fresh finds for your taste-buds

I’ve been searching for summer-friendly recipes that don’t require me to fire up my oven and heat up the house. Once 70 degrees rolls around (and I should note — when it actually stays, unlike the freak May snowfall we had this year), I crave cool fruits, spiced up salads, and grilled favorites at all hours of the day. Below are some of my recent favorite discoveries. Enjoy!

  • Easy Sesame Noodles from Let’s Dish: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s Simple Sesame Noodles, Danelle offers a few suggestions for those of us who may not have hot chili oil or canola oil in our cupboards: substitute olive oil and hot water, along with red pepper flakes. I also added a dash of sriracha sauce — a delicious hot sauce that I discovered during a trip to Noodles and Company. I love it and even put it on pizza!
  • Healthy No Bake Granola Bars from Minimalist Baker: 5 ingredients. Yes, you’re reading correctly: 5! I had never worked with dates before, but found them by the dried fruit in our produce area at our local Hy-Vee. My boyfriend works at another Hy-Vee and commented that they’re located in the baking aisle in his, so be sure to check both locations. These were incredibly easy.  I didn’t have salted peanut butter on hand, so I just added some sea salt to the top before popping them in the freezer. I also added a few pinches of cinnamon as I’ve been trying to get rid of the 78 cinnamon containers on my spice rack (I seem to forget that I already have cinnamon on hand when a recipe calls for it). They’ve definitely changed my breakfast life. I’m not a fan of breakfast food, but it’s important to eat a little something to avoid the embarrassing stomach grrrrowling at your desk. I’ll never buy store-bought granola bars again. Really.
  • Healthy Peanut Butter, Banana, and Honey Milkshake from An Edible Mosaic: If I could eat ice cream every minute of my life, I would. This is a delicious chilled treat that has the consistency of ice cream, but is much better for you. I added a few chocolate chips to the top and, bingo, my Game of Thrones viewing just became that much better. The serving amount is plenty, too.
  • Grilled (or roasted!) Cabbage from Green Lite Bites: My mom makes stove-top fried cabbage with vinegar and this is the next best thing! I often forget about cabbage being a grilling vegetable, so this was a wonderful reminder.
  • Raspberry Tiramisu from Sophistimom: A great no-bake dessert for summer! This would be perfect for a 4th of July celebration (you could use raspberries and blueberries to fashion an edible flag — ugh, I’ve looked at Pinterest too much recently), a pot-luck, or just forever at home within your refrigerator.

Let’s not forget liquid recipes! I purchased a new Infuser Water Bottle (note: at time of purchase, it was cheaper to order on manufacture’s web site vs. Amazon) a few days ago and am looking forward to trying raspberry, mint, kiwi, and strawberries in my water. Goodbye, Propel Grape Water! I will not miss you. Find over 50 ideas of what to flavor your water with on over at 52 Kitchen Adventures.

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make your own spring wreath

I had the strange itch to create something for my entryway last night. It’s rare that I venture into a craft store, so this was a bit out-of-the-norm for me.

I settled on making a spring wreath in a matter of a few seconds. This was my time ever using a hot glue gun! That should tell you how easy this project is. It would be a great idea for gifts, too: Mother’s Day, showing appreciation to your child’s teacher, etc. I plan to head to the craft store the next time I’m in my hometown, let my grandmother pick out her own colors, and then make one for her door together.

Items you will need:

  • Scissors
  • Foam wreath (mine is 16″)
  • Felt pieces (I used 9″ x 12″)
  • Yarn (I bought two spools in different shades of green)
  • Hot glue gun with 5-6 glue sticks
  • Ribbon to hang the wreath from
  • A bowl to trace circles with (I just used a plain cereal bowl) **
  • Pen to trace on the felt **

I hot-glued the ends of the yarn to the wreath and spun away. It took me a good half of I, Robot to do so as I wasn’t in a rush. It’s good to note that a regular spool of thread should last you two wreaths — I wasn’t sure if I would need more yarn if I decided to make another as a gift. Don’t over-think how you cut the felt for your flowers. Thankfully, felt is extremely forgiving. I messed up several times and can’t tell from the final product. Lines do not have to be straight.

Helpful links if you’re unsure of the entire flower creating process like I was:

  • Chrysanthemums: check out Infarrantly Creative to see how creating different types of cuts makes your flowers look different from one another. I’m glad I came across this site, since I’m not sure I would have put two-and-two together and bothered to do this on my own wreath had I not stumbled upon it. Craft Snob also has a nice guide with photographs of each step.
  • ** Rosettes: I thought this was more complicated than it actually is at first after reading Mrs. Priss’ tutorial. You really don’t need to do any tracing aside from the circle. After a few flowers, I even started free-handing that. I found the flowers looked better if I literally just cut a long strip and didn’t worry about fluctuating the spiral. Just go with it!
  • Blooms: Keeping Life Creative has a great little guide on how to make two different types of blooms. I didn’t use either of these designs, but I was eyeing them before starting.

Bring as many coupons to your local craft store with you as you can. JoAnn’s accepts coupons online and they accept competitor coupon’s, as well. I didn’t know this and have an extremely awful printer, so I came to the store and quickly grabbed one of their sales flyers from the front door to snab the 15% your purchase coupon. But, after watching someone in front of me have her phone scanned, I excused myself from the line and quickly searched for “JoAnn’s 40% off one item” and found a coupon on an external site. An extra few minutes saved me $4!

Scan the clearance bins. You can easily find the ribbon, for example, for less than 50 cents. There’s a lot of ways to cut down on project costs. I ended up making my wreath for less than $10.

Looking for color inspiration? Check out the creative things others have done.