Peach Jam Hand Pies


Whoever still has jam left over from last year raise your hand!

handpiejam

Our apricot, plum and apple were quickly devoured and the prickly pear was all sold out or given as gifts.

The five jars of white peach jam in our pantry, on the other hand, were still waiting for their day in the sun.

What to do with all of this?!  I wondered.

And then I had an idea….

handpies

PIE!!!!

My peach jam was thick and full of large chunks of white peaches making it the perfect hand pie filling.

A lover of all types of fruit pies, I think hand pies are such a fun, portable way to get your pie fix.  (And did I mention they are a great way to use up your extra jam?)

Warm spices, tart peaches and a buttery, flaky crust–you’ll definitely want to get your hands on these!  😉

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Jam-filled Hand Pies

Makes 4 large, 6 medium or 8 mini

Ingredients:

*1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour + more for dusting and rolling

*1 teaspoon kosher salt

*2 teaspoons granulated sugar

*1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

*1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed

*1/3 cup + 2-3 Tablespoons ice-cold water

*Approx. 3 cups jam, preferably thick and not runny

*Egg wash: 1 small egg + 1 teaspoon water, beaten till smooth

Preparation

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Whisk the flour, salt, sugar and cinnamon together.

Cut in the butter with a pastry fork or two knives until the butter pieces are the size of small peas.

Add 1/3 cup water and stir dough in one direction.  If dough is still crumbly, continue to add a tablespoon of water at a time, until the dough pulls away from the bowl when stirred.

Dump dough onto plastic wrap and knead a few times to smooth.  Wrap tightly and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Assembly

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Divide dough evenly into 4, 6 or 8 pieces and roll into balls.

Lightly dust counter with flour and roll dough 1/4″ thick, rotating and flipping dough often to maintain shape.

Add a couple heaping spoons of jam in the center, leaving at least a 1/2″ border along the bottom.

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Fold dough over jam and pinch edges to seal.

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Fold edge up and over.  This keeps the juices in the pie from leaking out.

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Then dip a fork in some flour….

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…and impress along the folded edge of the pie.

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Carefully poke vent holes into the top of the pie.

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Place pies on a greased pan and place in the freezer to chill.  This keeps the dough from shrinking while it bakes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

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When oven is ready, remove pies from freezer and brush with the egg wash.

Bake for 20-25 minutes 0r until golden brown.

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Cool pies on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes.

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Perfect for a picnic or, since it’s hot out there, dessert on the couch!

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Enjoy your Wednesday!

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This is my first original recipe entry to Taste of Home Magazine as one of their new field editors.  For more great recipes on every pie you can imagine, check them out at www.tasteofhome.com!

Mojito, Anyone?


Let’s say we all stop what we’re doing for a while and take a little break.

Mojito, anyone?

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It’s summertime which means we can either complain about the mosquitoes or celebrate with a mojito!

(Or at least we can enjoy a mojito while swatting at the mosquitoes…)

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While thumbing through a copy of The Bartender’s Bible a few years ago, I stumbled upon this recipe and it’s been a favorite at our house ever since.

However, since everyone likes their drink a little different (I muddle the mint twice as long and add only half the sugar), feel free to tweak this recipe to your liking.  Just don’t tell your mixologist friends. 

Serve on the back deck with friends and a ridiculous amount of chips and salsa and you’ve got yourself an instant party.

Enjoy!

Mojitos

(Source: The Bartender’s Bible)

For one mojito, you will need:

*2 oz. freshly-squeezed lime juice

*2 Tablespoons superfine sugar (regular sugar doesn’t dissolve as well)

*6 large mint leaves

*2 oz. light rum

*1 cup crushed ice

*3-4 ounces club soda

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Muddle sugar and mint leaves with a pestle and mortar to bring out the fragrant oils of the mint (about 10 seconds).

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Squeeze the juice from two large limes and strain.  This will give you approximately 2 ounces of lime juice.

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Pour a cup of ice into a cocktail shaker.

OR, if you’re like me and don’t own a cocktail shaker, I find that a protein shaker bottle works just as well.

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Pour in lime juice and 2 ounces of light rum.

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Carefully dump in the sugar and mint mixture.

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Give the mixer a good shake for about 30 seconds.

Pour into a glass.  It is traditional to strain out the mint leaves and ice first, but I like all those yummy bits in my mojito.

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Pour the club soda over the top and serve.

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For a sugared rim, gently dip the top of your glass into lime juice and then into sugar.

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I’m a sucker for a salt rim, so I like to dip my glass into a mixture of sugar and kosher salt.

Because I’m a rebel.

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Thank you for sharing this refreshing little break with me.

Shall we do it again next week?

When Only A Sweet Sara’s Cookie Will Do


Today is a very important day in our household because today Dave starts his new job!

As a way to celebrate, I wanted to surprise my husband with cookies on his first day.

And I knew just the ones I wanted…….

A couple months ago, I was browsing the ol’ Facebook when these outrageously cool cookies caught my eye:

batman

(When your husband is a Batman freak, you tend to keep an eye out for Batman stuff.)

Turns out, the confections were made just down the street from my office at a home baking establishment called:

sweetsaras

Intrigued by Sara’s knack with the Batman, I began browsing her photo gallery…

Desktop

(Does anyone else suddenly have a hankering for cookies and cupcakes?)

What really struck me about Sara’s cookies was the level of excellence they were made with.

Even I, a stubborn do-it-yourselfer, knew I didn’t have the patience or skill to try to create my own version.  In fact, it would be a shame for me not to place an order!

In doing so, I discovered that Sara really is sweet.  🙂  She started the business a couple of years ago out of her home and tries to use local ingredients such as eggs and honey whenever possible.

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Sweet Sara herself!

She was even gracious enough to share a couple decorating tips with me!

Tip #1: The trick is in the tools

Using the right tools makes all the difference when making intricate designs.

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A few of these tools include:

*A spray bottle provides just the right amount of control when adding water to icing.

*Tips of all sizes are a must if you want controlled and detailed lines.

*White sanding sugar is a clean slate for mixing your own colors.

*Scrapbook paper is a great inspiration for color combinations and patterns. (not shown)

Tip #2: Custom-color your own sanding sugar

Red or yellow sanding sugar is easy to find…but aqua or lime?  Not so much.

Save time and money by purchasing white sanding sugar and coloring gel (both at Hobby Lobby) and mixing your own custom color.

sugarsupplies

You will need:

*1 cup white sanding sugar

*A few drops of food coloring gel (NOT the liquid food coloring)

*1/4 teaspoon cornstarch

*Ziploc baggie

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Step 1: Pour sugar into the bag and add your coloring.

Step 2: Seal the bag and, leaving enough air in the bag for the sugar to move around, shake the bag.

Step 3: At this point the sugar will be damp.  Therefore….

Step 4: Add a small amount of cornstarch.

Step 5: Give the sugar another good shake.  Rub in any beads of the color gel that remain.

Step 6: Pour sugar on a parchment or wax paper-lined plate and allow to dry for about 15 minutes.

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Thank you Sweet Sara’s for your beautiful creations!  I can’t wait to see Dave’s face when he gets his Batmans.  Batmen.  Whatever.

minis

Share the love!  Support a local business!

Live in the Abilene area?  Order a batch of cookies or cupcakes by contacting Sara on her Facebook page.

Not in the Abilene area?  Unfortunately, home baking laws do not allow Sara to ship her creations. However, investigate to see if there are any excellent home bakers in your area!

Lemon Mousse & Raspberry Crepe Cake


If you haven’t decided what to serve your Easter guests yet, maybe this will inspire you:

crepecake

These delicate layers of crepes, raspberry jam, whipped cream and lemon curd will melt in your mouth.  (I should know, I just ate a piece.  hee hee)

Lemon Mousse & Raspberry Crepe Cake

First, the crepes.

It’s definitely worth making your own.  Just think, it’s the only step where you really have to cook.  🙂

This is my go-to recipe because it produces flavorful crepes that are sturdy enough to handle.

Crepes

Makes 16 9″ crepes

NOTE: Make sure your ingredients are at the mentioned temperatures.

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 5 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk or half n half, room temperature
  • 1 cup water, room temperature
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely-grated lemon zest, optional

Whisk butter and sugar until smooth.  Stir in vanilla, milk and water.Whisk in flour until smooth.

Beat in eggs one at a time until just combined.  Stir in salt and lemon zest.

crepebatter

To Cook:

Heat a butter-coated crepe pan or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.

Pour 1/3 cup batter into the center of the pan and quickly rotate the pan around to cover the bottom:

rollbatter

cookcrepe

Cook crepe for one minute.  Loosen edges with a spatula and carefully flip crepe over.  Cook another minute.

Transfer to a plate to cool.

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Allow crepes to cool completely.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Lemon Curd Mousse

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 heaping cup lemon curd, homemade or store-bought

Pour cream into a large bowl and place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.  Chill beaters as well.

Remove bowl from freezer and whip at highest setting until firm like whipped cream (3-5 minutes).

Gently fold lemon curd into whipped cream in a figure-eight pattern with a spatula until fully incorporated.

foldincurd

Cover and chill until ready to use.

Assembly

NOTE: It is best to assemble the cake the day you will be serving it.

You will need:

  • 15 crepes
  • Lemon curd mousse
  • Jar of raspberry jam
  • Fresh strawberries, sliced length-wise 1/4″ thick

crepecakeassembly

Center a crepe onto a plate or platter.  Spread with a thin layer of mousse (about 3 Tablespoons).

crepefirstlayer

Place a crepe on top of mousse and add a thin layer of jam (about 2 Tablespoons).

continuelayers

Continue layering crepes, mousse and jam.

When you get to the 7th crepe, top with mousse and a layer of strawberries:

strawberrylayer

Cover strawberry layer with a crepe and lightly press to push out any bubbles in the cake.

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Continue building layers.

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Once you have finished building the cake, spread a thin layer of jam on the top crepe followed by a thick layer of mousse.

Top with sliced berries.

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Chill cake for at least an hour before serving to allow the layers to settle.

Serve.  Eat.  Repeat.

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Happy Easter, everybody! 

May it be a tasty one filled with hugs and laughter.

The Prettiest Little Cupcakes You Ever Saw


Every once in a while, a gal needs to get away and indulge in pretty things. 

So I am spending the day with a friend in one of the prettiest little towns in Texas: Fredericksburg!

Check out these other pretty sights from a few of my favorite bloggers:

Blueberry and Lemon Thyme Cupcakes

Behold!

top-of-blueberry-cupcake

A blueberry and lemon thyme cupcake slathered in cream cheese and buttery blueberry preserves icing and topped with a dark chocolate covered blueberry acai.

inside-of-cupcake-ii

If you are ever on the hunt for a stunning cupcake with an even more stunning description, look no further than Petit4 Chocolatier.

Don’t like lemon?  Then try her Orange Mint Cupcakes With Orange Jus Buttercream Icing and Touches of Gold.

Don’t like orange?  Then try her Cupcakes With A Whispered Savor of Fresh Chocolate Mint Topped With Vanilla and Butter Icing and Emerald Decor.

If food were jewelry, it would be Ms. Chocolatier’s cupcakes.

Ruffled Tablecloth

Pretty cupcakes should be savored over an equally pretty tablecloth.

I think this one by Jones Design Company fits the bill, don’t you think?

ruffle-tablecloth-tutorial-at-jdc

To create this ruffled number, all you need is a few yards of cloth and a few simple stitches.

Pretty Pictures

Dave and I are lucky to be friends with a lovely young lady named Julie Coppedge who takes equally lovely photography.

Here’s a sample:

usandcats

Even thought our home is far from being “photogenic,” I’m so glad she captured it in it’s more humble moments.

And I think humble moments are kinda pretty, too.  🙂

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What pretty things have you indulged in this week?

Giant Oatmeal Cookies


Which type of oatmeal cookie do you prefer?

S o f t  and c h e w y

Light and crispy

I’m a soft and chewy gal myself, but yesterday I was in desperate need of a great big, giant oatmeal chocolate-chip cookie that was both chewy on the inside and crispy on the edges.

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Since I only have a recipe for soft oatmeal cookies, I went on a search and found just what I was looking for at Whit’s Amuse Bouche, a cute and quirky food blog.

What I love about this recipe?

It contains:

1. Cinnamon

2. Nutmeg

3. A conservative amount of butter.  (Less butter = healthier cookies = I can eat more.  Right?)

So if you have a big cookie craving or just a lonely cup of coffee begging for a friend, these oatmeal cookies will surely hit the spot!

cookiespice

Oatmeal Cookies

Makes 5 large cookies or 2 dozen smaller cookies

*1 1/2 c rolled oats

*1/2 c flour

*1 t cinnamon

*1/8 t fresh-ground nutmeg

*1/2 t salt

*1/2 t baking soda

*1/2 c brown sugar

*1/4 cup granualated sugar

*6 T butter, room temperature

*1 large egg, room temperature

*1 t vanilla

*3/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips, raisins, pecans, cranberries–whatever you want

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together the oats, flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.   In a separate bowl, beat the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down bowl and add the egg and vanilla.  Mix until combined.  Add the oat/flour mixture, just until combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Bake, 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet, for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool* on racks.

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*Careful!  Cookies will be very soft when they first come out of the oven but will firm up after they have cooled.

Let Them Drink Cake!


I can’t always hold my liquor, but I can always hold my cake.

Especially if it’s rum cake!

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For many years, my family has followed Bacardi Rum’s recipe for this tender, buttery cake, and ever year we wish we had baked two instead of just one.

This New Year’s Eve, wow your friends with this impressive dessert.  (You can keep the fact that it’s made from a mix a secret.)

Bacardi Holiday Rum Cake

In a large bowl, dump:

-One yellow cake mix with pudding in the mix (I use Pillsbury’s),

-3 large eggs (room temp!),

-1/3 cup vegetable oil,

-1/2 cup cold water, and

-1/2 cup Bacardi dark rum or whatever rum you want

addrum

Beat cake for 30 seconds to incorporate ingredients and then another 2 minutes on high until the batter is smooth and light.

Now, grab a bundt pan and spray the dickens out of it with non-stick cooking spray.

(Those of you who have ever struggled removing a bundt cake from its pan know what I’m talking.  Douse that sucker!)

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Pour batter evenly into the pan.

Bake cake in a 325 degree oven for 45-55 minutes.  Check cake after 45 minutes by sliding a toothpick in the center-most part of the cake.  If it comes out clean, the cake is done.

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Allow the cake to thoroughly cool on a rack for at least an hour.

Carefully flip the pan over onto the cooling rack, releasing the cake.

Using a toothpick prick the entire surface of the cake.

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Time to make the glaze!

In a medium-large sauce pan (you’ll be sorry if you use a small one!), melt 1 stick of unsalted butter over medium heat.

meltbutter

Add 1/2 cup of water…

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…and 1 cup of sugar.

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Whisk until the sugar dissolves and bring to a boil, stirring often.

Boil for 5 minutes.  (This mixture will expand during the boiling process.)

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Remove pan from heat and carefully pour in 1/2 cup rum.

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Stir glaze until smooth, then immediately pour over cake.

Here is how I glaze my cake:

Place the cooling rack with the cake on it over a large plate, and slowly spoon glaze over the top…

glazetop

…and sides.

glazeside

At first, the glaze will quickly run off the cake, but no worries, the plate is catching the excess.

Pour the excess glaze that gathers onto the plate underneath back into the pan, and repeat until the cake has absorbed the majority of the glaze.  (A little excess rum glaze at the bottom of a cake plate never hurt anybody.)

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For best flavor and texture, allow cake to set for at least an hour before serving.

(You could also make this a day in advance.  Just wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.)