Category Archives: Entertaining

Mini Cannoli Cups

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Here’s an easy recipe I made with Nasoya® Won Ton Wraps. I had never used these wraps before, so I was interested in trying them out when I was offered some complimentary product from Nasoya® (they also provided all-natural-won-ton-wraps_0a gift card to cover the cost of other ingredients). I decided to try a dessert-like recipe from their site called Cannoli Cups and I also created my own recipe for an appetizer, which I’ll share with you in my next post. If you’re not familiar with these Nasoya® wraps, they are all-natural and super easy to use! You can find them in the produce section next to Nasoya® tofu and other products.

I made my cannoli cups a little differently from the original recipe, making them mini-size. I also added way more chocolate chips than the original recipe–actually by mistake! For some reason I thought the original recipe called for 1 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (it only called for 1/3 cup), so I started off adding 1 cup and mixing it into the ricotta cheese mixture before catching my mistake! But it was one of those happy mistakes, because the lightly-sweet creamy ricotta filling in these cannoli cups taste great with all those chocolate chips! And the won ton wraps make a nice little shell for this yummy filling. This recipe calls for 1 package of Nasoya® Won Ton Wraps and each 12-ounce package has about 52 wraps in it–this recipe will fill up just about all those wraps so it’s great to make for parties and other gatherings!

MINI CANNOLI CUPS adapted from Nasoya.com

Makes 48-52 cups

  • 3 cups fresh ricotta cheese (I used Part-Skim)
  • 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla or almond extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, plus extra chips for sprinkling on top
  • 1 (12-ounce) package Nasoya® Won Ton Wraps

Place the ricotta cheese in a medium size mixing bowl. Stir or beat with a mixer on medium for about 2 minutes, until cheese is smooth and creamy. Add in the powdered sugar and blend well, mixing or beating until smooth.

Stir in the chocolate chips, then place in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Place each won ton wrap in the base of a mini cupcake pan, pressing down to create a mini bowl. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from oven and fill each cup with a slightly heaping 1/2 Tablespoon of filling–then return to oven for 4 to 5 more minutes, until the cups are lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool slightly, then put on serving plate and sprinkle tops lightly with additional mini chocolate chips. Serve warm (if serving later, keep refrigerated until ready to serve, then warm them in the microwave). I prefer these warm, but you can also serve them at room temperature.

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These Mini Cannoli Cups are perfect if you’re wanting to serve something sweet and bite-sized. The other recipe I made with these wraps is a savory appetizer that I’m sure you’ll love, so look for it in my next post!

Layered Black Bean Dip

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I have a big weakness for dips, so I try to just make them when I need to bring something to a party or get-together–that way, I have plenty of people to help me eat it! 🙂 This Layered Black Bean Dip is really easy to make, and I like to think that the black beans make it a little healthier! 🙂 I added a little plain Greek yogurt to the original recipe to make the base of the dip a little creamier and also topped it with some green onion slices. If you don’t have any parties coming up soon, this also makes a great snack when you’re watching football or other sports games on TV! This recipe probably serves about 6-8 people; if you’re making it for a larger crowd, you can double the recipe and make it in a 9 x 13″ baking or serving dish.

LAYERED BLACK BEAN DIP by NancyC, adapted from Kraft Foods

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese (regular or light), softened
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (10-ounce) can ROTEL Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies, well drained
  • 1 cup finely shredded Fiesta-Style Four-Cheese blend
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced (both the white part and stem)

In a medium mixing bowl, blend the softened cream cheese with the yogurt, blending with a hand mixer or by hand until creamy. Spread this mixture onto the bottom of a shallow dish or pie plate. Layer the black beans over the cream cheese mixture; then layer the ROTEL diced tomatoes over the black beans. Top with the shredded cheese and then add the sliced green onion on the very top (you can also add some chopped fresh cilantro on top if you like). Serve with tortilla chips.

Note: If you’d like to add more flavor to your cream cheese/yogurt base, stir in some dry Taco seasoning mix or Ranch Dressing mix to taste.

Dips are great because they’re so easy to make. Do you have a favorite dip recipe?

Linked to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener,  Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy, and Thursday Favorite Things at Katherine’s Corner.

Spring Fever

I had to make a quick trip to the mall and ended up staying longer than I intended because I was admiring some pretty Spring and Easter tableware and decor at two of my favorite stores, Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma! Teal, light and bright greens, and nature-inspired neutrals seem to be big color themes for the spring season. These happen to be some of my favorite colors–no wonder I was so drawn to the store displays! 🙂 (Photos shown in this post are from Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma)

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At Pottery Barn, I loved all the teal in the table settings displayed right by the front entrance. The tableware looked great with the natural color and texture of woven place mats, along with some burlap and twine accents–so springy and outdoorsy! The inside store display I saw looked very much like the set-up in the photo above, featured on the Pottery Barn website.

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And I thought these bunny cupcake stands were sweet–they also work great for mini pies and tarts or cookies!

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I also liked these nature-inspired basket fillers

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…perfect for creating your own woodland baskets!

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The teal-green-neutral combination also looked great in other home accessories…

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…like this brightly-patterned pillow.

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I thought this embroidered butterfly pillow had a great spring feel, too.

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And I loved all the glassware in spring colors, especially the teal!

img45cWilliams-Sonoma also had nature-inspired designs in some of their spring tableware

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…and they have a new Botanical Citrus Collection which looks very springy.

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You can always find fun baking accessories there, like this Buttercup Cakelet Pan. How cute is that?

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And I saw these cookies later on their website–some great Easter cookie decorating inspiration!

Do you have Spring Fever like I do? Have you found any inspiring Easter and Spring decorating, entertaining, or gift ideas out there?

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener.

10 Recipes for Valentine’s Day

Here’s a roundup of 10 recipes that your Valentine–or Valentines–will love…some are healthy and some are not-so-healthy (but very yummy)!

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If you’re wanting something sweet for your Valentine breakfast, try these Strawberry Yogurt Muffins–the strawberries on top look like hearts, so they’re perfect for Valentine’s Day!

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Or if you’re wanting something healthy, try this Cranberry-Pecan Oatmeal, made with dried cranberries and chopped pecans. You can substitute dried cherries for the cranberries if you want.

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Or make this Cranberry Almond Oatmeal Bake if you’re feeding a larger group.

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You can also use your dried cranberries (or cherries) in these Cranberry Almond Breakfast Scones for a mid-morning or afternoon Valentine snack!

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Since you may be eating lots of sweets on Valentine’s Day, you’ll want to include a healthy salad in your lunch or dinner menu–this Apple Pear Pecan Salad has dried cranberries in it too, but dried cherries would be yummy as well!

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Savory Strawberry Salsa makes a great appetizer with tortilla chips, and it’s also really good served over grilled chicken!

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Now you need some dessert ideas…Strawberry Cupcakes are just the thing!

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But lots of people prefer something chocolate, and you can’t go wrong with these Chocolate Cupcakes with Fudgy Frosting!

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If you want a healthier dessert, you could always make this Healthy Chocolate Shake

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But, hey, it’s Valentine’s Day–if you want to splurge, make these Dark Chocolate-Covered Cherry Swirl Brownies!

Hope you get a chance to try out some of these treats! Do you have a favorite Valentine recipe?

33 Different Uses for Mason Jars

I’ve become a mason jar-saver, and I have a small but growing collection of different shapes and sizes that have held jams, jellies, pickles, sauces, and other homemade foods that friends have given me. So I was glad to find a helpful guide at MidwestLiving.com on 15 Ways to Use Mason Jars. Then I found more ideas at a few other sites. These are all great ideas because they’re so simple!

Here are a few from Midwest Living that I plan on using…

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Silverware holders–use each jar to hold a napkin and “silverware setting for one”–the jar can also be used by your guest as a drinking glass. Or organize spoons, forks, and knives in three different jars for a buffet-style arrangement.

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Or you may just want to use the jars for serving your beverages in–they’re great for outdoor parties or picnics because they’re so sturdy!

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Use as containers for forcing bulbs. I love this idea!

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Make an easy centerpiece–just float a pretty blossom in a jar filled with water.

Other Midwest Living ideas include:

Using jars to store dry foods like oatmeal and other grains, rice, lentils, dried fruit, sugar, flour, salt, dried beans, pasta, etc. They come in handy if you buy bulk foods. Add your own homemade labels.

Keep your desk organized–use jars for holding pens, pencils, markers, paint brushes, and scissors.

I found more uses at a site called Care2. They list 50 uses for mason jars! These are the ideas from their list that I use or will use most:

  1. Storing cookies
  2. Storing homemade mixes
  3. Use for “recipe in a jar” gifts
  4. Storing saved seeds
  5. Use as containers for homemade soy candles
  6. Holding sour dough starters
  7. Storing homemade cleaners for the home (make sure they’re clearly labeled!)
  8. Storing cotton balls on the bathroom counter
  9. Storing bulk or homemade shampoo
  10. Storing bath salts
  11. Storing small office supplies
  12. Making sun tea
  13. Use as vases for fresh flowers
  14. Use as containers for homemade candy gifts
  15. Storing sewing notions-buttons and other small items
  16. Use as containers for loose change

These uses are from a site called Keeper of the Home. Here are some ideas I like from her list of 31 uses:

  1. Storing leftovers in the refrigerator–soups, stews, cooked rice, veggies–pretty much any kind of food that will fit in the jar (if you need extra lids, you can purchase some like these).
  2. Store leftover smoothies so you can drink later in the day or take to work.
  3. Keep track of how much water you’re drinking–if you drink from a quart-size jar, you can easily keep track of how much water you’re drinking each day.
  4. Sprouting seeds or grains (you can buy these special lids if you want).
  5. Storing homemade juice or iced tea in the refrigerator.
  6. Keeping herbs fresh in the refrigerator (like green onions, cilantro, etc.) by filling a jar 3/4 full of water, then placing your bunch of fresh herbs in it-the herbs stay fresh longer than if put in the produce drawer.
  7. Storing homemade spice mixes–use the 1/2 pint or smaller jars for this.
  8. Mixing and storing homemade salad dressings, marinades, and other sauces.
  9. Mixing and storing homemade syrups.

And then I found a few more ideas at Yahoo Voices:

  1. Start plant cuttings in jars filled with water (I do this a lot!)
  2. To be more eco-friendly, use mason jars instead of plastic containers for your lunch–they’re a great container for soups and salads.

So all together, that’s 33 different ways to use mason jars–plus all the other ideas at those sites that I didn’t mention!

Do you have a collection of mason jars? What different ways do you like to use them?