Mini Tarts that Pop

I was totally in a rut this morning, I couldn’t decide on what to bake for the day and was starting to get stressed out by it.  Finally, I decided on mini-poptarts.  Who doesn’t love a poptart?

I was all excited to use my food processor to cut the butter into the flour mix, but since the dry mix was close to 4cups, my processor wanted nothing to do with it.  So, I emptied it all into a big bowl and got to use my pastry knife for the first time 🙂  I set that the dough in the fridge and got to work on the fillings.

I decided to do a variety and settled on blueberry, strawberry, brown sugar – cinnamon and chocolate marshmallow.  I processed the fruit in with some cornstarch and a tinsy bit of water and then set them to boil on the stove for a few minutes.  The fruit was already so ripe and sweet that it didn’t need any additional sugar.  I also set up a double boiler [for the first time!] for the chocolate marshmallow spread.  I added a bit of condensed milk to it for added sweetness and texture.  To ensure the cinnamon brown-sugar mix wasn’t overly sweet, I mixed some flour in with it to tone it down.  I enjoy a rich sweet as much as the next, but it just tastes bad for you and takes away from my enjoyment.

Once I finished up with those, I removed half the dough and rolled it out.  It was fairly easy to work with, but would stick and tear easily if not floured enough.  I cut them into 3x4in rectangles to begin with but by the end I did 2 1/2 x 3.  I actually prefer the smaller ones, easier to package and grab on the go.

I did about five or six per filling and set the trays in the fridge until I was all ready to bake them.  The super-mini’s were ready after 15min, where as the larger ones took 20min.  They turned out super well, although the brown-sugar cinnamon could have used more filling.

Strawberry Cupcakes

I’d had a hankerin’ for a strawberry oat cupcake the past week.  But when it came down to baking time, I couldn’t find the recipe.  Worked out since I was really craving something more moist and fluffy.  So, I went with a typical strawberry cupcake.  I used fresh strawberries and ended up having to use substitutes for the cake flour and the buttermilk since I don’t keep stock in either.  Honestly, I think I’ll stick with using the substitutes since the cupcakes turned out wonderful.  Don’t fix it if it’s not broken, right?

I only had one or two muffin papers so I skipped those and cut out some parchment squares.  I did a dozen using those – it worked super well, but the bottoms of them were all triangular and odd shaped, so they can’t sit up once taken out of the tin.  Bad planning on my part but they do look cute regardless.

I did the last six without the papers and just sprayed the pan [it’s non-stick, but I like to take precautions…].  I had just about enough batter left for one more and instead of using a half-dozen pan for one cupcake, I pulled out a small heart-shaped shallow tin and filled that and baked up a super adorable heart shaped strawberry cupcake cake.  Definitely would be cute gifts to my girls for Valentines Day if I remember by then…

I tried setting little heart shaped strawberries on top [like I saw in one recipe] – when the batter rose and baked, they shifted and some parts got covered, etc.  So if I try that again I wont’ set the strawberry on top til maybe half-way through?

These have also made me want to try the actual strawberry oat cupcake that I originally was going to do.  Plus a strawberry jam filled cupcake.  And a lemon or vanilla flavored cupcake with a strawberry center.  And a strawberry chocolate cupcake.  Although I worry about the chocolate overpowering the strawberry flavors.  So maybe if I dusted the strawberries in cocoa instead of using chocolate chips?  Or got mini-chips and used just a handful or two.  …hmm.

Jerky

I love jerky, I love it so much I’d marry it if I could.  It’s such a lightweight easy, totally nom-able snack.

Now, since my Mother and I are both also totally into dried fruit.. we purchased a dehydrator.  And gee golly, you obviously can do jerky on it too.  Or in the oven… but hey, if you have it you might as well use it.

I buy a big London Broil and set it in the freezer for about three hours, til it’s hard but not frozen all the way through.  It makes it much easier to handle and slice up.  Then using this lovely new knife I bought, I cut it into strips.  I try to make them as thin as I can but, well, I’m not a butcher.  After, I typically divide the meat between two marinades.  I do a spicy teriyaki and just a spice blend for the other.  Let them sit in the fridge soaking for a few more hours before I lay them out on the trays.  After about half a day or sometimes more [depends on the thickness] – it’s all ready to bag up and eat.  It sure doesn’t last long in this house though, it’s typically all gone after three or four days.  Fortunately, it’s easy enough to make over & over again.

I Got A Pickle, Hey Hey Hey…

I love The Little Rascals, I used to watch it all the time with my MaMaLo.

Not like that has much to do with this.  I went to the grocer earlier for five items.  I needed meat for jerky, coffee creamer, two different marinades and strawberries.  But of course I also picked up cucumbers, dill seads, dill leaves, a big bag of sugar, eggs, butter.. so on and so forth.

After seeing numerous posts within the past week over home-made pickles, I figure I’d give them a go.  I didn’t use an exact recipe, just read a couple and noted the main ingredients and ratios.  Like that it’s 3parts water to 1 part vinegar.  Which is exactly what I did.  For ‘seasoning’ I added dill seeds & leaves, whole peppercorns & chopped fresh garlic.  I really wanted to throw in some more spice, but figured I should take it easy and figure out a ‘basic’ recipe first.

So I boiled it, cut up my cucumbers and finally made use of some old mason jars I’d been collecting.  The brine smelt like a pickle and tasted like a pickle, so hopefully it’ll do the same to the cucumbers.  And hopefully I’ll be able to wait a few days before I bite into them.  And SUPER hopefully it doesn’t take more then a few days or I may have to send the jars off to my parents house to resist the temptation

Almond cookies

So I love almonds, so an almond cookie sounded pretty darn good to me.  They were even shaped as cute little crescents and seemed beyond easy to make.  I even got to use my food processor again to chop up the almonds, total win.  Sadly, as adorable as these little bite-sized cookies looked, they were a bit too dry for my taste.  Not sure if next time I should add more butter or a splash more oil or milk, or a little less of the dry ingredients.  Their cute shape almost totally makes up for the dryness though.  Easy to just pop ’em in your mouth and go on your way.

Banana Bread

Second go at it, and just like the first time I only had two bananas left instead of the three the recipe calls for.  They were so ridiculously black and over-ripe and perfectly yumm.  Mixed in some walnuts and raisins for a bit of flare and crunch.  Made the condo smell all sorts of delicious.  I have some banana chips I thought of incorporating but I wasn’t quite sure how that’d go over.  I think they’d be a little too crunchy and hard compared to the rest.  But maybe a few chopped and sprinkled on top…?  Hmm.  Third time is a charm, especially if I remember to save the third banana.

While FBing and browsing kitchen gadgets earlier, I was asked about running an actual industrial kitchen at a place I frequent.  His suggestion, not mine & I’d still need to speak to the actual owner.  Given that I’ve had a load of people telling me I should go into business, it was almost ironic that there just so happens to be a kitchen sitting pretty and unused.  Not sure what type of food I’d even be doing if this was to happen, or what would be optimal to serve there given the clientele, assuming it ever actually happens.  Could definitely be a fun adventure though and make use of all the equipment and space so it’s not just collecting dust.  I was already thinking of asking if during the “holidays” [not to be confused with actual holidays] I could use it to make all the employees a big family style dinner.  So this is just a step or ten above that… oy.

Lemony Custard-Cakes

As always – a lot of my baking is adapted off recipes or ideas I see on various food blogs online.  I saw a recipe for these little lemon cake / custards in tart tins that looked so beyond delish that day.  Since I had entirely too many lemons for one fridge, it definitely seemed like a great idea.  The closest I own to tart tins are these little mini heart shaped cake pans, which didn’t seem like the best option.  Instead, I decided to use my muffin tins.  I cut back on the baking time by around ten minutes to ensure they didn’t burn.  They were quite yummy, but since the base is similar to a custard – it was a tinsy bit difficult to eat out of a paper muffin wrap.  I plan on skipping the water bath next time and thereby doing away with the custard part and making it more of a cupcake.  With lemon cream cheese frosting, nom.