Category Archives: Food Presentation

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

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Are you planning on dyeing some Easter Eggs this year? I’ve found several sites that show how you can use natural ingredients as dyes for your eggs–fruits, veggies, herbs, and spices like blueberries, oranges, red and yellow onions, paprika, and much more! I haven’t tried any of these yet, but I thought I’d go ahead and share some helpful links with you! Above, the photo of these pretty pastel-colored eggs is from Better Homes and Gardens–see instructions here at bhg.com.

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You need to check out these naturally dyed eggs at the blog Dreamy Whites–they are beautiful and so is the blog!

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At Your Homebased Mom, you’ll find out how to create dyes that produce these soft earthy colors–such great shades! See instructions here at yourhomebasedmom.com.

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Here’s a nice variety of soft colors from Kaleyann.com–visit her blog for how-to’s here.

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If you’re wanting colors that are a little more vivid, you’ll find tips at A Few Short Cuts.

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MarthaStewart.com also has instructions for dyeing eggs naturally–look at those rich colors!

Have you tried dyeing eggs with natural ingredients? Do you prefer using natural or regular dyes?

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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.

OREO Holiday Chocolate Chip Cookie Balls

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OREOs are always a treat, and these cookie ball truffles are a great way to enjoy them over the holidays! So now that the Christmas season is in full swing, I thought this would be the perfect time to make them. They’re easy to make and all you need are a few ingredients–OREO cookies, cream cheese, and chocolate–plus an extra ingredient I added! I decided I’d make these cookie balls a little extra chocolatey by adding in some mini chocolate chips (you need to use the mini chips–the regular size would be much too big)! And I used both semi-sweet and white baking chocolate to coat them for a little variety. I topped these yummy treats with different kinds of Christmas sprinkles, coconut, and crushed candy canes. Chopped nuts would also be a great topping.

You can make these cookie ball truffles without the mini chocolate chips if you prefer; you’ll get about 48 if you make them that way. If you make them with the mini chocolate chips like I did, you’ll get at least 70 truffles, maybe a little more, so you may want to have an extra 4-ounce package of baking chocolate on hand in case you need more chocolate coating. I had just enough chocolate to coat all of mine with the 4 packages, but it never hurts to have a little extra on hand. I also added 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil per bar of baking chocolate–I mixed the coconut oil into the chocolate after it was all melted–it made the chocolate a little thinner and easier to dip the cookie balls in.

I also found it was easiest to dip these cookie ball truffles into the chocolate by using a regular spoon, turning each one over in the melted chocolate with the spoon until it was all coated. Then I immediately put it on a parchment-lined pan, using the spoon to drop it on. After dipping about 5 cookie balls, I adding toppings before the chocolate started setting–the toppings adhere much better when the chocolate coating is still very melty.

So that’s all there is to it! And I thought it would be fun to arrange these cookie balls in a tree shape–a great way to serve them at a holiday party or get-together!

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OREO HOLIDAY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE BALLS by NancyCreative, slightly adapted from the original OREO Cookie Ball recipe

Makes about 70 cookie ball truffles

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 36 OREO Cookies, finely crushed (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (this is an addition to the original recipe)
  • 4 to 5 (4-ounce) packages semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted (I used 2 packages of semi-sweet and 2 packages of white chocolate, melting the different chocolates separately; I also mixed in 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil per 4-ounce melted chocolate baking bar after the chocolate was all melted, for easier dipping–if you don’t do this, your melted chocolate will be thicker, and you may need a 5th 4-ounce bar to have enough chocolate coating)
  • Assorted toppings to sprinkle on the chocolate-coated truffles: Christmas sprinkles, crushed candy canes, coconut, nuts

Mix cream cheese and cookie crumbs until blended. Shape into 70 (1-inch) balls. Place in a shallow 10 x 15″ pan lined with parchment paper and freeze for 10 minutes.

For cookie balls, dip each ball into melted chocolate. Place in single layer in your lined 10 x 15″ pan (I dipped about 5 at a time, then sprinkled them, so the toppings would stick well before the chocolate started setting). You may need to use an extra lined pan, since you’ll need to leave more space between the chocolate coated cookie balls while they’re setting.

After dipping and topping all the cookie balls with your choice of sprinkles or toppings, refrigerate them on your lined pan or pans for 1 hour or until firm.

I partnered with Yummly and OREO on this post, but the opinions expressed here are entirely my own–I’m a longtime Oreo fan! 🙂

Do you like Oreos too? Have you made these cookie balls and do you have a special way of making them?

Linked to Christmas Cookie Swap at Katherine’s Corner.

Candy Corn-Peanut Popcorn Balls with Marshmallow Coating

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Did you know that October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month? I had no idea until I saw it mentioned somewhere on the net. That got me thinking about making some popcorn balls! I found this recipe at About.com that sounded good. I decided to try it with peanuts added in, since they had tasted so good in the Candy Corn “PayDay” Mix I had made a several weeks ago. Yum! These popcorn balls are very easy to make, so this is a great recipe to start out with if you’ve never made popcorn balls before. It’s a great treat for kids and adults–who wouldn’t like munching on a fun popcorn ball like this?

CANDY CORN-PEANUT POPCORN BALLS with MARSHMALLOW COATING by NancyCreative, adapted from About.com

Makes 12 to 14 popcorn balls

  • 12 cups plain or light butter popped popcorn
  • 1 1/2 cups candy corn
  • 2/3 cup dry roasted peanuts (or you can use salted cocktail peanuts)
  • 1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) butter
  • 4 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil or parchment paper and spraying the lining with nonstick cooking spray.

In a very large bowl, mix together the popped popcorn, candy corn, and peanuts; set aside.

In medium microwave-safe bowl, melt butter for 30 to 45 seconds. Add the marshmallows and microwave an additional 90 seconds to melt them and stir, blending them with the butter (the marshmallows may not look melted, but they will liquefy when you stir them). After blending butter and marshmallows well, then add vanilla and salt, and stir until everthing is well-mixed.

Pour the marshmallow mixture over the popcorn-candy corn-peanut mixture, and stir until everything is thoroughly combined. Allow mixture to sit for a minute so the hot marshmallow mixture can cool slightly. Note: if some of the candy corn and peanuts are collecting at the bottom of the bowl, you can work those in as you’re forming the popcorn balls.

Spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray and scoop up a handful of popcorn. Press it firmly between your hands, forming a ball shape. It’s kind of like making a firmly-packed snowball! Make sure your popcorn balls are all compact; loosely formed popcorn balls fall apart easily. If the balls aren’t sticking together, allow the mixture to cool for another minute; they should hold together better then.

Place popcorn balls on the prepared baking sheet and allow them to firm up at room temperature. Store popcorn balls in an airtight container in a cool, dry room.

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These popcorn balls would be great any time of year–just leave out the candy corn and add some extra peanuts to the mix! Have you ever made any popcorn balls?

Owl Cupcakes

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Here’s a fun fall cupcake decorating idea–Owl Cupcakes! There are several different ways you can make owl cupcakes, and you may have already seen other ideas for these on different sites. I thought this idea from Recipe Snobs was one of the cutest and easiest–all you need are cupcakes, Oreos, and M&M’s!

Make sure you generously frost your cupcakes, because the frosting is what holds your Oreo “eyes” and “ears” in place, as you press the cookie halves into the top of the cupcake. Hope you have fun making these!

OWL CUPCAKES adapted from Recipe Snobs

Makes 12 cupcakes

  • 12 chocolate cupcakes generously frosted with chocolate frosting (make your favorite recipe or try these yummy Chocolate Cupcakes with Fudgy Frosting–that’s what I used!)
  • 24 Oreo cookies (regular or Double-Stuff Oreos–I’ve used both; since I really like the cream filling, I prefer the Double-Stuff)
  • 36 M&M candies (I like using blue, green, brown, or red for the eyes, and orange for the nose)

Split the Oreo cookies in half crosswise, so the cream is all on one half and the other half is plain (the directions on Recipe Snobs say you can microwave 5 cookies at a time for 3-5 seconds to help keep the cream side solid; I didn’t try this, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re having problems splitting the Oreos. Also, you can use a frosting spatula or knife to help split the cookies. And you may need to use a small knife to scrape off small crumbs from the cream filling side or to smooth down the filling after splitting the cookies).

For the eyes: Press two of the cream filling cookie halves, with sides almost touching, gently into the middle of a frosted cupcake (part of the cookie halves will extend beyond the cupcake). Press the M&M’s, with the M side down, into the cream filling on each cookie half (refer to my photos for where to place the M&M’s).

For the ears: Use the plain Oreo halves for the ears above the eyes (they kind of look like eyebrows, too!). Score the flat smooth cookie sides with a small sharp knife down the center so you get a clean break for your two ears. OR, if you want thinner ears like I made on these cupcakes, score the cookie half on each side not quite to the center; this will leave you with an extra center strip of cookie (which you can eat or discard–I ate mine! 🙂 ). Score and break all your plain cookie halves.

Take two of the “ears” that you’ve made from the plain cookie halves and press them into the frosting right above the “eyes,” slightly slanted downward and almost meeting at the upper center of the cupcake (the bumpy side of the cookie should be showing from the front).

For the “beak,” press an orange M&M (on its side) in the lower center, right below where the cookie “eyes” meet on the cupcake.

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There you have it! Enjoy eating these fun cupcakes!

What’s your favorite way of decorating cupcakes for fall?