• What Have I Done For You Lately…

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Meta

Easy Dinner – Lobster Boil

Hey Friends,

I was making some hearty meals this week and decided to make a lobster boil!

Lobster Boil – mmm!

Basically I did the following:

In an 8-quart stock pot with a strainer insert, like the below picture, fill up with about 4.5 quarts of water and set the burner to medium high heat.

Stock Pot!

Next add in the following spices (or suitable substitues) to your water and bring to a boil: 2 tspn salt, 1 tspn Garlic Garlic, 1 tspn Onion Onion, 1 tspn Wahoo Chili spice, 1 tspn Garden Veggie spice, 1 tspn fresh ground pepper, 1/2 tspn fresh ground cinnamon, and 2 tspn Lemon Pepper Olive Oil. Stir well to mix spices up evenly.

Add in your (rinsed and poked with a fork) red potatoes, I did about half of the potatoes from a 3-pound bag. Let come to a boil and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes.

Next add in your fresh corn on the cob, which I like to chop into thirds for easier sharing and quicker cooking (hey, it works in my head, let me run with it!). Keep this at a steady boil for another 5 minutes. I used 3 ears of corn.

Veggie Boil!

Add in your chicken sausage (5 pieces), or other type of sausage and keep cooking for about 6 minutes. Finally add in your lobster tails – I added 4 for this boil. I recommend using 2 toothpicks per tail to keep them straight while they boil. Past experience speaking there! 😉 Cook about 4-5 more minutes. You may need to poke the sausage with a fork to drain the water if it gets in there while boiling! Just warning!

Drain and serve and enjoy!

Lobster Boil Plate!

Craft You Later,
Beth

Quick Scratch Mac-N-Cheese

Hey Cooking Friends!

For all of you out there that are either cooking for one or two people, and absolutely hate trying to scale down this delicious recipe or that, I have a recipe for you. It is literally 4 ingredients, and takes about 10 minutes. I promise you’ll really enjoy this one! Especially if you like cheese!

Quick & Easy Scratch Mac-N-Cheese! Mmmm!

So I was really in the mood for macaroni and cheese the other night, but I didn’t want it out of a box, and I didn’t want to make a huge thing and bake it – as that takes awhile. So I decided to try my hand at a combo concept of those two styles.

First, I boiled about 1/2 cup of raw elbow macaroni in about 2.5 cups of water (with a dash of salt), on medium-high. I cooked these until right between al dente and mushy, which is how I like my mac-n-cheese. This took about 8 minutes or so, and my visual cue is always that the pasta starts to turn the water a little cloudy. Once it’s done to your liking, turn off the burner, drain the pasta, and return the pasta in the pot onto the still-hot burner.

Immediately add about 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. Stir a bit around to keep the sizzle down. Add about 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter and stir until that melts fully. Now for the cheese. You can use whatever you have on hand, however I used the finely-shredded 4-cheese blend and added about 1/3 of a cup into the pasta, stirring constantly until fully melted. Once that was done, I added just under 1/3 of a cup again, and stirred until it became a nicely cheesy mound of pasta. Yum.

Now pour the pasta into a serving dish, add a pinch of cheese as a garnish on top (not mixed in), and voilà! You have a quick and easy, and delicious, homemade macaroni and cheese dish! If you’re eating alone, this will be plenty. If you’re feeding more than that, just double, etc, accordingly.

If you need more than this to eat, you can take an unshucked ear of corn and microwave it for 4 minutes. Once done, peel the husk and strands off and enjoy that with your mac-n-cheese! I think next time, I’m going to make up a piece of bacon and add that to the mac-n-cheese, along with a dash or 2 of fresh ground pepper. Just to try some variety and add in some protein!

So that is it:

1/2 cup macaroni pasta, boiled to taste
2 tbspn heavy cream (can substitute milk, I just didn’t have any!)
1 tbspn unsalted butter
2/3 cup cheese of your choice, evenly divided (shredded does work best)
dash of fresh-ground pepper, if desired
1 slice of prepared bacon, if desired

1. Boil pasta to desired tenderness.
2. Add remaining ingredients, in order, and mix until well combined.
3. Serve and enjoy!

Servings, with quantities as listed above: 1

Let me know what you think of this quick and easy meal!

Craft You Later,
Beth

Baked Lamb à la Beth

Hello Cooking Friends,

I was in the mood for lamb the other night, and happened to have 4 lamb shoulder chops in my freezer. So I thawed them out, then went hunting some recipe ideas. I looked around for some inspiration of lamb chops, and really just decided to wing it… According to my brother, that turned out to be a good call. Whew and Yay!

Baked Lamb à la Beth!

First take your raw lamb (defrosted if had been frozen), and place in a pan to bake. I ended up using two 8×8 cake pans, because I was planning on doing nut and nut-free versions. Once the meat is in the pan, do the following for EACH lamb chop, in this order: pour about 1 tablespoon of Garlic Olive Oil, 1 tablespoon Rice Vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon Sundried Tomato, Parmesan & Garlic Olive Oil, 1/2 teaspoon Blood Orange Olive Oil, 1/2 teaspoon Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar, 3 shakes Dried Tomato & Garlic Pesto Mix, and 2 shakes Garden Veggie Dip Mix. I’m including the links for 2 reasons: a) you can go buy these exact items if you so chose, and b) so you know what they are & what’s in them so you can find an appropriate substitute! 

Back to cooking. Next, top your lamb-in-the-pan, evenly distributed across all chops, with 1/2 cup diced green pepper, 6 oz diced mushrooms, and 1/2 cup Walnut Chips (1 small package). If you’re only doing half of the lamb chops with nuts, like I did, then just use 1/4 cup Walnut Chips. 

Bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes, and this will get you a medium-well lamb chop dish. Now, before we go on I need to explain something. I do NOT eat any meat raw-in-any-part except sushi. I get my fish well-done, my poultry extra-well done, my lamb and other red meats well done, hamburgers well-done, and so on. I saw the outside of this lamb (granted partly concealed by so much yummy vinegar-oil-veggie goodness), after 30 minutes, and thought it was well done. I sliced into it and it was still a little pink, but I tried it on a whim. It was delicious. My brother likes his meats medium-rare, but he really liked the way it came out as well. So I figured I’d let you all know in case you are in the WELL family like me! 

We had the leftovers for lunch the next day, and microwaving it for 90 seconds made the meat into well done state (but not dried out), which was still just as delicious since the juices of the oils-and-vinegars were still surrounding the meat and veggies.

Lamb with mushrooms, green peppers, oils & vinegars, oh my!

So that is how I made my lamb chops, and they turned out really well, so I recommend you try something along these lines if you like lamb (or steak or whatever other red meat you so chose), particularly with the Dark Chocolate Balsamic added – that just made it, for me. Not too sweet, but not too chocolatey either. Mmmm. 🙂 Let me know what you think! 

Craft You Later,
Beth

Brunch Stuffed French Toast

Hiya Yummy-Brunch Fans,

I did a brunch with some friends awhile ago, and we all pitched in and brought something ‘to pass’. There were only 4 of us, so we kept it simple. Mimosas, Crab Quiche and Stuffed French Toast. I made Stuffed French Toast because it’s a go-to recipe I have used for years, and it is one of my favorite brunch items to make. It’s simple, delicious, and pretty cheap to make too. All three of these are great things in a recipe!

Cooking Light’s Stuffed French  Toast recipe is a stand-by staple that you can make without feeling all the guilt that usually comes (for me at least) along with making something so decadently delicious. I rarely alter this at all, though I do have a couple things I change, more for personal taste than anything, though!

Ingredients to Serve 8-16 people (depending on how hungry everyone is):
16 slices cinnamon-raisin bread (I use Pepperidge Farm)
Cooking spray
3 cups 1% low-fat milk
2 cups egg substitute, divided
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup sugar, divided
1 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
3 teaspoons fresh-ground cinnamon, divided
1/8 cup sugar
1 (8-ounce) block fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened

Directions:
1) In one 13×9 cake pan, or 2 8×8 cake pans, sprayed with cooking spray, arrange 8 pieces of cinnamon raisin bread evenly along the bottom of the pan(s).
2) Combine 3 cups milk, 1 1/2 cups egg substitute, 1 cup half-and-half, and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Pour half of milk mixture over bread in dish(es).
3) Combine 1/2 cup egg substitute, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla, 1 tspn nutmeg, 1/2 tspn allspice, 1 1/2 tspn cinnamon, and cream cheeses in a food processor or blender, or you can mix by hand if you want some good exercise; process or mix until smooth.
4) Pour cream cheese mixture over moist bread in dish(es). Top with remaining 8 pieces of cinnamon-raisin bread. Pour remaining milk mixture over bread, spreading evenly.
5) Cover and refrigerate 8 hours, or overnight.
6) Uncover, place in cold oven, set oven to 350°, and then set the oven timer (where it turns your oven off afterwards) for 55 minutes. Let bake completely, and let sit in cooling oven 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
7) Mix remaining 1/8 cup sugar with 1 1/2 tspn cinnamon until fully incorporated, then sprinkle evenly over tops of stuffed french toast. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving or covering.

Note: This works beautifully if you are wanting to take a dish to pass, because you can slice the bread and literally come out with stuffed french toast sandwiches to serve everyone easily! Whole or half sandwiches, they slice easy and serve very prettily!

Glaring Changes:
– I obviously add in the cinnamon and allspice, you don’t need to do that.
– I fully intend to make the next one with a reduced fat flavored cream cheese, in lieu of the 1/3-less fat cream cheese, to add some flavor. Then top with sliced flavor-of-choice fruit or veggies. We shall see how that turns out!
– I have before sprinkled the top instead of cinnamon-sugar, with powdered sugar, or a sugar-cocoa powder mix. Both are just as delicious.
– When layering my bread, I don’t stack it like in the CL picture, because I realized (finally) that laying them flat makes easy-to-cut sandwiches as a result! SO, you can layer it, but I recommend you use a loaf of 24 pieces of bread instead, and use 12 on top-and-bottom instead of the 8 I used! Just so you know!

Enjoy this wonderful and simple brunch with sides of fruit, tea, mimosas or bloody mary’s!

Craft You Later,
Beth

Quick Dinner Night: Easy BBQ Chicken and Rice

Hello Food Friends!

I was in the mood for a healthy, quick and easy dinner the other night, and had just purchased a BBQ sauce from a winery I stopped into – so I naturally decided I wanted to barbeque some chicken up. In the oven of course. I did say “quick”, and since the only grill I have is a charcoal grill, that would completely defeat the point of “quick”, now wouldn’t it? I thought so too. Thus I decided to make BBQ Chicken with Veggie Rice. Mmmmm.

Anyways, as I’m sure many of you reading my blog have learned, I typically add stuff to whatever I’m making even if it is using a prepared sauce of some kind. This sauce, however, I didn’t do anything except spray the pan with PAM before baking. I didn’t even add in water to the pan! I know, I know, contain your shock, it’s hot outside and I don’t want you to faint now…! tee hee hee.

So I used the Laurel Gray Crazy ‘Bout Butts BBQ Sauce, and doused the chicken (sliced thinly like chicken tenders) in it in a shallow 9×13 pan. I preheated the oven to 350, put the chicken in, and baked for 22 minutes. The chicken came out so tender that you could cut it with a fork, and it was incredibly yummy smelling.

BBQ Sauce!

For the rice dish to go with it, I bought 2 pouches of  Uncle Ben’s Original Ready Rice (the microwaveable kind), 15 oz can of Sweet Peas (drained), 11 oz can of Corn (drained), and a 15 oz can of Black Beans (rinsed & drained). I also had on-hand sampler bottles of Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Chipotle Extra Virgin Olive Oil from True Olive Connection, of which I used about 2 teaspoons each. You can substitute regular Extra Virgin Olive Oil for those quite easily.

Rice Ingredients!

To compile the rice dish, I put the 2 pouches of rice in the microwave for 1 minute 40 seconds, then dumped into a microwavable dish. I drizzled the 2 teaspoons of each olive oil onto the rice (don’t mix). Finally I put peas, corn and black beans on top – then mixed the heck out of it! Put it back in the microwave for about 3 minutes, and then mix some more. This should be hot, fully cooked and ready to serve!

Making the Rice.

Now plate the rice, then add the chicken (once fully cooked) on top, and voilà, you have a tasty and very pretty presentation that was super simple! I was able to get 6 servings out of this!

Simple, Quick BBQ Chicken & Rice

Let me know how you like this, and hope you enjoy! Until next time….

Craft You Later,
Beth

To Olive or to Vinegar…

Hey everyone!

I am taking a break from beer today to discuss a new cooking shop find, courtesy of my friend Mary. We went a long period of time without seeing each other so, as friends, decided to remedy that last night. We also decided to get productive for her pre-wedding craft preparations.

 

Please Note: Mary has 2 cats who are adorable but insane (as cats are prone to being). 😉 Love you Dom & Bob!!!! So she needed someone there who they are timid around so we could actually get the crafts done without them becoming cat toys!

So I agree to bring a bottle of wine and Mary says she’ll feed me for helping her out. Because I really need incentive to a) see my friend, or b) be crafty. Hah! Again, I say HA! 😉

So without spoiling the craft ideas that she came up with for her centerpieces, which we put together, let me just say that the stuff she found at Hobby Lobby is freaking perfect for her. They are doing a Rockabilly/Rocker style wedding, and not so surprisingly Hobby Lobby had a slew of great stuff for this color and pattern wise. So we had fun doing that. But no pictures or more details until later… 😛 Nice try, though friends.

No, this entry is about food. Yummy delicious food. And a new take-all-my-money-and-give-me-yummies website that I found. In her travels, Mary found this GREAT shop in Santa Cruz, California, called The True Olive Connection. I. Am. In. Love. And so is my tummy.

So Mary made a delicious chicken, melt-on-your-tongue delicious chicken. To accompany this chicken, she steamed cauliflower and topped it with a bit of Brummel & Brown’s Yogurt Spread. Delicious again.

Then she poured some Serrano Honey Vinegar into a saucepan and sautéed some spinach. This added a bit of a zing to the spinach that was tempered by the sweet. It wasn’t too sweet, and it wasn’t too spicy – it was a perfect subtle balance of flavor. And delicious again.

Then we had the toasted bread and dipping sauce. You’ve seen many Italian restaurants (large and small) doing this – you combine olive oil with spices and sometimes balsamic vinegar, swirl it all together, and voilà – a dipping sauce that is heart healthy. This is even better. This is a dipping sauce to write home about. Truly. I did, twice, today.

Combine the following in a dish that has a lip around the edge – or a bowl: a few spoon-fulls of Blood Orange Olive Oil and half that amount of Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar. Taste this and make sure you are sitting down. You will have a moment, I promise you. It’s like dessert but not. It’s bread with all the flavors of dessert and none of the calories of adding it in. It is heart healthy ambrosia. It is delicious. Oh, and I dipped my chicken in this wondrous concoction also – heaven! I love my dessert, but I didn’t need any after this. Just a nap. 🙂

To go with this awesomeness, I brought a 2009 3 Muses California Merlot (we had an accidental theme going here for Cali!), which was very yummy, slightly fruity with undertones of chocolate.

So yes this is Mary, not me, who is creating this wonderfulness, however we both love to cook. So when Mary saw my face, she had to show me the store name, and add in that they ship. So there goes part of a pay check, haha!

I am placing this order this week, and I plan to experiment weekly with these wonders – and have no fear, I will keep you in the loop on them! 😉
Medium Bottle Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar
Medium Bottle Blood Orange Olive Oil
Medium Bottle Serrano Honey Vinegar
Sample Bottle Cranberry Pear Balsamic Vinegar (1/6)
Sample Bottle Blackberry Ginger Balsamic Vinegar (2/6)
Sample Bottle Black Cherry Balsamic Vinegar (3/6)
Sample Bottle Chipotle Olive Oil (4/6)
Sample Bottle Cilantro & Roasted Onion Olive Oil (5/6)
Sample Bottle Wild Mushroom & Sage Olive Oil (6/6)

I am already imagining different pairings for chicken, pork, turkey and ham for these delicious options. So keep watching to see what I come up with. But in the meantime, check out this little shop in Santa Cruz and see what you can think of to try. Let me know if you come up with any good concoctions!

Craft you later,
Beth

Upcoming Parties

Hello Party Peoples,

Hope everyone enjoyed their weekends, and had a great time. I actually went to Raleigh and had my annual birthday hockey game with my dad – we saw the Carolina Hurricanes defeated in Overtime 4-3 by the Tampa Bay Lightning, on an arguably horrible call after an unarguably terrifying collision of Stahl-Garon. It was a really good game otherwise, though!

Then I went to the Southern Spring Show in Charlotte Sunday and got some really good ideas for upcoming projects. I was REALLY bad at the show, though, and in 45 minutes spent $186 in stuff, so I decided my hands were ‘full’ from then on, and I could only look, not touch! It went okay, surprisingly, but it was a challenge to resist all the wonderful stuff there!

So I have some parties with friends that I would really like to try out in the next few months. See what you think, and let me know your thoughts!

Wine Slushes!

1) Nectar of the Vine Slushie and Darby Creek Soup Tasting Party – There is a really good thing about having 35+ bottles of wine in your house: you can do wine tastings galore! And what goes better with cold wine slushies than nice hot soups?!?

Soup Samples!

2) Miche Bag Party– I am a very low-key, non-style-focused woman, and not afraid to admit it. But sometimes it’s nice to ‘play’ like all the other girls, and look like you have a care for fashion, right?!? That is where Miche is in my WOOHOO list of products to have. A purse that you change the outside to match your outfit or mood, instead of having to completely switch purses?!?! Yes please!!!

Miche Bags & Shells

3) Tastefully Simple Party– these products are SO delicious that I absolutely have to have a party for my friends to come try and buy with me! Beer bread, potato soup and chocolate pound cake are calling my name like it’s going out of style!

Tastefully Simple Beer Bread!

I picked up all of these things (except Tastefully Simple) at the Southern Spring Show, and since none of my friends that like that stuff could make it out to the show, I thought I could maybe bring it to them… well have them come to me where I will host it, but you know what I mean, right?!? 😉

So I am pretty excited but now I need to find a time to do all of these things, but I am pretty darned excited to be able to host everyone for this type of thing! Gotta love the planning and plotting of parties, right m’friends?!?

Craft You Later,
Beth

Easy Sunday Dinner – Fancy BBQ Chicken Plate

Everyone has had that night of the week that they just want to have a nice, relaxing, filling meal, but they don’t want to spend 3 hours fixing it. I had that on Sunday. My brother and his girlfriend were in the same mindset – “Nice dinner but quick, please!”

Now I don’t know about you all, but I always have a selection of canned and frozen vegetables on hand, as well as a good selection of frozen meats (chicken, fish, ground turkey are my staples). Plus don’t get me started on the spices and other staples in my kitchen at all times – I will get all giddy and start thinking about what I should have more of, which will mean my brother will try to talk me out of it. So safer for us all this way. 🙂

As a side note, I feel completely out of date. I just saw a real-not-just-on-TV George Forman Grill for the first ever at my friend’s on Saturday. Their son turned 2 and so they were grilling hot dogs on it. I was enthralled, to the amusement of my friends, and then totally shocked when they told me they had an extra and just gave it to me!

So yes, now you know where I’m going and why I inserted that side note. Not just a random ramble after all, muahahaha. Ahahaha. Yes, I became a George Forman Griller on Sunday. We voted on Chicken for dinner, and creamed corn for the vegetable. I was left to my own devices for what kind of chicken, and what other side item. Always dangerous. >>:-D

Alright, so I went through my kitchen & cupboards and found that I had some barbeque sauce making stuff, and some quinoa. Hmmm. I do like to experiment with foods on my brother. Quinoa sounds like a good way to do that. For anyone who is unfamiliar with this grainy crop, it is pronounced keen-wah, and more information can be found here!

I had bought mine in bulk from Earth Fare, one of my favorite stores ever, and ended up with just over a cup worth of raw black quinoa. At Earth Fare, they put on the bulk items how to prepare them, and this said to mix 1.5 parts water with 1 part quinoa, boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes. So I decided to kinda-sorta follow this. I put about 2 cups of water in a saucepan over medium heat, added a dash of salt, and let it boil. Then I added my quinoa in, and let that boil for about 6 minutes. While it was boiling, I added 1 tablespoon (ish) of olive oil and 1.5 teaspoons of chopped tarragon, to add a little flavor. I thought this up, not from a recipe I referenced so was unsure, but it smelled good (always my judger: olfaction) so I figured we’d go with it… 🙂 Once the quinoa was boiling for a few minutes, with me stirring on occasion, I set the heat on low, didn’t cover, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, +/- 2. 🙂 There, that is now done!

Creamed corn, I totally cheated and used the canned creamed corn by Green Giant (Green Giant!), just microwaving in the microwave for 2:30 minutes to heat them up. No frills, just creamed corn. 🙂

Then came the chicken. I did this in between the steps of the quinoa fixing, as a full disclosure… I preheated my George Forman grill for about 6 minutes, and while it was preheating (I sprayed it with Pam, of course!), I made up my sauce. Totally made this up from digging in my cupboards and fridge and going off of smell… I’m sure you’re shocked to hear this, but please contain yourselves, as hard as it may be… 😉

5 Ingredient BBQ Sauce!

In a small bowl, dump in 2 tablespoons Iron Works BBQ Seasoning, 2-3 tbspn ketchup, 1 tspn olive oil, 1 tspn worcestershire sauce, and 1 tspn apple cider vinegar.

Mixed BBQ Sauce!

Mix together well until not lumpy. Dip your chicken in the sauce until fully covered. **Note: I put a small spoonful of sauce on each dinner plate BEFORE basting the chicken so you avoid salmonella but get extra sauce!

GF Grilling BBQ Chicken!

Put your BBQ-basted chicken on your grill, close and cook for 9 minutes or so. Make sure it is fully cooked, also make sure (with the George Forman if you’re using) that the drip pan is completely up against the grill to catch the sauce. I actually took the drippings halfway through cooking the chicken, and rebasted the chicken with them – after I flipped the chicken on the grill, of course!

Grilled BBQ Chicken!

Once the chicken is done, plate it on the extra sauce, maybe flip it around in it to spread the bbq sauce love around, and then plate the rest of your food!

Voilà: Sunday Dinner!

And once you’ve plated the rest of the food, you have a simple, quick, pretty, yummy dinner! Note: the quinoa mixed in with a bit of the creamed corn is really yummy, too! 😉

Enjoy and let me know if you like this or not, love to hear feedback!

Craft You Later!
Beth

Baking Is Science For Hungry People: Mini Fruit Tartlets

Happy Friday! 🙂

I personally am very grateful that this work week is hours from being over. To celebrate this, I got baking last night! Okay fine, it was partly for stress relief as well, but I also wanted to celebrate TGIF, I swear! 🙂
I saw this wonderful recipe for French Tart Dough earlier this week. And I am not going to lie, the fact that the blogger, David Lebovitz, was learning this from a French cooking instructor, Paule Caillat, was a draw. But then she said as her instruction for adding X amount of flour “Oh…you know, enough to make it right” — and I was sold on this recipe. A cooking instructor who cooks like me without really measuring, but eyeballing and going off of looks, smell and experience?!?! Ding!Ding!Ding! We have a winner. And thus I decided I needed to make a tart, a French tart. But not be one, of course… 😉 Teeheehee, you know you laughed a little inside, so don’t even try to act like you didn’t.

So I was thinking about what kind of treat I wanted to make into a tart, but I was leaning heavily towards Kiwi-Strawberry-Banana incorporated somehow. And then I read a comment from David’s blog about using a pastry cream and fresh berries to top the tart. So I found a very awesome blog about “How to Make Pastry Cream”, which I’ve never done before, and decided that I would make Mini Fruit Tartlets! Woohoo!

Keep in mind, please, that I absolutely loved the dialogue from David’s blog in his learning from Paule, so I was definitely channeling that in my cooking of the French Tartlets!

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Browned Butter


First I preheated the oven to 410. Then I put 3/4 stick unsalted butter, 2 quick shakes of salt, 1.5 tbspn sugar, little under 1/8 cup water, and about 1 tbspn of canola oil into a glass baking dish. Put in the oven for 15 minutes (set your timer!), until the mix is melted and browning on the edges.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Cream & Sugar


While the butter browns, pour 2 cups/16 oz of heavy cream into a heavy saucepan on medium heat. Add rounded 1/2 cup sugar and 1 dash salt, whisking occasionally to help the sugar dissolve. Keep on heat until simmering.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Yolk For You


While the cream is heating, separate 5 eggs, reserving the whites for later, and whisk egg yolks with 1/8 cup sugar until the sugar dissolves, about 15-20 seconds. Then add in 1/8 cup flour (not cornstarch, yes I was out and decided to improvise, don’t be too shocked!) and whisk until fully incorporated. You should have a light yellow creamy mixture by now.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Frothed Milk


Once the cream has started to froth & boil, remove from heat (don’t turn off), stirring constantly for 1 minute, and then slowly pour into the egg mixture whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Milk & Eggs


Once the cream & eggs have been combined and whisked to creaminess, pour the mix back into the saucepan and set back on the heat. Whisk continuously until starts to bubble a bit, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat immediately.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Vanilla Butter


Once removed from heat, add a half stick butter (I broke mine in half, but 4 pieces would be quicker to melt) and 2 tspn vanilla extract. Okay, okay, I did more like 2.5, you caught me. 🙂 Stir this with a spatula occasionally to help this incorporate the butter and vanilla evenly.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Browned Butter + Flour


About this time, your butter should be fully melted in the oven and slightly browned. Remove ***will be hot and splatter a bit*** from oven (keep the oven on) and let cool on the side for 1 minute. Add in 1 1/2 cups of flour, or just a little under, and stir until pulls away from sides and is a buttery sticky ball. Let sit and cool. I learned the hard way – remove the ball from the bowl and let cool on a surface that wasn’t just in an oven. 🙂 I used the butter paper wrapper. 🙂

Mini Fruit Tartlets: That's A Wrap of Pastry Cream!


Once your butter and vanilla have been fully incorporated, and your mixture has cooled some, pour the pastry cream into your egg-mixing bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the cream, which will keep a skin from forming on the cream. Fridge this at least 2 hours, or overnight. I did overnight.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Cupcake Dough


Once your dough has cooled, pinch off pieces and drop into greased (Pam to the rescue!) cupcake foils and spread evenly along the bottom of the foil/paper cups.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Stick A Fork In It


Once the dough is evenly spread in the holders, poke a fork in the bottom of each so that it just is vented. Don’t make holes, just a slight, light poke with the fork in each cupcake. Bake (still at 410) for about 12 minutes, turn the oven off and let sit in the oven 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: A Loaf Of Leftover


I actually had enough dough leftover for a small loaf pan to have on the bottom as well. I poked the fork in the bottom of this dough as well, but didn’t go too overboard. Bake this same as the cupcakes. 🙂

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Baked Tartlets


Once baked, the tartlets will be slightly browned (like our butter earlier), and I will say – the foil cupcake wrappers browned way quicker then the silicone-and-paper-wrapper tartlets. Just so you know. Also, since I was going to assemble in the morning, I covered the tartlets with a towel (okay fine, I used my baking apron that I rarely actually wear, cuz it is longer than my dish towel) and let sit overnight.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Cream of the Tart


When you are ready to assemble, stir your pastry cream a few times, then drop dollops on top of the tartlets. Once they are all covered (and the excess on top of your loaf pan tart if you have that), let sit while you slice the fruit. I did a veritable rainbow of fruit…

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Green Fruit


I sliced 1 peeled kiwi into tiny pieces. Placed in a bowl.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Purple Fruit


Then I quartered about 1/2 quart of blackberries and added to the kiwi.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Red Fruit


Then I sliced up 1/2 a quart of topless strawberries and added those to the mix. Ooh la la.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Yellow Fruit


Finally I sliced a banana (halfways, then halfways again, then diced), and topped that on the fruit mix.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Sweeten the Deal


Finally, I added in 1/4 cup of brown sugar and mixed that evenly with the fruit, until well mixed but not abusing the fruit.

And last on the list – topping the tartlets with the fruit!

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Fruity Tart Loaf


Mini Fruit Tartlets: Side View of the Loaf


Mini Fruit Tartlets: Cupcake Tartlets, assembled!

Word of warning though – once you remove the paper holders from the silicone, I recommend you be careful because, as one victim — **ahem** coworker — found out, they are slippery like oysters if you’re not careful picking them up! 🙂

So that is my Mini Fruit Tartlets, and I must say, my coworkers really seemed to enjoy them. Even the ones who don’t like sweets, or didn’t like the idea of fruit on top of a custard-tart. And they made me, personally, a fantastic breakfast, too! 😉

So let me know if you like these if you try them out. Until then…

Craft You Later & TGIF!
Beth

Baking Is Science For Hungry People: Oatmeal Currant Cookies

Well hello again friends, nice to see you again. Twice in one week, I know, you are impressed that I am actually back in it again, aren’t you? 😉 Gotta love baking weeks. Well, okay, at least I love them. I chose some new victims — I mean taste testers — for this week. A friend’s family graciously volunteered. Okay, that may be over-stating it. A friend volunteered their family. There, that is more accurate. I would hate to mislead you, really. So I made the Banana-Ganache Cupcakes and was actually in the mood to bake more. So I thought “Hey, why not some cookies too!”, and was trying to decide what kind to make when I saw a red box in the corner of the kitchen. Perfect! California Raisin time – woohoo! So yes, we now have a decision: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, yay! 🙂

Now about this time, you are probably thinking “Oatmeal Raisin? You said ‘Oatmeal Currant, so what is  this crazy madness talk you are going on about?” Alright, I will enlighten you. Feel lucky. So I mention that red box that we all know and love for the California Raisins, right? Yeah, turns out when I actually grabbed the box out of its hiding spot, it was a box of Zante Currants. Same brand as the raisins, so I was fooled by packaging and branding. Darnit. But that is okay, I am nothing if not adaptable, right?!? Sure, we’ll go with that. Just nod and smile for me, that’s it, I promise I won’t be upset.

So now to make the Oatmeal Currant Cookies. Are you ready with me? Are you excited? I know I am. Join me in the fun, why don’t you?

First off, we need to make our base for cookies. Now one thing you need to know about my cookies is that I do not use eggs, and it is the one time I prefer margarine to butter in baking. And yes partly because of cost-effectiveness I won’t lie. Tubs of margarine seem so much cheaper and better deals when you’re using cups of the stuff at a time, don’t you agree?

Oatmeal Currant Cookies: A Cookie Base Beat

Take 1 cup of margarine and melt it in a microwaveable mixing bowl, usually about 45 seconds works for me. Once you have the margarine nice and melted, add in 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and half a 3-oz package of instant-sugar-free vanilla pudding mix. Mix well, and make sure it is not clumpy.

Oatmeal Currant Cookies: Brown Sugar, Sugar

Next add in 1/2 cup of brown sugar, again mixing well so there are no lumps.

Oatmeal Currant Cookies: Oats In The Mix

Next add in 1 cup of oatmeal and, you guessed it, make sure it isn’t lumpy. I am sure you are tired of hearing that, but I promise the cookies taste much better if they are evenly mixed. I wouldn’t lie to you about this, I promise. It is all about baking a great cookie, right? Go cookie team!

Oatmeal Currant Cookies: Flour Power!

Now we get to the binding of the cookie mixture. Add in around 2-3 cups of flour, make sure the dough is not sticky but not too dry either.
Like this:

Oatmeal Currant Cookies: Plump Your Currants

Once you add the flour, set the dough aside, and pour the currants (about 1 1/2 cups worth, or half a bag) into a small bowl half filled with water. Let soak for roughly 5 minutes until they start to get a little plump. You can also add in about 1/8 cup of sugar to sweeten them up a bit while they soak. Drain the water from the currants, now they are ready to make cookie-able!

Oatmeal Currant Cookies: Currant In The Cookie

Gradually add in the currants to the cookie dough, mixing until evenly distributed.

Oatmeal Currant Cookies: Scoop of Cookie

Now take small scoops or pinches of cookie dough like above and roll into balls to place on a greased cookie sheet. While doing this, preheat your oven to 375 F.

Oatmeal Currant Cookies: Cookie Sheets

I personally prefer baking my cookies on greased sheets of aluminum foil, as they seem to work better to get the cookies cleanly off in the morning. Now if you have air-bake cookie sheets this should be unnecessary. But just in case, you are forewarned.

Oatmeal Currant Cookies: Voilà Finished Cookies

Bake the cookies for 7 minutes 25 seconds (yes, I have it precisely down, have no fear, though cooking times may vary by oven about 15 seconds either side). I take them out of the oven and let them sit on the cookie tray for another 2 minutes, where they continue to bake. Then I remove to a cooling rack for the last few minutes of cooling. Now, all that is left is to enjoy!

Let me know how you like these, and until then…
Craft You Later,
Beth

%d bloggers like this: