grass courts & fire pits

watermelon sticks july food leftover 016 chip bags meat pickles buns july food leftover 192 dried play doh table july food leftover 153 peanut butter cup smores july food leftover 277My 4th of July holiday was filled with some of my favorite people and summertime things: a late breakfast, Wimbledon, grilled bratwurst, a rainbow of Play-Doh colors, shady backyards, and juicy watermelon sticks. I eventually took out my camera as cleanup began the following morning. That day was a little quieter, but it was just as nice: cookout leftovers, (grass court) basketball, and a patio fire pit with loved ones. There is something to be said for people who can lightly brown an entire marshmallow over an open flame. I am grateful, and I hope you made new memories this past weekend, too.

puppy love chow

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puppy love chow 092 smallYesterday my niece and I made Puppy Chow for a special Valentine’s Day treat using the “Muddy Buddies” recipe on the Rice Chex box. We never called them Muddy Buddies growing up, but looking through these photos, I can see the muddiness right before the powdered sugar comes in to absorb the moisture and soften the texture. I think the powdered sugar makes the crunchy chocolate peanut butter treat irresistible. My niece especially likes that step in the recipe, because she says it looks like a bunch of tiny snowflakes coming from the sky. The recipe is straightforward and simple (I don’t turn the mixture out on wax paper to separate, but I do put the mix in the refrigerator to set). For a finishing heart-like touch and added flavor layer, we studded the tops with white chocolate peppermint M&M’s: another sweet avalanche!

spookley treats

1 spookley square pumpkin marshmallow krispie treat smile 2 marshmallow pumpkins in pot 3 melting pumpkin marshmallows 4 marshmallow treat in pans5 orange spookley square pumpkin marshmallow krispie treats cut 6 green licorice pumpkin stem decorating spookley facespookley treat marshmallow“Spookley wasn’t like his friends — where they had curves, he had ends.” Do you know the Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin? It’s a colorful picture book that celebrates differences. When I spied the Jumbo Pumpkin (shaped, not flavored) Mallow Puffs at the store, I knew it was my opportunity to make Spookley Treats in honor of the charming anti-bullying story. To make them, I followed the Rice Krispies Treats recipe* (in my opinion, it is most tasty to use full-fat salted butter and slow melt the gooey mix on the stove top) and added candy for the features, attaching them with chocolate icing. I realize that the proportions are exaggerated, but I think it adds to their homemade charm. It would also be fun to make treats resembling each one of Spookley’s friends, because after all, every pumpkin in the patch has something special to offer.

*A single batch of treats uses 20 of the jumbo pumpkin-shaped mallows.

prefab gingerbread castle made fab

gumdrop snowman alien

candy plate decorating gingerbread castle cinderella candy castle coach cinderella mice candy castle roof gumdrop snowman alienI’ll admit that I was not thrilled with the idea that my niece chose a prefab Cinderella castle kit from the store for our annual gingerbread session this year.  She loves to bake and is now old enough to see the project through from scratch.  I was looking forward to designing our own charming chalet or creative candy cottage a la Hansel and Gretel.  In the end, the gingerbread castle we put together from the kit still allowed for unique touches.  My favorite parts are the mice dancing on the roof and the alien-looking snowmen with the blue eyes (all from the brain of the sweet five-year-old).  I need to remember that these activities are, above all, about togetherness and that the outcome will inevitably be as unique and fabulous as the individuals involved.