Nothing says summer in the South like peaches. Whether you are in Georgia and get some peaches from the peach truck, or in Texas at a road-side peach stand, summers are made for peaches. We buy boxes of peaches anytime we can and freeze them so we will have fresh summer peaches all year long. This cast iron pie recipe is super easy to make. Everyone will think you worked so hard on it. The key, for me, to this recipe is to make the best butter pie dough you can make. The better the pie dough, the better the pie. Serve this with a little Blue Bell homemade vanilla ice cream or make your own ice cream at home.

Shout out to the Georgia Peach Truck — they stopped in Plano during their Texas tour. We bought 2 boxes (50 pounds) of their yummy, sweet, delicious peaches. We froze some to use later in jam and other stuff. But these were fresh off the truck!

Pie dough (see my pie dough recipe here or buy prepared top crust)

3 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon vanilla

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

6 cups peaches, chopped or squished

Make pie dough first. Roll out to about ½ inch larger than the size of the pan. Refrigerate while preparing the peaches so it’s not too soft when you put it on the pie.

Put butter in cast iron skillet on stove over medium heat. Let melt and get hot. Add vanilla and sugar and stir to combine. Add peaches and stir. Cook until reduced by 1/3. The mix will be more liquid-y than you expect because it will keep cooking and thickening in the oven.  Remove pie dough from refrigerator and lay over peach mixture in the cast iron skillet. Fold the edges of the pie crust over up the sides of the inside of the skillet. Cut slits in the pie dough to let it breath. Make egg wash with egg and water and brush over top of pie dough. Bake at 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Note: I use a really good butter, like the one from Lewis Road Creamery. For vanilla, I use Usumacinta Mexican Vanilla or I make my own vanilla at home.

This recipe is another of my family’s recipes, handed down through many generations to my mother. It is a staple in our home at the holidays and pretty much anytime that blueberries are available. In Maine, the area of the eastern part of the state is called “down east” where the small, sweet blueberries grow wild. On the rare occasion that I can get fresh wild Maine blueberries, this is the first thing I make. But even using frozen berries, it is still delicious. The bigger blueberries grown in other parts of the U.S. are still good, just not quite as sweet and will add a considerable amount of water to the cake. For this recipe, the small wild blueberries are the best.

1 ¼ cups sugar

½ cup butter (1 stick)

2 eggs Dash of salt

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon vanilla

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ cup evaporated milk

1 ¼ cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Cream together 1 cup of sugar (reserve remaining sugar), butter, eggs, and salt. Add milk and vanilla and combine. Fold in 2 cups of the flour (reserving the remaining flour) and baking powder. Roll blueberries in the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour. This will keep the blueberries from sinking to the bottom. Gently fold blueberries into the batter. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan. Combine the remaining ¼ cup sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of cake. Bake in oven at 350 degrees until done – about 40 minutes.

The idea for this recipe began with a baked apple dish my mother made when apples were in season in the Fall and the holidays. She would simmer apple juice with cinnamon sticks and cloves, then stuff a cored apple with dried fruit and pour the juice syrup over them. The whole house smelled like cinnamon apples. As an adult, I adapted the recipe to use mulled spiced wine, usually leftover from a party. Sometimes I will put each apple in a separate mini-cast iron pan to make individual desserts. I prefer honeycrisp apples because they maintain their shape during baking. Jonathan or Braeburn apples are also good when honeycrisp aren’t available. I don’t use red delicious or gala apples for the same reason – those cannot hold up to the heat of baking.

1 cup sugar

1 ½ cup Pinot Noir or any light-bodied red wine

2 tablespoons mulling spice

4 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes, plus 2 tbs. for the pan

6 medium honey crisp apples cored

6 tablespoons fig and cherry compote (see recipe)

Preheat oven to 375. Place the sugar, wine, and cinnamon stick in a saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the consistency of a thin syrup. Remove from heat and stir in the cubes of butter. Core the apples and peel them if you prefer (but leave them whole with the cored center hollow in the middle). Stuff the apple cavities with the fig compote. Butter the sides and bottom of a deep baking dish with remaining butter. Place the apples upright in the dish. Pour the wine syrup over the apples. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 35 minutes, periodically basting the apples with the pan juices until the apples are soft but still standing. Remove baking dish from oven. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a spoonful of the pan juices over the top.

Fig and Cherry Compote

1 cup dried mission figs, chopped

1 cup dried zante’ currants

1 cup dried tart cherries

¼ cup honey 1 bottle (700 ml) Pinot Noir or any light-bodied red wine

½ cup balsamic vinegar

Add all ingredients to pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low simmer for 45 minutes or until it is sweet and syrup, coating the back of a spoon. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze up to 6 months.

On a cold day, nothing could beat my mother-in-law Sandy’s hot cocoa. The creamer gives it a thicker texture than expected. Sandy gave us a special jar with a handwritten message to hold the hot cocoa mix so we would have it on hand all of the time. Now, when we make a cup on a brisk day, it reminds me of how warm and caring Sandy was.

12 ounces instant nonfat dry milk

1 6-ounce jar powdered coffee creamer

2 cups powdered sugar

1 16-ounce can Nestle’s Quick

1 cup powdered cocoa

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Store in air tight containers.

To make hot cocoa: Add 3 tablespoons of mix to 1 cup of hot water. Stir to dissolve. Add marshmallows and enjoy.

A marshmallow seems to be one of those things that conjures up the most delicious memories from childhood. Yes, they are adorably delicious straight out of the bag — they add a crazy depth of sweet, yummy, sticky texture and flavor unparalleled by any other addition. Whether it be mixed with chocolate chips stuffed inside a banana over a campfire the classic s’mores around a cup of cocoa, at the end of the day marshmallows bring out the kid in all of us. I learned the following marshmallow recipe many years ago from an amazing pastry chef. This chef said “I’m gonna blow your mind and demystify a marshmallow”. While this recipe may seem tedious, I promise that practice will make you a rockstar who will never go back to the bagged version again. This recipe pairs well with Sandy’s Hot Cocoa too.

3 package unflavored gelatin

1 cup ice cold water

12 ounce granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup powdered sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

Nonstick spray

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with half a cup of water. Stir using a small hand whisk or fork for about 30 seconds until the gelatin is incorporated. At this point attach the whisk attachment and get the mixer ready to turn on.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. On medium-high heat, cook for about 4-5 minutes covered. At the four-minute mark, uncover the saucepot, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 238°F (between six and eight more minutes). Once the syrup reaches this temperature, immediately take it off the heat. Carryover cooking will occur from the time you take it off the stove to the mixing bowl will take it to around 240°F. (If the sugar mixture goes above 242°F your marshmallow fluff will no longer be smooth and velvety; it will be a sticky, stringy mess and you will have to start over.)

Turn the mixer on low containing the gelatin water. While the mixer is running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the mixing bowl from a height of about 6 to 8 inches above the mixer. (The height allows air to combine too.) Once you have added all of the syrup mixture, increase the speed of the mixer to high. Continue to whip until the sugar mixture becomes very thick and slightly warm to the touch (about 15 minutes). Add the vanilla during the last minute of mixing.

While the sugar mixture is whipping, combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Mix well to incorporate or sift together twice through. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray, being careful not to over coat the pan. Add a tablespoon of the powdered sugar mixture and move around the pan to completely coat the bottom and sides. Use more, if needed, depending on how much spray you used. If there is any powdered sugar mixture left in the pan, return it back to the bowl.

At this point, your whipped sugar mixture should be slightly warm to the touch in the mixing bowl. Turn the mixer off and remove the bowl from the mixer. Spray a rubber spatula with cooking spray to keep the mixture from sticking to the spoon. Pour into the whipped sugar mixture into the prepared pan and use the sprayed spatula to smooth out the surface.

Lightly dust the marshmallow top with the powdered sugar mixture, just enough to place an even coat all over. Save the rest for later. At this point the marshmallows need to sit at room temperature for at least four hours or up to eight hours, but no longer. I like to use a pizza wheel as a knife. Lightly dust the wheel in the powdered sugar mixture to keep it from sticking. Cut the marshmallows into your preferred size pieces. Dust the cut pieces in the remaining powder sugar mixture to coat evenly. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks (if they last that long).

Growing up, this was always one of my favs! It is a great twist on the regular puffed rice treats — sweeter and full of flavor.

1 small package butterscotch chips

½ cup peanut butter

3 cups puffed rice cereal

Melt butterscotch chips and peanut butter on low heat.Add puffed rice cereal and stir well. Pack in 8×8 inch buttered pan. Cool and cut in squares.