Today is Harry Potter’s birthday! Someone out there, please reassure me you already knew that and I’m not alone in my love of all things Harry Potter. When book 7 came out I was on vacation with my family for a wedding out in California. I made sure to get in line to get early access to the book and I managed to finish the final Harry Potter book before the wedding that night.
When the final movie was released I had a multi-day viewing party with a themed food for each viewing. The first thing I did was make some cups to drink my Harry Potter themed drinks in. Even a house like Hufflepuff deserves a mug.
The mug itself was fun to design. I found some images for each Harry Potter house and used some software to edit them so I could cut them out with my Cricut. I placed a Cricut vinyl sheet into my Cricut and cut out the design with that so I could adhere the stencil to a Target-brand mug. Then I filled the gaps in the stencil in with some Armour Etch. You just dab the Armour Etch on with a foam brush and let it sit for a few minutes before washing it and the stencil off. The glasses are dishwasher safe and make great party favors- I made a batch for a group of friends for another themed movie night.
The glass was a perfect container for my homemade butterbeer. I haven’t made it to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter but this is a tasty drink to make at home. I followed a recipe from Chica and Jo and had great success.
Drink #2 was some homemade pumpkin juice, this time displayed in a Slytherin mug. The recipe comes from Party Through the Parks, though I substituted Agave Nectar for Pear Nectar. I’m more of a butterbeer girl but pumpkin juice has a nice flavor to it. Speaking of butterbeer…
The butterbeer cupcakes from AmyBITES are amazing. They were my second favorite creation of the week (second to only butterbeer) and were excellent when paired with its namesake.
Movie night #4 featured a Bouillabaisse in honor of one of the dishes served during the welcoming feast for guests from Beauxbatons Academy. Every Harry Potter party needs a main course but it also needs an appetizer. Movie night #5 featured a sorting hat bread with several dips. Diamonds for Dessert has a great tutorial for making a shaped sorting hat. My version required more flour thanks to the Missouri humidity and it came out a little cranky but still recognizable.
And what’s a party without a dessert? For my Harry Potter themed dessert I made some Oreo truffles. Instead of dipping them in milk chocolate or dark chocolate I dipped them in some yellow candy melts. I also attached some white chocolate wings I had piped and made some flying snitches. I will admit that I only ended up making one with wings and the rest of the wings went straight into my mouth. They just tasted too good!
Now you know one of my biggest secrets: I have a weakness for themed parties and celebrations. I’ve been known to have Election night parties, a luau where my dog wore a Hawaiian skirt, and even sparkly vampire parties. Parties are a great way for me to get together with friends and family and have fun with corny foods and props.Pin It
Is anyone as obsessed with the Olympics as I am? Back in 1996 I watched the Atlanta games obsessively. I still have a tote bag my mom bought me with the logo on it. I wrote a report on the US Women’s Olympic gymnastics team, nicknamedThe Magnificent Seven. I wrote to all the women on the team and just this week I broke out the 5 responses I received (I’m still waiting on you Shannon Miller and Dominique Moceanu). My husband wasn’t sure whether to be amazed at the stuff I hold onto or disturbed about my fandom until I broke out my books published back then. I didn’t even show him the poster I had!
In an effort to show off my super nerdy side, I made a dessert perfect for your Opening Ceremony party. What’s that you say, you aren’t having an Opening Ceremony party? IT IS NOT TOO LATE! You are so lucky I’m here. Do it for America, do it for me, do it for your love of all things miniature, or do it because cherries are on sale this week. You need these mini cherry pies and any reason will do.
These mini cherry pies use a store-bought pie crust for convenience but you can easily use your own favorite recipe. You might just need to adjust your filling levels to fit. The filling I use here comes from Recipe Girl and it’s a great tart base. You could go with a premade cherry pie filling but you’ll have a sweeter final result and fresh cherries are so worth it.
I used a small star cookie cutter to cut out some star designs and I rolled some dough out and cut it with a pizza cutter to form stripes. Have fun with these designs and sprinkle them with plenty of sugar before baking.
- 1 package of ready-made pie crusts (or make homemade)
- 2 1/2 cups pitted & halved fresh sweet cherries (about 3/4 pound)
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 Tablespoons milk or cream
- coarse grain sugar, optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8 of your cups in a muffin tin with nonstick spray.
- Roll out the pie crust into a thinner layer. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out 5 inch rings. You'll want to cut out 8 rings. Set your extra crust aside.
- Line your 8 prepared muffin cups with the dough starting from the center and pulling up the sides.
- In a large bowl, stir together cherries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cornstarch and salt. Spoon mixture into your pie crusts.
- Use your leftover pie crust to cut out designs. Stars and stripes are perfect!
- Combine your egg yolk and milk/cream to form an egg wash. Brush the wash lightly over your pies and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
- Bake 20-25 minutes (watching carefully) until crusts are browned and the filling starts bubbling.
- Cool at least 15 minutes before eating. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Did you know yesterday was National Ice Cream Day? I didn’t until I already had made my latest batch of homemade ice cream. I think it was fate that brought us together. That or David Lebovitz- whose ice cream recipe I’ve adapted for today’s ice cream. This is my final recipe left from my blueberry picking day. Sadly the patch has all been picked so now I’ll have to go to the grocery store if I want any more berry recipes.
I wanted one last recipe that tasted like blueberries and cream so I decided to go the ice cream route. I had some graham crackers leftover from my other desserts so I incorporated them into the sweet cream base of this ice cream. I heated up my berries with some sugar and boiled out some of the excess water (taking a cue from Jeni and her splendid recipes) and incorporated that into the final product.
The result? a creamy graham cracker ice cream base with tart blueberries swirled in. Blueberry pie ice cream is an improvement on the usual blueberries and cream.
- 1 1/2 cups blueberries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 graham crackers
- 2 cups cream, divided
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- In a small saucepan heat blueberries and sugar over medium high heat. As you stir, press the blueberries against the side of the pan to help release the juices.
- After 8 minutes, pour into a small bowl and place in the fridge to chill for an hour.
- Grind the graham crackers into crumbs using a food processor or with a Ziplock bag and a rolling pin. Completely crush them and set aside.
- In a medium sized pot, heat 1 cup of cream with sugar and salt. Over medium heat, stir the mix together until the sugar has fully dissolved.
- Remove pot from heat and stir in the remaining cream, milk, and vanilla. Add the graham cracker crumbs and stir till just combined. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
- After the ice cream base is fully chilled, pour it into your ice cream mixer and let it run for about 30 minutes (or the time indicated by your device).
- During the last 5 minutes of your ice cream maker's run, pull the blueberry mix out of your fridge. Lightly cover the base of a metal loaf pan with blueberry mix. When the ice cream finishes mixing, pour 1/3 of the ice cream into your pan. Top with 1/2 of the blueberry mix, then layer another 1/3 of the ice cream.
- Finish by layering the remaining blueberry mix and then the last 1/3 of ice cream into the pan. Run a knife through to gently swirl the mix together and refrigerate overnight before serving.
I mentioned last week that I’d made two blueberry cheesecake dishes and one was a White Chocolate Blueberry Cheesecake for my husband. The other is today’s recipe, a Blueberry Cheesecake Pie. The recipe comes from Mel at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. This cheesecake doesn’t even require a springform pan or a water bath so it’s a very easy recipe to make.
This dish is a perfect summer dish. Blueberries with cheesecake and lemon are pretty much the best thing ever. It’s a smaller portion than the cheesecake I made and a lot easier if you’re looking for a no-fail cheesecake. This recipe has more of a lemon taste and the blueberry flavor comes from a jam you make for the top of the dish. You bake the crust, then the cheesecake, and then pour warm berries on the warm cheesecake so it sets in one big pie. My dad sure gobbled it up. (That’s him holding his piece below)
Recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
- 9 large rectangular graham crackers, crushed
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 eggs
- Freshly grated zest from 1 lemon
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water
- In a small bowl, combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar and butter.
- Pat the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and bake for 8 minutes at 325 degrees. Let the crust cool completely.
- After the crust cools, zest your lemon into a medium bowl. Add in the cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice and and beat until smooth. Mix in the eggs until just combined.
- Pour into the graham cracker crust and bake 25 minutes at 325 degrees.
- While the custard is baking, combine the berries, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat and add the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook for one minute, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened. Remove from the heat and cool until the mix is warm but no longer hot.
- After the cheesecake is finished, leave it out until the berries are warm. Spoon the berries over the cheesecake and chill for 1 hour.
It’s almost time for the 4th of July and if you’re anything like me you hardly need the holiday to make a dessert. I love making a jello poke cake for the 4th of July because I always associates poke cakes with summers and being a kid. Food seems to connect us back.
This is a simple enough recipe. You prepare a box of white cake mix (or your favorite recipe) into two round pans, bake, and cool. You can poke holes in the cakes with straws or toothpicks- I like to mix it up. Then you chill the whole thing before assembling with cool whip as your frosting.
- 2 (9-inch) round white cake layers, baked and cooled
- 2 cups boiling water, divided
- 1 pkg. (3 oz.) JELL-O Strawberry Jello
- 1 pkg. (3 oz.) JELL-O Berry Blue Jello
- 1 tub (8 oz.) Cool Whip, thawed
- Prepare your cake if you haven't already. Bake and let cool according to box instructions.
- Pierce the top side of the cake with toothpicks or a straw, about 1/2 inch apart.
- Pour each Jello flavor into its own bowl. Add 1 cup boiling water to each bowl and stir for 2 minutes until the Jello is dissolved.
- Gently spoon the strawberry Jello over one cake and then spoon the berry blue Jello over the other cake. Chill cakes for 3 hours.
- Dip the bottom of the cake pans in warm water and gently remove the cakes from the pans. Place your blue cake on a serving plate and top with cool whip. Add the red cake and finish icing the cakes together with cool whip. Chill 1 additional hour before serving.
After blueberry picking and making some blueberry muffins, I still had a ton of blueberries left. I had plans to make my dad a cheesecake for Father’s Day and my husband sounded a little jealous of my dad getting a cheesecake and I had plenty of berries so I figured why not make 2?
Today’s recipe focuses on the cheesecake I made my husband. He loves cheesecake and every year for Christmas I make him a raspberry cheesecake. Since I had blueberries on hand, I wanted to adapt that recipe to fit with the season. It was a bit of a test but I’m happy to report it worked out splendidly.
To make this cheesecake, you’ll want to prepare a graham cracker crust first and freeze it while you prepare the blueberry sauce. After the sauce is cooked, let it cool while you make the cheesecake filling. Then it’s time to assemble the cheesecake. You’ll pull the crust out of the freezer and sprinkle some white chocolate chips onto the crust. Pour half the cheesecake into the springform pan. Then you’ll pour some blueberry sauce over the cheesecake and swirl it in.
Finish by pouring the rest of the cheesecake in the pan. You can add more blueberry sauce and swirl it in or make a fun design. To make this pattern, I piped circles of sauce onto the cheesecake and swirled from the center to the outside of the cheesecake to form a firecracker pattern.
If you end up with blueberry sauce leftover like I did, save it and make some pancakes for breakfast. The sauce is a perfect pancake syrup and adds a lot of flavor.
- 1 1/2 cups graham crackers (about 9 graham crackers)
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
- 4-8 oz packages cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 5 eggs
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
- Crush 9 large graham crackers by hand or in a blender. Pour into a medium bowl and mix in 1/3 cup melted butter. Mix until well combined.
- Line the outside of a 9-inch springform pan with foil. Repeat until about 3 layers protect the pan.
- Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and use the bottom of a drinking glass to press the mixture flat into the pan and up the sides to form a crust. Put the crust in your freezer until the filling is done.
- Over medium heat, combine cold water, blueberries, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Add in sugar and cornstarch and bring to a boil.
- Boil for 30 seconds while whisking. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl to remove the blueberry skins. Set the sauce aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Fill a large roasting pan with 1/2 inch of water and leave it on the lower rack of your oven while the oven preheats.
- Use a hand mixer to combine the cream cheese, sugar, and sour cream. Mix on low until smooth and creamy. Be careful not to whip the mixture, too much air will cause the cheesecake to collapse or crack.
- Add the vanilla and eggs and blend just until incorporated.
- Pull the crust from your freezer and sprinkle the white chocolate chips into the bottom of the crust. Pour half of the cheesecake filling into the crust.
- Drizzle 1/4 cup of the the blueberry sauce over the surface of the filling. Use a knife to gently swirl the sauce into the cheesecake.
- Pour the other half of the filling into the crust. Add another 1/4 cup of sauce to the top of the cheesecake. You can pipe on a fun design or just swirl it in with a knife again.
- Carefully place the cheesecake into the water bath in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes at 475 degrees then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake another 50 minutes. You want the cheesecake to just barely turn golden brown before removing.
- Cool on a cooling rack for an hour, then chill in the fridge for 8 hours. After cooling, remove the springform pan from the cheesecake. Cut into 12 slices and serve with whipped cream.
One of my favorite summer drinks is a cherry limeade. Actually I love going to Sonic and grabbing any of their summer drinks and sipping on them all day long. I have a weakness that started when my brother was a carhop back in high school. It’s never really left me, I’ve just grown up a touch.
When I saw the recipe for a Cherry Limaretto on Today’s Nest, I knew I had found the perfect drink for me. A cherry limeade with some amaretto in it sounded too good to be true. There’s only a trace of alcohol in it so you don’t get too tipsy and it doesn’t overwhelm the cherry lime flavor of the drink. The drink tastes just like my favorite summer drink and it’s perfect for sipping at your next picnic.
From the Fresh Nest blog
- 3 ounces Amaretto
- 3 ounces sour cherry juice
- juice of one lime
- ginger ale
- Fill a cocktail shaker 2/3 full with ice. Pour amaretto, cherry juice, and lime juice into shaker. Shake for 10 seconds.
- Fill 3 glasses with 3 ice cubes. Strain the drink into the glasses, then fill the rest of the way with ginger ale.
I’ve been in a mood for a picnic all year long. The 4th of July screams picnic time to me so I’m in picnic mode right now. All this week I’ll be sharing some picnic-themed projects in case you’re as excited about picnics as I am.
For today I’m sharing my favorite potato salad recipe. It calls for just 5 ingredients- potatoes, eggs, bacon, mustard and mayonnaise. It ends up tasting like a baked potato in salad form. You can season it to your tastes, I like some dill, pepper, and sea salt mixed into mine. This is a great recipe to make ahead the night before. The flavors do well sitting overnight and the food will be chilled just in time for your picnic.
- 2 pounds red potatoes
- 4 strips bacon
- 2 hard-boiled eggs
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Wash the potatoes and place in a large pot. Cover with cold water and boil till soft, about 15-20 minutes. Strain the potatoes and let them cool completely.
- While the potatoes are cooking, fry the bacon. Let it cool and crumble into small pieces. Set aside. If your eggs aren't hard-boiled yet, this is a good time to do it. Chop the egg into small pieces.
- Once everything is cooled, cut the potatoes into medium-sized pieces. Mix the mayonnaise and mustard together in a large bowl. Stir in the potatoes and coat them evenly with the sauce. Add in the bacon and eggs and stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
After I went blueberry picking I got right to work cleaning the berries so I could start using them. I had all the ingredients on-hand to make my blueberry muffins so I just jumped right in. My recipe has a sturdy enough batter that you don’t have to worry about coating fresh berries with flour to prevent sinking, the berries just stay put on their own. If you don’t have almond extract you can easily substitute vanilla.
- 1 stick butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Line 18 cupcake pan spaces (or 12 regular and 12 mini cupcakes)
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each one. Mix in almond extract.
- Add baking powder, salt, and half the flour and lightly mix. Pour in half the milk, stir, then the rest of the flour and milk and stir till just mixed. Fold in blueberries and spoon into cupcake liners.
- Stir together the sugar and nutmeg for your topping and sprinkle on each muffin.
- Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes for regular muffins and 15 minutes for mini-muffins.
Last week I invited my friend Wendy and her mom along with me to go blueberry picking. I had gone last year and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to go again this year.
I go picking at Wind Ridge Farm in New Melle, Missouri. They also have blackberries and peaches depending on the season. They aren’t open for picking every day but they do update their website, twitter account, and facebook page to help you plan your next pick date. This method ensures that the plants aren’t overpicked and that guests have plenty of picking options.
When we arrived this year we could see the blueberries hanging off the bushes before we even entered the field. You just grab a bucket, listen as an employee tells you the best places to pick, and have at it. We spent less than an hour picking casually and ended up with about 2 1/2 pounds each. The blueberries are $2.99/lb and they even take credit cards if you have your whole family out there picking.
Their next pick date is on Sunday from 8 AM to noon or until the field is all picked. You could celebrate Father’s Day with some blueberries or even some blackberries since they will have a small batch of them ready to go. After we went picking we did a scenic drive along Missouri’s wine country. There are several wineries out in the area so if you time it right you could pick one day and stop for some lunch at a winery before shopping (like we did).
I’ve been planning out all sorts of delicious blueberry treats since I saw the fields were open and you can see them and other berry treats on my Berry Picking pinterest board. Coming up tomorrow I’ll show you my first cooking project or you can check out my favorite blueberry buckle recipe on my travel site.