4th of July {in three ingredients}

I hope you had an amazing 4th of July! We had fun with our family and friends, which of course included a cookout. I love to cook and to bake, but sometimes, I just want to make something really simple – especially when I’m bringing it to someone else’s home. So today I’m sharing a few simple ideas for some three-ingredient, patriotic cookout contributions.

Fruit Salad

This is an obvious summer favorite, but you can keep it super simple with watermelon, blueberries, and bananas if you’re stick with a red, “white,” and blue theme. Add in strawberries, apples, pears, and anything else you love! And cutting watermelon into stars is fun for the kids, and for the adults.

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Chocolate M&M Pretzels

Remember these beauties? I love these because every holiday has its own themed m&m’s, which makes it easy to create a treat that is holiday-appropriate. Substitute the m&ms with red, white, and blue ones to go patriotic. And if you like caramel, try using rolos instead of hershey kisses!

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Flag Kabobs

These are even more fun than star-shaped watermelon for the kiddos. Simply use kabob skewers with marshmallows, blueberries, and either strawberries, cherries, or raspberries (or all of them!) to create a fun little display. Let me know if you’re able to make yours with straighter lines than I did…

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What else? Do you have a favorite, easy, summer trick when it comes to all the cookouts and holidays? Please share!

Peanut Butter Banana Blender Muffins

Happy Monday, and happy “I took all my photos on my phone” day…sorry about the lack of prettiness!

Super easy and super clean, these little muffins will probably become your go to when you want a little baked good. It’s as easy as blending a few ingredients, throwing in any extras you want to have, and baking them up!

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Peanut Butter Banana Blender Muffins

Ingredients

2 eggs
1 cup natural peanut butter
2 very ripe bananas
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
optional mix-ins: chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, raisins, dried fruit
optional topping: equal parts oats, unsweetened coconut, and brown sugar

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini-muffin tin with cooking spray.

2. Blend all ingredients together, and then stir in any extras you’d like. Divvy the batter up among your muffin tins. It should fill about 36 of them. If you want to add a topping, just sprinkle a little on each one and gently press down.

3. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cooked through. Enjoy!

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Easter is Coming!

I know it was JUST St. Patrick’s Day, but next week is Easter! While Easter is absolutely THE most important holiday in the Christian faith, I’m not going to get too into that today. You’re welcome. Instead, I’m going to highlight a few of my favorite springtime crafts and treats from Easters Past.

And so, without further ado…

I like to call this one, “Ode to that one time that Carli and I weren’t married yet and she didn’t have three baby girls yet and we spent a whole weekend crafting and baking and making marshmallows…”

I also don’t have a ton of Easter decor around my house – maybe when we are a little more settled down for the long haul I can buy some of this and this – but I make due! Last year I made this wreath, and bought some cheap but sparkly Easter eggs to brighten things up.

In lieu of an Easter basket for my hubby (he doesn’t eat a lot of candy, anyway), I filled each egg with a reason I love him. Call it a grown up version, I guess!

OKAY let’s talk about food… Breakfast is my favorite, and I’ve shared some of my favorite brunch items before. But my favorite FAVORITE FAVORITE treat, in general, are scones. I don’t know why, I just love them. I love their texture. I love how well they dip into coffee. I just love those little suckers. And here are my favorites, made for Easter a few years back with my roomie: Maple Scones. Happy Easter, Jesus is Risen, INDEED.

Then let’s talk about Easter 2011. This was my first holiday with the family that would later become known as my IN-LAWS. They are amazing, and of course, I really REALLY wanted to impress. How does one impress one’s future possible in-laws? One makes this cake, that’s how!!

And then finally, for Easter 2013, at which point my now-hubster and I were engaged, so now I like really REALLY want to make sure everyone likes me, I made salted caramel brownie parfaits. I think if they weren’t sure yet that I should be marrying their son/nephew/brother/uncle, they were sure then…

Can I get an AMEN? I know that Dennis the Obese Mini-Dachshund told us all that food is NOT love, and I understand that’s very true when it comes to loving your pet-child, but I’m here to tell you that when it comes to winning over future in-laws, FOOD IS LOVE.

Tidy Mom’s Copycat Tagalong Bars

OH.

EM.

GE.

These are delicious. I should not make things like this and then keep them in my house. All the people: please come eat these!

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So this recipe is from the amazing Tidy Mom, and I made it exactly according to her recipe (found here), so I won’t go into details. I did omit the sea salt on the top, but I think it would have been delicious. I also only took this one photo to put on instagram, whereas Tidy Mom did a gorgeous display…

DOESN’T MATTER because they are amazing. And actually, pretty darn easy. Do not be intimidated by the different steps. Easy peasy! Enjoy!!

Marshmallows!

I’ve only made mallows a few times, but they are always such a hit! Not to mention that they go so well with hot chocolate…or dipped in chocolate…or whatever other creative way you can think to use them!

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This year, I made a fresh batch for my new coworkers, and then paired them with homemade hot chocolate mix and a candy cane, as you can see above.. Maybe one of these days I’ll share my mom’s homemade cocoa recipe…but for now, use your favorite cocoa to copy these sweet gifts!

I use Ina Garten’s very simple marshmallow recipe. Make sure you have a candy thermometer! If you’ve go that, then it’s a piece of cake…or marshmallow… Enjoy!

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Snowflake Cookies

T-7 days until Christmas! Allow me to re-share some of the prettiest cookies I’ve made! And received some of the best compliments for. If royal icing wasn’t such a process, I’d totally be doing things like this more often…

Megoirs

In the past, I’ve made myself a “creative agenda” on weekends where I have downtime. It usually consists of projects that I’ve been wanting to try, but are totally not important in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes, when I would do this, I would end up not enjoying the activity I had so looked forward to doing, because it would suddenly feel more like a “to do list” instead of a “just for fun” activity.

Well, on Sunday afternoon, I had a sudden urge to do some holiday baking, so I did. And I have to say it was a lot more fun than when I spend time checking creativity off my to do list. And I’d say the result was pretty fun! Not to mention, I had some lucky coworkers on Monday morning.

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{Sorry for the office iPhone photo…}

I’ve tried a few sugar cookie recipes over the…

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The Grasshopper

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Are you putting up your Christmas decorations soon?? Well, you should make these. A few years ago, these amazing Grasshoppers became a bit of a tree decorating tradition for my mom and me. So naturally, when she came to visit for Thanksgiving, and then we transitioned the house from Fall to Christmas, we broke out the blender. HELLO!!!

Grasshoppers

Blend together one shot of creme de menthe, one shot of creme de cacao, and a LOT of vanilla ice cream. We almost filled up the vitamix with ice cream. Once you blend them, give it a taste. You can liquor it up a little bit extra if you want! They really look prettiest in a martini glass drizzled with chocolate syrup, but let’s be real – martini glasses don’t hold a lot.

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