Peach Jam Hand Pies


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

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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….

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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?

Triple Berry Jam


I’ve decided to celebrate Independence Day this year by breaking free!!!…

…of pectin, that is.

As long as I can remember, I’ve equated summertime with homemade jam.  I’ve also always equated homemade jam with Sure-Jell.  In fact, I felt I could never create the perfect jam without it.

However, after producing a few bland batches last summer, I began to wonder if there was a better recipe out there.  A recipe that would render the bright, rich jam I was striving for.

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So with a little bit of research, I stumbled upon a great blog called Northwest Edible.  Erica’s tutorial on pectin-free jam was so informative and inspiring that I couldn’t wait to round up some fresh fruit and get started.

Since the berries were especially fresh and fragrant (and on sale) this season, I decided my first pectin-free experiment would be a triple berry jam of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.

The results?

Wow.  Just…wow.  The flavors were deeper, the color richer, the texture more velvety.

But my most favorite part about the recipe was that I didn’t have to stress about how much of this or that I needed to add or at what specific times I needed to add them.

Instead, I was free to taste and tweak as much as I needed in order to transform my bowl of berries into the perfect batch of jam.

So if summertime means homemade jam for you, here’s the recipe in case you want to break free of pectin, too!

Pectin-Free Triple Berry Jam

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Makes 5 8-ounce jars

You will need:

*2 pounds+ fresh berries (I used 6 lbs of fruit: 2 lbs strawberries, 2 lbs blueberries and 2 lbs raspberries)

*1 gently rounded 1/2 cup of granulated sugar per 2 pounds of fruit

*1 Tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice per 2 pounds fruit

Step #1: “Marinate” the berries

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Dump fruit into a large, non-reactive bowl (no metal or aluminum).

Toss fruit with sugar until well combined.

Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.  Allow berries to macerate for up to 24 hours.

Step #2: Cook the Jam

First, prepare a water bath by filling a large canning pot halfway with water and allowing it to come to a full boil over high heat while you cook the jam.

Second, sterilize your jars in either the dishwasher steam setting or by placing them in a container of boiling hot water.  Leave jars in water until it is time to process the jam.

To cook the jam, pour the macerated berries into a large saucepan.  For larger batches, divide the fruit between two sauce pans.

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Cook berries over medium-high heat until fruit is tender but not falling apart.

At this point, add lemon juice.

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Mash fruit with a potato masher or use an immersion blender depending on how you prefer the texture of your jam.  (I prefer large bites of fruit in mine.)

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Continue to cook the berries until thickened (about 50 minutes), stirring frequently to prevent burning.

Once the jam starts to thicken, test the jam for readiness by ladling a small amount on a cold plate.

Allow jam to cool a few seconds and then run your finger down the middle of it.

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If the jam stays separated and doesn’t run together quickly, it’s soft-spoon ready.  (If you prefer firmer jam, cook for another 10 minutes and test again.)

Step #3: Adjust the Flavors

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Take a bite of the jam you just tested.

Does it need more sugar?  Stir in a couple tablespoons of sugar to the batch and taste again.

Is the jam tart to your liking?  Stir in just a teaspoon of lemon juice to the batch and taste again.

*Remember: It’s better to add smaller amounts of sugar and lemon juice than larger ones!*

For more ideas on flavor combinations, follow the Northwest Edible link above.

Step #4: Process the Jam

Keeping jam over a low simmer, fill hot, sterile jars with jams and wipe the rims thoroughly with a clean, damp, lint-free rag.

Place an unused canning lid firmly on top of the jar, and screw on a canning band to finger tightness.

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Place jars in boiling water, cover the pot and process the jars at a full rolling boil for 10 minutes.

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Remove jars and allow to cool before storing in a cool, dry place.  Will stay at peak flavor for up to a year.

Store opened jars (or jars that have not sealed all the way) in the refrigerator for 1-3 months.

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Here’s to freedom and the best jam you’ve ever made!

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To see more Celebrate Summer ideas, check out this fun collection of projects and recipes from my other Blog-Hop buddies!

Patriotic Popcorn & Decor

by Simply Domestic Blog

A Patriotic Star Garland

by A Bright and Beautiful Life

DIY 4th of July Wreath

by Live Like Grace

Canada Day Sweets Buffet

by Red Cottage Chronicles

Red, White and Blue Ribbon Garland

by Create & Babble

Being Where You Are


Your big opportunity may be right where you are now. -Napoleon Hill

Imagine how much different life would look if you believed in this statement!

Would you wake up each day more hopeful?  Would you feel lighter; more content?

Ever since we got back from our lovely, lovely trip to Maine this past September, I’ve been struggling to be where I am.  Thoughts like “Is Clyde the best we can do?” and “Are better opportunities waiting for us somewhere else?” have all but made me want to quit making improvements on our house, working in our garden, even engaging in our community.

However, a few weeks ago, while lying awake at night, I decided to make an evaluation on what life was really like where we were.

“Let’s see,” I pondered, “We have great friends and connections, friendly neighbors, we have a place in the community, we are close to family, we have a neat house with a big yard, the cost of living here is low…”

Though I didn’t want to admit it, life sounded good.  And my evaluation made me wonder:

If your life isn’t broken, then why try to fix it?

After all, even though Clyde is not near the beach or the forest or even an IKEA, it is a place where good things have happened and are happening and will happen.

And no matter where Dave and I wind up, this week’s inspiring post from The Nester still applies:

Print by Lara Casey

Print by Lara Casey

Despite having a good life, it only took me one week to become totally discontent with it.

On the bright side, it only took me nine months to get that contentment back.

I mean, I won’t say that I’ll never look on New England with longing again, but I can’t afford to let greener grass stop me from being where I am and doing what I’ve always wanted to do.

How about you?

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P.S.

Thanks to my friend Rachel for sharing and inspiring me with Hill’s lovely quote.

Fast and Fresh Fajita Salad


It’s almost summer and it’s hot. Who wants to spend a lot of time in the kitchen?

Since we do not have central air-conditioning, my summer cooking has to be light and fast (for the sake of my sanity!).

Consequently, my go-to summer dishes are mostly salads.  This Chicken Fajita Salad is a favorite because it’s fresh, fast and, best of all, FILLING!

Chicken Fajita Salad

Let’s make this short and sweet, shall we?

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Serve fajita mixture over lettuce and top with whatever you like!

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Other good choices also include: Black Beans, Fresh Corn, Olives, Jalapeños, Tortilla Strips

Here’s to summer and simple summer cooking!

Have any great salad ideas to share?  I might need them!  🙂

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Chicken Fajita Recipe

Serves 4

*2 Tablespoons olive oil

*12 ounces uncooked chicken breast, sliced 1/2″ thick

*1 red bell pepper, julienned

*1 large clove of garlic, minced

*1 large green bell pepper, julienned

*1 large red bell pepper, julienned

*1 medium yellow onion, sliced

*1 Tablespoon chili powder

*1 teaspoon cumin

*1 teaspoon salt

*A few dashes of Liquid Smoke

*Pinch of red pepper flakes

*Juice of 1 lime

In a large wok or skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon oil over high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add the chicken and minced garlic and season with the chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper flakes and Liquid Smoke.  Cook on one side for a minute.  Stir chicken around and cook another couple minutes until full cooked.  Transfer chicken to a large bowl.

In the same skillet, heat another Tablespoon of oil until hot.  Add peppers and onions and cook one minute without stirring.  After a minute, stir the veggies and allow to cook again without stirring.  (This will allow the veggies time to caramelize slightly.)  Cook to desired tenderness (3-5 minutes).  Add veggies to the chicken.

Toss chicken, peppers and onions with the juice of one lime.  Serve over greens or in warm flour tortillas.

Let Us Fight For Jams and Jellies!


Politics.

With the exception of John Stewart’s The Daily Show or Saturday Night Live’s depictions of our country’s leaders, I avoid politics.

Politics make me grumpy, apathetic, lame.

UNLESS it involves food!

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For those you who are not familiar with the Texas Baker’s Bill, it allows certain foods like breads, jams and relishes to be sold from homes but NOT from anywhere else.

Though it is a wonderful thing for home bakers to earn money for their creations, it is unfortunate that these creations are not allowed at places such as farmers markets.

And here is where I become impassioned about politics:

Last summer, I shared about our town’s sweet little farmer’s market.

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Our produce is prime, our crafts are crafty, but what really makes our market unique are items such as Linnie’s mesquite bean jelly, Camilla’s award-winning relish and Hilary’s zucchini bread.

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Sadly, we have had to ask our vendors to keep these foods at home this year because they are not allowed at farmers markets.

BUT THERE IS HOPE!

HB 970, a food freedom bill that passed the Senate and House, is awaiting a pass or veto from our governor, Rick Perry.  He has until June 16 to either allow or ban the sale of certain homemade foods at [Texas] farmers markets such as bread and jams and jellies.  You can read the full bill here.

Again, when it comes to politics or letting my voice be heard I feel apathetic.  I mean, does my voice really matter?

In this situation, I say YES!

YES because not only do our voices matter, but our farmers markets matter.

The freedom to share good homemade food with a larger population matters.

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Feel the same and want your voice to be heard?

Call (512) 463-2000 or email at http://governor.state.tx.us/contact/assistance.aspx and ask that Governor Perry vote in favor of HB 970.

Thank you for reading and allowing me to share my political opinions with you. 

I’m stepping off my soapbox now.

Besides, I think hear a piece of zucchini bread calling my name….