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!

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Mom’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe

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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

pumpkin-pie-batter-on-mixer

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!

Concord Grape Juice Recipe – Grandma’s Way

 

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As I walk past the vines, the sweet smell of Concord grapes alert me that it is time to harvest.  When I bring my bounty home and get ready to prepare some grapey goodness, I ask my hubby which recipe he prefers; jelly, jam, puree for pie, juice… “Grape juice, grandma’s way”, he replies.

It is important for me to not only preserve our harvest, but preserve those memories he has of the farm.  My husband is fond of anything done the way they did it on the farm.  So, without delay and without an actual recipe from grandma, I begin.

Now, mind you, my husband does not cook or follow recipes.  I’m going off of stories he recollects from childhood, and for a man who doesn’t cook he does remember the steps pretty good.  The process is very simple and I’m going to experiment with the amounts of sugar, because I don’t have the actual recipe from Grandma Bossler.  I made some of the jars with ½ Cup sugar and others with 1/3 Cup sugar.  I will label them and we shall see at the time of the taste test.

concord grapes - stemmed concord grapes

Concord Grape Juice Recipe                    

  • 1 Cup Concord Grapes (heaping)
  • 1/3 – ½ Cup sugar
  • Boiling water to fill to the rim of each jar

Soak and rinse concord grapes in cool water, then drain.  I like to add some vinegar to the water and let them soak for at least 3 minutes before rinsing and draining.  While they are soaking you can set up your canning assembly line and wash canning jars.  After washing the jars in soap and water, I place them in the dishwasher on the sanitize cycle to sterilize.

Remove stems from each individual grape and place into a container for later… depending on how many grapes you have this could be a while.  Fill each sterilized jar with 1 Cup of Concord grapes.  Add sugar to each jar then fill to the rim with boiling water.

Remove lids and rings from hot water bath and place on jars for canning.  Process jars for 15 minutes in a hot water bath.  Because I didn’t have a recipe I used the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving for a reference on how long to process my jars.  This is a great resource and canning companion!

Once the jars are processed and cooled, make sure they have sealed properly. Label and set aside for at least 4-6 weeks while the magic happens.  When you’re ready to have your Concord Grape juice – Grandma’s Way, strain juice and enjoy the grapey goodness!

closeup of concrod grapes in jarsgrapes after canning

Summer Cherry Crisp Recipe

fresh cherries

cherry crisp with ice cream top view

A crisp or crumble recipe is a beautifully simplistic way to enjoy seasonal fruit. This recipe can be pared with your favorite fruits all summer long, whether it’s cherries, blackberries, peaches, or apples to pick.

The first crisp of the season at our house is always sour cherry.  We have many fruit trees on the farm, but my husbands favorite is THE sour cherry tree.  Although we have planted other trees, he says the one his Great Uncle Glenn planted is the best. This cherry trees fruit has the perfect amount of tart with just a hint of sweetness, and I think that’s what makes it perfect for this recipe.

Filling

  • 5-6 Cups sour cherries, stemmed and pitted
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 2 T corn starch

Topping

  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 Cup flour
  • 1/2 Cup oats
  • 1/2 Cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Pour sour cherries into a 2 ½ quart baking dish and lightly toss with sugar and corn starch to coat.  In a stand mixer, cream butter and brown sugar.  Add flour, cinnamon, oats, and chopped pecans.  Beat on a low speed until mixture is combined and slightly crumbly.  If mixture is still sticky, you can add more flour.  Top sour cherries with crisp and bake in an oven @ 350° for 20-30 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown on top.  After your crisp has cooled from the oven, serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

IMG_6291 IMG_6292 IMG_6295completed cherry crisp from oven

“A Pinch of That, Sprinkle of This, Measure to Taste” Cream of Asparagus Soup

Cream of Asparagus soup picture

I’m always so excited to see the first signs of asparagus peeking through the soil announcing spring. The alarm for fresh produce has rung, and I look forward to the season of delicious farm fresh food!

“A pinch of that, sprinkle of this, measure to taste”, is the characteristic of a great chef and a great recipe.  As you learn to cook and experience flavors, you don’t always have to follow a recipe to a T, but merely a list of ingredients to guide the way.

I enjoy trying new recipes as I learn to cook with my produce on the farm.  I had some cream of asparagus soup at a Grange membership dinner and asked the cook for the recipe.  Of course, like many family recipes, the ingredients were not measured and the directions were not written down.  She sent me her list and my recipe was adapted from that.

In our house, we like soup to be full or heavy.  I opted to partially blend half of this recipe, leaving behind delicious bits of asparagus and potato.  I also added cream instead of milk and chicken broth for some extra flavor.  But, as I encourage everyone to make a recipe your own, feel free to add a pinch of that, sprinkle of this, and measure to taste!

Cream of Asparagus Soup Recipe

  • 1½ – 2 lbs asparagus
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 large potato, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste (I used 3/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper)
  • 4 Cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 Cup heavy cream
  • *1/4 Cup Asiago/Parmesan/Romano cheese blend to sprinkle on top of soup

Wash asparagus and break the end pieces off of the spears.  The asparagus will naturally break at the tender area leaving the woody ends to discard.  Chop spears into 1 inch pieces, along with chopping the potato, onion, and garlic.

Saute garlic, onion, potato and asparagus in butter for about 5-7 minutes, or until potatoes and onions are lightly browned.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Stir in broth and heavy cream, then bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes until the asparagus pieces are tender.

Helpful kitchen tip:  Tasting is an important part of cooking.  At this point, taste your broth and see if you’d like to adjust your seasoning.  You can add more salt, pepper, or thyme would be a complimentary ingredient.  If the soup is overpowered by any one ingredient, you can always add more chicken broth to lessen the intensity if you over seasoned.

Using an immersion blender, partially blend half of the soup.  If you prefer a creamy soup with no vegetable pieces, blend the entire pot of soup.  Top with a sprinkle of cheese before serving and enjoy!