Blackberry Basil Lemonade

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This is the best lemonade you’ll ever have.  Promise.  And if you don’t agree.. well, I don’t think I know you anymore.  At the bottom of the recipe I have directions for freezing this ahead of time and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used it that way.  It makes a great quick summer treat and is great to have on hand for BBQ’s.. or mondays…
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BLACKBERRY BASIL LEMONADE

For the basil simple syrup:
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil

To serve:
6 cups water
1 1/2 cups lemon juice (fresh is best)
2 cups blackberries (fresh or frozen)

Make the basil simple syrup.  Put the sugar, water, and basil in a pot and bring to a boil.  Let cool then strain.
Puree the blackberries and strain.  You should have 1/2 cup.  Mix with the lemon juice, water, and basil simple syrup.  Chill, serve over ice.

For a fizzy drink, replace the 6 cups water with seltzer water.
To make ahead: Place a batch of basil simple syrup in a freezer container with the 1/2 cup blackberry puree.  When ready to serve add water and lemon juice.  I don’t even thaw it, it will quickly thaw enough to mix together and makes for a very cold refreshing drink.

Marinated Mozzarella

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Have you ever bought something only to say.. hey, I could make that.  Well, I do that A LOT.  It has become a bit of a hobby I suppose.  The good thing is no matter what it is, the homemade version pretty much always tastes as good if not better.  And knowing exactly what went in it and being able to adjust the flavor to our liking? That makes it way better in my book.  This was a quick experiment and quickly a favorite.  The first attempt was too good to fiddle with.  And the flavor only got better a day or two later.  Serve on sliced tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, in pasta, pasta salads… or with a spoon.  Not that I would know about that…
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MARINATED MOZZARELLA

1 1/2 cups olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh herbs (I used a mixture of basil and parsley)
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
pinch red pepper flakes
1/2-1 tsp kosher salt, to taste
pinch black pepper
1 lb fresh mozzarella, cubed

Combine all ingredients except mozzarella in a large jar, cover and shake to combine.
Add mozzarella, cover, and refrigerate.
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Peanut Butter Truffle Eggs

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One of our favorite Easter books to read is The Golden Egg.  So I used an chocolate making egg mold to make some golden eggs to go with the book.  Using my trusty Peanut Butter Truffles recipe, I adapted it to be softer for a filling and it worked perfect.  A little gold luster dust and there you go, golden eggs!  If you really wanted to you could use a yellow candy melt and coat with gold luster dust, or make them in Easter colors.  I’ve never had a complaint for the classic peanut butter and chocolate combination before though!  These do freeze well, so they are great for making ahead of time as well.  For a sweet Easter gift these are so sweet presented in an egg carton or small basket too.

PEANUT BUTTER TRUFFLE EGGS (OR GOLDEN EGGS)

Chocolate of choice for coating (or candy melts)
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup Rice Krispy cereal
7 oz jar marshmallow creme
gold luster dust, optional

In a medium bowl cream together the peanut butter, butter, and powdered sugar until smooth.
Add the cereal and marshmallow creme and stir in until combined well.
Melt the chocolate and coat the egg mold.  Let chocolate set until firm, then fill cavity with peanut butter filling.
Add melted chocolate to cover the back.

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When chocolate is set remove from molds and if desired, dust with gold luster dust.

Rice Krispy Treats Panoramic Eggs

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Does anyone else remember making sugar panoramic eggs as a kid?   I picked up some molds at the Decorette Shop in Portland a few years ago and was determined to make them with my girls.  I found a handful of recipes online and tried them all… and they all failed.  This last time I thought maybe I was going to get lucky..

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Uhhh, nope.  I gave in.  Too many failed batches.

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But I still wanted to do something fun with the panoramic egg idea.  So I decided to try using rice krispy treats instead of the sugar mixture.  And guess what? It worked amazing!  I added a coating of candy melts to keep their shape, and you could certainly do any color of those you like.   I liked the colorburst ones, which are white with little dots of color.
The best part is making these with kids.  If you don’t want to use royal icing, you could always just use additional candy melts to glue the 2 halves together and let firm up ahead of time, then just use plain frosting or more candy melts for the kids to glue their pieces inside.  And if all else fails, just let them eat them. :)
Oh, and if you can’t find some molds just look down the Easter aisle and you should be able to find a big egg shaped container to use.  Just look for one that has the seam going lengthwise and not down the width.

RICE KRISPY TREATS PANORAMIC EGGS

Various candy for filling, or pictures
candy melts in desired color (I used Wilton’s colorburst)

For Rice Krispies:
3 T butter
10 oz regular marshmallows (about 40), or 4 cups mini marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies, cocoa krispies, or fruity Pebbles (or like sized cereal)

Melt butter in a large pot on medium low heat.  Add marshmallows, stir until combined and melted.
Remove from heat, stir in cereal until well coated.

For Royal Icing:
1 lb powdered sugar
2 T meringue powder
6 T water (or replace water and meringue powder with 3 egg whites)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Mix all icing ingredients together and whip to stiff peaks.

Spray mold lightly with nonstick spray, then using fingers or the back of a spoon push rice krispies into mold, keeping thickness under 1/2 an inch.

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Turn out egg shapes onto a tray and place in the fridge or freezer to firm.  After firm use a small knife to carefully carve out a window in one of the halves.
Alternatively, you can cut an end off both halves for a different view.  If you don’t have a base mold go ahead and cut a flat edge for the egg to stand.

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Melt the candy melts and coat the inside of the egg halves.  (I placed them back in the mold for this, then popped in the freezer for a moment to firm.)

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When the candy melts are set up turn egg halves back onto a tray.
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Now coat the outside of the egg halves with more candy melts.  Use a pastry brush to get them evenly coated.  Let candy melts set up until hard.
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Make the royal icing and use to glue the 2 halves together (and fill any gaps).  Then pipe some grass inside the egg through the opening (alternatively you can position the candy figures or pictures before gluing the front half on, then fill in the front through the opening).  Pipe over the glued edge and around the front opening.
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For this style you will want to make your little scene before gluing the halves together:
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We used little gummy bunnies, peeps, and jelly beans…
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I love the bases.  With a little bit of royal icing for glue the eggs stay on well.
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And my little one had to have hers pink… with 2 pink bunnies inside of course :)
I let my daughters decide how they wanted them done, and assisted with doing the piping.  We’ll see how long they last.  But I would much rather they eat these than the pure sugar ones!
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Baby shower cookies

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These were a last minute idea.  As in the morning of a baby shower I woke up at 2 am.. well, my daughter was us since 2 am so hence I was as well.  Such is life with autism.
I was going to a baby shower that afternoon for a dear friend and thought I’d pass the time by making something to bring.  Unfortunately, I forgot to put the sugar in the cookie dough.  In the SUGAR COOKIE dough.  Yes, sleep deprivation will melt your brain.  I am proof. :p
I covered it up by using a sugar glaze to frost (plus I didn’t have time or energy to make royal icing).  Next time I would use royal icing, the glaze didn’t harden as much as I wanted it to.  And I would also remember to put the sugar in the SUGAR cookie dough. :)
I had some marshmallow fondant hanging around so I decided to use some molds to add decorations.  I used Martha Stewart molds sold for papercrafting but I think they’re safe for the few seconds you have the fondant in to shape them.  Just press a piece into the shape and pop out, then cut out the excess.

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I think I’ll be making the flower cookies for other occasions too.  The roses would be pretty in red too I think.  Maybe with some coloring or luster dust painted on the edges.
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I could see these decorating a cake too…

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And how cute is that quilted heart?  I’m remembering that one for next Valentine’s day for sure.

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Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Potatoes

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I know it’s spring when these guys are going nuts in my herb garden.
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Did you know chives are perennial?  I have a couple plants that were quite small when I purchased them and they have gone nuts for quite a few years.  One was in a pot actually and I thought it had died.  Dumped the dirt somewhere else and what do you know? It popped back up in the spring!   I use them to make champ often, one of my hubby’s favorite things.  But the other day I had the idea to add sour cream for that classic sour cream and onion flavor.  And I think we have a new favorite dish to use chives in!  These would make a great side for Easter too.  I have made them with both russets and gold potatoes and we liked them equally.  If you want creamier, richer potatoes, use double the butter and cream cheese and maybe a little cream too.  This was just right for us.

SOUR CREAM AND CHIVE MASHED POTATOES
3 quarts peeled and chopped potatoes (about 5 lbs)
1 cup chopped chives
1/2 cup sour cream
4 T softened butter
4 oz cream cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are easily pierced with a knife.
Drain, then mash with butter, sour cream, and cream cheese.  Add milk if needed to make the right consistency.
Add chives, mixing thoroughly.    Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Asian Quinoa Salad

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This is the quinoa salad to end all quinoa salads.  I can’t even tell you how many times I have made this in the last couple months.  First time I made it I half expected my hubby to grimace and say “bird seed?”… but he didn’t.  Not even after his third helping. :)  The dressing I used on it is my all purpose asian dressing I use for lots of things and it adds alot of flavor to the quinoa.  Since quinoa doesn’t really have much flavor of all on its own it is great for soaking up whatever you’re layin’ down.
You could adjust the salad veg to whatever you have or like, but this is most definitely our favorite way.   I even keep a container of finely chopped cooked bacon in the freezer for this salad alone.  If you are local I highly suggest you make a stop at the most amazing Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Store and you can buy quinoa in bulk for a fraction of the cost too.  Now go forth and eat quinoa my friends.

ASIAN QUINOA SALAD

1 cup quinoa
2 cups chopped broccoli
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup finely chopped cooked bacon
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onion
1/4 cup or more chopped cilantro leaves

Asian Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 T sesame oil
1 cup rice vinegar (or white vinegar or half of each)
2 T soy sauce
2 T sugar or honey
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 T sesame seeds
2 tsp dried ginger (or 1 T grated fresh ginger)
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 tsp dried onion

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot.  Add quinoa and return to a boil.  Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 15 minutes.
Fluff quinoa and let sit 5 minutes, covered, and off the heat.   This will make 4 cups cooked quinoa.  You will know it’s cooked because the outer hulls are popped off.
Place all the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well.  Pour about half over quinoa and chill.  Add remaining salad ingredients.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Serve with additional dressing if desired.

Mickey Mouse Party

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I’m attempting to go through my pictures and catch up on getting them printed… and I keep finding pictures I meant to post here… and thought I did… but never had. :p  Blogging is probably not the best hobby for me.  :)
A couple years ago my daughter was quite in love with anything Mickey Mouse so of course that was her theme for her birthday party.
I came up with a few cute and easy treats to go with that theme.
For the cake I did 3 layers.  2 for the cake and one I cut out a large circle and 2 smaller circles for a mickey shape.  First I frosted the cake yellow, then placed the 3 circles on top and carefully frosted it red.  Added some Mickey sprinkles and 2 skewers…

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Then covered the skewers with some striped paper straws…

 

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Then added some bunting.  Made from string, paper, and scrapbooking stickers.

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For the candy cups I made some cups from red candy melts using my chocolate cup mold:
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After the red was set I placed a scoop of fruity pebble rice crispy treats in each:
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Then I dipped the top of each in melted semi sweet chocolate.
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Before the chocolate set I added 2 m & m’s for ears, then used a little chocolate for glue to add some large sprinkles to the red cups for buttons.

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I also made some with chocolate bases, white chocolate on top, and sprinkled with mickey sprinkles.

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For the Oreo pops I added a popsicle stick to the middle of each cookie and used chocolate to “glue” in some ears. (Mini oreos).

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Add the top back on…

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And add a ribbon.  Or dip in chocolate first.

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The favors were simple.  Made ears from cheap headbands and some felt, the gloves were from the dollar tree in the makeup section, and some Mickey coloring sheets and a ball.

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Put each in a red bag (I got a set of them super cheap.. I think at Michaels?)  I had a mickey mouse paper punch so I used that to decorate the tags.

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Coconut Cream Berry Flummery

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Berry Flummery is one of my all time favorite desserts.  I really did not think it could get any better.  But out of necessity I made a vegan dairy free version the other day when a dinner guest was coming who is allergic to dairy and also has celiac disease.  I made regular berry flummery for the rest of us and used the same berries for both versions, but made her cream layer using coconut milk.  (Well, the cream layer anyways).  Normally sour cream is added to the whipped cream mixture to give it some tang and I debated on adding a splash of vinegar to mirror that.  But then I tasted it.  I honestly think I like this version better than the regular if that’s even possible?!
The coconut cream is so luxurious and creamy and the hint of coconut flavor goes so well with the oats and berries.   And while this is a gluten and dairy free dessert you would never guess you were giving something up in it.  This made one very large parfait glass, or it could make 2 or 3 smaller ones easily.

COCONUT CREAM BERRY FLUMMERY (Vegan, Dairy, Gluten Free)

1 can coconut milk (regular, not light)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup McCann’s Quick Cooking Irish Oatmeal, or quick cooking oats
Berries of choice (I used some fresh strawberries and some frozen marionberries)

The night before using put the coconut milk in the refrigerator.
Spread the oats in a baking sheet and toast in the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until fragrant and toasted.  Set aside to cool.
When ready to use, remove coconut milk from fridge and open can upside down.
Pour off liquid, which should look like this:
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Now scoop out the cream that remains:
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Whip the cream using a hand mixer or whip until slightly fluffy.  Mix in the powdered sugar (add more or less to taste), vanilla, and the oats (reserve a tablespoon of oats to sprinkle on top if desired).
Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  Can be made a day or two ahead of time.
Chop strawberries and mix with other berries of choice and sprinkle with a spoon of granulated sugar.  Put in the fridge to macerate.  I don’t like doing this step the day before.  A few hours ahead is usually all I do.
Layer the coconut cream and berries in a tall parfait glass and finish with a sprinkle of oats.

Curry Chicken Tea Sandwiches

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Tea parties or not, these are good anytime.  The curry butter is optional, but it does keep the bread from becoming soggy and also gives more curry flavor.  I dare say these are a favorite at any tea party I’ve ever thrown.
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CURRY CHICKEN TEA SANDWICHES

wheat bread
sliced almonds

For Curry Chicken:
2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 cup currants
salt and pepper to taste
mayo, enough to make moist and spreadable

For Curry Butter:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tsp curry powder
salt to taste (if using unsalted butter)

Make curry butter: Combine butter with curry and salt if using.  Mix until well combined and soft.
Make curry chicken spread:  Combine everything in a medium bowl until well combined.
Spread bread of choice with a thin layer of curry butter.  (I like wheat best with this spread).
Generously spread curry chicken spread on one slice and top with another slice of bread, cut off crusts and into triangles or fingers.
Spread curry butter on ends and press sliced almonds into butter.

 

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