Friday, March 21, 2014

Homemade Easter Treats: DIY Cross Brownies

Our wonderful parents usually fill the kids Easter baskets with plenty of store bought goodies, so I like to put a few homemade treats in their baskets from us. These cross brownies are quick and easy and point to the purpose of celebrating this holiday.

Make a batch of brownies, Better Than Boxed Brownies, Cake Mix Brownies, Black Bean Brownies or Peanut Butter Black Bean Brownies for gluten free versions, or your own favorite recipe.

After they have cooled, either use a cookie cutter or knife to cut out cross shapes. I used a knife and made these crosses 3 inches wide and 4 inches tall. That way the remaining pieces were 1 inch squares (or could be cut in half to make 1 inch squares).

If serving for dessert you can frost with regular frosting, but if you want to package these, I suggest spreading melted chocolate over the top. (Here is how to and how not to melt chocolate.)

Sprinkle with colored sugar or sprinkles while topping is still soft. Allow chocolate to harden before packaging.

What are your favorite Easter treats to give?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

DIY Easter Decorations: Simple Cross Garland

We love making a big, huge, wonder-filled deal out of Easter, because this holiday commemorates the most wonderful event ever to happen in history, the Resurrection. But sometimes simple holiday preparations are all that can happen.

Last year we had the wonderful privilege of both sides of our family coming to visit us in the spring. Both visits were awesome and amazing in themselves, and if people are willing to travel half-way around the world to see you, you make the time. But Easter was in the middle of the visits, so our preparations got simplified.

I'm going to share a few of the decorations and projects we made, even thought they are far from perfect, because sometimes (many times in fact), done is better than perfect. Sometimes you need to just go ahead and do it now, or nothing will ever get done. Maybe someone else will be inspired by this humble decorating project.

This very simple cross garland added a burst of color to our dark dining room and reminded us of the reason we celebrate

Simple Cross Garland

  • Paper (We used colored cardstock, but you could make virtually kind of paper work)
  • Something to decorate with (We used stamps and markers)
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Straw to use for a needle to string the garland
  1. First I drew and cut out the paper crosses. I flared the ends slightly to give them a little bit of a Celtic feel. Or you could have your children cut out the crosses for cutting practice.
  2. Then I punched holes in both of the short sides of each cross.
  3. Next I called my boys and let the decorate them however they wanted with the stamps and markers that I had already chosen and laid out.
  4. Finally I let them take turns stringing the garland, similar to how we did this Valentine's Day garland, just showing them how to make a pattern with the different colors of crosses.
Done and ready to enjoy!

Friday, March 14, 2014

DIY Herbed Focaccia

This delightfully dimply bread is crusty and flavorful. It is great cut into strips and served with red sauce for an appetizer or as bread for a gourmet sandwich. It is also a great accompaniment for anything from soup and salad, pasta, chicken, or even pizza.

Homemade Herbed Focaccia Recipe

  • 2 1/2 cups flour (white, whole wheat, or a combination)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 pkg or 2 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar or honey 

  • Oil (olive or other)
  • Salt
  • Minced garlic (fresh or dried)
  • Minced onion (fresh or dried)
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Shredded mozzarella
  1. In a mixing bowl combine flour and salt.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup combine warm water, 1 Tbsp oil, yeast, and sugar or honey. Let sit 5-10 minutes.
  3. Pour liquid into flour and salt and stir and knead until soft dough forms. Add a little flour or warm water if the consistency is to wet or dry. Let sit 10 minutes.
  4. Heavily oil a cookie sheet. Sprinkle salt over the bottom.
  5. After dough has begun to rise spread over cookie sheet like thick pizza crust. Make indentations with your fingertips or knuckles.
  6. With a clean pastry brush, heavily paint the top of the bread with oil. Sprinkle with as much or little salt, garlic, onion, herbs, and cheese as you desire.
  7. Let rise 15-30 minutes in a warm environment if you are impatient like I am. Allow to rise 12-24 hours covered and refrigerated if you want richer taste and can wait that long.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 450F for 10-20 minutes (depending on how brown and crisp you want it).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

DIY Cream of Potato and Spinach Soup

This creamy soup is naturally green and delicious. Subtle flavors meld into creamy comfort food. This soup is great paired with Irish Soda Bread Biscuits any day of the week. Add carrot sticks and you have all the colors of the Irish flag for St. Patrick's Day.

I began with Joy the Baker's Spinach Soup Recipe, but changed it up a lot. This soup turned out thick and creamy. My second son gobbled down about three bowls of it.

Homemade Cream of Potato and Spinach Soup

  • 2 Tbsp butter or oil
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (or even water)
  • 4 cups cubed potatoes (you can peel them if you like, I don't bother and once they are blended you can't tell)
  • 6 cups spinach (or other favorite greens)
  • 1 tsp or more salt to taste
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 or more cups cream or whole milk
  1. In a large soup pot saute onion and garlic in butter very low to caramelize.
  2. Add chicken broth and cubed potatoes. Boil low about 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
  3. Add greens and seasonings. Stir greens around until limp.
  4. Blend either with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender. Use caution of course. Hot soup is hot.
  5. Add cream or milk, stir until well incorporated, and serve hot.

Great with Irish Soda Bread Biscuits

Friday, March 7, 2014

DIY Irish Soda Bread Biscuits

We love the taste if Irish Soda Bread and these biscuits bake up even faster. Great with soup or stew for St. Patrick's Day or any day.

Homemade Irish Soda Bread Biscuits

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup regular milk with 1 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice added)
  1. In a mixing bowl sift together all dry ingredients.
  2. Add milk and oil, and stir until just combined.
  3. Either roll out on floured surface and cut with biscuit cutter, or drop rounded tablespoons full onto greased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake at 400F until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes for average size biscuits.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

DIY Fresh Coconut Chocolate Cake

I love baking with the real fresh fruits and vegetables available in the markets here. This coconut chocolate cake recipe uses fresh coconut juice and meat.

You can make this recipe even easier by using a store bought or homemade cake mix. Or simply mix up the dry ingredients when you are preparing the cake; it doesn't take very long. I imagine you could substitute canned coconut milk and dry shredded coconut, but I haven't tried.

This is a great island twist on a classic cake. One medium coconut should yield more than enough juice and meat to make this recipe. Drink the juice up (quickly it goes bad fast) for a natural electrolyte drink, Or freeze to use later. Place extra shredded coconut on a cookie sheet and toast in your oven to use in other recipes or add to your granola.

Homemade Fresh Coconut Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • Chocolate Cake Mix OR
    • 2 1/3 cups flour
    • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
    • 1 Tbsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup oil (if using coconut oil melt first) or melted butter
  • 1 cup coconut juice, conout milk or regular milk
  • 2 cups shredded fresh coconut meat (divided)
  1.  In a medium mixing bowl dump cake mix OR sift together dry ingredients.
  2. Add oil and juice or milk to dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
  3. Fold in 1 cup shredded coconut into batter.
  4. Pour cake batter into a greased 9x13 cake pan.
  5. Sprinkle remaining shredded coconut on top of the cake.
  6. Bake at 350F for 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the coconut on top is toasted lightly.
  7. Garnish with extra toasted coconut when serving if desired.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...