3 Cheers for the Red, White & Blue!!

Those who won our independence believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.

~Louis D. Brandeis

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With patriotic colors adorning our table, from our home to yours, we wish you a very safe and happy Independence Day!

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Red, White, & Blue Snack Mix

It seems no matter how large our Independence Day cookouts might be,  the insatiable teenagers in this house always want snacks on hand.  Chips and dip is always an easy option for quick snacking, but sometimes it’s fun to change up the ordinary and make snacking a little more unique.

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This easy-peasy sweet and salty Patriotic themed snack mix is just perfect for the holiday as they can grab a handful while playing Bocce or Corn-Hole and keep moving.

Check it out for your own family!

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INGREDIENTS:

15 cups Popcorn (I used pre-popped by Cape Cod), divided into 1/3’s

1/2 bag of red Wilton candy melts

1/2 bag of blue Wilton candy melts

White Candy Sprinkles

Salted Almonds

Mini Pretzels (I used Snack Factory Mini’s)

1 Bag Red, White & Blue plain M&M’s (available only in May, June & July)

ASSEMBLING THE SNACK MIX:

Using your preferred method of melting candy, melt the red and blue Wilton candy melts.   Divide your popcorn into thirds; coat 1/3 with the red candy coating, and 1/3 with blue candy coating.  Leave the other 1/3 plain.  Lay out on wax paper and sprinkle with the white candy sprinkles and almonds.  Let candy coating harden.

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Break apart the popcorn mixture and mix in a large bowl with the reamining plain popcorn, mini pretzels and the M&M’s.

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Serve up in a colorful holiday bowl… and that’s it.

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I think the thing I love about this easy snack mis is that it can be easily adjusted for other holidays just by changing the color of the candy melts and M & M’s (think Christmas parties here).

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Give it a whirl for your next holiday celebration!

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Easy 4th of July Wreath

With the weekend off from work and actually finding myself at home, I managed to enjoy a little DIY time for myself.  July 4th is just a couple of weeks out, so I decided to take time and create a fun wreath for the front door.

The last couple of years I have tried a grapevine wreath and just didn’t care for how it turned out, so this year I went a different direction.  I used a lot of things that I already had here, only having to pick up ribbon & two floral sprigs from Michael’s to finish up. Taking an old Christmas wreath, I spray painted it black using paint.  This created a background that I thought would allow my red, white and blue to really pop.

Dollar General spray paint works just fine to cover an old wreath for this project.

Dollar General spray paint works just fine to cover an old wreath for this project.

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The wreath, baubles and most of the ribbon were things I already had on hand.

I took a metal initial that I have had for several years and attached it with hot glue.

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Next I placed red and silver Christmas balls around for a little something different.  I tied the ornaments on with royal curling ribbon and made little whimsical curls all around.  The red bow was made using 3-inch wired satin ribbon.  I also used sheer white ribbon with wire to make little curls scattered around the wreath.

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My firework topper for the wreath

 The firework element was made from a couple of red sparkly elements leftover from Christmas mixed with red, white and blue “fireworks” I found at Michael’s.

Curls and sprays and bows and balls add so many layers of texture

Curls and sprays and bows and balls add so many layers of texture

I was super excited about the way it turned out and think it’ll be a perfect decoration for the rest of our summer break.

Brightening up my front door

Brightening up my front door

If you like the firecrackers also decorating my porch, you can find the tutorial for those here.

A splash of color on my very neutral porch

A splash of color on my very neutral porch

Stop back by later this week for a little more Fourth of July inspiration!

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A Taste of the Fourth

We are traveling for the Fourth this year, but I wanted to be sure that our kiddos were able to enjoy a bit of the traditions we have held to for most of their lives before we hit the road.

 

For us its decorating and cooking out.  Nothing simple, but most enjoyable for our family time, which is super important to us.

My rustic wreath … a form wrapped with burlap material that I had, scrapbook papers and ribbon.

 

This year instead of hamburgers or ribs, I decided to go a little nontraditional & TexMex with marinated flank steak which we cut into strips for fajitas, corn-on-the-cob with chili-lime butter, cilantro black beans & of course something colorful and easy for dessert; cream cheese mints and a pavlova.
Easy to assemble, fairly healthy, and enjoyable for us all.
Here are a couple of the quick and easy recipes that made up our dinner, just in case you are looking for something a little different this long holiday weekend.
Grilled Flank Steak:
Marinade your flank steak for several hours in 2Tbsp. olive oil, 1/4 cup lime juice, 2 Tbsp ground cumin, and 3 cloves minced garlic.  Turn occasionally so that the entire steak is covered in the marinade.

Grill at 400 degrees for until the meat reaches your desired inner temperature.  We prefer ours medium.

 

Slice into thin strips and wrap up in your tortilla shells with your favorite toppings.
Chili-Lime Butter:

Take a 1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream and whip it on high until it is thick and the milk has separated from the butter, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove the butter and drain.

 

Add 1 teaspoon of chili powder (or more to taste), 1/4 tsp lime zest and the juice of 1/2 a lime to the butter, mixing thoroughly.

 

Spread over your hot corn.

 

Cream Cheese Peppermint Patties:
(I love these because they are so simple, can be decorated for any number of occasions and most everyone loves them!)
8 ounces of cream cheese, brought to room temperature
2 pound bag of powdered sugar
1/2 -3/4 tsp. peppermint extract, depending on the strength you prefer
Granulated sugar in red, white & blue (I used holiday sugars from Hobby Lobby)

Using a mixer with a paddle on medium combine the cream cheese & 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract (more for a stronger flavor) while slowly adding the powered sugar until it is mixed thoroughly.  It will be very thick.

 

Separate the cream cheese mixture into thirds.

Roll all of the cream cheese mixture into small balls (a little less than an inch), then coat in the colored sugar.  Place on wax paper, and flatten with a fork.If you would rather you can tint your mints and then dust in just white sugar.  I recommend that you use Wilton Gel for tinting.  Take a little food coloring to turn 1/3 red and 1/3 blue.  As you are kneading in the color if things get a little too sticky, add just a bit of powdered sugar.

Let dry, flipping over after a couple of hours so that the bottoms can dry as well.  They will harden on the outside, but the insides should stay creamy.

 

You can find my pavlova recipe here if you would like to try it!

 

 
Wishing you all a very safe and happy Fourth of July!