Thursday, July 25, 2013

Summertime Individual Salads

This is an easy and fun salad to serve at your next BBQ. You will just need some pretty glass bowls and your imagination. This recipe makes 4 bowls.


2 red bell peppers, diced

2 avocados, diced

1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups cooked white rice

2 roma tomatoes, chopped

2 ears of cooked corn, scrape off kernels

olive oil

fresh lime juice

lime zest

cilantro, minced

scallions, minced

salt and pepper 


Layer the bottom of each bowl with the diced red bell peppers.

Toss the avocados with a little olive oil, lime juice and cilantro. Layer the avocado over the red bell peppers.

Layer the black beans over the avocado.

Toss the white rice with olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, scallions, salt and pepper. Layer the white rice over the black beans.

Season the tomatoes with salt and layer over the white rice.

Season the corn kernels with salt and pepper. Layer the corn over the tomatoes.

Isn't that easy? And you can substitute with leftover chicken or brown rice instead of white rice. Perhaps you have a bummer crop of zucchini  - sauté the zucchini  and  substitute a layer with zucchini.

This is a perfect appetizer or salad to serve at your next family dinner or BBQ.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Creamy Strawberry Pie

This week strawberries were on sale at my local grocery store for .88! I bought four containers!  What to make? So I Googled Strawberry Pies and found this recipe on the Philadelphia Cheese website. Best of all it is a "no bake" treat!


1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

3/4 cup boiling water

1 package (3 ounces) Jell-o strawberry flavor

4 ounces (1/2 of 8 ounce package) cream cheese, softened

4 cups fresh strawberries, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 cups of Cool Whip, room temperature

4 large strawberries

2 cups heavy whipping cream


Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter. Press the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie pan. Press the crumbs tightly of the bottom and the sides of the pie pan.

Add the boiling water to Jell-o stir for 2 minutes until the Jell-o is dissolved. Whisk the cream cheese in a large bowl until creamy.

Whisk the gelatin mixture into the cream cheese. Place the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice water. Let stand for about 5 minutes - whisking occasionally.

Stir strawberries and Cool Whip into the Jell-o mixture. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Pour the strawberry mixture into the graham cracker crust. Refrigerate for 3 hours.

Using an immersion blender - whip the heavy whipping cream until it is the consistency of whipped cream. Spread the whipped cream over the strawberry mixture. Cut the large strawberries in half and use them to decorate the top of the pie.

This was a super simple recipe. I served it for dessert tonight and everyone loved it!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Red, White and Blue Gift Wrap

My son has a friend with a 4th of July birthday. How cool is that? Fireworks every year on your birthday! With vacations and sports - he recently had his party. But I still wrapped his gift in a red, white and blue theme.

We actually bought him a gift card. I taped the gift inside a shirt box. And wrapped the shirt box! Tricky? I know!

Okay - I wrapped the gift in red and white gingham wrapping paper left over from Christmas. Then I used red, white and blue grosgrain ribbon, thin red and blue ribbon. Using cupcake picks I decorated the box with some flags, stars and a pretend sparkler.

I hope this inspires you they next time you wrap a gift.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Popcorn

I found this recipe on the cookie& website. Cookies and Cups found the recipe in the newest book from Our Best Bites - "Savoring the Seasons."

I decided to cut the recipe in half and put the popcorn in glass jars to give away. But this recipe would also look nice in cellophane bags.

I simply used cupcake liners to the tops of the jars and decorated with a thin ribbon and rhinestone sticker.


1 bag of microwave popcorn - I used kettle corn

1 cup salted peanuts

2 cups mini peanut butter cups

1 1/2 cups peanut butter chips

1/3 cup melted semi-sweet chocolate


Pop the microwave popcorn, remove the unpopped kernels. Put the popcorn in a big bowl. Add the peanuts and mini peanut butter cups to the popcorn.

The mini peanut butter cups are sold at most grocery stores and Target. They also sell them at Trader Joe's - under the TJ brand.

Melt the peanut butter chips using your preferred method (microwave, double boiler etc.).

Pour the melted peanut butter chips into the popcorn mixture and gently toss until all the popcorn, peanuts and mini peanut butter cups are coated with the melted peanut butter chips.

Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and pour the mixture on the parchment paper. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate and put it in a zipper top bag. Squeeze the chocolate to one end and cut off a small slit and drizzle the chocolate over the popcorn mixture.

Let the popcorn mixture set for about an hour before packaging in jars or cellophane bags.

I used two different sized cupcake liners to decorate the tops of the jars.

I will be giving out jars of this Peanut Butter Cup Popcorn to my neighbors tomorrow.

This was an easy and delicious recipe. It would make a fantastic party favor for a movie themed party. Make this for the Peanut Butter lovers in your life!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Christian's Bedroom Redo! Which was Long Overdue!

I finally got around to redecorating Christian's room. I still need David to come over and add some crown moulding. But his arm is injured and he is unable to work right now. So I will show you the room redo without the crown moulding.

I had the room painted the same color that the playroom is painted. We bought a new bed, mattress and bedding. And I edited the accessories. Christian loves auto racing, basketball and baseball. So I reorganized his favorite basketball, baseball and auto racing accessories. 

Todd started taking down the bunk beds before I could take a proper "before" picture.

Another "before" picture. Do you like the stickers on the top bunk bed rail?

We gave the baseball pinball game to one of Christian's friends little brother. When the little brother has been to our house he always played the baseball pinball game. I sold the baseball bedding at the neighborhood garage sale.

I am so bummed out that my husband started taking everything apart before I could get some good before pictures. But I think you get the idea - the room was painted baby blue with bunk beds and baseball themed quilts, pillows and accessories.

So here are the "new" pictures. I kept  the dresser, bookcase and nightstand.

Over the bed we hung a big basketball net!

On top of the bookcase - a collection of Angel bobble heads.

The basketball hoop on the door to Christian's room.

A fun new chair to sit in and study? I think he likes his new room. Who knows?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lemon Sugar Cookies

This cookies were really easy to make! And I love it when cookies have a few little cracks on top.

Adapted from The Boastful Baker.


2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

zest of 2 lemons

1/2 cup granulated or raw sugar for rolling cookies


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper sprayed lightly with a nonstick baking spray.

In a small mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Combine the 1/2 cup granulated or raw sugar in a shallow bowl with the lemon zest. This sugar will be used to roll the cookie dough. Combine the zest and sugar with a wooden spoon until the sugar is a light yellow color. Set aside.

Using a mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. About 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla and lemon extract.

Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Mix until everything is combined and the mixture is just a little moist.

Roll the dough into balls about one tablespoon per ball. Roll the dough balls into the lemon zest sugar and put them on the prepared cookie sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven.

Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before removing them to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Make these for the lemon lover in your life!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Strawberry Scones in Honor of Wimbledon - Tennis Anyone?

I have been watching Wimbledon for the past twelve days! I love it! I can't stop watching. I am excited for the ladies final tomorrow. So I made some scones and in honor of Wimbledon I added some strawberries. And I will be speaking with a British accent until after the men's final.

I was serious - if you want to play a little tennis - call me! And now I must tell you about this easy recipe that you can serve for breakfast or perhaps have with your afternoon cup of tea.


1 cup strawberries, cut into small pieces

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes, slightly softened

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar (for topping)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a cookie sheets or put a Silpat mat on the cookie sheet.

Add a tablespoon of sugar to the cut up strawberries and set aside.

Combine the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Add the butter using a pastry cutter. Stir in the strawberries. Then stir in the heavy cream.

Use a spatula to gently stir the dough until it holds together. Be gentle don't overwork the dough.

Turn the dough on to a piece of parchment paper and kneed a few times to incorporate all of the ingredients. Add a little extra flour if the dough is sticky.

Press and pat the dough into a circle about 3/4 " thick.

Cut the circle into 8 wedges. I used a pizza cutter - but a sharp knife would work just as well. Transfer the wedges to the cookie sheet. Leave at least 1/2" space between them.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with sugar. Then return to oven for another five minutes. Bake until the tops are lightly browned. Be careful you don't want dry scones.

Let the scones cool on the cookie sheet for about five minutes - then they can be removed to s serving platter.

The scones would look fantastic garnished with some fresh strawberries.

So watch Wimbledon, make some scones, play some tennis!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Star Sugar Cookies

I started making some Star Sugar Cookies for the Fourth of July. So I made the Star Shaped Sugar Cookies and then I took my son to the beach.

So far our summer has been like this - beach, pool, pool, beach, tennis courts, beach, batting cages, basketball, pool, beach, beach, Big Air (trampoline) pool, beach, pool.

It has been difficult to do much in the way of crafts and cooking. Plus in my spare time I need to watch Wimbledon! P.S. Could Chris Everet  be any more in love with Serena Williams?

Finally a day later I started decorating the cookies. I used a jelly roll type pan to decorate the cookies. This way the excess sprinkles stay in the pan - not all over the counters and floor.

I also used melted white chocolate to frost the cookies and then a variety of my red, white and blue sprinkles to decorate them.

So for this recipe just make your favorite sugar cookie recipe (or use one of mine - see the label "cookies" on the right hand side).

You will also need some white chocolate to melt and a variety of red, white and blue sprinkles.

I hope you have a wonderful Fourth of July!