4th of July Red {Mint} Blue Punch

This 4th of July, I’ve come up with something fresh delicious & practically takes no time to make for your 4th July gatherings.  It’s my Red, {Mint} & Blue 4th of July punch.

 

 

Start with 2 cups of boiled water in a pourable, heat safe container.

Add one teaspoon of Wilton Royal Blue gel food coloring.  Add it to the hot water and stir to let it dissolve & cool to room temperature.

 

 

 

 

 

Next, you’ll need one of these star ice cube trays that I found for less than $1.50 at Walmart or you could also use a standard ice tray.  In the end, it’s the same effect.  The blue ice lends the blue color to the punch whether you use stars or not.  (I thought that the stars were cute).

 

Pour the cooled blue water carefully into the ice tray as best you can.  You will only need one batch of ice cubes.

In a large half gallon water pitcher, squeeze the juice of 4 limes & add two cups of granulated sugar.

Stir to dissolve the lime juice and sugar & fill the pitcher 3/4 of the way full with filtered water.

Add in your blue ice cubes and slices of fresh strawberries.

Here’s a little tip: To keep my strawberry slices from turning to mush in my punch, I sliced them up the night before and put them in the freezer until I was ready for them.

Add in a handful of fresh mint leaves & your done!

 

 

So what are you bringing to the 4th of July picnic this year?

The Perfect Pie Crust Recipe

A homemade pie crust – one that is made from scratch, and by you (not your mother, or your grandmother, your husband, one of your kids, your neighbor or your aunt) can seem like a daunting task.  It’s certainly easier (but far less rewarding) to just buy one from the store.

I have finally found a recipe that I can follow, that’s not crushed graham cracker crumbs or cookies of some sort.  I mean, a real McCoy, 100% legit, Martha-Stewart-I-see- you, type of a pie crust.  Finally, this is it!

My grandmother had shared her pie crust-making secrets with me years ago.  Truth be known- I never bothered to follow her specific instructions until now.

“Meeka,” she’d say, “You’ve got to make sure that your butter is cold, and the other ingredients are room temperature (like your flour, sugar, etc.)” and “You have to be sure and use ice water.”

Ice water.

Okay, that sounds simple enough.  This should be easy to follow.  Right?  Ice water seems easy enough to come by.   Unless, you choose to translate the term, “ice water” into “lukewarm water” or at best, “cold water straight out of the tap.”  It should produce the same results, right?  Not.

Even with the clearest of instructions, I have never once followed her recipe to a “T”.   Consequently, my pie crusts have never turned out just right.  They have never been anything that I could be proud of.  I have always wanted a 100% homemade pie from start to finish.  And now, I have finally, finally found the crust recipe, that I have been looking for!

Homemade Pie Crust Recipe

(This recipe makes one pie crust)

1 1/4 all-purpose flour

1/2 cup of cold butter (cut into cubes)

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/4 of ice water

Directions:

Starting with very cold butter, cut the butter into cubes.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and add in all of the cubed butter, and begin to blend with a pastry blender, until crumbly.

Add ice water, one tablespoon at a time.  *Note: This should be ice water, and not room temperature water, nor the coldest water that you can manage to get from the tap.

Add ice water, one tablespoon at a time, and continue to mix with the pastry blender gently.  Add enough water until the mixture begins to form into a dough.

 

Once the dough begins to stick to the pastry blender, scrape all of it off and back into the bowl, with a fork and then scoop everything into a gallon size ziplock bag.   This is my little trick to keep my hands clean while having full control over kneading the dough.  Additionally, I don’t mind the kids helping me to make the dough, nor do I have to worry about the cleanliness of their hands when they’re kneading the dough on the outside of the bag.  #momwin #bakerwin

Knead the dough for about 5 minutes and then flatten into a disc.

Firm up the edges, for a perfectly round disc-should you prefer.  And then refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

I doubled the recipe and made two pie crusts, hence why I had extra flour & butter when I began to mix with my pastry mixer.

After 2 hours, remove the dough from plastic and place it on a floured surface, flour the top of the disc, and begin to roll out with your rolling pin.

If you’re fancy enough, roll the flattened dough up around your rolling pin and then unroll it on to your pie plate.  (I did not do that with this one, but did it with my top crust).

Crimp around the edges of the pie crust using about a finger spacing in between.

Line the unbaked pie shell with aluminum foil and then fill with dry uncooked beans.  This will help your pie shell not to fill with air bubbles while it bakes.

Bake on 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and your ready to go.  See?  Now that wasn’t so bad after all.

Will you try this recipe?  Maybe even get it under your belt before the holidays?  I want to hear from you.  Drop me a comment below or email me at: thingsshemakes@gmail.com

 

Homemade Knock-Off Coconut Ice Cream

This homemade knock-off ice cream recipe is a delicious & affordable treat that you can make at home, to enjoy this summer.

One of my very favorite things to make during the summer is delicious homemade ice cream.  My kids love when I take them out for a nice cold treat when it’s hot out, but I thought, how much better to get them involved in the process in making their own delicious treat?

The steps to making this particular recipe is simple and starts with one of my favorite appliances, my Cuisinart ICE-20 Automatic 1-1/2-Quart Ice Cream Maker, White

Which clearly, needs the outer cover to be replace, because I’ve used this thing quite a bit (since 2002).  So, it’s seen a few days of homemade ice cream recipes & then some.

I found this particular brand of ice cream at the local Publix supermarket & loved it!  It had a subtle coconut flavor and itty-bits of fresh coconut texture.

Since I had most of the ingredients on hand.  I decided to go for it.  The only thing that I needed to make this recipe happen was heavy whipping cream.

So with that here we go.

Homemade Knock-Off Coconut Ice Cream Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup of plain yogurt

1/4 cup of whole milk

3/4 cup of granulated sugar

1 cup of Trader Joes Organic Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

A churn style ice-cream maker (with an ice cold freezer basket)

In a large mixing bowl, combine, heavy cream, coconut flakes and sugar until fully blended.

In a separate bowl blend plain yogurt and milk until smooth.

Combine milk & yogurt mixture to coconut and cream mixture and fully blend.

Once, you’ve got that done, begin setting up your ice cream maker.

*Note: After each time we use our ice cream maker, I wash out the inner basket, dry it completely and place in a plastic bag, back in the freezer.  

The purpose of placing in the plastic bag is so that nothing gets inside of it.  And the purpose of keeping it in the freezer even when you have no upcoming plans of using it, is so that when you are ready to whip up a batch of ice cream, you’re good to go, without waiting a day or two for the basket to freeze.

After your ice cream machine is all set up, another little trick that I’ve learned is to pour the cream mixture in without the final lid being on.  So, pour the mixture in before you place the lid on it.  I have always put the final lid on like a cap and then have had to come back to clean mix off of the edges and sides of it.  Now, I realize that I could have skipped that clean up step all-together.

Since your basket is already frozen, this should take no more than 20-30 minutes.  If your basket is not frozen solid and just cold, your ice cream may never fully form.  Even putting that liquid into the freezer as is, will not turn it into full-on, ice cream.

Because we added plain yogurt to this, the texture is extra creamy and the little bits of the Trader Joe’s coconut flakes makes the texture of this, just that much more awesome!

I may or may not have been taking little samples from this batch before my ice cream was even done.

The bonus for me was that I kept the container from the previous “store” batch for this, and reused it once my ice cream was through.

This was simply delicious.

Will you try this?  I hope that you try this.

Homemade Knock-Off Coconut Ice Cream Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup of plain yogurt

1/4 cup of whole milk

3/4 cup of granulated sugar

1 cup of Trader Joes Organic Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

A churn style ice-cream maker (with an ice cold freezer basket)

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine heavy whipping cream, granulated sugar, and coconut flakes until completely blended.

In a separate and smaller bowl, combine plain yogurt and milk until smooth.

Add yogurt mixture to coconut cream mixture and completely combine.

Set up ice cream machine, complete with completely frozen freezer basket.

Before attaching the cover/lid, pour cream mixture into the basket, and then set cover/lid in place on top.

Hit the “on” button to churn mixture for 20-30 minutes or until completely thick and creamy.  After 30 minutes, ice cream should be set.  Use a large metal spoon or wooden spatula to serve ice cream immediately or store in an airtight container in your freezer until you’re ready to eat.

Enjoy!

 

Garden-To-Table Cooking with American Girl

The girls and I had a wonderful day, whipping up some recipes at Williams Sonoma from the American Girl Doll, Garden-to-Table Cookbook.

 

They were preparing two recipes: one was a mixed berry cobbler and the other we’re vegetarian roll-ups.

They had a lot of fun taking turns, using the different equipment, slicing and prepping the fresh produce.

I love seeing them in action making their own creations & to see their pride in their accomplishments.

This cookbook is also one that balances basic cooking skills as well as hands on recipes that the girls will enjoy creating time & time again.

I found myself gazing the equally beautiful tablescapes laid out through out the store.  I love that this one incorporates the newly popular (faux) succulents as accents for the decor.

I’m so glad that we got to try out some new & fun recipes and that we had a little Mommy & me time today!

Frozen Corn Treats for Your Chickens

I loved this idea that I found on how to make your very own frozen corn treats for your feathered-kind.  I know all too well, that our chickens can easily overheat or dehydrate if not careful during the summer months in the South.  So this idea, was just perfect for us & simple too!

Ingredients/Supplies:

1 15 ounce can of kernel corn

a large tablespoon

a muffin pan

Directions:

(1) With a large tablespoon, equally divide the corn into each of the cavities in the muffin pan.

(2) Double back with the liquid and evenly divide it among corn.

(3) Freeze for 3 hours or until frozen solid.

(4) Allow 5-10 minutes to thaw before trying to serve the chickens.  This allows the edge of the ice to melt just enough for you to fit a butter knife in an lift the frozen corn cupcakes out.

 

*Notes: This can also be done with an ice tray or with a silicon muffin pan to make for easy removal.

I hope that your chickens will enjoy.  I know that mine will come the 90+ degree weather that is in the forecast for today.

My Giant Samoa Cookie

I made this version of a giant Samoa cookie for our Girl Scout End Year Celebration last year & have made it again, this year.  Now, I  want to share it with you!

Giant Samoa Cookie

Ingredients:

Cookie Base-

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Samoa Topping-

  • 3 cups shredded coconut, sweetened

  • 1 1/3 cup chocolate chips, melted

  • 425 grams soft caramels

  • 3 tablespoons milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until combined. Add the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.

  2. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Watch the video here to get a visual of this technique.

  1. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to 1/4 inch-thick. Use a bowl or plate to cut it into a large circle (make sure it will fit on your baking sheet!). Transfer the circle to a sheet of parchment paper, then place on a baking sheet. Slice a smaller circle out of the center to create a ring. Prick the surface with a fork, then bake at 325F for 20 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to brown. Cool completely on the baking sheet.

  1. Evenly sprinkle the shredded coconut onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, until the coconut is toasted. Set aside.

  1. Spread about half of the melted chocolate onto the underside of the shortbread cookie, completely covering the base. Transfer the cookie to the freezer or fridge for the chocolate to set, while you make the topping.Place the soft caramels, milk and salt in a pot and set to medium heat. Stir constantly until the caramel has completely melted. Pour the caramel into a bowl with the toasted coconut, reserving about 1/3 cup of caramel. Mix the coconut and caramel mixture together.

  1. Spread the remaining caramel onto the non-chocolate side of the shortbread cookie. Generously spoon the coconut caramel mixture on top. Drizzle the remaining melted chocolate on top of the coconut. Enjoy!

So that’s it!  These are all pics from my very own creations.  All of the pictures in this post were from this year & last.    I hope that you enjoy & that you make it for your next Girl Scout celebration!

 

 

Sweet Cream Cookies

I love making homemade cookies.  Each year, usually around Christmas, Thanksgiving or holidays (or anytime), I break out a batch of cookies & every now and again, I hit on a favorite.  THIS particular cookie has been a real favorite of the ones that I’ve made for my own family & relatives alike.

I call it my Sweet Cream Cookie because although the originally recipe says that it’s “Stawberries & Cream”, I have used so many different varieties of fruit fillings to fill the center with.

 

I’ve done these cookies with guava, blackberry, strawberry, apricot, blueberry, and lime.  They’re absolutely delicious with whatever fruit flavored filling, you fill them with.

Where did I get the original recipe?  From this Cookie Magazine here:

It was one of those $9.99 magazines that you see at the checkout counter that actually looks different from the rest, and I don’t mean in just the content.

It’s the quality of the cover & the quality of the image of the recipe.  And if you’re used to cooking & baking, then you can sometimes just look at the cover image that’s on the magazine & know that the recipes that are inside are going to be GREAT.  Then, you’ll usually look down to check the price of said cover and it’s, oh, $9.99 or $10.99….and in this case, totally worth it! 

 

I have been making cookie recipes out of this magazine for almost ten years (since 2009)!  And, I love them every time.  There are old favorites that are tried and true to my repertoire and this is one of them.

You start this cookie, just like you would any rich & buttery cookie, with butter and cream cheese.  And then it all goes uphill from there!

 

My dad asked me to make this cookie the other day, so I wanted to start out with a new variety of flavors. First I went with the recipe original,

which is strawberry, and then I added the apricot jelly to it, and last but not least, I got lucky at the new LIDL’s by us and found this nice blueberry jelly.

You don’t often see blueberry jellies or jams sold in stores.  I don’t ever have a problem finding strawberry, blackberry, grape or apricot, but when I can find something like peach or blueberry, I grab it!

I made a single batch of this recipe (which yields about 5 dozen cookies–that’s if you don’t eat the batter along the way, lol!)

I grabbed my cookie containers for $1/each from the Dollar Tree (and that includes the top and the bottom of the container), and I made one to send to a friend & one to my dad.

They were absolutely delicious!

 

~Chemeeka 

Valentine’s Day Toffee Crackers

I loved making the Christmas toffee crackers with my kids, so much that they inspired me to make them in this sweet Valentine’s Day version.

All of the steps in the process are pretty much the same.

 

Except, you will want to substitute out pink vanilla wafers for your chocolate chips.

 

Add in your Valentine’s sprinkles & your good-to-go!

 

Now was that easy or what for a Valentine’s treat?

So what are you making for the kids this Valentine’s Day?

 

xo- Chemeeka  

Christmas Toffee Crackers

I have seen this cookie recipe so many times.  Moreover, I had tried this cookie so many times and LOVED IT!  The first time that I had it was at a Christmas Cookie Swap with a mom’s group years ago.

I knew then how easy it was, but had just never tried it for myself until this past Christmas.  Big Mistake!  My intentions were to make these & give them out to the neighbors, but what actually happened was the little treat bags that they were in never left my kitchen.  Well, except for one neighbor.  His did make it (see the one in the container pictured above).  Let’s get into this recipe.   It’s super simple & super delicious.

You start out with lining a shallow baking pan with parchment paper & not aluminum foil.  Why do I tell you that?  Because it will be far easier to remove your crackers once the toffee has been cooled from the parchment paper,  then from the aluminum foil.  It’s just that simple.

Next, you want to dissolve the brown sugar and butter in a medium saucepan and over medium high heat.

Don’t make the same mistake that I did, of melting the butter first and then adding the brown sugar to it, the second time that I made these.  The brown sugar & butter won’t become the lovely bubbly caramel that you’ll need if you do!

 

Next, pour your toffee over your parchment lined pan of crackers & let it sit for a few minutes.  Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 5 minutes on 350 degrees.

Remove from oven and immediately add the chips.

If your chocolate chips don’t melt for a while after sitting there, then you can put the pan back into the warm oven for 2-3 minutes.

Spread your chips evenly with a spatula or a clean butter knife, sprinkle on toffee pieces, sprinkles or nuts.  Chill for 2 hours then break to enjoy!

 

If you’re planning on sharing these with friends or family DO NOT sample before doing so.  Otherwise, they may not get any, as they are just that good!

Sincerely,

Chemeeka from Things She Makes