Homemade Cream Puffs with Farm Fresh Strawberries

I love every bite of bliss that grows on the farm, and I get so excited for many different reasons and seasons!  When I have the first taste of a fresh strawberry, it takes me back to when I was a little girl in my moms garden.  I’m sure I consumed more berries than picked, but helping in the garden is a fond memory while growing up.  This year was no different.  My first pick of the season I had my mom join me, and we may have tasted a few before we made it out of the field.

I wanted to pair my first strawberry harvest with cream puffs.  The idea of a Pâte à Choux pastry seemed exciting and challenging.  A choux pastry is a light dough with simplistic ingredients, but no raising agent.  It uses high moisture and steam while baking to puff the pastry.  I used a tried and true recipe from my Grandma Howie’s kitchen and I’m happy to share it with you now.

Cream Puffs

  • 1 Cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Cup boiling water
  • 1/2 Cup butter
  • 4 eggs

Cream Filling

  • 2 Cups milk
  • 2/3 Cup sugar
  • 3-4 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp vanilla

*add fresh seasonal berries

Bring water to a boil, then add butter and salt.  Stir in flour consistently until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan.  Remove from the stove and let cool for just a bit.  Slowly add one egg at a time, stirring each one until fully incorporated then adding the next.  Spoon onto a greased or non-stick cookie sheet two inches apart.  You can also put the batter into a bag and pipe onto the cookie sheet, but I was making my grandmas recipe and I can’t imagine she had time to pipe anything with nine children and a household to take care of.

Bake at 425° for 10 minutes, or until the peaks are lightly brown and the pastries have puffed up.  Then turn the temperature to 375° and continue to cook for 10 – 15 minutes, depending on your oven.

While in the oven, bring the milk, sugar, eggs, and corn starch to a boil.  Constantly stir with a whisk to alleviate clumps.  Continue to stir until filling thickens.  Add your vanilla right before removing from the stove top.

Helpful Kitchen Tip:  If you don’t have time to make the homemade filling, you can substitute with instant pudding or homemade whipped cream.

Once the cream puffs have cooled, cut in half.  Place filling inside and add fresh-cut strawberries.  Place the top back on, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and enjoy grandmas recipe!

It’s the little moments that sometimes make the biggest impact and the fondest memories.  Those are the things that really count.  “Take the time to smell the roses”, or in this case, “pick the strawberries”.    My grandma made one of the most amazing people in the world, and I am lucky enough to call her my mom.  To my grandma up in heaven and my mom by my side, THANK YOU for the little moments, because they have made all of the difference.  Love you to the moon and back.  Happy Mothers Day!


Mom’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe



As we gather around the table, grateful with blessings and loved ones, traditions are present throughout our meal and holiday.  Pumpkin pie is a standard to follow any Thanksgiving feast, but there are many variations on this classic recipe.  I asked my hubby which recipe he’d like me to make this year and he requested my mom’s pumpkin pie recipe.  I have tried other more complex recipes and he claims it just doesn’t taste as good; not enough pumpkin flavor, over spiced, not sweet.  Mom’s recipe is the best!

I like to utilize our farm produce or source local supplies when cooking, but sometimes a girl has got to use canned pumpkin. Never fear, Libby‘s 100% pure pumpkin is here; literally.  Illinois grows more ornamental and canning type pumpkins than any other state.  Chances are, the very pumpkin puree I’m using is not only produced in my state, but the pumpkins were probably grown here too!  So, even though I am using canned pumpkin, it is local and the best product out there on the market.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

  • ½ Cup sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 ½ Cups pumpkin puree (1 small can of Libby’s)
  • 1 Cup milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg

*1 pre-made pie crust or your favorite recipe
*whipped cream to top

Simple Homemade Whipped Cream Topping

  • 1 Cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla


Lay your pie crust out into a 9” pie plate. In a mixing bowl add dry ingredients.  Add pumpkin puree, milk, and eggs.  Mix until combined, then pour filling into your pie crust.  Bake @ 375° for 40-50 minutes.

Helpful Kitchen Tip: I use a pie crust protector while my pie is baking.  This prevents the crust from over browning. I remove it when I have about 5 minutes left to give it the perfect hue of freshly baked. I also cover my pie half way through with foil so the pie doesn’t brown on top.

For the whipped topping, simply beat heavy whipping cream on high until it becomes thick (about 2 minutes on speed six for Kitchenaid mixer).  Add sugar and vanilla until thoroughly combined.

If you’d like more pumpkiny goodness ideas and inspirations, check out my Purely Pumpkin board and follow Drake Farm on Pinterest.

Blessings and love to you and your family this holiday season!

Homemade Apple Cider

Apple cider warms the soul on a crisp fall morning.  Aromas in my kitchen are an elegant dance of fresh apple and cinnamon spice.  The rust colored skyline meets with the golden harvest of the season as fall appears.

With a bushel of Jonathan apples, from our oldest fruit tree on the farm, I wanted to make a batch of cider to preserve their flavor and welcome autumn.  They are my husband’s favorite.  This apple is a classic American Heirloom variety that has sweetness with a touch of tart.  It balances the flavor and makes them a perfectly delicious apple.

I made two batches, with different ingredients, to see which recipe we liked best.  What I came up with were equally amazing.  The one batch resembles a wassail and the other leans towards a more traditional cider.  You can make both recipes and decide for yourself!  Enjoy!


Jonathan Apple Wassail

  • 10-12 apples, quartered
  • ½ an orange, quartered
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ Cup brown sugar
  • 1 T ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 8-10 Cups of water


Jonathan Apple Cider

  • 10-12 apples, quartered
  • ¾ Cup sugar
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 1 T ground allspice
  • 8 Cups water

Cut your choice of apples into quarters.  Don’t worry about peeling or seeding at this point. Everything will cook down and you will remove when you strain them.  Place apples, sugar, spices, and water into a slow cooker.  The aroma throughout the day is amazing, but you can also cook either recipe over the stove for a quicker batch.

Cook on medium to high for 4 hours.  At this time remove the apples and mash.  You can use a potato masher or immersion blender; either will do the trick.  Don’t worry about straining just yet.  Put your apple mash back into the crock pot and cook down for 2-4 more hours.  The longer you wait, the more intense the apple flavor, and delicious in my opinion.

After cooking, strain the liquid and remove all stems, seeds, and debris.  You can enjoy either recipe hot or chill in the refrigerator.


A Taste of Summer Throughout the Winter: Canning Salsa with Recipe

salsa finished

Of Course I Can, and you can too! This is only my second summer of canning and with each recipe I learn how to be more efficient and comfortable with preserving our farm bounty. There are many helpful tutorials online and I use the Ball Blue Book – Guide to Preserving as my go-to kitchen reference for all things canning. The most important step to remember is following the sanitary and processing guidelines. Safety first!

It has been a busy summer and I have learned so much from my apprenticeship at Riverbend Roots Farm. The team I work with are more like family then coworkers and I hate the idea of leaving them.  My bosses Kris and Stacy are amazing farmers who share a passion for bringing naturally grown farm fresh produce to customers, as well as, sharing their knowledge with aspiring farmers-in-training. I am so lucky I have had this opportunity to learn from the best.

I’ve been applying what I learn to our farm and have had a successful harvest this season. I’m eager to move forward on a larger scale next year as I follow my farmDREAM. I love the fresh goodies provided during the farm season, but what about when the weather turns cold? Well, canning and preserving will give me a taste of summer harvest throughout the winter.

This year I decided it was long overdue to can salsa. This recipe is my first attempt and I’ve been receiving positive feedback thus far. I use what’s available at the farm and have noted the measurements that appeal to us, but if you prefer more or less of something make the adjustments and you will have great salsa every time! The best thing about any recipe is that you can make it your own.

Homemade Salsa Recipe

  • 10 Cups tomatoes; peeled, cored, chopped, which takes about 8 lbs of fresh tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1/3 Cup seeded, chopped jalapeno peppers (about 5 small jalapenos)
  • 5 Cups chopped onions (1 large red and 4 small yellow)
  • 4 cloves garlic or 2 tsp minced garlic*
  • 1 Cup lime juice*
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro (about 1-2 Cups)*
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

*½ tsp minced garlic = 1 clove of fresh garlic

*Acidity is needed for canning. You can also use lemon juice or cider vinegar but I find lime juice has the best taste for salsa.

*based on your taste you can add 1-2 Cups of fresh cilantro. I use 2 cups when cooking my recipe because we love cilantro! In addition I chop ½ cup fresh cilantro and mix into salsa before serving.

tomato bath

1.  Place whole tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds and then immediately remove and place them into an ice water bath. Remove from the water and easily peel skins.

2.  Dice tomatoes and remove seeds.  After measuring 10 Cups of tomatoes I pour into a strainer to remove excess water.

3.  Remove seeds and veins from jalapeno peppers. If you like your salsa hot you can leave some of the seeds and veins intact. Chop peppers, onions, garlic and cilantro.

4.  Add all ingredients into a large stock pot. Add seasoning; lime juice, ground cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Bring all ingredients to a simmer and allow to cook for 18 minutes.
cooking salsa in stockpotSanitize glass jars, rims, and lids in hot water bath for use. Once your salsa has been cooked pour the hot batch into sanitized jars and twist lids tightly.

Process jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes. Once jars have cooled check center of lid and make sure the safety seal does not pop. If there are any jars that did not properly seal you can place in the fridge and use right away. You can also freeze the salsa.

I use what’s available at the farm and have noted the measurements that appeal to us, but if you prefer more or less of something make the adjustments and you will have great salsa every time!