Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Pops Challenge: Piña Colada Pops

I'm traveling for work this week and a little worried about what Blake and Ferbie are doing at home. If were to guess, the house is probably a disaster, the Xbox has been getting a good workout and macaroni and cheese with hot dogs has been the entree of choice.

Before I headed off to Chicago, I quick made, and sampled, a pudding pop for the week. I originally found piña colada pops on Our Best Bites - best cooking blog ever! I didn't have coconut milk, but I did have some piña colada mix in the fridge that needed to be used up. So far, this has been my favorite pop in the first month of the summer pops challenge!

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Piña colada pops 
(adopted from Our Best Bites)
1 1/2 cups non-alcoholic piña colada mix
1/2 Tbsp. key lime juice
1 small instant coconut cream pudding mix
13 oz can crushed pineapple (I actually used pineapple pieces and just blended it a little longer)
1/3 cup coconut

Pour the non-alcoholic piña colada mix and key lime juice into a blender. Add the pudding mix and blend on low speed until smooth. Add pineapple and blend until mixed in. Add coconut and pulse the blender a couple of times. Pour into molds and freeze.

Another favorite part of the first month of summer is the amazing lilies blooming in our backyard.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer Patio Party Decor

Thanks to Blake and our previous homeowners, we have a yard full of beautiful flowers. They are no thanks to me. My contribution to the landscaping is a pot in front of the garage. I planted flowers, but you'd never know it. Not one flower in the entire pot, and it's a pretty big flower pot!

I decided to make use of the flowers in our yard for a couple of Father's Day cookouts we had last weekend.  They were great and held up for the Saturday and Sunday cookouts.

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I arranged them in vases and spread them throughout the patio.





I added a few candles to the mix using hanging canning jars and a tuna can + clothes pin set up (with battery powered candles).

 



 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Floatie Gift Basket

I put together a summer gift basket for my mom's birthday. I found this great idea to use an inflatable inner tube for a basket on a gift basket website.

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I found the inner tube at Walgreens for less than $2. I used a paper plate for the bottom, attaching it with clear packing tape. Probably not a very classy solution, but it worked well.

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Finally, I filled it with summery items:
  • Beach towel
  • Book
  • Frozen slushy drinks
  • Crystal Light in summery flavor
  • Tropical candy
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm with sunscreen
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Summer Ice Pops Challenge: Fruit Punch Pops

It has been hot this week! And by hot in Minnesota, I mean it it got above 90 degrees one day. It's supposed to cool down today. I know some of you down south are laughing at my right now, and that's okay. I'll laugh at you when you complain at 30 degrees is cold and an inch of snow warrants staying indoors all day.

Thankfully, I had the perfect pop planned for the hot days earlier this week - a fruit punch pop. Refreshing and full of fresh fruit. I diced up strawberries, kiwi and peaches and spooned the fruit into the molds. I then filled molds with fruit punch flavored drink mix (the generic version of Crystal Light). They were delicious and not bad in the nutrition category either!


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Monday, June 18, 2012

Rock Candy Cake Fiasco

Saturday night my family gathered at my house to celebrate Father's Day and my mom's birthday. The weather was gorgeous and it was the perfect excuse to get the patio gussied up. Since buying our house, I've been excited to decorate for a dinner on the patio.

But before the wonderful evening kicked off, I endured a cake fiasco. I set out to recreate this beauty from A Wedding Cake Blog.



I've seen a lot of marshmallow fondant recipes lately, and I've wanted to try one. I saw this as the opportunity to try it. Instead of fondant, I ended up with a large, sticky ball of sugar that eventually made it to my trash after leaving skicky clumps of sugar all over my counters, mixer, spoons, rolling pin and sink. After a large clean up effort, I had to turn to a tub of frosting I stole of out of a cupcake kit I'm putting together for a friend.

Finally, I got the cake covered with frosting and moved on to adding the rock candy. I quickly realized that making the cake look as delightful as the one above required way more time for rock candy placement then I had time for after the fondant mess. This was my end result:


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I got the cake to a point that it was presentable for my family and moved it downstairs near the patio while I finished up the decor. That was when this guy

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decided to sample the frosting and make sure it was up to par.

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Despite the cake, the only other unfortunate happening of the night was that one of my brother's wasn't able to make it. He works for an electric company and was in dire need of sleep after a long few days of post-storm power restoration.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Ice Pops Challenge: Easiest Yogurt Pops Ever, No Molds Necessary

One ingredient, one step and one supply - that's all you need to make these yogurt pops.

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Ingredient: Single-serving container of yogurt
I have just a few quick tips to selecting your yogurt. First, avoid yogurt with a plastic top - it's too hard to puncture with the stick. Stay away from Yoplait. It's unfortunate because they have so many yummy flavors, but the top of the container is smaller than the bottom, making it nearly impossible to get your pop out of the container.

Supply: Ice pop stick

Step: Place the stick in the yogurt

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Freeze and enjoy. I used an orange cream flavor, and they turned out great.

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

S'mores: Beyond Milk Chocolate and Graham Crackers

I recently saw a s'more make with an Oreo instead of a graham cracker. It got me thinking about all of the other tasty options. When Blake and I head out for a night at a local state park, I brought a variety of candy bars and cookies to try out some new options.

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Some of the combos we tried included:

1. Oreo with Cookies and Cream Hershey bar

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2. Graham crackers with smashed Rolos 

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3. Saltine cracker with Reese's Peanut Butter Cup

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4. Chocolate cookies with milk chocolate and a sliced strawberry

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I would highly recommend experimenting with your s'mores. We weren't crazy about the strawberry on our s'mores. The Reese's with saltines made a good salty n' sweet treat. But our favorites were the cookies and cream variation and the Rolos.

Here's Blake enjoying one of our creations along with a book.

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Dozen Drinks for a Deserving Dad with FREE Printable

I had a really hard time finding the right gift for Father's Day this year, but finally I came across a couple of ideas that I thought I could jam together into a pretty cool gift for my dad. The first was a label that said a dozen drinks for a deserving dad. The next idea I found was a root beer sampler pack. My dad is adventurous about beer - always willing to try something new. So, I created a printable (download it below) and dropped the root part of the gifts to create A Dozen Drinks for a Deserving Dad beer sampler pack. Although, this could certainly be done with root beer or any kind of soda really.


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Fortunately, a couple of liquor stores in town have sections where you can build your own six pack with beers from a variety of microbreweries. With the micro-brew craze these days, I would imagine most places have a liquor store that does this. I picked twelve that I thought looked fun, put them in a wood create and that's it.

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The only downfall of this gift is that makes the second year in a row that I've given my dad a beer-related gift for Father's Day. Remember the "mixed beer drinks kit?" Well, two beer gifts in a row makes me feel slightly trashy, but only slightly.

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I received a much harsher Father's Day scare when I was putting together a gift for Blake from Ferbie - we are officially crazy cat people!

Dozen Drinks for a Deserving Dad

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Margarita Cupcakes

Today's post is about a recipe I've been thinking about for some time - margarita cupcakes. Blake's family has a taco bar this weekend, and I saw this as the perfect opportunity to pursue my margarita cupcake idea.

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I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, especially the frosting, which would also make a great dip for pretzels, graham crackers or nilla wafers. So on to the recipes.

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Margarita Cupcake (Makes 24 cupcakes)
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 cup margarita mix

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat together butter, sugar and vanilla until well combined. Add eggs one at a time. Beat one minute after adding each egg. Add 1/4 cup of milk and blend. Add 3/4 cup of the dry mixture and blend on low speed just until combined. Add 1/3 cup of the margarita and blend on low speed just until combined. Continue this process until all of the dry mixture and margarita mix are added.

Spoon the mixture into cupcake liners and bake at 375 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Margarita Frosting
1/2 cup sweet cream butter (softened)
8 oz. package of cream cheese (softened)
3 tablespoons margarita mix
1/2 tablespoon key lime juice
3 cups powdered sugar

Use the whisk attachment on your mixer to combine the butter and cream cheese until creamy. Add the margarita mix and key lime juice and mix until combined. Add the powdered sugar a 1/2 cup at a time until you reach your desired consistency. My recipe took three cups, but I've seen similar recipes that only use two. Keep in mind that the frosting will thicken slightly if it sits for a few minutes. You may want to add until you reach a consistency that is slightly runnier than you want it. If you add too much powdered sugar and it gets too thick, just add a little more margarita mix.


Decor
Sprinkle sugar around the rim the cupcakes, and insert drink umbrellas.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summer Ice Pops Challenge: Dirty Coconut Pirate

This summer, I created a summer ice pop challenge for myself. Each week I'm going to try a new ice pop recipe and report back to you with feedback from Blake and I.

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The first ice pop we tried was a Dirty Pirate, found on Pinterest.



The recipe originally came from Endless Simmer, but due to my love of all things coconut, I swapped out spiced rum with coconut rum.

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Dirty Coconut Pirate
2 cups Coke
1/3 cup coconut rum
1/3 cup Kahlua

Flat soda works best for ice pops, so open your Coke and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two. Combine with the rum and Kahlua. Fill your ice pop molds and freeze.

I was worried that these might not freeze because of the alcohol, but they did! It took a little while and they are not as solid as most ice pops. But, they stay together just fine while eating them.

I ate the first one on a night when I was in the mood for a fruity ice pop and it didn't hit the spot, but I also tried one of Friday night when I was in the mood for a sweet drink and it was delicious. These would make a great treat for a summer party.

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