Strawberry Lemonade

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Lemon and strawberry are two great summer flavors and I’ve been seeing Strawberry Lemonade photos come up quite a bit this summer on Pinterest. So I thought I’d try a recipe out from Better Homes and Gardens. I added a little more strawberries and also more lemon juice than the original recipe calls for because I like things really lemony! It’s the perfect drink to sip on as you’re sitting on your patio on a sunny summer day! Summer is going by much too fast, so maybe taking some time to enjoy Strawberry Lemonade will help slow it down! :)

STRAWBERRY LEMONADE by NancyC, adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Makes 8 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled (I chopped the strawberries into chunks before measuring out the 2 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cups lemon juice, or the juice of 5 to 6 lemons
  • Optional: additional whole or halved strawberries and lemon slices for garnish

Combine 1 cup of the sugar and 1 cup of the water in a small saucepan; cook and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Set this syrup mixture aside to cool.

Combine remaining 3 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar, and the strawberries in a blender and process until smooth. Transfer this mixture to a 2–quart pitcher; add the cooled syrup and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Fill pitcher with crushed ice or ice cubes.

If you want to add a special touch, garnish each glass of lemonade with lemon slices and/or fresh strawberries.

NOTE: To make ahead, prepare the lemonade mixture as directed, but do not add ice. Cover and chill up to 8 hours. Add ice and serve.

I think it’s fun to make fruit-flavored variations of lemonade! Do you make lemonade often?

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Creamy Fruit Dip

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Fresh fruit served with a sweet, creamy dip is great for a summer brunch, snack, or even a light dessert. Here’s an easy fruit dip recipe that’s so simple to make and so good! It’s made with just two ingredients–marshmallow creme and fruit-flavored cream cheese. The marshmallow creme makes the dip really smooth and creamy. Serve with a variety of your favorite fruit!

CREAMY FRUIT DIP by NancyC

Makes about 2 cups of dip

  • 1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow creme
  • 1 (8-ounce) container fruit-flavored cream cheese, softened (I used strawberry)

Mix the marshmallow creme and fruit-flavored cream cheese together in a medium bowl until smooth and creamy (use a beater for a really creamy dip).  Serve with a variety of your favorite fruit.

Fruit is really good on hot summer days and we’ve been having lots of them where I live! Do you make fruit dips often when you serve fruit?

Linked to Fiesta Friday/Novice Gardener,  Inspire Me Monday/Create with Joy, Show and Share/Coastal Charm. 

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Feta

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If you like tart and tangy, savory and salty flavors, then this is a salad you may want to try! I decided to make this when my friend Greg gave me some cucumbers from his garden. You can’t go wrong combining cucumbers with tomatoes, but when you add in some feta cheese and Kalamata olives, that really gives this salad a special zing! The “dressing” in this salad is very simple…just some lemon juice and olive oil. So there are lots of healthy ingredients in this. If you don’t have cherry tomatoes, you can chop up larger tomatoes into chunks and that should work fine. If you have a garden, it’s a great way to use all those cucumbers and tomatoes you’re growing this summer!

TOMATO CUCUMBER SALAD WITH FETA by NancyC

Makes about 5 servings

  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese (about 1/4 lb.)
  • 2 small to medium cucumbers, diced into 1/2″ chunks (about 2 cups diced)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced (slice both the white onion part and green stems)
  • 1 cup pitted and sliced or halved Kalamata olives
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

In large bowl, toss the tomatoes with the thyme, salt, pepper, and feta cheese.

Add in the cucumber, green onions, and olives; toss with the tomato/feta cheese mixture, tossing everything together well (you can let this mixture sit at room temperature up to 1 hour before serving). Just before serving, add the lemon juice and olive oil and toss everything together well. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

I love using fresh veggies from the garden or farmer’s market in summer recipes! Are you growing any veggies this summer?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday/Create with Joy, Show and Share/Coastal Charm.

Blackberry Banana Bread

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It was just a matter of time before I made this Blackberry Banana Bread, since I love trying different banana bread recipes and blackberry season is in full swing! This recipe makes a nice, full loaf that is dense and moist and full of banana and blackberry flavor. It also has a rich buttery taste and the buttermilk gives it a great taste, too. I think this quick bread works best with fresh blackberries, but if you want to try using frozen, your baking time will be longer.

It’s getting a little hot to bake since we’re right in the middle of summer, but you can make this in the evening or early in the morning when it’s a little cooler. Hope you enjoy this bread!

BLACKBERRY BANANA BREAD by NancyC, adapted from Betty Crocker

Makes one 9 x 5″ loaf

  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups fresh blackberries (if your berries are big, use 1 3/4 cups)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan; set aside.

In large bowl, mix sugar, butter, eggs, bananas, and buttermilk until well blended.

Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt and mix just until moistened. Gently fold in blackberries, distributing evenly in batter.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 62 to 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 to 10 minutes, them remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

You can wrap and store the bread at room temp up to 4 days or refrigerate up to 10 days.

I’ve been having fun trying a variety of blackberry recipes–have you been doing much baking with berries?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday.

Blackberry Gingerbread Muffins

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Usually I think of making gingerbread during the winter holidays, but here’s a summerized version in muffin form! Fresh blackberries make these muffins moist and of course the ginger and molasses give these muffins that great gingerbread taste. I had clipped this recipe from an old issue of Victoria magazine and modified it slightly. The original recipe was supposed to have made 18 muffins; I added in extra blackberries, and came up with 24 to 26 muffins, or 24 muffins and 1 mini-loaf. Making the mini-loaf works out great because you can bake it right along with your muffins–it will just need about 5 to 10 minutes extra baking time.

I also added a creamy glaze with a blackberry on top, because without any glaze or garnish these flat-topped muffins look quite plain. In other words, they are not the prettiest-looking muffins without anything on top. But they do taste great plain, so if you don’t mind them looking that way, you can skip the glaze.

I never would have thought of combining blackberries and gingerbread on my own, but I liked it alot! If you like gingerbread, you’ll have to try this out!

BLACKBERRY GINGERBREAD MUFFINS by NancyC, adapted from Victoria Magazine

Makes 26 muffins (or 24 muffins and 1 mini loaf)

  • 3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups fresh blackberries

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line muffin pans with 24 paper liners; set aside. Grease and flour a mini-loaf pan; set aside.

In a medium bowl, blend together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice.

In a large bowl, cream softened butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add molasses, eggs (one at a time), and buttermilk and mix until everything is combined well.

Add the flour mixture all at once to the butter/molasses mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the berries and mix to distribute evenly in batter.

Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full, and put the rest of the batter in your mini-loaf pan. Bake muffins at 350˚F for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; your mini-loaf will need to bake about 5 to 10 minutes longer. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove and cool completely on wire rack.

If desired, drizzle muffins with glaze…

CREAMY GLAZE and BERRY GARNISH

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Half & Half (light cream)
  • 26 blackberries for garnish

In a small bowl, blend powdered sugar and Half & Half until smooth and creamy. Drizzle over cooled muffins and top each muffin with a blackberry in the center.

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A summery gingerbread is definitely a new thing for me! Have you tried any different twists on gingerbread?

Linked to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener.

Blackberry Buttermilk Cake

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I mentioned in my last post that I had been picking some blackberries this past week. And this is one of the recipes I made with them–Blackberry Buttermilk Cake. It’s a recipe I’ve had for awhile, clipped from a newspaper and kept … Continue reading

Shoepeg Corn Salad with Honey Dressing

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I was looking through some old recipes I’d clipped from magazines awhile ago and came across one for Shoepeg Salad. It sounded like a great side dish for summer. I found some other variations on this salad at different recipe sites and ended up making my … Continue reading

Very Lemony Raspberry Lemonade

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When I posted my Lemon Raspberry Muffins recipe recently, I promised you I’d share the recipe for the Raspberry Lemonade I made to go with them…well, here it is! It’s very, very lemony! And the frozen raspberries that are mixed in with it give … Continue reading

Pear Lime Kiwifruit Water

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I thought I’d try a flavored water with a green theme, since St. Patrick’s Day is coming up! But of course, this water is great any time of the year. You mostly taste the lime in this, but the kiwifruit and pear slices make the pitcher of water look so nice! :) I think this water tastes best the same day you make it, but you’ll want to refrigerate it a few hours before serving so the water has more flavor. Use organic produce if you can when making this.

PEAR, LIME, KIWIFRUIT WATER by NancyCreative

Makes a large pitcher (half gallon) of flavored water

  • 8 cups of water (I used 2 cups of sparkling water mixed in with 6 cups of regular water to give it a slight fizziness–see note below*)
  • 1 large organic pear, cut into thin slices
  • 2 limes, cut into thin slices
  • 2 kiwifruit, cut into thin slices

Fill pitcher with 8 cups of water. Add slices of pear, lime, and kiwifruit, and stir all ingredients together in the pitcher. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving (the slices of kiwifruit tend to settle at the bottom, so you will need to stir before serving to mix all the fruit evenly). When ready to serve, add ice cubes to pitcher and stir or add ice to individual glasses and pour the flavored water over the ice.

*For a fizzy water drink, use Seltzer water or natural sparkling water (like Perrier) instead of regular water, or use some of each (do not use Club Soda or Tonic Water, as one is high in sodium and the other is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup).

Have you tried making any uniquely-flavored water lately?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy.

Very Strawberry Coconut Cream Soda

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When I saw that this soda was made with coconut milk, that got my attention. Fresh strawberries and coconut milk sounded pretty good! The original recipe that I found at Food.com also has sugar in it, but I substituted honey for the sugar. I also added extra strawberries.

This soda is creamy and fruity–a healthy way to enjoy a soda! This recipe is for a single serving, so if you need more servings, just multiply the ingredients by the number of servings you want to make.

VERY STRAWBERRY COCONUT CREAM SODA by NancyCreative, adapted from Food.com

Makes 1 (8-ounce) serving

  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 Tablespoons refrigerated coconut milk
  • Ice cubes
  • Club soda or carbonated water, chilled

In a small bowl, combine the strawberries and honey, stirring so strawberries are coated with the honey. Then use a pastry blender to mash the strawberries. You’ll have about 2/3 cup of the mashed strawberry-honey mixture. Stir in the coconut milk and blend everything well.

Place the mashed strawberry-honey-coconut milk mixture in an 8-ounce glass. Fill the glass with ice, up to 1″ below the top rim of the glass. Then pour in the club soda, filling the glass to the top. Stir the cream soda with a straw or iced teaspoon, blending the club soda in with the other ingredients, and serve immediately. Serve with a straw and spoon, since the mashed-up strawberries clog up the straw occasionally!

I just had to make this before the end of summer, which is coming up soon! Even though I like autumn, I’m kind of sad to see summer end. How about you?

Lemon Curd Berry Cake

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I had some lemon curd I needed to use, and I came across this recipe from Good Housekeeping that looked so good! A lemony cake with lots of fresh berries–yum! And I could just imagine how good the lemon flavor would be with the lemon curd. I thought I would make it even more lemony by using lemon extract instead of vanilla and using more lemon zest. Add I added a dash of fresh lemon juice, too. The original recipe suggests using a mix of blackberries, blueberries, and/or raspberries. I just had blueberries, so that’s all I used. I also made a glaze topping to go over the cake, but you could serve it with whipped cream and fresh berries like the original recipe suggests.

If you like lemon-flavored treats, this would be a great recipe for you to try!

LEMON CURD BERRY CAKE by NancyCreative, adapted from Good Housekeeping

Makes 1 bundt cake with a 12-cup pan (about 12 servings)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/3 cup finely ground toasted slivered or sliced almonds (they work fine untoasted, too)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon peel (lemon zest)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (from the zested lemon)
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup prepared lemon curd (you’ll need about an 8 to 10-ounce jar of lemon curd for the cake and the glaze, and you’ll have some left over; I used this brand)
  • 2 cups mixed fresh berries–blackberries, blueberries, and/or raspberries (or if you just have one kind of berry, use that–I used all blueberries)
  • Lemon Curd Glaze (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.

PREPARE CAKE: In medium bowl, whisk flour, almonds, baking powder, and salt. In large bowl, with mixer on high speed, beat butter and sugar 4 minutes or until light and fluffy (or you can beat by hand). Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then reduce speed to low, if using a mixer, and beat in lemon extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Beat in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, until combined. Beat in lemon curd until just combined. Fold in berries.

Spoon batter into prepared pan; lightly tap pan on counter to remove any air pockets. Bake, in center of oven, 60 to 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack. After cake has completely cooled, top with Lemon Curd Glaze.

LEMON CURD GLAZE

  • 5 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tablespoons prepared lemon curd (if the lemon curd is very thick, heat it in the microwave for about 20 seconds to make it more stirable)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • additional berries for garnish

In medium bowl, blend the whipping cream, lemon curd, and lemon juice, blending well. Add confectioner’s sugar and blend well. Spoon glaze over cake, let glaze set, top with additional berries, if desired, and serve. There’s plenty of glaze, so you can drizzle some extra glaze from the cake plate onto each slice with a spoon–it tastes great that way!

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Note: The original recipe says to serve the cake with Lemon Cream (instead of glaze), so that’s another option you may want to try…

LEMON CREAM

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup prepared lemon curd
  • 1 Tablespoon sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • Additional confectioner’s sugar to lightly dust the cake, optional
  • Mixed berries (or one kind of berry) for garnish

In medium bowl, beat cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low; beat in lemon curd and confectioner’s sugar until combined.

Serve cake with Lemon Cream and berries. You can give the cake a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar before serving with the cream and berries if you like,

If you like making your own lemon curd, I’m sure it would be fantastic in this cake recipe! I used store-bought lemon curd, but one of these days I want to try making my own!

Do you have any great recipes that use lemon curd as an ingredient?

Watermelon-Cucumber-Tomato Salad with Feta

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Throughout the summer, I love eating slices of juicy watermelon, but I thought I’d try something different with it for a change. I found a Watermelon-Cucumber Salad with Feta recipe at Food.com, and it sounded like the perfect thing to try! I omitted some ingredients and added some others, and I really like the slightly sweet and savory combination of tastes this salad has! It’s a great way to use your garden veggies if you’re growing cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, too!

WATERMELON-CUCUMBER -TOMATO SALAD WITH FETA by NancyCreative, adapted from Food.com

Makes 6 servings

  • 6 cups watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 medium English cucumber, peeled or unpeeled and thinly sliced or cut into chunks
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced or chopped (chop the green stems and the white part of the onions)
  • 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • I/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (or you can use a whole 4-ounce container if you want to have extra cheese in your salad)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh mint, chopped (optional)

Combine watermelon, English cucumber, green onions, olives, and cherry tomatoes in a large salad bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, honey, and olive oil.

Add lime juice mixture to watermelon and other ingredients in large bowl; toss gently to coat.

Sprinkle with feta and chopped fresh mint, if using; toss gently again and serve.

Have you made any unique watermelon recipes this summer?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday.

Shell Decor Ideas

I have always loved seashells and going to the beach! They add such a light summery touch to rooms! But I also like displaying shells year round, to help remind me of summer and the good times I had at the beach. So I keep my eyes open for new ways to do that. I found some ideas at several different sites that I really liked–If you went on a beach vacation this summer and collected some shells, maybe you’ll see some ideas here that will work in your home!

Take a look at the many containers you can display shells in…

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Above, from Pinterest, a large round basket

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Stoneware and pottery ideas from Stone Gable

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Glass container ideas, like this fishbowl, from Coastal Living, with a candle nestled into some white sand, shells, and sea glass…

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Or a rimmed glass cake plate shown on Roses and Rust

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Glass canisters of different shapes and sizes found on Pinterest

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Glass vases, simple or elegant from Pottery Barn and shown on Habitually Chic

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Or crystal goblets and vases, for an elegant look, featured in House & Home

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Simple vintage glass jars seen on Better Homes and Gardens always make great decorative containers…

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As well as pretty bottles, from Country Living, filled with sand and shells from your vacation and labeled if you like, so you’ll remember what beach they’re from!

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Here’s a very creative way to display shells–fill a bird bath and cover with glass for a striking side table, from Completely Coastal.

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And a very practical way to use shells–as a soap dish! From Martha Stewart.

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These shells glued to candle jars are really pretty, shown on homedit.

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Other ways to use shells in decorating…I love this wreath featured on Coastal Style

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And this shell garland from Better Homes and Gardens–the wreath and garland make great decorations year round as well as for Christmas!

That’s a pretty good start for some shell decor tips!

Are you a shell collector? How do you display shells in your home?