I get all giddy about strawberry season. I love me some strawberries, and so does my little Pitter Patter. We eat a bushel of them at our house each week. There are times that this can be a very expensive habit! I almost stroked out at the Piggly Wiggly the day they were $6.99/pint. Had to pass on by them that day.
However, it the last week strawberries have come down to less than $2 per pint. I came home from the Western Supermarket warehouse sale with six pints the other day. Since we have eaten our store of strawberry champagne jam from last year, I decided to replenish. Today is the day that I finally have some free time to can jam, and wouldn’t you know it – we’re all out of champagne! Now, normally I don’t make a special trip to the grocery for one ingredient. Goodness knows I’m in there enough as it is. But, y’all, this is one recipe that is worth the extra trip. Homemade strawberry jam is yummy, but when you add in a cup of champagne, it becomes gourmet. Heavenly. Divine. Nectar. Worth the trouble to get dressed, break away from schoolwork, and load the girls up in the car.
I’m sure that if you are reading this from anywhere in the sunny south, you probably have beautiful strawberries available for dirt-cheap in a grocery near you, too! Go get some and make strawberry champagne jam. You’ll love being able to pull it out during the long, cold days of winter!
Y’all, I love my crock pot. I know that’s not really NEWS, because I have loved my crock pot for a long time. It is just so easy on our busy, busy days to throw something in there and let it go ’til dinner time. I kind of have my rotation of crock pot recipes that we use and I know are good, but we needed a change of pace. I saw a video of Paula Deen doing pinto beans in her crock pot, and they looked yummy. We tried it, but just didn’t enjoy it as much as we thought we would. It needed way more spice for our taste. We finally decided that what we really wanted was red beans and rice. The problem is, I’d never done them in the crock pot. Hmmm…
Here’s what I came up with:
1 lb dried red kidney beans, rinsed and soaked in water overnight
1 ham steak with bone
1 onion diced
4 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed and diced
1/2 cup-ish Creole seasoning, adjust spices to taste
3 cups cooked rice
After my beans had soaked overnight, I poured off the water and put the beans into my crock pot. I mixed in the onion, celery, and garlic. I covered all of this with the creole seasoning and mixed it well. I covered the mixture with water and tossed in the ham steak (I cut mine so it would fit better). I happened to have a little leftover Conecuh sausage that I threw in, just because we like it. I have also used crumbled sausage in my red beans and rice before and we love it. Use whatever you have on hand and your family likes. Cook it on low for 8 hours, serve it over the cooked rice, and you will have a delicious, fairly healthy dinner.
We had a little birthday in our house yesterday (more about that later), which was good cause for us to try out a cupcake bakery that we just found out about. I didn’t know that such a place existed in Birmingham. I mean, walking in to the storefront is like being a judge on Cupcake Wars. You get to mull over the yummy treats and make your top selections. We walked away with a half-dozen assorted treasures. Here, in their own words, is what we tried:
Mississippi Mud: Chocolate cake with a chocolate fudge filling, topped with marshmallows & a drizzled fudge frosting. A staff favorite!
Caramel Sea Salt Mocha: Chocolate cake with a mocha frosting, topped with a caramel drizzle, a coffee candy & a sprinkle of sea salt. (This one had quite a reputation to live up to. I’d heard a lot about it. I mean, sea salt? In a cupcake? Well, you wouldn’t believe how succulent the sweet and salty combination is.)
Birthday Cake: (This was MA’s choice. I couldn’t find the description online, but it was a yellow cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. There was a luscious chocolate filling, and it was topped with colorful sprinkles. Just right for a birthday!)
Paparazzi: Melt-in-your-mouth sour cream butter cake studded with poppy seeds & topped with our famous almond buttercream.
Naughty and Nice: Chocolate and vanilla marble cake, topped and filled with vanilla and chocolate frosting.
Simply Strawberry: Delectable strawberry cake with a strawberry buttercream filling & frosting. (This one was my favorite!! The frosting tastes like fresh strawberries. Divine!)
Y’all, if you haven’t been to Dreamcakes, go the next chance you get. They are located on Oxmoor Road in Homewood in the cutest little storefront! Lots of exposed pipes and original brick. Very cute cafe tables and chairs. It is such a quaint little neighborhood place. You’ll love it!