Recipes Are Peachy Keen After All (But You Have To Buy This One)

I know we were promising you “experimental Thursday’s” where the Main Street Inn crew brought fun, unique, and classically twisted recipes directly to this blog for your convenience. The goal was to relinquish the worry of not having all the ingredients and just go with what you think is right, no strict recipe required.

Forget about all that for just one day.

I was given a chance to review an Italian dessert book called Grace’s Sweet Life before it hit the shelves. If you know anything about the Corrado family from which Pam the Innkeeper, Shena, and myself belong to (strongly accented, off the boat Italians) then for me to turn down the opportunity would be quite preposterous. Plus, it was homemade Italian desserts and some of the best around. How could you say no to Cannoli’s, Panna Cotta to Torte, Pizzelle and Struffoli?

Flipping through the 200 pages of exquisite drool worthy photographs, I tried to keep in mind that it was 95 degrees out at the time. Although a piece of rich chocolatey seven-layer cake is rarely turned down by my taste buds, I searched for something with a Summer flare to it. Maybe fruity?

Baked Peaches with Amaretti and Walnut Filling was the final decision. Can you blame me? A combination of the enticing picture, simple ingredients and peach inventory already in my refrigerator sealed the deal. I was happy to abandon my usual tradition of substituting recipe ingredients to “make it work” and journeyed to the grocery store.

Unfortunately for our readers, I’ve decided not to share the detailed recipe to a tee. In an effort to give Grace the credit she deserves, I suggest you purchase the book for yourself at Amazon or visit her personal blog for other tempting treats. If you’re looking for authentic Italian desserts without the expensive “tour of Italy” cooking class, Grace’s book is the way to go!

I’ll admit, at first I was worried when flipping through. So many ingredients were not already in my usual inventory. However, I found after everything was said and done (and eaten) that just because I didn’t have it, didn’t mean the recipe would be complicated. The Baked Peaches with Amaretti and Walnut Filling was a simple dry ingredients/wet ingredients mix, hollowing out peaches and baking at 350 degrees.The result was sooooo worth the quick trip to the grocery store.

Cooking later in the hot, hot day, I enjoyed the finished product with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Grace suggests mascarpone or sweetened whip cream as well, and with those additions, I’m thinking the Main Street Inn may have to incorporate this treat into our specialty breakfast items. What do you think?

Shake the “Day After” Holiday Blues

It hit all of us this morning. Memorial Day was over. The national holiday that honors veterans and their respectful duty to our country has, over time, also served as a day of family gatherings, cookouts, and the unofficial beginning to Summer.

I’m sure many of you packed up the cars and hit the road or invited friends and family to your house for some very warm weathered fun. However, no matter how you enjoyed your extra time away from work, the day after a holiday when your forced to return to the “real world” will always be a sluggish occasion.

Although we haven’t initiated this at the Main Street Inn and we don’t take many holidays to begin with, I’m most certainly convinced that the day after a holiday should always be another holiday. The “one more (holi)day”  would be reserved for recouping, winding down, and accomplishing any tasks we postponed to rightfully stuff our bellies with hamburgers and hot dogs.

Until the government hops on board and makes my idea nationally recognized, which I anticipate will be any day now, I’ve created a line up of ways to beat the after holiday depression. Turn your frown upside down by staying busy with this fun Top 5.

1. Make Memories More Permanent

One of the greatest things about vacationing is the memories you make. After the fact, it’s always fun to re-tell stories about your kayaking trip, epic burger creation, or which family member had too much to drink. It’s even greater when you can pair those memories with a  fun photo book. There are so many websites/programs available these days for whipping together semi-professional photo books. Mixbook, Shutterfly, Blurb, and Snapfish are just a few top picks for online assistance but you can always grab an album and do it the old fashioned way.

2. De-Clutter

Unpacking after a weekend away (or living out of your suitcase for a couple days until you get around to it) always gives me that cluttered feeling. Where did I keep all this stuff before I put it in my suitcase for the weekend? Did I really fit my tent in there? This is the perfect opportunity to de-clutter your living space. Don’t just focus on the suit case. Get in drawers, the kitchen cabinets, computer files, and under beds. Attics and basements are no longer safe when the empowered de-clutterer heads their way! Our familiar friend, Leo Babauta, provides 15 de-cluttering tips to kickstart the activity.

3. Make Like a Kid and Play Pretend

That’s right, plan another event to take place the evening of your “back to reality day” that is as fun as the holiday you just celebrated. Have a few friends over for a cookout, meet at your favorite restaurant, or catch a movie. If you’re worried about feeling down after a fabulous few days, keep the fabulousness going with a favorite activity of your choice. Pretend like the vacation never ended, forget you went to work that morning and focus solely on the moment.

4. Plan Another Vacation

With your financial situation and available vacation days in mind, use this week to plan your next summer vacation. Many people have repeat trips or pre-scheduled family outings so just add a small weekend get-away for a quick something out of the ordinary to look forward to. If you’re not from the Kutztown area, we kindly invite you to check availability at the Main Street Inn, review events unfolding in the near future, or tackle our Top 10.

5. Relax

Go to bed early. You may be feeling the after holiday blues but an even worse feeling is the after holiday exhaustion. Even if you spent the extra day off with your feet in the sand and drink in hand the activity needed to get you to that point can sometimes be exhausting. Packing cars, sitting in traffic, mediating children, and all the other joys of family gatherings do add up. We know the juice is worth the squeeze every time and it always will be but sit back and enjoy the orange juice once the pulp settles. (Note: If that translates in your language to a day at the spa, by all means, you deserve it!)

 

Until Next Time,

The Day After Depression Tackler

Jam Claims Victory in a Pop Tart Making Mess

The Main Street Inn crew has decided that people who say “the messier the better” when it comes to meal preparation, probably just don’t know how to prepare a meal properly. We’ve reached this conclusion because of my lack of talent when it comes to baking.

Pam, Shena and Meghan run a tight ship around here to ensure their guests receive the best biscotti, french toast, gourmet bread, cookies and more. They’re ingredients are measured, recipes are followed, mixed in a strategic fashion, and timed ever so perfectly. Much is by memory now since the baking bunch has been in action for nearly 4 years! Rest assured, though, not one step is miscalculated and they wouldn’t have it any other way…

…which is why I’ve been banned from the kitchen.

As you know from one of last week’s posts, measuring ingredients and following recipes has never been my thing. Despite the fact that I know how absolutely crucial it is when executing baked goods, my impatience wears the pants on that one. Plus, it’s just fun not knowing what’s going to come out of the oven. More often than not, it tastes delicious anyway!

This week’s “personal experience” recipe started off on the wrong foot. Due to a camping trip luring in the future, my fridge’s contents were measly. There were, however, a package of won ton wrappers screaming my name from shelf two. A few ideas raced through my mind but seeing Homemade Pop Tarts on a recent Pinterest binge, made them stick out among the rest.

Any time I decide to make something new, the first thing I do is contemplate how I think it would be done. Other than my big brain wheels turning out cooking thoughts and a few quick glances at finished product photos, that’s about all the preparation I take. So off to the the pop tart making I went.

I started by pre-heating the oven at 350, lining a baking sheet with wax paper and picking apart a few won ton wrappers. Since I would be baking them, I also got butter out so it was nice and melted when I wanted to coat the tops for that finished, toasty brown look.

After laying the wrappers on the sheet, I painted them with egg yolk. I chose this step due to previous readings about won ton wrappers. I knew it would help them stick together and assist in the baking process.

Examining my hodgepodge of ingredients, I went with a plain Red Raspberry Preserve filling first. PLEASE NOTE: had my fridge not been completely sucked dry of fruit/produce in fear of wasting, I would have used fresh ingredients for this step i.e. chopped strawberries, mashed blueberries, etc. I recommend anyone trying this to make sure they put in a little extra work to keep the taste deliciously natural!

 

The remaining tarts were filled with spontaneous combinations. I stuck with jam and peanut butter as my basic fillings and then substituted in different extras for each wrapper. Raisins, oats, sun flower seeds, and dried cranberries made the cut. Apple jacks snuck in there somehow and they were so excited to “get in the game” I couldn’t resist. In the end, the mix of apple jacks and peanut butter ended up being one of my favorites.

 

I laid a second wrapper on each soon to be tarty goodness and used the pointy handle of a fork to press the edges together, then poked the tops with a toothpick. After a quick brushing with the butter, into the oven they went. I kept them in the oven for an uncertain amount of time, checking on their progress now and then. This is where it gets interesting.

 

Although I can honestly say we enjoyed the Homemade Pop Tarts, it was definitely a learning process. What was learned? Take it easy on the jam! Don’t add more than a teaspoon to the wrapper or these babies come out looking like a character from the 1958 American horror, The Blob.

 

I would also recommend making some type of glaze for the top, just to sweeten things up a bit. If you’re really interested in giving this recipe a go and would rather not throw caution to the wind, check out Smitten Kitchen’s blog post. I kindly ask that you don’t look too long at the finished products because they put mine to shame.

If you’ve already tried to create Homemade Pop Tarts of your own and have some pointers for the impatient baker, they are happily accepted! Enjoy!

 

Until Next Time,

The Messy Maker