Thursday, April 12, 2012


The Day before Easter (aka Holy Saturday), we went to Richland Creek Community Church for their annual Block Party & Egg Hunt. Afterward, we went strawberry picking at Hunt's Strawberry Farm here in Raleigh. We bought 2 large buckets which weighed a total of just under 20 pounds of fresh, succulent strawberries. The next day (Easter), we had brunch here... sweet, fluffy waffles topped with vanilla ice cream, the strawberries, and whipped cream. Simple and so yummy!

But now what to do with the rest of the berries? I had plans. 

Strawberry Muffins
Strawberry Sauce
Strawberry Quick Jam
Strawberries in Syrup (just chopped berries with some sugar to create a syrup)
Strawberry Fruit Leather


I picked up a packet of Ball's  RealFruit instant pectin to have on hand about a month ago and I found a use for it today. Following the recipe on the back, I made the quickest jam. I wasn't super pleased with the results in that it didn't gel up hardly but I think it will still work on those English muffins I bought. I might redo it but it's my fault for roughly chopping in the food processor instead of crushing it by hand. 

makes 16 ounces

1 packet of instant pectin
2 cups of chopped, crushed fruit (strawberries in this case)
2/3 cup sugar

  1. Stir sugar and pectin in a bowl
  2. Add fruit.
  3. Stir for 3 minutes.
  4. Ladle into jar(s) and let stand for 30 minutes.
  5. Enjoy now, refrigerate up to 3 weeks, or freeze up to a year.


This can be stored for about 3 weeks in the fridge, although it can be frozen up to a year. You can use it atop ice cream or pancakes/waffles. You can use it to drizzle over cheesecake, pound cake, or angel food cake. You can add it to some fresh lemonade for an amazing glass of strawberry lemonade. It's really a versatile things to have on hand. 

yields about 16 ounces

3 cups roughly chopped strawberries
1/3-1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Puree berries in a food processor.
  2. Pour berry slush into a medium saucepan.
  3. Stir in sugar and extracts.
  4. Bring to a boil/simmer over medium heat.
  5. Stirring constantly, simmer for another 5-8 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat & let cool.
  7. Pour into jar and refrigerate.

I love the plastic Ball Jars.
These are 16 ounces. Dry Erase markers work perfect & leave no marks.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


I repurpose plastic (and glass) bottles. Powdered creamer containers are great to hold straws or bread crumbs. Bigger jugs are great for cleaning products I make. I got 2 key tips to make repurposing much nicer.

1. Take off all labels! 
Peel as much off as you can. Then take WD-40 (what can't this stuff do?) and cover the rest of the label and let sit. The WD-40 will remove the gooey stickiness and any remaining label. 
2. Remove any printing directly on package!
You know those black lettered stamps that are lot numbers and dates they put directly on the bottle. They come off! Just take a cotton ball and a little bit of nail polish remover. VIOLA! it rubs right off! Along with this you can write in permanent marker on plastic boxes (i label my kids boxes for things like pencils, markers, crayons, stickers, puzzles, card games, etc..). When you no longer need the label on it, just do the same thing: nail polish remover and a cotton ball and the writing comes right off! Box is like brand new!
So 2 household products cane make your repurposing so much easier! just think! Those big tubs of pretzels you get, you can remove all labels and markings, have a perfect clear & empty container, and reuse it to put cookies in to give as gifts! The possibilities are endless!


I hate to spend money on chocolate syrup. I don't like most cheaper brands and even with sales and coupons, it's an expense I hate to pay for. Plus, the ingredients aren't the best. 

Step into my life homemade chocolate syrup. BHG originally published this recipe some 40+ years ago. Well, wow! It's got 5 ingredients. You control the quality of them and it's super quick and easy!
2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey's)
1/8-1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  1. In a small saucepan, mix cocoa, sugar & salt. 
  2. Add water.
  3. Stir over medium heat just until sugar is dissolved, stirring frequently (this only takes a few minutes and doesn't need to boil or get super hot as long as the sugar dissolves).
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Add vanilla & stir.
  6. Let cool slightly and store covered in the refrigerator.

I stored the syrup in a old creamer bottle. Made the label to make it look fancy. 


Muddy Buddies.
Puppy Chow.
Whatever you call it, it's a glorious snack!

It's Chex, butter, peanut butter, chocolate, and powdered sugar. It got so popular to make at home, Chex actually sells it bagged! I've made it numerous times and it's just SO DARN GOOD! Only negative thing? Nut allergies! It's hard to bring to parties because of the use of nuts. Enter white chocolate and cake mix for the solution!
A few weeks back Lowe's Foods had a sale on cereal and if you bought 3 boxes, you saved 25 cents per gallon of gas (so if you bought 6 boxes you saved 50 cents...). I ended up with a big box of Kix & another of Honey Kix (in addition to all the other cereal). Kix is a corn puff and Chex is corn (one of the types at least) so I thought I'd use those to make a treat.

The results were glorious and I loved the way they looked so much, I thought I'd make more for an Easter treat for my kids to hand out in class. The labels I made were simple on the outside: "Happy Easter" on one side and ingredients list with allergy info on the back (Nut Free. Contains gluten & dairy) so a kid could eat it right away and know it was safe (or not)). The inside (tricky, tricky mommy) had a description and invitation to our church's Easter Block Party. We invited everyone as our guests and I hope maybe 1 person takes us up on the offer :)
Well, since my version has neither chocolate or peanut butter and is kinda the opposite of what was originally intended. I will refer to these as Non-Muddy buddies (since they are white) aka Cat Chow.


6-7 cups Kix
6 squares Almond Bark (half a package)
2-3 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 cups cake mix (I used a white vanilla)
1 cup powdered sugar
  1. Melt almond bark according to directions (should be 90 seconds for 6 bars stir and 15 seconds more).
  2. Stir in 2-3 teaspoons of veggie oil and mix well.
  3. Pour over the cereal and stir to completely coat.
  4. Whisk together powdered sugar & cake mix. (Note: you can also add colored sugar just to give some color - sprinkles & non-pariels don't seem to stick).
  5. Add powdered mix quickly to coated cereal and stir to cover completely. I start with a spoon but finish with my hands.
WARNING: this is addictive!

After making this, I can't wait to get  my hands on Cocoa Puffs and doing it this way... and just making all kinds of wacky flavor combos!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


These are CT's favorite cookie - this particular recipe is, I should say. Everyone loves these. They are best the day of and next day but don't hold up as well in my opinion. They are still super easy and yummy though. Nothing like a fresh Snickerdoodle.

Funny name huh? Snickerdoodle! It's from German - schnecke meaning snail because it's based on schneckenudeln which looks like our cinnamon buns (or small shell). In America, land of cookies, they liked funky, whimsical names and they kinda compared the cake to t he cookie and there ya go... the Snickerdoodle was born. Make sense?

I know, you dont care. You just want the mouth-watering recipe!

about 3 dozen large cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1-1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
cinnamon-sugar mixture  to roll dough balls in
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cream together butter, shortening, sugar, eggs and vanilla. 
  3. In separate bowl mix flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. 
  4. Add to creamed mixture & blend.
  5. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls. I use a tablespoon scooper.
  6. Drop balls into cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll around to coat fully.
  7. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  8. Bake 8-10 minutes until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Oh, yeah. I went there. 

Back in NYC, there is this cool, really popular place called Peanut Butter & Co. It's on Sullivan Street (if ya care). They are a sandwich shop that serves, yup! you guessed it!, peanut butter sandwiches. All different kinds! All homemade peanut butters. They got so popular they started selling their peanut butter jars nationwide. Go look in Walmart. Top shelf of the peanut butters you will find them! Anyway, they have this one kind that I kinda really dig - Dark Chocolate Dreams. Thing is I dont like 'dark" chocolate and well, it's pricey as you'd imagine it'd be.
Thanks to Pinterest, I've noticed ways to make things at home that'd I never try. Like taking the idea for Biscoff Butter (it's like peanut butter but made with Biscoff cookies!!!) and making an Oreo butter. Ideas are all over the place!

I totally adore fresh ground honey roasted peanut butter. So when I went to Whole Foods today (to get soap for my homemade laundry soap), I got some fresh ground, plain roasted peanuts. I got 3/4 container (probably about equal poundage).

I added that to my food processor and let it whirl. And whirl. And whirl some more. You let it go until it's very liquidy.. about 5 minutes. Then I added 1/3 cup Hershey's Cocoa Powder, 1 cup (about) of Domino's Powdered Sugar, about 1/4 teaspoon salt, and between 3-4 tablespoons of veggie oil drizzled in to make it the right consistency. 

It's that simple! OC tried it and loved it and i know when HT get's his mouth around that sandwich tomorrow, he'll be hooked! It's not super chocolaty b you can adjust the taste for you which is why this is such a great idea!