Thursday, June 26, 2014

Strawberry Pie


Ingredients

1 Pie Crust
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 cup Corn Starch
1 package Strawberry Jello
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Strawberry Extract
1 1/2 cup Water
1 1/2 pound Fresh Strawberries (hulled and cut in half)

Directions

1. Pre-bake the pie crust according to the package instructions.
2. While the pie crust is cooling, prepare the strawberry filling. Combine the sugar, corn starch, jello package, lemon juice, strawberry extract, and water.
3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook until the mixture thickens, whisking often. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
4. Once the mixture has cooled, combine the strawberries and pour into the pie dish.
5. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

Healthier Version

I'm trying to eat healthier this summer, so I made a healthier version of the pie as well. I replaced the sugar with a sugar substitute. As you can see from the picture below this pie turned out a little thicker, but it was still really good!!  

FYI: If you're on weightwatchers it's only 3 points for a slice!!

I got this recipe from:
http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/desserts/summertime-strawberry-pie/

Monday, June 23, 2014

Blue Hole

My friend and I went on another wonderful adventure today. We visited the Blue Hole located in Wimberley, Texas. It costs $9 per adult to enter the park, but it's money well spent. The water comes from a spring, so it's clean and cool!! Perfect for a hot summer day!! 


The creek has shallow areas, perfect for little kids, but it also has deep sections. And when I say deep I mean I jumped in and I was no where near touching!! The deep water allows for some awesome tree swings!! Here's a picture of one of the swings!!


 There's also a nice little park area with grass and picnic tables. While we were there, we ate a nice picnic on the grass and watched some young boys playing frisbee. Such a nice atmosphere!! 



If you're going to visit Blue Hole I suggest arriving early to get a good spot, going on a hot summer day, and packing a cooler. For more information visit their website: http://www.friendsofbluehole.org/


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Jacob's Well

My friend and I decided to check out Jacob's Well today. We had a lot of fun!! We stuck our feet in the FREEZING cold water, and then we did some cliff jumping!! Afterwards we had a little picnic while we watched others jump off of the cliff. We both said it was a fun experience, but it's not something we feel we have to do again. But it is FREE, so why not check it out?!?! 

If you visit Jacob's Well, I have a few suggestions. 
1) Don't plan to spend the whole day there. It's fun, but it's not an all day event.
2) The rocks are kind of slippery, so it might be a good idea to bring some water shoes. 
3) The walk from the parking lot to Jacob's Well is not very far. I suggest packing a small cooler, and maybe even bringing a tube or a chair with you. 
4) The water is very cold, so go on a hot sunny day!! 
5) If you decide to brave the cliff and dive in, don't think about it...just go!! Remember all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage for something great to happen to you!! 






Monday, June 9, 2014

Strawberry Jam

I made some yummy Strawberry Jam today!! A few summers ago a nice lady from my church taught me how to make jam, so I decided today would be the perfect day to try it on my own!! I don't have all of the necessary canning equipment, but it worked wonderfully!! Here are some tips and pictures, but the most important tip is to READ THE DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY!! 

This is the package I bought. You can find fruit pectin either in the canning section or the section next to the Jello/Pudding. Remember READ THE DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY!! 

 I placed my mason jars in a pot with room temperature water. I poured water inside the jars as well. I then turned on the stove to heat the mason jars. Remember you have to heat glass slowly or it will crack. If you don't heat your jars slowly beforehand, they will crack when you pour in the boiling jam. 

 Follow the directions on the package. My directions told me I needed 6 cups of mashed strawberries. I suggest using a potato masher. Do NOT use a blender or food processor. I know a potato masher sounds "old school" but it's the best method. I then mixed the strawberries with 1/4 cup sugar and the pectin package (your directions may be different). My directions then told me to bring the strawberries to a rolling boil. While I was waiting for the strawberries to boil I removed any foam (see picture above). Another way to reduce the amount of foam is to add a teaspoon butter to the strawberries. Once the strawberries were boiling I added the sugar (3 3/4 cups). Stir constantly!! Bring the jam back to a rolling boil, and boil for 1 minute (again following my directions). Remove the jam from the heat and you are ready to pour.

   Remove your mason jars from the hot water, where you were heating them. I used tongs to remove the jars, but they do sell Jar Lifters for $4 at Walmart. Once the jars are dry, use a funnel and ladle to pour the jam into the jar. I bought this canning funnel at Walmart for $1, definitely worth the investment.

Pour until you are between 1/2 and 1/4 inch from the top of the jar. I then wiped the top of the jar with a wet cloth. You need a clean top so the lid will seal properly.

Again I don't have the "proper" canning equipment, but I made do with what I had. Immediately after the jars have been sealed I placed them in my kitchen sink. I then poured really hot water in the sink. My directions told me to leave the jars in the water for 10 minutes. Afterwards, I placed the jars on the counter to cool for 24 hours. If the lids push down without popping back up, they are properly sealed!! YAY!! If they pop back up, you need to refrigerate the jam immediately. 

Colorado River Winery



My coworker and I decided to visit the Colorado River Winery, located in downtown Bastrop. It has a very nice relaxing atmosphere, and the owner is super friendly. I highly recommend stopping in to sample some of their wines if you live in town or just passing through. I absolutely loved the River Bank Sweet Blush!! AMAZING!! This might just be my new favorite wine!! 

For more information visit their website: http://www.coloradoriverwinery.com/

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Strawberry Cream Cheese Bread


We're having a brunch tomorrow at work to start the summer off so I tried a new recipe. I tasted a little sample and it was yummy!!

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cup strawberries (rinsed, dried, and chopped)

Steps:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Grease a 9 x 5 inch glass dish. 
  • Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and cream cheese until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla extract and set aside. 
  • In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt. 
  • Blend flour mixture with butter mixture. 
  • Add buttermilk and stir, but do not over mix. 
  • Carefully fold in the strawberries. Note: the dough should be very thick. 
  • Bake for about an hour. Note: after 30 minutes I had to put foil on top so the top wouldn't burn. 


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Pesto Chicken Packets


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 plum tomatoes, sliced 1/2" thick
2 cups asparagus
1/2 cup basil pesto
1/4 cup mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place chicken breast on heavy duty foil in a glass dish. Divide tomatoes and asparagus over chicken. In a small bowl, combine pesto with mayonnaise. Divide this mixture over food. Fold foil over chicken and seal edges. Bake for about 20-40 minutes, until chicken is cooked. 

I love to eat this with couscous!! SUPER YUMMY!! FYI...this is one of my easiest and favorite recipes!!