Friday, July 31, 2015

Star Wars Party!


I really can't take the credit for this. This is an amazing party that my sister threw for all of her nieces and nephews, but her ideas were just so cute that I had to share them (and the recipes) as well. Be sure to check out her blog post regarding this party, because it is beyond awesome (besides the recipes, she had obstacle courses for the "younglings" to pass in order to become Jedi, and she also had a movie preview starring all of the cousins). Check out her blog here. Oh, and be sure to check out the movie preview she created for the kids. They loved it! You can find the move preview here.


Han-Burger Sliders


1 medium onion
1 1/2 pounds 90/10 ground beef
1 large egg
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Freshly ground black pepper
6 slices American cheese, quartered
24 thin plum tomato slices from 2 to 3 tomatoes)
24 dill pickle slices
24 mini potato buns
4 large iceberg lettuce leaves, cut into 24 even pieces
Ketchup and yellow mustard, for serving


Special equipment: a 10-by-15-inch rimmed baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the onion in half, and shred each half on the large holes of a box grater. Squeeze the shredded onion dry between 2 towels, and scatter around a 10-by-15-inch rimmed baking sheet.

Put the ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl, and mix gently, just enough to incorporate evenly. Drop mounds of the mixture all around the baking sheet, and press them into an even layer without disturbing the onions too much (but expect some of the onions to move around and peek through the meat). Brush the top of the meat with the vegetable oil, then season it evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and several grinds of fresh pepper. Score the meat into 2 squares, cutting completely through with a spatula.

Bake until browned and no longer pink in the middle, 8 to 9 minutes. Put a small square of cheese on each patty, and return to the oven to melt, about 30 seconds. Let rest a few minutes, then recut along the scores to separate.

Top each patty with a slice of tomato and pickle. Slide a spatula into the pan and let guests serve themselves. Serve alongside a platter with the buns and lettuce. Don't forget the ketchup and mustard.

Yield: 8 servings (3 sliders per person). 

Source: Originally posted on our blog here. This is a Food Network recipe that you can find here.

Notes: These are great and so easy. I always skip the onion in this recipe though since my boys wouldn't eat it.


Pretzel Lightsabers


1 bag pretzel sticks
1 bag blue candy melting wafers
 1bag yellow candy melting wafers
Wax paper
Cookie sheet


Melt candy in a double boiler or microwave according to package instructions.

Dip pretzels about 2/3 of the way into melted candy.

Twirl around pot until covered. Shake to remove any excess.

Place on cookie sheet lined with wax paper.

Place in refrigerator until set.

Source: Pottery Barn Kids. However, it appears that it isn't online anymore (or at least I couldn't find it).

Notes: Basic, but really cute.


Jabba's Juice


1 package (4 ounces) lime Kool-Aid mix, sugar-sweetened
1 cup warm water
20 assorted gummy creatures
3 cups crushed ice
3 liters sparkling water, chilled
1 can frozen limeade with pulp, defrosted
Green food coloring, optional


In a large punch bowl, combine the Kool-Aid mix with 1 cup warm water and stir until dissolved.

Wet the undersides of the gummy creatures with warm tap water and set aside, wet side up, to become sticky.

Add the ice to the punch bowl and slowly pour each liter of sparkling water into the bowl, stirring to combine. Add the limeade and stir. If desired, add a few drops of green food coloring for a more dramatic color. Stick the gummy creatures to the outside and the inside lip of the bowl. If they do not adhere, rewet and set aside until "gummier."

Makes about 4 1/2 quarts.

Source: This came from a Star Wars cookbook that my sister has. I'm pretty sure it is this book.

Notes: This was a tasty drink and the kids thought it was a lot of fun.

Watto-Melon Cubes


1/2 large seedless watermelon
Blue decorating sugar


Cut the watermelon into 2-inch-wide round slices. Trim away the rind. Cut the melon into s-inch-square cubes.

Gently dab each side of each cube on a paper towel to dry them slightly.

Pour the blue decorating sugar onto a plate.

Dip two sides of each cube into the sugar and place on a small plate, four cubes per serving.

Serves about 4.


Source: This came from the same cookbook that the Jabba Juice came from.

Notes: You know, watermelon is great...but dip it in decorating sugar and it is a magical thing. This was really good.


Star Wars Sarlacc Bundt Cake


Caramel Bundt Cake:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

Biscoff Madeleines:

2 large room temperature eggs
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground Biscoff Cookie crumbs
1/4 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of cinnamon (or more, to your taste)
8 tbsp butter, melted and cooled


1 package Biscoff Cookies (8 oz)
Your favorite salted caramel sauce
Your favorite vanilla frosting
Handful of raw slivered almonds


Caramel Bundt Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and grease your bundt cake pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

With an electric mixer and paddle attachment, beat the softened butter with both sugars until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time until each is well-mixed. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add vanilla and mix some more.

On low, add the flour mixture alternating between the dry ingredients and the buttermilk. Start with the flour and end with the flour. Mix until just combined.

Pour into bundt cake pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool in pan for about 20 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Biscoff Madeleines:

Start by setting oven to 375 degrees F.

Lightly grease and flour your madeleine pan.

In a food processor, blend package of Biscoff Cookies into crumbs. Set aside.

Beat eggs and sugar together until thick.

Beat in vanilla and salt.

Sift flour, Biscoff Cookie crumbs, cinnamon, and baking powder into bowl and fold together until mixed.

Stream in melted butter while mixing on low.

Spoon a tablespoon of batter into each cavity.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Be careful to not overbake.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing.

Make sure pan has cooled before baking the next batch.

Cookie Tentacles:

Pour some of the madeleine batter into a small ziplock bag and snip off the corner.

Pipe tentacles on parchment paper or a greased cookie sheet. Don't make them too thick because the batter spreads as it bakes. One thin line should do.

Bake at 375 degrees F. until golden brown.


Once the cake has cooled, drizzle the entire cake with caramel sauce.

Cover the cake with the Biscoff Cookie crumbs.

Using the raw almonds, create the spikes or teeth on the interior walls of the pit.

Fill the pit with frosting and cover with the Biscoff Cookie crumbs.

Using a small piping tip (or a bag with tip snipped off) create teeth along the outer edge of two madeleine cookies. Place cookies inside the pit.

Surround the beak with the cookie tentacles.
Source: We found the idea on Pinterest. It comes from a website called Yummy Crumble. You can find it here. She got the bundt cake recipe from Go Bold With Butter. You can find that original recipe here.

Notes: Our sarlacc pit wasn't as successful as Yummy Crumble's, but it was still a lot of fun! Our tentacles didn't work (they crumbled apart). So, be sure to check out Yummy Crumble's pictures. They are awesome. While our cake wasn't as awesome, it still got the point across and was still a lot of fun for the kids.

Honestly, this cake sounds like too much work to me (my sister made it though, not me). I would have used a yellow cake mix, topped it with caramel topping and Biscoff Cookie crumbs, done my best with the sarlacc monster using store-bought cookies and frosting and called it a day. :) This was delicious though!


Above: looks like the sarlacc got some sand stuck on its teeth...oh well...

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Restaurant Worthy


You know you've succeeded when you make something really good and you think, "I would order this in a restaurant," and not only that, you would be satisfied with your choice rather than sad that you didn't pick something else instead.

Brownie Chocolate Chip Cheesecake


1 (19.5 ounce) package Pillsbury Classic Traditional Fudge Brownies
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 (14 ounce) can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom only of 9-inch springform pan. Prepare brownie mix as package directs for chewy brownies. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake 35 minutes or until set.

In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Bake 50 minutes or until set. Cool. Chill thoroughly. Remove side of springform pan. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

Source:, submitted by EAGLE BRAND. You can find it here.

Notes: We topped this with sweetened whipped cream and additional mini chocolate chips. This was so good!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Hail, Caesar!


This is a great and easy summer meal. Easy, cool, and it hits the spot.

Chicken Caesar Salad Pitas


4 chicken breasts
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Bagged Caesar salad kit
Pita pocket bread or pita flatbread


Saute chicken in olive oil on both sides until no longer pink in the middle and juices run clear. Season with salt and pepper and Italian seasoning. Slice chicken into strips.

Prepare Caesar salad. Top pita bread with chicken strips and Caesar salad.

Source: My mom made this waaaaay back in the day. I'm not sure where she came up with the idea.

Notes: At the time, my mom actually used pre-cooked chicken strips that can be found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. You could also use shredded rotisserie chicken if you don't want to cook chicken for these pita sandwiches.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Make a Night of It

Theme nights can be a lot of fun. This summer, we had a Mexican theme night with some fantastic pork carnitas.

Crock Pot Carnita Tacos with Chipotle Cream


For the quick pickled onions and jalapenos:

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cup water
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt

For the chipotle cream:

2 teaspoons chipotle peppers in adobo, finely minced
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon lime juice

For the carnitas:

1 (4-5 lb) lean boneless pork roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 3" chunks
1 tablespoon oil
12 oz beer (or you can substitute beef broth like we did)
1 large white onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 chipotle in adobo, from can, chopped, plus 1 teaspoon sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

For the tacos:

12-16 corn tortillas, toasted
Cotija cheese, for topping
Cilantro, for topping


Start by making the pickled onions and jalapenos. Combine the apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a bowl and whisk until the sugar and salt dissolve. Put the onion and jalapeno in a sealable container and pour over the vinegar mixture. Let sit at room temperature while you prepare the cream and pork.

In a small, sealable container, combine the sour cream, chipotles, and lime juice. Mix well and taste--add more adobo sauce if you like yours spicier, or more sour cream if you'd like to tame the heat. Cover and refrigerate.

In a large skillet over high heat, heat the oil. When hot, add in the pork and sear until browned, about 2-3 minutes per side. Place the pork in the bottom of the crock pot.

Add in the onion, beer or beef broth, chipotle, garlic, and seasonings, and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Put the pickled onions and jalapenos in the refrigerator.

After 6 hours, check your pork. When it easily shreds with a fork, it is ready to be removed from the broth and shredded.

Preheat the broiler and prepare two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Scatter the pork around the baking sheets and ladle about 1/4 cup of the broth over each sheet of pork.

Place one sheet under the broiler for about 5 minutes, then toss the pork and ladle another 1/4 cup of broth over. Broil once more, until crispy but not overcooked, and then ladle another 1/4 cup broth over the pork. Repeat with the second sheet.

When the pork is done, serve it in toasted corn tortillas (one suggestion is to use 2 corn tortillas per taco to keep in all of the juices) with the chipotle cream and pickled onions and jalapenos. Sprinkle with cotija cheese and cilantro.

Source: Host the Toast. You can find it here. Adapted from a recipe found on Gimme Some Oven, which you can find here.

Notes: These were really good. So tasty and satisfying! I wussed out because I was pregnant and skipped the onions and jalapeno because I was worried it would give me heartburn or acid reflux, but everyone who tried it with the onions and jalapenos loved it and said that the pickling tamed them.

Above: Shredded pork.


Above: Chipotle cream.  


Above: Pickled onions and jalapeno.

Above: We served this with a variety of other toppings as well so that everyone could make these carnitas their own. 

Above: Options are a good thing!


Mexican Corn Salad


3 tablespoons butter
2 cups whole kernel corn, cooked
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup chopped zucchini
2 green onions, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 cup salsa
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


In a heavy large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the corn, bell pepper, zucchini, green onions, and jalapeno pepper. Saute until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and refrigerate vegetables until chilled.

Add salsa and chopped cilantro to vegetable mixture. Stir and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source:, submitted by Barrett. You can find it here.

Notes: This was really good. It made a nice addition to this meal.

Cilantro-Lime Coleslaw


3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 lime, zested
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sweet chili sauce
2 teaspoons white sugar
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 red onion, finely diced, or more to taste
4 cups shredded green cabbage, or more to taste


Whisk mayonnaise, lime zest, lime juice, rice vinegar, garlic, sweet chili sauce, and sugar in a large bowl, stirring to dissolve sugar. Mix cilantro and red onion into dressing. Stir cabbage into dressing mixture, about 1 cup at a time, until all cabbage is coated.

Source:, submitted by Mom (though not my Mom! Ha ha!). You can find it here.

Notes: I LOVED this. I could have eaten the whole bowl by myself if there weren't so many other good things to eat. There was no room left in my belly!

(Cafe Rio Copycat) Mint Limeade



1 3/4 cups white sugar
2 cups water
2-3 sprigs fresh mint (not peppermint or spearmint)


1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lime juice
8-10 cups cold water
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves

Garnishes (optional):

Fresh mint sprigs
Fresh lime slices
1/2 cup sugar and freshly grated zest of 1 lime combined (for sugaring the rims of the glasses)


Combine the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and strain the mint leaves. Allow to cool at room temperature or place in the refrigerator. The syrup can be made a few days ahead of time.

When ready to serve, place the chopped mint leaves in the bottom of the serving pitcher. Add the syrup, freshly squeezed lime juice, and 8 cups of cold water. taste and add additional water to taste, if necessary. If serving over ice, you might want to make it a tiny bit sweeter than you normally like to account for the dilution from the melted ice.

To make the lime sugar for the rims of the glasses, mix the zest of one lime with 1/2 cup sugar. Using a damp paper towel, wipe around the rim of each glass and then invert the glass into the lime sugar. Carefully fill the sugar-rimmed glasses with ice cubes and pour the limeade into the glasses to serve.

Makes 12-14 servings.

Source: Our Best Bites. You can find it here. Be sure to check out Our Best Bites because they have a Strawberry Mint Limeade variation, as well as instructions for how to make any flavor of berry limeade. Sounds yummy!

Notes: So good! Enough said!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Ice Cream Night 2015!


Well, we try to have one night a year where we have homemade ice cream for dessert. Of course, we always make too much and end up serving it at multiple dinners throughout the, I guess we have multiple ice cream nights...but only one night where we debut our ice cream...

At any rate, enjoy these ice cream recipes!


Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream


3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
7 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract, or to taste
3 cups miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
Green food coloring, optional


In a large bowl or pitcher, mix together the sugar, lemon juice, salt, heavy whipping cream, milk, vanilla extract, mint extract, chocolate chips, and food coloring.

Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker's canister and place the canister into the ice cream machine.

Surround the canister with ice and ice cream rock salt in a layered fashion. A couple inches of ice followed by 1/2 cup of ice cream rock salt, followed by more ice and more salt until the canister is covered.

Churn the ice cream for 40 minutes, or until the ice cream is firm.

Remove the canister and scrape any remaining ice or salt off with a rubber spatula.

Transfer ice cream to a freezer safe container and allow to ripen in the freezer until set.

Source: I got this off of the back of my box of Morton Ice Cream Salt. It doesn't appear to be online anymore though. Or, at least I couldn't find it.

Notes: This was really good, but I changed a few things (and I would change some other things next time I made this). This needs way more than 1 1/2 teaspoons of peppermint extract. I would suggest starting with 2 teaspoons and then tasting and adjusting according to your own tastes. I lost track, but I may have used a tablespoon or more (and it was still subtle, not overpowering). Just taste as you go, and stop when it is just right for you. The original recipe suggested using 4 drops of green food coloring. I put in way more than that, and you can barely tell from these pictures. I should have put even more in.

I also thought there were too many chocolate chips for my tastes. I would have started with 1 cup of chocolate chips and perhaps added another 1/2 cup...or perhaps I would have just stopped at 1 cup.


Apricot Ice Cream


One recipe Easy Vanilla Ice Cream (reduce sugar in recipe to 1 cup)
2 cups homemade apricot freezer jam (see notes)


Prepare Easy Vanilla Ice Cream, but reduce sugar to only 1 cup. Pour into ice cream canister. Stir in apricot freezer jam.

Freeze according to ice cream maker instructions.

Source: A combination of a recipe from my ice cream manual (recipe below) and the fact that I screwed up on my jam and the sugar didn't dissolve, so my jam was grainy and I didn't want to just throw it out, and then it occurred to me that it would probably work fantastically in ice cream.

Notes: This was really good. It was sweet, creamy, and rich...everything a good homemade ice cream should be.

You could use store bought apricot jam, or you could use 2 cups (or more) of chopped fresh apricots instead of using apricot freezer jam.

Easy Vanilla Ice Cream


6 cups cream
4 1/2 cups half and half
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla


Combine all ingredients in ice cream canister. Do not fill the canister more than 2/3 full, as the mixture will expand during freezing.

Stir well until sugar has dissolved.

Freeze 40 minutes or until ice cream is firm.

Pour ice cream into freezer safe container and allow to ripen in freezer until set.

Source: My Nostalgia Electrics 4-quart ice cream maker manual, model number ICMW400. You can download the manual here, but I can't find a link for the recipe online.

Notes: This is such a good and basic ice cream recipe. I use it as the base of many ice cream creations. You can basically mix anything into this and create another recipe. Crushed Oreos? Voila! Cookies and Cream ice cream! Crushed or chopped fruit like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, etc.? Delicious! 

Sure Jell Apricot Freezer Jam


1 3/4 lbs. apricots (2 1/2 cups, finely chopped)
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
5 1/2 cups sugar
1 box (1.75 oz) Sure Jell pectin
3/4 cup water


Wash and rinse plastic containers with tight fitting lids. Use 1 to 2 cup size containers.

Finely chop the apricots. Measure exact amount of apricots and lemon juice and put in a large bowl.

Measure exact amount of sugar in a separate bowl.

Stir sugar into prepared fruit. Mix well, let stand 10 minutes; stir occasionally.

In a small saucepan, stir 1 box pectin and 3/4 cup water until well-mixed (though pectin may start out lumpy). Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Stir pectin mixture into fruit mixture. Stir constantly until sugar is completely dissolved and no longer grainy, about 3 minutes (a few sugar crystals may remain).

Pour into prepared containers, leaving 1/2-inch space at top for expansion during freezing; cover.

Let stand at room temperature 2 hours until set. Refrigerate up to 3 weeks. Otherwise, store in freezer for up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator.

Source: I got this from a box of Sure Jell pectin. I can't seem to find the exact same recipe online, though you can find similar ones here. Sure Jell is a Kraft brand.

Notes: I slightly changed the wording of this recipe to help you avoid the reason that my jam had grainy sugar. In the original recipe, it says, "Stir 1 box pectin and 3/4 cup small saucepan." I was making this while distracted by kids and I saw, "Stir 1 box pectin and 3/4 cup water..." and I automatically poured it into my fruit/sugar mixture...despite the fact that I have made freezer jam a countless number of times, I still seem to screw up on this particular step here and there and end up messing up a batch of jam. So, be sure to dissolve the pectin in the water before adding it to the fruit/sugar mixture! Even so, this really is the best recipe for freezer jam!


Berry Sorbet


2 (12-oz) bags of frozen mixed berries
1 cup apple juice
1 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
4 cups cranberry and raspberry juice mixture


Finely puree the berries in a blender with apple juice and water.

Strain mixture into a large saucepan to remove seeds. Discard seeds.

Add sugar to the seedless berry mixture, bring to a boil for 3-4 minutes. Stir in remaining juices.

Pour into a large glass bowl and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Pour mixture into the canister of a 4-quart ice cream maker and freeze according to ice cream maker's instructions.

Do not fill the canister more than 2/3 full, as the mixture will expand during freezing.

Source: My Nostalgia Electrics 4-quart ice cream maker manual, model number ICMW400. You can download the manual here, but I can't find a link for the recipe online.

Notes: This was a fan favorite. Refreshing and so delicious. Oh, and I know it isn't ice cream, it's sorbet. :)


Marshmallow Kit Kat Ice Cream


2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk (1 oz)
2 cups chopped Kit Kat candy bars
1/2 cup marshmallow ice cream topping


In a mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Stir the chopped Kit Kats into the condensed milk and then fold the whipped cream in.

Swirl the marshmallow topping gently into the mixture. Do not stir it all the way in. Spoon into a freezer safe container and freeze until solid, or overnight.

Source: Inside Bru Crew Life. You can find it here

Notes: This was sweet and rich, but oh so good. I loved it.

Easy Cookies 'n' Cream Ice Cream


2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
20 chocolate sandwich cookies


Combine cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan and heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. 

Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator or in an ice bath until completely cool.

Place the chocolate sandwich cookies into a gallon size plastic bag. Using a rolling pin or a rubber mallet, break up the cookies, being sure to leave some large pieces. Store the cookies in the freezer.

Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. When the ice cream is nearly finished freezing, pour the frozen cookie pieces into the machine, and allow to mix thoroughly. (You will still have to stir it up a bit after the machine is done.)

Store in an air tight container and freeze for an additional 2 hours.

Source: Real Simple. You can find it here

Notes: This was a crowd favorite. The kids especially loved it. I somehow missed getting a picture of this one though!


Strawberry-Basil Ice Cream


1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (5-oz) can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 (16-oz) container fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Whisk together first 6 ingredients; cover and chill 2 hours.

Meanwhile, pulse strawberries, basil, and lemon juice in a food processor 5 or 6 times, or until finely chopped. Stir strawberry mixture into chilled milk mixture.

Pour mixture into freezer container of a 1-qt. electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions (instructions and times will vary).

Remove container with ice cream from ice-cream maker, and freeze 30 minutes.

Transfer mixture to an airtight container or a loaf pan covered tightly with aluminum foil; freeze 3 to 4 hours, or until firm.

Source: Southern Living on You can find it here.

Notes: Some people weren't fans of having basil in their ice cream. I, however, loved it. I thought this was great.


Nectarine Rose Gelato


3 soft-ripe yellow nectarines (1 1/2 lbs. total) pitted and sliced
2/3 cup sugar, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Small pinch kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon rose water


Coarsely mash nectarines with 1/3 cup sugar in a medium saucepan using a potato masher. Let stand until very juicy, at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together remaining 1/3 cup sugar and the cornstarch in another medium saucepan. Add whole milk, buttermilk, cream, salt, and honey; whisk until blended. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often, then reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes, continuing to stir. Set pan in a bowl of ice water and stir often until cool. Chill until needed.

Bring nectarines to simmering over medium heat, stirring often, and cook until fruit is almost jammy in consistency, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in rose water. Set pan in a bowl of ice water and stir often until cold.

Stir cream mixture into fruit mixture. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm enough to scoop, at least 2 1/2 hours.

Recipe notes: You can make the milk base up to 2 days ahead. Keep chilled until ready to use.

Source: Sunset recipe found on MyRecipes. You can find it here.

Notes: A little rose water goes a long way, but feel free to use additional rose water, to your taste, if you want a little more rose flavoring. Just be careful to only add a little at a time because rose water is potent stuff.

I really liked this. It is a little more exotic, so it wasn't a crowd pleaser, but for those who enjoyed the flavor combination, it was fantastic.

Approximately This Much...


During all of our ice cream making shenanigans this summer, I ended up with extra cream and extra half and half after making all my ice cream recipes for our 4th of July family dinner dessert. My oldest son is a huge fan of chocolate ice cream, so I decided to make him some chocolate ice cream with the ingredients I had on hand. Warning...tasting will be required to make sure you get it just right!

Easy Chocolate Ice Cream


4-5 cups heavy whipping cream
4-5 cups half and half
1/2-1 cup sugar
1/2 cup or more of Hershey's chocolate syrup


In large bowl, mix together heavy whipping cream, half and half, sugar, and chocolate syrup. Taste to make sure have your desired amount of sweetness or flavor. Start with 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of chocolate syrup and increase the amounts if you want it sweeter or more chocolate flavor.

Pour into ice cream canister and freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

Source: My own mind.

Notes: This was really one of the best chocolate ice creams I have ever made. I used equal parts whipping cream and half and half and then, as noted above, I added the sugar and chocolate syrup and tasted it and repeated until it was just right.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Eat Your Veggies, Part 2

This is a tasty way to serve asparagus. My apologies that I don't have a picture of this one. I will have to make this one again and post a picture afterward.

Lemon Almond Asparagus


3 tablespoons butter
5 teaspoons lemon juice
2 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Lemon peel strips, optional


Melt butter; stir in lemon juice. In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add asparagus in batches; cook 2-4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and place on a serving plate. Drizzle with butter mixture; top with almonds and, if desired, lemon peel.

Yield: 8 servings. 78 calories per serving.

Recipe note: To toast nuts, bake in a shallow pan in a 350 degree F oven for 5-10 minutes or cook in a skillet over low heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

Source: Taste of Home. You can find it here.

Notes: Asparagus, lemon, and almonds is such a tasty flavor combination!

Eat Your Veggies, Part 1


Well, it isn't hard to eat your veggies when they are slathered with three different kinds of flavored butter, now is it?

Slow-Cooker Corn on the Cob with Flavored Butters


Taco Butter:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon Old El Paso taco seasoning mix (from 1-oz package)

Bacon Ranch Butter:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon dry ranch dressing mix
1/4 cup diced cooked bacon

Cilantro Lime Butter:

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup loosely packed diced cilantro

Corn on the Cob:

6-8 ears fresh sweet corn, husks removed
3 to 4 tablespoons butter


To make flavored butters, mixed together ingredients for flavor(s) of butter desired until well combined. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Wrap ears of corn individually in foil with about 1/2 tablespoon butter in each and place tightly wrapped ears in 6-quart slow cooker. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 4 to 5 hours or High heat setting 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Carefully unwrap corn, and season to taste with salt or flavored butters.

Source: Betty Crocker. You can find it here.

Notes: We broke each ear of corn in half because we had more than enough side dishes, and because the corn goes farther this way. This was really tasty and it was fun to have different flavor options.

Above: Taco Butter. 

Above: Bacon Ranch Butter. 

Above: Cilantro Lime Butter.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Summer Salads, Part 9

Wow. We really did make a lot of new kinds of salads this summer, didn't we? Why is food so good?! Why are there so many amazing combinations of food?! Oh, and my apologies, but I can't find my picture for this one. I'll post it later when I find it, or we will make this again and post the picture then.

The Best Spinach Salad


4 slices bacon
3/4 pound fresh spinach
2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
2 tablespoons sweet onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped raw almonds
1 tablespoon raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


Arrange bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain bacon on paper towels and crumble.

Layer spinach, bacon, eggs, and onion in a large bowl. Sprinkle with almonds and sunflower seeds. Whisk vegetable oil, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt, and black pepper in a bowl; pour over spinach mixture and toss. Serve immediately.

Source:, submitted by sweet alice. You can find it here.

Summer Salads, Part 8


We made a panzanella earlier this summer that was super fantastic, but my mom somehow misplaced that recipe. It had green olives, mozzarella, grape tomatoes, basil, and a balsamic vinegar vinaigrette. Hopefully she comes across that one again (or I might have to try and recreate it). However, we also discovered this yummy panzanella recipe as well.



3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained

For the vinaigrette:

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Source: Food Network. You can find it here.

Notes: I really liked this. You will too!

Summer Salads, Part 7

Who doesn't love a good spinach salad? I know I love 'em! I apologize that I can't find my picture for this one. I'll post it when I find it, or we will make it again and take a picture of it then!

Strawberry Spinach Salad I


2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced onion
10 ounces fresh spinach--rinsed, dried, and torn into bite-size pieces
1 quart strawberries--cleaned, hulled, and sliced
1/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered


In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Cover, and chill for one hour.

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries, and almonds. Pour dressing over salad, and toss. Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before serving.

Source:, submitted by TOZENUF. You can find it here.

Notes: Nearly 2,000 ratings and still 5 rated 5 stars! This salad is awesome.

Summer Salads, Part 6


This salad is fun in that it combines greens and pasta. We really liked this a lot. Besides, if it has sun-dried tomatoes, pasta, and mushrooms in it, count me in!

Delicatessen Pasta Salad


2 (9 oz) packages fresh spinach and ricotta tortellini
1 (7 oz) jar mixed sliced roasted sweet peppers in olive oil
1 (8 oz) jar mushrooms in olive oil, drained
1 (8 oz) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
1 cup basil
3 cups arugula
Black pepper


Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook according to the package directions. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.

Add the jar of mixed roasted pepper, including the oil, along with the drained mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes.

Add the basil and arugula. Season with black pepper, stir gently to combine, and serve warm.

Source: It looks like my mom got this from a place called Hamlyn QuickCook, though I can't seem to find the link for this recipe online. I will keep looking and if I find the link, I will include it here.

Notes: This was really great. Perfect summer salad!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Summer Salads, Part 5


I have told you (and quite recently) that I can never get enough of potato salad. Old favorites, new favorites, bring 'em on! This might just be one of the best potato salad recipes EVER.

We changed a few things from the original recipe, so I am going to type the recipe as we prepared it and then you can check the original recipe in the link provided below.

Roasted Potato Salad with Balsamic-Bacon Vinaigrette


5 lbs. baby red potatoes, cut in half or quartered
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil, plus an additional 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup minced garlic
1 tablespoon seafood seasoning (we used Old Bay Seasoning)
8 ounces bacon
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch Italian parsley, minced
6 hard boiled eggs, roughly chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Toss halved potatoes with 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil (as needed, to coat potatoes), 1/2 cup garlic, and seafood seasoning. Place in a single layer onto baking sheets and bake in preheated oven until tender and golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium heat until evenly browned and crispy. Pour off bacon grease. Allow the bacon slices to cool, then crumble and set aside.

Whisk together balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Pour in the oil in a slow, steady stream while whisking vigorously to make a vinaigrette (start with 1/4 cup). Toss the roasted potatoes together with the vinaigrette. Add in additional 1/4 cup olive oil, if needed. Fold in red onion, parsley, and eggs. Allow to stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.

Source:, submitted by beautiful, but adapted by our family. You can find it here.

Notes: No lies, this potato salad is a lot of work, but holy cow, it is totally worth it. This is one of the best potato salad recipes I have ever had. If you are looking for a mayonnaise-free potato salad, this is it.

Here are the changes we made: We used 5 lbs. baby red potatoes instead of 3 lbs. We used 1 1/2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning instead of only 1 tablespoon. I also increased the bacon slightly from the 8 ounces called for in the recipe. The original recipe calls for one whole cup of garlic! Instead, we used 1/2 cup of garlic while roasting the potatoes and omitted the other 1/2 cup of garlic that the original recipe added in when tossing the potato salad. The original recipe called for 1/2 cup of olive oil when roasting the potatoes and another 1/2 cup of olive oil when tossing the potato salad (1 cup total). As you can tell by the original ingredients, this potato salad is more of a main course! I tossed my potatoes in 1/4 cup olive oil before roasting and then made the vinaigrette with 1/4 cup olive oil. After tossing the potato salad, it needed a little more olive oil to coat it, but not a whole 1/2 cup (at least, in my opinion). The original recipe also called for reserving the bacon grease and tossing that in the vinaigrette at the end. I felt that the potato salad didn't need that extra fat, and the bacon grease wasn't needed to add any flavor, especially since I increased the bacon called for in the recipe. I probably used a little less than a full bunch of parsley too. Finally, I used 6 hard boiled eggs instead of 5 (as called for in the original recipe). The real trick for this recipe is that rather than buying simple sliced bacon, you buy bacon ends and pieces, chop it up, cook it, and then toss that in the salad.

We have had this salad with halved potatoes and quartered potatoes. I personally prefer quartering the potatoes (even though it looks prettier halved) because it goes farther and I feel like I don't overeat the salad quite as much this way. Though, let's be honest, it's hard not to overeat this salad.

There you have it. This stuff is awesome. You seriously have to try it.