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!

red white and blue snack mix

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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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!

Pinterest Inspired Firecrackers for the Fourth

As I was walking through Home Depot with my husband Saturday evening he informed me that I am frequently the topic of conversation on Monday mornings in the office.
Really!?
How exciting!
Visions of all the fabulous things he might say immediately ran through my head.
Like the fact that I’m a outstanding cook, or an ace at managing our three teenagers without stressing, or a dynamite wife that can’t be beat…..
Alas, those are not the conversations.
His conversations start out more like this:
“So Chris, how much did Pinterest cost you this weekend?”

“Audley, we made “x” amount of trips to Home Depot”

“I feel ya.  Jen had us at Michaels 3 times this weekend!”


So much for the romantic husband who has so much more he could brag about.
Truth be told, we only went to Michael’s and Home Depot once (in the same trip) this weekend.
And I only spent $20 on my Pinterest project…. saving a little because I already had a little paint & used Michael’s 40% off coupons.
The project?
These super cute firecrackers for a little Fourth of July decorating.
There were several variations of these on Pinterest; from tabletop versions to this porch display.
I personally liked the porch display, so that was the direction I went.
Here is a list of supplies for this little project:
1- 4x4x8 (cut into 27, 30 & 33 inch pieces… Home Depot will cut this for free!)
3- 2×6 pieces of wood
(Check the scrap bin at Home Depot …. they may give you these for free or very cheap)
White Primer

Red, White & Blue glossy spray paint

24-inches of thick rope

White & Red paint pens (or acrylic paint & brushes)

drill bit (for drilling holes for the rope)
Screws or long nails to assemble the bases and posts
1. Attach your 6-inch square pieces of wood to the 4×4 posts to create a base for your firecracker to stand on.  2. In the top of your 4×4 post, drill a 1-inch hole the diameter of your rope for it to sit down in.  3. Prime your wood.  4. Spray paint the “firecrackers” red, white & blue.
After all of the painting is finished, write out which ever words you would like on your firecrackers.
I wanted mine to say “Snap, Crackle & Pop.”
Audley said that was a cereal, so I used “boom” to replace “snap”.
I do recommend that if you don’t have a steady hand with a paint brush to definitely use a paint pen.  You can really tell a difference in writing with a brush and writing with a pen.
The last step is to place the wicks into your firecrackers.  Audley cut the rope into even pieces and secured them to the base with clear silicone (and rubbed a little on the top to keep it from unraveling).
And now we have a colorful welcome at our front door!

Have a fabulous Tuesday!

Last Minute Ideas for the Fourth

Our teenage nephews are staying with us this week, bringing the total amount of teenagers to our home to five!  It’s been an interesting week planning meals because they seem to want to eat around the clock!  
We didn’t make big plans for the July 4th holiday other than relaxing at home, but I did want to make it a fun day as we cook-out and attempt to satisfy their ravenous appetites!
Little patriotic touches help set the mood and make a great backdrop for our cook-out dishes.

Decorating for a cook-out doesn’t have to be expensive or over-the-top.  A simple pinwheel made from scrapbook paper tucked in a pot of geraniums or colored rice in jars make for inexpensive and festive accessories.
Battery powered tea lights last longer than their traditional counterparts.  I found these at Party City.
Serve drinks up in Mason jars with straws that mimic fireworks. Scraps of red, white and blue material tied around them continue this colorful theme.
You can find these cute straws at Hobby Lobby
Then there is always the option of letting the food serve as your centerpiece.
I made this cake for an earlier celebration, but placed on a pedestal plate, it is perfect for a cook-out centerpiece.
For dessert tomorrow, I made “Cup” cakes for the teens.
{Audley & I have to pass}
I used the same recipe as I did for the cake above, but cut it into rounds and layered it in jars, using buttercream icing to separate the layers.  
Each “cake” was topped with red, white, and blue sprinkles and cute little pinwheels.
The Pinwheels are from Wilton & purchased on clearance at Michaels last year.
I love individual desserts. I always feel like I am making them special for each person who will be dining with us.  
Right now these colorful desserts are sitting in my refrigerator getting much attention.   I’ll be lucky if they even make it to lunch tomorrow!
I hope your plans for the Fourth make for many happy memories!
And, from our home in the sultry south, wishing you all a very safe and Happy Fourth of July!