Category Archives: Recipes

Tilapia with Mango Cucumber Salsa and Some Yummy Saffron Rice

Tilapia with Mango Cucumber Salsa and Saffron Rice

Tilapia with Mango Cucumber Salsa and Saffron Rice

So I am trying to juggle this whole blogging thing with keeping up with my home upkeep, family, hobby farm, Master’s degree program, cycling training and soap/lotion making… this morning the laundry won out and the tilapia recipe blog post got pushed to the back burner.

However, here it is! I love fish and with my mammal meat allergy it is a “safe food” for me (woohoo for fish not being a mammal!) so we eat quite a bit of it. My sons devour all fish but especially love lighter fish like tilapia and mahi mahi. We are all suckers for a great haddock or swordfish steak on the grill as well, yum!

Admittedly I will not be eating fish again for a little bit because I WAY overindulged eating way too much… I was stuffed to the gills!

**hehe I seriously just laughed at my own little joke right there.

This has got to be one of the easiest recipes I make. I usually make up a big batch of the mango cucumber salsa so I can snack for days with chips. It keeps remarkably well and much longer than tomato based salsas.

Tilapia with (or without) Mango Cucumber Salsa

What you will need:

Mango Cucumber Salsa: This is enough for 4 to 6 filets, feel free to double or triple for late night snacking with some tortilla chips!

2 ripe mangos : (gives a little when squeezed, reddish in color but you do not want mushy or big brown spots, peeled), sliced (there’s an oblong pit in the middle that runs almost the length of the mango, I just slice off the four sides, dice those up then slice off whatever other pieces I can away from the pit and try not to eat them all), and medium diced.

2 cucumbers: medium to small or 1 large. Peel, slice in half long ways and scoop out the seeds with a spoon (you should be able to just run the spoon down the middle and get them out easily). Medium dice the cucumber(s). You can also buy the seedless English cucumbers and just dice them.

1/4 to 1/2 of a red onion: diced small

2 jalapenoes: Diced small. Wear gloves if you will be handling little kids or babies afterwards.

Cilantro: YUM! I love cilantro so I add a lot. Normal people would proabbly add about 1/4 cup chopped cilantro.

Lime Juice: The juice of one lime or 1 tsp of lime juice from a bottle (or those cute little plastic lime things)

Salt and Pepper to taste: I use a tiny pinch of pepper and two tiny pinches of salt

Mix it all together and put it in the fridge.

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 On to the fish!

Get yourself some fish filets (tilapia, mahi mahi, any light fish is good for this). I always keep a couple pounds in the freezer because they thaw super fast and are a great last minute meal. We cook 2 pounds of fish at a time but once again, when my boys find a food they like they eat us out of house and home and they like fish.

Olive oil (optional… you can also use butter to cook the fish)

Old Bay Blackened Seasoning (or make your own using this recipe… Blackened Fish Seasoning)

Butter  (optional)…Oldest son loves to dip his pieces of fish in melted butter rather than eating the mango cucumber salsa. It is usually recommended to cook your fish in butter but we have switched over to olive oil because it’s a slightly healthier alternative (you get a better crust with butter) and youngest son doesn’t like his fish as crusty.

Directions: There’s two ways to make this fish… either in butter or in olive oil. Butter will create more of a crust on your fish which is super yummy but we do olive oil because the rest of my family does not bleed dairy. I’ll give you directions for both ways…

Butter Directions:

1. Melt enough butter in your pan (I love cooking fish in cast iron cookware as it helps get a nice crust) on medium heat so that it will cover the bottom (yes this may mean almost a stick of butter… skip down to olive oil if you are scared you may clog every artery in your body… I was born and raised in Wisconsin so we have butter flowing through our veins)

2. Melt a little more butter in a dish that you can drench the fish in (in other words both sides of each filet will be covered in butter as you will be bathing the fish in butter).

3. Drench (lay) each fish filet in the butter and sprinkle very liberally with Old Bay Blackened Seasoning or your homemade version (link here)

4. You will want some sort of splatter screen for your pan… Now turn up the heat to medium-high and cook on one side until blackened and somewhat crispy. Flip over and cook the other side. Add a little more butter whenever necessary. If family members (youngest son wannabes) do not like their fish as crispy just do not cook as long or use the olive oil method below.

Great Pampered Chef splatter screen that I can put in the dishwasher or handwash easily

Great Pampered Chef splatter screen that I can put in the dishwasher or handwash easily

5. Remove from pan, plate and add your salsa (if you want) or melt more butter to dip fish in (if you are an oldest son wannabe).

Olive Oil Directions:

1. Heat 4 Tablespoons of olive over medium heat.

2. Drench (lay) each fish filet in a dish or plate of olive oil and sprinkle very liberally with Old Bay Blackened Seasoning or your homemade version (link here)

3 filets with seasoning and two waiting to be seasoned. I ran out of our homemade seasoning so I went with the oldy but goody Old Bay Blackened!

3 filets with seasoning and two waiting to be seasoned. I ran out of our homemade seasoning so I went with the oldy but goody Old Bay Blackened!

4. You will want some sort of splatter screen for your pan… Now turn up the heat to medium-high and cook on one side until blackened and somewhat crispy. Flip over and cook the other side. Add a little more olive oil whenever necessary. If family members (youngest son wannabes) do not like their fish as crispy just do not cook as long.

5. Remove from pan, plate and add your salsa (if you want) or melt butter to dip fish in (if you are an oldest son wannabe).

 

So I totally forgot to take a picture with the fish in the pan to show you what they look like when you flip because my family was way hungry and fussing at me to stop taking pictures and just cook supper already! Imagine fish in this pan and you’ll get the picture…

Imagine fish in here...

Imagine fish in here…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The nice thing about this recipe is it lends itself well to the entire family and many different side dishes. We chose a spring mix salad and Jasmine Saffron rice (recipe here). Many nights we just cook up some jasmine or brown rice and have a great fish dinner. The boys like their’s without the mango salsa which is easy enough 🙂

Happy Eating,

    Jhenna

 

Blackened Fish Seasoning

This is a great do it yourself (DIY) recipe knockoff of the Old Bay Blackened Seasoning that we love so much on fish. I got the original recipe from All Recipes.com quite a while ago but made a few changes to fit our family’s tastes. I made notes of the changes I made so you can either stick with the standby or go the way of the Conways 😉

Blackened Seasoning for Fish or Chicken

  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder (original recipe called for only 2 teaspoons of garlic powder)
  • 4 teaspoons dried leaf thyme
  • 2 teaspoons  onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper, or to your taste (original was just 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (original recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon)

 

However, Old Bay Blackened is a pretty inexpensive spice blend so if you don’t think you’ll use the above spices in other recipes/spice mixes it may be best to just buy the Old Bay Blackened Seasoning. We buy and grow spices in bulk because we mix up a ton of our own blends and give them as gifts as well so we always try to have this blend on hand (though yup, we do run out of certain spices often… can’t seem to keep enough thyme in this house… and I grab the Old Bay Blackened at the store sometimes).

 

Place all ingredients in a jar and store in a cool dark place. Shake jar well before each use.

Chickpea Flour… the gluten free, high protein alternative

From time to time I will have contributors who add to the depth of my blog. Though I am a jack of all trades I consider myself a master at none. Some of these folks are truly masters in their fields or at least a TON more knowledgeable than I am.

This whole gluten free and nut free way of life is foreign to me and I honestly don’t think I could give up gluten unless it was seriously compromising my or my family’s health. For some folks, it is certainly compromising their health and the gluten free (or lower gluten) is certainly something that a ton of people are looking for right now!

Enter Michele… (one “l”, yup I know it’s weird… took me a long time to remember to spell it right!). I am thrilled to introduce you all to my family as I continue on this journey through simple hobby homesteading. This evening I’d like for you to meet my sister-in-law Michele… younger sister to my husband and seriously one of the most amazing women I will ever be blessed to know! Now I even get to be related to her!

I’ll save the whole wonderful “how we met” story for after her article because I know there are a great many of you who seriously want to know how you can use chickpea flour on the path to a healthier you…

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Author:

Michele Magloire

Chickpea Flour

chickpeas                          chickpea flour

 

Looking for Gluten free, high protein, and or grain substitute… try chickpea flour. Chickpea flour can be found in most grocery stores. Other names for chickpea flour include gram flour, cici flour and garbanzo bean flour.

chickpea flour bag

If you cannot find it, it’s super easy to make. Get some dried chickpeas and run them through a coffee grinder, food processor or blender. I personally grind my own because I’ve learned that some products sold outside the US are not required to list allergy warnings. My husband has a peanut allergy, so to make sure he is safe I grind my own flour.

 

Health benefits of chickpeas aka garbanzo beans

 

Chickpeas are rich in fiber, high in protein, good source of vitamins (including iron, B-6, magnesium, and potassium), low glycemic index, and they can lower cholesterol. “Participants in a recent study reported more satisfaction with their diet when garbanzo beans were included, and they consumed fewer processed food snacks during test weeks in the study when garbanzo beans were consumed.” (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=58)

 

There are tons of recipes that call for some type of wheat-based flour, whether whole-wheat, all-purpose or cake flour, but you can replace wheat flour with chickpea flour. It adds a nutty taste, and a boost of protein and iron; it works well in any dish, from baked goods to soups and sauces. You can substitute 7/8 cup of chickpea flour for every 1 cup of wheat flour. For yeast breads, add xanthan or guar gum to replace the gluten.

 

15 chickpea flour recipes

http://www.mynaturalfamily.com/recipes/garbanzo-beans/15-best-chickpea-flour-recipes/

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Soooo… how I met Michele. It’s a funny story really 🙂

I was in air force basic training 2 weeks after I graduated high school. Miss Michele Conway, I think 2 maybe 3 years older than me, was in my basic training flight along with maybe 30 other women. Force all these women to spend 6.5 weeks together day in and day out and you’re gonna see every side of them. To say that we all got to know each other well is the understatement of the century. I think we all had a love hate relationship with each other (though some the scales definitley tipped more to one side)

Michele was (and still is) strong, steady, independent and bound and determined to break her government issued glasses (they were called birth control glasses because they were so ugly no guy would even look at a woman wearing them). She came into basic with two other women that she knew from home (Massachusetts) and they were constantly coming up with ways to destroy their glasses so they could talk the TI (training instructor) into letting them wear their contacts or regular glasses. Every time they tried to destroy their glasses (underneath the floor buffer was especially creative) SSgt Grant seemed to find out and yell at me for it. You see, I was the “Dorm Chief” and got in trouble for everything that everyone else did wrong on top of my own screw ups! I had enough of my own screw ups so I wasn’t a fan of Michele and the others causing more tongue lashings directed my way. They seemed to love it or maybe I was just jaded… I got an extra 2 hours of door guard duty from 2-4am for the floor buffer fiasco.

I remember one day we (the whole flight but Michele and I were often about the same speed so we woudl run together) were running (I had just gotten done with a wrestling season back home so I was in the best shape of my life) and chatting back and forth… Michele always was a great runner. We were far ahead of most of our flight but the TI came up behind us and started screaming at us about how if we could chat we weren’t running fast enough. This guy was a machine… he said he better not beat us to the end or we’d be sorry… the man was like a Kenyan Olympic runner so neither Michele nor I took him seriously when he took off… there was no way we could ever beat him (bad choice on our part for not even trying… baaaaaad choice). He took off and we went back to chatting as there were no other TIs around. He must have circled around without us seeing because next thing I know there was someone coming up fast behind us breathing hard and all of a sudden I heard, “You two had better not be talking…” and he proceded to scream at us full steam (with so much profanity it would make a sailor blush) while never breaking stride… he had some sort of crazy lung capacity… and a lazy eye but that’s a whole different funny story.

Anyways, I have no clue how that run ended… I think we had to run extra but I can’t remember… do you remember Michele? Anyways… I think that kinda started a bond with us though we never quite got back onto that friendly of terms until after Kevin (her brother) and I were married as we had many run ins with difference of opinion for months after that awesome run.

Basic training was done, we were all heading off to our separate tech schools. I was heading to Keesler AFB with Michele’s best friend and Michele told her that Kevin was at Keesler AFB (he had just gotten out of the Marine Corps and joined the Air Force Reserve) so she should look him up and say hi (Michele’s friend had known Kevin for quite a few years). I was going to the same school as Michele’s friend at Keesler AFB (in Mississippi)so I kinda tagged along a few weeks later as she went to Kevin’s dorm to say hi and wish him warm greetings from his sister.

Maybe I should mention I was engaged to my high school sweetheart at this point and he was all I talked about throughout basic training and the beginning of tech school. Well, things fell apart with that “relationship” just about the time I met Kevin. We got to know each other and 3 months later we were married.

I do believe Michele’s words were along the lines of “I told ya to look him up and say “Hi”, not marry him.” She was certainly looking after her older brother and didn’t want him to be my “rebound guy.” I didn’t understand that then (I was all of 18) but I certainly understand and respect it now. That was 16 years ago and the Lord has given Kevin and I a marriage that we have worked hard for (and continue to work for) but full of the most amazing renewing spirit and blessings.

Michele and I still have our differences (actually not many that I can think of anymore!)but I truly respect and love this woman as a dear sister. She was recently married (my boys love that they have an Uncle Serge as he just sounds “tough”… he is actually pretty darn tough!) and now lives off in Cyprus so we certainly do not see her as often as we would like.

The boys love that their Aunt Michele seems to be way “cooler” than their mom because she’s into crossfit, ceramics (they are still amazed at how good she is), UFC/MMA, video games and computers, anything zombie or shark related, and standup paddle boarding. She just sounds like a cool aunt doesn’t she! However I love her amazing knowledge and passion in cooking, gardening, traveling and the fact that this lady is well read! Her and her brother have an insatiable appetite for books and knowledge, it’s so neat! She always says she loved her time in the Air Force (I assume she is especially talking about the time she spent with me in basic…. ummmmmm probably not lol) and working as a software engineer. She is certainly embarking on a new path in life as a wife and I wish her so many blessings in this marriage! When she speaks, I listen as it’s gona be good stuff. Love you Michele and thanks for writing!cleardot

Lemon Shrimp Linguine

I’m tellin’ ya, life is interesting. The choices we make are interesting.

As I am typing my little blog post this morning I am enjoying some great whole grain rustic loaf toast with black raspberry jelly (last jar from last summers canning goodness)…

I slathered my toast with the jelly deliciousness and as I’m eating and attempting to type (with a bandaged right index finger from a deep cut on the tip… stupid piece of metal sheeting roofing thingy attacked me) I notice the jelly slowly inching its way closer to my toast’s edge.

I raise my left hand up (toast holding hand), tilting the toast the other way so the jelly heads south instead of north (or west to east, left to right, up to down, who knows…) and continue to try to type with my right hand… ouch ouch ouch every time I tap a key with my index finger.

Another choice I could have made was to put the toast down and take a little break from typing when I wanted to steal a bite. But then could I truly be the multitasking mom, blogger and superwoman that I continually and foolishly try to be?

Lemon Shrimp Linguine (both of my sons LOVE this dish and have since the day I first made it so many years ago)

Ingredients:

2 to 3 lemons (depending on size)

1 pound of frozen or fresh uncooked, peeled, deveined, and tail off shrimp

Linguine noodles

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs olive oil

2 shallots (small onions usually pre-packaged in mesh bags of two or three. If you can’t get them I have used white and vidalia onions as well. Use 1/4 of a large onion. Grow some shallots this year in your garden or a pot… SOOOOO yummy and they can be kinda spendy in the store)

Garlic (4 cloves or 1 Tbs plus 1 tsp)… not a fan of garlic? Why? it is so very good for you. but if you insist you can use less

Fresh (or bagged) spinach

Parsley (fresh)

Salt

Pepper

Oh great a glob of jelly just went down my arm and the sleeve of my robe. Those globs really get going when helped along by gravity. I could not get to it quickly enough and I was just trying to save the keyboard! I need some coffee and did anyone just see that squirrel?

I think it’s going to be one of those mornings… the ones where nothing goes as planned, I’m on the verge of being cranky for no apparent reason but seem to think I have every right to be, and I will flitter about staying ever so busy but have no finished task to show for my work. Oh yes and it’s Thursday, my homework is due tonight (working on my Masters in Education) UGH!!

I’m back… all cleaned up and with coffee. Did I mention I have a cracked tooth and the soonest our dentist can get me in is next Wednesday? My amazing and supportive husband mentioned that maybe I should find a backup dentist but I refuse because my current dentist gives me awesome gas so I don’t feel the numbing shot. I’ve grown quite fond of that gas. Judge me as you will… I’ve never done illegal drugs so this is the closest thing I will ever get to “high”… I think it’s nitrous oxide? Nitrogen and Oxygen… it certainly can’t be bad for me because those are things we breathe every day (yes, I know my logic is grossly skewed) but I do wonder how many brain cells I’m willing to risk in the name of comfortable dentistry.

I have to admit, lately with all the dentistry I’ve had I actually look forward to sitting in that chair and just relaxing… no where else to be, nothing else I can do, and no one expecting conversation. I think I’ll send him a thank you note 🙂

Let’s try this again…

Lemon Shrimp Linguine (both of my sons LOVE this dish and have since the day I first made it so many years ago)

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 lemons (depending on size)
  • 1 pound shrimp (frozen or fresh… uncooked, peeled, deveined, and tail off)
  • linguine noodles
  • 2 shallots (small onions usually pre-packaged in mesh bags of two or three. If you can’t get them I have used white and vidalia onions as well. Use 1/4 of a large onion. Grow some shallots this year in your garden or a pot… SOOOOO yummy and they can be kinda spendy in the store)
  • Garlic (4 cloves or 1 Tbs plus 1 tsp)… not a fan of garlic? Why? it is so very good for you. but if you insist you can use less
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs olive oil
  • Fresh (or bagged) spinach (1 small or medium bag)
  • Parsley (fresh)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

It’s a good idea to use a nice big stock pot to cook your pasta. Pasta needs plenty of room to move around when boiling to help prevent a sticky starchy mess. Perfectly cooked pasta is called “al dente,” which in Italian means “to the tooth.” Al dente pasta is cooked just enough to retain a firm texture while being fully pliable.

Some tips for telling when pasta is al dente…

  • Boil the pasta according to the package’s instructions.
  • At the minimum cooking time indicated on the package, or even a minute before, remove a piece of pasta from the boiling water with a fork.
  • If the pasta is mildly chewy but doesn’t stick in your teeth, it is done.
  • If the pasta seems a little hard or sticks to your teeth, cook it 1 minute longer and test it again.
  • If you don’t relish tasting hot pasta, cut a piece in half. Then look at the cross-section of the pasta. If you can see a difference between the very center and the outer ring of the pasta, it’s not done. If the pasta is one continuous shade and texture, it’s done.
  • Don’t ever rinse your pasta

Steps:

1.Put your pot of water on the stove and turn to high to get it a boilin’ (I use a gallon of water in my large stock pot). Cover pot (if you have a cover, no big deal if you don’t).

Pot of water ... watched pot never boils... stop watching my pot!

Pot of water … watched pot never boils… stop watching my pot!

2. Zest 1 lemon

*don’t have a zester?… it’s a really good tool to have in the kitchen! Pampered Chef has a great one or check out reviews on Amazon.com for a good one. You want a high quality zester for the same reason that you want a high quality knife, easier to use and safer (usually holds their “sharpness longer” therefore making it easier and safe to cut (knife) or zest (zester) things). Place your zest from 1 lemon into the 1/4 cup of olive oil, give it a little stir and set it aside.

Ooh I have an idea… if you share and comment below this post I will enter you into a drawing for a free Pampered Chef zester! The name will be drawn randomly This Sunday, March 30th at 7:00pm central time so share and comment before then. I’ll mail it to the winner (or deliver if you are local).

The zester (this one is Pampered Chef)

The zester (this one is Pampered Chef)

3. Zest your second lemon into/onto (whatever… grammar is not my strongest point) a bowl or plate. Did you know you get more juice out of a lemon when it is at room temperature You do!

Cut all the lemons in half and juice them (with a juicer or the sheer strength of your hands). Pick out all seeds (if you squeezed by hand), no one wants to eat lemon seeds. You will want about 1/4 cup of lemon juice (no more but it can be a bit less). Add the zest of your lemon (on the plate or in the bowl) to your lemon juice and set aside.

Just a juicin'!

Just a juicin’!

4. Finely chop your shallots and mince your garlic. If you have a garlic press I highly recommend you mince fresh garlic cloves but to be honest there are some great brands of already minced garlic out there that taste just as good and make 1 less dirty dish (oh wait… you won’t be scooping it out of the jar with your fingers, you will need a spoon so I guess the amount of dirty dishes remains the same).

garlic and shallots
garlic and shallots

 

5. Put your 2 Tbs of oilive oil in a large skillet (I love using my wok for this recipe) and turn to medium high (on the higher end of medium or lower end of high, however you want to think about it). Let it heat up for a couple minutes and then throw your garlic and onions in to sauté (cook in oil over a high heat). Let them cook for about 2 minutes, stirring and “tossing” (that’s what I call messing with food in a skillet or wok) only a couple times.

shallots and garlic hanging out together happily

shallots and garlic hanging out together happily

6. Add your shrimp to the skillet with garlic and shallots. Here I admit we double the shrimp but only because my oldest son LOVES shrimp and tends to eat more shrimp than linguine. Toss (stir) them about a bit to get them mixed with the shallots and garlic.

We put two bags of these in but most would probably like just one... wow, just realized we eat 120 shrimp.

We put two bags of these in but most would probably like just one… wow, just realized we eat at least 120 shrimp.

You will notice as the shrimp cook they turn from white to pink. They are considered done when they are fully pink 🙂

just put in, white, raw shrimp

just put in, white, raw shrimp

Starting to turn pink

Starting to turn pink

We have cooked shrimp!

We have cooked shrimp!

 

When your shrimp is done cooking just pull it off the heat and set aside.

 

7. At some point up until now your water should be boiling or close to it. When boiling, heavily salt your water (1 to 2 Tbs depending on how much linguine you are cooking), break your linguine in half and put it in the boiling water. I love using sea salt and buy organic sea salt in bulk and then store it in quart jars.
Sea salt, yum!
Sea salt, yum!
We cook the entire box of linguine (a pound? That can’t be right… do we really eat a pound of pasta as a family of 4?) Two growing boys makes the amount of pasta I cook seem more normal I guess. However, according to the serving size indication on the back of the box I am cooking 8 servings of pasta… and then adding shrimp and spinach. We like to eat good food.
Serving "suggestion"... I'll just dump the whole box in thank you very much!

Serving “suggestion”… I’ll just dump the whole box in thank you very much!

 
8. Cook pasta according to directions on package and tips listed above.
9. When pasta is done strain it (DO NOT RINSE) and put it back into big pot. Make sure your burner is off (will probably still be warm, that’s fine). Add shrimp mixture, lemon juice with zest, and strain your olive oil into big pot (don’t want the zest from olive oil in pot). Add salt (1 tsp or less) and pepper (1/2 tsp or less). Mix everything together.
straining lemon olive oil

straining lemon olive oil

10. The final step is one based on preference. You can either dump the bag of spinach into the pot and gently stir, the spinach will wilt and get soft because of heat of pasta (yummy!) or if you like your spinach a little more crisp you can plate your spinach and add the pasta on top. Once plated (whichever method you use) add a couple piches of chopped fresh parsley.

yum yum yum

yum yum yum

Enjoy and happy cooking and eating! This is a favorite here at The Shepherd Hobby Farm

Jhenna

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Covered Strawberries… YUM!

I really can’t imagine many things more delightful than eating chocolate covered strawberries… they are just amazing! However, I am a slight cheapskate and refuse to pay the insane amount of money places charge for these delectable bites of happiness. Add that to the fact that I am not a fan of mushy or bruised strawberries that I have convinced myself places use because no one can tell once they are covered in chocolate.  So what do I do? I make them myself and it is so easy! Let me show you how…

What you will need:

 

  • Strawberries
  • “Dolci” chocolate wafers (you can use chocolate chips… we’ll talk about that in a bit)

*Dolci is often found in the produce section perhaps by the jars of minced garlic, look around, it’s there.

  • White chocolate (chips or baking bars of white chocolate work equally well)
  • Wax paper (not a must have but handy)
Dolci, my preferred chocolate for dipping!

Dolci, my preferred chocolate for dipping!

Step 1: Rinse strawberries. Do this just before you start. If you wash strawberries days in advance they won’t last long in the fridge. You can wash them by putting them in a strainer and rinsing them under cold tap water or fill a big bowl with water and dump the strawberries in (my preferred method).

Step 2: DRY THE STRAWBERRIES! This is a key step and one that will determine your success or failure. Chocolate does not stick to wet or damp strawberries. I take the strawberries out of the water and put them on paper towel. I then pick a few up at a time in a paper towel and gently dry them and then place on a different towel.

 

Step 3: Put some wax paper on the counter or a cookie sheet. The beautiful thing about using Dolci is that it hardens at room temperature. Woohoo! For anyone who is remotely like me and plays a challenging round of “Tetris” when attempting to put anything in the fridge you will be glad that you don’t have to worry about balancing an entire cookie sheet of strawberries on a mayonnaise jar which is balanced on a stick of butter.

 

So now we have strawberries dried (admittedly I do a bunch at a time and don’t have room to dry them all at once so there are always strawberries hanging out in the different stations (water bath, drying towel, and dry/ready to dip towel) awaiting their turn.) You are doing great and it’s ok if you are trying to be quiet as a mouse so no kids (or spouse) will run in and steal all your strawberries… a common occurrence at our house.

 

Step 4: Pull out that “Dolci” chocolate and get really excited because in just seconds you will have your first chocolate covered strawberry ready to “taste test”!

* The concept of heating the chocolate is the same if you use chocolate chips but

the microwave times may differ (probably one extra 30 second interval) and you

will most likely have to refrigerate the strawberries for the chocolate to harden

(all depends on the temperature in your house).

Peel off the plastic on top and put container in your microwave (setting high/normal) for 30 seconds. Stir the contents and put in for another 30 seconds. When you pull it out this time and stir you may see quite a few big pieces or just a couple. Keep stirring for a couple seconds and if there are still big chunks put back in microwave for 15 seconds. Stir, stir, stir and those chunks will melt.  Yes, all microwaves are different but I have used this method in 2 different countries, 4 different states, and over a dozen different houses with different microwaves and I have never had to microwave Dolci more than 1 minute and 30 seconds TOTAL. Don’t be that person.

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Step 5: When you have smooth chocolate (resulting from stirring) tilt it slightly and gather 7 mar 2014 iphone pics 031as much chocolate you can to one side to give the deepest “pool” of chocolate in which to dip the strawberries. Start with the biggest strawberries and gently but firmly (that makes no sense, I know) hold by the leaves (or stem if you are lucky enough to get some with stems) and dip in the chocolate. Dangle for a second to get the chocolate to stop dripping and lay on wax paper. Repeat repeat repeat.  If a stem or leaves fall off while you are dipping and a strawberry is lost at chocolate sea go in after it! Pull it out with your fingers, plop it on the wax paper, and know which one you’ll be taste testing first. You washed your hands before you started right?

 

Step 6: When you get low on chocolate in the Dolci container and the strawberries start coming out less than pretty because you have to smoosh them all around to cover in chocolate just put the container down (do not throw away) and get another container of Dolci. If you only have one container skip to step 7. Microwave it according to directions in Step 4. Come back to your workspace and scrape the contents from the first Dolci into the fresh container and stir. It will melt in with the new chocolate and you can resume dipping happily.

 

Step 7: There will come a time when you are done dipping strawberries and there is a little chocolate left in the Dolci container. Offer some to others if you want or be very quiet and happily grab a couple strawberries, pretzels, marshmallows, or whatever you want 7 mar 2014 iphone pics 037chocolate on and dip away and eat directly. Yum! Have the camera ready if you call in the troops (otherwise known as kids and spouse) because one will very likely try to stick their face in the container to lick out the last bits of chocolate and the resulting chocolate face is adorable!

You can be done at this point if you want or you can really get fancy (this is not difficult) and go for the gusto with white chocolate drizzle.

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Optional Step 8: Get a plastic Ziploc (or off brand, I don’t care) bag (I highly recommend a “freezer” strength one as the regular sandwich bags may melt with the heat of the 7 mar 2014 iphone pics 057chocolate), open it, and place in a coffee cup to give support to the bag.

 

Melt white chocolate just as you did the Dolci in step 4. However, chips and baking bars often take 30 seconds or so longer to melt than Dolci. Melt at 30 second intervals even if it seems they are hardly melting. Stir after every interval. After 3 or possibly 4 intervals, with stirring, you will have smooth creamy white chocolate. Pour it into the Ziploc bag, press the air out as best as you can, seal, and cut off the bottom corner of the bag (the bigger the cut the thicker your drizzle). Squeeze and drizzle over the strawberries in whatever fashion trips your trigger. I like to drizzle each strawberry individually instead of down a row because it helps prevent strings of chocolate connecting them.

 

Unless it is really hot I have never had to refrigerate the strawberries to get the white chocolate to harden… perhaps the Dolci talks to the white chocolate and tells it to “quit your whining and harden up!” If you have any white chocolate left feel free to “draw” designs (squiggles, hearts, letters, etc.) on wax paper and let it harden to decorate your platter of strawberries. I hate to waste chocolate so I often do this even though my oldest son almost always swipes the designs for delivery to his tummy instead of my pretty platter of strawberries. 7 mar 2014 iphone pics 066

There you have it folks, you can easily make these strawberries and they taste AMAZING! Give them to friends, family, teachers (your kids will get some MAJOR brownie points), pastors (you’re welcome Pastor Ernie), or keep them all for yourself… I won’t judge lol!

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Enjoy and let me know how they turn out. I’d LOVE to see pictures and any tips on how you made yours even better.

 

** I did not receive any payment for suggesting “Dolci” or Ziploc brand. I just really love using Dolci and have no clue what one would call those Ziploc bags other than “Ziploc bags”.