Strawberry Shortcakes

Monday, May 19, 2008

As a family we seem to go through these dessert phases… Smore’s, homemade ice cream, funnel cakes (yes, this is as pathetic as it sounds)! We just all seem to crave the same thing at once and we get hooked on it for months. Lately it’s been Strawberry Shortcakes; notice not “shortcake” but “shortcakes”. It’s a short stake of blueberry pancakes layered with strawberry compote and topped with creamy whipped topping.

Pancakes (we prefer Blueberry)
Strawberries (the sliced strawberries with sugar found in the freezer section)
Whipped Topping

There’s nothing to it! Cook the pancakes according to the directions on the package. Layer each of the pancakes with strawberries and top with the whipped cream!

Although strawberry shortcake -- the quintessential version of this sweet dish-- is an American classic, the origins of the treat date back to 16th century England. Traditional shortcake is, in fact, not really cake at all but is actually a sweet biscuit with a fruit filling and topping. It is believed that early Americans preferred their shortcake with blueberries, but today it is served with a variety of fruit fillings. It was not until the 1850s that strawberry shortcake became particularly popular in the United States and evolved into a cookbook staple shortly thereafter.

Chicken PotStickers

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

There’s a TGIF right by my school so I go there sometimes with friends and teachers. I am obsessed with TGIF’s Zen Chicken Potstickers! They are just delicious and go perfect with a mudslide, yum! Anyways… since there isn’t a TGIF by home Justin and the boys haven’t ever had an opportunity to try the Potstickers so I decided to give them a try at home and was pleasantly surprised! They were really very good!

1 pound ground chicken
1-2 green onions (I used both the green and white part)
1 can chicken broth (I only used about ½ of mine)
1 package of wonton wrappers
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ tablespoon rice vinegar
½ tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
(the garlic, ginger, and spicy chili garlic sauce were just added to suit our taste)

Dipping Sauce
6 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon sugar

In a food processor I mixed the green onions, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame seed oil (really I was just trying to mince the onions as fine as I could get them because my boys won’t eat onions). Once the onions were small enough I added the ground chicken and seasoned it with out usual Chinese seasonings… garlic, ginger, and chili garlic sauce. I pulsed it in the food processor for a good minute until it looked well mixed.

I then made all the dumplings. I would just hold the wonton wrapper in my hand, put a gumball sized dollop of the meat mixture in the middle, dipped my finger in water, wet the edges of the wonton wrapper then folded it in half and sealed. Towards the end I got better at forming the potstickers and squishing the meat around to fill the edges of the wonton wrapper but they tasted no better than any of the others.

I heated my skillet to medium-high on the stove and drizzled a little of the sesame seed oil in the bottom (just so they didn’t stick too much). I laid the potstickers in the pan and let them cook for around 3 minutes. When the bottoms were a nice bubbly brown color I flipped them all over and drizzled in the chicken broth. Just a couple tablespoons until it evaporated away and then added a couple more tablespoons. This steamed the potstickers and kept them moist. I let the other side cook for 1-2 minutes until it was bubbly brown and served warm.

Justin was in charge of the dipping sauce and made 2 different kinds. I preferred the sweet soy sauce like TGIF serves (just sugar and soy sauce), but Justin also mixed a soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic sauce for himself. It was pretty bitter though. To make either you just combine the ingredients in a bowl and warm in the microwave (so the sugar will mix in with the soy).

All in all these were delicious! We ate them with homemade Lo Mein Noodles and baked Crab Rangoon (both were disasters). But hey… 1 out of 3 isn’t too bad in a family of picky eaters!

Tomato, Tomatoe

Monday, May 12, 2008

We went to Bungfest last year which is an annual gathering of our high school friends; it was a lot of fun but the old-timer in me noticed the tomatoes! The Knapps had these delicious grape/cherry tomatoes! Patty said they were the “sugar shack” variety and they grew them, so I decided to try it myself!

I researched online and found that “sugar shack” and “sugary” seem to be the sweetest grape/cherry tomato variety. Around the first or second week of April I went over to Heartland nursery and got 2 of each. They were just babies! Probably 6 inches tall at the most and came in Dixie sized cups.

I immediately repotted them into liter sized pots and kept them by our sliding glass backdoor (inside our house but right next to the glass door so they would get lots of sunlight). I watered them almost daily and mixed a little miracle grow into the water once a week. I had every intention of taking pictures of the baby plants but they grew so fast and before I knew it they were as tall as I was! Last week we had to replant them again, this time in the biggest pots I could find! I also added a tomato cage around them because they were starting to lean and fall over.

We are just barely in the 2nd week of May and I already have a few tomatoes coming in (you can see two small green sprouts in this picture), I can’t even believe it! I am starting to think that keeping them indoors sped up their growth because I don’t think it’s normal to have tomatoes in mid May, but what do I know!?

June Update
Here is a picture of the tomato plants on June 15th. They are all starting to ripen and there are literally hundreds of them!

July Update
We have so many tomatoes we can’t eat them all, we have started sharing with neighbors and friends! We have all come to the consensus that the “sugary” variety is much better than the “sugar shack”.