Category Archives: Spring/Easter

Spa Spring Gift Basket

Happy first day of spring! I hope you had a beautiful day! I’m not a big fan of cold winter weather, but I love the warmer days of spring! I love seeing the flowers outside begin to bloom and the longer, sunnier days. I’m really glad spring has arrived!

Something else arrived at my doorstep recently–this Premium Spa Gift Basket, compliments of GourmetGiftBaskets.com. It was just what I needed–a farmhouse-style wire basket filled with lots of pampering spa products like scented lotion, triple milled bath soap, body wash, comfy terry cloth slippers, a 4 points massager, pumice brush, skin smoothing brush, massaging bath brush, wooden foot brush, sea sponge, and loofah. It was such a treat to receive this basket, and I’m enjoying using all the spa items so much! With Easter coming up, this basket would be a great gift for a mom, sister, or friend who needs and would enjoy some pampering. It also makes a great springtime birthday gift. There are several other spa-themed baskets you can choose from at the Gourmet Gift Baskets site, including the Classic Spa Gift Basket and Bath & Snack Gift Basket.

If you’re looking for other Easter gift basket ideas, you’ll find a large selection to choose from at GourmetGiftBaskets.com. They offer baskets filled with candy and toys for the kids. Or Easter cakes, cake pops, popcorn tins, chocolate dipped strawberries, cheesecakes, and other treats for anyone who loves sweets. For healthier eaters, there are baskets of fresh fruits, dried fruits, and nuts. And there are also baskets filled with gourmet meats, cheeses, and crackers–so there’s quite a selection! You’ll have to visit the site to see all that Gourmet Gift Baskets has to offer.

Are you excited spring is here too? And what’s your favorite way to pamper yourself?

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Cream Cheese Mints

cream-cheese-mints-nancycI love the scent of pine during the holidays. And the taste of peppermint and mint–flavored sweets! This holiday season, I’m enjoying both.

Right now, I’m using the new limited-edition winter scent of ECOS™ Dishmate™ Hypoallergenic ecoswinterpineDish Soap–they have a special holiday scent called Winterpine that they sent me to try, and it smells so fresh and clean!  It’s a great way to add the scent of pine to your kitchen. If you’re not familiar with ECOS™ products, they are earth-friendly and made with plant-derived cleaning agents that clean well and are gentle and safe to use.

And I’m also eating some wonderful minty sweets! These Cream Cheese Mints are kind of addicting. They have a rich, creamy, minty flavor. I like them more than I thought I would, which makes them dangerous for me to have around. So I’ve been sharing them with friends and everyone really likes them. You can make these yummy mints for any special occasion–birthday celebrations, wedding and baby showers, wedding receptions, and, of course, the holidays! I tinted mine red (or I guess you could say pink) and green for Christmas, but you can tint them any color you want. Or don’t use any food coloring and leave them a soft creamy white. This recipe makes about 175 small mints, which is a lot, but you’ll need a lot if you’re making them for holiday parties or any other event!

CREAM CHEESE MINTS by NancyC, adapted from BettyCrocker.com

Makes about 175 small mints

  • 2 (3-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (or use 6 ounces from an 8-ounce block)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon mint or peppermint extract
  • Red and green food coloring, optional

In large bowl, cream the softened butter and cream cheese together, then add the confectioner’s sugar, 3 cups at a time, and blend until smooth. Mix in mint extract. The mixture gets pretty thick, so you may need to work everything in with your hands. Or, you can mix all the ingredients with a food processor (use on-and-off pulses until mixture comes together in a ball).

If you’re wanting to tint your dough red and green (or any 2 other colors), divide dough into 2 equal portions and place on wax paper or parchment paper; add a few drops of red food coloring to 1 mound of dough and a few drops of green food coloring to the other mound of dough; work in or “knead” food coloring into each mound until the coloring is evenly tinted to your desired shade. If you’re just making one color, you won’t need to divide the dough, and if you want your mints to be creamy white, you can skip this whole step–just leave out the food coloring.

Roll dough mixture into small balls (I rolled mine into balls that were between 1/2″ and 5/8″ in diameter-I wouldn’t go any larger than that or they will take forever to set–smaller is better!). Place on waxed paper or parchment paper–lined cookie sheets and flatten each ball with a fork. Let stand about 2 hours or until dry (If the mints are still a little soft after a few hours, go ahead and put them in the refrigerator to finish drying). When mints are set and dry, cover with another sheet of wax paper and refrigerate until ready to serve.

These mints are perfect for parties or sweet little food gifts! And this recipe makes plenty of them, so you’ll have extra for yourself! 🙂  Besides pine and mint, what other flavors and scents do you enjoy around the holidays?

Sharing this recipe at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.

Easter Egg Bark

Easter Egg Bark @ NancyCI can’t believe Easter is almost here! If you haven’t had a chance to make any Easter treats yet, here’s a really easy recipe you can put together quickly–and no baking required! It’s so fun and colorful, too. I based this Easter Egg Bark on my Candy Corn Bark recipe I had posted a few years ago. It’s really yummy, packed with those super-good Cadbury candy-coated mini milk chocolate eggs and Easter M&M’s, along with a colorful dash of sprinkles!

This is a thicker bark, compared to some others I’ve made; if you like thinner barks, you could spread the melted white chocolate base in a thinner layer on a 10 x 15″ baking sheet instead of a 9 x 13″ pan. One important tip: It helps if you have the mini eggs and M&M’s pre-measured so you can sprinkle them on quickly before the white chocolate starts to set!

EASTER EGG BARK by NancyC

Makes a 9 x 13″ pan

  • 2 (12-ounce) packages white chocolate (vanilla) baking chips
  • 1 cup Cadbury milk chocolate Mini Eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk chocolate Easter M&M’s
  • Colorful Sprinkles

Line a 9 x 13 ” pan with parchment paper, going up the sides and leaving 2 extra inches of paper on each side (so you can lift the bark out of the pan later); set aside.

In a medium microwaveable bowl or container, microwave the white chocolate chips for one minute, then stop and stir. Continue melting the chocolate in the microwave, stopping and stirring every 30 seconds, until all the chips are melted and smooth, for a total of about 2  to 2 1/2 minutes (be careful not to overheat, or the white chocolate will become clumpy!).

Spread the melted white chocolate evenly in a thin layer in the parchment-lined pan with a large spoon or spatula. Sprinkle the Cadbury mini eggs over the melted chocolate, pressing eggs about halfway into the chocolate as you’re placing them. Then do the same with the Easter M&M’s (it helps if you have all these ingredients pre-measured so you can sprinkle them on quickly before the chocolate starts to set). Last of all, top with colorful sprinkles, pressing lightly into the white chocolate if necessary. Note: Make sure all ingredients are pressed into the melted chocolate, or they will just fall off when you are breaking up the bark later.

Let bark set about 1 hour, or until completely firm (you can chill the bark in the refrigerator to help it set quicker). Lift bark from the pan (with the sides of the parchment paper) and place on kitchen counter. Peel parchment paper from bottom side of bark, breaking bark into pieces as you peel. Serve on a platter or in a bowl, or package into treat bags. Store any extra bark covered in an airtight container at room temperature.

That’s all there is to it! What fun sweets and treats are you making for Easter?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck.

Gourmet Gift Baskets for Mother’s Day and a Giveaway!

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I received a nice surprise on my doorstep the other day–a beautiful gift basket from GourmetGiftBaskets.com. It was carefully packaged in a box and arrived in perfect condition with a festive bow wrapped around the basket. You have a chance to win this gourmet basket of goodies, too (a $99.00 value)–see the end of the post for details! If you’re not familiar with GourmetGiftBaskets.com, it’s a family-owned business that is one of the fastest-growing online gift companies in the U.S. They’ve been featured on Food Network and in many magazines like Bon Appétite, Gourmet, and Food & Wine.

Mother’s Day is next weekend and if you’re needing a last-minute gift for mom, you’ll find lots of special Mother’s Day Gift baskets to choose from–one of these gourmet baskets would make a wonderful gift for her! Here are some of the different baskets you can choose from:

MothersDayGourmetGiftsI wanted to point out that in the golf gift basket, the golf bag holding the gourmet goodies is actually a cooler that mom can use on the golf course–how great is that? There are even more gifts and goodies at the website–including a special Mother’s Day Cake and Cookie Cake–with a variety of price ranges to fit your budget. Click here to see the full selection. The gift basket I received was the Bountiful Harvest Fruit Gift Basket which included fresh fruit, Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Artisan Crackers, Caramel Fruit and Snack Dip, Peanut Brittle, several kinds of Gourmet Cookies, Peanut Crunch, Roasted Peanuts, Snack Mix, some chocolate candies, and Gourmet Popcorn.

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What a wonderful combination of goodies! Who wouldn’t love to receive a gift like this? Well, now is your chance to win the same kind of basket that I received from GourmetGiftBaskets.com–they will send your basket directly to you!

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 9.10.38 PMTHE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. Congratulations to commentor #22, Kendra, on winning the giveaway!

If you’d like to enter the giveaway to win the Bountiful Harvest Fruit Gift Basket, leave a comment on this blog post between now and Monday evening, May 4 at 8 p.m. (CST). The random drawing will be made from the comments on this post only! The winner will be chosen randomly via Random.org and announced later on Monday evening, May 4. Winner will be notified via email (if winner does not respond within 24 hours, I will do another drawing). Giveaway is limited to readers in the Continental U.S.

First entry: Leave a comment on this post letting me know what your favorite Mother’s Day gift basket is from the Gourmet Gifts Baskets collection.

Bonus entry: If you are a new or existing follower or subscriber, you can leave one extra comment telling me the way (or ways) you are following.

Note: If your comment doesn’t show up right away, don’t worry–it just means I haven’t had the chance to click on it to approve it before it becomes visible!

Trix Marshmallow Bars

TrixMarshmallowBars@NancyCreative.com

With flowers starting to bloom and trees starting to bud, I’ve been enjoying all the spring color outside. And it put me in the mood to make something colorful! I saw some Trix Marshmallow Bars at BettyCrocker.com and just had to try them out! I had forgotten how fun and colorful Trix cereal was–after all, I hadn’t had it since I was a kid. I made these marshmallow bars a little differently from the original recipe, using mini marshmallows instead of marshmallow creme and a little more Trix cereal. These thick and chewy bars just look like a celebration waiting to happen, don’t they? How can your day not be brightened when you look at all these colors? They’re perfect treats for kids or kids-at-heart!

TRIX MARSHMALLOW BARS by NancyC, adapted from BettyCrocker.com

Makes a 13 x 9″ pan 

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag mini marshmallows
  • 9 cups Trix cereal (there’s about 8 cups in a 10.7 oz box, so get the next larger size)

Line bottom and sides of 13 x 9″ pan with parchment paper; set aside. In large saucepan, heat butter and marshmallows over medium-low heat until marshmallows are completely melted and mixture is smooth; remove from heat. Add Trix cereal to marshmallow mixture and stir until cereal is well coated. Press mixture firmly into prepared pan (use a greased spatula or wax paper to make the pressing easier). Cool, then cut into bars.

Note: if you want thicker bars, don’t press the mixture all the way to the ends of the pan–just press to desired thickness (it will still fill most of the pan). I pressed mine about 1 1/2″ short of one of the short edges of the pan.

Colorful treats like these are always fun, especially in the spring and summer. What kind of colorful goodies do you like to make?

Linked to Fiesta FridayInspire Me Monday, Creative Mondays, and Wow Me Wednesday.