charcuterie board with cheese meat and fruit on boat with wine and flowers
Nantucket Charter Boat Harbor Cruise with Shearwater Excursions

There is something special about being on a boat in the water, but add some of your family and friends, and it turns into an extra-special time together! I was so happy to have the chance to sail the Nantucket Harbor on the cutest boat called the Minke. Minke is owned by the Perkins Family of Shearwater Excursions. This easy-going boat party turned out to be such a collaborative effort, and I can’t wait to show you what was created for the fun cruise around the harbor!

The first thing I noticed about the Minke was its red and white stripe top- she is a beautiful boat that is perfect for a small group or a big celebration! I was thrilled to work with Rachael of Shearwater Excursions to arrange a beautiful night on the water in Nantucket Harbor. Our family friends, Lance, David and Thomas, joined us on the sunset cruise. Our cruise was scheduled for an hour and a half, and it started at 6:00 p.m. Knowing that we would all be hungry, Lance and I set out to find appetizers that would be perfect to serve on a boat. We decided on a charcuterie board so that it would cater to a variety of tastes with different cheeses, meats, fruits, veggies, breads, and crackers.

charcuterie board with cheese meat and fruit on boat with wine and flowers

The boat is named Minke after the owners’ favorite whale that they see on their trips with their company, Shearwater Excursions.

orange life preserver with minke printed on it in black

Because Nantucket history centers on whaling and because of the name of the boat, I really wanted to make the charcuterie appetizer in the shape of a whale.

charcuterie board with food in shape of a whale outlined with blueberries

To make the whale shape, I first outlined a whale shape on a piece of paper and cut out the shape. Next, I placed the paper shape on a wooden cutting board (or you can use a platter of your choice). I put cream cheese in a Ziploc bag and let it soften a little bit. When the cream cheese is soft enough to squeeze from the bag, snip a small hole in a bottom corner of the bag. Squeeze the cream cheese from the bag as you would frosting from a frosting bag. Outline the whale shape around the paper and then remove the paper from the board before adding the food to the whale shape. Next, Lance and I used blueberries to define the shape of the whale by placing them in the cream cheese. We ended up with two rows of blueberries around the entire whale shape. The next step was to fill in the whale shape with crackers, cheese, sliced meat, fruits, and vegetables. Lance is really great at making charcuterie boards, and he says the trick is to group like items together. Make it visually appealing by stacking the items in interesting ways. Lance worked his magic on placing everything just so. We added fresh herbs to different places around the board- and we used 2 small bowls to mimic the eye and the spout.

Cheese board charcuterie with nantucket basket full of pink blue green and purple hydrangeas with red and white striped fork

I placed a customized wooden fork in the center of the tray for easy pick up and had several others on hand, when needed. The forks were made by When I Was Your Age on Etsy and were purchased in town at the shop named ACK 4170 (those letters and numbers represent the airport call letters and longitude/latitude of Nantucket.) The cups, straws, and plates were also from the same talented ladies- the plates were boat shaped trays and they all had the pattern with red and white stripes. And, the flowers were straight from the yard! David so kindly cut and arranged the hydrangeas. The different colors of the blooms are so gorgeous- I love them mixed in the same arrangement.

pink blue purple limelight hydrangeas in nantucket basket ice bucket
Nantucket Basket Ice Bucket from Maizie Clarke Designs

I can’t tell you how much I love the Nantucket Basket ice bucket that Maizie Clarke sent me while I was on Nantucket. It is so beautifully hand painted and mimics the weave of a basket so perfectly. The ice bucket is made of porcelain with a woven handle. The top is also a perfect match to a Nantucket Basket. It is so well done by Maizie! We debated on using it for ice or fruit, but, as you can see, we used it as a vase to hold the beautiful hydrangeas. I will link you to the ice bucket here so that you can have one, too (also-the last time I looked, it was on sale!)!! Before we climbed aboard the Minke, I snapped a few photos of the flowers and bucket on the Straight Wharf dock…

white cake with daisies on vintage pink porcelain cake stand with hydrangeas in nantucket basket and with bar towel

And, that fantastic bar towel is also by Maizie Clarke! Maizie hand-draws each piece of art and then creates beautiful items for your home. I really love being able to use these towels in our kitchen, and I am so grateful to Maizie for such a thoughtful gift. I will enjoy these for years to come!

Cake with fondant daisies on pink cake stand with nantucket basket dish towel and ice bucket with hydrangeas
Nantucket Basket Dishtowel/ Bar Towel by Maizie Clarke

And, I am really loving the cake stand that Lance picked up at the Hospital Thrift Shop (all proceeds go to the Nantucket Cottage Hospital) on Nantucket. I learned the hard way that if you see something that you like, you better grab it quickly! I am glad that Lance snagged this beautiful pink, blue, white, and gold piece as his souvenir from his trip. I may have to ask to borrow it sometime! 🙂

underside of a Vintage cake stand in bright pink and white with designs in blue and gold

The gorgeous cake is from 45 Surfside Bakery and Cafe on Nantucket…they were so kind to create a cake with daisies to mimic another island favorite. Daisies grow wild around the island- I have always loved them lining the bike paths- and so we had a beautifully decorated white cake with fondant daisies and more blueberries!

party-ideas-nantucket-harbor-cruise-daisy-blueberry-cake

After Captain John invited us all onto the boat, he set sail around the Nantucket Harbor and gave us a narrated tour of the different landmarks and boats. It was so fun to hear his stories and interesting facts- he was a great host and captain!

Captain John on the Minke boat in Nantucket Harbor

To go with our cheese/ charcuterie board, we brought along some Prosecco, juices, and waters. We were treated to these fabulous MINKE acrylic wine tumblers from The Preppy Stitch!

Bottle of Prosecco with three acrylic wine tumblers customized with Minke and Nantucket Island

The Preppy Stitch is owned by Gabrielle Rogers- she and I met at The Southern C Summit in Sea Island this past February. It was so surprising to find that we had a Nantucket connection! I was thrilled to get to see Gabrielle while we were both on the island- and so excited to know that Gabi could whip up these customized glasses for us just for our harbor cruise! I love how they turned out with the shape of the island and the name of the boat! We gifted a set to the Minke, so be sure to look for them if you charter a cruise on this adorable boat!

Bottle of Prosecco with acrylic wine glass in front of man with Nantucket Reds

Lance and David enjoying a little wine and charcuterie while Captain John guides us around the Harbor…

two men on a boat one pouring wine into a glass

The views from the boat are so beautiful – it is fun to be up-close to the yachts and sailboats that are docked and moored in the Nantucket Harbor. It is also so relaxing and calming to just enjoy the breeze along with friends, family, and food!

red and white nantucket sailboat without sails

We chose the Sunset Cruise for our adventure around the harbor, but Shearwater Excursions has many options to suit different interests.

Nantucket sunset cruise aboard the Minke boat with red and white striped top
sunset in nantucket harbor with sailboat in photo
man on boat with sunglasses and navy blue shirt smiling and holding stemless wineglass
red cooler with shearwater excursions logo in the corner and the name of the boat Minke written in black ink
Photo by Lance Jackson of Parker Kennedy Living
Family with husband wife daughter son on Nantucket harbor cruise aboard Minke boat
Necklace by Cara Brown Designs
American flag on front of boat with sunset behind it

When you book with Shearwater, you can choose from a variety of options to help you see and experience Nantucket from the water.

Nantucket Harbor Cruise Options

  1. For the younger crew…I would suggest the ice cream cruise or the children’s fishing cruise. For the ice cream cruise, Shearwater provides the ice cream and offers a narrated tour of the Nantucket Harbor. My daughter has already said that is the one she wants to do next year. 🙂 . Such a perfect way to let the kids enjoy a fun boating trip! The cruise lasts 1 1/2 hours.
  2. If you are interested in seeing whales, Shearwater Excursions offers a Whale Watching trip- it is a 6-hour-excursion with the most breathtaking sightings (the whale sightings are guaranteed)!
  3. A Seal Excursion is another fabulous option- it is also an eco-tour and so you learn so much about the ecos of Nantucket. You see many, many seals on this tour.
  4. A Sunset Cruise is probably my absolute favorite- sunsets are always special- and they are made more special by being on the water with Shearwater’s Minke.
  5. The Cocktail Cruise is quite popular- many celebrations are hosted on this cruise with Shearwater. What a fun way to toast a bride-to-be, a birthday honoree, an anniversary, a new job, or other exciting milestone. All passengers must be 21 or older on this cruise.
  6. Shearwater also offers a clamming trip- learn something new or go dig for dinner! This sounds like an adventurous trip- I would love to give it a try!
  7. For you history buffs, take the Whaling History Excursion and learn about Nantucket’s robust whaling days. I am always fascinated by the courage of these captains and sailors who struck out to find whales in so much unchartered territory.
  8. You can also explore up the Harbor with Shearwater Excursions- they offer an eco-tour and they teach about the ecosystems around the island and how best to protect and preserve them.
  9. Private Charters are a really fun option for a Nantucket Harbor Cruise- these adventures are wonderful for family reunions, college reunions, wedding parties, birthday parties, anniversary parties, corporate parties, and more. You can work with Rachael to plan what you would like to host for your private charter. This one has an endless amount of options!

Shearwater has been recognized by Yankee Magazine and the New York Times for the services they provide their customers. I can tell you from experience, they are a wonderful family company with a heart for maintaining a healthy home for sealife while helping visitors to the island enjoy and appreciate the beautiful place we find so appealing and charming.

a black bottle of prosecco with a monogrammed wine glass on a sunset cruise aboard the Minke

Cheers to the Perkins Family for offering so many wonderful ways to enjoy Nantucket- and for treating us to such a wonderful night on the Minke! I love making memories that are special and unique with each trip! Thank you!

You can read more about our Nantucket adventures here, here, here, and here. Enjoy!

Cheers and XO,

Lydia

watermelon pizza sliced in a circle and cut into triangles topped with berries and feta cheese
15 Best Watermelon Recipes and Party Ideas

Summer is always a little sweeter with watermelon! As we savor all that summer has to offer (right down to the last little bit the season), it is always a great idea to take advantage of this seasonal fruit. I am sharing some of my all-time favorite watermelon recipes and party ideas that put watermelon center-stage! You can find even more recipe ideas here!

  1. Watermelon Pizza – this is one of my very favorites that I love to make for my family. It is also great to serve at a barbecue, cookout, or any type of group gathering. There are lots of versions, but here is the one that I make most often…
watermelon pizza sliced in a circle and cut into triangles topped with berries and feta cheese

Directions for making it are easy! Simply buy a round watermelon and slice it so that you have a circle shape. Cut the circle in fourths and then cut each fourth in half to make eight pieces. Add blueberries, chopped strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and cherries. Sprinkle crumbled Feta cheese over the top, if desired. You can also use a dollop of whipped cream if you would like- this will also hold the toppings in place better. Kids usually like whipped cream and adults usually like the cheese. You can also add your favorite herbs- such as basil or mint to give the recipe an extra dash of flavor!

Watermelon pizza with one slice being picked up

2. Fresh Watermelon Cake by Sprinklebakes

fresh watermelon cake with white frosting and watermelon balls and herbs on top

Oh, my goodness! This is such an interesting way to make a cake! I love that you can also frost it with whipped cream if you prefer- and I love that it definitely has a surprise inside than your typical cake. You can find the instructions over at Sprinklebakes.

slice of fresh watermelon cake with fork stuck in the watermelon

3. Mini Watermelon Cake from Pizzazzerie

watermelon cake in mini mason jars with pink icing and chocolate chips for seeds tied with raffia ribbon

If you would rather have cake that looks like watermelon instead of watermelon that looks like cake, you should try this mini watermelon cake in a jar from Pizzazzerie! The single-sized serving makes this recipe a great one for a party- and you can make it ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator!

mini watermelon cake in mason jar with layers of green cake and pink frosting with chocolate chips for seeds

4. Watermelon Sherbet Pie from Make and Takes

slice of watermelon sherbet pie with chocolate chips for seeds

This pie is cute and refreshing! It looks best when sliced and served because you can see the watermelon details even better. This is simple to make with easy instructions at Make and Takes.

5. Watermelon Cake from Cake Central

This cake from Lovemyhusband on Cake Central looks like the real thing until you slice into it and see the fluffy cake with chocolate seeds. This is fun inspiration if you are feeling creative! You can add watermelon flavoring it you want to be as close to the real thing as possible!

6. Cute Watermelon Party and Cookies from Sweet Peach Paperie found at The Party Wagon

red green dress cookie with black dots for watermelon seeds

These cookies remind me of a Lilly Pulitzer shift- they are so cute for a kids’ party or even for a summer picnic with all ages. This entire party photoshoot has so many pretty ideas and special touches!

7. Watermelon Ginger Mojitos from Southern Living

This adult-only cocktail is so delicious on a hot summer day! I especially love the extra flavor of ginger! Southern Living totally gets what we need during the dog days of summer. What a perfect party drink!

two glasses of watermelon ginger mojitos with ice and mint garnish
Photographer Antonis Achilleos, Prop Stylist :Kay Clarke, Food Stylist :Torie Cox

8. Watermelon with Potted Plant by Creative Orchard at The Party Wagon

Simply hollow out a watermelon and remove as much pulp as possible (use it to make one of the other recipes on this list) and then drop in a potted plant.

watermelon hollowed out and used as a vase for plant with red flowers

9. DIY Watermelon Balloons- also by The Creative Orchard featured at The Party Wagon

green balloons and red balloons with black seeds drawn on them to look like a bouquet of watermelon balloons

This is one of my favorite ways to add personality to balloons at a picnic or cookout- the seeds are drawn with a Sharpie Marker- so easy! This entire Watermelon Picnic is adorable!!

10. Watermelon Feta Guacamole from Two Peas and Their Pod

guacamole made with watermelon with tortilla chip

I’m a sucker for interesting combinations, and this guacamole lured me right in! It is definitely a twist on the traditional, but I really love the flavors. It is a fun dish to serve friends and family so that everyone can try something new! It has been a hit at our house! I hope you like it, too!!

11. Watermelon Feta Appetizers from Pizzazzerie

watermelon feta and basil on a wooden skewer

If you prefer a similar taste but individual servings, go with this recipe from Courtney at Pizzazzerie. Stack watermelon, feta, and basil and secure with a wooden skewer for serving- and then you are all set with a fabulous appetizer (and it is healthy)!

12. Fabulous Balloon Garland from Happy Wish Company

How stunning is this watermelon colored balloon garland? Such a beautiful decoration with so much wow-factor!

red pink green clear balloons with confetti drape to make a balloon garland

13. Watermelon Jolly Rancher Birthday Cake from Frosted Cakery

watermelon birthday cake with green white and pink and black seeds

If you need a fancy cake for a watermelon theme, this one is especially perfect for the candy lover in your life! With Jolly Rancher candy watermelon slices on top, it is definitely two favorites in one. I love the frosting stacks on top!

14. Watermelon and Arugula Salad from Barefoot Contessa

There is nothing better than the taste combination of arugula and watermelon, topped with shaved parmesan cheese and a fantastic dressing from Ina Garten!

arugula watermelon parmesan cheese salad

15. Watermelon Paper Cups with Gold Foil from Amazon

These pink cups with gold foil “seeds” and a two-toned green rind are my favorite watermelon cups for a party. Don’t you think they are too cute?

pink watermelon cups with gold foil seeds

This watermelon roundup is a fabulous way to find a range of party ideas and recipes to enjoy the oh-so-seasonal treat of a watermelon. If you find yourself wanting more ideas on where to find party goods to complete your look for a watermelon party, see my personal picks below. I included my Amazon affiliate links here to help you shop more quickly and easily!

WATERMELON DRINK UMBRELLAS

WATERMELON PAPER STRAWS

WATERMELON BALLOON SET

WATERMELON BALLOON GARLAND KIT

WATERMELON SLICE PINATA

WATERMELON POOL FLOAT

WATERMELON SPRINKLER BALL

ONE IN A MELON BALLOON SET

Cheers and XO,

Lydia

Recipe for Monster Cookies

Mmmm…peanut butter, M&M’s, chocolate chips, and oats combine to make the richest and most satisfying cookies you have ever had! Monster Cookies get their name from the large size of the cookie and the massive amount of deliciousness in each one! I keep this recipe in strong rotation, and I am always asked if I will share the recipe.

Recipe for Monster Cookies

You can serve a crowd with this recipe and so I often make these monster cookies for potluck gatherings, tailgate parties, summer get-togethers with friends, and as treat to share with teachers or family and friends. The oatmeal and peanut butter make them a hearty sweet treat- they seem almost like a meal in itself! :). I definitely suggest a glass of milk to go with it! These cookies are fully-loaded and so, so good!

Recipe for Monster Cookies

I actually just made these as a “Back to School” treat for my kids- they will be a great pick-me-up to pack in their lunches for school. A special little perk to look forward to and enjoy while they are also trying to get their school groove back in gear. My kids always seem to have a little bit of an adjustment from the summer freedom of eating when you’re hungry to the school year scheduled eating times. My son, especially, eats so much more during the days at home than he can when he’s at school. I am glad this is filling- it will help him get through that first week!

Recipe for Monster Cookies

I love being able to share the recipe for these super-popular cookies! My friend, Heather, introduced me to them so long ago~ and they have been a staple in our house ever since. I hope you enjoy them, too!! Here is a quick photo of the ingredients that we gather before we start (my kids love helping me make these- and now can actually make them all on their own).

Recipe for Monster Cookies

MONSTER COOKIES

Author: Lydia Menzies

Ingredients

  • 1 CUP BUTTER
  • 3 CUPS PEANUT BUTTER
  • 2 CUPS WHITE SUGAR
  • 1/4 CUP LIGHT KARO SYRUP
  • 4 teaspoons BAKING SODA
  • 1/4 teaspoon SALT
  • 2 teaspoons VANILLA
  • 6 EGGS
  • CREAM ALL INGREDIENTS AND ADD~
  • 8-10 CUPS OATS I suggest Quaker Old Fashioned Oats instead of Quick Oats
  • 12 OZ. CHOCOLATE CHIPS
  • 12 OZ. M &M s

Instructions

  • Scoop 1/4 cup for each cookie and drop on cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Depending on your oven, you may need to cook longer. The tops and edges should be golden brown when the cookies are done. Don’t overcook – the cookies will be dry.
  • Enjoy!

Here are a couple of other photos that I took when I served them- I have these small and really great wicker trays from Society Social that I use when I want to serve the kids something and make it a little more special. Anything works- but I also love these trays because they can bring all of the dishes to the sink and dishwasher at once when it is time to clean up! That way, nothing is “accidentally” forgotten when they put away their dishes. 🙂 I used flowers and lots of colors for my daughter and then used red, blue, and yellow for my son. He probably doesn’t notice that I change it for him, because the cookies are all he really cares about! Ha! I can’t blame him!

Recipe for Monster Cookies

You can also see how I used this recipe for a Fourth of July picnic here. It was one of my very first recipes I shared when I started blogging- so beware…it is equal parts funny and cringe -y (as my kids would say) to see the original posts on my blog. I love to see the progress this little blog has made over the years. Lol! Thank you for being here and for helping me grow! I really hope you love what you find here at The Party Wagon!

Recipe for Monster Cookies

Also, these cookies freeze well! If you make more than you need, or if you just want to save some for later…you can freeze these for a few months. Just take out to thaw and then enjoy all over again! Cheers, Friends!

Recipe for Monster Cookies

XO,

Lydia

Easy Mermaid Summer Frose’

A hot summer day is made better with something cool- whether you need this for a mermaid party idea or just a cool treat while you hang out poolside with your friends! There’s nothing quite like combining the flavors of Rose’ wine with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams sorbet. Of course, it is perfect on its own… but I love to add a little something extra. Garnish it with something fun and summery, and it becomes the easiest treat with very little effort!

Isn’t that so cute and easy? All you need to “make” this Frose’ Fun is

1 Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams Frose’ Sorbet

2. Sprinkles of your choice (I found mine in the baking section at Hobby Lobby). I mixed confetti sprinkles with pink and blue sugar pearls.

3. Sugar Mermaid Tail (optional) – I found these mermaid tails at Hobby Lobby in the baking section.

4. Mini gold spoons- I find the mini spoons at Hobby Lobby, Michael’s Craft Stores, or Party City.

5. Serve on a pretty platter! Prissy Plates sent me this bright and happy platter (as a gift) to use for my summer parties, and I LOVE IT! The bright yellow is a like a dose of sunshine, and the ribbons are inter-changeable. Prissy Plates sent me the pink ribbon with a starfish print on it and also the same print in royal blue! The platter makes summer serving easier and prettier! I also. love how, with a change of ribbon, I can use the yellow into fall and then again for spring. And, one of my very favorite parts about the ribbons is the fact that the bow comes pre-tied for us! All you have to do is weave the long ribbon through the spaces on the platter and then use the ends to secure the bow in place. They make it so user-friendly. You can find this exact serving platter here (plus several other styles and colors)!

So, I have to tell you this is one of the easiest dessert ideas for summer- and the sorbet is sooooo good!! It is a grown-up version of the Cherry Berry ice creams I remember getting at Six Flags Over Georgia when I was a kid! Lol! Those were my favorite treat in the summers- how nice to find one that makes us feel like a kid again while having Jeni’s signature natural flavors and colors.

If you aren’t able to find the mermaid tails, simply use your favorite sprinkles. And, one of my best tips for keeping it frozen in the summer heat… garnish the Frose’ Sorbet ahead of time and place back in the freezer to let it all set.

If you take the sorbet out of the freezer, decorate, and serve right away, it may start to melt on you. It really depends on how many you need to make at one time. If you have several to make, I would suggest making them ahead and putting them back in the freezer! If you’re only making one or two..go for it! It is the best sorbet I have ever had! I hope you love it, too! Here’s to making a splash at your next bash!

For more mermaid and “Under the Sea” party ideas, check out this fabulous party!

Still want more mermaid fun? Go here,

There is also more here,

and here!

xo,

Lydia

Colorful Fun Food

Making food look appetizing is always a goal, but making it beautiful, fun, and interesting adds an extra element of enjoyment! It is actually easy, too! I was so happy to discover fruit powders (I order from Suncore Foods) and to learn more about their superfood status and health benefits. It takes smoothies and parfaits to another level! I have made gorgeous yogurt parfaits for adults and adorable unicorn parfaits for kids- read on to see those and more!

My absolute favorite (so far) is the Pitaya Powder. Pitaya is pink dragon fruit- and so the bright, pink color comes naturally. Pitaya powder is full of vitamin C, protein, fiber, and essential amino fatty acids- along with several of the B vitamins.

For this parfait, I layered Greek yogurt mixed with blueberry fruit powder, plain Greek yogurt, yogurt mixed with hibiscus powder, and then the top is yogurt mixed with pitaya fruit powder. I used 3 different medium sized bowls to mix the yogurt with the 3 different powders. Blueberry was my second favorite choice, and hibiscus was my third favorite. Hibiscus is very tart and so be sure to use a smaller amount. I would suggest starting with 1/4 teaspoon of a fruit powder mixed with 1/4 cup yogurt. Add more or less according to your taste preferences. I always end up adding a little more pitaya. You can see the layers in the photo below…

I also love to garnish desserts with edible rose petals, and I find those at Suncore Foods, too. You can see them scattered here and on top of the parfait beside the blackberry. What you can’t see is the fruit that is in the parfait- but it is there! I love berries and chopped apples in between the layers of yogurt.

Another way to use fruit powder is to make a colorful fruit dip. Here I filled a platter with a rainbow of fruit and added small ramekins filled with fruit dip. The dip is a simple combination of whipping cream and lemon curd- and then I added a 1/4 teaspoon of different fruit powders to make each one have a different flavor…

To make the different flavored dips, I ordered a bundle pack that included 4 choices. I chose Butterfly Pea, Pitaya, Blueberry, and Hibiscus (clockwise from top in the photo above). You can see more of the choices in the photo below…

EASY LEMON FRUIT DIP

Ingredients~

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup lemon curd (you can find in grocery store pre-made or make your own)

1/4 teaspoon of fruit powders separated

Directions~

  1. Pour whipping cream into a bowl (cold, metal bowl works best if you have it)
  2. Beat until cream is thickened and then add lemon curd
  3. Whip until soft peaks form
  4. Separate dip into 4 bowls and add desired amount of fruit powder and stir.
  5. Refrigerate and serve with your favorite fruits.
lemon fruit dip with platter of berries kiwi oranges starfruit


UNICORN PARFAITS

My third suggestion for how to get creative using food powders is to surprise your favorite littles with a Unicorn Parfait! The parfait part is made in the same way as described at the top of this post. Simply mix your favorite yogurt with 1/4 teaspoon of fruit powder (each flavor in a different bowl). Layer each flavor of the parfait in a small clear glass or bowl so that the colors show, adding blueberries and/or strawberries between each layer.

For a little extra fun, I added a layer of sprinkles between the white and pink layers. The fresh fruit is also in there between the layers of yogurt. The marshmallow unicorn face is easy to make using edible markers and premade sugar flowers found at Michael’s. I used a toothpick dipped in frosting and then rolled in sprinkles to make the unicorn horn. Attach the horn by pushing it into the top of the marshmallow. The ears are snips of marshmallow made by cutting the top of a marshmallow horizontally and then cutting that piece in half. You can use frosting to attach the ears. Simply draw on the eyes, nose, and cheeks using an edible marker.

And then, the easiest part of all is to place the marshmallow unicorn on top of the layers of fruit and yogurt. Serve and watch those eyes light up with excitement!

If you want the unicorns to stand tall, just put the marshmallow on a tall wooden skewer or straw (or a wooden skewer covered with a straw). These are really fun to serve for a special breakfast or birthday treat. I hope you enjoy all of these ideas!

XO,

Lydia

dog themed party idea
Stay Golden Supper Club- Dog Party Ideas

Hi Friends! I get a lot of questions about the Supper Clubs that I host at our home for my teenage daughter and her friends. It is one of my favorite things that we do, and I am happy to share the ideas with you! My daughter and I usually come up with a theme together- and this one came about soon after we adopted our 2 Golden Doodles…

Photo by Lydia Menzies

It was an easy theme to choose and the details were fun to plan! We knew we wanted to use balloon animal dogs in the decorations because it was just too cute and perfect. Camille made all of the balloon dogs for us!

I often have to be careful about using flowers in our home because my son is very allergic to certain ones. I decided to try to make the balloon dogs look like they were running through grass instead of adding the balloon animals to flower arrangements. When I went to Lowe’s to find grass that I could use, it was very expensive…and so I decided to go with potted lettuce instead. I had gold glitter balls that I tucked in the grass to give the effect of the dogs chasing the (golden) balls.

I left the lettuce in the pots that I bought them in and placed them in a lined, wooden tray- which meant I needed to find a way to hide the pots. I found a colorful puppy dog printed fabric at Hobby Lobby and used it to cover all of the unattractive pots. I love how the fabric added an extra layer of interest and color to the main centerpiece on the table. I also really like the texture of the lettuce! On the second table that we set, the table was much narrower than the other table. Instead of a large centerpiece, I used individual pots of lettuce leaves down the center and added a balloon animal dog to each one by gently using a wooden skewer- be sure to place the pointed tip in the pot and the dull end on the balloon.

I transferred the potted lettuce from the original plastic container into a terra cotta pot and wrapped the colorful dog fabric around each one. I secured the fabric by tying a ribbon around the fabric. You can also see that the table was set with a white tablecloth and a fabric topper with golden polka dots. I used colorful plates on top of white chargers and matched each cup color to the plate color. The dessert cups were actually white with gold metallic dots, but the plate under the dessert cup reflected onto the metallic dots and made each cup look like it matched the plate. That was a cool but unintended detail. I will show you a photo later in the post that shows the gold color of the dessert cups so that you can see what I mean!

For dessert, we had 2 options. Camille made “Puppy Chow” that we put in the cups with a DIG IN sign. We topped the Puppy Chow with Scooby Snack graham crackers shaped like bones. It was such an easy recipe to use to tie in the theme. We used the recipe that I always made for my roommates in college- I think it came straight from the Crispix cereal box, but I am not sure where I got the first recipe. (As a side note, this recipe is also one that my kids make every year when we decorate our Christmas tree- we just rename it “Snowflakes”. It has also been a favorite of our elves and Santa Claus through the years! You should bookmark it for Christmas, minus the dog bones, of course!)

CRISPIX “PUPPY CHOW”

INGREDIENTS

6 cups Crispix cereal

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli)

1/4 cup peanut butter

1 cup powdered sugar (add a little more if needed)

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large, microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate on high for 1 minute. Stir and heat another 30 seconds on high or until melted.
  2. Stir peanut butter into melted chocolate.
  3. Add Crispix cereal into mixture and stir gently until cereal is well-coated.
  4. Pour powdered sugar into a 2-gallon ziplock bag and then add cereal mixture into powdered sugar. Gently toss the cereal and sugar mixture until well-coated.
  5. Store in airtight bag or container and place in the refrigerator or freezer (we prefer keeping it in the freezer).
  6. Serve after candy has chilled and set.

If you prefer, you can use a double boiler to melt the chocolate instead of the microwave.

The other adorable option we had for dessert…cookies from Tara of Bambella Cookies. Tara wows me every single time I order from her! I sent her a photo of our pups, Tuck and Blue, and asked her to put their faces on cookies. She did, and they turned out to be so cute! I also wanted to incorporate “Stay Golden” onto the cookies, and so Tara whipped up some fancy writing in gold, of course!

Of course, we didn’t only have dessert to eat! We couldn’t pass up the chance to have a “DOODLE DINER” and serve hot dogs with fun names for each hot dog… we served this as a hot dog bar.

DOODLE DINER MENU

TODAY’S SPECIAL- GOLDEN DOODLE HOT DOG (Just Mustard)

THE BULLDOG (because we live in Athens, home of University of Georgia Bulldogs) Ketchup with Black Olives

THE DACHSHUND- Just the Weiner!

THE HUSKY- Chili Dog

THE CHIHUAHUA- Salsa Dog

THE GREAT DANE- A Hot Dog with Everything

SIDES~ CURLY FRIES (because Doodles are curly)

GOLDEN NOODLES- Pasta Salad

DRINKS- WATER AND SODA PUP

DESSERT- PUPPY CHOW AND DOG TREATS (COOKIES WITH DOGS ON THEM)

We also decorated with gold balloons that light up- they cast a pretty golden glow on the serving table. One other simple detail that I quickly made was a welcome sign for the front door using typical dog commands…

COME (In)

SIT (Anywhere)

STAY (Golden)

As always, we enjoyed hosting everyone and look forward to the next time! We took a group photo after it was dark, but I am just happy we remembered to take one!

If you have questions that you would like to ask about how we plan our Supper Clubs, please let me know! I am happy to share! Thank you for reading- and stay golden! 🙂

xo,

Lydia

infused water
Refreshing Drinks for Summer

The summer heat always makes an ice cold drink taste so much better- and I want to share some ways to amp up your regular liquid refreshment. From mixing up an easy cocktail to getting creative with a glass of water, these drink ideas will put a little spark in your normal routine. Try one or try them all- and tell me below which one you think you will enjoy the most!

If you follow me on Instagram (and if you don’t, you can click here to follow!), you may have seen the live video that I did with my fun friend Ellen. Ellen and I created this drink for Mother’s Day and it turned out so great!! We were pretty impressed with ourselves with the finished product. Ellen figured out the proportions that we needed while I worked away at squeezing all of the lemons in the house!

As you can see from Ellen’s notes above, we started with 4 ingredients- but then decided to add a fifth ingredient. We added a lemon-flavored sparkling water to top it off. We really loved the flavor that the sparkling water added, but you may prefer it without. It is totally up to your preference, but I think it complements the flavors nicely and ties it all together! Ellen also wanted to use a flowery flavor and so she chose St. Germain to mix with lemon juice, a simple syrup, and vodka. It’s a perfect combo!

Ellen’s Elderberry Lemonade Cocktail

Makes 2 drinks

INGREDIENTS

8 oz. of fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 6-8 lemons)

2 oz. of Vodka (we used Tito’s)

2 oz. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

2 oz. Simple Syrup* (sugar and water)

Lemon-flavored Sparkling Water to top off

Shaker with ice

DIRECTIONS

*Make simple syrup (it really is simple!) by heating 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar and stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool before using in your drink.

Juice the lemons and pour the juice into cocktail shaker.

Add vodka, St. Germain, and simple syrup

Close shaker and shake.

Pour liquid into glasses filled with ice.

Top with desired amount of lemon sparkling water.

Garnish with lemon slice and a flower and enjoy!

INFUSED WATER

For another simple but delicious way to add a little oomph to your summertime drinks, try infusing water with some of your favorite fruits or veggies. There is a reason a spa always adds a little cucumber or lemon to the water that they make available- it is refreshing and healthy! I love this method for adding flavor to water while also adding nutrients!

For my family, I first tried 3 different variations in 3 different pitchers. These were our favorites in order of our favorites. 🙂

  1. Celery and Cucumber (adult favorite)
  2. Apple Grape (kid favorite)
  3. Kiwi Pear

To infuse water, all you have to do is chop the desired fruits and/or vegetables. Place the fruits and veggies in a pitcher of drinking water and let set for 2-8 hours. I usually make it at night and then it is fully infused in the morning.

After the water is infused, remove the fruits and veggies as they will have absorbed water and will not be so great to eat. My kids didn’t believe me and wanted to taste the water-logged fruit- they are believers now. 🙂 I did add freshly cut fruit and veggies to the glasses just before pouring to serve. A striped straw adds an extra fun touch and some extra color!

There are so many options of what to add to water to infuse it- from herbs to berries. I would love to hear some of your favorite choices! Leave me a comment and tell me what sounds good to you!

PITAYA SPARKLING WATER

Mmmmm…just typing that heading makes me wish for a glass of pitaya sparkling water right now! I have been so happy to discover pitaya powder to add to my drinks and recipes. The color is fabulous and all-natural- it kind of just makes you feel happy when you make it and drink it! This is truly as simple as it gets- and the return on time spent making this is almost foolproof- it always seems to be a hit! It is as easy as adding a pinch or a 1/4 teaspoon to a glass of sparkling water. Pitaya powder has a sweet flavor and so you can start there and add more as you like to discover just how much you like to add.

Another option is to make ice cubes using water with pitaya powder. Simply mix pitaya powder (1 teaspoon to start and add more if you like) in a small pitcher of water and stir well. Taste and add more pitaya powder if you would like. Pour the water mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. When the ice cubes are ready to be used, place them in a glass and pour sparkling water over the cubes and watch the color magic happen. Add a paper straw in a pretty design, and sip away!

What is pitaya powder you ask? And, where do you find it?

Pitaya is also known as dragonfruit. It has a bright pink natural color and is full of nutritional goodness. It is as healthy as it is beautiful! Pitaya is full of Vitamin C, Vitamin B proteins, fiber, and essential acids. It is known as a “super fruit” and helps with digestion, the immune system, and with metabolism. I buy mine at Suncore Foods. The ladies that run the company are wonderful to work with and really love what they do! If you would like more examples of how I use pitaya powder, I will share more soon.

I hope these ideas inspire you to perk up a plain drink or serve something creative and fun at your next get-together! I always love greeting guests with something fun to sip – and I enjoy making something special for my family on a regular night at home, too! Variety is definitely a spice of life and so I encourage you to spice it up with a simple tricks that turn ordinary into extraordinary! You know I love to hear what you think! Leave me a comment below and share any feedback or ideas that you have!

Happy Sipping!

xo,

Lydia

lemon white bean dip with rosemary
Lemony White Bean Dip with Rosemary

This white bean dip is so perfect for a quick appetizer to serve at home or to take to a party. My family always asks me to triple the recipe when I make it for us- they love it that much. I love how simple it is to make!

There was an Italian restaurant in the town where my husband grew up that served a dip similar to this. I always ordered it and so my husband and I started trying to replicate it at home without knowing the exact ingredients or measurements. I love how it turned out! It was coarsely chopped rather than mixed in a food processor when made at the restaurant. I share the way to adjust to the more authentic Italian way at the end of the post, if you would like to try it that way, too! Here are the ingredients you will need for either way…

I use reduced sodium white beans (you can also use Cannellini beans) and then add salt as I like. Regular beans work just as well- I just use less salt if I am serving with a salty cracker or bagel chip.

The first step to making this lemony white bean dip is to put the can of beans, 2 cloves of garlic, and 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice in a food processor.

Blend on low until beans are coarsely chopped, and then pour in 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and continue to blend until desired consistency- usually just a few seconds.

After the beans, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil are well-blended, remove the mixture from the food processor and transfer to a medium serving bowl. Next, you will add 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and 2 teaspoons of minced, fresh rosemary. Stir well.

A side note about using an actual lemon zester…I actually prefer to use a cheese grater to zest the lemon for this recipe. Simply, rub the lemon on the cheese grater over a plate or bowl. The pieces are very tiny and are so good in the dip without being overpowering. The zest gives the extra punch of lemon flavor that I love in this recipe!

I like the citrusy, lemon taste and so I use one teaspoon of lemon zest. If you prefer less, that will work too! Adjust to suit your tastes, but I highly recommend the lemon flavor if you’re a lemon lover!

Season with salt (pepper, too, if you like) and drizzle the dip with 1 extra tablespoon of olive oil to top it all off. I like to swirl it around and then garnish with a sprig of rosemary. You could also add a slice of lemon as a garnish.

Serve immediately with bagel chips, crackers, or a sliced baguette. You can also make this ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days. I actually love the way the flavors taste after it has been made for a few hours. I never get a chance to put it in the fridge- the crew at my house eats it all in no time! I hope your family and friends enjoy like mine do!

And, if you prefer the beans to be more coarse rather than pureed, you can achieve that by using a potato masher. I really like the bean dip when it is made with the potato masher- that was the original way that I made it. The food processor just makes it really fast and easy- and with less chopping because you can put the whole cloves in the food processor to be chopped. But, if you don’t have access to a food processor or just like the more authentic, Italian way- give the potato masher a try and see which way you like better! Just remember to mince the garlic. 🙂

LEMONY WHITE BEAN DIP

Ingredients~

1 can (15 1/2 oz) of Great Northern White Beans (or Cannellini Beans), drained and rinsed

1-2 teaspoons Grated Lemon ( also known as lemon zest)

2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice

2 (small to medium) Cloves of Garlic

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for topping the dip when finished)

2 teaspoons Finely Chopped Fresh Rosemary

1/4 teaspoon Salt (add more or less according to your taste preference)

Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS TO MAKE LEMONY WHITE BEAN DIP

  1. Place the rinsed and drained beans, lemon juice, and peeled garlic cloves in a food processor and pulse until the beans are coarsely chopped.
  2. Add 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil and pulse in food processor until well combined.
  3. Transfer bean mixture into a small/medium serving dish (this recipe yields about 2 cups).
  4. Mix in lemon zest and minced rosemary. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Drizzle remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over top. Garnish with rosemary and/or a lemon slice.
  6. Serve right away or store in refrigerator (covered) for 2-3 days. Serve with bagel chips, pita chips, crackers, sliced baguette, veggies.

Enjoy!

xo,

Lydia

P.S. My friends Lance and David came over for a quick lesson on making this bean dip- you can see our LIVE video here!

Pots de Creme

If you love a rich and creamy chocolate dessert, then this one is just for you! The name alone- Pots de Creme- sounds very fancy, but you will be surprised at how easy it is to make this decadent and delicious dessert! My college roommate and forever friend gave me the recipe after she impressed me with her fancy dessert on one of my visits to see her and her family. Her husband is half French and so he suggested this treat. She knew me well enough to know that it would be a big hit, and that we would basically eat all of the servings in one night just like our college days!

For this recipe, you only need a handful of ingredients. It is quick and easy to make- you only need to allow time for it to chill. You can find more elaborate recipes- I know they used to add in a step called a “water bath” to finish the recipe, but it just isn’t necessary to achieve the same result. I have also used a double boiler to melt the chocolate and mix in the cream, but I have found that letting the heated yolks and milks melt the chocolate in the blender is the best method for keeping it simple. As you can see in the photo below, it whips up to be so thick and rich… and so small serving sizes are ideal. I use 4-ounce ramekins and a small amount of homemade, fresh whipped cream to top the chocolate goldmine. Of course, you can use larger serving sizes and add more whipped cream plus any other topping you like. Raspberries and strawberries are always a perfect way to up the delish factor, but I am a purist when it comes to chocolate pots of cream.

Chocolate Pots de Creme

Ingredients

12 oz. bag of Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips (you can also go with darker chocolate if you like)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups whole milk

6 large egg yolks

5 tablespoons of granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions to Make…

  1. Whisk the egg yolks, 1 cup of the cream, the milk, granulated sugar and salt in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking and stir constantly for about 5 minutes until it is almost boiling. The mixture should be thick enough to coat the spoon or spatula.
  2. Place the chocolate chips into a blender and then pour the milk mixture over the chocolate chips. Use care with the hot milk mixture. If using a food processor, cover the open spout with a cloth to prevent the hot mixture from contacting skin. Blend until smooth– scrape the sides as needed to be sure it is all mixed smoothly.
  3. Pour the chocolate mixture into ramekins and place in refrigerator to set. The pots de creme should be chilled in 2-3 hours.
  4. When ready to serve, whip the 1/2 cup of heavy cream with confectioner’s sugar until soft peaks form. Fold in vanilla. Spoon a dollop of whipped cream on the top of each ramekin. Top with berries, if desired. Serve and enjoy!

If you would like to be more authentic in the way you serve this dessert, look for antique pots de creme serving dishes at antique or vintage shops. You can also find sets or individual pots online. The sets are tiny cups with one handle and a lid. A small spoon is used for eating from the small pots- usually a demitasse spoon. If I were to buy a set for our family to have, I would choose these…


Aren’t they so pretty? I also love the new set made by Mottaheda. The neutral color works for every occasion. But, clearly the decadence of the dessert itself stands alone no matter what you choose to serve it in- a simple ramekin works just fine, too!

I always love to hear how you like the recipes that I share! Leave a comment below and give me your thoughts. Also, if you have egg whites that are left over from making this dessert, you can use them to make this Pavlova! Sometimes it is helpful to be able to make 2 easy desserts at once for special occasions. Happy Baking!

Best Pavlova with Strawberries

I don’t know what it is about egg whites and sugar being baked at a low temp, but it creates magic in the form of meringue- and this meringue cake called a Pavlova. This dessert is named after the famous Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova…and I can see why! Light, airy, delicate, lovely, sweet, and beautiful~ does that sound like a ballerina to you? That also describes this easy yet fancy dessert! I am no ballerina, but just the thought of this dessert makes me want to twirl. :). I made this dessert as part of our Mother’s Day celebration- my mom LOVES strawberries and so I always love setting a strawberry themed table for Mother’s Day in her honor!

I doubled the recipe so that I could show you how beautiful the large Pavlova is as a main event (shown above) and how pretty and dainty mini pavlovas look for more individualized servings (shown below).

As a child, I grew up with my mom baking meringue cookies each Christmas and they were always my favorite. I remember how she would tell me that you could never bake meringue on a rainy or damp day- and so it would make it extra-special to have to wait for the right day. The humidity will ruin a batch of meringue- I have tested the theory many times out of impatience in hopes that each time my mom would not be right. But we all know that mom is always right- and yes, baking meringue on a rainy or otherwise humid day does not work out well. So, please keep that in mind when you decide to make these. Damp weather makes for flat and chewy meringues- I speak from experience! And so, I want to share the Pavlova recipe that is a version of the meringue cookies I fell in love with as a child. Follow the recipe below for an impressive-looking and somewhat fancy desert! It is so much easier than it seems!

I love the look of the big pavlova – and I would love to know which one you prefer (the large or the minis?). The biggest difference to me is in serving them. Below, I show you the Pavlova after it has been sliced. Expect the crust to crack and break a little when the dessert is cut. It gives it a rustic feel and is definitely not like cutting a flour-based cake.

Individual servings make the actual act of serving the dessert easier- it really depends on your guests and the feel you want to achieve. If it is more formal, I would suggest individual servings. If you are wanting a more casual feel, go ahead and make the show-stopping large version and don’t worry one bit when it cracks as it is cut. It is delicious either way!

This dessert is great for anytime of the year- but my very favorite time to make and serve Pavlova is during strawberry season. There is nothing like topping the dessert with freshly-picked strawberries and adding in other berries of your choice. I go with blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries along with the strawberries, but I am a berry girl. Choose your favorites or stick with just strawberries. If you want to continue with the strawberry theme, add strawberry touches to your place setting. This is really perfect for a Mother’s Day gathering. I love it when strawberry season and Mother’s Day collide!

Here, I used a white tablecloth and then added green pagoda wrapping paper down the center of the table as a runner. The gorgeous paper is from A Pretty Paper Company/Ruby Stripe. I love being able to change up the look of a table setting by incorporating beautiful patterns from wrapping paper. It makes a difference at a fraction of the cost of a customized tablecloth. Clean up is also very easy! No washing, dry cleaning, or ironing necessary when you decorate the table with a paper runner. Ruby Stripe sent me their pagoda designs in green and in white. I used the green background for the table and the white background coordinated perfectly with a small gift at the table for Mother’s Day. The fabulous compote that I used in the center of the table in lieu of flowers is from Parker Kennedy Living and is a vintage piece. I added trendy plates from Kate Spade in a strawberry pattern and her bright yellow china pattern to tie it all together. The adorable serving dish with strawberries in it and bees on the outside is from PKL-The Cellar.

Add in touches of pastel pink, and it will ground the bright, vivid colors and bring it all together. I added pink lemonade and pink satin ribbon to the gifts to bring in the small touch of soft pink that the table needed. I really love mixing patterns, and I feel like it works best when coordinated with white and with a solid, pastel color.

Here is my favorite Pavlova recipe…it is different from what my family usually thinks of for dessert- and they all love it. It gets rave reviews from the adults and the teenagers. I literally hide the dessert from my son so that he doesn’t decide to taste test too soon. He has been known to polish-off an entire dessert all by himself when no one is looking (which is also how we discovered his tree nut allergy when he was a toddler). I hope you love this as much as my family does. It makes it into the dessert rotation as often as I can- it is truly delicious! It is perfect for everything from a ladies’ lunch, to Mother’s Day, to a birthday celebration. Tell me your favorite topping on a Pavlova by leaving me a comment below and tell me what your family thinks of this dessert! Happy Baking!

Pavlova

You will need…

4 egg whites (use egg yolks to make Pots de Creme)

1 cup granulated sugar (spin it in the food processor for a few seconds to make it fine and it will taste even better)

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped Cream- made with…

1 cup heavy cream

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

Strawberries (plus blueberries, raspberries, blackberries if you like)

DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING THE PAVLOVA –

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You will reduce the temperature to 200 degrees after you put the mixture in the oven.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I have tried using non-stick pans without parchment paper and it always sticks- you definitely want to use the parchment paper).

Using a mixer (handheld or upright), beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. This usually takes 5-7 minutes depending on your mixer.

Next, add sugar (one Tablespoon at a time) and continue to beat at high speed until stiff peaks form. The mixture will be thick and glossy.

Add the vanilla extract and use mixer to mix it in.

Combine the cream of tartar and the cornstarch in a small dish and then fold into the egg white mixture using a spoon or spatula.

Spread the mixture in an 8-inch circle onto the prepared pan. Or, spoon small sizes onto the pan to make individual servings. The sides should be higher than the middle of the circle so that you can add the whipped cream and fruit to the middle.

Place the Pavlova in the oven and turn oven temperature to 200 degrees (F). Leave oven door closed and let bake for 90 minutes.

After 90 minutes, turn off the oven and let the Pavlova completely cool inside the oven. This step is part of the trick to the perfect Pavlova- I leave it for a couple of hours or more and let it rest. When you remove it from the oven, the Pavlova should have a crisp outer crust and will be marshmallow-like in the center. When you are ready to serve dessert, add whipped cream (see below for homemade whipped cream) and berries to the top of the Pavlova. Serve immediately and enjoy!

HOMEMADE WHIPPED CREAM RECIPE

1 cup cold heavy cream

2 Tablespoons Confectioner’s Sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using the mixer, begin to whip the heavy cream until it thickens.

Add the sugar and vanilla extract and continue to whip until soft peaks form (don’t over beat the cream). You will have around 2 cups of fluffy whipped cream. It is best served immediately, but the whipped cream will typically hold its shape for a day if tightly covered and refrigerated. Just as a side note, the kids and I tried using Cool Whip as a substitute for whipped cream. Cool Whip was no match for the real thing- the Pavlova is so much better with homemade whipped cream and it is so easy to make!

xo,

Lydia

Freshest Salsa Mexican Recipe
The Three Best Recipes for Your Fiesta (or Taco Tuesday)

We all know that having good food can make or break a party! Today I am going to share with you my 3 best recipes for a fiesta. These are my go-to recipes for any party, to be honest. You definitely don’t have to save them just for a fiesta. The Black Bean recipe is one that I get asked to share over and over! And so, here you go! My absolute favorite party appetizers for a casual gathering! They are easy to make and they always disappear fast! I like to serve salsa in an individual bowl for guests if possible. Here I used cupcake cups that are made to hold liquid. They are from Party Hat Paper Company.

This is my husband’s recipe for Salsa! Ron’s recipes are always so good- it can be hard to get him to write down the measurements for what he makes because he loves to just “iron chef” it – but I have been convincing him to write it down lately. My kids love this salsa so much- and I do, too- and so I thought you guys might like to have it on hand! It is soooo good!

Best Ever Salsa Recipe

One small sweet onion 

¼ cup of fresh lime juice (add more if you wish)

2 teaspoons salt

½ cup of fresh cilantro

Fresh jalapeño in amount of preference (half of a medium size is what I use)

6 to 7 medium to large tomatoes

Chop all ingredients to place in a food processor.  You will probably need to process in a few batches then final mix everything together in a bowl.  Serve with bite size Tostito’s.

Freshest Salsa Mexican Recipe

My second easy recipe- which is great for Taco Tuesday ideas- is a burrito bowl. I can’t tell you how much I love how easy this is!! My husband and I just put out all of the choices and then everyone makes their own! I love serving them in small pots with a large lettuce leaf for the base just for the fun of it- but they are also great served in a taco bowl. Needless to say, it works equally as well on any bowl you have!

Best Burrito Bowl Ideas

best-burrito-bowl-recipe

Yellow Rice (you can choose any rice you like, but we like yellow rice for something different) Other good choices are Mexican Rice or white rice with your favorite spices. Cook as directed on package

Black Beans or Pinto Beans Cooked

Torn Lettuce or Spinach

Chopped Tomatoes

Shredded Cheese

Avocado Slices

Salsa (see recipe above)

burrito-bowl-recipe

I saved my very favorite recipe for last. This is called Cowboy Caviar but, for some reason, I have never liked that name. So, Black Bean Dip works just as well for me. Anyway, when my husband and I were engaged, my coworkers hosted a Fesita shower for me. This dish was one of the appetizers, but I didn’t actually have any at the party (I was too busy being the bride-to-be). One of my friends got the recipe and then gave it to me and told me that I had to make it. I didn’t take her too seriously but she told me again that I should make it for a party I was going to – and so I finally did! And, the rest, is history. It has become my go-to recipe for anytime I need to bring an app to a party. I even had a chef once ask me for the recipe! I thought that was funny and was quite a compliment. So, here is the recipe…

black-bean-dip-cream-cheese

Cowboy Caviar

8 oz. cream cheese (softened)

15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed

4 oz chopped black olives

1 small chopped onion

1 clove chopped garlic

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients (except for cream cheese) together in a medium bowl.

Spread cream cheese on a serving platter

Add bean mixture to top of cream cheese

Garnish with lemon slices or pepper slices and cilantro.

Serve with bite sized Tostitos or blue corn chips.

Enjoy!

I hope this is a favorite at your house, too! My kids can’t stay away from it when I make it. There is something about all of the flavors together that are just so delish! Let me know what you think in the comments below! And, remember that you can easily double this recipe if you have a large crowd. No one will complain! 🙂 Have a great day!

XO,

Lydia