Homemade Moon Pies

Are you guys familiar with Moon Pies?  They’re a southern favorite – you can get them at any gas station or snack machine below the Mason-Dixon line.  We loved these as kids and I am so excited to (finally!) be sharing this recipe for a homemade version with you.  I first made these almost a year ago for a baby shower that I co-hosted – the shower was Children’s Book themed and I made these to accompany “Goodnight Moon”.  They were divine you guys, and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to give you the recipe.  Now don’t be intimidated.  When I tell people that I make homemade Moon Pies they all get this look on their face, the “That’s so cool. I can’t believe you can do that.  Why did you do that? You’re a crazy person.” look.  But really, they’re pretty straightforward.  A Moon Pie is basically a graham cracker cookie with marshmallow filling, dipped in chocolate.  The cookies take about an hour to make, but 30 minutes of that is dough-chilling time, and I usually get my marshmallow fluff going while I’m waiting (you could totally use store bought marshmallow fluff if you wanted to skip this step.  Then it’d be super easy and you’d have no excuse not to try this).  The filling is as simple as whipping egg whites and boiling syrup, and if you can’t drop a cookie in a bowl of melted chocolate, then I don’t know what to tell you.  I usually make these at a pretty leisurely pace – I did the entire process in about 3 hours a couple of days ago, but if you were being really efficient and wanted to knock it out I’d think that you could do it in about an hour and a half.  I got the recipe from a really good source, and I only tweaked one minor detail: I did only single layer cookies, rather than the “Double Decker” version.  So although there are several components to this cookie, they are all relatively simple and even beginner bakers should be able to handle this project.  If you’re looking for something to put in your Christmas Gift Baskets and you want to blow everyone’s mind with your baking prowess, I’d totally recommend this.  Happy Holidays!


Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, makes around 24 sandwich cookies

For the Cookies:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt

For the Marshmallow Filling:
2 egg whites
Pinch cream of tartar
Pinch salt
2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

For the Chocolate Coating:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
¼ cup vegetable oil

To Make the Cookies:

With a mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the brown sugar and beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium, add the egg and the vanilla extract, and beat to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour and the salt, and mix just until a soft dough forms. Divide the dough in two, shape into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350º while dough is chilling.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside. Working with one disk at a time, roll out the dough to about 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 2½-inch diameter round cutter, cut out the rounds and place them on the prepared baking sheets, about ½ an inch apart.  Try to end up with an even number of cookies, since you’ll be making sandwiches with them.  Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before filling.

To Make the Marshmallow Filling:

Using a mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the the egg whites with the cream of tartar and the salt until firm peaks form, gradually increasing from medium-low speed to medium-high speed as the egg whites gain volume. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, boil the corn syrup over high heat without stirring until it registers 230 to 235 degrees F on a candy thermometer (thread ball stage). Slowly drizzle the hot corn syrup into the egg whites and beat at high speed until glossy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low, beat in the vanilla extract and the powdered sugar.

Using either a pastry bag or a spoon, mound about 1½ tablespoons of marshmallow filling into the center of a cookie. Top with another cookie and press lightly to spread the marshmallow to the edges. Repeat until you run out of cookies.

To Make the Chocolate Coating:

Using a double boiler (or in the microwave on 50% power and in 30 second increments) melt the chocolate and vegetable oil together until completely smooth. Let cool for a few minutes – you don’t want it to be piping hot when you dip the cookies or they tend to slide around a little and lose their shape.  Using a fork, dip the sandwiches into the chocolate, turning over to coat. Place cookies on a wire rack set over a baking sheet or wax paper and allow to set at room temp for a couple of hours – or move them to the fridge to speed up the process.


I had the most lovely Thanksgiving!  I was able to visit some family (at a very lovely locale) and the food was, of course, delicious.  I’m so lucky to have such a fun and wonderful extended family with many good cooks and it was one of the best holidays I can remember.  Here is just a tiny peak at the lovely week we spent on St. Simon’s Island.  Enjoy!

Thai Coconut Curry

So I’m having a moment with Thai food right now.  I love it, you guys.  We have a Thai restaurant near us that we have abandoned all of our other old favorites for, and now that I’ve learned that I can make it at home I’m pretty sure it’s going to be making a fairly regular (and by that I mean weekly.) appearance on our table.  But first you should really hear the story of how I learned to make it, because it’s a pretty cool one.

So it all started almost a year ago when I received a very nice comment here on the blog from this lovely lady.  Of course I ran right over to her blog to check her out and proceeded to spend the rest of the night rummaging through her archives and commenting back and forth with her on almost every post, while she did much the same on my page.  This continued for several weeks until she mysteriously disappeared from the internet (side note:  you should all run over to her site and blow it up so she’ll come back and start writing again.  Go on.  Do it.)  at which point I sent her an email to say hello and see what was holding up our comment chat.  She emailed back, I replied, she replied… you see where this is going?  So we discovered that we have quite a bit in common, and in fact our husbands are pretty much carbon copies of one another.  We kept up our email correspondence, then moved on to texting, a phone call, and finally, we got to meet in person (!!!).  We live quite a long ways from one another so it was pretty much the coolest news I received all year when I heard that they were headed to Georgia for a vacation.  We met in the North Georgia mountains and spent a lovely relaxing weekend cooking, eating, talking, and wandering around looking at scenery.  It was pretty exciting to have made such good friends from something so small as a comment on a blog, and it reminds me how small all this technology has made the world these days. 

 So what does this have to do with curry?  Well, Eve was very kind and did some shopping for me since she lives near one of the coolest cities in the world and can find all sorts of ethnic goodies that I just don’t have access to out here in the boonies.  She brought me fish sauce, sesame seed oil, several varieties of  curry paste, crab paste, shrimp paste, some lovely noodles, lemongrass… all sorts of things.   And she showed me her method for this delicious Thai Coconut Curry.

The best thing about it (besides being yummy-scrumptious, I mean) is that it’s basically a one pot meal.  I use my 6-quart Lodge pot, and besides that you just need a pot for rice, a cutting board, a good knife, and a spoon.  That’s not even a quarter of a dishwasher load.  Or a half of a sink-full of dishes.  Or whatever.  My sink is pretty small, so if it all fits in one side then I consider that a victory over the dirty-dishes devils.  The point is that you can make restaurant quality Thai food in your own kitchen in under an hour, and with only like 7 ½ dishes to wash.  Or whatever. 

The recipe is sort of made up – for the curry paste and fish sauce you just taste as you go.  I’ll tell you approximately what I used, but I’d recommend that you start with less than that and work up to whatever level you’re comfortable with.  And I know that fish sauce is intimidating to a lot of people – I mean, it does smell sort of funky, and  it can have a pretty strong flavor if you’re not careful, but please please please give it a try.  It won’t be the same without it.  Also, I give instruction to brown the chicken and mushrooms separately and set aside before cooking the veggies and adding the liquid.  You could just dump all the ingredients in the pot – chicken, veggies, mushrooms, liquids, etc – and cook it all together that way.  It would probably go a little quicker if you’re short of time, but if you’re not then I definitely recommend browning your meat and ‘shrooms first.  Anytime you caramelize something, you’re concentrating the flavor and making it a little deeper, a little more intense.  That’s never a bad thing in my book, and it only adds about 15 or 20 minutes at most to the cooking time. 

Thai Coconut Curry

Adapted from ImpishEve

 1 lb mushrooms, sliced

1 large bell pepper, sliced

1 large onion, sliced

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb chicken, cut into medium chunks

1 can coconut milk

1 ½ cups chicken stock, approximately*

2-4 tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste**

2-4 tbsp fish sauce**

Olive oil, or butter, for cooking the veggies

Fresh basil, cut chiffonade for garnish


Heat a little olive oil in a large heavy pot (like this one) over medium-high heat.  Brown chicken in batches, turning once, until browned on both sides.  Set aside.  Brown mushrooms in batches, turning once, until browned on both sides.  Set aside.  Add onions and peppers to pan and cook until onions are starting to turn golden, 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic and cook another minute or two until garlic is golden and fragrant.  Add the can of coconut milk and chicken stock and stir to combine.  Add the curry paste and fish sauce, tasting as you go.  Add the mushrooms and chicken back to the pot, along with any juices they’ve lost, and allow mixture to simmer for a few moments so that everything is nice and hot.  Garnish with fresh basil.  Serve over rice and enjoy!

*I just fill my empty coconut milk can with stock and add that, plus a little more.  The curry will look soupy.

** I like curry and fish sauce so I feel like we added around 4 tbsp of each.  I really just scoop a little curry paste in, add a glug of fish sauce, taste, and repeat.  When it tastes good, I stop adding.  I realize that’s not very precise, but taste is very personal you know?  Do what you like.  Same goes for the garlic.

Peanut Butter Bars

So, is it just me or does pretty much everyone look forward to the special holiday editions of Reese’s Peanut Butter products?  The Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, Pumpkins, Christmas Trees, etc, pretty much make my day when they appear on store shelves.  They’re just better than the normal ones, for some reason.  But that’s beside the point.  I really wanted to tell you about these peanut butter bars I’ve been making.  They have the taste and texture of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, but in bar form – and homemade, so you don’t have to worry about any mystery ingredients.  I like to have a little something sweet around for after mealtimes or a snack, and this recipe make a pretty good size batch (I cut them into 1 in squares, so I get a ton of them) that I can keep in the fridge for that little bite of something indulgent.  This recipe requires no baking, and while I like to use my double boiler to melt the chocolate, you could just stick it in the microwave if you wanted to skip that step, so they’re super simple to make.  I can usually have them chilling in my freezer in about 25 minutes, so it makes for very little work with a pretty high yield of awesome.


Peanut Butter Bars Recipe

Adapted from Just a Pinch

Serves: 20-36 bars


1 cup butter, melted (2 sticks)

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (2 sleeves ground to a fine crumb)*

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1½ cups peanut butter


¼ cup peanut butter

8oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped.


Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper, letting the ends overhang.  Combine first four ingredients in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Spread evenly into lined baking dish.

Combine chocolate and remaining 1/4 cup peanut butter in a double boiler.** Melt, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Spread on top of the peanut butter bar base and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Remove from the freezer and cut into 1inch squares.  Enjoy!

*I tried to do this with the ziploc bag/rolling pin method, but the crumbs just aren’t fine enough and you won’t get a smooth texture.  It still tastes delicious, but this is one case where if you have a food processor, this is the time to use it.

Also, I may occasioally not be so good with keeping my pantry stocked and only had 1 sleeve of honey grahams, so I substituted a sleeve of chocolate grahams for the remainder and it was awesome.  Just a little more chocolate-y flavor, which is never a bad thing in my opinion.

**You could also do this in the microwave if you prefer.


Fig Focaccia with Maple Balsamic Onions

You guys.  I am fascinated by bread.  It’s like magic.  Really!  Flour (essentially ground up grass, people), water, salt, and yeast magically combine and transform each other into the most basic food there is.  I mean, think about it.  There are as many recipes, flavor profiles, and add-ins as there are people on the planet.  You can go in any direction you want and it’ll still probably turn out delicious.  And yet,  it’s one of the most terrifying things to make… at least the first time.  Yeast is intimidating to a lot of people.  I think it’s fear that you’ll kill it off in the beginning and then do all that work just to pull a dense, flat, flavorless loaf from the oven.

The first bread I ever made was the famous, Jim Lahey No Knead Bread.  You know, the one every food blogger alive has posted about.  It was so simple, and it’s a great way to sort of jump in to bread baking, but you know, only in the ankle deep part of the shallow end of the pool.  It was a great confidence booster when it turned out not just edible, but actually tasty.  So once I realized that I could totally handle this, I started to branch out a little.  I made white bread, and wheat bread, and dinner rolls… And then I discovered focaccia.  Focaccia is like that super fun friend you have that is up for anything.  The laid back one who goes along with whatever and who always has a great time.  Really!  It’s the most straightforward dough to make, but then you can add whatever you want to it, and I don’t think you could mess it up.

Um, Emily?  That kind of sounds like pizza…  I know, and it’s actually like pizza’s cousin.  You don’t usually add as many toppings to focaccia as you would to pizza, but the dough is very similar.  You’re just sort of seasoning focaccia, so you have a bread that will (hopefully) accent your meal, rather than be a meal, like pizza.  Focaccia should be fairly flat, and have a delightfully crispy, crusty outside with a tender, rustic inside.  It’ll usually rise a little more than a pizza-type dough since you’re not weighing it down with as many toppings;  and it’s a more substantial bread since most of the surface area will be exposed and will bake up crusty and golden, unlike with pizza where we cover it with sauce and cheese so the crust is only really crusty on the bottom and the edges.

If you have any inclination at all to get into bread baking, you should definitely try focaccia.  I most often make it very simply with just sliced olives, rosemary, salt and olive oil.   It makes a great appetizer, or addition to your meal – I’ve even sliced it and used it for sandwiches.   I found this particular recipe a couple of years ago when I was looking for something a little more creative for having guests over, and it has become my favorite thing to make to impress people.  The original recipe was for strawberries and maple balsamic onions (a divine combination, you guys.  Divine.), and I have made that several times with excellent results, but figs are in season right now so I substituted them in for the berries.  I actually like the strawberries a little better since they are a little more tart than figs, which I think balances out the sweet onions a little better, but it was still delicious.  I love cooking things like strawberries and figs, etc, in the oven – the flavors get a little deeper, a little more intense, and they get all crispy edges and soft insides… In other words, they get perfect.

So, go forth and knead!  If you’ve never tried a yeast bread before, I encourage you to give it a go.  It’s really pretty simple, and it’s very satisfying to turn that dough up above into this:

And don’t be afraid to get creative with your toppings – I’d love to hear about your favorite focaccia bread, so please share!


Strawberry Focaccia with Maple-Balsamic Onions

via Saveur.com


1¼ oz package dry yeast

1 cup warm water (100–110 degrees F)

1 teaspoon honey

2½ cups flour

1 teaspoons kosher salt

¼ cup plus 5 Tbs olive oil, divided

1 medium sweet onion, quartered and thinly sliced

2½ teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1½ teaspoons pure maple syrup

1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced lengthwise into 1/8–inch pieces

8–10 fresh basil leaves, sliced chiffonade

Coarse sea salt


Combine yeast, water and honey in a medium bowl; let rest for about 5 minutes, until bubbles form on the top. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and kosher salt; set aside. Add ¼ cup of olive oil to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour wet ingredients into dry. Stir well to combine, then turn dough onto a lightly flour surface and knead until dough is smooth and supple, about 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place it in a bowl greased with ½ tablespoon olive oil. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let rest until the dough approximately doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Brush a 9×13–inch baking sheet with ½ tablespoon olive oil. Remove dough from bowl and press it into the sheet with your fingers until it touches the edges. Using your fingers, gently press indentations into the dough, all over the surface. Gently brush the dough with 2 tablespoons of olive oil; let rest, lightly covered, until it puffs up slightly, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and caramelized, 15–20 minutes. Stir in balsamic vinegar and maple syrup; let cook until liquid is evaporated, 2–3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly press figs into the top of the dough, then scatter onions and basil evenly across the top. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top and sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Bake until the focaccia is golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before cutting into pieces. Serve drizzled with more olive oil or spread with fresh goat cheese.

*As I mentioned above, I have also used strawberries here.  I really think you could substitute any number of things with outstanding results, so if you don’t have/like figs use whatever you want.

Chile Rubbed Skirt Steak

Well, it’s officially Autumn.  The Pumpkin Spice Apocalypse is upon us.  So I figured I had better get this posted up so you any of who you are feeling nostalgic for summer can whip it up before we’re hip-deep in multicolored tree parts.  Not that you can’t make tacos year round – I totally do, anyway.  It’s just that tacos seem like summer fare to me.  They’re so fresh and light, and you eat them with your hands while the juice runs down your chin.  It’s not just me right?  You guys do that too?

Well you definitely should.  I had this put together in less than an hour – and you could use any leftover meat you had if you wanted to streamline this even more.  I used skirt steak because it’s cheap but it has really good flavor.  And if it can be a little tough, well, it’s tacos, and you’re gonna slice it (against the grain!) pretty thinly anyway, so it doesn’t really matter.  The rub I used was perfect for this – it was pleasantly spicy and very flavorful without totally overwhelming the beef.  I think that rubs, marinades, etc should be flavorful enough to compliment whatever meat you’re using while still allowing you to tell what you’re eating.  This one was spot on, and I’ll definitely be using it again.

I like to use soft tortillas as my base, and I use a pretty simple mix of toppings.  A little cheese, mixed greens, sour cream, cilantro, sliced radishes, and a little red sauce (hot sauce, taco sauce – your choice).  Oh, and squeeze a lime over top – the acid is a nice addition.   Yes, I realize this is the  American form of tacos, and not at all authentic, but I’m OK with that.  After all, this is America, and I happen to like it.

I have a really great Fig Focaccia to share with you in a day or two, but in the meantime: Farewell Summer!  Happy Autumn!


Chile-Rubbed Skirt Steak (for tacos)

Serves 8


2 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

2 tablespoons mild chile powder

2 tablespoons light-brown sugar

2 teaspoons smoked or sweet paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder or very finely ground coffee beans

1 1/2 pounds skirt steak

On a work surface, crush garlic cloves using the flat side of a large knife; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place the flat side of the knife blade on top of the garlic and salt; press firmly, pulling knife toward you. Repeat until a paste forms; transfer to a small bowl. Add chile powder, brown sugar, paprika, cumin, pepper, espresso, and remaining tablespoon salt; stir to combine.

Rub mixture all over skirt steak, and place in a large freezer bag to marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat grill pan* over high heat, or use an outdoor grill. Place steak on grill, and cook for 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve thinly sliced steak in warmed tortillas; top with salsa, cilantro, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and lime wedges, if desired.


*I used a cast iron griddle and it worked perfectly.

Summer Miscellany

I have so much to tell you!  In words anyway… if you’re watching me on instagram – as you should be! – then you’ll have an inkling of all the delicious news I have to share, since I’ve been posting all sorts of edible tidbits there.  We’ve been making the most of summertime (aka, motorcycle season) for the past couple of months, and due to the strange and decidedly out of the ordinary weather we’ve been having this year most of my weekends have looked like some version of this:

It’s been unseasonable cool here – if by cool you mean around 85-90, and I do, since usually it’s more like 95-100 this time of year – and we’ve had this crazy amount of peek-a-boo thunderstorms.  One minute it’s a torrential downpour, followed by a break in the clouds, then cats and dogs again… I’ve actually been missing our typical hot, dry summer weather.  One thing hasn’t changed this year, though, and its the fact that the best summertime treat is still the simplest one:

There is nothing that says “Georgia Summer” to me more than a truck bed of watermelons on ice.  I hope you’ve all had as lovely – and delicious – a summer as I have, and I hope you will join me as  I get back to the blog full force with all sorts of edible goodness (tacos! gyros! tzatziki! grape jelly! oh my!) as the hustle and bustle of summer dies down.

Shrimp Frau Diavolo

Doesn’t that look delicious?  I admit, it hasn’t been painstakingly food-styled into a perfectly organized and lovingly garnished dish, but sometimes I think you just need to sit down to a warm and gloriously tangled mess of pasta, shrimp, trinity.  This came about as the result of a minor kitchen oversight – we bought a pound of shrimp last weekend planning to make surf and turf on the grill and then promptly forgot about them.  So when lunch rolled around on Tuesday afternoon and I saw them hanging out in the fridge it was a cook ’em or lose ’em moment.

I don’t usually have tons of spare time on weekdays for lunch, so I was looking for something I could make pretty quickly.  It only took me about 30 minutes to whip this up, and a good part of that was bringing my pasta water up to the boil.  This is one of those recipes where you can usually find everything you need in your fridge or pantry – or at least some semblance of everything you need.  I didn’t have diced tomatoes – or any tomatoes – so I used a can of whole tomatoes and diced them myself.  I added a green bell pepper I needed to use, and I pretty much just pulled out the bottle of white moscato from the fridge for the “dry white wine” because I wasn’t really prepared to open a more appropriate bottle at 1:30 in the afternoon.

So the moral of this story is this:  use what you have, make up what you don’t, and enjoy the results.  Cheers!


Shrimp Frau Diavolo

via Giada De Laurentiis

1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined

1 teaspoon salt, plus additional as needed

1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons

1 medium onion, sliced

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 cup dry white wine

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

3 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

Toss the shrimp in a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt and red pepper flakes. Heat the 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and saute for about a minute, toss, and continue cooking until just cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a large plate; set aside.

Add the onion to the same skillet, adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan, if necessary, and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, wine, garlic, and oregano. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.

Return the shrimp and any accumulated juices to the tomato mixture; toss to coat, and cook for about a minute so the flavors meld together. Stir in the parsley and basil. Season with more salt, to taste, and serve.

Summer Bounty

OK, so I know I tell you guys about my farmer’s market outings all the time, but I just can’t help sharing one more.  There is so much color and vibrance in the produce – and the people – and I simply love to photograph the goings on.  Now, in the height of the growing season here in Georgia, there is so much variety in the produce that it makes for a lovely sight.  Enjoy!

Also, if you’ve joined me on Instagram, you know that I have an overabundance of blueberries… Suggestions?

Augusta, Georgia

A couple of weekends ago, I spent some time in one of my favorite places: Augusta, Ga.  I lived there for almost two years while I was in school, and I absolutely love it.  It’s one of the oldest cities in Georgia, and it has some really lovely old buildings in the downtown area.  I never took the time to take many photos while I lived there, so I was really excited to have a couple of hours with nothing to do while I was visiting.  I spent some time wandering around downtown on Sunday morning, and because most folks were in church that time of day, there was no one around but me.  I’ve mentioned before how much I love old southern towns, and Augusta is a really great one for photos since it’s been around for so long.  I just love the architecture of the old south – it’s so classic and beautiful, and it only gets better with age.  You can see the whole set here, on flickr.  Enjoy!