Posts Tagged ‘Summer’

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe |

I was asked by PAM Cooking Spray to come up with a healthy recipe for summer. I knew I wanted to make something that incorporated all of the incredible summer fruit I'm seeing at the farmer's market, so I decided a pie was in order!

But not just a big 'ol pie, but mini pies I could make in a muffin tin. I thought they'd be more portable and bite size, great for a picnic, plus aren't they darn cute?!

Here are the peaches and blueberries I picked up at the farmer's market. What I love about summer farmer's market fruit here in California, is not just how sweet everything is, but how complex the flavors. These peaches, for example, were definitely sweet, but they were also tangy and floral.

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe |

To lighten up the recipe, first, I used PAM Cooking Spray instead of butter or Crisco to keep my pies from sticking to my muffin tin (plus it made cleanup a cinch), and secondly, because the fruit was so rich and complex in flavor, I barely used any additional sugar. In fact, I used a touch of salt to bring out the sweetness.



for the Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
for the Filling
  • 4 large peaches
  • 1 1/2 cups of blueberries (~6 oz container)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
for the Assembly
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sugar
  • PAM cooking spray

We used the basic crust recipe from our Mini Cranberry Apple Pie Recipe. Check out that recipe for more detailed instructions and photos of the process.

Start by cubing the butter, and use a food processor to mix it with the flour, salt, and sugar for about 30 seconds until it has a breadcrumb texture.

In a chilled mixing bowl add 1/4 cup of cold water, and mix it with your hands. When the water is absorbed, add another 1/4 cup of cold water. That should be enough to pull the dough together. If it still seems crumbly work in another couple tablespoons of cold water.

With a floured work surface, knead the dough just a couple times to work into a nice smooth ball. Cover it in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Heat the blueberries in a saucepan until they start to burst. Stir in the brown sugar, salt, and vanilla until it is dissolved. Set it aside and dice the peaches. We kept the skins on.

Roll out the pie dough and cut circles about twice as large as the muffin tin. Thoroughly spray the muffin tin with PAM cooking spray. Push the dough down into the pan.

Stir the peaches into the blueberries and spoon into the muffin tin.

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe |

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe |

Roll the remaining dough out again, and using a pizza cutter to cut into 1/4 inch strips. Lay them across in a lattice pattern like this.

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe |

Beat an egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush across the lattice. Sprinkle a pinch of sanding sugar over each pie.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. until the crust is a deep brown and the filling starts to bubble and you can't resist taking them out of the oven.

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe |

Then enjoy your delicious, light mini pies. They're perfect for summer entertaining or just as a special treat! And I promise , they won't last long...

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe |

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe |

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe |

Leaving up to 99% less residue, PAM is your ally in the kitchen and allows you to save time during prep and clean up.

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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by ConAgra via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of ConAgra.

Summer Challah French Toast Recipe

Challah French Toast Recipe with Nutella and Strawberries |

I love the taste of challah. It's soft, light, eggy, and a tiny bit sweet. For those who don't know, challah is a traditional egg bread eaten by many cultures, but especially by Jews at the sabbath.

It's also my favorite bread to make French toast with, because it brings so much flavor and richness all by itself.  But this time I wanted to step out of my French toast comfort zone, and add some new flavors for summer.



  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 slices of challah (1/2 inch slices)
  • 1/2 stick of butter
Here's the challah I picked up at my favorite bagel store. It usually comes braided like this... pretty.

 Challah French Toast Recipe with Nutella and Strawberries |


Add the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla to a mixing bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined, then stir in the milk. Transfer the liquid to a flat pan (a square cake pan works well).

Put the bread in and let it soak for 30 seconds a side, then let it rest on a rack for at least 2 minutes.

Challah French Toast Recipe with Nutella and Strawberries |

Heat a skillet to medium heat, and add about a tablespoon of butter. Cook until browned then flip and cook the other side. Add new butter between batches.

I dusted my French toast with powdered sugar. Then, since I'm not a big syrup person, but I am a big chocolate person, I drizzled Nutella on top, and I added fresh farmer's market strawberries.

This is the first time I put Nutella on French toast and it is now my favorite way to serve it. Plus, the summer strawberries, with their sweet, tartness, added a layer of brightness to the whole dish and made it feel like summer.

My family loved it. I made six slices and they were eaten by my husband, daughter, and myself in about six minutes!

Challah French Toast Recipe with Nutella and Strawberries |

Challah French Toast Recipe with Nutella and Strawberries |

To go with my summer French toast, Nutella also asked me to share what music I'm listening to this summer. I'm loving a lot of songs this summer, but here are a few of my favorites (in a YouTube playlist) that make me happy, and that I thought would go beautifully with my French toast!  See if you agree...

Nutella® hazelnut spread is a happy start to every day! Pick up a jar of Nutella in the spreads aisle and enjoy it with whole wheat toast, waffles, pancakes, strawberries, bananas and many other foods. Nutella. Spread the HappyTM.

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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by the makers of Nutella via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Nutella.

Frozen Nutella Banana Ice Cream Toppers

Frozen Nutella Banana Ice Cream Toppers!

Nothing to me says summer like ice cream. Since I was a child, ice cream has always been my favorite  dessert.

One of my best summer memories is of my dad taking me out for ice cream to our local ice cream shop in New Jersey called Grunings. The best part was that I was allowed to order anything I wanted, and I always got the same thing... a banana split. My special banana split had vanilla ice cream with extra chocolate sauce and extra whipped cream. It was delicious.

I can still picture eating it out of one of those big glass banana boats. But what really makes the memory special is that it was time I got to spend with just my dad. I remember him being so tall and handsome. He had a mustache, wore tennis clothes, and drove a little Datsun 280z.  And I remember being so proud to be out with him.

So when I was asked by Nutella to "Spread the Happy," and share a favorite summer memory, I thought in honor of my dad and our trips to Grunings, I'd make frozen Nutella banana toppers.

These were simple to make. All ll I did was slice bananas and lay them on a sheet of wax paper covering a small cutting board. I heated the Nutella for 20 seconds in the microwave to melt it a little.

Frozen Nutella Banana Ice Cream Toppers!

Then using a spoon (and my finger), I coated the tops and sides of the banana slices.

I froze them for about three hours and then used them to top my ice cream! They are delicious, just like my old banana splits, and the best part is they make me think of my dad.

Frozen Nutella Banana Ice Cream Toppers!

If you love Nutella and want to share how you enjoy it, check out the Nutella Tumbler page!

Nutella® hazelnut spread is a happy start to every day! Pick up a jar of Nutella in the spreads aisle and enjoy it with whole wheat toast, waffles, pancakes, strawberries, bananas and many other foods. Nutella. Spread the HappyTM.

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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by the makers of Nutella via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Nutella.

Lemon Garlic Aioli Recipe

Lemon garlic aioli recipe |

I once saw a cooking show where an old French woman in Provence made the most amazing homemade aioli using just five ingredients (garlic, lemon, salt, egg yolk, and olive oil) and a mortar and pestle. What she was doing looked so effortless and old-school. And it looked so delicious when she was done. I knew someday I'd have to try it, to see if it actually was that effortless and delicious.

So when we were asked by Dietz & Watson, the maker of premium deli meats and cheeses, to come up with a sandwich recipe that would work great at a summer picnic, I knew it was time to try some lemon garlic aioli for myself. I thought... roasted turkey breast sandwich with lemon garlic aioli... yum.

If you know me, you know I love cooking with the freshest ingredients. So off to the farmer's market I went to get my garlic and lemon for the aioli, and my  tomatoes, basil, and rustic rye bread for the sandwich.

I bought a few extra garlic cloves and lemons just in case the aioli took a few tries, but it was actually quite simple and tasted delicious right away. It had a garlicky smooth flavor with a punch of acid from the lemon juice.

Some people prefer making aioli in a food processor, but I like the chunkier, rustic taste of using a mortar and pestle. Lainey, my daughter, thought it was fun to squash the garlic with it. This was her first time using a mortar and pestle and after we were done, she asked if she could use the mortar and pestle to squash up her own concoctions. We'll see...



  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 garlic cloves (medium sized)
Lemon garlic aioli ingredients |


Add the garlic cloves to a mortar, and smash them with the pestle. Work the garlic for a minute, then add a pinch of the salt and a drizzle of the olive oil. Keep working until you just start to get a paste like texture.

Now add the egg yolk and mix with the pestle until it is completely integrated. Keep mixing while drizzling in the the olive oil. Keep stirring until the olive oil is completely integrated.

Add the lemon juice, and the rest of the salt to taste.

Best served fresh, but you can refrigerate for a day.

Lemon garlic aioli recipe |

Here's the finished aioli. I love how velvety and rich it looks!

Lemon garlic aioli recipe |

To make my sandwich, I sliced off two pieces of rustic rye bread. I coated one of the slices with my aioli. I stacked it high with my fresh oven roasted homestyle turkey breast from Dietz & Watson. Then I added two slices of fresh heirloom tomato and two basil leaves.

Lemon garlic aioli on a turkey sandwich |

The aioli took the sandwich to a whole new level. It gave it a creamy brightness that brought all the flavors together -- the umami from the turkey, the punch from the tomato, and the herbiness from the basil. Serious yum for a summer picnic! Lemon garlic aioli on a turkey sandwich |

Dietz & Watson is running a Pinterest promotion. Visit the sweepstakes entry form to enter for a chance to win.

In 1939, Gottlieb Dietz set out to produce the tastiest deli meats in the Philadelphia area. Today, Dietz & Watson is one of the largest preparers of premium deli meats and artisan cheeses, offering over 500 products. But they’re most proud of what hasn’t changed: they're still a family owned & operated business, now in its 4th generation. After 75 years, the Dietz & Watson family is still passionate about what they do best—providing fresh and delicious deli products, from their family to yours. D&W Logo 2011, Premium & Expect

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Dietz & Watson via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Dietz & Watson.”

Watermelon Agua Fresca Recipe

Watermelon agua fresca recipe, perfect for summer! |

How about a refreshing watermelon agua fresca to cool you down this summer? Michelle from Michelle's Party Plan-It is here with a simple and delicious recipe.

Watermelon is a favorite summer fruit in our house, and what better way to enjoy this delicious fruit than in a refreshing agua fresca? Aqua frescas are traditional fruit drinks served all over Mexico. My family recently visited Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles, where we spent the day sampling traditional Mexican food along with an array of agua frescas.

My kids enjoyed the watermelon agua fresca so much, that they asked me to make it for them over the weekend.

Combining our traditional family recipe with the convenience of a juicer, I made them a batch to enjoy poolside. Here's my recipe:

Watermelon agua fresca recipe ingredients |

  • 1 small seedless watermelon (cubed)
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup water
  • Ice
  • Juicer or blender (if a blender is used, you may want to strain the juice to remove the pulp)
  • Star Cookie Cutter (optional)
  • Juice from 2 Mexican limes (optional)
  • Mint leaves for garnish (optional)
  • Thinly sliced lime for garnish (optional)

Watermelon Agua Fresca Recipe, perfect for summer! |


Using a juicer (or a blender and a strainer), juice watermelon cubes. Pour juice in a large pitcher, then add honey, lime juice, water and ice, then stir.

Serve over ice and garnish with a watermelon star, mint or lime slice.

Watermelon Agua Fresca Recipe, perfect for summer! |

I served mine in mason jars with cute straws.

Watermelon Agua Fresca Recipe, perfect for summer! |

Watermelon Agua Fresca Recipe, perfect for summer! |

Looks so thirst-quenching, Michelle. I could go for one right now as I sit here in my house and it's 87 degrees!

To learn more about Michelle, please visit her at Michelle's Party Plan-It, on Facebook, Pinterest, and Etsy!

And if you need more great summer party ideas and free summer party printableswe've go them too!

FREE End of School Printables for Kids

Free end of school printables for kids! |

To celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of summer, we're giving away these free printable last day of school signs by Michelle at Printabelle. These are the perfect photo booth props for end of school parties and also a special way to mark that momentous day in our kids' lives when the year is officially over (time is going fast, isn't it)!

We've got signs for preschool all the way up to 12th grade, so download, print out, and start snapping away and making memories!


And to get ready for summer, check out these amazing summer parties from our site and our free summer party printables.

Fresh Herb Party Favor DIY

Herb Garden Party Favor DIY |

Herb Garden Party Favor DIY |

I LOVE to garden. I love everything about it: the feel of the soil in my hands, the smells of the earth, the sweetness of the new baby plants. Gardening brings out the best in me, puts me in a good mood, and calms me like nothing else.

So, at my next party, if I can share a little bit of my good gardening karma with my guests by sending them home with fresh herb party favors, what could be better.

To make these party favors, I bought some herbs at Home Depot. Then I split up the plants (I got two favors per pot of herbs)  and repotted them in these pretty SOLO heavy duty paper cups.

Herb Garden Party Favor DIY |

 I attached a bow made out of grosgrain ribbon to each one, and used Glue Dots to make sure the bow didn't slip down the cup. Then I wrote the name of the herb on Martha Stewart Home Office Labels and attached a label to the front of each cup. Easy!

Herb Garden Party Favor DIY |

 Didn't they turn out so great? They're perfect for any summer party where you want to share a little bit of sweet smelling nature, and boy, do they smell sweet!

Herb Garden Party Favor DIY |

This is a sponsored post by SOLO cups, but all ideas are mine!  To learn more about SOLO cups and see other great ideas, head to the SOLO cups Facebook page.

How To Throw a Neighborhood Carnival


I saw a photo of the amazing carnival the kids in Jenny Dixon's neighborhood put together, and I was so impressed, I asked Jenny, from Craft That Party, to write about it. I  love when neighborhoods come together to do something great (something bigger than its individual parts), and that's definitely what happened here. Here's how Jenny describes it...

As the summer winds down, the children in my neighborhood start practicing their routines for a very special show. The Kids' Circus has been performed in two adjoining backyards for the last four years. To celebrate the 5th anniversary, the kids wanted to make the event bigger and better than ever.


We used four adjoining backyards this year to separate the talent show, food, desserts, and games. Guests were invited to visit each yard to enjoy the various festivities.

The stage was one of our main attractions -- the marquee sign with working lights was designed by Shane from Birthday Express just for this event! We covered four wood pallets with two large pieces of wood to create the stage floor and hung red stage curtains over two sets of curtain rods to create the backdrop.


The main show started at 5pm. Guests were asked to move to the main stage. The children had prepared wonderful acts: a fortune teller, lion tamer, fairy dance, gymnastics routines, magic tricks, songs, flying acts (involving a tire swing), bike tricks, and tightrope walking!







After the show, guests mingled through the backyards to enjoy food, desserts, and carnival games.

The kids enjoyed playing ring toss, duck pond, and clown ball toss. Of course everyone had to get their picture taken with the strong man cut out! backyard-carnival backyard-carnival



The summer days are short, but the memories made are long and cherished. Seeing our children take ownership of this event, watching their talents grow and blossom each year, and witnessing our neighborhood open their hearts and yards to each other is what community (and summer) is all about.

With the help of Birthday Express and costumes from Costume Express, the kids put on the best show in town!

To learn more about Jenny and read all about her DIY adventures, please visit her her blog, Craft That Partyand on Etsy, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Photo Credits: Allison Duda of A Joy Photography & Jenny Dixon of Craft That Party

{RECIPE} Italian Roasted Potato Salad


My husband is not a fan of mayonnaise, so I'm always on the lookout for non-mayo salads. I saw Mario Batali make this warm potato salad on The Chew, the new food show on ABC, and thought it looked delicious! Plus, who doesn't love Mario Batali! If you haven't checked out The Chew yet, you definitely should, it's a lot of fun to watch, and I keep getting great tips and recipes.

I wanted to give it a try, but I also wanted to make a few tweaks, like roasting the potatoes instead of boiling them, and substituting thyme for marjoram because thyme is one of my favorite herbs.



  • 2 pounds new (small) potatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon thyme + 1/2 tablespoon for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 shallot minced
  • fresh pepper to taste


Preheat the to 400 degrees. Quarter potatoes.


Toss the potatoes in a bowl with olive oil and salt.


Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake for about 40 minutes - until they start to brown. Halfway through I turned the potatoes so they would brown on both sides.


Here's what they looked like roasted.


Cook three eggs over easy and cut into slices.


In a separate bowl, whisk the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, mustard powder, thyme, and the minced shallot to make the dressing. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and top with the fried egg slices. Garnish with couple more pinches of thyme.


While it tastes terrific warm, you can also enjoy it cold.


The Chew celebrates and explores life through food - from cooking to food trends, restaurants, holidays and more all aimed at making life better, fuller and more fun. Featuring celebrity chefs Mario Batali, Michael Symon, and Carla Hall, lifestyle expert Clinton Kelly and fresh face of healthy living Daphne Oz, “The Chew” is a leap forward into a delicious new kind of talk show.

Watch The Chew Weekdays at 1e|12p|c on ABC!


Disclosure: Compensation was provided by ABC via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of ABC.

{RECIPE} Strawberry Ginger Lemonade + Fun Summer Shopping Ideas


Summer is right around the corner. In fact it's been so warm here, it already feels like summer.

As I've written in my blog before, we have a ginormous lemon tree in our backyard, so lemons are one of my favorite ingredients. I've already shared my lemon cake recipe and my lemon sugar cookie recipe, so of course I had to share my sparkling strawberry ginger lemonade recipe. This lemonade is refreshing and sweet. It's got a little spice from the ginger and earthiness from the lemongrass, perfect for a hot day!



  • 1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 12-15 lemons)
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large strawberries
  • 1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger (a little bigger than a walnut)
  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups of sparkling water or club soda
  • 4 cups of ice


Peel and quarter the ginger. Trim the bottom 4 inches of the lemongrass stalks, and cut in half. Put the ginger, lemongrass, salt, and sugar into a saucepan with two cups of water. Put it on medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until it is just about to boil. Then take the pan off the heat, and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Strain the liquid into a pitcher along with the lemon juice. Mince and add the strawberries. Now you can add the sparkling water (preferable chilled). Serve in glasses filled with ice.


I was also asked by Target to make a wish-list (scroll down to see it) of some of my favorite summer beach and pool items, including my favorite beach towels. By the way, I always buy my beach towels at Target. They're colorful, thick, and not too expensive. I'm especially loving the bright new patterns this year. I can already tell that my daughter will be all over that popsicle towel!

I also picked out some of my other favorite items like the hammock. I'd be so excited to have a hammock in my backyard. What could be better than lounging on one while reading a book. That is truly my dream.

I'm a big fan of the outdoor poufs. How fun would it be to ask your guests to pull up a couple of poufs to join the conversation. :)

One of my all-time favorite summer items at Target is their melamine plate sets.  I have a bunch of their white melamine plates and our family actually uses them all the time (not just in summer). I like this bold leaf pattern. I think some of the trays might work well with what I already have.

And finally, I love the big red outdoor cooler on wheels. Not only would it be functional for entertaining, but I'm grooving on its industrial look.


I always get excited for summer... long days, warm nights, and lots of casual get-togethers with friends and family.

It’s Time for Springtime.

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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Target via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Target.


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