Couscous Salad

Thanks to Grandma Susie, this is my new favorite dish.  Serve it as a side, or add grilled chicken, beef or shrimp to make it a meal.  The fresh ingredients are worth the time and the bottled dressing makes finishing the dish a snap.Couscous Salad 1Greek-Style Couscous Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes of dry couscous (I used plain)
  • 1 red pepper – diced
  • 1 yellow pepper – diced
  • 1 orange pepper – diced
  • 1 seedless cucumber – diced
  • Calamata olives (cut in half lengthwise)
  • feta cheese
  • Grape Tomatoes (cut in half lengthwise)
  • parsley
  • Gazebo Room Greek Salad Dressing

Cook  the couscous and let sit covered. Stir with fork after
5-10 minutes to break apart, if you wait till it is thoroughly cooled it is
more difficult.  Dice all veggies to your liking.

Add ingredients together once couscous has cooled.  Sprinkle with feta and parsley.  Add Gazebo dressing once all other ingredients have been tossed together.  Avoid adding too much dressing.  Add only enough dressing so that the couscous sticks.  The dish can be served chilled or at room temperature.Couscous Salad 3

Lemon Vodka Crush

Thanks to our friends John and Katie, my husband fell in love with the fresh taste and fun prep of this drink.  We shared it with our family over the July 4th holiday and EVERYONE loved it.Lemon Vodka Crush jarUsing a large glass jar (make sure it can be sealed), combine the following ingredients:Lemon Vodka Crush inside

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 lemons, cut in half and squeezed
  • LOTS of ice
  • 5th of vodka
  • MORE ice

Seal and shake consistently for 15 minutes.  This is the hard part, but boy is it worth it!!!Lemon Vodka Crush single  Open and enjoy!!

 

 

Tequila Lime Tart

This creamy dessert is a deliciously tart treat with a to-die-for crust.

Tequila Lime Tart

Crust:
1 box (12 oz) Nilla wafer cookies
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
Filling:
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 4 large limes)
1/4 cup tequila
Preheat oven to 350*.  For crust, combine 10 oz of the Nilla wafers (there will be about 8 leftover cookies from the 12 oz box) and the pine nuts in a food processor to make fine crumbs.  In a bowl, stir together the crumbs and melted butter until all the crumbs are moistened.  Set aside 3 tbsp crumbs for topping.  Press remaining crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a 10-ince tart pan with removeable bottom.
For filling, beat egg whites and sugar on high speed in a medium-sized bowl until soft peaks are formed.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and tequila until thoroughly combined.  Fold in beaten egg whites.  Pour filling into crust and bake for 25 minutes or until set.  Cool tart completely.  Remove from pan before serving. Garnish with reserved crumbs and fresh whipped cream.

Flip Flop Cookies

These flip flop treats were made on a whim while we were at the beach.  Mary’s sister had seen similar sandals made by a friend and knew we would LOVE them.

Ingredients:

  • Nutter Butter Cookies
  • Icing (We used gel icing because it was all we had at the beach.  A thicker icing may be even better for pulling off this look.)
  • Candies for decoration (We used jelly beans cut in half because it was all we had with us at the beach. Waste not, want not!)
  • Crushed graham crackers for displaying.

Using the icing, outline the top of the cookie to look like the thong of a flip flop.  Decorate with candy if desired.

They didn’t last long once the kids saw them, but they were cute!

Backyard Water War

We love having our kids home all summer, and we don’t want to keep them cooped up in the house when the temperatures soar.  You can cool off during the dog days of summer without even leaving your yard with some great water activities.  Here are some of our favorites.

Beach Ball Blaster

Use whatever water squirters you have around the house and an inflatable beach ball for this fun game.  Simply establish a starting line and a finish line and have your kiddos work together to get the ball to the goal while only using water pressure.

Sponge Brigade

We used the big carwashing sponges for this crowd-pleaser.  Start with an empty bucket at one end and a full bucket at the other.  Have the kids start at the end with the full bucket, and use nothing but the sponge to fill the empty bucket.  They’ll be working as a team before you know it!

Sprinkler

There’s nothing fancy about this one.  A plain, old garden sprinkler will do unless you have something cuter!  Just turn it on and let ‘em run!

Soupy Slingshot

We drew a big target on a folded up shower curtain liner and hung it on the fence.  We were able to find some slingshots (with water-friendly shots included) at the dollar store.  The kids took turns firing their shot at the target.  You can also let the kiddos use water guns or squirters to aim at the bullseye.

Bubble Bopper

A battery-operated bubble blower makes this game lots of fun.  But if you don’t have one, someone can blow the bubbles while others bop them with fly swatters.  Some of the older kids decided to use the fly swatters as bubble wands, too.

In addition to the games we had set up, we had plenty of water guns, squirters, sponges, water bombs, and water frisbees sitting around so kids could be spontaneous.  And moms, don’t forget to wear your bathing suits, too!  With all this water flying around, you are bound to get wet.  And it will feel so good!

Cool Treat

Before the party we placed frozen ice pops in a bucket of ice and snipped the tops off.  Then we put the bucket back in the freezer.  When it was time for a treat no one had to wait to have their pop opened.  One of our little wet friends said, “That is a lovely display” (you gotta love kids).Now, go get wet!!

Cookies and Creme Pudding Pops

Mary’s kids and their cousins loved preparing this summer treat.  It is so easy that even the littlest hands can whip this one up.

In addition to the following ingredients, you will need small cups (like the ones you might use at the bathroom sink) as well as popsicle sticks.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small package of chocolate instant pudding
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 6 oreo cookies, crushed
  • 1/2 cup whipped topping, thawed

Mix pudding and milk until softly set.  Fold in whipped topping and blend.  Add crushed Oreos and mix together.  Fill cups and insert sticks into each one.  Place cups in the freezer for at least 5 hours or until frozen. When you are ready to enjoy them, remove the paper cup to reveal a cold and creamy treat on a stick.

Cool!

 

Free Food-palooza

Chick fil A post 2What do Halley’s Comet, a total lunar eclipse, and this Friday have in common?  They only happen every so many years.

That’s right, this Friday, July 11 is the day you can get free food at Chick-fil-a AND a free Slurpee at 7-Eleven.  Okay, maybe it’s not quite as impressive as a lunar eclipse (but almost!).  Click on the images below to get all the rules and regulations for this Friday’s events.  And enjoy the free treats.  You know we will!

slurpee

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Hot Dog Bar

Of all the things I cook, my son, Grant maintains that hot dogs are his favorite food (I guess I can stop worrying myself with homemade spaghetti sauce and pancetta wrapped pork loins).  Well, this Hot Dog Bar was a hit with adults as well as kids.Hot Dog Bar 4

We hosted an end of the school year block party with hot dogs as the main course.  We provided all the fixin’s and our guests were encouraged to BYOHD&B (bring your own hot dogs and buns).Hot Dog Bar 5

I scored cute paper hot dog holders and ketchup and mustard bottles in the $1 section of Target.Hot Dog Bar 1

We had more than just the basic condiments.

  • Traditional Dog – ketchup, mustard, sweet relish
  • Chili Cheese Classic – chili, cheese sauce
  • Chicago Dog – dill pickle spear, mustard, onion and sport peppers
  • Tex Mex Dog – diced tomato, Monterey Jack cheese, green chilies
  • German Wiener – sour kraut, onion, spicy brown mustardHot Dog Bar 3

The men-folk manned the grill while we kept the fixin’s loaded.  Our guests went “dog”-wild over all of the choices.Hot Dog Bar 6

Message us and let us know your favorite hotdog recipe or how your hot dog party went.

 

 

3 Ways to Jazz Up Ice Cream Sandwiches

Who doesn’t love an ice cream sandwich?

Here are three ways we jazzed up this frozen fave!

Sprinkles-A-Go-Go

Pour a generous amount of sprinkles into a pie plate.  Unwrap ice cream sandwiches and dip all four sides of each treat into the sprinkles. 

Voila!  Easy. Yummy. Cute.

Ice Cream a la Stick

We have said before that everything is better on a stick.  Cut ice cream sandwiches in half and insert popsicle sticks.   Let your imagination (and palate) run wild.  Our kids used M&M’s to decorate the sides.  After you insert the stick and decorate them, put them back in the freezer for an hour or so so they can set back up.

Ice Cream Sandwich Dessert

Okay, this is a serious crowd pleaser and it could not be easier.

Ingredients

  • 18 ice cream sandwiches, unwrapped
  • 8 oz whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 bag of toffee chips (or you can use 4 Heath bars, chopped)
  • caramel ice cream topping

Cover the bottom of a 9X13 casserole dish with approximately 9 ice cream sandwiches.  Spread 1/2 of the whipped topping on the sandwiches.  Sprinkle 1/2 of the toffee chips on the whipped topping.  Repeat with a final layer of each (sandwiches, whipped topping, toffee chips).  Drizzle the top with caramel topping.  Cover and put in the freezer for at least 5 hours.Enjoy!

Homemade IceCream in a Bag

This recipe is fun for one or a ton!  That’s right, make your own ice cream in a bag.  Kids LOVE this because it is like a game.  If you are having several kids join in the fun, have them each make their own.  It is more fun that way and it keeps the serving sizes manageable for perfect ice creamy consistency.ICe Cream in a bag - enjoy

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 tablespoons rock salt
  • 1 quart-size plastic food storage bag
  • 1 gallon-size plastic food storage bag
  • Ice cubes
  1. Pour the milk, vanilla, and sugar into the smaller bag, and seal tightly (this can be done ahead of time and stored in refrigerator if needed).
  2. Fill the large bag half full of ice, and add the rock salt and seal tightly (also can be done ahead of time and set aside).Ice Cream in a bag - baggies
  3. Place the small bag inside the large one, and seal it again carefully.
  4. Shake the bags until the mixture is the consistency of ice cream. This step should take about 5-8 minutes.Ice Cream in a bag - shakingIce Cream in a bag - girls
  5. Rinse the top of the small bag (this part is the key to having yummy ice cream instead of salty ice cream!!), then open it carefully.
  6. DIG IN!!  Add a little Strawberry Freezer Jam if you want, mmmmm…Ice Creamin a bag mmmmThis recipe yields 1 scoop of ice cream.  You can double the recipe, but avoid increasing the recipe more than that at any one time.