Last Minute No-Cook Picnic Recipes

Easy red, white, and blue Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries. Image/detailed directions at: thekitchenismyplayground.com

Easy red, white, and blue Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries. Image/detailed directions at: thekitchenismyplayground.com

 

 

 

Scrambling for get-togethers can be daunting. Especially on super picnic weekends like July 4th. Here are a few last minute no-cook recipes that can save you time in the kitchen:

 

 

Star-Spangled Mini Trifles

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Last Minute Valentine Gifts to Make

It’s just a few days away – the day we honor our loved ones. For some it may be a friend, for others it may be a spouse or child. Yet, the one common thread to Valentine’s Day is the celebration of love.

With the clock ticking, your anxiety of what to give may rise.The key to giving isn’t in how much you spend, but in the effort/love involved. Hopefully, you’ll find something in these DIY projects that will get your creative juices flowing.

Part 3: Let the Baking Begin

Neapolitan cookies have multi-layers of flavor: Almond, raspberry, apricot, and chocolate. Image courtesy of thehopefulhestia.wordpress.com

Neapolitan cookies have multi-layers of flavor: Almond, raspberry, apricot, and chocolate. Image courtesy of thehopefulhestia.wordpress.com

This is part 3 of the series: Get Ready for the Christmas Baking to Begin. These next two holiday favorites are easier to make than expected. Both goodies run about $9 a pound at your local bakery and this frugal gal knows that you can go broke trying to purchase a nice platter of these delightful morsels. With that in mind, I offer you two great gift-worthy recipes:

 

 

 

Italian Neapolitan Cookies
*Coming from an Italian family, I can tell you this recipe is authentic in nature. Other recipes call for other flavored fillings, but most bakeries use these ingredients.

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Get Ready for the Christmas Baking to Begin!

Homemade Christmas cookies warm just about everyone's heart.  Find your favorite recipe that you can pass on for generations. Image courtesy of Debbie Morrow, All Rights Reserved.

Homemade Christmas cookies warm just about everyone’s heart. Find a favorite recipe that you can pass on for generations to come. Image courtesy of Debbie Morrow, All Rights Reserved.

The days are ticking quickly by and if you are anything like me, you already have your supplies on hand. No? Well, I can offer you my most requested cookie/candy recipes that have been pleasing people for over 35 years. Since some directions are longer than others, multiple posts will be needed as follows:

Part 1:                                    Part 2:  Chocolate Italian Balls
Spicy Gingerbread Cookies               Peanut Butter Balls
Italian Butter Balls                                 Almond Sugar Cookies
Rum Balls

Part 3:                                    Part 4:  Butterscotch Haystacks
Chocolate Fudge                                 Coconut Balls
Italian Neapolitan Cookies                  Truffles (multi-flavored)

Part 1: Spicy Ginger Bread Cookies

Gingerbread man image courtesy of What Ronronia Wants

Gingerbread men image courtesy of What Ronronia Wants @ blogspot.

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Quick Food and Drink Ideas for the Fourth of July

Skewers of food can make party planning easy and visually appealing. Image courtesy of Pinterest via Martha McCall.

Skewers of food can make party planning easy and visually appealing. Image courtesy of Pinterest via Martha McCall.

In order for party planners to have enough energy to stay awake for the fireworks, the execution of creating great foods should be simple, visually appealing, and of course, crowd-pleasing.

Here are a few quick and easy energy-saving recipe ideas:

Love the Skewers:

This can be skewers of meat and veggies for the grill, appetizers of fruit and cheese, or anything else that can be jabbed with a stick.They can be laid upon a tray, poked into a cabbage head that has been leveled by slicing a piece off the bottom, Styrofoam, or in tumblers or glasses. For more info on skewer recipes see 50 skewer recipes by The Food Network.

Arrangement of Foods

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Sometimes Simple does the Job

Banana Dolphins. Image courtesy of Luz's Unique Creations on Facebook.

Banana Dolphins. Image courtesy of Luz’s Unique Creations on Facebook.

We’re all in to creating, or at least most of us that visit this page, but sometimes…doing something so simple does the job in a big way: It puts a smile on the faces we love. Here is a healthy snack that only takes minutes to create.

You’ll need:

Bananas (washed)
Grapes – green and red (washed)
Small Containers
A Knife
A Black Marker (non-toxic)

1) Fill containers with grapes of both colors, leaving enough room for the banana to stick in.
2) Cut the end tip of the banana long enough to hold a grape and mimic a mouth.
3) Use the marker to make dots for the eyes of the dolphin.
4) Place each banana into the container, pull apart his mouth and place a grape in it.

Option 2: For Those with more Time on their Hands

Looking at this idea, another one came to mind: Instead of using grapes for inside the container, make blue gelatin.This can be achieved by either making the blue gelatin in a large bowl and after it firms up, scooping up pieces( it will look like waves) into each container or just pouring the gelatin into each individual container(which could be more cumbersome in the refrigerator), but it will look like still waters.
Place the cleaned and prepared bananas (as in in directions above) into the gelatin and place an orange fish cracker in the mouth.You can also scatter a few crackers on top of the “water.” Enjoy!

St. Patrick’s Day Food Fun

Quick and easy shamrock cupcakes. Image courtesy of recipebyphoto.com.

With St. Patrick’s Day only a week away, the party planning better begin.We’ve all seen green beer and green hair, but how many of us can say we ate a green shamrock? These adorable shamrock cupcakes take only a few extra minutes of preparation compared to their regular counterparts.

You’ll need:

1 Cake Mix (any light-colored flavor)
Green Food Coloring
Cupcake Liners
Glass Marbles or Aluminum Foil (rolled into some balls)
Frosting (Green)
For the Smile: You can use black gel writer, or cut a small piece of black string licorice.
For the Eyes: Use paper dot candies and follow directions of my earlier post called Not the Gingerbread Cookies Your Grandma Made or buy pre-made edible ones.

1) Make the cake batter according to package directions and add green food coloring to your desired shade of green.
2) Place the wrappers in each muffin hole and in between the wrapper and pan, place the marbles or rolled foil to help  shape the shamrock.
3) Do not over fill each shamrock with batter- no more than 1/2 full.
4) Bake at the temperature directed by the cake mix box, but for a few minutes less than the time the box suggests.To ensure they are cooked, stick a toothpick into a cupcake and if the pick comes out clean – they’re done. Let cool.
5) Add green food coloring to white frosting if you didn’t purchase green frosting. Frost the cupcakes, add the eyes, and either the gel or tiny strips of black licorice for the smile.
6) Enjoy with friends and family and have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Indoor S’more Recipes

S'more  courtesy of FlickrCC 76454756 at N00/2987530248.

S’more image courtesy of FlickrCC 76454756 at N00/2987530248.

It’s like a rite of summer passage: Having get-togethers, building a fire and making S’mores. But building a fire isn’t always possible. Below are indoor recipes that will squelch anyone’s craving for a real S’more without lighting a match.

S’mores in the Oven

You’ll need:
Graham Crackers
Chocolate Bars
Marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay cracker squares on a cookie sheet. Place 1 marshmallow on each cracker. Bake approximately 6 minutes or until marshmallow is softened. Pull sheet out of oven, add chocolate squares and top with another graham cracker.

S’more Trifle

1 Dark Chocolate Cake Mix
1 Box Chocolate Instant Pudding
1 Large Container of Marshmallow Cream (Like Fluff)
1 Cup Crushed Graham Crackers
1 bag  Milk Chocolate  or Semi-Sweet Chips
1 Large Whipped Cream Tub
Chocolate Bars

1) Make the cake and pudding following their box directions.

2) As the pudding is setting in the fridge, slice the cake into small cubes (1-2 inches) and break up your chocolate bars into small pieces.

3) In a large bowl, work in layers by placing cake cubes on bottom, marshmallow cream on top of cubes, add a layer of pudding, crushed crackers, chocolate bar pieces, and whipped cream. Repeat, except you’ll alternate the chocolate bar pieces with chips.  Top off the last layer with the rest of the chocolate chips/bar leftovers.

Easy No-Bake S’more Bars

S’more Sandwich Bars

If you have a favorite indoor S’more recipe you’d like to add, please feel free to shoot me an email. Thanks –  have a great summer!

Quick Last Minute Red, White and Blue Recipe Delights

Image called Caaake, courtesy of FlickrCC 12818386@N00/7560097470.

Image called Caaake, courtesy of FlickrCC 12818386@N00/7560097470.

Flag Cake (pictured right)

Bake a cake following package directions, top with either white frosting or whipped cream (the kind in the tub) and add berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc.) to represent stars and stripes.

Patriotic Cupcakes

Bake cupcakes according to package, top with white frosting or whipped cream (tub kind) and cut red string licorice strips to fit for stripes and add a blueberry or blue M & M for the star.

Red, White and Blue Parfaits or Trifle

Buy 2 pound cakes and cut them into cubes. Place one layer of cubed cake on the bottom of a trifle bowl or clear plastic cups. Add a layer of whipped cream (the kind in a tub) and add a layer of berries.  Repeat, alternating red or blue-colored berries.

Make Your Own String or Edible Easter Basket

Make your own chocolate baskets to hold goodies in. Image courtesy of Flickr 51633081 @N04/6905180828

Make your own chocolate baskets to hold goodies in. Image courtesy of Flickr 51633081 @N04/6905180828

Over the years, I’ve learned a plethora of craft and food ideas for almost ever holiday. Yet, sometimes the simplest ideas are still the best.

A Better String Egg

I ran across a way to make your own Easter basket with a bit of string, a balloon and a water/flour paste that gives a good visual on what it looks like to wrap the string on the balloon. But instead of using a flour paste, use Elmer’s or a non-name brand white glue. It hardens well in a shorter period of time and instead of dipping the string, take a foam paint brush and “paint” the glue over the string wrapped around the balloon. Then once everything is completely dry,  pop the balloon and cut a hole where you want to add some goodies.

DIY Chocolate Basket

Another way I’ve made a quick Easter egg basket is by simply melting some chocolate and drizzling layers of it over a balloon(as pictured above). I would sometimes even use multiple colors of chocolate for a different effect. Luckily, Chica and Jo have a great tutorial with images of their chocolate baskets.

You’ll be surprised at how simple it is to whip up a few of these baskets. If you have any photos of your creations, I’d love to see them – and Happy Easter!