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summer



Sip on This: Fresh Strawberry Balsamic Drizzle Milkshakes

My favorite dessert started as something I didn’t even think I’d like. Friends presented a bowl with vanilla ice cream and strawberries and a dark, seemingly chocolate glaze poured over the top. But it didn’t smell like chocolate, and I knew the move was far too pedestrian for these foodies. They said it was a balsamic vinegar syrup. I loved balsamic — I mean, I could seriously drink the stuff! — but I wasn’t sure how that was going to go with dessert.

strawberries balsamic

Well, I’m here to tell you it was like sky rockets in flight, after dinner delight all up in my mouth! It’s become my go-to dessert for dinner guests when I want something that appears super fancy but takes less than five minutes to prep and assemble.

Yes, fancy and five minutes in the same sentence!

strawberry balsamic milkshake

This summer, I’ve decided to make my favorite dessert a bit more portable. You can’t really bob around in the pool with a big bowl of ice cream, but you can certainly float with a Strawberry Balsamic Drizzle Milkshake in your hand. Or at least I will. I won’t tell you how to spend your swim.
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Juicy Watermelon Jalapeno Twist Mojitos are the Official Cocktail of Summer

Nothing looks, tastes, or smells as much like summer as watermelon does. Maybe sunblock, but you can’t, and really shouldn’t, drink that. That hot pink melon just screams hot, summer days! Get as much as you can because it’s so hydrating; I don’t care who you are, that juice is going to run down your chin and arms!

Watermelon is as much a staple in our house in these warm months as is a good cocktail. I love nothing more than to gather friends on our patio and share a delish homemade cocktail. After our first round of watermelon mojitos, I’ve declared these the official drink of summer 2014!

watermelon mojito

The first sip garnered oohs, ahhs, and even a “oh that’s the stuff!” The muddling gives you a solid upper arm workout while the jalapeno is hot enough to keep your metabolism on its toes. I’m not trying to pass off a cocktail as being a part of your summer workout plans, but those facts alone make this drink seem like a no brainer, right?

watermelon jalapeno mojito

To really make the flavor pop, you’ve gotta muddle.
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The More the Berrier with Summery Blueberry Muffin Tops

The best part of the pizza? That very first bite of the pointy triangle end.

The best part of a cinnamon roll? The ooey-gooiest center.

The best part of the muffin? The top. Duh!

blueberry muffin tops

My completely made up statistic that 99.5 percent of people would rather eat the top of the muffin exclusively, rather than what a friend of mine calls “the stump,” is the reason an entire pan has been created to let you accomplish such baked good sorcery. There’s no waste; just bake the part people actually want to eat!

I know it’s warming up outside and the last thing you want to think about doing is firing up the oven. But berries are in season! So, you kind of have to. Rules and what not.

blueberry muffin tops pan

Blueberries are one of those can’t-fail foods, at least from a mom perspective. I don’t care what my four-year-old’s mood is, what she is or isn’t liking that week, or where we are — blueberries always get a yes. They are one of the original super foods, so it’s a no brainer to add them to pancakes, salads, smoothies, or just devour a fist-full every chance you get. One of the few, rare “blue” foods that occur in nature, those juicy little beads of sweetness can stand on their own with a healthy dose of fiber, a bit of protein, potassium, vitamin c, anthocyanins, antioxidants, and a host of other good-for-you goodness.

blueberry muffins

So when I tell you this recipe calls for blueberries, do not be shy. Dump ‘em in! The more the berrier, right?

You’ll notice we don’t add any sugar to this recipe. A generous, drizzly pour of honey with some natural applesauce really take on the heavy responsibility of sweetening these muffins. It’s not a two-man job though, the lemon juice, vanilla yogurt, and of course the blueberries, all carry their own weight in that department, too.

honey and applesauce

However, just before baking, I do sprinkle the tops with just a pinch of raw turbinado sugar. This gives the muffin that glazy top that you’d ordinarily create with a streusel topping, but without gobs of butter and white sugar.

sugar topping muffins

I use half-and half all-purpose and whole wheat flours. This gives me the bulk of fiber in a better flour with the texture we’ve all become accustomed to with white flours. To make up the difference, I add just a bit of uncooked oats for more fiber and a denser bite.

baking muffin tops

After it’s all whisked and folded together, scoop that batter into a pre-formed muffin top pan. Roughly 20 minutes later, you’ll have a pile of muffin tops that are just jam-packed with blueberries! You’ll want to save them all for yourself, but they’re so darn cute that sharing will seem like a reasonable option, too.

Blueberry Muffin Tops
makes 6

INGREDIENTSmuffin tops recipe

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp honey
1 egg
1/4 cup natural applesauce
2 Tbsp lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz. vanilla Greek yogurt
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 Tbsp. raw turbinado sugar, optional

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl.

3. In a second bowl, beat the egg with the other wet ingredients.

4. Fold the wet ingredients in to the dry, then gently add the blueberries.

5. Lightly mist the pan with cooking spray, then add the batter. If you choose, sprinkle the tops with raw turbinado sugar.

6. Bake about 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

ALSO TRY THIS!

Turkey Burger Sliders with Blueberry Balsamic Reduction

S’More Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cake Muffins Recipe is In Season!

 

Recipe by Brandi Koskie; photos by Kacy Meinecke

 



DIY Flavor: The Best Herbs to Grow in Your Garden (or Window)

herbs

Have you ever considered getting into the whole herb gardening thing? I certainly have, but as always, I need a strong resource to wrap my mind around what is the easiest and most beneficial thing to grow at home. I didn’t find this quickie guide, so I did the research and created one for us all. It turns out herb gardening is easy and a super healthy and cost-effective way to add heapings of extra flavor to your food. Here are the best greens to grow in an indoor or outdoor herb garden. All you need to get started are a few pots, a little bit of soil and some seeds! 

 

basil

Basil
Basil is super easy to grow at home. All you need is some seeds and the sunlight. Basil is so versatile—use it in soups and salads or make pesto with it. It works great in Italian dishes (obviously) and it can add a fun flavor blast to stirfrys too! Basil is also awesome for clearing your skin and mellowing your stress. Who knew?

Try it in a summery peach caprese salad!
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2 Bloody Good Summer Brunch Cocktails: Blood Orange Mimosa and Bloody Rosemary

It’s 5:00 somewhere has got to be the best excuse in the book to grab a drink. As I write this, it’s 5:20pm in Lisbon, Portugal. By that math I could have a wine with lunch. But people would scowl and wonder if I had a problem.

And I don’t. Really.

Fortunately, brunch has made it acceptable to start your day drinking a wee bit earlier than lunch and way earlier than 5:00. The happy hour rises at dawn with mimosas, bloody marys, and bellinis! They really can be the perfect complement to a late-morning meal of fresh asparagus and prosciutto crepes or hearty frittatas.

We’ve made over two of our favorite brunch cocktails – the mimosa and the bloody mary. They use whole, fresh ingredients rather than junky mixers and have inspired new tastes on standard classics.

blood orange mimosa

The Blood Orange Mimosa uses three ingredients: Splashes of champagne, blood orange juice, and a hint of fresh basil. Your guests will be toasting you for this delightful addition to brunch. Prettier, sweeter, and possibly more refreshing than a basic OJ mimosa, this one is as charming as it is delicious.
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