25 Delicious Must-Make Recipes from 2014

25 Delicious Must-Make Recipes


Happy New Year! (Again!)  As a blogger, it seems to have become quite customary to take the interim period between Christmas and New Year’s Day to look back over the year’s work and then re-share some of the highlights.  So I’ve been looking back at everything over the last few days, and today I have a fun round-up of posts for you: my 25 Delicious Must-Make Recipes from 2014!

I can honestly say that I enjoyed making and EATING all of these, so I hope you will check them out and decide to make few of these for yourself (especially the chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes….just saying!)

And as always, I welcome your comments on this and any of the recipe posts featured here, especially on my photos.  In 2014, I worked on improving my photo staging and editing, but I was still limited by not having a DSLR camera (not to mention, the lighting was not always ideal!).  However, I’m really proud of the improvements I was able to make throughout the year, and I am super excited because I….I mean, Santa, just got me a DSLR camera for Christmas, so I cannot wait to make things look even better here in 2015!  [Read more…]

Hot Cocoa Muddy Mix

Hot Cocoa Muddy Mix

I’ve never been a “go out on New Year’s Eve” kind of person. I’d much rather than stay home. It’s way less crowded!  But what I do love, is to have plenty of appetizers and snacks to help celebrate the occasion.  The night wouldn’t be the same without them!  This year for the sweet side, I made this Hot Cocoa Muddy Mix.

I’ve made a few different Muddy Mix recipes (or Puppy Chow if you will): Peppermint MuddiesCheesecake Muddy Mix. and Strawberry Cheesecake Muddy Mix.

I love this stuff because I can make it in about 10 minutes or less!  It is also a very festive snack that you can change up with just an ingredient or two (like my linked examples above).

I’ve enjoy each muddy mix I’ve tried, but I think this my new favorite!  I looked at a few recipes for inspiration, and then I threw this together….I called myself making a “half batch” since a lot of recipes instruct you to use 6 or 7 cups of Chex Cereal (basically the entire box), but even my half batch made a pretty big bowl of stuff; I’d say it’s enough for 2 to 4 people.  It’s definitely enough if it’s just you, your spouse, and a couple of kids.  (Then again, this stuff DOES stay good for a few days, so even if you’re not having a party and just want a little extra for you and your family, by all means, feel free to double the recipe!) [Read more…]

4th of July Party Tips and Products #OrientalTrading

This review is based strictly on my opinion. Others may have a different opinion or experience with the product listed above. I was provided the sample free of charge by the company or PR agency and I provided my honest opinion. No other type of compensation was received for this review.

4th of July Party with Oriental Trading

 With 4th of July just around the corner,  you’re probably thinking fireworks and barbecues!  Today I’m sharing some products and ideas to help you decorate for party and give your backyard barbecue a real patriotic feel.  I received a great assortment of products from Oriental Trading.  Although you may think of the company as the place to buy favors, banners, games, and paper plates for your party, as you browse their selections, you will actually find a great assortment of high quality home decor such as wreaths, table center pieces, and even wall signs and glass platters.

 Here’s a quick list of the items I got:

I just love this stuff!  I’m especially impressed with the high quality of the items I received, as well as the colors and overall look.  Everything is such a great value, and there are a number of things to fit various personal styles and needs.  Even if you are not having a party and just want a few patriotic pieces to put out in your house to decorate for the summer months, Oriental Trading has some great finds.

Take a closer look at some of the items I received, and you will see just how easy it is to turn your back yard into a festive place for the upcoming holiday.

4th of July Table

Table Decor Made Easy! You don’t have to spend a lot of money to create a festive table. If you set your table ahead of time with your plates, napkins, and cups, then your table will look festive already without adding anything else.  Oriental Trading has a great party pack that includes invites, plates, napkins, and cups for 4th of July, and they look great!

For a little extra decor, you can buy inexpensive party favors.  I got a few fans on this table, which are perfect for the adult table, and Oriental Trading has tons of great kid’s party favors that would be suitable to place on tables.  (Hint: For summer parties, consider adding party favors to the children’s table, such as sunglasses, visors, bubbles, frisbees, or other outdoor toys.  These can often be bought in packages of 10-12.)

4th of July Party Table

As for additional decor, a great centerpiece can go a long way.  This utensil basket made a very festive centerpiece.  And I’ve surrounded it here with out patriotic looking dishes.  These are of a super great quality!  For the perfect pre-party decor, you can place your dishes on the table ahead of time. Then just before the party, place the food in your bowls and trays for the ultimate party table!

Kool-Aid Drink Cart 2

Easy Drink Bar!  If you don’t have a bar, you can still have a festive drink area.  Just use a small table or cart.  A festive table-cloth, fabric piece, or banner, will really dress up your table.  Then just add you a bowl of ice, drinks, cups, other essentials, and perhaps one or two pieces of table decor.

4th of July Basket

Home Decor Made Easy! To make your home a little more patriotic, Oriental Trading has some really cute items.  As you can see, the basket makes another appearance here.  I’ve placed this on top of a cabinet in my kitchen,  along with these super cute metal stars, and some star/berry garland that I already had on hand.  Again, here you only need a few items to add a little color to a shelf or cabinet area.


And I, of course, LOVE wreaths!  This wreath is a smaller size than a lot of others that I have, but I looks great, and I love the festive color, as well as the texture of it.

We Love America

Last but not least, you can adorn your front porch and garden area with a cute sign such as the one above.  The metal stick is included, and the flag is super cute! And to add more color to your porch, Oriental Trading has a great selection of banners and window decor.

Do you decorate in the summer? Please leave me a comment telling us your favorite summer decor trend!


5 Cinco De Mayo Recipes and a Free Printable

5 Cinco de Mayo Recipes


Since the “Month of Maying” is almost upon us, I thought it would be fun to celebrate with a little fiesta!  Today I’ve got 5 mouthwatering recipes for Cinco de Mayo!  We’ve got entrees and of course, dessert!  I also found a super cute Cinco de Mayo party pack that is printable and free!  So pour yourself a margarita and feast your eyes upon these fiesta worthy selections! [Read more…]

Friday Favorites – Week 208 – With St. Patrick’s Day Recipes

friday favorites

Welcome to this week’s Friday Favorites! This week we’re celebrating St. Patty’s Day a little early with a few St. Patrick’s Day inspired posts. Hope they inspire you to create something green and lucky!

St Patricks Day Recipes [Read more…]

Caramel Drizzle Freezer Pie

caramel drizzle freezer pie

I’m so excited to share this week’s recipe with you!  I saw this Caramel Drizzle Freezer Pie on Pinterest a few weeks ago, and I could hardly wait to make it!  The recipe comes from All Recipes, a great source for any cook or baker, and I just know you’re going to love it!

This is the perfect pie for summer time because it’s very sweet and it’s also served cold.  But I, for one, think it is the perfect pie for any time of year.  I’m actually looking quite forward to making it for the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.  And as if the taste of this pie wasn’t a good enough reason to make it, it’s also super easy to make, and the recipe yields 2 pies, so it’s perfect for parties and pot lucks.

[Read more…]

Free Blogger Giveaway Event for Father’s Day


I was looking ahead to my May schedule today, and I got really excited when I learned about a new and FREE event for bloggers, which I will be participating in!  This is a Father’s Day Giveway. The prize is a gas grill or pay pal cash!  Please check out the details below.

[Read more…]

Ice Cream Happy Hour Review, Giveaway, and a Recipe

Eggnog with Brandy and Rum

The holiday entertainment season is upon us, which means lots of excuses for drinking and desserts. What better way to impress your guests at the end of a dinner party or holiday festivity than with boozy ice cream.

“Ice Cream Happy Hour” is the first book of its kind, with 50-plus ice cream recipes based on your favorite classic shots, cocktails and blended beverages – Coffee with Kahlúa, Chocolate Martini, and Strawberry Daiquiri. These 21-and-over homemade frozen delights not only taste amazing, they also serve up a surprising kick – there’s a shot of alcohol in each cup!

I had the opportunity to review this book, and I think it will make an excellent addition to your library of cookbooks!  It has a variety of Ice Creams, Sherbets, Sundaes, Floats, and more to add flavor and fun to your holiday parties.

You’ll find everything from the ever popular Pina Colada to Margarita Ice Cream, as well as Irish Coffee, Mint Chip with Creme de Menthe, Mudslide Sundaes, and even Bar Brawl Ice Cream Sandwiches!

And if the names of the recipes don’t tempt you, the photos will!  Just take a look at this Chocolate Martini, and you’ll see what I mean!

Today along with a giveaway of this book, I’m pleased to bring you an exclusive recipe from the book!  The Recipe is for Butter Pecan with Brandy!  Whenever I think of fall and the Thanksgiving holiday, I always think of Pecan Pie and other Pecan Recipes, so this ice cream seemed like the perfect one to share this week!

Recipe for Butter Pecan with Brandy:
This recipe calls for candied pecans; however, toasted pecan halves can be substituted if you don’t have the time. We recommend going the extra mile though. It gives the pecans a great texture along with the flavor.
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
½ vanilla bean
4 egg yolks
⅔ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 packet (1 tablespoon) gelatin
⅓ cup cold water
¼ cup cold (refrigerated) brandy
2 cups Candied Pecans (recipe follows)
Makes about 1½ quarts
1. Mix the milk and heavy cream in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. While the milk mixture is heating, split the vanilla bean down the center lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Whisk the seeds into the milk mixture, then add the empty pod to the pan.
2. Steep the milk mixture and vanilla. Once the milk mixture is scalding, remove the pan from the heat and cover it. After about 15 minutes, remove the vanilla bean pod.
3. Reheat the milk mixture back up to scalding.
4. While the milk mixture heats to scalding, whisk together the egg yolks with the brown sugar and cornstarch in a medium bowl until slightly fluffy. Gently stream about one-third of the hot milk mixture into the eggs while whisking continuously. This is called tempering. It’s important to whisk while streaming the hot milk. If you just pour in the hot milk and then whisk, you may get scrambled eggs.
5. Thicken the custard over low heat. The custard should thicken rather quickly because of the cornstarch. Pour the egg and milk mixture into the rest of the milk mixture in the sauce pan and stir continuously on low heat with a heatproof spatula. Make sure you scrape the bottom evenly while you continuously stir. The custard is thick enough when you can draw a line on the back of the spoon with your finger and the line retains its shape. 
6. Strain, cover, and chill the custard for at least 8 hours. Strain the custard through a fine-meshstrainer into a heatproof container. Cover with plastic wrap so that it’s directly touching the entire surface of the custard and none of it is exposed to air. This prevents a skin from developing. Transfer the container to an ice bath and let it cool for about 30 minutes to stop the cooking process. Transfer the container to the refrigerator. Chill until the custard is completely cold, at least 8 hours.Once the custard is completely cold…
7. Dissolve the gelatin in the cold water. Pour the water into a small saucepan or microwave-safe container and evenly sprinkle the gelatin on top. Allow to sit until the gelatin appears to have absorbed as much water as it can, about 2 minutes. This is called blooming. Gently warm over low heat and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved into the liquid, about 3 minutes.
8. Spike the custard with the cold brandy and gelatin mixture. Refrigerate the alcohol until completely cold. Do not speed up the process by putting it in the freezer, which may make the gelatin set up too much before it is added to the custard. Pour the gelatin into a medium bowl and whisk in the cold alcohol until combined. Do not attempt to skip this step by pouring the alcohol directly into the saucepan or microwave-safe container with the gelatin. There might be enough residual heat to heat up the custard and prevent it from thickening in the ice cream maker. Pour the cold custard into a large bowl. Stream the alcohol and gelatin mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the custard and whisk until thoroughly blended.
9. Churn the ice cream for at least 20 minutes. Pour the cold custard immediately into the ice cream maker and churn for at least 20 minutes, or as directed. Due to the alcohol content, you may wish to churn it longer to get the desired thickness. If you don’t want to serve the ice cream immediately or you want a firmer texture, transfer it to a freezer proof container and freeze for several hours before serving.
10. Add the candied pecans. Scoop about one-third of the ice cream into a freezer-proof container and sprinkle about one-third of the candied pecans on top. Repeat the layers twice more with the remaining ice cream and pecans, then gently fold it all together. Be sure to work quickly—if the ice cream melts too much, it will just get icy once it’s in the freezer.

Buy It! Check out Ulysses Press to find out how to order your copy of Ice Cream Happy Hour.
Win it!  One Simply Sweet Home reader will win a copy of Ice Cream Happy Hour.
How to Enter: Please use the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway will be open through Nov 19.



I’m linking up at Tidy Mom and these parties.

Cool 4th of July Desserts

I always enjoy checking out new food ideas for 4th of July. They are so festive, fun, and patriotic! A few weeks ago I shared some Patriotic Desserts in honor of Memorial Day.  And this week I’ve gathered together some fun and cool treats that you can prepare for 4th of July. Hope you enjoy!

Red, White, & Blue Ice Pops from My Recipes

Ice Cream Sandwich Pops from Living Locurto

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes from Love From The Oven

Red, White, & Blue Ice Cream The Idea Room

Red, White, & Blue Parfaits from Martha Stewart

Linking up at these parties.


Country Style, Shabby Chic 4th of July Wreath

My mom gave me this wreath. Isn’t it cute?  I have this on my door right now for 4th of July, but I really love decor like this year round because I adore the country style!

To make this wreath, you start with a vine wreath.  Next a string of garland featuring small metal stars was added.  Also strung on this garland are some small bells, which are painted red or blue.  I’ve seen similar garlands sold at decor retailers (perhaps Pottery Barn or Current), so I’m sure you could find something similar with a simple internet search.  Or you could go the less expensive route and buy some wire/foil type garland from Wal-mart or the dollar store.
Next wooden hearts and stars were painted and added to the wreath using hot glue.  The ribbon at the bottom can be tied and then added also using hot glue, or you can loop the ribbon through the vine and then tie it in lieu of glue.

Finally the star and welcome sign are suspended down the middle using a simple wire wrapping technique.  And another wire is wrapped around the top for easy hanging.

I’m linking up at these parties.