Favorite Bakeries, Featured, Food, Inspiration

The List – Southern Bakery Tour 2024

In the spirit of resolutions in the new year, I have set my sights on a list of bakeries that I wish to visit in 2024. Think of it as a reverse resolution to…eat more? This past year has been one of research and full immersion in all things baking-related, for me. I am coming up on one year since reestablishing this website, and throughout 2023, I poured myself in to learning and cultivating skills related to the art of baking at a very steady pace. My appetite has been voracious, and can only be attributed to pure passion.

I am what you might refer to as a “Bake-a-Saurus Rex.” Ok, maybe that is only how I refer to myself. My fella will enter the kitchen in the morning to find every inch of the countertops covered in baking ingredients and parchment lined baking pans as far as the eye can see. I am somewhere lurching in the distance in my apron, dusted in flour and furiously thumbing through the pages of one cookbook or another. He will pause and cautiously say…”Hmmm. What are we making today?!” God love him and his patience for my predilection towards all things baking.

I can’t tell you what has driven it, but I have grown to simply LOVE the act of baking. I wake up thinking about what I want to make each day, and I fall asleep scanning recipes online. I read cookbooks, I scour Instagram, I watch tutorial videos galore, and I have been experimenting in the kitchen more than ever. I am a woman possessed. And with all of the inevitable trials and errors that come from learning to bake (believe me there is a LOT to learn) I find myself having an incredibly healthy appreciation for the pros that do this day in and day out, churning out ungodly amounts of pastries for the masses.

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Food, Recipes

Classic Strawberry Shortcake

I love strawberries. Anytime that they come into season, or taste sweet enough to eat, the chances are good that you will find several cartons lying in wait in my refrigerator. Although delicious on their own, I love visiting different dessert recipes featuring these beautiful, vibrant berries.

One that has stood the test of time for me is the classic Strawberry Shortcake. Equal parts dense, buttery cake, mixed with light, fluffy whipped cream, and sweet, tart strawberries, it is one of the most perfect and refreshing desserts in my book.

Recently, strawberries have been popping up everywhere in the grocery store and they have been super sweet and delicious, leaving me with a hankering for a good helping of this sweet treat. If you find yourself in the same boat, here is a super easy, one-bowl recipe that you can whip up quick as can be, and have a dessert on the table in no time at all.

This recipe is a visual stunner that will leave you looking like a baking pro. Little effort with big results…one of my favorite baking combos! If you haven’t ever tried making a homemade version, then you must give it a try. It is one of the easiest recipes you will find, and virtually foolproof.

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Favorite Recipes, Food, People, Recipes

Mom’s Molasses Ginger Cookies

My Christmas holiday doesn’t officially start until I take my first bite of my Mom’s legendary gingerbread cookies. These are made with sweet, thick molasses, which gives them the most scrumptious chew in the center, juxtaposed perfectly by crisp edges to nibble and the crunch of sweet granulated sugar on top. These remain the top requested cookie from my cousins and family members each year after decades of baking.

My Mom used to toil to assemble giant cookie baskets each Christmas for friends and family, and I remember every square inch of our countertops being covered in cookies of any and all varieties, from Rugelach to Peanut Butter Balls, but this gingerbread cookie was the one I always plucked from the pile as they cooled (when Mom wasn’t looking, of course). If you are a holiday cookie maker, give this one a try. The tang of ginger mixed with the warmth of cinnamon and cloves is irresistible. This recipe is worthy of a spot in the annual lineup.

Pro Tips

Be sure to leave time for chilling the dough when you set out to make these, as it is a crucial step in the process to achieve the correct consistency in your cookie.

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Favorite Recipes, People, Recipes, Uncategorized

Simple Scottish Shortbread Cookies

This recipe is a must for the holidays, and a perfect slightly sweet treat for the winter months. Traditional shortbread originally hails from Scotland, and this firm, biscuit-like cookie pairs perfectly with both hot tea and whiskey, making it the perfect accompaniment for any occasion. My Mom is an exceptional baker, and my family has gathered around a plate of her shortbread cookies and a hot pot of tea for as long as I can remember, as we discuss life’s mysteries, accomplishments, failures, loves, losses…you name it. Once you have tried this combo, it is hard to turn back. Nothing compares to gathering around the kitchen table and sharing a cookie and conversation. Make a batch of these and keep them on hand for just those occasions.

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Food, Recipes

Bennigan’s Style Ultimate Baked Potato Soup

As soon as the cooler weather rolls around, I start to crave all of the fall foods. In particular, chili (which we will get to later) and this recipe for the Ultimate Baked Potato Soup.

Recently, I had a comment pop up asking for recipe ideas for a Dutch Oven. This one piece of equipment is an absolute kitchen staple in my book, and a perfect vessel for soups, stews and frying. I use mine for just about everything and anything.

The enamel coating is perfect for all kinds of cooking, as it is naturally non-stick. That said, I cook with a lot of butter whenever I use mine, so I suppose that helps it to be more resistant to sticking. Plus, they deglaze like a champion once you add a little liquid to them, leaving you with those flavorful brown bits in soups and stews that build flavor.

If you have a Dutch Oven, or have been gifted one and aren’t sure what to do with it, the sky is the limit. Any soup recipe, stew, sauce…use this vessel for building your recipes and allowing them to develop with even heat. The cast iron holds and conducts heat steadily and beautifully for slow simmering. Once you are done prepping, you can just about set it and forget it on a low heat.

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Food, History

My Ode to the Bagel

Picture it: Saturday morning of 1986, one hour ’til Pee Wee’s Playhouse airs on the television. These were the days before DVR, so timing was of the essence. My Mom would awaken me and my brother from a deep slumber with one of the only phrases she knew would entice us out of the nest of our warm, blanketed beds. “Wanna go get bagels?!,” she would shout, as she opened the door to my bedroom, closing it as quickly as it opened. She knew I was a sucker for a good bagel.

I would hurriedly pull on the closest pile of clothing I could find and dive into the minivan with my Mom, making the short trip to the adjacent town of Babylon in Long Island, NY. We could have even walked or ridden our bikes to this place. The waterfront town was idyllic and stunningly beautiful. It was one of my favorite places to roam and explore, but we didn’t have time to meander on Saturday mornings. I had and important viewing schedule to stick to.

As we pulled up and parallel parked in the center of town – there it stood. On early Saturday mornings, the only two shops in the bustling town that appeared opened were the bagel shop and the bakery located directly (and conveniently) across the street from one another.

I will never forget it. The bright orange glow of the Hot Bagels sign fixed in the window, the words slightly blurred by the steam from the molten heat of the bagel ovens colliding with the cool, crisp air on the street side of the thick glass.

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Summer Nostalgia

A friend of my Dad’s recently shared this photo of his lifeguarding crew from around 1962, the summer he and his group of friends worked together at the Babylon public pool in Long Island, New York. Though this was before my time, it made me feel a certain way just looking at the picture. Thinking of what it was like back then, seeing the happiness on their faces and youthfulness in their appearance.

The folks in this photo were friends, some dated each other, they all hung out together and shared laughs. It was a moment in time that they all fondly remember and share collectively.

Eventually, summer faded and they all went on to pursue their own version of life. Most went to college, got married, had kids, built careers. This was just a fleeting moment in time, but the memory of their summer together lives on through this photo. It is captured bliss. The feeling it brings me is one of nostalgia, though I wasn’t even alive at the time this picture was snapped, it is a sense that we all have within us.

Living on Hilton Head Island, the feeling of summer nostalgia is all around. Driving down the beach roads, clusters of families vacationing together can be seen riding bikes, building sandcastles, sharing meals and making lifetime memories. It is a special thing to have the opportunity to witness on a regular basis.

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