Category Archives: Spring/Easter

Cream Cheese Mints

cream-cheese-mints-nancycI love the scent of pine during the holidays. And the taste of peppermint and mint–flavored sweets! This holiday season, I’m enjoying both.

Right now, I’m using the new limited-edition winter scent of ECOS™ Dishmate™ Hypoallergenic ecoswinterpineDish Soap–they have a special holiday scent called Winterpine that they sent me to try, and it smells so fresh and clean!  It’s a great way to add the scent of pine to your kitchen. If you’re not familiar with ECOS™ products, they are earth-friendly and made with plant-derived cleaning agents that clean well and are gentle and safe to use.

And I’m also eating some wonderful minty sweets! These Cream Cheese Mints are kind of addicting. They have a rich, creamy, minty flavor. I like them more than I thought I would, which makes them dangerous for me to have around. So I’ve been sharing them with friends and everyone really likes them. You can make these yummy mints for any special occasion–birthday celebrations, wedding and baby showers, wedding receptions, and, of course, the holidays! I tinted mine red (or I guess you could say pink) and green for Christmas, but you can tint them any color you want. Or don’t use any food coloring and leave them a soft creamy white. This recipe makes about 175 small mints, which is a lot, but you’ll need a lot if you’re making them for holiday parties or any other event!

CREAM CHEESE MINTS by NancyC, adapted from BettyCrocker.com

Makes about 175 small mints

  • 2 (3-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (or use 6 ounces from an 8-ounce block)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon mint or peppermint extract
  • Red and green food coloring, optional

In large bowl, cream the softened butter and cream cheese together, then add the confectioner’s sugar, 3 cups at a time, and blend until smooth. Mix in mint extract. The mixture gets pretty thick, so you may need to work everything in with your hands. Or, you can mix all the ingredients with a food processor (use on-and-off pulses until mixture comes together in a ball).

If you’re wanting to tint your dough red and green (or any 2 other colors), divide dough into 2 equal portions and place on wax paper or parchment paper; add a few drops of red food coloring to 1 mound of dough and a few drops of green food coloring to the other mound of dough; work in or “knead” food coloring into each mound until the coloring is evenly tinted to your desired shade. If you’re just making one color, you won’t need to divide the dough, and if you want your mints to be creamy white, you can skip this whole step–just leave out the food coloring.

Roll dough mixture into small balls (I rolled mine into balls that were between 1/2″ and 5/8″ in diameter-I wouldn’t go any larger than that or they will take forever to set–smaller is better!). Place on waxed paper or parchment paper–lined cookie sheets and flatten each ball with a fork. Let stand about 2 hours or until dry (If the mints are still a little soft after a few hours, go ahead and put them in the refrigerator to finish drying). When mints are set and dry, cover with another sheet of wax paper and refrigerate until ready to serve.

These mints are perfect for parties or sweet little food gifts! And this recipe makes plenty of them, so you’ll have extra for yourself!🙂  Besides pine and mint, what other flavors and scents do you enjoy around the holidays?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday.

Easter Egg Bark

Easter Egg Bark @ NancyCI can’t believe Easter is almost here! If you haven’t had a chance to make any Easter treats yet, here’s a really easy recipe you can put together quickly–and no baking required! It’s so fun and colorful, too. I based this Easter Egg Bark on my Candy Corn Bark recipe I had posted a few years ago. It’s really yummy, packed with those super-good Cadbury candy-coated mini milk chocolate eggs and Easter M&M’s, along with a colorful dash of sprinkles!

This is a thicker bark, compared to some others I’ve made; if you like thinner barks, you could spread the melted white chocolate base in a thinner layer on a 10 x 15″ baking sheet instead of a 9 x 13″ pan. One important tip: It helps if you have the mini eggs and M&M’s pre-measured so you can sprinkle them on quickly before the white chocolate starts to set!

EASTER EGG BARK by NancyC

Makes a 9 x 13″ pan

  • 2 (12-ounce) packages white chocolate (vanilla) baking chips
  • 1 cup Cadbury milk chocolate Mini Eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk chocolate Easter M&M’s
  • Colorful Sprinkles

Line a 9 x 13 ” pan with parchment paper, going up the sides and leaving 2 extra inches of paper on each side (so you can lift the bark out of the pan later); set aside.

In a medium microwaveable bowl or container, microwave the white chocolate chips for one minute, then stop and stir. Continue melting the chocolate in the microwave, stopping and stirring every 30 seconds, until all the chips are melted and smooth, for a total of about 2  to 2 1/2 minutes (be careful not to overheat, or the white chocolate will become clumpy!).

Spread the melted white chocolate evenly in a thin layer in the parchment-lined pan with a large spoon or spatula. Sprinkle the Cadbury mini eggs over the melted chocolate, pressing eggs about halfway into the chocolate as you’re placing them. Then do the same with the Easter M&M’s (it helps if you have all these ingredients pre-measured so you can sprinkle them on quickly before the chocolate starts to set). Last of all, top with colorful sprinkles, pressing lightly into the white chocolate if necessary. Note: Make sure all ingredients are pressed into the melted chocolate, or they will just fall off when you are breaking up the bark later.

Let bark set about 1 hour, or until completely firm (you can chill the bark in the refrigerator to help it set quicker). Lift bark from the pan (with the sides of the parchment paper) and place on kitchen counter. Peel parchment paper from bottom side of bark, breaking bark into pieces as you peel. Serve on a platter or in a bowl, or package into treat bags. Store any extra bark covered in an airtight container at room temperature.

That’s all there is to it! What fun sweets and treats are you making for Easter?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck.

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Gourmet Gift Baskets for Mother’s Day and a Giveaway!

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I received a nice surprise on my doorstep the other day–a beautiful gift basket from GourmetGiftBaskets.com. It was carefully packaged in a box and arrived in perfect condition with a festive bow wrapped around the basket. You have a chance to win this gourmet basket of goodies, too (a $99.00 value)–see the end of the post for details! If you’re not familiar with GourmetGiftBaskets.com, it’s a family-owned business that is one of the fastest-growing online gift companies in the U.S. They’ve been featured on Food Network and in many magazines like Bon Appétite, Gourmet, and Food & Wine.

Mother’s Day is next weekend and if you’re needing a last-minute gift for mom, you’ll find lots of special Mother’s Day Gift baskets to choose from–one of these gourmet baskets would make a wonderful gift for her! Here are some of the different baskets you can choose from:

MothersDayGourmetGiftsI wanted to point out that in the golf gift basket, the golf bag holding the gourmet goodies is actually a cooler that mom can use on the golf course–how great is that? There are even more gifts and goodies at the website–including a special Mother’s Day Cake and Cookie Cake–with a variety of price ranges to fit your budget. Click here to see the full selection. The gift basket I received was the Bountiful Harvest Fruit Gift Basket which included fresh fruit, Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Artisan Crackers, Caramel Fruit and Snack Dip, Peanut Brittle, several kinds of Gourmet Cookies, Peanut Crunch, Roasted Peanuts, Snack Mix, some chocolate candies, and Gourmet Popcorn.

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What a wonderful combination of goodies! Who wouldn’t love to receive a gift like this? Well, now is your chance to win the same kind of basket that I received from GourmetGiftBaskets.com–they will send your basket directly to you!

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 9.10.38 PMTHE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. Congratulations to commentor #22, Kendra, on winning the giveaway!

If you’d like to enter the giveaway to win the Bountiful Harvest Fruit Gift Basket, leave a comment on this blog post between now and Monday evening, May 4 at 8 p.m. (CST). The random drawing will be made from the comments on this post only! The winner will be chosen randomly via Random.org and announced later on Monday evening, May 4. Winner will be notified via email (if winner does not respond within 24 hours, I will do another drawing). Giveaway is limited to readers in the Continental U.S.

First entry: Leave a comment on this post letting me know what your favorite Mother’s Day gift basket is from the Gourmet Gifts Baskets collection.

Bonus entry: If you are a new or existing follower or subscriber, you can leave one extra comment telling me the way (or ways) you are following.

Note: If your comment doesn’t show up right away, don’t worry–it just means I haven’t had the chance to click on it to approve it before it becomes visible!

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Trix Marshmallow Bars

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With flowers starting to bloom and trees starting to bud, I’ve been enjoying all the spring color outside. And it put me in the mood to make something colorful! I saw some Trix Marshmallow Bars at BettyCrocker.com and just had to try them out! I had forgotten how fun and colorful Trix cereal was–after all, I hadn’t had it since I was a kid. I made these marshmallow bars a little differently from the original recipe, using mini marshmallows instead of marshmallow creme and a little more Trix cereal. These thick and chewy bars just look like a celebration waiting to happen, don’t they? How can your day not be brightened when you look at all these colors? They’re perfect treats for kids or kids-at-heart!

TRIX MARSHMALLOW BARS by NancyC, adapted from BettyCrocker.com

Makes a 13 x 9″ pan 

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag mini marshmallows
  • 9 cups Trix cereal (there’s about 8 cups in a 10.7 oz box, so get the next larger size)

Line bottom and sides of 13 x 9″ pan with parchment paper; set aside. In large saucepan, heat butter and marshmallows over medium-low heat until marshmallows are completely melted and mixture is smooth; remove from heat. Add Trix cereal to marshmallow mixture and stir until cereal is well coated. Press mixture firmly into prepared pan (use a greased spatula or wax paper to make the pressing easier). Cool, then cut into bars.

Note: if you want thicker bars, don’t press the mixture all the way to the ends of the pan–just press to desired thickness (it will still fill most of the pan). I pressed mine about 1 1/2″ short of one of the short edges of the pan.

Colorful treats like these are always fun, especially in the spring and summer. What kind of colorful goodies do you like to make?

Linked to Fiesta FridayInspire Me Monday, Creative Mondays, and Wow Me Wednesday.

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Easter Joy

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I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He will stand upon the earth at last. JOB 19:25 (The Living Bible)

Wishing you joy at Easter as we celebrate the hope we have because our Redeemer lives!

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Easter Trail Mix

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Something that’s hard for me to resist when I see the long aisle of Easter candy at the store are those malted milk Robin Eggs–malt balls covered with a candy coating. I buy them every year and eat way too many of them! This year, I told myself I would not buy them unless I used them in a recipe. And since I’ve been short on time lately, it needed to be something pretty simple. So I came up with an Easter Trail Mix–a blend of chocolatey sweets mixed in with some healthy ingredients. The mini robin eggs and pastel M&M’s give the mix plenty of chocolatey taste and spring color, and the other goodies include raisins, sunflower kernels, coconut flakes, peanuts, and mini pretzel twists. This recipe makes a large bowl of trail mix, so there’s plenty for everyone to munch on!

EASTER TRAIL MIX by NancyC

Makes about 13 cups

  • 1 (13.7 oz.) bag Mini Robins Eggs (almost 3 cups)
  • 1 (11.4 oz) bag milk chocolate easter M&M’s (about 1 2/3 cup)
  • 1 cup raisins (you can use golden or dark raisins)
  • 2/3 cup roasted and salted sunflower kernels
  • 1 cup sweetened dried coconut flakes
  • 1 (16 oz.) container cocktail peanuts or dry roasted peanuts
  • 3 cups mini pretzel twists (you can also use mini pretzel sticks or mini pretzel snaps)

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, stirring with a large spoon. Eat right away or store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Makes a great food gift, too, packaged in treat bags!

Are you a fan of those Robin Eggs too? Are you using them in any Easter recipes this year?

Linked to Full Plate Thursday.

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Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

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Are you planning on dyeing some Easter Eggs this year? I’ve found several sites that show how you can use natural ingredients as dyes for your eggs–fruits, veggies, herbs, and spices like blueberries, oranges, red and yellow onions, paprika, and much more! I haven’t tried any of these yet, but I thought I’d go ahead and share some helpful links with you! Above, the photo of these pretty pastel-colored eggs is from Better Homes and Gardens–see instructions here at bhg.com.

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You need to check out these naturally dyed eggs at the blog Dreamy Whites–they are beautiful and so is the blog!

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At Your Homebased Mom, you’ll find out how to create dyes that produce these soft earthy colors–such great shades! See instructions here at yourhomebasedmom.com.

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Here’s a nice variety of soft colors from Kaleyann.com–visit her blog for how-to’s here.

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If you’re wanting colors that are a little more vivid, you’ll find tips at A Few Short Cuts.

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MarthaStewart.com also has instructions for dyeing eggs naturally–look at those rich colors!

Have you tried dyeing eggs with natural ingredients? Do you prefer using natural or regular dyes?

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Spring WILL Come!

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Yesterday snowflakes were softly falling and it was looking more like a December winter wonderland outside than an almost-spring day, especially considering I’m in the south. My friends and I are so ready for spring to come–it’s just 3 weeks away, but when you see all the snow you wonder if it will ever get here. And I was wondering just that when I saw this quote on Pinterest. So if you, too, have been wondering if spring will ever come, it will! Maybe not as soon as we’d like, but it definitely will!

He dispatches His Word, and the thaw begins; at His command, the spring winds blow, gently stirring the waters back to life.  PSALM 147:18

 (The Voice Bible, © Thomas Nelson 2012)

Linked to Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy.

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A Spring Branch Bouquet

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Dogwood trees are starting to bloom where I live and their blooms are so pretty! The Redbud trees are also blooming and their rich color looks so striking against the other trees that are just starting to produce small leaves.

I decided to pick a few blooming branches and make a bouquet–something I had wanted to do last spring, but by the time I thought about doing it, the blooms were past their prime. So here’s how my “Branch Bouquet” turned out–I just combined 2 Dogwood branches with 3 Redbud branches and I think the different blooms look so pretty together! You could use other kinds of blooming branches, too–Forsythias, Pear Blossoms…whatever type of blooming branches that are growing around you. It brings a nice touch of the spring outdoors into your home or office.

You could also use this idea to make a pretty Easter centerpiece for your table!

Do you have any pretty blooming shrubs or trees in your yard?

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday, Inspire Me Monday, Wow Us Wednesday, Favorite Things Thursday.

Daffodils

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I picked these daffodils yesterday–they’ve just recently started blooming. They were growing by the side of the road, and I just had to pick some! I love the variety–some are bright yellow, some are soft yellow, and some are soft cream. My favorite, though, are the daffodils that have creamy petals with vivid orange centers.

Do you have daffodils in your garden and are they blooming yet?

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener and Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy.