbecue restaurants.
Those of you who follow my blog regularly are probably surprised by the fact that I am a barbecue fan since I'm not a big beef or pork eater. It's a little known secret that these restaurants also smoke some of the most flavorful and juicy chicken and turkey in their smoke houses. All of that sweet, smoky flavor infused into tender, juicy poultry - my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
I've used my Big Green Egg to replicate the chicken that's smoked for hours at the barbecue restaurants, but it's still just not quite the same. Let's face it - I don't always have a full 10-12 hour window and a smoke house at my disposal to perfectly replicate that smoke house poultry for dinner.
This recipe for indoor pulled chicken is the perfect option for anyone who wants to recreate that barbecue chicken flavor at home - in under an hour. I loved this quick and easy chicken and it really has the smoky flavor of the chicken from my favorite barbecue restaurant.
Indoor Pulled Pork
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tablespoons molasses
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup barbecue sauce
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with remaining barbecue sauce.
You can also serve these on mini rolls like little sliders.
Let's be honest, some days, I just don't have the energy to go outside and face the heat to cook on the grill. I'm loving this indoor option for smoked chicken even on the hottest of summer days.
We've reached the height of summer. And it's not just the mosquito overlords attacking every exposed limb on my body that makes me aware that it's summertime. I know that we've officially reached the pinnacle of summer when the fresh berries hit the supermarkets. Plump raspberries, giant blueberries, divine blackberries and the juiciest, most delicious strawberries. I actually break into an embarrassingly awkward happy dance in the middle of the produce section when the shelves are filled with fresh summer berries. It's true.
I go a overboard when the berries arrive and I bring them home pounds. (Yes, that was plural.) Keenly aware of the fleeting season, I live in constant fear that the berries won't be available when I return to the store. Sooooo, I panic, buy them all, and we go on ridiculous berry eating binges in a race against time to consume every last delicious berry while it's still at its peak.
When the summer berries are at their best, they should be the star of every summer dessert. Just my opinion. A simple shortcake, a slice of pound cake or a piece of angel food cake and a dollop of whipped cream is the only thing you need to bring out the very best of these summer berries. We eat a lot of strawberry shortcake, blueberry cobbler and angel food cake with fresh blackberries and raspberries. I love dessert recipes that really highlight the taste of the fresh summer berries. That's why I'm introducing you to the amazing Grilled Balsamic Strawberry Pound Cake. I just know that you are going to love it as much as I do.
Balsamic Strawberry Pound Cake
2 cups sliced strawberries
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
6 slices pound cake
Serve strawberries over grilled pound cake.
This is a great example of how an uber simple dessert can be over the top delicious. I you feel like you want to make your own pound cake - check out my recipe here: Cream Cheese Pound Cake. If you're short on time, pick up a pound cake from the grocery store and don't feel the least bit guilty about it because once you grill it up and add some fresh berries - it will be delectable.
When we have guests come to visit us Georgia during the summer, I feel like I need to live up to the expectation that there are rows and rows of peach trees and fresh peaches - everywhere. We are the Peach State after all. I know I've mentioned this on the blog before but it bears repeating; Georgia is followed by both California and South Carolina as the third top peach producing state in the country.
There's nothing better than a tree ripened, sun kissed peach that's soft, sweet and full of juice but the fact is that I struggle to get great peaches here in Atlanta - even at the height of peach season. Grocery store peaches are a hit or miss and even the farmers market peaches can be a little mealy sometimes. I do my best to choose the softest, most sweet smelling, yellow and tender specimens but there are times when my senses fail me and I end up with a batch of duds. Lately, I been asking people working at the farmers market to select the best peaches for me. Somehow, I feel like they're more qualified to select ripe fruit than I.
When I end up with a basket full of rock hard orbs instead of perfectly ripe fruit, I turn them into a peachy dessert. Baking the peaches into a crisp, cobbler or a pie really helps to mask the fact that the fruit was less than ripe when I bought it. Drizzling peaches with honey and lime juice and then putting them on the grill can also bring out the sweetness in an underripe peach. Of course there are peach cakes and cupcakes too. Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention peach ice cream. It's amazing what a little added sugar and a few minutes on the stove can do to soften and sweeten a peach.
I'm adding to my peach recipes this week with a peach stuffed french toast. What better way to highlight the bounty of summer peaches?
Peach Stuffed French Toast
1 loaf french bread, cut into 20 slices
1 cup sliced peaches
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups milk
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup flour
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
Serve with syrup.
I've lived in Georgia for 13 years and last month I visited my very first peach orchard. It was everything that I expected. It was worth the trip for a taste of the homemade peach ice cream alone.
Give this yummy peach stuffed french toast a try - it make you feel all warm and fuzzy. (See what I did there?) ;)
I really like living in Georgia but from June through August, I feel like I'm melting into a puddle. If you've never experienced a Georgia summer, it's hard to even put into words just how oppressive heat really is. This is the only place that I've ever lived where they install CHILLERS in the pools to keep them below hot tub temperatures. I was the biggest critic of the pool chiller when I first heard about them but I have to say that after 12 Georgia summers, I've become a fan. There's just nothing refreshing about getting into a 90 degree pool.
Keeping cool in the summer here is a priority. It's hard to stay hydrated when I don't love to drink plain water. I have to get creative with fluids in the summer. Fruit infusions seem to be the best way for me to intake more water. I realize that I'm getting more sugar in my diet with the addition of fruit but like I said - not a fan of plain water.
If you're looking for another great way to stay hydrated AND keep cool this summer - you will want to try my Strawberry Orange Popsicles. I really don't need to go into detail about these frozen treats. It's fairly obvious that these delicious frozen concoctions are primarily strawberries and oranges. What may not be obvious is that combing these two scrumptious fruits and freezing them together into one icy treat makes a pretty darn great popsicle.
Strawberry Orange Popsicles
2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
6 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 cups clementine segments
6 Tablespoons orange juice
Unmold and enjoy.
If you find yourself melting into a puddle of humidity this summer, you need to rediscover the joy that a homemade popsicle brought you when you were a child. There's no shame in indulging in a fruity frozen treat to cool off this summer.
If you don't happen to have any popsicle molds, just use small paper cups and popsicle sticks like the one pictured above.
In another life, I would be a beachy, hang out by the ocean while sipping a fruity umbrella drinks kind of girl. I'd enjoy things like building sand castles, jumping ocean waves and spending hours staring out into the deep blue sea. Instead, I'm completely annoyed by the presence of sand anywhere on my body other than my feet. I'm slightly freaked out by swimming in salt water and I really, really don't like to sit still for any length of time.
A beach trip with me is really no Day At The Beach. The first thing that I do when I get to the beach is methodically lay my towel on top of the sand. I plop down my bag of supplies, kick off my flip flops and sit down on my towel with the intention to rest and enjoy the view. Within 5 minutes, I'm too antsy to sit still any longer and I take off on a test of endurance walk along the beach. After my epic beach walk, I usually grab some kind of ball or frisbee out of my bag and look around for some willing participants. A long beach walk and a good game of soccer in the sand sounds like a perfect beach day for me. This is the reality of beachy Amy.
Clearly, I need to work on my relaxation skills at the beach. Pondering the vastness of the ocean and contemplating deep thoughtful questions from the comfort of my beach towel sounds like an ideal situation. Unfortunately, the ability to find calmness and serenity from a seated position has never been my forte. My peace and tranquility come from a more upright position with continual movement. LOL.
Even more relaxing than a day at the beach for me is a day spent in the kitchen baking up something elegant and sweet. (Less chance of getting sunburned too.) I had a friend who tagged me in a Facebook video for this Almond Cream Cake on a day when I desperately needed a little baking therapy. I felt like it was a sign. I needed stress relief on the same day that my sweet friend thought I needed a new cake recipe.
Almond Cream Cake
1 cup butter (softened)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup egg whites plus 3 tablespoons
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
2 cups butter (softened)
2 cups granulated sugar
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Transfer to another bowl and refrigerate.
Set pan in ice water to cooled to room temperature.
Frost cooled cake.
I turned my almond cream cake into a birthday cake with a layer of raspberry filling and a few fresh raspberries on top.
I also made this almond cream cake for a baby shower.
I get a lot of requests for white cake and this is my new favorite white cake recipe. It's super versatile and this frosting - killer. This is one that you will want to try.
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