Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Shrimp Salad with Tequila Honey Lime Dressing





I love summer, and one of my favorite summer things to do are parties and barbecues. I love being outside with family and friends, sharing great food, and wonderful company. I am usually asked to make potato salad, or my mom's famous crab salad (recipe will post soon-you will not want to miss that one!).  However, not everyone likes rich, creamy salads, and would much rather have something light.

The good news? 

I have a great recipe that solves this problem.

If you are in the mood for something fresh and summery, this shrimp salad is my favorite. It can be served as a side dish, or a main dish. 

Looking for something to make for the fourth? Well, this is your recipe! 

Whenever I make this salad, everyone seems to ask for the recipe, so now I am sharing it with the world (or the people who read this blog-thank you!). 

The dressing calls for tequila.....yes, tequila. Need I say more? 

It is optional if you need to make it more kid friendly,  but it makes the dressing so delicious. Just call it an adult salad. Tell the kids there is spinach in it or something. They won't want to come near it and then, there is more for you! 

The recipe calls for cooked shrimp. I roasted mine in the oven at 450 for about 10 minutes. You also could grill the shrimp (yum!), or buy cooked shrimp. The corn should be fresh off the cob and does not need to be cooked. Raw corn is so delicious, especially this time of year. 

Shrimp Salad with Tequila Honey & Lime Dressing
serves 4

1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces 
1 pound of shrimp(cooked) and cooled
1 pint of grape tomatoes halved
4 large scallions, chopped
3/4- 1 cup of fresh corn
3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons of  fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
3 teaspoons of honey
1 tablespoons of tequila(optional)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper

Cook the asparagus in a large pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes, Drain and rinse under cool water. You may also roast the asparagus with the shrimp 450 for 5-10 minutes until crisp tender (Just let it cool slightly before adding other ingredients) next combine all other ingredients. Then whisk together lime juice, oil, tequila (optional), salt and pepper. Toss with shrimp mixture. Serve immediately or chill. 

Enjoy!






Sunday, June 28, 2015

Blueberry Muffin Breakfast Cookies


So...I am on a cookie kick lately I guess? Does anyone mind? Anyone? Well then...

Cookies for breakfast?

Sign me up!

Isn't it funny how if you sell the food you are serving your family just right, they will have a completely different reaction?

Try it.

"Green smoothies for breakfast!"

Silence.

"Green Monster Milkshakes!"

Kids running to the table.

"Healthy oat muffins!"

Nothing.

"Blueberry Cookies for breakfast!"

Cannot make enough to satiate crazy hungry children grabbing for cookies.

It really works.

Not to mention, you will be grabbing for this cookies too. Delicious and good for you, you will have every reason NOT to resist them! I made a double batch and popped them in the freezer too. Perfect for breakfast on the go. Let them thaw out the night before or pop them in the microwave right before breakfast. They really taste like an oatmeal cookie, bursting with blueberries!

I mean, as parents, sometimes we have to get a little creative, right? The kids don't have to know that these cookies are packed with whole wheat flour, blueberries and apple sauce, and chia seeds and toasted almonds. Let them eat their cookies in peace!

Blueberry Muffin Breakfast Cookies

2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar if you do not keep coconut sugar in the house)
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 tblsp chia seeds
3 cups rolled oats (not quick oats!)
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, add coconut oil and coconut sugar. Beat on low with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy. Add eggs, vanilla and apple sauce, blend on medium speed until combined. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and powder, cinnamon and salt. Add to wet mixture and mix on low until dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in chia seeds. Add oats. Mix until everything comes together. Fold in blueberries and toasted almonds*. Scoop with a cookie scoop or heaping tablespoon onto cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until fully baked and golden brown. Let cool on sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling. Serve immediately, or, store in a sealed container at room temperature for one day (cookies will be much softer when stored at room temperature). Store in refrigerator for 1 week, or freeze in an airtight container for 3 weeks.



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Browned Butter Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies



Wow! Can I trash up these cookies anymore?

I am pretty sure that I just combined about four different types of cookies and created one! These just might be the cookies of your dreams. Just sayin'.

The browned butter gives these cookies a warm, nutty flavor. The oatmeal makes it a hearty cookie and the chocolate and peanut butter just bring it over the top. There is the little extra step of browning the butter, but other than that, these are just as easy as any other cookie recipe you have ever made.

These excessive rainy days are giving me no choice but to bake cookies. If the weather would ever be nicer, maybe I would have a taste for asparagus or broccoli or something. Unfortunately, rain + thunder + kids home = COOKIES.

I can't help it.

I know you appreciate me.

You're welcome. ;)



Browned Butter Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 stick + 2 tblsp butter, browned*
1/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk (discard or save the white)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips

*In a medium saucepan, place stick and tablespoon of butter. Heat on low heat until butter is lightly golden and gives off a nutty aroma. Remove from heat immediately before it burns. Set aside to cool just slightly.

In large bowl, combine warm butter and peanut butter and mix with a hand mixer on low until smooth and creamy. Add sugars and continue mixing. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Stir in oats gently. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and powder and salt. Add this to the wet ingredients and mix on low until just combined. Do not over mix. Add chocolate chips and stir. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scoop cookie dough out in heaping tablespoons or with a cookie scoop. Place on the cookie sheet making sure to evenly space then apart. Bake for 11 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer to wire rack so they continue cooling.

It will be hard not to eat them all while warm!





Wednesday, June 24, 2015

American Flag Pallet Art



The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. It also happens to be my birthday. When I was little I told my mom how nice it was of everyone to celebrate my birthday and to do fireworks. Apparently everything is about you when you're five. Over the years, I learned it wasn't all about me and it was about our beautiful country becoming independent! I am truly grateful to live in this country where freedoms exist to bless us and allow us to pursue our dreams for ourselves and our families.
In honor of the 4th coming up, I wanted to make a craft/piece of art that would display my patriotism and loyalty to our country. What better way than through a flag! I saw this flag created before, but had to try it out myself. It was fast and fun, and is now a beautiful addition to my front porch.

Materials:

-Pallet of wood (I used an older pallet with discoloration and knots. Since I have men working on our house I asked that they just leave it since they were going to throw it away. It worked great, but you could easily use a brand new one.)

-Paint/paint brushes (The exterior of my house just got painted a beautiful navy blue, so I had about 12 samples of blue to pick from and used a Sherwin Williams color called Naval and just some red and white acrylic craft paint I had already from previous crafting.)

-Painter's tape

-Star stencil or dye cut out

-Gel stain (if antiquing)

-Sand paper (again, if antiquing) I used 100 grit because my wood was pretty hard and I wanted to really give it a distressed look.

Instructions:

Step 1: Clean your pallet if its old or dirty. I just hosed mine off and let it dry in the sun. I wanted to make sure my paint would stick without any dirt getting in the paint.

Step 2: Tape off the area you would like blue and paint it. If you're going for an antiqued look like mine, don't worry about painting it perfectly or too thick. A little wood grain is nice to see. The paint could even be watered down a little to give it more of a whitewash look.



Step 3: Let the blue dry then place a strip of paint over the blue edge and get to painting your white and red strips.


Step 4: Add your stars! I used my Cricut to cut out my stars using cardstock to make a stencil. You can buy a stencil or simply cut out stars from a clipart print out. There are hundreds of star images on clipart online.




When painting your starts try to have a pretty dry brush so that you don't get huge blobs of paint seeping under your stencil. I did two light coats so that I could avoid the nasty blobs! You could also use a sponge brush here. whatever you have on hand.

Now that your stars are done, you can stop with your beautiful project right here or you can continue on by adding a favorite patriotic phrase along with some gel stain and sanding for an antiqued look.

Step 5: Add your favorite patriotic phrase.

So, I'm not going to lie, this was the most time consuming part of the project. Of course I had to choose the longest quote ever and of course I was stuck with an outdated version of Microsoft Word that was a beast to work with. The good news is, I prevailed and no computers were harmed in the process. I saw this adorable piece of art work on Pinterest, which can be found at kohls for $144.99 and immediately wanted to put the quote from the Declaration of Independence on my pallet (but seriously, who wants to spend $144.99  when they could spend nothing!?)
 I followed this tutorial for my letters. I'll be honest....it was a little bit of a trial to figure out how wet you needed the paper to be in order for the transfer to occur. Once I got that down it was great. It worked wonderfully on the white paint, but not as great on the red. So after I was done rubbing and wetting the paper I made a watercolor/inkwash out of some black and cream acrylic paint but mixing them with some water and then painted this over where I felt I wanted the letters a little darker. This was not a big deal for me because I love to paint, but if you are using this technique and don't like to paint either only do it on the white, do a smaller quote, or just be happy with the antiqued look you get with the faded letters. If you choose not to use this technique you can always freehand paint your quote on or use a stecil/dye cutting machine. Here are some pictures of me doing the process:


After I printed off my mirrored version of my quote which I ended up printing from Microsoft Publisher, I cut and taped them together to fit nicely on my pallet. I will say nothing helps a project like some good jams. I personally love a little Andrew Belle and Mat Kearney.


Here are my words laid out ready to be wet and rubbed off with a sharpie marker lid.

  

This picture shows the rubbing, but the actual paper was a little wet. I'm telling you, this is an awesome technique, it just takes some practice. It wouldn't be a bad idea to do a trial run on a small piece of scrap wood just to get the feel of it. 

 

See the white? Doesn't it look incredible?! Again, the issue I had here was I wanted it to look antiqued, but I also wanted everyone that walked up my front porch to see the words as well. I took black and cream paint at this point to give me a browner black color, and then mixed it gradually with water to thin the paint out like a watercolor making sure my brush was not too damp so that my letters didn't get too dark or uneven. 


Remember, start with less and if you want to add more you can always do another little coat. After I got done with the letters I started to distress my pallet with some 100 grit sandpaper and gel stain that I found at Hobby Lobby. I really roughed it up with the sand paper. My wood was very hard so I had to use a less fine grit than I thought I would need.


Paint on the gel stain and then rub it into the wood taking the excess off. It leaves a brown antiqued look on the wood. Alternate doing this with and sanding to get the look you want. After you're all done, if your pallet is going to be in the weather at all be sure and spray some poly acrylic on it. Say no to poly urethane! It will yellow the white. :(


Drum roll please.....


I was very pleased with the finished product and even more pleased with the price! Our painter came by today to touch up some things on the exterior of our house and said "Wow is that the crate I left you? That looks like something you would find at Pottery Barn." That's mission accomplished in my book.


I chose to use some inspiring words from the Declaration of Independence but you could paint on "God Bless America" or the Pledge of allegiance. You could just leave it at the flag without any words. The choice is yours. Let us know what you did with your American Flag Pallet Art project. You can also share why you're grateful to live in this beautiful country.

Happy Crafting!









Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Strawberry Lemonade



As the weather (hopefully) gets warmer, there is nothing better on a hot day than a cold drink!

Well, maybe something better would be a recipe that your kids can pretty much prep by themselves and enjoy. Yep-this one covers that!

 Is this a drink that you can add a little splash of an adult beverage to as well? Yes you can!

This drink is so easy to make, and so refreshing, you might want to keep a pitcher of it on hand at all times.

This recipe is featured today on Little Lake County. Check it out for something refreshing to drink to make for your next party, when the kids are over and ready for a cool down, or for a rare moment that you can take a break and enjoy the summer!

Cheers!

{Click the red ^^^ to get the recipe!}