Honey Glazed Pork Riblets

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I realized that while my hubby loves to BBQ, it really involves him building a fire, and me prepping everything to go on said fire.  So this weekend I thought I’d make something a bit easy for “him” and baked some ribs in the oven (to be finished on the grill of course).  I wanted to try something different besides the normal bbq sauce laden ribs, and honey just sounded like a good idea.  A few spices of course to balance the sweetness.  You can finish them in the oven, but on the grill will give you a better crisp char.  The honey caramelizes quickly so it only takes a few minutes if your grill is hot.  Don’t be afraid to adjust the spices according to your families preference.  The sauce was just enough, if you’d like extra sauce double the glaze recipe.

HONEY GLAZED PORK RIBLETS

2-3 lbs Pork Riblets (or ribs would work as well)

Glaze:
1/2 cup honey
2 T brown sugar
3 T lemon juice
2 tsp worcestershire
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder (more or less depending how spicy you like)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Line a large cookie sheet with foil, spray with nonstick spray.  Put ribs in a single layer on tray.
Whisk all glaze ingredients together until combined well.  Set aside half of the glaze for later.
Brush both sides of the ribs with glaze.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until meat is well done and tender.
Let cool briefly, then finish on a grill, brushing with remaining glaze.
(Or turn oven up to 400 degrees, brush with remaining glaze, and cook for about 15 minutes, turning once.)

Blueberry Thyme Lemonade

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If you’ve made my Blackberry Basil Lemonade before (and if you haven’t, you should!) then this recipe will look familiar.  I just subbed out blueberries for the blackberries, and thyme for the basil.  Thyme is incredibly easy to grow.  I have quite a few varieties in my herb garden and I love seeing it come back bigger and better every year.  It’s very low maintenance and is wonderful to add to so many recipes.   I wanted to make some blackberry basil lemonade the other day but I was out of fresh basil.  I figured I would give thyme a try and we loved it.  Blueberries seemed like a good fit with thyme.   This tastes like summer in a glass.  The blueberries and lemon are refreshing and tangy, and the thyme adds a floral note without being overpowering.  At the bottom of the recipe you’ll find directions for freezing this like a concentrate.  I love making a big batch for the freezer so we have it on hand for a quick summer treat.

BLUEBERRY THYME LEMONADE

For the thyme simple syrup:
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
handful of thyme sprigs

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

To make the thyme simple syrup put the water, sugar, and thyme in a pot and bring to a boil.
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Let cool then strain.
Puree the blueberries and strain to get 1/2 cup puree.  Add to the simple syrup along with the lemon juice and water.  Chill and serve over ice.
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For a fizzy drink: replace the 6 cups water with seltzer water.
To make ahead: In a quart freezer container put the simple syrup, berry puree, and lemon juice.  Freeze for later use.  Just add water when ready to serve.

Shrimp Po Boys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have sandwiches for dinner often during the summer, sometimes simple ones, and sometimes I’ll make something like this that’s simple enough, but very satisfying.
The seasoned mayo spread makes all the difference, fresh herbs and citrus just make everything taste better.
This started from a Rachel Ray recipe and like usual, quickly became my own version after I finished scribbling my own ideas and ingredients on it.  Have fun with your recipes.  Don’t be afraid to try your own ideas out.  You might come up with a winner like this one!

SHRIMP PO BOYS

For breaded shrimp:
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 lbs shrimp, deveined and tails removed
1/2 cup flour
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 T old bay seasoning
Oil, for frying

Seasoned mayonnaise:
1 cup mayonnaise
2 T lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp old bay seasoning

To serve:
Rolls or buns, buttered and toasted in a skillet
Tomato, sliced
Lettuce, in leaves or shredded
Lemon wedges

First make the seasoned mayo.  Mix everything together and keep covered in the refrigerator while you make the rest.

Whisk eggs, milk, and salt together in a large bowl.  Add shrimp and let soak while you get the breading ready.
In a medium bowl mix together the flour, panko, and old bay seasoning.  Heat one inch of oil in a deep skillet (I live using my wok or deep cast iron skillet) over medium heat.
Working in batches (so you don’t crowd the pan), drop the shrimp in the breading and then carefully into the hot oil.  Cook until golden brown, turning once.
I like to put them on a wire rack set over a cookie sheet while I cook the remaining batches.

Pile buns with seasoned mayo, lettuce, and tomato then top with shrimp.  Serve with lemon wedges.

 

Time Timer Review

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I’m not sure this is considered a timer.  I think life changer is more adequate.  Time Timer sent me their newest timer the “Time Timer Plus” and we are totally sold on these amazing timers.  Having a kiddo with Autism, the ability to visually see that red section shrink as the time passes has made the difference between her understanding and not understanding.  I have used timers before for her to try to help her understand how long she needed to work on schoolwork, or wait to have time on the computer, etc.  Until using this timer it never seemed to make sense for her.
I think if you are using it for a child with special needs or even just kids in general, you’ll find it super helpful.  It is completely silent as it runs and you can choose how loud you want the buzz to be when time’s up, or opt for no sound at all.  The buzz is not annoying or super loud, but loud enough that you’ll notice it.  And I love that I can look across the room and see how much time is left on it.  The main difference with this model and their other models is that the face of this model is completely enclosed, which if you have young children who might mess with the face it is most definitely worth it.  They do carry other styles as well as watches and I think the small 3 inch timers would be very handy for when we’re on the go, and the watch might be the only one Amelia will do well with too.
Finally, a timer that works!  This thing is a life saver.  Go check out their website, timetimer.com to see all their great timers.

Creamy and Tart Poppyseed Dressing

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Why does salad get such a bad rap?  It is one of my favorite things and there is no end to the versatility of salad.  Wether it’s main dish salads, like this poppyseed salad with lemon chicken, grain salads like asian quinoa salad, or asian green salads like this amazing chinese chicken salad, or how about adding to finish off the amazingness that is grilled pizza with roasted garlic chicken and orange vinaigrette?  Have I won you over yet?   After being married over a decade even my hubby adores salads.  One of our favorite terriyaki restaurants serves a little salad that we love and of course I had to make a homemade version.  This is what I call a “junk food salad” because I use iceberg lettuce instead of dark greens.  But through it on whatever, it’s still good.  I serve it with shredded carrots like they do in the restaurant, and cherry tomatoes are a nice addition too I think.
You can change the sweetness or tartness of the dressing by adding more vinegar or sugar.

CREAMY AND TART POPPYSEED DRESSING

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp poppyseeds
pinch kosher salt

Combine everything in a jar and shake until smooth (or whisk together in a bowl).
Store in the refrigerator until using.

Rosemary Popcorn

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I love popcorn.  I know it’s not considered a dessert but in our home we eat it for dessert pretty often.  One way to make it even better is by popping it with infused oil.  Rosemary is my favorite and once you try this you’ll agree.  It is so addictive.  We’ve had a number of different poppers, including a fancy pot with crank on top to stir but a plain ol pot will do just fine.  If you want to air pop your popcorn you could do that and just drizzle with the oil when it’s done popping, but cooking the kernels in the oil really gets the flavor in there.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go make popcorn.

ROSEMARY POPCORN

For Rosemary infused olive oil:
1 cup olive oil
3 to 5 rosemary sprigs

For popcorn:
1 cup popcorn kernels
1/2 cup olive oil
sea salt and/or grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil and rosemary in a small pot over medium high heat.  Once it reaches a simmer continue to cook for 5 minutes.  Let cool and strain.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To pop popcorn pour 1/2 cup rosemary oil in a large pot.  Place over medium heat and add a couple kernels.  Cover pot and wait for both kernels to pop.
Once they have all popped you know the oil is hot enough.  Remove popped kernels and add the 1/2 cup of kernels and cover.  Shake occasionally until kernels have stopped popping.
Drizzle with additional rosemary oil and sprinkle with sea salt and /or grated Parmesan cheese.

Easy Pesto Pasta Salad

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This is a great make ahead salad, since it tastes even better a few hours later, or even overnight.  You can add lots of other things to this if you want, like olives, roasted red peppers, arugula, or even some pine nuts for texture.  While I like making it plain like this, you can also add some olive oil and vinegar to the pesto to make a vinaigrette, or if you want it creamy add a few spoons each mayonnaise and sour cream to the pesto.

EASY PESTO PASTA SALAD

1 lb pasta, cooked al dente and cool
1 cup Fresh basil pesto (or premade)
Marinated fresh mozzarella (or chopped mozzarella)
2 or 3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped (or grape tomatoes, halved)

Toss all together, add a little olive oil and vinegar to the pesto to make more of a vinaigrette if you want it thinner.  Chill until serving.  Like I said.. Easy! :)

Herb Hummus

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I recently taught a cooking with herbs class and I knew hummus had to be on the invite list.  Hummus is kind of my go-to snack when we have company.  I always have cooked chickpeas in the freezer that I cook from dried beans pre-measured in 1 cup amounts. It is incredibly easy to change the flavor of since chickpeas don’t have a strong flavor.   I don’t normally have tahini on hand, but if you do and prefer, you can substitute that for the sesame seeds.  Tahini is just ground sesame seeds, which you can make in your food processor, and while to stuff from the store shelf is smoother than I can get, I think the texture of my hummus is fine.
You could do many different combinations of fresh herbs, or even throw in a couple spoons of fresh basil pesto which is one of my favorite ways.
Hummus isn’t limited to just being a dip, you can also use it for a spread on sandwiches or wraps (I particularly like it paired with warm naan bread!).

HERB HUMMUS
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
2 T sesame seeds
2 T sour cream
3 T  lemon juice
3 T olive oil
1/2 cup fresh baby dill
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Place everything in the bowl of a food processor (or blender) and puree until smooth.  Serve with pita chips, tortilla chips, or rice crackers.

Basil Pesto

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Pesto is the ultimate spring food.  It makes everything taste so darn fresh and tasty.  I dare you not to taste it and see rainbows and flowers blooming.
Pesto is  easily adjusted and incredibly easy.  I usually make it with my food processor but you could do it by hand with a knife if you want a work out.  :)   The nuts can be omitted completely or exchanged with almonds or other nuts.   I actually leave it out altogether.  I just prefer the taste of pesto nut free.   The basil can be switched with many kinds of herbs or combination of.  When making a big batch sometimes I cut the basil with about 25% parsley.  The vinegar or lemon juice will help retain that bright green color and add some acidic brightness.  You can find my pesto pizza sauce recipe  here, the main difference is I add more olive oil for a thinner sauce and up the garlic.  This is a great all purpose pesto, and my favorite.  I use it on many things, even just smearing sandwiches… brushing rolls towards the end of cooking… rubbing under chicken skin when roasting.. tossing with roasted vegetables just before serving.. toss with pasta.. I don’t usually eat it straight from the jar with a spoon.. but pretty close to it ;)

BASIL PESTO

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup olive oil
3 T pine nuts, optional
splash lemon juice or vinegar, optional

Put everything in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely minced.   Place in an airtight container and cover with a thin layer of olive oil and refrigerate.
To freeze leave out the parmesan.  Freeze in containers or ice cube trays then transfer to a ziplock.

Bee Mine Tea Party

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Normally I would save this draft to share next year closer to Valentine’s Day (which I might forget to do and it will be lost will all my other drafts!) but I can’t wait to share this, it was too much fun.  For Valentine’s Day this year me and my girls threw a “Bee Mine” themed tea party.  But these ideas would work well for a spring tea or party as well.    I have thrown tea parties for over a decade now, but as my daughters have gotten older I knew I wanted to give myself a little break and have more tea parties that involve them.  Luckily I am friends with all of their friends moms so it makes it fun to have their friends along with the moms so we can enjoy it together.  It was so much fun, I don’t know if I could have another tea party without them!  While my tea parties have always been special to me and I still really enjoy that time with friends, there is something about little girls at a tea party that makes my heart happy!  And I know my girls won’t be young for long, and I want to enjoy this while I can.  I involved them in all the planning, cooking, and decorating too.
I made the invites by printing the wording on pink cardstock and adding some embellishments made with my Silhouette cameo.  The bee and hive I found in the Silhouette store but the heart I made by fusing hexagon shapes together.  Don’t ask about how much time I wasted getting that right…

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I have lots of flowery tea party linens so we used those to decorate, along with some flowery teapots and a beehive pot as well.
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The girls helped make a pinata using a 12″ balloon (I think?) and we cut strips of crepe streamers to glue around, cutting fringe on the bottom half.
I hung it from our light with a grapevine wreath and some bees we made from yellow pom poms.  We wrapped them with black pipe cleaners and attached vellum heart wings.  They were hung with some thread, or you could use fishing line too.
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I printed the menu out and added a cute bee clipart to the top, and made the lettering in grew, yellow, and black.  I like putting the sweets and savory in different colors.
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I used the “Sparkling Nectar” recipe from Lucy’s Fairy Garden party, found here.  I am always amazed at how much the kids love this.  A 2 liter of 7 up mixed with a bottle of cranberry juice.  Easy!
For the adults I made Hibiscus tea.  You can buy this in bags, I just steep dried hibiscus, it’s the same thing.
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I made some “honeycomb snack mix” using my old monster munch recipe, using honeycomb cereal instead of chex, and dipping half the pretzels in black meltys with yellow sprinkles, and the other half of them in yellow meltys with black sprinkles and using valentines m&m’s in place of the reese’s pieces.
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Bumble bee pretzels were a big hit.  Just dip large pretzel twists in white meltys and sprinkle with sanding sugar for some wing sparkle.  Place close together on wax paper.  Let dry.  Dip the top third in yellow meltys and place on top of 2 twists.  Carefully add strips with yellow and black nonpareil  sprinkles.  Let dry.  The yellow should “glue” the rod to the wings.
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And of course honeycomb candy!

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And bee themed sugar cookies of course.  The wings had to get a little luster dust too :)
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Cupcakes were chocolate with yellow buttercream, and a bumble bee made from marshmallow fondant.
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Scones and honey butter!  Just whip butter with a little honey for the honey butter.
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For the sandwiches I made Artichoke, Radish, and Curry Chicken.
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Plus some kid sandwiches.  I made all of them using this bee and hive Tovolo sandwich cutter we had.
Some I made with P”BEE” and honey, and the others into fairy bread.

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For fairy bread, just spread bread with frosting or butter and liberally coat with nonpareil sprinkles.  I did yellow for the hives and black for the bees.  Fairy bread is ALWAYS a hit with kids.
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I was excited to put my “Bee happy” cookie mold from House on the Hill to good use too!
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This was the best part.  I didn’t even take many pictures, I was enjoying watching the girls have fun so much!
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If you have never had a tea party with little girls, you are missing out!
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You can see them in the background a little, I forgot to take a picture, but we made “roses” from hershey kisses for each guest to take home along with a plastic ring that had a bumble bee with a heart that said “bee mine”.  My little one found them at the cake decorating store and couldn’t resist. :)

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