Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cheesy Spring Appetizers

As I told you yesterday, I had some fellow mommas over to my house, and of course I had to make some fun Easter and Spring inspired snacks. Today I will share with you the cheesy snacks I provided, and in the next few days I will be sharing some of the other foods we snacked on.

First up was some cute cheddar cheese slices that I cut into little bunny and flower shapes using my cookie cutters. I served these along with some Ritz crackers. Perfect for the toddler set.


Next I made a bacon ranch cheddar cheese ball using up the leftover cheese from the bunny and flower cuttings along with some extra pre-shredded cheddar cheese blend. Once the ingredients were mixed up, I shaped the cheese mixture into a triangle carrot shape and pressed some of the extra pre-shredded cheese onto the outside of the cheese carrot. Next I tucked some fresh flat leaf parsley into the top of the carrot and put some triangle triscuits around for serving. See the recipe I used below...


Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball:

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese at room temp

1/2 (1/2 ounce) package hidden valley ranch dressing mix (dry)

1 cup cheddar cheese

5-6 pieces of crumbled bacon

1 tbsp. chopped green onion or chives (optional)

1 tbsp. Sour Cream (optional)

I used my food processor to mix all the ingredients together, then turned it out and shaped it into the carrot shape.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Easter Egg Popsicles


Today I had my little group meet up with some fellow mommies. We had some snacks, played outside (it was quite hot at 83°), hunted for Easter eggs, and played in the sand box. But, I think the most successful part was the frozen Easter egg popsicles I made for the kids. I only used plain fruit juice, but when frozen in an egg, everything tastes better apparently. The best part is they are relatively simple to do; you just need a few items.

To make the popsicle's you will need:

Fruit juice
Eco Friendly Easter Eggs (They are made from corn starch are food safe and work great!)
Lollipop sticks
A large nail and thumbtack
Small funnel or piping tip to fill the eggs

First, tip the eggs upside down and poke three holes in the bottom. Two of these holes are for letting the air escape when filling the egg, the third one should be in the center of the bottom. Make this center hole bigger using the large nail. You will need it to be as big as the popsicle/sucker stick. Once that is done, and you have your egg carton full of "hole-y" eggs, use the piping tip to fill each one until almost full, and then poke in the popsicle stick and place in the freezer until firm (I froze mine overnight).

When you are ready to eat them, let them sit out for a second, or hold the top part in your hands to warm it up and open the egg on up. The kids enjoyed them right out of the plastic egg, and when they got down to the bottom part, the eggs easily slipped on out of the "shell" so they could finish the rest.

If you think these are fun you should check out some of my other popsicle ideas like these colorblocked fruit juice pops!

Or other ways to reuse Easter eggs, like this fun Easter egg lunch idea!

Or this macrame Easter egg air plant hanger:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Easter Egg Lunch


I am always on the lookout for new ways to use things I have laying around the house. Those little plastic Easter eggs are no exception. They have had many uses for me besides just a place to store candy. I have used them as molds for my fruity pebble pops, as bath toys, as sand box toys, and now as lunch servers.

My mom has always said that when I was little and she needed to take a shower or get something done during the day, she would fill a muffin tin with different finger foods for me to eat while she got 10 minutes to her self. I loved the idea so much, that I routinely do the same for my daughter. She loves to eat her breakfast or lunch out of the little muffin tins. Thus, when I was thinking about another way to use my plastic Easter eggs, the two came together in my mind and here you have her Easter egg lunch. I filled each egg with some of her normal lunch time eats including baby carrots, cucumber, broccoli (from my garden!), little turkey sandwiches cut into flower shapes, cheese cut into the same flower shapes, raisins, crackers, puff cereal, grape tomatoes, and a little dessert rice krispie treat egg. All the eggs could close and when in an egg carton are perfectly portable for school. I think I might send her to Mother's Day Out on Friday with her egg carton lunch. As you can see, she loved today's lunch, but how could she not? I want to eat my lunch like this too!


Have fun creating your own version with snacks you or your little one love and then head out for a spring and Easter themed picnic, even if it is in your own backyard!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Garden update 3-26-12

Today I was able to find a little time to go to the garden center once again. That place is soooo addicting. Seriously, I can't seem to stay away. It also doesn't hurt that I still have a few items on my must plant list. And today I was lucky enough to find some of the last items on my list to plant. I got 5 more lemon grass plants to plant around the yard to help with the Mosquitoes, they also had some horehound in stock that I have been looking for to plant with my peppers and tomatoes. Apparently horehound is great for encouraging fruiting of your peppers and tomatoes. Oh, and so is Epsom salts. You can either sprinkle some in when planting, or make a salt solution with them and spray in the plants as they begin fruiting to get very high yield plants. Anyway, I also picked up some golden peppers and some golden watermelon and a cantaloupe. The only things left on my list now are to plant my okra seeds( great producers for me last year) and plant my sweet potato slips.

Speaking of sweet potatoes, my slips are almost ready to plant. Back on the 12th I posted a photo of the first leafs emerging from my sweet potato half. Well here is what it looked like today before I pulled the leaf segments off. Look at all those leaves!
If you have been following along with the sweet potato slip growing, and your plant looks like mine and the weather in your area is warm enough for planting, you will want to tear off the leaf shoots gently at the base and place them in shallow water for the roots to grow. See the photo for a reference of what they should look like. Once the roots are out, you are ready to plant the sweet potato. I will probably be doing that this week sometime.

Oh yeah, I wanted to mention my leeks. I am amazed at how quickly they are growing. Just take a look at how much they have shot up. And this photo is from a week ago too!

Other than that I am sewing away at some orders tonight and tomorrow I have plans with my hubby to go watch The Hunger Games at the Alamo Drafthouse. I love date night and I can't wait to see this movie!

Tequila Lime Fajitas in the Garden

fajita 1

The weather today was perfect and I decided to capitalize on the wonderful weather by having dinner outside in the garden. Hopefully tonight was just a glimpse of the meals we will get to eat out in our new backyard. For dinner I made tequila lime marinated flank steak that I then grilled along with some red peppers and corn on the cob. Mix that with some black beans, green chili brown rice, avocado, and whole wheat tortillas and you have your self one awesome dinner.

For the marinade I mixed half of a finely grated onion, with a shot of tequila, and the juice of 2 limes. I also added some salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin to taste. I let it marinate in a plastic Ziploc bag for a few hours before cooking it on the grill.

Now, not only am I full, but I feel healthy as well. Well the healthy part is also because I was able to sneak in a 3 mile walk/run this morning with my mom while my wonderful husband watched Madeline. Here are a few pictures of dinner that I snapped with my phone before I chowed down.

fajita 2
fajita 4
fajita 3

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fruity Pebble Easter Egg Pops

I finally got around to making up my idea for some Easter themed Fruity Pebble pops. To make these, make a batch of Rice Krispy treats according to your marshmallow package directions, but sub in fruity pebbles for the rice krispies. While the mixture is still warm, spoon it into greased ( I used Pam non stick spray) plastic Easter eggs. And close them up and let them sit until cool so that they hold their shape. Once cool, un-egg the treats and stick in a lollipop stick and put a mini cupcake wrapper on the bottom. Tada! You have cute and yummy treats for the kids (or adults). I used a cute polka dot wrapped box with holes poked in the top to hold the pops.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fruity Pebble Donuts


So, I happened to have a few leftover donuts that I didn't cover with all the yummy peach goodness yesterday, so this morning I used some of the leftover icing (melted it down and dipped the donuts in the melted icing) and sprinkled some fruity pebbles on top. Yummy use of breakfast cereal if you ask me. And no, I won't be eating these for breakfast, these are more of a few and far between dessert here in our house. And those fruity pebbles? Well, I bought those to make a fun easter crafty food that I will hopefully be posting about in a few days. You know as soon as I get a chance to make them : )

Anywho, in the meantime enjoy the eye and mouth candy!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Make Your Own: Gourmet Peach Donuts

So I heard recently that you could just fry Grand's Biscuit dough to make your own donuts. And while there are plenty of recipes to make your own donuts, I thought, "Why don't we kick it up a notch and make some Gourmet Peach Donuts?", and that is just what I have done. I made some amazing donuts tonight and I will how you all how to make your own and home. Trust me it is easy and they are SOOOOO GOOD you will have hard time just eating one, so beware and make sure you have some other people around to help you scarf them down!

For this recipe you will need:

One Can of Grand's Flaky Layers Biscuits (or any of their many varieties)
One Can of Peach Pie Filling
One Can of White Frosting
Cinnamon and sugar for coating
Crushed Graham Crackers for the top
Vegetable Oil for Frying

Take out the refrigerated biscuits and squish them down slightly and then cut out the center hole. I have a small circle cutter that I used, but get creative and try the top of an empty bottle, coke bottle lid, or any other small circular tool you may have. Fry the donuts one at a time in deep oil pan at 360 - 375 °F until golden brown. Drain on paper towels for 10-15 seconds and, while still warm, coat with the cinnamon and sugar mixture (I used a large ziploc bag to coat the donuts one at a time as they came out of the fryer).

When all the donuts are made and coated with the cinnamon and sugar, spoon some of the peach pie filling (warm it up first if you want) over the top of the donuts and then drizzle on the icing and top with the crushed graham crackers. You should definitely eat them while they are warm, because they wonderful that way, but they also taste good at room temp.


Try them and let me know what you think!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Happy Persian New Year!

If I haven't told you already, I am half Iranian. I was born here in Austin, Texas, but my dad is from Tehran, and my mom is from Wisconsin. Tomorrow is the Iranian new year, Nowruz. My family celebrated tonight with delicious kebabs and kookoo sabzii, which is a herb and egg soufflé of sorts. Here is a picture of the new year table that my step mom (also Iranian) set up along with a picture of the kookoo cooking. The food was amazing and I am now too full to work, so I will just have to relax tonight and get a jump start on the sewing of orders in the morning.

For more information about Nowruz, check out this wikipedia entry:

Happy Persian New Year Everyone!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Make Your Own: Backyard Chalkboard

Chalkboards in your home are all the rage right now. It seems like you can't open a home decor magazine or look online without seeing chalkboard paint used somewhere in the house. Well, today I am taking it outside into my yard. Since I am busy revamping my garden and backyard, I though I would also add some fun things for the kids to do when they are outside with me.

I got the idea to make the outdoor chalkboard from my friend Jennifer over at Naughty Secretary Club. She made an outdoor chalkboard for her kids and Madeline loves to play with it every time we are over at her house. I also had some leftover outdoor paint that I used to reprint our front door, so I used that and some of the left over grout I had from retailing our bathroom floors and created a unique chalkboard in my custom paint color. The recipe calls for 1 cup latex paint ( I used the exterior paint since this board will be outside) and 2 tbsp un-sanded grout.

Mix well and paint with a paint brush on your medium of choice. I used a large panel of 1/2" thick wood I got at Lowe's. Work quickly, because the paint will thicken and dry right away. Once it is dry, rub chalk on the board to prime the surface and then wipe with a damp rag. You can then either mount your chalk board to your fence or prop it up against a wall, pair with some sidewalk chalk for a great outdoor activity area. So far it is very popular and was so very easy to do!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Crushed Granite Backyard

Today we filled in the backyard with crushed granite. It looks a little bare right now, but I know that once my plantings start to grow and fill in, it will look amazing! Now I just need to hang up all my backyard lights and invite some friends over to break it in. What do you guys think?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Novel Idea - Tea Cup Cakes

My sister has been having quite a few cake tastings with her new bakery (The French Brownie), and came up with a great idea for serving individual cakes. She has used small teacups to serve the cake. These partial ones are very wedding themed with small pearl-like accents, but imagine floral type ones or other themes all gathered together on a tiered stand. They would be adorable for an Alice in Wonderland themed tea party, sunday brunch, or even at a wedding in place of the cake. Maybe at a wedding you could have a regular top tier and little teacups cascading down the risers below. Super cute!

Will tea cup cakes be the next cupcake or cake ball? What do you guys think?

The floral teacup cakes are by bakery Hello Sugar! At website, the white wedding teacup cakes are by Karina Akhavan of The French Brownie in Austin, Texas.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Garden update 3/12/12

Time for another garden update. I have finally planted all of my tomato plants. Yay! Last year I grew 6 different kinds, this year I upped that number to 12. Hopefully in a few months I will be loaded with tomatoes to eat and give away. I have also planted 4 different types of bell peppers and one poblano pepper plant. The only pepper left on my list is a jalapeño plant and one of the heat less jalapeño plants that I grew last year. All of the taste, none of the heat.

I also wanted up give a little recap and update on my celery plant growth and sweet potato slip growing. First for the celery, the plant has been in ground for a little over two weeks and is growing great. See below for the two week growth photo. The baby celery stalks are emerging quite nicely. I have had several questions regarding planting your own celery, so I just wanted to recap for some of you what I did. I brought my celery home from the store and cut the tops off leaving about 2-3 inches from the base. Then I took the base outside and planted it in my garden. I just planted it about an inch deep in the soil, but I think that you can plant the entire base and leave the top level with the soil. The prefered temperature for prime celery growth is 65-75 degree's F. It can tolerate full to partial sun and they like lots of water. In a few months you should have your new celery stalks ready to cut and eat. You can also just cut of the stalks of the celery as you need them leaving the rest of the stalks to continue growing.

Next my sweet potatoes just started to produce leaves, the roots started right away, but yesterday I noticed one of the sweet potatoes had a little shoot growing out of the part that was above water. Today when I took the picture below, the leaves are quite visible. I am excited that this is working and hopefully by late April I will have slips ready to plant. The sweet potatoes do very well here in central Texas because of the long summers.

Last I wanted to touch on other plants that you can grow right from your store leftovers since this seems to be a popular subject. One of the more popular items is green onions. Just cut what you need after you purchase them and then stick the rest in water in a well lit window and you will have green onions for quite a while, but be sure to change the water regularly. In addition to green onions, did you know that you can grow more leeks from your leftovers too? This is similar to the green onions or celery, just place in water or soil and new shoots will grow from the center. See my photo for a reference of the leeks after being cut a few days ago. In the photo you can see the new green shoots growing out from the center. Lastly you can also grow a pineapple plant and even a baby pineapple from the crown (top leaves) of your store bought pineapple. Now this will take about two years to get a fresh pineapple to eat, but you can still enjoy a tropical pineapple house plant for free from your pineapple remains. Below are a few photos of me trying to grow my own pineapple plant ( just planted this a few days ago too). See this link for details about growing your own pineapple. We will see how it goes....

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