Monday, September 22, 2014

Strawberry Handpies

So... These are technically, hand pies,
 but my boys call the "homemade poptarts without all that junky stuff." 
They are by no means healthy, but I can pronounce all of the ingredients, so there's that.


I don't make these often, they go fast, too fast. Little noses sniff them out and little hands grab them in the blink of an eye. They get gobbled up in a flash.

They are easy peasy though. Especially, if you use a food processor for the dough!

Then comes the filling.

Pick a shape, any shape.

Fill them up.

Bake them up.

 Cool and coat with glaze and sprinkles.
(Because everything is better with sprinkles.. or bacon.)

The proceed to stuff them in your face!

This crust is flaky, buttery and soft. The filling is sweet, tart and gooey, in the best possible way.

These two have sneaky fingers.

You know you want a bite!

Strawberry Handpies
Makes approximately 8
(click to print) 

for the dough:

2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 - 6 tablespoons cold milk 

extra flour for rolling
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon water

1/2 cup strawberry filling (recipe follows)
strawberry glaze (recipe follows)
red colored sugar or sprinkles for decoration

Preheat oven to 350 F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a food processor combine flour, butter and vanilla. Pulse until mixture looks like wet sand. Turn on and add milk through the funnel a tablespoon at a time. Checking dough between. Stop once the dough makes a ball. Remove dough from bowl, flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. After the dough has chilled roll it out on a cold, floured surface, about 1/4 inch thick and cut out into your preferred shape. Fill each one with a teaspoon of filling, unless you are using a larger shape then add more, Cover each one with another layer of dough and crimp edges with a fork. Mix egg and water together in a small bowl and brush over each pie. Place on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 8 - 12 minutes, until gold brown. Once your pies are done allow to cool then spoon over 1 - 2 tablespoons of glaze for each pastry and top with sprinkles. Allow glaze to harden before eating. 

for the filling:

1 cup diced strawberries
juice and zest of a lemon
1/2 cup sugar

In a medium sauce pan combine all ingredients over low heat stirring often. Once the sugar has dissolved and berries have softened. Using a stick blender or an upright blender, puree the berries until smooth. Continue to cook until the berries have thickened to a thin jam like consistency. Cool just slightly before adding to the pies.

for the glaze:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract
2 -  tablespoons cold milk

In a small bowl stir together the sugar, extract and 1 tablespoon of milk, adding another tablespoon at a time until you have a thick but pourable consistency. 


   I'm sharing these in honor of my little helper's fifth birthday today! These are one of hos favorite things so I'm sharing them with you. This morning we are having, our family's birthday tradition, sprinkle pancakes with fresh strawberry syrup. Happy Birthday to my favorite Stink Monster!

xoxo,
Ashley

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Snapshots

Flowers from my Mom's garden.

Another view of the flowers.

This is Shark Bite. Can you tell I let my son pick the name?

I found this shot of my peony on a memory card last week. It is from earlier this summer.

Sprinkles for life!

Favorite lunch of the moment.

Blackberry Hibiscus Lemonade.
I basically followed this recipe and just remixed it slightly.

I made this guy this pudding and it was a hit, as you can tell from his face!

This is Fanta, he is my favorite.

This is River, she is named after River Tam. My husband picked this one.

I have no words.

Dough love.

My Mom and I took the boys to see my Granny, She has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's but she was having a clearish day. I was so much better than I had braced myself for.
I was not nearly as heartbroken leaving as I feared I would be.
Alzheimer's is a terrible awful disease that has affected my family too many times! 

Liam wanted to give "geat ganny" a "mooch" and Caleb decided to photobomb. I kind of love it.

 Made some Pina Colada Brown Sugar Ice Cream Sauce.
Not sure if I'll share this one or not. It's good, maybe too good.

 These two went on a midday Daddy date to the movies.

 Breakfast

 Handpies getting ready for their close up.
(Wow, I didn't realize how dirty my windows are. Guess what I'm doing today? It involves Windex!)

Recipe testing with shaved brussel sprouts. To be continued...

Sticky Mango Stir Fry. That one is another you should see sooner than later.
I just want to perfect it first.


xoxo, 
Ashley

Friday, September 19, 2014

Currently


1. See that smoothie up there? Yeah, so, I have a stash of watermelon in my freezer, so I can pull it out and make mint watermelon smoothies when I start to "miss" summer. 

2. I may have stolen all of my Mom's mint out of her garden and made 6 cups of mint syrup to add to smoothies, coffee and tea. I froze half of it to use through the winter.

3. I made the most amazing coconut curry risotto two nights ago. Life changing good! Now I just have to remember what I did so I can duplicate it.

4. We have decided on our Halloween costumes. Caleb is going to be a Werewolf and Liam is going to be Mickey Mouse. My sister and I are going to do a gender swapped versions of Sam and Dean from Supernatural. Don't ask why, I cannot explain it. Now, I'm on the look out for a fake sawed off shotgun...



5. This guy is turning 5 next week! I cannot believe it. He is such a funny, silly, hard headed, imaginative, stinky little man. He asked for sprinkle pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We normally go out for dinner to the restaurant of his choice but he wants to have dinner at my Mom's house. Breakfast for dinner that is. 

6. I might even find some of the Krispy Kreme Ghostbuster Doughnuts for him when they become available. He loves everything Ghostbusters. 

7. On the Menu for the week:
Homemade Pizza Bagels (My mom used to make something similar for me when I was a kid!)

xoxo,
Ashley

Monday, September 15, 2014

Curry Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

I am going to sneak in my favorite fall,winter soup in before it's truly cool enough for it.

I love this soup. 
   The sweet potatoes and carrots are hearty and give it a mild sweetness that when combined with the subtly of the coconut milk and heat of the curry, onion and peppers make this the most perfect meal for the chilly fall air. Or, you could make this on a scorching hot day like me and crank the AC, whatever works for you. 


    I may be planning a couple more summery recipes for you but I could not stop myself from sharing this right now. I might have had a mint, honey suckle watermelon smoothie for breakfast today and this for lunch. My brain is really confused right now! It's one of the draw backs of living in the south, the weather has not gotten the memo that kids are back in school, and Halloween is just around the corner and I should be sipping apple cider right now but it is still reeeeeediculousy hot! Or atleast it is as I write this, who knows what the weather will be when this posts next week.


Can we walk about how thick and luscious this soup is? You could easily thin it out more with more broth or coconut milk but I find it to be more filling and comforting like this. 



   I should also tell you that this recipe is vegan but you don't have to keep it that way. I prefer the coconut milk for the flavor and consistency but you could use half and half. You could add in chicken broth, I have used it when I didn't have any veggie broth. This is the perfect filling and easy meal to make for a vegan or vegetarian when they come over for dinner. I like to keep us all veg a few times a week.


 It is also gluten free for anyone out there with a gluten intolerance of some kind.


Curry Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup
serves about 8

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass
2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons curry paste*
1 Serrano, seeded and choppped**
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
3 large or 5 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
5 large or 8 small carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
4 cups vegetable broth
1 14oz  UNSWEETENED coconut milk***

chopped peanuts and cilantro for topping

In a large pot over medium high heat, add olive oil. Once it is warm enough, add the lemon grass, ginger and garlic. Saute until softened, just a minute or so. Add in onion, saute until softened and translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in curry paste, let cook for a couple of minutes just allowing the flavors to develop. Stir in both peppers and cook until softened, around 3 minutes. Add in potatoes and carrots. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes, then stir in broth. Turn down heat and bring to simmer. Let cook uncovered around 20 minutes and test carrots or potatoes to see if they are soft.  Once they are soft enough to be smash with the back of a spoon, use a immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth. If you don't have a stick blender you could use an upright blender, just pulse 4 cups at a time until each batch is smooth, then add back into the pot. Continue to cook and stir in coconut milk and season with salt to taste. Eat warm! 


NOTES:
* I sometimes use more. It just depends on how much spice I want. You could get away with 4 tablespoons before it goes over the top with the spice.
**Oh, and I forgot to seed my Serrano pepper and oh boy, let me tell you, this puppy had a bite! It was good though, it just got a bit too hot for me by the next day. I just stirred in more coconut milk and it saved it for me. Just a little note for you in case your a goober like me.
*** Make sure you get coconut milk not cream of coconut. cream of coconut is VERY sweet and will ruin your soup!

xoxo,
Ashley

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Currently #4



Yeah, so this is supposed to be a Friday post but my Friday was a little cah-raaaay-zzeeeeeee! In fact my whole week was long, stressful and BORING! My honey was on a business trip and everything that could go wrong did. Luckily today is going to be wonderful. Today I have so very little to do it is amazing. The house is spotless, I mean spotless! I literally have to write the menu for next week, and make dinner. Maybe I'll start a project today. Maybe, after 2.5 years, I'll start figuring out the gallery wall in the living room, maybe. Maybe I'll lay on the couch and binge watch Criminal Minds. I'm addicted. Someone please help me!!!

We have kittens. They are the sweetest and I don't want to give them up! We started naming them even though I think that is going to turn out badly. The little orange one is named Fanta. My oldest, Caleb, is orange crazy so clearly that was his favorite from the start and orange soda is like his favorite treat that he rarely gets so in his mind that was the perfect name. The other two Caleb named are Denmark and Shark Bite and I have no clue why he picked those two names. Lee (the mister) and I named the last one River, after River Tam from Firefly and Serenity. We are in love with them.

On the menu or this week:
Slow Roasted Carnitas
Sea Salt Butter Cream on a Chocolate Cupcake
Apple Pie Biscuits
Asian Plum Sauce
Chipotle Pulled Pork with Apple Slaw
Also EVERYthing from Simply Delish. OMG, this book may wind up knocking my long time favorite out of the top seat in my favs.

At this very moment I am drink blackberry hibiscus lemonade and burning an Autumn Spice candle. I think I am confused as to what season it is!

Aaaaand with that I have run out of things to talk about. I told you I had a long, boring and stressful week. Have fun on your weekend!!!

xoxo,
Ashley





Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Favorite Thing Birthday Paty

Ahhh!!! This party is the one that got away! 



   I loved it, we had a blast, the kids enjoyed this one so much but the stupid rain came and broke my heart! I had the cutest set up in my head and a sudden down pour ruined it all! Here is the only pic I have of what was going to happen.


   I was finishing cupcakes in the kitchen while my Mom hung streamers and banners when I snapped this picture. She hung more after this was taken. The tables had a grey and white geometric print table cloth. The small square one was for the hummus, salsa and chips the rectangular one in the middle was for the three types of cupcakes and cookies. The other one to the lemonade and tea station. I had gold dinosaurs, a gold tub for the ice and gold frames for the menu and pictures of the boys. We had tables to set up for a bubble station and cute crates for the water guns. The weather had other plans and I have to make peace with it. Cue my over dramtic nature! 


Water Fight!
   
The kids (big and little) had so much fun with the pool, water guns, and water balloons. So much fun that we forgot to get out the bubbles, sprinkler and slip n slide. I didn't matter they were perfectly content. Every time my husband tried to dry off dome one attacked him again. It was awesome!



Pinata!! 

   Caleb has been begging for a pinata for years but the overprotective mother in me was very concerned about kids, blindfolds and bats! This year I took my husband party shopping with me, and he convinced me that I should give in. I'm glad I did. He loved it and we have candy for weeks! The other up side, I didn't have to buy any thing for treat bags. I already grabbed three packs of bubbles in the Target Dollar Spot earlier this summer so each boy left with candy and bubbles.


   After two rounds blind folded and a broken plastic bat, we let the boys take turns without the blindfold and grabbed a big stick. That finally did the trick when the older cousins took their third turns.


Of course Liam thought he did some major damage! After he first connected with it he said "oooh got you!" 


 The Table Decorations and Food!

   Since the tables couldn't be set up according to plan We did the best we could and I have to say that I'm pretty pleased. We used the menu and gold dinosaurs. Luckily the cupcakes were still inside when the rain hit so they were fine and my toppesr didn't get ruined. I will do a DIY post on them in a couple of weeks. I have to make another round of them. I love them! They turned out so cute. 1/3 of them were pictures of their favorite TV shows and the rest were our favorite snapshots of them. everyone thought they were cute but the boys loved them. They both picked out their favorite characters for their cupcakes.




We picked their favorite flavors for the cupcakes and cookies.

Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes

Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream 

 This one is a new flavor...

  I like to call Rainbow Sherbet Cupcakes.

We also had their favorite cookies.

Honey Cookies and Chocolate Chip Cookies.

   I don't have a picture but their was also hummus with pita chips and my Mother in Law's homemade salsa with tortilla chips. I could drink that stuff it is the best salsa on the planet! I considered drinking it with a straw then I realized that would rude. 

Lemonade and Sweet Tea Bar!

   How cute would this have been outside with the streamers and trees in the background? Oh well, it was still a hit! I used fruit and other fun things to make the flavored syrups. We had lemonade, sweet tea and unsweet tea to choose from. The possible combinations were endless!

I also had the cotton candy there for the kids to make magic color changing lemonade.

We had: Strawberry Rhubarb
Honey Suckle
Peach Mango
Pina Colada
Kiwi
Blackberry Hibiscuis
Mint
Cherry
Cotton Candy

Those tags did get soaked by the rain and caused some of the neon to run. 
Oh well, what are going to do?

Of course I had some cute paper straws. Love them.
I added some cute framed picture of the boys too.

Now you have seen it. It didn't live up to my expectations looks wise. But it definitely was a winner in fun, and in the end that is what matters!

xoxo,
Ashley