Brittany wrote this on 16 October 2016
Hello friends! You may not know it, but you have stumbled upon DAY #2 of the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour! Traci, the fabulousness behind the blog Traci & Co., has organized a special blog tour of recipes, crafts, and gift tutorials to get us all ready for the holidays! There is a different blogger each day so don’t forget to click here to see all the amazing stuff we have for you!
And it gets better! There is a HUGE giveaway after the tour wraps up so be sure to head over to see what is happening each day and to enter the GIVEAWAY! There will be several winners and, among other outstanding prizes, one lucky friend will win a copy of my holiday eCookbook, Cooking Through The Holidays, releasing November 1! It has been quite the project and I am thrilled to be able to announce its debut here on the 12 Days Of Christmas Blog Tour!
So what do I have for you today?
The gift of food!
I am all about passing along a plate of cookies or a fruit cake to the neighbors (or RECEIVING a plate of cookies or fruit cake…) but occasionally I try and shake things up. A little jar of this Harvest Fruit Spread will definitely bring a smile to whoever enjoys it! Tuck it into a gift bag and pass it on as a hostess gift at an upcoming holiday party or top it with big bow and leave it for a teacher! This spread would be perfect as a secret santa gift. Make a gift for under the tree and fill a pretty mixing bowl biscuit mix, a fun mixing spoon, a seasonal kitchen towel, and a little jar of this! Boom! Better than Santa! Just don’t forget to save some for yourself!
The ingredient list may be a bit different, but cooked down, it becomes a smooth, spiced spread that has been know to make a fellow swoon. The flavor is a bit sweet, a bit tart, and perfectly spiced! If you plan to make a batch or two and want to share the love with family and friends, I made a handy dandy printable to make that a bit easier! Although a ribbon and a holiday tag work just as well!
Harvest Fruit Spread
This will make you house smell divine! The mix of flavors is comforting and just a little addicting! Be sure to cut the squash extra small; it will take the longest to cook. Any variety of apple and pear will do!
2 c small cubes fresh butternut squash or fresh pumpkin
1 large apple, peeled, cored and cubed
1 large pear, peeled, cored, and cubed
1 c raisins
7 ounces dried figs, snipped into small pieces
1 scant T freshly grated ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon-or 1 whole tsp if you like things nice and spiced
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 c apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
1 c water
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and place over medium heat. Simmer gently until fruit and squash is VERY tender and falling apart. If the pan starts to go dry before everything is soft, add more water. This will vary depending on the ripeness of your fruit and how big the chunks are! When everything is soft and most of the moisture has evaporated, let the mixture cool a bit. When ready, remove the cinnamon sticks and pulse in a food processor until desired consistency. I like it uniformly smooth, but not to the point of baby food. You decide! Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender to puree the spread. Mix well and be sure to give it a taste! If your fruit is extra tart and the mixture makes you pucker a bit, now is the time to stir in some honey. This spread is not supposed to be like candy, but feel free to adjust it to your liking. I won’t tell! Store it sealed, in the fridge for up to two weeks or freeze for later for several months. Enjoy!
Note~These are all the ways we devour this fruit spread:
- smeared on a panini with turkey, cheese and mustard
- spooned over pancakes and waffles
- as a dip for graham crackers
- spread on a tortilla with cream cheese and rolled up for a snack
- on a peanut butter sandwich
- paired with salty butter on these Sweet Potato Biscuits (Good LORD its good!)
- on cinnamon raisin toast
- smeared on crostini, topped with crumbled goat cheese, and served as an appetizer
- tucked onto a cheese plate and served with crackers and brie
- directly out of the jar with a spoon 🙂
Don’t miss out on all the fun! Click here to go to ALL of the handmade tutorials for The 12 Days Of Christmas Blog Tour and to enter the GIVEAWAY!!
Brittany wrote this on 5 October 2016
When the inevitable pumpkin spice craziness begins to invade our lives, I like to be ready for it.
I love me some lattes, but when my kids asked to have one too, I hesitated. We generally don’t give them coffee, seeing as how they are wired enough already. Personally, I don’t think it is very good for them, and if they want to pump themselves full of java later in life, I can’t stop them. Until them, I call the shots *evil laugh* and they will have to make do with this hot chocolate recipe.
Although, I would argue that it is not ‘making do’ but is instead, even better! Ok. So you don’t get the caffeine hit, which, to be honest, is my favorite part of ANY latte, pumpkin spice or otherwise. But I would choose a mug of hot chocolate over coffee just about any day of the week so this drink is as much for me as it is my kids. Your house will smell ah-may-ZING and you may want to keep the entire batch just for yourself. It is easy to make and not too sweet so a second helping is completely acceptable.
If you add a shot of espresso, I won’t tell a soul.
Get the recipe for my Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate over at the Columbia City Moms Blog!
Brittany wrote this on 27 May 2016
Strawberries and summer just seem to go together, yes? Yes. That was a rhetorical question…we all know they do.
Strawberries are a universal favorite for kids and adults alike and early this spring, I found myself with 30 pounds of them. Yes 30 pounds. There was this farm and they were doing this sale and the fruit was so good and yada yada yada. You get the picture. For several days, my family washed, hulled, and froze a LOT of berries. We also ate a lot. As many as we could stand. Because when life gives you a ridiculous amount of strawberries, you eat them like popcorn until your fingers are stained red.
And that is exactly what we did.
Like most families, we love fruit and there are no shortage of strawberry recipes in the Brittany’s Pantry archives. You can check them out all at once by clicking here! Sweet and savory are both included so whatever kind of strawberry fix you need, I have you covered! When I wanted to try something new, I decided to try this craziness called ‘strawberry milk’.
Wow! is it delightful!
Kids think this drink is just about the coolest thing since sliced bread. My own children had a blast helping make it and if you have never tried it, Memorial weekend would be the perfect time. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, this can be festive or perfectly plain. It is fresh and clean and wonderfully simple. As most delightful things in life seem to be.
Lets make Strawberry Milk! Click here to head over to the Columbia City Moms Blog and get the recipe!
Brittany wrote this on 4 January 2016
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BetterWithCraisins #CollectiveBiasSometimes, you have no choice but to just throw all your favorite things into one recipe.
Meat? Check. Cream cheese? Check. Cranberries? Check check. Add in a bit of citrus and the kick of Sriracha and you have something that can only be called wonderful. Julie Andrews is singing in my head… “…these are a few of my favorite things….”
It is officially game season here and in the weeks leading up to various big games, I am upping my strategy a bit with this recipe. I don’t make a lot of pinwheels (although I have no idea why) but I really really love it when I see them at gatherings. So I said to myself, “Self? Why not make them more often?” I was experimenting with my favorite flavors over the holidays and eventually, it all morphed into this. I tested the recipe at a few holiday events with mucho success, and now, they are hitting the football party scene.The beauty of this recipe is in its simplicity. The cream cheese and turkey pair great together, but the Craisins® Dried Cranberries are the star. They add color, texture, and a bit of natural sweetness. Obviously, most of us use Craisins® in baked goods, snack mixes, and salad toppings, but if you have never used them in a savory appetizer, now is your chance. Bonus! 1/4 c of dried cranberries equals a 1/2 c serving of fruit, so when you are popping these bites in your mouth, you know you are putting good things in your body.I got my Craisins® at the local Walmart and they were very easy to find in the dried fruit section. I also discovered something new! These Craisins® Fruit Clusters come in two different flavors and my whole family loved both kinds. You can find them right next to the other Craisins® products. They are pretty great for snacking. I portion them out into smaller containers and tuck them in my kids lunch box, or toss the whole bag into my purse for those days when the family needs something easy to munch on when we are traipsing around the zoo, running errands in town, or spending a few extra hours at the park. However, the recipe today features the straight-up, no frills dried cranberries. I wanted the sweet and sour, classic flavor in this appetizer and it works perfectly. Other reasons this works so well? You can make it ahead of time and can easily be a gluten free, depending on the tortillas you use. The cream cheese mixture can be made a day or two in advance and you can assemble the rolls when you need them. Or make the pinwheels as directed and store them in the fridge, uncut, up to 8 hours before party time. Leftover cranberry mixture? It is out of this world smeared on a bagel.
So when you are sprinkling those Craisins® over your oatmeal in the morning, consider a savory appetizer like this one for your next get together. Who could resist when it is full of favorite things?
Follow Craisins® and Ocean Spray® on social media so you don’t miss a thing!
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/OceanSpray/ Cran-Orange Pinwheels W/Smoked Turkey & Sriracha
Don’t worry about the heat from the Sriracha. It isn’t enough to do much more than give it just a bit of warmth in the back of your throat. Of course, I won’t tell anyone if you add more. Feel free to experiment with other flavors of Craisins®. All would taste just as good!
6 large tortillas-we like whole grain and gluten free versions
1 block cream cheese, low fat is fine
1/2 c Craisins® Dried Cranberries
1 tsp Sriracha (or to taste)
zest of 1 large orange
1/2 lb smoked turkey, sliced thin
In a medium bowl combine the cream cheese, Craisins®, Sriracha, and orange zest until well mixed. Set aside. Can be made up to two days ahead of time. Spread the mixture evenly on the tortillas, making sure to go all the way to the edges! Lay two pieces of turkey down the middle so that the meat reaches from end to end. Roll very tightly and set aside, doing the same with the other tortillas. Wrap tightly and store in the fridge for a few hours until ready to serve, or slice immediately. Cut into 1 inch slices, arrange on a platter or plate, and enjoy!
Brittany wrote this on 9 November 2015
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PairsWellWithHolidays #CollectiveBias
Why does food on a stick taste so much better? I have asked my kids this question several times and the answer is always the same: Because its fun!
This rings true for adults as well as kids and thankfully, it is ridiculously easy to do. My husband usually gets leftovers for lunch, but in the case of today’s recipe, it is so fast and easy, it just packed for everyone! I make a lot of wraps and sandwiches but I like variety in my meals as much as my kids. Hence, deviating from the norm happens rather often in our house. I’m a rebel that way.
I’m not sure how I got so blessed to end up with children that like strong flavors, but I did, and I am thankful. They have always liked the taste of a good, spicy salami and a sharp cheese. Why not deconstruct the sandwich?! Just like a holiday snack plate, this lunch ends up being a munch-able, exclusively finger-food type of situation. Toothpicks are cute, but they are also the perfect size for a school lunch!The meat I like to use for these is the same kind I serve to party guests. Creminelli has several flavors of uncured, handcrafted Italian salami and at the present time, the Tartufo (with black truffles) is our favorite. What I particularly like about this kind of meat is that the flavor is full and fantastic, but not overly spicy or salty. You can really taste the pork in this salami which is perfect wether you like strong flavors or not. It is mild enough for everyone! Add a cube of cheese and an itty bitty tomato and you have great taste in just a few bites. The meat doesn’t contain any of the chemicals and preservatives associated with other types of salami and that makes it a definite no brainer.
I pick up Creminelli products at my local Whole Foods store so stocking up is easy and convenient. And necessary! Between school and work lunches and weekend snack times, I keep some handy on a regular basis. The fact that I can (and do) use it for company at a moments notice is definitely a benefit for this busy Mom! Be sure to look for the savory Tartufo salami in the meat and cheese section. Because it is uncured, it won’t be refrigerated so check the displays in the aisles. The toughest part will be deciding which flavors to bring home!
When I pick up the salami, I like to grab some water crackers as well. My kids-and husband-love the extra crispy texture with the bold flavors of the skewers. Some fruit and olives on the side and they have a pretty spectacular lunch! The only thing that makes it better is the maple-mustard dipping sauce. A tiny container tucked in with everything else and they can dunk whatever they like! It is just mild enough that it doesn’t overpower the taste of the salmi, but lets be honest here. Its maple and mustard together with salami and cheese. On a stick! Does it get much better?
What are YOUR favorite flavors to eat with salami?
Mini Meat & Cheese Skewers W/Spicy Maple Mustard
These are great with olives or pickles tucked into the lunches as well! Be sure to use grape tomatoes here, as cherry tomatoes will be too big for little mouths.
1 pkg, uncured, Creminelli Tartufo Salami
provolone, swiss, or mozzarella cheese, cubed small
1 T pure maple syrup
1 scant T mayonnaise
1 T grainy mustard
toothpicks or cocktail skewers
Remove the casing from the salami and discard. Cube the meat into small, bite-sized pieces. Skewer the tomato, meat, and cheese onto the toothpick. In a small bowl, mix the mayo, mustard, and maple syrup until combined. Serve skewers with the dipping sauce. Note: This entire recipe can be made ahead of time, making busy school mornings less hectic! Enjoy!
Brittany wrote this on 23 October 2015
When it comes to holidays, Halloween and all things spooky and ghoulish are my least favorite to celebrate. I have never really been into the decorations and the costumes and mannequins with fake blood. Its entertaining, but you won’t find me hosting a costume party or visiting a haunted house anytime soon. Go ahead and call me a party pooper, but you know those people you see that are really into Halloween? Well I am just…not. Please tell me I am not alone in this…
That said, if it involves food, you can count me in as an avid supporter! 🙂 My kids are obvious fans of any event that gets them closer to candy and like most households at this time of year, we have a huge glass pumpkin filled with festive colored, individually wrapped sweet treats on our entry table. We live in the middle of nowhere and thus, will receive no trick or treaters, but the bowl of candy sits like a sugared little sentry, hospitable and ready for visitors.
This year, as part of a never-ending effort to be just a smidgen healthier than we were the day before, I decided to make family treats that were a bit less junkfood laden, yet festive enough to satisfy the most ardent of Halloween enthusiasts. I was going for a green and orange theme, so pistachios would be an awesome substitute for the pepitas (pumpkin seeds) in this recipe. The dried fruit and nuts can be found at Nuts.com and the site even has a special page for healthy snacks! You can find that by clicking here, and while you are browsing, jot down ideas for your own family!
As for my own kids, they were thrilled to see the candied eyeballs staring up at them from their chocolate. One piece is a nice little treat and SO much better for them than, say, a fun-sized candy bar. This plate is also fun to set out for guests this time of year. It screams Halloween! No fake blood required. 🙂
Fruit & Nut Halloween Bark
This keeps for a week, in the fridge, in an airtight container. That is, if you can keep your hands off! I even tucked one piece each in my kids lunches as a special treat!
1 bag, good quality dark or bittersweet chocolate chips, such as Ghirardelli
pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or chopped pistachios
whole almonds, roughly chopped
dried apricots, chopped
dried mango, chopped
In a medium bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until JUST MELTED! Don’t overheat! Meanwhile, place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. When chocolate is melted, pour in the middle of the sheet pan and spread gently and slowly to a rectangle about the size of an 8X11 sheet of paper. This makes the chocolate thin enough that it won’t be too sweet, but thick enough not to fall apart! Sprinkle with however much of the dried fruit and nuts you prefer. Its totally a matter of taste. Place a few candied eyes around the chocolate! Chill, uncovered in the fridge until firm. Because the chocolate is good, and without the stabilizers that cheaper chocolate can have in them, it will melt if handled too much! Cut with a sharp knife into irregular shapes and keep it stored in the fridge to prevent meltdown disasters! Enjoy!
Brittany wrote this on 30 September 2015
I do that all time. Like when I check out the recipe for a chocolate cake and I see the words sour cream, cocoa, coffee, ganache, and vanilla. Yeah. You know its gonna be outstanding. Or a beef stew that has the words red wine and fresh rosemary tucked amongst the potatoes and onions. Mmm. You can almost taste it, right? It is the same reason your mouth starts to salivate when you hear the words apple pie or pumpkin spice latte. You already know what is in it and that it will be fantastic.
This dip is kind of like that. Spice, lime, garlic, sesame, curry…mmmm. For those of you that are looking for a bit of a change from the hummus scene, I got your back. If you are obsessed with all things spicy and, well…we’ll just say it…Sriracha…then you are covered with this one. If you are gluten free and love variety in your diet, then here ya go! And if your house is the place to be for every football game from now until the Super Bowl because of your 879 million inch flat screen and make-ahead snacks with a kick are totally singing your song, well then I am playing your tune amigo!!
I am not usually into food trends, but it is hard to avoid Sriracha right now. And for good reason, since it is quite fantastic. It was around a long time before it became the most famous condiment EVER and it will be around long after the foodie world has moved onto something else. But don’t burn out on it because the flavor of this stuff is really spectacular. Spicy, yes, but vinegary and earthy at the same time. Not just any hot sauce, so don’t be fooled. It is just good stuff.
The combination of flavors in the finished dip here is a little bit asian and a little bit mediterranean. A nice fusion that is perfect with the flavor of the hot sauce and makes for a light and creamy dip. My kids inhale this just as much as my husband and his friends do, so don’t be put off by the Sriracha in the title. YOU control the heat and since you can dip nearly anything in it short of shoe leather and have it taste good, it covers all your bases. If you are thinking this would be awesome at your upcoming Halloween party, you would be right. Adding this to your menu for game day and toting it along to a holiday party or two would also be in order. Check YOU out being all trendy and stuff!
White Bean Dip W/Sriracha
Recipe adapted from White On Rice Couple
This is great served with just about anything. It is also fantastic on a tortilla with chicken or wrapped up with some deli turkey. Spread it on toast with tomato and avocado and gaaaaaaah.
In the bowl of a food processor, add:
2 (15 oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T lime juice
1 heaping tsp chopped garlic
2 tsp sesame oil
1 T soy sauce-I prefer low sodium
2 T Sriracha, or to taste
1 tsp curry powder
1 T water
Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Add water by teaspoonfuls if it is too thick. Scrape sides of the processor and combine well. Serve with crackers, pretzels, and various veggies. Enjoy!
Brittany wrote this on 16 July 2015
Living in South Carolina means lots of sunshine and an abundance of outdoor living spaces. My family and I, along with any guests that stop by, are most often on the porch enjoying the breezes, so whenever I have the opportunity to make meals outside and not heat up the house, I take it. Cooking outdoors allows me to spend more time with those I love, and to impart a little extra flavor into my food. And when I grill, I like to do it as simply as possible.
This recipe hits all of those points!
There are few things as good as fresh from the garden tomatoes. But some would argue, myself included, that the occasional addition of bacon only improves things. This is definitely one of those times. This simply grilled bread is just toasty enough to stand up to the tomatoes and give this snack a nice, toothy crunch. Topped with summer tomatoes and salty bacon, this appetizer or first course could easily become a light dinner. Prep the ingredients ahead of time and it becomes a fuss free dish you could make with your eyes closed. Around here, an enormous glass of sweet tea (lots of ice) makes the perfect partner to a platter of this bruschetta, but I’ll let you make that call.
What is YOUR favorite dish to grill and what kind of cold drink to you enjoy it with?
Grilled Tomato & Bacon Bruschetta
This is an easy dish to prep ahead. Make the tomato topping and set aside until ready to serve. Slice the bread and wrap well to keep fresh, and crumble or chop the bacon and set aside as well. Have all the ingredients sitting out at room temp and waiting for you. When you are ready to make it, brush the bread, grill, top, and serve-all in a matter of minutes!
1 lb bacon, fried till crispy
1/2 of a 1lb loaf of whole grain Italian baguette, or similar bread, cut into half inch slices (this will give you about a dozen slices)
3 large, vine ripe, preferably local tomatoes, chopped
small pinch of salt
large pinch of ground black pepper
2 T of olive oil
1 tsp of balsamic vinegar
When the bacon is cool, chop or crumble and set aside. Gently toss the tomatoes, salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar together in small bowl. Set aside. Lightly brush both sides of the bread with olive oil and grill over medium high heat, just until toasted and grill marks appear. THIS WILL NOT TAKE LONG! A minute at most! Flip the bread to toast the other side. Remove the toast to a platter and top with large spoonfuls of the tomato mixture. Sprinkle with bacon and serve immediately.
Note: Topped with a fried egg, these make an awesome dish for brunch!
Brittany wrote this on 2 July 2015
I may be doing too much for them and I have decided to try and incorporate more age appropriate chores into their routine. As you can probably imagine, they are thrilled. Is anyone else struggling with responsibility and their kids? Laundry folding, simple food prep, emptying the dishwasher; that kind of thing. They are doing great so far, but they really really want to be more help in the kitchen. My nine year old, Evelyn, has graduated to making pancakes all on her own and is getting more and more comfortable with the gas stove. Eli, who is 6, is a master at making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and making sure everyone has milk poured into their cereal. Lane, our three year old bundle of spiciness, just wants to be where everyone else is and make a giant mess. Pretty normal for a toddler.
But these treats, which will grace our Fourth of July BBQ buffet this year, is the perfect task for all three. Regardless of how neat or how messy they turn out, they will taste amazing. There is nothing to cook, and the most dangerous utensil is a butter spreader. What my kids find fascinating about it is that we can change up the sprinkles to suit any occasion. Birthday themes, Christmas, or even NO sprinkles (God forbid…) on just a Saturday night.
My point is, if you have a ridiculous amount of stuff to do this weekend, why not give this recipe to your kids and say “Go to it!” It can only end in fun. And who knows?! Maybe they will starting bringing you pancakes and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in bed!
Want the full recipe? Click on this link to head over to the Columbia Moms Blog to see my post there!
Happy Independence Day, friends!!
Brittany wrote this on 15 May 2015
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareFunshine #CollectiveBias There are few things in this world as satisfying as ice cream on a hot day.
This seems to be a universal joy across all age groups and now that I live in South Carolina, I take my position as hostess on 100 degree days very seriously. At this point in time in my life, there are always kids at my house and that is often my focus when entertaining. When kids are happy, the parents are happy, and then everyone can relax. And isn’t that what we all want out of our get togethers? To have fun, laugh, chill, and really connect with our family and friends? That is how memories are made and where relationships flourish. If I can accomplish all of that and enjoy my time as well, I call that being a successful hostess.
I used to do everything from scratch and while it was exhausting, I really loved it. The older I get, the more I realize that it isn’t the food that is served, but the time spent with each other that is remembered. I have found an easy way to serve the ever popular ice cream in a fun and festive way! Not only is it something I can do ahead (score!) but it is incredibly easy with maximum impact.
That happens with these Snickers® Ice Cream Bars and right now they are starting of the summer with some fun!! Do YOU want to get in on the action? You can learn all about how to enter the sweepstakes to Share A Little Funshine by clicking here.
Snickers® Ice Cream Bars are pretty incredible all on their own. I am actually pretty choosy with my ice cream and these are one of the lucky few that make their way into my freezer from time to time. Why? Because with chocolate, caramel, peanuts, and ice cream all combined in one bite, it is pretty hard to resist. I have always loved these treats and with kids, I wanted an easier way to serve them.
Enter these frozen pops! This is so easy, its shameful! Unwrap a Snickers® Ice Cream Bar and OH so very carefully, insert a wooden popsicle stick into one end, going about halfway up the stick. Immediately place the ice cream back in the freezer (we want them to stay really frozen) and continue with as many as you would like to make. See the cute little ribbons in the pic above? So easy. Just knot on any kind of ribbon you like, although the 1/4 inch wide seems to work the best for this. Customize your colors to a birthday party, bbq theme, Memorial Day celebration, July 4th, or use whatever you have on hand. This is a great way to get kids involved with prepping for a get together and you can make as many or as few as you need. Since they are stored in the freezer, simply set them on a decorative plate and serve. No messy fingers, and even adults can walk and chat and munch on their ice cream. Even better if you have a bonfire going and you can simply toss the sticks into the flames. No clean up!Did you know that these come in a value box too? So much easier when feeding a crowd! I picked these up at Walmart and they couldn’t be easier to locate! Follow the ICE CREAM sign and voila!
There are so many ways to enjoy time with friends and family this summer and it doesn’t stop with ice cream! Having a few extras on hand can be a great way to celebrate warmer days and enjoy that occasional treat! In addition you can download the Blippar app from your Apple or Android store to scan your package and receive exclusive content.Peanut M&M’s® are my go to treat when I want something chocolatey.
Which are your favorite to share with friends and family? Are you a Plain M&M® kind of person? Or a chewy Skittles® fan?
Brittany wrote this on 13 May 2015
Gigantic, gallon pickle jars were not scarce in a family with 6 kids and we had several in rotation to make sun tea. Eight little tea bag strings hanging out under the lid and sitting on top of our grill. That is what I see in my head. 🙂 As a child, I used to love to sit and watch the water slowly warm up, the copper stain of the tea spreading down and darkening the liquid. That jar was toasty warm after a few hours!
I know it isn’t the most convenient or speedy way to make tea, but it is economical, fun, and I swear it tastes better! I mean, sweet tea made with solar power? Can it get much cooler?
Actually it can. While I used to be a kind of sweet tea purist (yes, even Minnesotans drink sweet tea) I have recently been kind of addicted to excessive amounts of citrus in my drinks. I really love Arnold Palmers (50/50 sweet tea and lemonade) and I just decided top stop messing around and give my tea the lemon kick from the beginning. Hence, this citrus sweet tea. Easy, thirst quenching, and totally customizable to your tastes. Now that summer is just around the corner, embrace the 90 degree days and be prepared! Sweet Citrus Sun Tea
Citrus Tea: Fill a glass, gallon sized container (like a pickle jar) with water and float 8 black tea bags on the top. Slice one lemon and one orange (or two lemons or two oranges or two limes etc) and add to the water. Seal with the lid and let steep outside, in the sunshine (duh) and until the tea is dark and warm. This will take a few hours, but don’t let it steep all day or it will get kind of bitter. And no, cloudy days don’t really work for this, for obvious reasons! 🙂 When it is finished, remove and discard the tea bags and the citrus slices. Pour the tea into a pitcher, sweeten if desired (see below), and add fresh slices of citrus just before serving. Enjoy!
Note: This is the BEST sweetener of iced tea. I used it all summer in various drinks and it will keep almost indefinitely in the fridge!
Simple Syrup: Equal parts water and sugar, heated together until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cool to room temp and then store in the fridge in an sealed container! Use as much or as little as you like! Enjoy!
Brittany wrote this on 23 April 2015
My answer is always an predictable, sure! Then I precede to tell them what they are allowed to have. The list usually encompasses all things they can get themselves that take no prep work. Carrots and hummus, an apple or banana, crackers and pimento cheese, applesauce, a granola bar, etc. Every once in awhile though, I like to totally surprise them with something special, and since our lives are a bit stressful right now with building and moving, they TOTALLY deserved something out of the ordinary.
Enter, Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Dip. I have made this before, but it was so long ago, none of my kids remembered it. I figured that was a good excuse to make it again, no? It is a bit like cookie dough, but I am kind of a purist when it comes to snacking on it and generally like to eat the real thing-eggs and all-right out of the bowl.
I’m a rebel that way.
But this dish is different. While it has all the flavors or cookie dough, it isn’t trying to imitate it, but rather pay homage to it. If a dessert dip can really do that…
Make it ahead and add a scoop to your kids lunches, enjoy when the day is done, or take a batch to the office. Who can resist mini chocolate chips and cream cheese? Who would want to, for that matter. With the graham crackers, it really does taste like cheesecake! A little bit goes a long way so be sure to share. Oh! What the heck am I saying. Keep it all to yourself if you like. I won’t tell.
Creamy Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Dip
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
1 stick (1/2 c) butter
1/3 c brown sugar
1-8 oz-package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c mini chocolate chips
graham crackers, pretzels, vanilla wafers, etc for serving
In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and brown sugar together over low heat, stirring frequently. Once the sugar is dissolved, set it aside to cool. In the meantime, add the cream cheese and powdered sugar to a medium bowl and combine with a hand mixer until smooth. Add vanilla, and beat together. Pour in the cooled brown sugar and butter mixture, and beat until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips. Dip can be made up to a day ahead, sealed in an airtight container in the fridge. Serve with whatever dippers sound good to you! I love graham crackers and pretzels but feel free to experiment!
Brittany wrote this on 6 April 2015
This is going to sound odd, but do you know what one of my favorite parts about Easter is?
I’m not talking about the boiling and dyeing and hiding and searching phase. I’m talking about the crack and peel and slice and devour phase. Using up those leftovers to make snacks. I. Love. Deviled. Eggs.
When I was little, we stored our freshly colored Easter eggs in the fridge, making sure not to waste a single one. My parents made a killer potato salad and like a true 70’s and 80’s family, we sliced hard boiled eggs on the top for garnish and sprinkled the whole she-bang with paprika. I can pretty much guarantee we were wearing polyester as well. And while we are on the subject, what was with all the hard boiled eggs during those years? Egg salad, potato salad, or deviled eggs — it was all there.
While deviled eggs may be a food fad from decades ago, they are still the first thing to go at a party. Like cornflakes and mini skirts, they seem to have withstood the test of time. And I know why! It is because they are good (duh) and the endless varieties of flavor combinations ensure that you will never get bored. Eggs are inexpensive to make, easy to peel and they will taste great no matter how artfully they are put together so don’t hesitate to let your kids help. My little ones — including the three year old — always feel SO important when I give them a kitchen task and peeling eggs keeps them busy for quite awhile. Score!
Do you like deviled eggs as much as I do??
Brittany wrote this on 9 February 2015
Ere go, I have purchased an alarming number of boxes of little ‘0’ cereal made of oats, such as Cheerios or something similar. Cereal that shows up in my couch cushions, on the bottom of my purse, and in my laundry. This kind of cereal is always around so anytime I can quickly throw together a fun snack or treat with items already in my kitchen, I consider it a good thing. If they are so scrumptious even my husband and I can’t stop eating them and we end up trying to hide them from our kids, well then that is a VERY good thing. I mean, you know. In a joking, I’m-not-really-hiding-food-from-my-kids-sorry-not-sorry-kind of way.
I have had bars like these before but I haven’t actually made them myself since God was a boy. I couldn’t remember the exact method or ingredients to make them stick so I turned to that necessary evil (I speak of Pinterest) and searched out some good ones. I settled on this version here from a blog called Chew Out Loud and they were exactly perfect. Just as I remember them. Better actually.
I do believe that it is the combo of the crunchy cereal with the chewy cranberries that really keeps me hooked. Also, is it weird that I think these bars just look friendly? I want to make huge batches of them and wrap them up individually and tuck them in everyone’s pockets. Then when they discover them later they have a snack that makes them smile. Corny, yes. But still a good idea. Such a good idea, I bet it will make you run out and buy cereal to make these, wether you have kids to throw them onto the floor of your car or not.
Honey Peanut Cereal Bars
Recipe from the blog Chew Out Loud
4 c oat ‘o’ cereal
1 c dried fruit, such as cranberries, raisins, or a mix of both
1/2 c dry roasted peanuts
1/2 c honey, preferably raw
1/2 c creamy peanut butter
Spray an 8 inch square pan or line it with parchment paper or wax paper. In a small microwave bowl, heat the honey and peanut butter together until melted together. Stir until smooth and runny. Meanwhile, mix the first three ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour the melted honey mixture over the cereal mixture and mix will with a large rubber scraper. When it is all coated evenly, pour into the prepared pan and press evenly to compact the cereal a bit. Press firmly so that the gaps are filled. This ensures the bars will hold together once they are cool. Let set completely, cooling at room temp or in the fridge. Cut into bars. These will keep for up to three days, sealed tightly. Enjoy!!
Brittany wrote this on 2 February 2015
A few years ago I started adding bacon and chives to my regular Mini Corn Muffins. I still make them plain all the time and usually serve them with chili, salads, or just as a snack to munch on. But filled with extras, they make the perfect addition to a brunch buffet or breakfast. With the green of the chives and the chunks of bacon, they are more than a little tempting all piled up in a big basket. A nice, savory change of pace. And bite sized! How cool is that?! I decided to make them for a little get together I was at recently, but couldn’t shake the fact that they looked like they needed something extra. Hats of cream cheese? Yuppers. Perfect. All dressed up and ready for a party. It was my husbands idea to top them with bacon. I wanted to add some chives to the top for color, but bacon won out due to the enthusiastic and
threatening insistent cries of my family. Ultimately, you decide which you want to top them with!
These are so easy to bake up and top that you are going to want to make them for everything. Parties are an obvious choice, but set out with a spread for a bridal shower or baby shower, these are a fantastic, non-sugary appetizer that are irresistibly pop-able. They are also the perfect size for little fingers so try adding them to a table at a kids party, with or without the topping. Bursting with flavor and fantastic textures, these little bites of wonderfulness are definitely ready for their close-up.
Mini Corn Muffins W/Bacon, Chives, & Spicy Cream Cheese Whip
Top the mini muffins no more than an hour or two ahead of time. You can bake them up a day ahead and store them in an airtight container. Mix up the topping and chill it in the fridge until you are ready to use it and everything will be ready when you are.
Cook 1/2 lb of bacon and chop. Set aside several pieces for garnish. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly spray a mini muffin tin.
Mix together in a medium bowl:
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c buttermilk
1/4 c canola oil or grape seed oil
1 c white whole wheat flour or all purpose flour
1/3 c cornmeal
2 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients just until combined. Do not over mix.
Fold in 1 c frozen corn, thawed
2 T chopped fresh chives
Add most of the bacon, still reserving a bit for garnish on the tops.
Divide batter among the mini muffin cups and bake until puffed and golden, 9-11 minutes. This makes about 40 mini muffins so it may take two passes through the oven. Remove to a cooling rack.
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 T sour cream
1 tsp bottled hot sauce
1 T honey
1 tsp milk
Whip all ingredients together until smooth. Pipe, spread, or dollop whip on the cooled mini muffins and garnish with reserved bacon, more chopped chives, or both! Can be made and assembled an hour ahead.