How to Make Marshmallow Pops

Ok friends, this is my favorite easy peasy party recipe. They are supper easy and look fantastic with any party spread.

SUPPLIES YOU’LL NEED:

Large Marshmallows

Lollipop Sticks or Paper Straws

Candy Melts in your choice of colors

Sprinkles

waxed paper

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First melt candy melts for 30 seconds in the microwave. Stir then microwave another 30 seconds. Continue in 30 second intervals until melted.

While candy melts are melting, put lollipop sticks or straws in marshmallows.

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Now put the marshmallow in the melted chocolate and spin to cover as much as you would like. I like to just cover the bottom but you can cover the entire marshmallow if you like. Next dip the chocolate covered marshmallows in your choice of sprinkles. Get creative with this. You can use chopped nuts, sprinkles, graham cracker crumbs and an assortment of other goodies. Or dip them in dark chocolate and graham cracker crumbs to make S’mores on a Stick! YUMMY!!

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Now put the finished marshmallows on waxed paper and let the chocolate harden.

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There are endless possibilities for these yummy treats. How cute would it be to use the pink strawberry marshmallows for Valentines Day!

Ok, now let’s talk about how to turn making treats like this into a learning experience. First, I made these with my 4 (almost 5) year old. We counted marshmallows and sticks. We divided the sticks up and added them together to practice our addition. We talked about all of the colors of the rainbow while looking at the sprinkles.

With my 7 year old we talked about time as we melted the chocolate. We estimated how many sprinkles were left in the jar after we had used them in the recipe. We also did a little research on how cake sprinkles are made which lead us to the origins of chocolate and a long discussion about manufacturing.

Friends, you can turn anything into a learning lesson if you take the time to stop and explain things to your kids. How often are we so busy that we push them to the side in order to “get it done”. Teach your kids while you are busy with the mundane task of daily life. They often learn more in those circumstances than with any kind of prepared lesson. 🙂 Happy homeschooling!

Sweet Sweet Iced Cookies

In the past few months I have made quite a few iced cookies. They are my absolute favorite cookie to eat! I'm getting the hang of royal icing and it is so much fun to create these little treasures. Here are a few pictures of the ones I made during the holidays and the recipes that go with them. This first group was made for our Christmas Cookie Exchange 

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These were gingerbread cookies. I always use Eileen's Spicy Gingerbread Cookie recipe off of Allrecipes.com. It is a crazy good recipe. My Ls didn't like them but Ridley was stuffing his little cheeks like a chipmunk. He absolutely loved them.

Next up I made iced sugar cookies for Lex's teachers and for Santa. These are definitely the most detailed cookies that I have ever done. 

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These were my favorites (and Santa's favorite too).

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The sugar cookie recipe that I use is delicious. It isn't very sweet at all and it is so soft and chewy.

CUTOUT SUGAR COOKIES

1/2 Cup plus 2 tbs butter, softened

1/2 Cup Sugar

2 Tbsp Light Corn Syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg

2 Cups All Purpose Flour

Beat butter, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in egg. Divide dough in 1/2. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350. Roll and cut with cookie cutters. Bake on parchment paper.

I bake these for about 7 minutes. Just until they are no longer glossy. 

Just a few notes about this recipe:

I normally double this recipe.

I have frozen the cookies iced and not iced and they freezer wonderfully.

I can eat an entire batch of these by myself with no problem at all. hehehe. Well, I'm not really joking. 

Also, on occasion, I have colored the batter for these cookies and left them uniced. They turned out yummy and super cute. Stay tuned this week for some super cute Valentine's Cookies using colored dough.  Until then, be awesome!

Summersig

 

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A Time to be Thankful

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite time of year. I am so incredibly thankful for all that God has blessed me with – family, friends, healthy… all of the normal stuff but also for all of the freedoms that I am able to enjoy. For the last two years we have had family and friends over for Thanksgiving Dinner and it is such a treat for me to cook. I love doing it and thankfully they love eating it. 🙂

This year I went all out and tried a new turkey that my husband saw on facebook. It looked impressive and was simply delicious. I followed the recipe exactly from The Runaway Spoon. The website has very detailed instructions on how to do it and I really couldn't add much to it. The only thing I will add is that I used Applewood Smoked Bacon from the meat counter at Whole Foods. It is quiet possibly the best bacon on the planet.

Turkey

Now on to the rest of the meal which I quickly forgot to take pictures of after everyone arrived.

Menu

Southern Cornbread Dressing

I have adapted this recipe from a few recipes that I've tried and I think it is fantastic. I typically don't measure the ingredients so I'll just say to mix everything until it taste right. You aren't going to mess it up.

1 pkg frozen Mirepoix cajun style veggies (onions, celery and green bell peppers)
                You can chop your own but this is just easier if you are already doing a lot of cooking

2 pkgs of (make sure this in not sweet) yellow or white corn bread mix (bake according to pkg)

1 box of (this is sweet cornbread) Jiffy corn muffin mix (bake according to pkg)

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

4 hard boiled eggs, chopped fine

2 eggs, beaten

heavy whipping cream

1 cup of chicken broth

Onion powder

garlic powder

Cook your veggies until done. I usually do this in bacon grease but you can do it in whatever you like (veg oil, olive oil, etc) and set aside. Cook cornbread according to package directions and let cool.

In a large mixing bowl, crumble the yellow/white cornbread and half of the jiffy cornbread. (Eat the other half of the Jiffy or stick it in the freezer for another meal) Now add the soup, boiled eggs, onion powder, garlic powder and salt & pepper to taste and mix well. Now add the chicken broth and beaten eggs. Your mixture should be pretty thick. Add heavy whipping cream to make the mixture creamy. I probably use about a cup – 1 1/2 cups.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until set.

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Mashed Potatoes

6-7 medium potatoes, washed, peeled and diced

1 stick of butter, unsalted

1 Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Add diced potatoes to a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Boil for 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain. Add butter, whipping cream, and salt & pepper. Whip with hand mixer until fluffy.

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Cream Cheese Corn

I have adapted this recipe from a few recipes that I've tried and I
think it is fantastic. I typically don't measure the ingredients so I'll
just say to mix everything until it taste right. You aren't going to
mess it up.

1 pkg of Fat Free Cream Cheese

2 cans of Shoepeg or Small White Corn, drained

Tony's Cajun Seasoning, to taste

I put this in my tiny crockpot and cook until it is warm and bubbly.

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Green Bean Casserole

When I looked for recipes I tried to find things with no cream soups. I ended up only using one can for the entire Thanksgiving meal which I thought was pretty good. I just couldn't delete it from the dressing.

I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com and I didn't change a thing. This casserole was fantastic but I did find it a tad salty. I think next time I would delete the salt.

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Ruths Chris Sweet Potato Casserole

By far the BEST Sweet Potato Casserole I have ever eaten. I could have eaten it as a dessert. The recipe is from food.com.

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Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

I know, I know! Pumpkin Mac and Cheese sounds kind of gross! I thought so too at first but I promise it is so incredibly fabulous. It isn't sweet like most pumpkin dishes. In fact, you probably won't even know that there is any pumpkin in it. It makes the dish super creamy. I've blogged about it before. You can find the recipe here.

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Desserts

Lunch was fabulous but I have to say the desserts were just fabulous. My husbands absolute favorite dessert is cheesecake so over the years I've perfected the recipe and I think it is great. I made that and 2 other super easy desserts. I served the cheesecake with caramel sauce (I had some leftover Hershey's caramel ice cream sundae sauce) and Fresh Strawberry Sauce. The Strawberry Sauce was a botched batch of Strawberry Freezer Jam that never really set but is fabulous on cheesecake.

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The Real Deal Cheesecake

15 graham crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons butter, melted
 
4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I've also used Almond)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Put a circle of parchment paper in the bottom and grease a 9 inch springform pan. In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press onto bottom of springform pan.

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Blend in milk, and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust.

Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Turn the oven off, and let cake cool in oven with the door closed for 5 to 6 hours; this prevents cracking. Chill in refrigerator until serving.

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Pumpkin Toffee Cake

1 Yellow Cake Mix

1 Can of Pumpkin Puree

1/2 Cup Water

1 Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 Tub of Fat Free Cool Whip

1/2 Jar of Hershey's Caramel Ice Cream Topping

1/2 bag of Heath Bits

In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, water and pumpkin puree until a smooth batter forms.

Pour batter into a greased 9×13 baking dish, and bake at 350º, according to the directions on the cake mix box (approx 23-28 mins).

Remove cake from oven and let cool. Using the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes all over the top of the cake. Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the cake.

Remove cake from refrigerator and spread cool whip over top of cake. Sprinkle on the heath bits, and drizzle caramel over top. Refrigerate overnight.

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Peanut Butter Pie    


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This is about the worst picture ever but my camera died after taking one picture and honestly I had to eat the pie. Last Thanksgiving I didn't make any desserts. Friends and family brought the desserts and one of them was a Peanut Butter Pie from a local bakery. It was DELICIOUS so I made it my mission to learn to make this pie. It didn't take me long to figure it out. I will give the original recipe but I took a few liberties with my pie yesterday.

1 Deep Dish Pie Crust, baked according to directions

3/4 Cup peanut butter, 1 used the fresh ground Honey Roasted from Whole Foods

1/2 Cup powdered sugar

1 box of French Vanilla pudding

2 Cups of milk

1 tub of cool whip

Bake pie crust according to package directions and let cool.

Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut peanut butter and sugar together until crumbly. Put this mixture in the bottom of the pie crust but reserve about 1/4 Cup to sprinkle on top of the pie.

Mix pudding and milk together and pour over crumbles. Chill for 30 minutes. Then put cool whip on top and sprinkle with peanut butter crumbles. Chill overnight.

 

** I didn't have vanilla pudding so I used Chocolate and it was fabulous.

Slow Cooker Carnitas

Tim was completely right yesterday when he called Layla a "wrecking ball". I don't know what has come over her this week but I can't turn my back without her tearing something up. I lost her for a few seconds today and when I found her she was in the bathroom sink…

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Last night I knew the kids wouldn't eat the salad so I made a pork loin that turned out pretty horrible and dry. So, tonight instead of cooking I chopped it up really fine and made bbq sandwiches with it. Which is kind of funny b/c on my menu tonight was pulled pork bbq. Here is the recipe I had planned on cooking. It is fabulous, easy and made in the crockpot.

Slow Cooker Carnitas

from allrecipes.com
 
"Carnitas means 'little meats' and is traditionally fried then braised. This recipe is made much easier using the slow cooker but the results are just as tasty. This makes a great filling for tamales, enchiladas, tacos and burritos. This filling is also great combined with your favorite barbecue sauce and served on buns."

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (4 pound) boneless pork shoulder roast
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken broth

Mix together salt, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, and cinnamon in a bowl. Coat pork with the spice mixture. Place the bay leaves in the bottom of a slow cooker and place the pork on top. Pour the chicken broth around the sides of the pork, being careful not to rinse off the spice mixture.

Cover and cook on Low until the pork shreds easily with a fork, about 10 hours. Turn the meat after it has cooked for 5 hours. When the pork is tender, remove from slow cooker, and shred with two forks. Use cooking liquid as needed to moisten the meat.

Serve with your favorite bbq sauce… on buns with coleslaw…yummy yummy yummy!!

Antipasto Salad

Fabulous salad tonight… I wouldn't change a thing about it.
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Antipasto Tossed Salad

Salad:
6 cups torn lettuce leaves (1 head of lettuce)
8 ounces hard salami, julienned
6 ounces provolone cheese, julienned
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 (6 ounce) can pitted ripe olives , drained, halved
1 tablespoon minced chives

Dressing: {mix all together in food processor/blender & drizzle over salad}
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper

We don't like olives around here so we left them out. It was simply delicious and soooo easy.

Antipasto

Tonights meal was simply delicious and ridiculously easy. The original recipe called for Lamb Stew Meat but after talking to the butcher at Whole Foods we decided that it must have been a misprint because Lamb Stew Meat is not very common. He suggested Lamb Shanks cut into 2 inch pieces. It turned out fabulous. I served it with fresh corn on the cob and new potatoes that I roasted in fresh thyme, garlic and olive oil.


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Lamb, Green Beans and Tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds lamb shanks cut into 2 inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped

2 pounds fresh green beans, washed and trimmed

2 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce

1 cup water

salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint leaves

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add lamb and onion and cook until meat is browned; {i added a little water here so that it wouldn't stick} stir in beans and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in tomato sauce, water, salt, pepper and mint. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 1 hour or until cooked through and beans are tender.

Enjoy!

Lamb

Chewy Gooey Granola Bars

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Today we made these fabulous granola bars. I'm sure there are many more batches in my future. They are absolutely fabulous and so tasty! You could sneak all kinds of good for you things in these and tell your kids that they are candy bars. 🙂 They really do taste like a candy bar. Or a fun way to get the kids involved is to make these with your kids and let them pick what they want in the 3 cups of nuts, fruit or seeds.


Thick, Chewy Granola Bars


The possibilities for the recipe are endless. Use your imagination and use what your kids like!

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats 


1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (more for sweeter bars, less for a more earthy bar)


1/3 cup whole wheat flour


1/2 teaspoon salt


1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


2 to 3 cups dried fruits, seed & nuts (I used Sunflowers seeds, flax seeds, mini chocolate chips & walnuts)


1/3 cup peanut butter  (I use Smucker's All Natural PB with Honey)
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
2 tablespoons light corn syrup 
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 9″ x 12″ pan with parchment paper. Lightly spray the parchment paper and the exposed pan with a non-stick spray.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, peanut butter, honey, corn syrup and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan.

Bake the bars for 30 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.

Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (After about 20 minutes you can use your parchment to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)

Once cool, a serrated knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars into squares. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.
Suggestions: Dried cranberries, apricots, pecans, sunflower seeds, coconut, walnuts, sesame seeds, dried apples, flax seeds, peanut butter or butterscotch chips, mini m&ms, chocolate chips.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

We have been so busy lately. All day yesterday me and the kids volunteered at JOY Respite at our church which is a ministry group for special needs kids. Then we headed off to our friend's wedding.

We never skip church unless we're out of town but today got the best of us. I was exhausted and just wanted a day to spend with the family so we played hooky and spent the day together. We checked out Georgia's Farm to Market which turned out to be fabulous. We bought an 1/8th of a cow 🙂 and lots of organic produce. Their produce prices are outstanding! So, in two weeks I'm going to have 50 pounds of local grass-fed organic beef in my freezer… which makes me very happy.

Today we made an interesting new snack that I ran across online. Well, I bought 12 pint jars for canning the strawberry preserves a few weeks ago and only needed 6 of the jars. I hated to waist them so I wanted to try my luck at canning again. I found a recipe for Banana Jam that sounded quite interesting. I've never heard of such before. Peanut Butter & Banana Jam sandwiches!?! How awesome does that sound?

I am always buying old banana to cook with. They are such a great bargain and you can make lots of great snacks with them… hum, I see a post in my future. 🙂 I obtained 12 large bananas at Kroger for $1.25 that were started to get brown spots on the outside. The kids ate a few of them and I used the rest for the jelly. If you've never canned before, let me start by saying it is SUPER easy. I always thought it was difficult but it isn't at all. This is the recipe…

BANANA JAM

Makes: about 8 (1-cup) jars.

4 cups prepared fruit (about 10-11 fully ripe medium bananas)

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1 box SURE.JELL Fruit Pectin

1/2 tsp. butter or margarine (optional)

6 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl

BRING boiling-water canner, half-full with water, to simmer.
Wash jars and screw bands in hot, soapy water; rinse with warm water.
Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand
in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling. 

MASH bananas thoroughly. Measure exactly 4 cups prepared fruit
into 6- or 8-quart saucepot. Stir lemon juice and fruit protector into
prepared fruit in saucepot. 

STIR pectin into fruit in saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming,
if desired. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't
stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.

STIR in all sugar quickly. Return to full rolling boil and boil
exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any
foam with metal spoon.

LADLE quickly into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of
tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands
tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner.
Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches; add boiling water if needed.
Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 5 minutes. Remove jars and
place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check
seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. (If lid springs back, lid
is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

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{please excuse the horrible photo!!}

CROCKPOT CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP

1 pound shredded, cooked chicken
1 (15 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, mashed
1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups water
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
salt & black pepper, to taste
1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chiles, and garlic into a slow cooker. Pour in water and chicken broth, and season with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Stir in corn and cilantro. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Lightly brush both sides of corn tortillas with oil. Cut tortillas into strips, then spread on a baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven until crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. To serve, sprinkle tortilla strips over soup.

**A few notes about this recipe: I just put in 2 raw chicken breast and let them cook in the soup. When they were done I took them out and shredded them then added back into soup.

Also, instead of baking the tortillas I just served a few crushed corn chips on top with a dollop of sour cream and a pretty cilantro leaf. I didn't have any bay leaves so I omitted them. And I used a handful of fresh cilantro toward the end of cooking.

THE VERDICT: I think this recipe is a good starter but next time I will add black beans and a little lime juice. Overall it was tasty and super easy to make. Hope you enjoy if you make it! 🙂

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As promised, this is your first recipe card. 🙂 You can print it at home or send it to your favorite photo processing store {walgreens, cvs, target, etc}

New Recipes

Yippee! I got my KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker in the mail today! First recipe I'm going to try is this one so that I can use up some more of the Tahitian Vanilla Beans that I bought for the Vanilla Wafers last week.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

* 7 large egg yolks
* 3/4 cup sugar
* dash salt
* 1 vanilla bean
* 2 cups half and half
* 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Whisk egg yolks with sugar and salt in large bowl; set aside. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Combine beans, seeds, half and half and heavy cream in a large saucepan. Bring just to a simmer. Gradually whisk hot cream into the egg yolk mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon (do not let it boil). Strain through sieve into large bowl. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Freeze in ice maker according to manufacturer's directions.

Makes about 1 quart.

Here is anothers that I'm excited about trying…

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
About 1 quart (1l)

French yogurt is astoundingly good and I suggest you use a good-quality, whole milk or Greek-style yogurt for best results.

1 pound (450g) strawberries, rinsed and hulled
2/3 cup (130g) sugar
optional: 2 teaspoons vodka or kirsch
1 cup (240g) plain whole milk yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Slice the strawberries into small pieces. Toss in a bowl with the sugar
and vodka or kirsch (if using) until the sugar begins to dissolve.
Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours,
stirring every so often.

Transfer the strawberries and their juice to a blender or food
processor. Add the yogurt and fresh lemon juice. Pulse the machine
until the mixture is smooth. If you wish, press mixture through a mesh
strainer to remove any seeds.

Chill for 1 hour, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Vanilla Wafer Heaven

We made the most delicious homemade vanilla wafers today. Lex helped me and they turned out fantastic {as you'll see there is a tiny little finger trying to eat batter in every picture}. However, I think that next time I won't let them get quite as brown. I ordered Tahitian Vanilla Beans and I think they really made the cookies fantastic.

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Lex had lots of fun measuring everything and pouring it in. But just like a little boy, he thought it was the coolest when we put the mixer on speed #10! "Go faster Mom, Go faster!!"

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The batter is super thick… kind of like butter cream icing. I piped the dough onto cookie sheets and they looked so pretty.

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Lex wanted to pipe some of the cookies too… but only so that he could grab the dough and eat it as soon as it came out. 🙂 He snuck quite a few.

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And these are the final cookies. They would be simply heavenly in a banana pudding! I think I may have to go get bananas tomorrow and try it. I may never buy nilla wafers again. 🙂

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I also did a little sewing this weekend. I stopped by a garage sale in our neighborhood last week and found lots of tshirts for dresses. I made one for Layla today but didn't get a shot of her in it. I think it is my cutest so far. I can't wait for her to feel better so that she can try it on.

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