Loving my veggie garden this year because with all of the rain – comes a huge harvest of tomatoes! For Labor Day weekend, I made a few different recipes using tomatoes. Bruschetta was at the top of my list! So easy to make and you don’t need plum tomatoes. I used the large juicy big boy-type tomatoes!
Slice a baguette thin and place on a cookie sheet in one layer. Place under a hot broiler for just a minute or two until they start to brown. Flip to the other side and repeat.
When they come out of the oven, drizzle with olive oil and rub the top surface with a sliced garlic clove.
Using 3 or 4 large tomatoes, slice a tomato side ways (so that the top half of the tomato has the vine) and squeeze the juice and seeds over the kitchen sink. Repeat with the bottom half to remove seeds.
Dice the tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, S&P to taste.
Fresh basil! Pull 10-12 fresh basil leaves, roll them up together and slice thin. Add to the tomato mixture and stir.
Scoop the tomato mixture on each toasted baguette slice.
A fresh tomato appetizer perfect for late summer. Ready to serve or transport to a party!
Sweet Stackers are reusable, stackable trays that insert into a container your already own. The classic Tupperware 9×9 inch container and 8×8 inch Sweet Stackers tray set is pictured. Two layers of bruschetta in one container without a soggy mess. Ready to transport to a party or picnic!
Happy Independence Day!
This is the perfect dessert to take to your 4th of July parties or BBQs! The little tartlets are star-shaped and filled with red cherry filling and blueberry filling. Very patriotic! Sweet Stackers made it easy to store the bite-sized desserts stacked and in one container without messing the tops. They are ready to transport to a party!
The tartlets were very easy to put together because they were made from refrigerated pie crust. Preheat the oven to 350º. Rollout the dough. Using a 2.5 inch star cookie cutter, the star-shaped dough pieces were gently pressed into a lightly greased mini-muffin tin and baked for 7-8 minutes. Remove the little tartlet cups to cool.
The tartlets can be filled with any flavor pie filling. But, to keep with the patriotic holiday, I wanted to alternate red and blue filling. I actually had some cherry pie filling on hand and I filled half of the tartlet cups with a little dollop of cherry. Then I made a batch of homemade blueberry filling.
Blueberry Pie Filling
- 1 pint blueberries
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 TB corn starch
- 2 TB butter
Place all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat to cool.
Once the remaining tartlets were filled, the following cream cheese filling was piped on top.
Cream Cheese Filling
- 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons butter , softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Using an electric mixer, on high, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Lower the speed and add vanilla, then gradually add the sugar.
Sweet Stackers are a handy way to store bite-sized desserts and cookies in one container to maximize the container space. The stackable trays convert your food storage container into multi-level. Tartlets fit perfectly in two layers in a 3″ deep container without messing the filling or having them stick together. Visit sweetstackers.com for more details on the product, sizes available and where to purchase them. Great thing is that they are reusable and ready to use for your next summer party!
Hope you enjoy the holiday with your family & friends!
The spring fairies must be visiting my garden! The flowers are blooming and my daughter has been busy building fairy houses in our yard. She just turned 7 and to celebrate, I wanted to make a fairy house cake for her party.
A few years ago, I bought a beautiful story book called Fairy Houses by Tracy Kane. It was about a little girl who went into the forest on an east coast island to build fairy houses made only out of natural things. My daughter enjoys the idea so, that we still go on walks to collect sticks, bark, rocks and even seashells on vacation. You may not collect anything living. She then builds these cute little homes for the fairies, tucked into hidden places in our gardens. I thought it would be very fitting if she had a fairy house cake for her birthday!
The idea was to make the cake look like a tree stump fairy house. It had 4 layers of chocolate cake, two 9″ layers of dark chocolate boxed cake mix and two 9″ layers of german chocolate cake mix. The layers were alternated light and dark to add interest when you cut into it.
The chocolate ganache frosting was very simple to make. I was inspired by a recipe from Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman).
Chocolate Ganache Frosting
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 24 ounces bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
Heat the heavy cream until very hot (not boiling) and add the chocolate chips. Stir over heat until completely melted. The mixture will turn smooth deep chocolate color. Remove from heat and pour into an electric mixer bowl. Refrigerate until completely cooled, but do not let harden. After 2 hours, the bottom of the bowl was just slightly warm to the touch. I added the vanilla and started to beat the chocolate using an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
The chocolate ganache frosting filled between each 9″ chocolate cake layer and the sides of the cake. I covered the sides of the cake and then stroked from the bottom up to create the look of bark. The door and windows were a graham cracker, cut with a knife to shape. They were trimmed with a tube of orange decorative cake icing. The vines were piped using a tube of green decorative cake icing. The edible sugar flowers were packaged by Wilton.
To vary the color of the top of the cake, I made a box of butterscotch pudding and spread this over the top of the cake to look like the inner part of a tree. The fairy figurine that adorned the top of the cake was purchased at a local craft store. A piece of wax paper was placed down underneath to separate her from the cake. The fairy figure will make a neat keepsake on my daughter’s bedroom shelf after her party. The springy butterfly party plates napkins matched perfectly!
Happy Birthday! Stop growing so fast!!
There is something about spring that brings on a cravings for lemon!
These Double-Lemon Cheesecake Bars were perfect for an adult Easter dessert. Double lemon because the cheesecake had a hint of lemon and topped with a lemon glaze. Delish! Cut into individual portions, stacked, stored and ready to transport to a party without a mess using Sweet Stackers.
Hope you had a nice Easter and enjoy this recipe!
Double-Lemon Cheesecake Bars
- 2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 4 – 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
- 1 ¾ cups sugar, divided
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1/3 cup lemon juice, divided
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 4 eggs, 1 separated
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ cup water
Preheat oven to 325° and line a 9×13 inch pan with foil. Mix wafer crumbs and butter. Press into the bottom of the pan and bake 10 minutes.
With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, flour, lemon zest, 2 TB lemon juice and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add 1 egg white (reserve the egg yolk for later use) and 3 whole eggs, adding one at a time while beating.
Pour batter over crust. Bake 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool 1 hour. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
Glaze: Mix cornstarch and remaining sugar in saucepan, gradually stir in water and remaining lemon juice. Bring just to boil, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until clear and thickened. Lightly beat reserved egg yolk and stir in 2 TB hot cornstarch mixture. Return to remaining mixture in saucepan. Cook and stir 1 minute or until thickened. Cool.
Spoon glaze over cheesecake. Refrigerate 1 hour. Use foil handles to remove cheesecake from pan before cutting to serve.
Hope you enjoy my recap of planning a Disney Frozen Theme Birthday Party – including an ice castle cake, snowflake cookies, party favors, “Pin the nose on Olaf” game and a grand Anna & Elsa pull string pinata!
As the girls arrived, I set up a table for them to pick a party hat and decorate it. I had provided the hats, markers, gem stickers, foam snowflake stickers, shiny ribbon, hold punches, etc. This is a good way for the kids to mingle and jump right in to an activity while we wait for everyone to arrive.
All of the kids sat together to eat lunch. I had 10 kids total and used our kid’s table and coffee table together which was the perfect height and size. The tables were covered with a plastic blue tablecloth.
After lunch, all of the kids lined up to play “Pin the nose on Olaf”. If you have seen the Disney Frozen movie, Olaf is the snowman that Elsa created. I found a picture online and sketched a kid-sized Olaf on two sheets of posted board. Truly, you do not need to be an artist to do this! I outlined him with black marker and painted the stick arms, hair and eye brows brown. The only feature I didn’t draw was his orange carrot nose. Using orange construction paper, I cut carrot noses for each child to stick onto the poster. During the game, we spun each child around with a blind fold on and directed them toward Olaf. I think the kids really got a kick out of him! The winner was the child who pinned the nose the closest to where is should appear.
After having singing to the birthday girl and eating the Disney Frozen Ice Castle Cake. We did the Elsa & Anna pull string piñata. I had the girls form a circle around it and gave each girl a try at pulling one of the strings. It worked pretty good. One string opened the box and the goodies fell out (with a bit of assistance). All of the kids scurried to gather a bag full of treats. Here is how I created the homemade Frozen piñata:
I used two family-sized cereal boxes. One box was slightly bigger that the other, so I used the larger one of the bottom. The bottom box was closed and the top open, then the other cereal box open on both the top and bottom was inserted slightly inside and taped together with duct tape. Leave an opening in the top of the box so it can be filled later.
Once the boxes are secured, I covered it with Papier-mâché. Papier-mâché is newsprint bound with glue (combination of flour and a small amount of water). I filled a bowl with about 2 cups of flour and stirred in small amounts of water until the consistency was like Elmer’s white glue. Cover the floor or table where you will work with plastic. Strips of newsprint are dipped in the paste to cover both sides, removing the excess glue and then placed around the entire structure. The papier-mâché needs to dry over night.
When the structure is completely dry, I used white crepe paper (party streamers) to wrap around the structure. Cutting slits along one edge of the crepe paper and tacking each piece in place as it is wound around. The slits will give it a ruffled effect.
Online, I found an image of Elsa and Anna (the two sisters from Disney’s Frozen movie). I enlarged the images and printed them on two sheets of paper (taping the images together). Elsa was glued to one side of the piñata and Anna was glued to the other side.
Now for the fun part – engineering the pull string piñata. I made a slit in the flap of the bottom of the box and inserted one string through the slit, taping it to the inside. The box was taped shut using a heavy duty tape, just enough to hold the heavy goodies, but not too good so that it won’t open when pulled. I tested it to make sure it would work. Once the box bottom was secured in place, I taped many strings to the bottom of the box and then camouflaged the strings using more white crepe paper.
Two holes were punctured in the top sides of the box and the treats were filled inside. The piñata was ready to hang in place!
For the party favors, I found these cute little blue buckets and filled them with a few goodies including: rock candy (looks like ice!), watercolor paints, hair accessories, bubbles and lip balm and glittery nail polish.
Also baked a batch of snowflake sugar cookies. Each were individually packaged and sent home as a party favor for all.
Snow Again!? That seems to be a common theme this ENTIRE winter. The perfect dish to warm ya up is a hearty bowl of hot chili!
Chili is so versatile and most of the staples should be stocked in your pantry. This time I even added a couple of ingredients and the brown sugar sweetened it up to entice my children. If you don’t need to worry about young palates, then feel free to add some heat with hot peppers. So get creative and fill up a big cup of chili to warm up this winter!
Hearty Homemade Chili
(double for a crowd)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup green pepper, diced
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- 5 slices of turkey bacon, diced
- 1 lb. of ground beef
- 1 – 15 ounce can dark red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
- 1 – 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 – 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 – 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, diced onion, etc.
In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Sautee the onion, green pepper and garlic until softened. Add the bacon until it becomes crispy. Add the ground beef until browned and cooked through.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 15 minutes.
Garnish with suggested toppings and serve piping hot in a bowl or cup.