Friday, May 24, 2013

Strawberries ‘n’ Coconut Cream Pops

The other day, my husband and I took our grandson strawberry picking at a friend's strawberry farm.

And I had a grand vision of what a delightful, educational experience it would be, but to be honest, my grandson showed his hiny something fierce.  He threw several fits.  He was a tad ungrateful.  He tossed perfectly good strawberries on the ground instead of putting them in the bucket like he was supposed to.  He cried when he got dirty.

No, he screamed when he got dirty.

Second before he hurled this perfectly good strawberry three rows over. 

It was just one of those days.  *Sigh*

And when he went to sleep on the way home, my soul jumped for joy and then I did several fist pumps.  But I did come home with strawberries.

So after we ate what we could fresh, I froze the rest.  And this week I experimented with frozen strawberry pops, and after a failure, this was a success.  Originally I had wanted a strawberries and cream swirled pop, which I did make, but they were just okay.  Nothing to write home about.  But then I spied the cream of coconut in the pantry and * LIGHTBULB.*

The taste is of these are heavenly and it was all I could do to not eat the mixture straight out of the blender with a spoon.  Which is an alternative serving idea.  It's simple, but simple is perfectly acceptable at my house.  Next time I would like to cover them with homemade chocolate magic shell and sprinkle with coconut.

And there will be a next time.

So while your doing all your doings this Memorial day weekend, throw a batch of these in the freezer, and in four hours you will be a hero to your family.

PS.  And speaking of heroes, let's try to make some time to reflect on the meaning of this holiday weekend.

Strawberries ‘n’ Coconut Cream Pops

1 (15-ounce) can cream of coconut
3 heaping cups frozen whole strawberries

Place the coconut cream in a blender, then add one cup strawberries.  Process until smooth, then add remaining strawberries and process again until smooth.  Place small, disposable plastic cups on a baking tray and pour the mixture into each one, filling 3/4 full.  Place a wooden Popsicle stick in the center of each. (Mixture will be thick enough so that stick stands straight up.)   Freeze until firm, at least four hours.  Can also use Popsicle molds.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

The 2013 National Cornbread Cook-Off and Festival

So maybe you heard the good news?  I have a fancy new hat and a spiffy new title:  The National Cornbread Festival Cook-Off Winner.  Or Champion.  Or "queen", as my daughter posted on Facebook, which sparked some talk that I had entered a beauty pageant.

Let me assure you that I did not walk a runway in strappy, sequined evening gown wearing a "Miss Cornbread Cakes"  banner.  No, no, no.

I cooked cornbread.  Mexican cornbread cakes to be exact, floating in a bowl of roasted poblano chicken posole.  If you'd like to see the recipe, click here.  One day I will make it, take pictures of it, and post it here. 

And I am feeling kind of ashamed that I am just now getting around to blogging about it since it happened over three weeks ago.  Life keeps me from blogging sometimes.  And cooking.  And properly dusting my living room shelves.  But since I'm here now, let me give you a little history, a little recap, and a overwhelming amount of pictures.

Way back in 2005 (and I say 'way' because it seems like a lifetime ago), when I first started entering cooking contests, I got a phone call that I had been chosen as a finalist to compete at the National Cornbread Cook-Off.  I brought my husband and daughter with me and we had a blast.  It was the first cook-off I had ever competed in and I was hooked on contesting from that point on.  So each year, for the last eight years, I have been sending in (many!) recipes to try to secure the spot to go back to the festival to compete.  My husband and I joke that the weeks leading up to the cornbread recipe deadline are called cornbread "season" at my house.  This year, however, I have been extremely busy, so I only managed to get in one recipe before the deadline.  Then I forgot about it.  Completely.  Until I got the call again.  And then I had to announce to my husband and son-in-law that, no, they would not, in fact, be hunting wild turkey on the last weekend of the season because we would all be in glorious South Pittsburg, Tennessee, watching me sweat and eating copious amounts of cornbread.

They actually took it quite well.

I brought the whole crew with me and we had a great time.  Yes, there was rain which did put a damper on things a bit.  The whole operation had to be moved to the local high school at the last minute, which wasn't super easy, but the cook-off staff was so very accommodating and helpful, it was really no big deal.  And the rain did eventually stop long enough for my grandson to ride some carnival rides, then cause a huge scene by screaming bloody murder when we finally had to leave the carnival.

I would have been happy just being a finalist again and bringing my family to the festival, but winning that cast iron crown (yes, it is literally a hat made from a Lodge cast iron skillet) just made the whole time there even more special.  I am so completely honored because the other finalists are crazy talented.  I know some of them.  They are really good at what they do.  Any of the recipes could have won, but for some reason, on that day, it went my way. And I will never forget it.

If you'd like to know more about the festival, they have a wonderful website. Click here.  I would really like to go back one year when I am not competing.  I think I missed a few things. 

I'd like to thank Martha White and Lodge Cast Iron for sponsoring the cook-off.  And Brown Stove Works out of Cleveland, TN.  I am getting one of their stoves as part of my prize.

(How excited does THAT make me?!)

I'd also like to thank all of the volunteers and staff who worked so hard that day.  You made me feel at home.  You really did.

And I'd really like world peace.

Wait.  That was beauty pageant talk.  Sorry.  Don't know where my mind is.

And now...the 2013 National Cornbread Cook-Off and Festival highlights... 

(Or boring photos of our vacay, whichever.)

My dish as presented to the judges.
My little guy couldn't take all the excitement of the cook-off.

Why yes this is a giant piece of chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick. 

I dearly love this picture.

This woman was so sweet to let him "fish" for about thirty minutes. 

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