French Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart

The French Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart on a decorative cake stand

I have a tendency to overdo it when I travel. I get excited and want to do everything. The more guidebooks and blogs I read, the more plans I make. My friends and family remind me that “You can’t do everything” and I politely ignore their advice.

This was the case during my last trip to Paris. By the time I left for the airport, I had something planned for nearly every minute of the six days I was staying in the city. The trip started off well and every meal, tour, and experience was beyond my expectations. I was on a traveler’s high but eventually, the jetlag and exhaustion from going non-stop set in and I hit a wall. That’s not a good feeling when you’re in the first few days of over a month of non-stop travel.

By the fourth day of my trip, I was exhausted. I stayed out way too late (blame it on Anto!) and was planning on ‘calling in sick’ to the cooking class I had scheduled for the next morning. I had visions of sleeping in, getting room service, and taking it easy.

Luckily my fear-of-missing-out kicked in and I got my butt out of bed and headed up to Montmartre for the Cook’n with Class Morning Market Class. Although my head hurt and I was running on 3 hours of sleep, I wasn’t about to waste a precious day in Paris.

The French Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart next to a slice of the tart.

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Peanut Butter Pretzel Pie

Peanut Butter Pretzel Pie |

Every time I travel abroad for extended periods of time, I find myself craving certain foods that are mainstays of my diet back home. When I spent a summer in Asia, I craved Chipotle, fresh salads, and Cracker Barrel (my guilty pleasure). When studying in France, I craved Asian and spicy foods and, yet again, Chipotle (luckily I was able to temporarily curb that craving during a weekend in London).

In Toulouse (the city in southwest France in which I studied), I was very satisfied with my daily breakfast of a croissant but a friend of mine was desperately in search of peanut butter for his morning toast. He went to several of grocery stores and markets and scoured the American aisle looking on a quest for peanut butter. One day he came back to the dorms thrilled, thinking he had found a jar of it. After opening it up and spreading on toast, it was not at all what he expected. He had actually purchased a jar of speculoos, or a spiced cookie butter.  He loved it, but it didn’t satisfy his craving.  Eventually, my mom to brought him a jar when she came to visit and he got his fix.

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Tips for Better Baking: Bake Pies on a Baking Sheet (#35)

It’s always a good idea to bake pies on a baking sheet. Not only does it make it easier to get the pies in and out of the oven, but a sheet pan will catch any filling that bubbles over. It’s much easier to clean a foil lined baking sheet than the bottom of your oven.

Blueberry Peach Pie

Blueberry Peach Pie

Blueberry Peach Pie

Last Thursday evening I taught my first cooking class called “It’s All About the Pie Crust” at Cooks’Wares in Mongtomery, Ohio.

I was nervous in the days leading up the the class. Having never taught a cooking class before, I was not sure what to expect. I feared losing track of time, worried about forgetting ingredients, and was scared I would run out of things to say (which has never been an issue for me!).

Luckily, the class went well, even better than I expected. Time did move quickly and I did forget one ingredient but I never ran out of things to say. What I didn’t expect was how much fun I had.  I couldn’t have asked for a better group for my first class. The students were engaged, asked questions, and filled the room with a positive energy. It was rewarding to see how excited everyone was when they rolled the dough out and fitted into their pie plates successfully. Several students said they had never had much luck with pie and the class gave them the confidence to try baking pies at home.

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