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Matcha Buttercream Frosting

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I received a free sample of Midori Spring Organic Ceremonial Matcha in exchange for writing a review. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are purely and entirely my own.

Matcha, green tea: what is the difference?
Green tea is made from the leaves from Camellia sinensis that have undergone minimal oxidation during processing. Matcha, also known as maccha, refers to finely milled or fine powder green tea. IIt’s said to have more health benefits than traditional steeped green tea due to how it’s cultivated and processed. It also has more caffeine.

matcha 2

My experience has been mostly limited to green tea. Either via tea bags or green tea capsules. The antioxidants in green tea prove to be beneficial health wise and the little energy jolt is great for a late afternoon pick me up or to last a little longer when working out. I’ve been curious about using matcha in baked goods for a long time. Until now, I’ve only used it once for baking. After trying Midori Springs Organic Ceremonial Matcha, I’m sure more recipes will follow.

matcha 12

The color of this matcha is so pretty that right away I knew I wanted to use it in Buttercream frosting. I also knew that I would frost cupcakes with it. I’ve done my share of baking in the last couple of weeks and happened to have some yellow cake batter in the fridge that I wanted to use. The cupcakes and the matcha Buttercream frosting were a perfect combo.

It doesn’t taste like green tea from a bag. With this Buttercream, there is a very pleasant and distinct flavor that I imagine will work great with multiple flavors. Along with the taste and hue, I was impressed with how easily the matcha powdered blended with the rest of the ingredients. As much as I love dessert, I will definitely try this matcha in a hot drink and maybe even an adult beverage. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

matcha 1

Matcha Buttercream Frosting
½ cup of butter, softened
½ cup of shortening
½ cup instant white chocolate pudding, prepared
1tsp vanilla
2 TBS Midori Spring Organic Ceremonial Matcha
4 cups of powdered sugar

Combine butter, shortening, pudding and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat on high speed with an electric mixture until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low and add Midori Spring Matcha and powdered sugar slowly and mix until very smooth. This Buttercream works well as a frosting for cupcakes, a layer cake, or even as a filling for sandwich cookies. Makes 4 cups.

There are several options for frosting your cupcakes.
1. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large star tube and pipe frosting on top.
2. Fill a zippered plastic bag with frosting and snip off a small section from the corner of the bag and pipe frosting on top as desired.
3. Use and angled spatula, butter knife or back of a spoon to spread frosting on top.

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Charisse and Damion Yancy

The last week has been busy, exasperating, and one of the best times of our lives. Charisse and Damion were married on Saturday July 18. It was hot and humid. It rained periodically when we were all inside and it didn’t matter. When we were outside Mother Nature allowed the sun to shine on us. God’s Blessings shined on us all day.

The church was packed, so was the reception venue, and the food was marvelous. It was an experience like no other. Of course, there were a few hiccups along the way, but that made the highlights much more special.

I’m not back to regular blogging but I wanted to share some unofficial pictures with you that may help you to understand just how awesome this weekend was. Also, even though we are still reveling in the excitement of Charisse’s nuptials, we can’t wait until we get to Dallas to celebrate with Samara! Take Care friends.

Bells Will Be Ringing

new gold tsble

Hello Friends,
Our youngest daughter’s wedding is July 18th and our household is a whirlwind of activity. It’s kind of like Christmas in the sense that you know when it’s coming but somehow you don’t feel as prepared, as you should. In addition, there is a teeny tiny sense of overwhelment and your energy level is way below the level needed to make it through your to-do list.

bridal table2

Soon our home will be full with family, friends and some out of town guests. Which means there are meals to prepare ahead of time, and some sprucing up to do, inside and out.

jones cake resize

In an effort to keep myself from babbling somewhere in a corner I am taking a little blogging break. My tentative plan (strong emphasis on the word tentative) is to be back on board the first or second week of August. There may be a few Instagram posts and I will try to keep up with all of your fabulous posts. However, if I’m not able to do so, I trust that you will understand. After the July 18th wedding we have a little over seven weeks to get ready for our oldest daughter’s wedding in Dallas on September 5th.

bling 1

Despite all the activity, late nights, and frazzled moments, I wouldn’t trade this time for anything in the world. Our family is extremely blessed. Thank you for allowing me to share all of this with you and I ask for your prayers for our girls as they begin their lives as wives.

Charisse and Damion July 18, 2015

chari and yance

Samara and Valis September 5, 2015

sam and valis

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Sweet Seductions and Reductions

chocolate truffle cake one

pound cakes truffles33

Chocolate Truffle Cake, White Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling, Sweet Potato Pie, Cake Truffles, and the list goes on. No doubt these heavenly treats along with many other sweet seductions can bring a smile to a dessert lover’s face. On the flip side they can also bring about extra pounds and a few health concerns if not eaten in moderation.

If you search for healthy or low fat desserts inevitably you will come across many suggestions that recommend just having fruit. I’m in no way implying that this suggestion shouldn’t be followed. I indulge in fresh fruit daily and I enjoy it. That being said sometimes you want that fruit wrapped in dough, and drenched in butter and sugar. Just sayin.

In an effort to help you, and I, satisfy our sweet cravings without risking health problems or the size of our jeans, I have a few ideas that may help.

woman-s-tight-fitting-jeans

Let’s start with my all time favorite, cake. When it comes to cake I have a hierarchy of calories and fat. At the top of the list, layer cakes with frosting. The more you add on or in a cake the more the numbers go up. Instead of a multi layer cake, bake one layer and frost it lightly. One layer means less fat, sugar grams and calories. Applesauce, bananas, yogurt, prunes can also be used as a fat substitute. Will these give your cake the same taste and mouth feel as using butter? Nope.

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You can slightly up the ante on health benefits by using oil instead of butter. Butter is saturated fat oil isn’t. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature for example, butter, shortening and lard. Oils are not. Too many saturated fats have the potential to raise the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower the good (HDL). Canola and lighter olive oils are best for baking. At the end of this post I’ve listed a butter/oil substitution chart.

heritage pan button

Another alternative for cake lovers is to bake a pound cake. No frosting or glaze is required. A light dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa can be enough to enhance the flavor. This is another cake where it is wise to use add-ins like nuts, dried fruit and chunks of chocolate sparingly.

banana cupcake one

How adorable are cupcakes with festoons and swirls of frosting piled on top? Once again this is a case of less is more. Frost or glaze your cupcakes lightly and don’t add anything else on top.

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Then there are pies. An endless variety with buttery flaky top and bottom crusts sometimes sprinkled with sugar and or glazed. To lighten them, bake your pies sans the top crust and you’re on your way to lower calories and fat grams. Here’s where you can also have a field day with fruit fillings. Go easy on the sugar by using the sweetest fruit available. This often means using fruit that’s in season which is likely to be sweeter. If sweeter fruit isn’t an option or if fruit based pies aren’t your thing, reduce the amount of sugar that you use. Many recipes call for adding butter to pies before baking. Leave the extra butter out there’ll be no harm done. For custard baked pies and fillings, substitute evaporated skim milk or 2% milk to lower the fat.

shortbread 3

When it comes to feeding your inner Cookie Monster, try baking cookies with half regular and half whole wheat flour. Whole grains have the added benefit of fiber. A dolled up sugar cookie during the holidays is a time honored tradition in most families. To keep the family healthier reduce the amount of frosting, or skip it altogether and hold the sprinkles. If that isn’t an option make smaller cookies.

sugars (1)

There is so much conflicting information about the use of sugar substitutes that it’s hard to know what has merit and what doesn’t. On occasion I have used Splenda which comes in brown and white forms and the taste wasn’t bad. I just prefer to use the most natural options when baking and cooking.

In a nutshell here’s the lowdown on making your desserts a tad more heart and waistline friendly.

  • Use low fat dairy products. No-fat dairy will not always give you good results.
  • Use a single crust for pies.
  • Reduce sugar whenever possible
  • A light glaze or dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa is a great icing on the cake.

As I said earlier you can substitute olive oil for butter most any recipes. The listing below shows the substitution amounts for butter in imperial and metric measurements.

Butter Olive Oil Butter Olive Oil
1 tsp ¾ tsp 5 mls 3 mls
2 tsp 1 ½ tsp 10 mls 7.5 mls
1 TBS 2 ½ tsp 15 mls 12.5 mls
2 TBS 1 ½ TBS 30 mls 22.5 mls
¼ cup 3 TBS 60 mls 45 mls
⅓ cup ¼ cup 80 mls 60 mls
½ cup ¼ cup + 2 TBS 125 mls 90 mls
⅔ cup ½ cup 160 mls 125 mls
¾ cup ½ cup + 1 TBS 185 mls 140 mls
1 cup ¾ cup 250 mls 175 mls
2 cups 1 ½ cups 500 mls 375 mls

I hope I’ve given you some options that will allow you to have your favorite treats in moderation and without guilt. If you have any suggestions or tips please share them. Speaking of sharing, I’m taking these tips to the following blog parties this week.

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gg french toast 5

Granola Crusted French Toast

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When Mr. Sweets and I married 39 years ago we had Aunt Jemima frozen French toast everyday for breakfast. Everyday people!! Naturally that was long before either of us paid much attention to fitness and wellness. Nowadays French toast is an occasional treat and it’s homemade.

gg french toast 13

At one time French toast was one of Gabbi’s breakfast favorites. I would make a batch, freeze it in a single layer for easier stacking and have a small stash in the freezer ready for her. As a participant in the Golden Girl Granola Blogger Recipe Challenge I decided to up my French toast game. I used Golden Girl’s Home Sweet Honey granola and it was a great choice. It’s not overly sweet so using it in desserts as well as entrees is easy to do. This Golden Girl Granola variety contains rolled oats, honey coconut non GMO/expeller-pressed canola oil and sea salt, that’s it.

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After dipping my French bread into the batter I coated it with crushed Golden Girl Home Sweet Honey Granola. Not one to leave well enough alone, I served it with sliced peaches sautéed in butter. A light dusting of powdered sugar, a drizzle of maple syrup and a tiny bit more of the granola, was my lagniappe (a little something extra). For sure this is a once in a while treat and I can’t wait to try it out when all of the kids are home. Hopefully they will like it as much as I did.

 

Granola Crusted French Toast
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Crushed Granola adds a delightful crunch traditional French toast. Served with a light dusting of powdered sugar and maple syrup makes this a very special breakfast or brunch treat.
Ingredients
  • 8 slices of French bread
  • 1 ½ cups half and half
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅓ cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 cup crushed Golden Girl Home Sweet Honey Granola
  • Peach Topping
  • 4 cups peach slices
  • 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 TBS butter
  • Powdered sugar and maple syrup (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl combine peaches and lemon juice tossing to coat peaches.
  2. Heat 2 TBS butter over medium high heat over heavy skillet.
  3. When butter melts and just starts to sizzle add ¼ cup of sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.
  4. Sauté until peaches are soft then remove skillet from heat.
  5. Pulse the granola in a food processor in 10 second intervals 3 times and set aside.
  6. It will be a roughly crushed.
  7. Heat a griddle or large heavy skillet prepared with non stick spray over medium heat.
  8. In a large mixing bowl beat together the 1 ½ cups half and half plus the next three ingredients.
  9. Depending on the size of your griddle or skillet, dip three-four slices of French bread until well coated on each side.
  10. Lightly sprinkle one side of the dipped bread with the crushed granola and place the granola side on the griddle, then sprinkle the other side in the same manner.
  11. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side until well browned.
  12. Repeat with remaining bread slices.
  13. Remove French toast to a platter.
  14. Arrange 2 slices of the French toast on serving plate and top with some of the sautéed peaches.
  15. Serve with a dusting of powder sugar and/or maple syrup.

 

Disclaimer: “I participated in the Golden Girl Granola Blogger Recipe Challenge. I received a product samples to use in my recipes. The views expressed here are entirely my own.

To find out more about Golden Girl Granola and their other flavors please visit this link.

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Celebrating Dad

Are you scratching your head trying to figure out what to do for the dad’s and father figures in your life? Here are a few desserts that might make dad’s day and a few tablescapes that can serve as inspiration. Happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s and especially to my husband and my sons. You guys rock and I love you to the moon and back!

Meyer Lemon Chess Pie

lemon chess 5

Havana Daze Cabana Nights

havana daze 4

Best Chocolate Cake Evah

chocolate cake 44

Belt it Out

belt it

Lemon Curd Skillet Cake

lemon skillet 6

A Hunting We Will Go

hunting 16

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ribs 8

Memphis Style Back Ribs

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Summer is the time for grilling and chilling and we are taking full advantage of the season. However, it is not unusual for us to don our winter gear and brave the elements in the winter to get our grill on. Still, being able to enjoy the weather while we grill makes the process much more fun. As a participant in Allrecipes Allstars Smithfield-Farmland campaign, we were given a list of recipes to choose from to test the product we were given coupons for. Each of them sounded like the stuff of pork rib dreams and after much, back and forth I chose Memphis Style Back Ribs. This was perfect for my taste buds because sauce isn’t very important to me. With Memphis Style, the ribs are smoked using only the dry rub mix. Sauce can be served on the side if the diner so desires.

ribs 1

Seldom do I pay attention to the style/name of ribs. I know large end and baby back. That was until Memorial Day when I bought St. Louis style because they were on sale. Memphis ribs are full a full rack with the flange trimmed off neat and evenly. The trimmed portion then become the tips and makes great taster pieces. Even though the rub is considered “dry“, prepared yellow mustard is first massaged into the ribs on both sides. This makes a perfect medium to get the dry ingredients into the ribs. For the most even coverage, a shaker works best but don’t sweat it if you don’t have one. You can sprinkle it on by hand, or with a spoon.

When reading the recipe I was just a little skeptical that the ribs only had to marinate for 30 minutes prior to smoking. Typically, for us it’s an overnight process. However, 30 minutes was quite enough. The rub penetrated the ribs evenly and was not overpowering. Something we feared with the use of two types of mustard.

ribs 3

The ribs smoked over indirect heat meaning that the charcoals were off to the sides and the ribs placed in the center away from the coals. Place a shallow pan under the ribs to catch any fat that might drip during the smoking process. The dry spices combined with the prepared mustard made for a beautiful color on the ribs and yes, they were delicious. With all three adult sons in the house, five slabs didn’t last too long.

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4-6 hours was the suggested cooking time and that produced nice tender ribs. The next time I’m going to extend the time at least another hour and increase the cooking temperature from the recommended 250°F to 300° F-350° F. I like my ribs somewhere between nice and tender to falling off the bone. The coupon I received was for Farmland Ribs and up until now, I had never heard of that brand. To my knowledge, they’re only available at Wal-Mart. They were very reasonably priced and very meaty. If you’re a fan of pork ribs (I hope you are) I would recommend you try them and this recipe. The last thing we need for July 4th is more ribs but I’d be willing to bet the good folks at Wal-Mart will see in the meat isle again soon.

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This is the recipe as it appears at Allrecipes.com. The only difference is that I used Farmland Ribs rather than Smithfield’s Extra Tender Pork Back Ribs. #AllstarsSmithfield #GetFiredUpGrilling

 

Memphis Style Back Ribs
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Tender Memphis Style Back Ribs cooked low and slow. The dry rub is a mix of savory spices that are so good you don't need sauce.
Ingredients
  • Dry Rub:
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 ½ tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 2 racks Farmland Pork Back Ribs, membrane removed
  • ¼ cup prepared yellow mustard
  • Apple juice, in a spray bottle
Instructions
  1. About 30 minutes before smoking, make the dry rub.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; mix well.
  3. Spread both sides of ribs with yellow mustard and sprinkle with dry rub.
  4. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  5. Heat charcoal or gas grill for indirect cooking at 250 degrees F.
  6. Place the ribs, meaty side up, over a drip pan and cook for 4 to 6 hours until very tender.
  7. Spritz ribs occasionally with apple juice using a spray bottle.
  8. Add about 12 coals to a charcoal grill every 45 minutes or so to maintain the heat.
  9. Let ribs stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

 

Disclaimer; I am an AllrecipesAllstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position) and I’m not compensated for my work with Allrecipes.com. Products received from advertiser are only used for experienced-based reviews my personal blog. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are all my own.

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golden girl granola 8

Baked Oatmeal with Golden Girl Granola

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Over the years I have come to love granola as more than just an after workout snack and I’m super excited to be a part of this blogger recipe challenge through Golden Girl Granola. Golden Girl Granola is a family granola business based in Shirley, MA. They started out selling their granola and other baked goods at farmers markets in the summer. Quickly they were selling at markets year round. Due to its growth Golden Girl moved to a shared kitchen and then on to having their own retail space and focusing solely on their granola. You can find out more about their story here.

baked oatmaeal 5

In the past I’ve had granola with way too much sugar and preservatives that I can’t pronounce. An over abundance of preservatives is something that I don’t want to consume them. I’ve also made my own granola several times and my favorite way to have it is with warmed almond milk and maybe a bit of dried fruit.

For this challenge I went a different but equally delicious route using Golden Girls Home Sweet Honey Granola. It’s mildly sweet and very adaptable to other flavors and leaves lots of room for creativity. This Golden Girl Granola variety contains rolled oats, honey coconut non GMO/expeller-pressed canola oil and sea salt, that’s it.

golden girl granola 9

Don’t let the long list of ingredients deter you. Everything in it is natural and good for you. Unless you’re feeding a small army there will be enough leftovers for a few days and it keeps very well. I used a combination of Golden Girl Home Sweet Honey Granola, steel cut oats, regular oatmeal, diced fresh mango, almond milk, maple syrup and sliced almonds along with some pantry staples. What I didn’t use was additional sugar. As stated previously the granola is mildly sweet, the mango was some of the sweetest I’ve had in a long time and I did add a small amount of pure maple syrup. Depending on the sweetness of your fruit you may want to add sugar to the recipe or sprinkle a bit on at serving time.

This is very filling so it will keep you fueled for a long time. It also makes for a great meal or snack any time of the day. Love it!

 

5.0 from 2 reviews
Baked Oatmeal with Golden Girl Granola
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
This baked oatmeal made with Golden Girl Home Sweet Honey Granola provides enough fiber and healthy carbs to keep you energized and satisfied for a long time. It's flavored with sweet diced mango and sprinkled with sliced almonds.
Ingredients
  • 3 ½ cups almond milk
  • 2 TBS coconut oil
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 cup Golden Girl Home Sweet Honey Granola
  • 1 ½ cups regular rolled oats
  • ½ cup steel cut oats
  • 1 cup chopped mango
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and lightly grease a 1 ½ quart casserole and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan almond milk and coconut oil and butter.
  3. Bring to a boil and gradually stir in granola, steel cut and regular oats.
  4. Next stir in the chopped mango along with the maple syrup, almond extract and salt.
  5. Cook and stir over low heat for three minutes and add ¼ cup of the sliced almonds.
  6. Spoon mixture to the prepared pan and bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle with remaining sliced almonds and bake uncovered for 10 minutes more or until bubbly.
  8. Cool slightly and serve with a dash of almond milk.

 

 

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Disclaimer: “I participated in the Golden Girl Granola Blogger Recipe Challenge. I received a product samples to use in my recipes. The views expressed here are entirely my own.

paint chip 9

Another Use for Paint Chips

paint chip 5

Painting the walls is not one of my favorite past times. However, I do love collecting paint chips. Why you ask? Sometimes I need a little help in the mixing and matching department when I put together a tablescape. Of course, I have a whole slew of color palettes on my Pinterest board and in a folder on my phone. These are great places to store them for future reference but having an actual sample is much less cumbersome.

paint chip 17

I can lay them against fabric, dinnerware and stare until the light bulb in my head goes off rather than the screen fading on my phone. What I have found by using paint chips as inspiration, is that I have more options than I may have originally figured. These handy dandies can also help me make better selections with future purchases.

Therefore, with this combo in mind I think I did rather well in pulling this table together. Granted these are not bright and sunshiny summer colors but they ain’t half-bad! Once again, this table uses plastic and glass dishes and items that aren’t all from the same set.

paint chip 7

Spiral woven placemats take the place of a full cloth on the bare wooden table. Cocoa brown and mossy green Melamine plates purchased at the drugstore are the first layer of the stack. These colors come close to the ones on the paint chip. A flower motif saucer that picks up all of the colors next follows tan porcelain salad plates. The final piece of dinnerware is a bowl in the same pattern and color as the salad plate.

paint chip 3

The brown handled flatware is just the right earthy shade to complement the entire setting. I used caramel colored napkins with wooden rings. Silver washi tape accents the napkin rings to dress them up. Stemware in amber and dark green finishes the serving pieces.

paint chip 12

Ever since Charisse’s bridal shower, I’ve been waiting to use these wine bottles in another centerpiece. Each bottle has a few stems of wildflowers tucked inside. At the base of the bottles, there are a few succulents and sprigs of greenery. Wooden taper holders on either side and drug store carafes are the finishing touch.

paint chip 22

This table is gender neutral and that’s the look I wanted. Our son from Atlanta came home this weekend so he and our other two sons could hang out with their dad, so this was an appropriate setting for them. You know there was lots of food and I was perfectly content to cook for them and let them have their time together.

Wedding update: Charisse has mailed the invitations, her day of coordinator has given her the timeline, and it is packed. The last thing left to do is order the programs. As we get close to wedding #1, wedding #2 is picking up steam. My bohemian bride is working with a bright and beautiful color palette and is creating a very laidback vibe for her outdoor nuptials. This is going to be so much fun!!!

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Tasty Ideas for July 4th

july 4th kitchen 8

Quick, easy and economical; three of my favorite words and they apply to these desserts. With the weather heating up who wants to spend hours in the kitchen making elaborate desserts? Not even I am ready for that right now. So here are a few ideas to get you out of the kitchen fast, quick and in a hurry!

fruit parfaits 1

With simplicity in mind this Marinated Vegetable Salad was right on point. There isn’t a recipe, you just toss in your favorite veggies add some McCormick’s Perfect Pinch Salad Supreme and then add Italian Salad Dressing. I love the crunch and it is a great alternative to the traditional tossed salad. I used asparagus which I steamed a bit first, cauliflower, broccoli, red and green peppers, cherry tomatoes and carrots. Allow the veggies to marinate overnight so that the salad seasoning and Italian dressing have a chance to work their delicious magic.

memorial day cupcakes 4

Kiddies that aren’t too thrilled about fruit may change their mind if it’s layered with pudding and served in an ice cream cone. Again, no recipe just use your favorite fruits and instant pudding. For a little something extra you could add in a few cookie crumbs for another layer of texture. To keep the ice cream cones crunchy do not fill them until serving time.

memorial day cupcakes 3

If you don’t want to make cupcakes from scratch break out the boxed mix. Every once in a while won’t hurt. These cuppies are yellow cake with cream cheese frosting. To add décor without any extra calories, I cut several red/white/blue straws into short pieces and inserted them into the frosting. Dessert is served!

Have you made plans for the 4th yet? I know we still have to go through Father’s Day and lots of graduations but it doesn’t hurt to plan ahead. Have a wonderful week!

I’m sharing these goodies and a few parties this week. Hop over and check them out there is always lots of inspiration there.

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