Mango-Jalapeno Salsa from The Daniel Plan Cookbook

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Now that the weather is warming up, I’ve been eating more fruit–there’s something about the warmer weather that makes me crave it more! I love all kinds of fruit and that’s what I like about this Mango-Jalapeno Salsa–there’s a nice variety of fruit–mango, pineapple, and apple–mixed in with some diced tomato and red bell pepper. It’s a little on the spicy side, so use half the amount of jalapeno and ginger if you want a milder salsa. Overall, I think this is a great, healthy mix of naturally sweet and savory flavors!

517gSVWkM3L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Speaking of healthy, this recipe is from a new cookbook out last month, The Daniel Plan Cookbook, by Pastor Rick Warren, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hyman. It’s a companion book to the New York Times Bestseller, The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life and has 100 easy recipes (with full-color photos) to help you eat healthy for life. “Food truly is medicine,” says one of the authors, Dr. Hyman. Eating real, whole foods can help reverse chronic disease, aid in weight loss, and even optimize brain health. In developing the book, the authors thought about what most people like to eat, then created healthy versions of popular dishes to show that healthy eating is possible in the “real world.” So there are recipes for Blueberry French Toast, BBQ Chicken Pizza, Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Classic Meatloaf, and Chocolate Coconut pudding, to name a few…that just goes to show you don’t need to feel deprived when you’re eating healthy!

I received a sampler of recipes from the book and decided to try the Mango-Jalapeno Salsa. This tropical-style salsa goes well with Mexican recipes using fish or chicken, like the Grilled Spicy Fish Tacos, another delicious-sounding recipe in the book. I really like it with those blue corn tortilla chips, too.

MANGO-JALAPENO SALSA from The Daniel Plan Cookbook

  • 1 mango, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup diced pineapple
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup seeded and diced tomato
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons minced seeded jalapeno (use half the amount of jalapeno and ginger for a milder salsa)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Place salsa ingredients in a bowl. Mix together well. Chill in refrigerator. (Keeps up to 1 week refrigerated).

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This makes about 3 1/2 cups of salsa. It’s really easy to make and so good! Have you tried making a fruity salsa before?

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Spring Fever

I had to make a quick trip to the mall and ended up staying longer than I intended because I was admiring some pretty Spring and Easter tableware and decor at two of my favorite stores, Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma! Teal, light and bright greens, and nature-inspired neutrals seem to be big color themes for the spring season. These happen to be some of my favorite colors–no wonder I was so drawn to the store displays! :) (Photos shown in this post are from Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma)

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At Pottery Barn, I loved all the teal in the table settings displayed right by the front entrance. The tableware looked great with the natural color and texture of woven place mats, along with some burlap and twine accents–so springy and outdoorsy! The inside store display I saw looked very much like the set-up in the photo above, featured on the Pottery Barn website.

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And I thought these bunny cupcake stands were sweet–they also work great for mini pies and tarts or cookies!

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I also liked these nature-inspired basket fillers

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…perfect for creating your own woodland baskets!

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The teal-green-neutral combination also looked great in other home accessories…

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…like this brightly-patterned pillow.

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I thought this embroidered butterfly pillow had a great spring feel, too.

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And I loved all the glassware in spring colors, especially the teal!

img45cWilliams-Sonoma also had nature-inspired designs in some of their spring tableware

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…and they have a new Botanical Citrus Collection which looks very springy.

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You can always find fun baking accessories there, like this Buttercup Cakelet Pan. How cute is that?

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And I saw these cookies later on their website–some great Easter cookie decorating inspiration!

Do you have Spring Fever like I do? Have you found any inspiring Easter and Spring decorating, entertaining, or gift ideas out there?

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener.

10 Recipes for Valentine’s Day

Here’s a roundup of 10 recipes that your Valentine–or Valentines–will love…some are healthy and some are not-so-healthy (but very yummy)!

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If you’re wanting something sweet for your Valentine breakfast, try these Strawberry Yogurt Muffins–the strawberries on top look like hearts, so they’re perfect for Valentine’s Day!

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Or if you’re wanting something healthy, try this Cranberry-Pecan Oatmeal, made with dried cranberries and chopped pecans. You can substitute dried cherries for the cranberries if you want.

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Or make this Cranberry Almond Oatmeal Bake if you’re feeding a larger group.

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You can also use your dried cranberries (or cherries) in these Cranberry Almond Breakfast Scones for a mid-morning or afternoon Valentine snack!

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Since you may be eating lots of sweets on Valentine’s Day, you’ll want to include a healthy salad in your lunch or dinner menu–this Apple Pear Pecan Salad has dried cranberries in it too, but dried cherries would be yummy as well!

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Savory Strawberry Salsa makes a great appetizer with tortilla chips, and it’s also really good served over grilled chicken!

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Now you need some dessert ideas…Strawberry Cupcakes are just the thing!

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But lots of people prefer something chocolate, and you can’t go wrong with these Chocolate Cupcakes with Fudgy Frosting!

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If you want a healthier dessert, you could always make this Healthy Chocolate Shake

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But, hey, it’s Valentine’s Day–if you want to splurge, make these Dark Chocolate-Covered Cherry Swirl Brownies!

Hope you get a chance to try out some of these treats! Do you have a favorite Valentine recipe?

33 Different Uses for Mason Jars

I’ve become a mason jar-saver, and I have a small but growing collection of different shapes and sizes that have held jams, jellies, pickles, sauces, and other homemade foods that friends have given me. So I was glad to find a helpful guide at MidwestLiving.com on 15 Ways to Use Mason Jars. Then I found more ideas at a few other sites. These are all great ideas because they’re so simple!

Here are a few from Midwest Living that I plan on using…

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Silverware holders–use each jar to hold a napkin and “silverware setting for one”–the jar can also be used by your guest as a drinking glass. Or organize spoons, forks, and knives in three different jars for a buffet-style arrangement.

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Or you may just want to use the jars for serving your beverages in–they’re great for outdoor parties or picnics because they’re so sturdy!

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Use as containers for forcing bulbs. I love this idea!

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Make an easy centerpiece–just float a pretty blossom in a jar filled with water.

Other Midwest Living ideas include:

Using jars to store dry foods like oatmeal and other grains, rice, lentils, dried fruit, sugar, flour, salt, dried beans, pasta, etc. They come in handy if you buy bulk foods. Add your own homemade labels.

Keep your desk organized–use jars for holding pens, pencils, markers, paint brushes, and scissors.

I found more uses at a site called Care2. They list 50 uses for mason jars! These are the ideas from their list that I use or will use most:

  1. Storing cookies
  2. Storing homemade mixes
  3. Use for “recipe in a jar” gifts
  4. Storing saved seeds
  5. Use as containers for homemade soy candles
  6. Holding sour dough starters
  7. Storing homemade cleaners for the home (make sure they’re clearly labeled!)
  8. Storing cotton balls on the bathroom counter
  9. Storing bulk or homemade shampoo
  10. Storing bath salts
  11. Storing small office supplies
  12. Making sun tea
  13. Use as vases for fresh flowers
  14. Use as containers for homemade candy gifts
  15. Storing sewing notions-buttons and other small items
  16. Use as containers for loose change

These uses are from a site called Keeper of the Home. Here are some ideas I like from her list of 31 uses:

  1. Storing leftovers in the refrigerator–soups, stews, cooked rice, veggies–pretty much any kind of food that will fit in the jar (if you need extra lids, you can purchase some like these).
  2. Store leftover smoothies so you can drink later in the day or take to work.
  3. Keep track of how much water you’re drinking–if you drink from a quart-size jar, you can easily keep track of how much water you’re drinking each day.
  4. Sprouting seeds or grains (you can buy these special lids if you want).
  5. Storing homemade juice or iced tea in the refrigerator.
  6. Keeping herbs fresh in the refrigerator (like green onions, cilantro, etc.) by filling a jar 3/4 full of water, then placing your bunch of fresh herbs in it-the herbs stay fresh longer than if put in the produce drawer.
  7. Storing homemade spice mixes–use the 1/2 pint or smaller jars for this.
  8. Mixing and storing homemade salad dressings, marinades, and other sauces.
  9. Mixing and storing homemade syrups.

And then I found a few more ideas at Yahoo Voices:

  1. Start plant cuttings in jars filled with water (I do this a lot!)
  2. To be more eco-friendly, use mason jars instead of plastic containers for your lunch–they’re a great container for soups and salads.

So all together, that’s 33 different ways to use mason jars–plus all the other ideas at those sites that I didn’t mention!

Do you have a collection of mason jars? What different ways do you like to use them?

Creamy Salsa Yogurt Dip

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With all the sports games on TV, and with the Super Bowl coming up, you may be looking for some different dip recipes to snack on as you’re watching! It’s always nice to have some healthier options and this is a yummy dip that’s a little more on the healthy side. It’s made with yogurt, salsa, a little bit of light mayo, and some seasoning. Shredded cheese is optional, but I really like it with the cheese, even though it’s not quite as healthy that way! The dip shown here is made with Pepper Jack cheese, which gives it a little extra spice. So, keep this in mind for the games!

CREAMY SALSA YOGURT DIP by NancyCreative, adapted from Food.com

Makes about 2 cups of dip

  • 1 cup plain yogurt (use a thicker yogurt–I used Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk Yogurt; you can also use Greek yogurt)
  • 2/3 cup chunky-style Salsa (use your favorite brand)
  • 2 Tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Ranch Dip Mix
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • Optional: 1 cup shredded Cheddar or Pepper Jack cheese

Combine yogurt, salsa, mayonnaise, Ranch seasoning, and chili powder in a medium size bowl, stirring until smooth. Add in cheese, if using, and blend well. Cover and chill for at least one hour or as long as one day before serving. Serve with assorted veggies (carrots, cucumber slices, sugar snap peas, cauliflower, broccoli) or tortilla chips.

What types of healthy snacks do you like to make?

OREO Holiday Chocolate Chip Cookie Balls

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OREOs are always a treat, and these cookie ball truffles are a great way to enjoy them over the holidays! So now that the Christmas season is in full swing, I thought this would be the perfect time to make them. They’re easy to make and all you need are a few ingredients–OREO cookies, cream cheese, and chocolate–plus an extra ingredient I added! I decided I’d make these cookie balls a little extra chocolatey by adding in some mini chocolate chips (you need to use the mini chips–the regular size would be much too big)! And I used both semi-sweet and white baking chocolate to coat them for a little variety. I topped these yummy treats with different kinds of Christmas sprinkles, coconut, and crushed candy canes. Chopped nuts would also be a great topping.

You can make these cookie ball truffles without the mini chocolate chips if you prefer; you’ll get about 48 if you make them that way. If you make them with the mini chocolate chips like I did, you’ll get at least 70 truffles, maybe a little more, so you may want to have an extra 4-ounce package of baking chocolate on hand in case you need more chocolate coating. I had just enough chocolate to coat all of mine with the 4 packages, but it never hurts to have a little extra on hand. I also added 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil per bar of baking chocolate–I mixed the coconut oil into the chocolate after it was all melted–it made the chocolate a little thinner and easier to dip the cookie balls in.

I also found it was easiest to dip these cookie ball truffles into the chocolate by using a regular spoon, turning each one over in the melted chocolate with the spoon until it was all coated. Then I immediately put it on a parchment-lined pan, using the spoon to drop it on. After dipping about 5 cookie balls, I adding toppings before the chocolate started setting–the toppings adhere much better when the chocolate coating is still very melty.

So that’s all there is to it! And I thought it would be fun to arrange these cookie balls in a tree shape–a great way to serve them at a holiday party or get-together!

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OREO HOLIDAY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE BALLS by NancyCreative, slightly adapted from the original OREO Cookie Ball recipe

Makes about 70 cookie ball truffles

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 36 OREO Cookies, finely crushed (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (this is an addition to the original recipe)
  • 4 to 5 (4-ounce) packages semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted (I used 2 packages of semi-sweet and 2 packages of white chocolate, melting the different chocolates separately; I also mixed in 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil per 4-ounce melted chocolate baking bar after the chocolate was all melted, for easier dipping–if you don’t do this, your melted chocolate will be thicker, and you may need a 5th 4-ounce bar to have enough chocolate coating)
  • Assorted toppings to sprinkle on the chocolate-coated truffles: Christmas sprinkles, crushed candy canes, coconut, nuts

Mix cream cheese and cookie crumbs until blended. Shape into 70 (1-inch) balls. Place in a shallow 10 x 15″ pan lined with parchment paper and freeze for 10 minutes.

For cookie balls, dip each ball into melted chocolate. Place in single layer in your lined 10 x 15″ pan (I dipped about 5 at a time, then sprinkled them, so the toppings would stick well before the chocolate started setting). You may need to use an extra lined pan, since you’ll need to leave more space between the chocolate coated cookie balls while they’re setting.

After dipping and topping all the cookie balls with your choice of sprinkles or toppings, refrigerate them on your lined pan or pans for 1 hour or until firm.

I partnered with Yummly and OREO on this post, but the opinions expressed here are entirely my own–I’m a longtime Oreo fan! :)

Do you like Oreos too? Have you made these cookie balls and do you have a special way of making them?

Candy Corn “PayDay” Mix

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I really like the taste of sweet-and-salty things. I ate a lot of butter and jelly sandwiches as a kid, and I’ve always loved PayDay candy bars. I don’t eat candy bars that often, but every once in awhile I indulge in a PayDay. If you like PayDays too, then you will like this Candy Corn “PayDay” Mix because the candy corn and salted peanuts really bring to mind the taste of that candy bar!

I was needing to make something simple and quick for a little fall party, and when I saw this candy corn mix idea at About.com, I thought it would be perfect! It’s so simple to make–there are just two ingredients–candy corn and peanuts. How easy is that? It’s a perfect sweet-and-salty treat for any fall party, a great snack for game-watching, and a nice treat to package up in treat bags for giving. I like it better than just eating candy corn by itself–I feel like I’m at least getting a little protein with the peanuts in there! :) You can either use dry roasted peanuts or salted peanuts–I prefer using the dry roasted, but either works great! You can also substitute cashews for the peanuts if you prefer those.

Some of you have also told me that this mix tastes great with M&M’s, chocolate chips, or peanut butter chips, so I added those as optional ingredients for all of you chocolate and peanut butter-lovers! :)

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Here’s the very simple recipe…

CANDY CORN “PAY DAY” MIX slightly adapted from About.com

Makes 6 to 7 1/2 cups of mix

  • 3 cups candy corn (or use an entire 21-oz. bag, which comes to about 3 3/4 cups)
  • 3 cups lightly salted dry roasted peanuts or cocktail peanuts (or use an entire 16-oz. jar, which comes to about 3 3/4 cups; OR substitute the same amount of cashews)
  • Optional: 2 to 3 cups plain M&M’s or chocolate chips, depending on how chocolatey you want it! Or, if you want a stronger peanutty flavor, you could add the same amount of peanut butter chips

In a medium to large serving bowl, combine the candy corn and the peanuts, and stir together with a large spoon until they are well mixed. Add in the M&M’s (or chocolate chips), if using. Or, you can combine the candy corn and peanuts (and M&M’s/chocolate chips, if using) in a large Ziploc bag and shake them together until they are well mixed. Serve and enjoy!

Store any leftovers in an airtight container to snack on later.

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If you want to make this mix for treat-giving, use treat bags to package them in–I tied mine with a bright orange ribbon!

Have you made any fun fall treats? It’s always nice when they’re quick and easy to make, too! :)

Happy Autumn!

The Bow Fold from Top 100 Step-By-Step Napkin Folds

Here’s a pretty way to fold your napkins for your holiday table or other special occasion! This Bow Fold idea is from a book called Top 100 Step-by-Step Napkin Folds by Denise Vivaldo, a seasoned food professional who has catered more than 10,000 parties. A creatively folded napkin adds such a special touch to your table setting and it’s easy to do, with the step-by-step instructions and photos that you’ll find in this book. I received a review copy of this book and it has a nice hardcover format with a concealed wire binding which lies flat when it’s open, making it easy to look at the photos and instructions while you’re trying out different folds.

I decided to try the Bow Fold, since we’re in the midst of the holidays and the bow shape reminds me of bows on Christmas presents! But it also works great for a special tea, ladies’ brunch, bridal shower, or baby shower.

Here’s the fold in a few easy steps–this is my condensed version…the book has much more detail! (Follow each row of photos from left to right).

1. You can use a plain or patterned napkin 2. Lay it out so reverse side is facing up 3. Fold napkin in half, forming a triangle 4. Fold left point over about halfway 5. Fold right edge back, cover the right tip slightly. 6. Fold right edge over left edge. 7. Fold bottom point over at an upward angle 8. Fold top point over at a downward angle 9. Pinch the center of the folded napkin together with one hand and, holding the napkin ring in the other hand… 10. …slide it through the ring 10. Pull tails of bow downward, forming a more distinct bow shape 11. Turn bow over… 12. …and arrange it on a plate!

I’m a very novice napkin folder, so if I can do this, you can, too! :) There are 99 other ideas  in the book, so you have plenty of folds to choose from!

Here’s a sample spread from the book:

image:  www.robertrose.ca

Have fun with your napkin folding!  Do you have a favorite napkin fold you like to use?

Linked to Create With Joy.

Desserts for a Sweet Fourth of July

Here are a few yummy desserts I found over at MarthaStewart.com. All of these great photos are from Martha’s site, too. Some of these don’t involve any baking, so even if it’s really hot out you can still make some yummy no-bake treats! The Red, White, and Blue Berry Trifle (shown above), is one of the no-bake desserts, and it’s so fun and festive, even without the sparklers! (The sparklers shown are special cake sparklers, recommended for outdoor use only!)

I love these Flag Cupcakes, decorated in a simple and easy way with piped blue buttercream dots and red licorice stripes!

These Pretzel Sparklers are a lot of fun, too! All you do is melt 4 ounces of semisweet chocolate, then coat the top third of each pretzel rod with the chocolate, using a pastry brush. Cover with sprinkles, stand upright in a glass and refrigerate about 5 minutes, or until firm. You could also use white chocolate instead of semisweet chocolate and add some edible glitter to make them more sparkly if you want.

Here’s another Red, White, and Blueberry Trifle…this one is made with cream cheese; the other trifle (the first photo in the post) is made with mascarpone cheese.

These Red, White, and Blue Parfaits look cool and refreshing with their red and white striped layers!

I like the idea of using raspberries and blueberries to decorate these Fouth of July Cupcakes…such a simple and easy idea, and so pretty!

These are just a few of many ideas at MarthaStewart.com…there are 30 fun and patriotic ideas for you to take a look at!

Wishing you a sweet Fourth of July! What kinds of treats will you be making for your celebration?

Burrito in a Cup from CATCH!

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If you’ve seen the popular reality show Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel, you’re probably familiar with Travis Lofland, one of the adventurous crew members who travels the Bering Sea on an Alaskan King Crabbing boat. Lofland also has a passion for cooking and has recently come out with a new cookbook called CATCH!: Dangerous Tales and Manly Recipes from the Bering Sea. I received a review copy from the publisher and found quite a variety of recipes as I looked through the book. The book is divided into nine chapters that include recipes for soups, salads, sandwiches, appetizers, entrees, sides, desserts, and more. In addition to seafood recipes, there are also recipes that include beef, chicken, and veggies, so there’s quite a selection to choose from including…

  • Rockin’ Red Pepper Crab Bisque with Cilantro Sour Cream
  • Sure to impress Avocado Brie Melt
  • Mango, Papaya, and Brie Quesadilla
  • Grilled King Crab Pizza
  • Blackened Fish Tacos
  • Slap a Smile on Your Face Ahi Sandwich
  • Captain’s Cornbread
  • High Seas Stroganoff
  • Reckless Red Salmon
  • Slimy Limey Coconut Sundae
  • Seafoam Peanut Butter Pie

This would be a great gift for Dads (Father’s Day is coming up!), or any other guys you know who love to cook.

I decided to try out a really tasty and very easy recipe, the Burrito in a Cup. You just can’t go wrong with something like this…it’s quick, doesn’t involve any cooking because you’re using leftovers, and extremely easy to put together. Keep this in mind for a simple summer meal!

BURRITO IN A CUP from CATCH!

Makes 6 servings

Travis: “This recipe came from Doug Stanley, a producer from the show and a former river guide in the Grand Canyon. He was telling me how he used to layer all the fixin’s for a burrito in paper cups so he wouldn’t have to deal with a tortilla with gloved hands…I tried it, and he was right.”

  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans of black beans
  • leftover taco meat
  • shredded cheese
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  1. In each of six paper cups, start with a layer of black beans.
  2. Next layer with meat, cheese, and salsa.
  3. Top with sour cream and a little more cheese for garnish.

Well, you can’t find a recipe much easier than that! The recipe says to make it in six paper cups, but I decided to be eco-friendly and make it in six 6-ounce canning jars which worked out great! I put 1/3 cup black beans in the bottom of each jar, then layered 1/4 cup taco meat (you could substitute chopped cooked chicken or chopped avocados for a veggie version), then 1/4 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese, then 2 Tablespoons of salsa, and a dollop (about 1 Tablespoon) of sour cream. And then sprinkled a little more cheese on top. So yummy and easy!

IKEA Inspiration

When I was on vacation recently, I had the chance to stop in at one of my favorite stores–IKEA! They have all kinds of home decor and kitchen items, wonderfully designed and so reasonably priced! I can’t walk into an IKEA store without buying anything, so it’s probably good that I don’t live close to one! :) When I do get a chance to shop there, though, it’s a real treat.

After I got back home, I browsed a little more on their website,  IKEA.com. I wish I had seen the tumbler pictured above when I was at the store…I definitely would have bought that! Here are some other great things I found…guess I’ll have to add these to my wish list for my next visit!

A fun, graphic rug…

 

A cool teapot (only $12.99!)…

A nifty serving bowl–I think this was just $2.99…

Colorful potato peelers…

A great chandelier…

A white chairbed…perfect for smaller living spaces…

Cupcake liners…I can always use those!…

And last but not least, ice pop makers…perfect for summer!

Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of the kinds of things you can find at IKEA!

Do you shop at IKEA? What types of things do you buy there?

Little Lamb Cake Balls from Sugarlicious and a Giveaway!

If you like making fun and creative treats, you’ll have to check out the new book Sugarlicious: 50 Cute and Clever Treats for Every Occasion (softcover). I’m excited to tell you that I have a copy of this book to give away, too! I’ll let you know how you can enter the drawing to win the book at the end of this post. But first, I’ll tell you a little more about Sugarlicious and share a cute recipe from it called Little Lamb Cake Balls.

Author and professional cookie decorator Meaghan Mountford (she also has a blog called The Decorated Cookie) includes 50 easy-to-follow recipes for any party or occasion in her book, which is also filled with colorful photos and illustrated step-by-step directions (all photos shown in this post are from Sugarlicious). Some of the fun treats you can make include Milkshake Cake Pops, Pink Princess Cupcakes, Sprinkle Marshmallow Pops, and these cute Barnyard Animal Snack Cakes

There are some fun Easter treats I found in Sugarlicious, too–Bunny Cookie Pops and Easter Egg Painted Cookies

And I thought these Little Lamb Cake Balls were perfect for Easter, too…

Here’s the recipe if you want to try them out!

LITTLE LAMB CAKE BALLS (from Sugarlicious)

Makes 48 to 60 cake balls

  • Cake Balls*
  • black edible writer
  • Jordan almonds
  • shredded coconut
  • white candy melts**
  • mini pretzel sticks
  • wax paper
  1. Follow the recipe for cake balls (see below) to bake your cake, prepare your cake balls and chill.
  2. Make 2 black dots for eyes with the edible writer on the Jordan almonds and set aside.
  3. Pour coconut on a plate and set aside. Melt candy melts according to the instructions. For each lamb, break 2 pretzel sticks in half so each pretzel piece is about 1 3/4 inches long. Dip the ends of the 4 pretzel pieces in the melted candy melts; then insert them into the base of a chilled cake ball. For best results, return the cake ball to the freezer for 5 minutes to help set. Holding 2 of the pretzel legs, dip the cake ball in the melts and immediately roll in coconut.  Stand the cake ball on the pretzel legs on a piece of wax paper.
  4. Use a dab of melted candy melts to adhere the Jordan almond head to the lamb.  Let dry.

*To make cake balls, bake a 9×13″ sheet cake using the recipe from Sugarlicious on page 25, your favorite recipe, or a box of store-bought cake mix. Let the cake cool completely and crumble into a large bowl. Stir in 1 1/3 cups of buttercream frosting or use 3/4 of a container of store-bought frosting and mix well, pressing the cake and frosting together with the back of a spoon or, preferably, mixing them with your hands until you have a texture that is wet, smooth and able to be formed.

Between the palms of your hands, roll the mixture into balls 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place them on a baking tray lined with wax paper. Freeze for fifteen minutes, no longer. Move the tray of cake balls to the refrigerator to keep them firm but not frozen. Work with a few cake balls at a time, while keeping the remainder in the fridge.

**For helpful tips and instructions on melting chocolate and candy melts, see the Techniques section in Sugarlicious on page 34).

NOTE: Store-bought cake mix will make about 48 cake pops; the recipe in Sugarlicious makes  about 60; amounts for other recipes may vary.

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED–Winner is Ann W, comment #13!

THE GIVEAWAY!

Here’s how you can enter to win a copy of Sugarlicious:

First entry: Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite Easter treat.

Bonus entries: Leave an additional comment telling me you are a new Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest  follower, or new subscriber. If you’re already subscribing or following, leave a comment telling me you’re already following and how. If you want to follow more than one way, you can leave a comment for each way you are following.

Be sure to leave all  your comment entries on this post–the random drawing winner will be chosen only from the comments on this post!

 The giveaway is open to residents of the continental U.S. and Canada. The giveaway will end on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at midnight (CST). Winner will be chosen randomly via Random.org and announced the following evening.

Linked to Sweets for a Saturday.

Naturally Lovely Thanksgiving Table Ideas from Martha Stewart

Still trying to figure out how you’re going to decorate your Thanksgiving table? I found some clever ideas over at MarthaStewart.com (all photos shown are from Martha’s website). The nice thing is, most of these ideas involve using natural elements like leaves, nuts, gourds, fruit…things you probably already have on hand. And you can use decorative containers that you already have on hand, too.

The centerpiece shown above is a great example…this arrangement has kumquats, squashes, and a bell pepper in a ceramic compote. You can also use other orange-colored fruits and veggies like miniature-size pumpkins, persimmons, carrots, and oranges. If you have any pretty milk glass bowls or containers (I’ve found some great milk glass pieces at local flea markets that were very reasonably priced), those would also work beautifully in this type of arrangement. Or use glass containers, like a trifle bowl.

If you don’t have any pretty glass containers, you can always fill baskets with fruits and veggies for an attractive tabletop arrangement. I love the little basket favors on top of each place setting…they’re so cute and homey!

Pottery containers or other types of bowls would work, too, even if they don’t all match (wooden bowls would look really nice). Have fun mixing different shapes and sizes in your arrangement and fill the smaller containers with nuts. I never realized how elegant an arrangement of pears and nuts could be!

If  you really want an elegant look, you might want to spray-paint miniature pumpkins, one for each place setting, and add a place card with each one.

I really liked this idea of using vivid fall leaves, clipped right from your own tree, and arranging them over a plate or charger. Then just add a clear glass plate on top of the leaves. You couldn’t buy plates any nicer than that!

And if you have a sweet gum tree, here’s a great use for those pesky, prickly spurs! What a great idea to use them as unique place cards!

The idea of using a pear (or apple) as a place card is very clever, too!

Create an elegant, feathery napkin holder by tying some ribbon around a napkin and sliding a pretty feather between the napkin and ribbon, or cut a slit through the ribbon in the front center, and slide the feather through the slit.

And one more idea…an easy-to-make napkin ring using ribbon and beads! Just cut a ribbon 18 to 22 inches long, trimming the ends diagonally. Wrap the ribbon around a napkin and thread both ends of the ribbon through a bead in front. Pull on the ribbon ends to tighten around the rolled napkin.

Hope this post gives you some ideas to add a touch of natural beauty to your Thanksgiving table!

A Sweet Springtime Snack

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I’ve always loved those Malted Milk Speckled Eggs…they are my favorite Easter candy (and those Cadbury Creme Eggs are a close second)! I buy them every year and eat way too many of them! :) This year, I found a Robin’s Egg Blue teacup at a flea market and thought it would make a great candy dish for my speckled eggs–doesn’t it look cute? Maybe you’ll be able to use this idea for your Easter candy.

It’s fun using teacups for other uses than just drinking tea. I went to a Tea Room recently with some friends and they served soup in teacups–isn’t that a great idea? If you’re a teacup collector, it’s a great way to use your teacups more often! :)

Create a Candy Buffet Bar: Tips from Jackie Sorkin

I see candy buffet bars at more and more events! I’ve never put one together myself, but think it would be fun creating one after receiving some helpful tips from Jackie Sorkin, owner of Custom Candy Buffet Bars. Jackie is an event planner in Southern California and has created candy buffet bars for clients ranging from American Idol and The Emmy Awards to The American Cancer Society and Girl Scouts. In addition to working with major corporations and celebrities, Jackie and her staff create special candy buffets and dessert bars for weddings, birthday parties, baby showers, and other events (all photos shown are provided by Jackie Sorkin).

Jackie and her staff even create special candy creations like this revolving Ferris Wheel…now that’s pretty impressive!

With the spring season coming up, there are lots of opportunities for you to create your own candy buffet bar…Easter, Mother’s Day, graduation, birthday celebrations, and children’s parties, to name a few. Here are tips from Jackie to help you get started!

  • Pick a theme or color scheme that will serve as direction when picking out props, candy colors, and treats.

  • Locate a space that is visible to your guests which will allow your candy buffet to be a beautiful or fun decorative addition to your event…like a foyer, existing bar, or on a patio.

  • Select interesting vessels and containers for your candy. They don’t have to be the same; mix them up but make sure they all flow together. Vintage shops and thrift stores are great for finding interesting pieces.

  • Select your candy by color–you can also include some custom treats which are made in your color scheme or theme from your local bakery.

  • Don’t forget scoops and tongs–always keep it clean!

  • Provide your guests with goody bags or boxes to grab some treats as a to-go favor.

Jackie also adds, “Personalization is everything! Every event should feel unique and special and your candy buffet or dessert bar is a fantastic way to do this.”  You can have personalized decals for containers or bags, special signs and labels for your buffet bar, and decorative touches like ribbons, bows, and glitzy rhinestones (always a huge hit with brides). Jackie says her Cotton Candy Trees are popular displayed on buffets, too.

So use these tips for inspiration and create a unique candy buffet bar for your next party or event!

Now after looking at all this candy, I think I’m gonna have to go and grab something sweet! :)

Linked to Sunday Showcase, Potluck Sunday.