Friday, June 19, 2009

So Berry Sweet!

Sorry for the gag-inducing, cheesy title. Anyway. I'm not a "food blogger" or a "recipe guru", nor do I pretend to be. But, every once in a while, I get inspired to try something new in the kitchen and it turns out so yummy that I feel the need to share it with all (three) of you.

Last weekend, we took a field trip over to The Jett's Berry Farm (I don't think they have an official name for it, but they do have berries...and it's farm-like...and, according to Cole, they raise "Patty's" - that would be basset hounds). Cole picked seven berries, Caleb managed to pick a whole basket, and Pop stepped up to be Tour Guide for the boys while Mom and I finished picking the rest of our over-25-pound prize. It was so easy to pick them, I don't know if I will ever pick blackberries anywhere else. Y'all, I ended up taking home two huge freezer bags full of blackberry delicious-ness and still have many, MANY more left. The Rains' (that would be Sarah and Steven, but I love saying their new collective name now) also took home two bags worth and we left three bags at home for Mom and Ben. Can I just say - I. LOVE. BLACKBERRIES. Now, everyone knows that besides eating them fresh with a touch of sugar or cream (which I've had a few times this week), the best way to eat them is in a cobbler. Any other time, that's what I would have made (usually because the picking yielded so few berries that I wouldn't want to waste them - just in case a different recipe might be disastrous). But, since our crop came from Blackberry Utopia, I have soooo many berries! I decided to search for a few new recipes to experiment with. Okay, I know....I know. Shut up already and give us the friggin' recipe, Kristi. I should mention this came from the Southern Living 1999 Annual Recipes cookbook (thanks, Mom) and that I'm a sucker for tiny, cute, individualized treats. And one more word. YUM. Okay, okay...the recipe...


1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 pint fresh blackberries
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
Powdered sugar (optional)

*Unfold piecrusts on a lightly floured surface. Cut piecrusts with a 2 1/2 inch star-shaped cutter, and fit into lightly greased miniature muffin pan.

*Bake at 350-degrees for 7 minutes or until golden. Remove from pans, and cool on wire racks.

*Bring 1/3 cup water and next 4 ingredients to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Boil, stirring constantly, 1 minute; remove from heat.

*Stir together cream cheese and next 3 ingredients.

*Spoon blackberry mixture into tart shells; pipe or dollop with cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar, if desired. YIELD: 20 tartlets.

Okay, so a few notes about this recipe:

- I used butter.
- For testing purposes (I've always wanted to say that), I used Pillsbury refrigerated piecrusts. You could easily make your own (cheaper, too), but this was quicker and my loving husband was nice enough to pick it up for me on his way out the door at work. ;)
- I doubled this recipe since I took it to a BBQ.
- Don't forget to prick the bottom of the pie crusts before baking. If you look closely at my picture, I forgot to do this. Not a terrible mistake, but the centers did bubble up a little.
- I might use more berries with the same amount of water/sugar/cornstarch...just because I like the berries more than the syrupy stuff and it kinda got messy.
- I had leftover cream cheese mixture and some of the syrup from the cooked berry mixture. I also have one more piecrust, so I fully intend on adding more berries to the leftover syrup and making a few more....after I swim several hundred laps or run a few miles in the Texas heat. Or not.
- I recommend using a mixer (I used my stand mixer with the whisk attachment) for the cream cheese mixture - it makes a more consistent texture and easier to use for piping.
- Yeah, for piping, I used my Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorator tool (again, thanks Mom)
- I think these look pretty without the cream cheese mixture, too, but who wants to skip the cream cheese?
- Skipped adding the extra powdered sugar on top and just used whole blackberries to garnish the platter. Mint leaves or some other green garnish would be nice, too, if you're entertaining.
- I used frozen whole berries per Mrs. Jett's freezing method (wash, pat dry, freeze in single layer on baking sheet and then transfer to freezer bags).
- Considering making a slightly larger tartlet in standard size muffin pan, too, but that would require utensils to eat...but still super cute.
- I'm not telling how many of these I ate, but I will tell you that I am convincing myself that the fiber and super antioxidant power of the blackberries far outweighs the fat content of the piecrusts and cream cheese topper. Not to mention the sugar.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Goodbye, my friend...

Gann's Casandra Lee
AKA Cass, Cassarole, Big Girl, Mama, Mamacita
8/16/01 - 6/11/09
Thank you for being our friend, Big Girl. We miss you.