Candy, Candy quite Dandy, how does your garden grow?

So I started a new project this weekend. It involved getting dirty and a whole lot of waiting for results. I planted my very own strawberry plants. My granny would be so proud of me! *gloats* I’m both excited and nervous about the outcome. See, I’ve owned two plants prior in my lifetime. A good friend of mine bought me a Poinsettia for Christmas once. It was lovely but lasted 2 weeks. The next year he bought me a cactus thinking it would be impossible to kill…  Ha. I showed him. That lasted 4 weeks. Then I was told that I shouldn’t own a dog or have a child. On the contrary, dogs and children are programmed to remind you of their existence.

Rob was my assistant gardener. Which in fact really means, he did three quarts of the work: uprooted most of the weeds, toiled the soil, trimmed the rosebush that was threatening half of my planting space, dug the holes, planted most of the babies and watered them once we were done. I managed the operation, made a minor contribution to the labour and took an impractical amount of pictures. Yes, yes. I know exactly what you’re thinking. We make an effective team.

My greatest concern right now is the weather. Its bipolarosity continues to wreak havoc with many a plan of local Houstonians, I am sure. Saturday’s 78 degrees was welcomed with board shorts, tank tops & sandals. Then there was Sunday night. We were heading out to make our weekly grocery run and got “female-dog” slapped in the face by an impertinent rush of 38 degree air. Made my eyes water and all. Needless to say yesterday’s weather barely fluctuated. PLUS… there’s a winter storm warning and we’ve received gifts such as freezing rain; sleet and gross Dallas like temperatures – no offense Dallas. If you’re new and reading this you may think I’m an insane person grumbling about 30-degree weather but where I come from is called paradise, with typical temperatures of 80 degrees. All the time. I know I’ve complained a considerable amount this winter but spring is almost here so today marks my final gripe. Promise.

On the upside, the possible ruin of my plants won’t be any fault of mine, this time. Anyhow, I’ll see what happens and pray that I at least get to taste ONE fruit of my… err… our labour. In the mean time, check out our new babies.

MDP-6

Baking this week? Why yes.

chocolatechipcookies

These yummylicious chocolate chip cookies are a fav in our household. Got the recipe here. Try them. Enjoy them. And they do go that fast.

Cherrio chaps! Do have a blessed week.

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Strawberry Mini Pies

Happy Tuesday yal! Today’s February 4th which means two of many things! Some of you are probably eagerly looking at your calendars counting down the days, hours & minutes till Valentine’s Day. While… others are probably wishing the universe would magically do away with February 14th altogether.

With that being said, note that this post is in favour of the upcoming “pink & red” day. I want to share a sweet and easy dessert for you and your lover punch. It’s perfect for V-day or any other day for that matter, which ever you prefer.

Strawberry Mini Pies

This recipe has been adapted from two sources: A cookbook we got as a wedding present: Bride & Groom First and Forever Cookbook and a food blog It Bakes Me Happy.

First things first: Let’s make some dough!

 

MDP-3 MDP-7

Your needs:

1 ½ c bleached all-purpose flour {I used unbleached}

1 tbls sugar

1 tsp kosher salt {I used regular}

5 tbls cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼ -inch pieces

4 tbls cold solid vegetable shortening, such as Crisco

3 ½ to 4 ½ tbls ice water

Your Method:

Put the flour, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse briefly to mix. Scatter the butter over the flour mixture and using a spoon, toss lightly to coat. Pulse 5 times at 1-second intervals. Add the shortening in small pieces and pulse about 4 more times at 1-second intervals. The texture should resemble course meal, with the butter and shortening bits no bigger than peas. Sprinkle 3 ½  tbls of water over the mixture and pulse until the dough begins to hold together, about 6 times. Pinch a small amount of dough and if it doesn’t hold together, add ½ tbls of water and pulse 3 times. Pinch the dough again, if necessary adding the remaining ½ tbls water and pulse 3 more times. When the dough holds together when pinched, it is ready. Do not allow it to form a ball in the processor. Transfer dough to a large sheet of plastic wrap, pressing gently, form the dough into a 5-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45mins, preferably overnight. (The dough maybe refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen up to 3 months.)

Next: Let’s make some strawberry filling!

MDP-4 MDP-6

Your needs:

1 c strawberries, sliced

2 tbls sugar

2 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp lemon juice

1 egg, beaten

Your Method:

In a medium sized saucepan add the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice and cook for about 5 minutes, until thickened. Set aside to cool {or not}.

Lastly: Let’s make a pie.

Let the chilled dough soften at room temperature for 10 – 15 minutes (longer if frozen). Using the rolling pin, tap the dough firmly to flatten it. Divide dough in half, placing each half between two large pieces of plastic wrap and roll out to 1/8-inch thickness. Place a 5 ounce ramekin directly on the pastry. Using a knife cut two 1-inch circles wider than the bottom of the ramekin. Now you should have two circles from each half of dough. Roll out one piece of dough for each half. This is then draped over the ramekin and fitted until snug inside the ramekin, so it serves as your piecrust. You may or may not have dough draped over your ramekin. If you do, please cut off excess and put aside. Repeat with remaining ramekin/s. Scoop your strawberry filling into your crusted ramekins. Once filled, drape the pastry (your second circle), over the ramekins and seal by pressing gently on the sides of the ramekins. Cut pastry scraps into your lover-punch’s initials, into hearts, or other decorate shapes. Place on top of the extra pastry circle and brush with the beaten egg. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown, remove from the oven and cool; serve warm. And if you’re feeling a little daring, add a scoop of vanilla/chocolate ice cream to the side. Bon Appétit.

Yields 4 mini pies.

 

 

I went strawberry picking… Now what?

I celebrated my birthday last Saturday and Rob planned a pretty interesting day but one of the highlights for me was strawberry picking.

I was so excited! If I had to eat one fruit for the rest of my life, it would definitely be strawberry.  It’s sweet and tangy. It’s red. It’s cute. It smells delectable. It’s bite sized. It makes the best jams, jellies, fillings, frostings, toppings, ice creams, juices (I can go on and on but there is more to this post than strawberry picking and I don’t want to bore you to death with ramblings)inhales deeply…AND I read that it helps fight cancer… just saying.

Rewinding to a couple days ago… we got to Froberg’s Farm in Alvin, TX and eagerly bought ourselves a bucket each. At that point, I think we were too giddy to rationally think through how many pounds of berries we would each pick that day.

Glee overwhelmed me. My routine went something like this: spot red juicy berry, pick it, toss it into bucket, admire harvest at hand, smile and scout more berries. When my bucket was half way full I remembered why I carried my camera. Please enjoy the photos below.

As we walked back to weigh and cash our berries… Rob suddenly came to his senses… “Wait! How many pounds of berries do you think we picked?” We looked at each other with brief worry in our faces then laughed it off.

“It can’t be more than two or three pounds man.” Candice replied boldly. I like referring to myself in the third person sometimes. *ehhem*

It so happened that we picked 7.42 pounds; approx. 119 ounces; approx. 30ish cups… of strawberries. That’s probably 50ish of my handfuls.

The challenge: Make use of 7.42 pounds of strawberries in 4 days. Challenge accepted! Let us begin looking at some berry yummy recipes. *snicker*

Uno.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries: These were very easy to make and oh so yummy! Warning: Do not eat more than 6 in one sitting. You are bound to get a tummy ache. Don’t like chocolate? No worries… I gots plenny more recipes to share.

Two.

Strawberry Tart Cake: This cake was the perfect amount of sweet and berry.

Third.

Sharing is caring yo. Give to your family, friends, strangers on the street. Start dispersing dem berries in every which way you can.

4.

Strawberry Jam: This was by far the yummiest jar of strawberry jam I have ever had. Yes, matter of factly, it does have something to do with me actually making it myself. The recipe was simple and result is superb. Try it! Rob and I had some on a couple of Club crackers with cream cheese. Mmmmm mmmm mmmmM.        Note: Be sure to follow proper canning rules to store you jam.

Last but not least.

Strawberry Mini Pies: These were definitely my favourite. As you can see, I could hardly wait to try one… I even used the same jam that I made in no. 4 as my filling. You can use strawberry butter if you prefer.

So there you have it. If ever you are in a similar predicament as I, here is a simple guide to give you a start on using up your berries before they go bad.

Enjoy!

Bananaberry Muffins

Last Saturday was my fiancé’s birthday. I planned a nice mellow day for the both of us. I made him breakfast and dinner. We went out to lunch and I took him on a fun little outing at some part during the day. I will post photos on some other aspects of his day later this week. Below are the Bananberry Muffins I made him for breakfast. He really liked them. I did too but I think there is much improvement for me to make in the future.

{April 28th Challenge: Stuck}

{Stuck as in the berries are stuck in the muffins}

{My two favourite fruits}

{Mashing the bananas}

{Mixing the wet and dry ingredients}

{It was very hard not to eat all the strawberries as I cubed them – lol}

{Adding the berries to the batter}

{Ready for the oven!}

{My audience of one}

{Viola! Breakfast is served! This was my helping. I eat like a bird}

Here is the recipe for those willing to try it.

Yummy Bananaberry Muffins

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (or two medium-sized bananas)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup fresh blueberries/strawberries (rinse and pat dry)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line tray with muffin cup papers.
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together with a wire whisk.
Add butter, eggs, bananas and vanilla.
Mix on low until just combined.
Fold in berries. Reserve some to place on the tops.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Serve while still warm with butter.

Makes 12-15 {large} muffins.