Drink Recipes
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Cranberry Vodka Spritzers

It’s Colleen here today with a delicious holiday cocktail and a last minute holiday gift idea!

Cranberry Vodka Spritzers: This festive holiday cocktail is delicious and super simple to make. Get the super secret ingredient than makes ALL the difference!

Let’s talk cranberries…You can’t just get those gorgeous crimson orbs whenever you want them, so when they are in season, you’ll want to use them in so many delicious ways… from quick breads and cakes to cookies and cocktails. You can make a savory glaze for ham or add them to various side dishes.

What is your favorite way to use fresh cranberries?

The other day, I purchased yet another a container of gorgeous organic cranberries from my local Whole Foods. I wasn’t sure what I was going to to with them, all I knew was they were too darn plump and pretty to pass up!

When I woke up Saturday morning, the first thing on my mind was those cranberries. While my family was fast asleep, I crept downstairs and grabbed a pot, the cranberries, water, sugar and a lime. I put it on the stove and plopped myself on the couch to watch the latest episode of Shark Tank. By the first or second commercial, my concoction was ready. It was that simple! You know you are a food blogger when you are testing and tasting cocktails before 8am. LOL!!

Making your own Cranberry Simple Syrup is easy, and it makes a delicious difference. You can make it, store it in the fridge, and then use it for cocktails, marinades, homemade juice for the kiddos and more!  

It also makes a nice gift this time of year as well – pour some into a mason jar, tie a ribbon around it and attach a note card with ideas on how to use it, and you have yourself a gift!  You could also kick it up a notch and include a bottle of vodka, a lime and a glass or two. I know I would love a gift like that!

Cranberry Vodka Spritzers
Recipe Type: Cocktails
Author: Colleen Kennedy
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serve this cocktail throughout the holiday season & beyond.
Ingredients
  • For the Cranberry Simple Syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup plus 2 TBS sugar
  • 1 TBS fresh lime juice
  • For the Cocktail
  • Ice
  • 1/2 cup of the cranberry Vodka Simple Syrup
  • 2 oz vodka (or more)
  • Squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • Diet Sprite or club soda
  • Garnish: A few cranberries and a lime wedge
Instructions
For Cranberry Simple Syrup
  1. In a small pot, combine cranberries, water and sugar. Heat until the mixture begins to boil then reduce to a simmer.
  2. Continue simmering until cranberries have burst (about 3-4 minutes more).
  3. Remove from heat and carefully use a potato masher or a muddler to mash the cranberries, which will maximize the infusion. Allow this mixture to cool.
  4. Strain the syrup (using a mesh strainer) into a bowl. Be sure to press firmly down on the cranberries to get every bit of syrup. You will need to scrape the cranberry pulp off of the strainer and discard to continue, or the strainer will become clogged.
  5. Once the syrup is completely cool, transfer it into a large mason jar or glass container and store in your fridge until ready to use.
For Cocktail
  1. For a tall glass serving, fill glass with ice and add in your syrup, vodka and lime. Top off with Sprite or club soda. Stir, taste & adjust to your liking. Garnish and serve.
  2. For a tumbler serving, reduce syrup by 1/2 and vodka to your preference. Stir, taste & adjust to your liking. Garnish and serve.

Happy Holidays!!

 

 

Main Dishes
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Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup

I don’t know about you, but I am incapable of eating Broccoli & Cheese Soup without loads of French bread chunks in it. Is it just me?

Hi, it’s Colleen here with one of my family’s faaaavorite soups…the one and only Broccoli Cheese Soup!

My son is sort of a soup connoisseur. When it comes to Broccoli Cheese Soup only wants mine or Panera’s, and over the years I have modeled mine after theirs since ya know… that’s what us mama bears do, keep the cubs happy!

Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup

He’s SO funny. Now that he turned 13, he gets soup almost every where we go and rates it as “not the best” to “a-mazing”. Just the other night he went out with the team after ice hockey practice and ordered the Baked Potato Soup. My husband said 2 spoonfuls in, he whispered in his ear, “This soup is terrible.” The first thing he did when he got home was to tell me the same, then he proceeded to tell me what he thought was “wrong” with it… Looks like I’m raising little foodies to be!

This time of year we are all coming and going and spinning in circles. A nice pot of soup with a chunk of bread slows us down, satisfies our tummies, and gives us what we need to keep going Continue reading “Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup”

Breakfast Recipes
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Toffee Crunch Banana Bread

I think just about everyone loves a good banana bread right?

Something wonderful happens to a banana once it browns as far as flavor goes, however, most of us have no interest eating it straight up as a banana in that stage. So what do we do? We bake it!

Toffee Crunch Banana Bread: This crunchy toffee topping takes banana bread to a whole new level, and it's nut-free!

It’s Colleen here today with a recipe that will have you standing in your kitchen staring at your bananas waiting impatiently for them to brown! You know what they say about a “watched pot,” right?? I wonder if the same could be said about bananas?

The topping on this banana bread takes it to the next level, it’s so good! My husband ate half of this loaf in one sitting. I had to hide the rest so the kids could get a slice! One of the great things about a topping like this one is that you get a great crunch without nuts, so for all the people with nut allergies out there (like my kiddos) this is a great way to top something and give it a nice CRUNCH!!   Continue reading “Toffee Crunch Banana Bread”

Main Dishes
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Leftover Turkey Soup Recipe with Lemon & Pasta

A few days ago all we could think about was getting our hands on some turkey. Then we feasted, and now we can’t wait to get at the leftovers.  I know some people who cook their own turkey even if they are going to someone else’s house just so they can have leftover turkey at home… Okay, I’ll admit that when I go out of my own home for Thanksgiving, I do exactly that.

It’s Colleen here today with a delicious soup recipe to help you use up some of that leftover turkey. However, I will let you in on a little secret. This “leftover” turkey soup is so delicious that you’re going to want to make it more often than once a year! And if anyone’s feeling a little under the weather, THIS soup makes the best medicine!

Leftover Turkey Soup Recipe

My 10-year-old daughter Samantha has been making her own stock since she was about 7. I literally sit back and kick my feet up anytime we have anything she can use to make stock and let her have at it. During Thanksgiving dinner, she announced to all of our guests that they had to give her back the bones from their plates, lol.

As soon as the kitchen was cleaned up, that girl got down to business. She used my biggest pot, the one that I have to keep in the garage because its so huge…the one I photographed my now 13-year-old son in when he was about 6 months old. Six hours later, she had 256 ounces of stock — that’s what she told me anyway, lol! It took me a minute to figure it out… but that’s 2 gallons!

So the next day I asked her for some of her 2 gallons of stock, and I made this soup while she played with her BFF Continue reading “Leftover Turkey Soup Recipe with Lemon & Pasta”

Drink Recipes
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Clementine Mojitos

Where were clementines when I was a kid? I can’t really remember them, and then all of a sudden 5 or so years ago they started showing up in crates or mesh bags. One taste was all it took for me, and now I’m always on the lookout for them as soon as their season starts… I am all over them and so are my kids!

It’s Colleen here today to tell you that besides eating clementines, using them in a cocktail is pretty delicious too…. like these clementine mojitos!

Clementine Mojitos: This Clementine Mojito Recipe is a lovely cocktail for the winter holidays. So delicious and refreshing!

Why yes, I do like my cocktails!

One of my favorite cocktails ever is vodka, fresh squeezed Cara oranges and a splash of vanilla, served martini style. I actually served it as the signature drink at my mom’s surprise 65th birthday party and called it “The Kathie” because my mom really  IS “sunshine.” She helps so many people and is just so loving, so it was fitting to serve “sunshine in a glass” to her friends and family in her honor!

That drink led me to experiment with clementines, and one of the results was this fun Clementine Mojito!

TIP: You can save the skins after you squeeze these and make a delicious smelling stove-top potpourri by adding in a few broken cinnamon sticks, a splash of vanilla and water…simmer and enjoy the delicious aroma Continue reading “Clementine Mojitos”

Drink Recipes
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Pomegranate Mojito Recipe

Pomegranate Mojito Recipe

Halloween has come and gone, and November is setting in. You know what that means… We begin to think about who is hosting Thanksgiving, which dishes we will make, the new desserts we might try out, and getting our houses in order for the holidays.

Oh, and just how early “they” will begin playing Christmas music this year! Yikes!

It’s Colleen here again today with something that may just help you get through all of the above! A seriously delicious cocktail recipe for the holidays… Pomegranate Mojitos!!

I LOVE pomegranates! When I was first introduced to them in my teens, I was told they were Chinese Apples. I thought they were fun, a novelty really, but I just didn’t “get” them. Flash forward to now, and when those babies start making their appearance at my farmer’s market or the grocery store, I grab them.

At my farmer’s market, the woman who runs the robust produce section sells those juicy seeds by the container full! I just grab a spoon and eat them right up! SO delicious!! Plus the history of pomegranates and the benefit of their antioxidants make them something I want to include in my family’s food rotation.

This Pomegranate Mojito Recipe is PERFECT while pomegranates are in season, which is from now till New Years!

For cookie baking, holiday parties or just because, this vibrant cocktail will add a little pizzazz and a few extra antioxidants to your holiday festivities Continue reading “Pomegranate Mojito Recipe”

Dessert Recipes
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3 Leftover Halloween Candy Recipes

They came dressed as bats, ninja-turtles, princesses, hockey players, zombies and more! Halloween has come to a close, and if your home is anything like ours, you now have more candy than anyone could possibly eat. And you certainly don’t want that temptation sitting around, am I right?

Colleen came up with three fun recipes to help you get creative with your kids’ candy haul. Make it a family night, and then deliver some of your creations to a senior center, a nursing home, or to family and friends.

Crafts you can eat are always fun! Plus you create some great memories while you’re at it.

3 Leftover Halloween Candy Recipes

1. Brownie Pizza

Leftover Halloween Candy Recipe: Brownie Pizza

Bake up a batch of your favorite brownies in a springform pan, or make a double batch and bake them on a rimmed pizza tray. Once cooled, set out bowls of topping from your Halloween haul and either decorate the whole “pie” or cut it into pizza-like-slices and have everyone top them they way they like.

Cut up candy you think your family would enjoy into a large dice, set out hot fudge, fluff, icing, etc, and have at it!

TIP: if you use pre-made brownie mix for this, some varieties come with a Hershey’s syrup pouch; don’t put it in the batter. Use it as a topping instead!

2. Candy Bark

Leftover Halloween Candy Recipe: Brownie Bark

My kids love making this one! First we melt down Hershey bars, or if they don’t want to give them up (since my husband is a Hershey Bar Monster) we melt chocolate chips. Then the kids “paint” with the melted chocolate using the back of a spoon on a silicone mat. I also let them melt white chocolate melting disks, and they swirl away like artists.

Then we set out the leftover Halloween candy, and they add bits of this and that, and before you know it they have a pretty and tasty artistic creation that they can then break a part and enjoy after it sets in the fridge or a cold garage for about 20-30 minutes. My daughter usually keeps hers whole and never eats it…she just likes to create the “art”.

3. Skillet Cookie

Halloween Candy Skillet Cookie

Mix up a half batch of your favorite type of cookie (sugar, chocolate, chocolate chip) and use a small skillet to make one large cookie. Top it with your favorites from your leftover Halloween candy and enjoy. You can mix the candy right into the cookie dough if you like, or put it over-top before or at the midpoint of the bake.

All three of these ideas are great family activities and unleash each person’s inner Picasso! Have fun!

If you like this post, we’d love for you to pin it to Pinterest!

Got leftover Halloween candy? These 3 recipes will get it off your counter and out of your house. Plus, the kids can help too!

ENJOY!

Recipes
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Kitchen Hack: How to Make Homemade Bacon Bits

Who doesn’t love bacon? Check out just how easy it is to make your own real bacon bits and go from 15+ ingredients to just one!

It’s Colleen here today, we’re talking about homemade bacon bits!!!

How To Make Bacon Bits

This is one of my favorite kitchen tips. Seriously, isn’t bacon one of the most delicious foods on the planet? If I had to take just 5 foods with me to a deserted island to eat for the rest of my life, you can bet your last dollar bacon would be one of them!

With this simple kitchen tip, you can make your own homemade bacon bits PLUS feel good that you are feeding your family real food.

Add these delicious bits of porky goodness to soups, salads, potatoes, pizzas, veggies and so much more Continue reading “Kitchen Hack: How to Make Homemade Bacon Bits”

Drink Recipes
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Apple Cider Mojito Recipe

Apple Cider Mojito Recipe: The best FALL COCKTAIL, so delicious. The cinnamon-infused simple syrup is the secret!

It’s Colleen here today with a super fun seasonal cocktail that will warm you up during those chilly days & nights that are beginning to creep up on us…

Apples are everywhere this time of year, so why not use them in a cocktail?? Since Jo-Lynne’s mojito recipe is so popular, we decided to come up with an autumn version. This Apple Cider Mojito Recipe would be awesome for a harvest party, Thanksgiving gathering, cookie swap or with friends at a bonfire!

The secret ingredient to this deliciously different cocktail is the Cinnamon Simple Syrup…don’t skip that step. Making your own simple syrup is effortless. It takes virtually no time at all, AND you can store it in the fridge to use whenever the need for a cocktail arises. Plus there are no preservatives in it… just sugar & water.

Apple Cider Mojito Recipe: The best FALL COCKTAIL, so delicious. The cinnamon-infused simple syrup is the secret!

Below, I give you the recipe the way I enjoy it, however feel free to play with it. We all like our drinks different…stronger, sweeter, more or less mint, etc. Make it your own.

Apple Cider Mojito Recipe: The best FALL COCKTAIL, so delicious. The cinnamon-infused simple syrup is the secret!

Bottoms up!

Apple Cider Mojito
Recipe Type: Cocktail
Author: Colleen Kennedy
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 4 oz apple cider
  • 3 oz Cinnamon Simple Syrup (ingredients & recipe below)
  • 3 oz Applejack (Liard’s)
  • 4 oz white rum
  • Diced apples
  • Mint leaves
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Cinnamon Simple Syrup
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 TBS of water
  • cinnamon stick broken in half
Instructions
Prepare Simple Syrup
  1. Place 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup plus 1 TBS water and half cinnamon stick in a small pot; bring to a boil and then turn off the heat and allow the mixture to sit and cool to room temperature.
  2. Pour into a mason jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Prepare the Mojitos
  1. Combine cider, cinnamon simple syrup, Applejack and rum in a cocktail shaker or glass measuring cup; shake or stir well.
  2. In two serving glasses, muddle as much or as little mint as you desire. Fill both glasses with ice.
  3. Throw in a small handful of diced apples (I like skin on for color) and then add your cider mixture, splitting it evenly between both glasses, and stir.
  4. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and extra mint leaves.

For more delicious drinks, see all of our mojito recipes and our popular cocktail recipes.

Dessert Recipes
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Halloween Brownie Bark

Halloween-Brownie-Brittle

I don’t know about you, but the first time I had a bite of Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle, my mind was blown! Both my tween son and I kinda fell in love with it! Both of us have always loved the crispy edges of brownies, and if I didn’t have to share could eat crispy brownie edges till I burst…I totally would! Luckily for my son and I, my husband and daughter go for the soft center parts of the brownie…It’s things like this that make a family functional, lol!

Hiya!  It’s Colleen here today to share with you an super easy and fun Halloween treat to make for parties, school lunches or just because!

You can either start with purchased Brownie Brittle and simply jazz it up (I think there are a few varieties to choose from now) or make your own. Or you can do a little cheat and adapt boxed brownie mix into brittle… whichever way speaks to you, go for it! Either way, the kids are sure to get excited about it! Halloween is the perfect time to get a little creative in the kitchen Continue reading “Halloween Brownie Bark”

Breakfast Recipes
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Baked Pumpkin Donuts w/ Pumpkin Spice Glaze

Baked Pumpkin Donut Recipe with Pumpkin Spice Glaze

The leaves are starting to fall and you can almost smell the change in the air! Fall is on its way!

It’s Colleen here today, and I will be the first to admit I didn’t want the summer of 2014 to end, however, once fall began to emerge with its glorious crisp cool mornings and achingly blue skies… all of a sudden I am like, summer-who??

Nothing says early fall… well, from the kitchen anyway, like pumpkin-flavored treats, warm apple crisps and a big ol’ pot of soup… am I right?

Today I have for you a super easy fall treat you can make in under 15 minutes — Easy Baked Pumpkin Donuts with a Pumpkin Spice Glaze! By adding Pumpkin Pie Spice (that you can make yourself) to the glaze, these donuts go to a whole new level Continue reading “Baked Pumpkin Donuts w/ Pumpkin Spice Glaze”

Drink Recipes
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Strawberry Lemon Mojito Recipe

Strawberry Lemon Mojito Recipe

I’m not sure about where you live but, in my part of Pennsylvania it has been gorgeous outside lately!  This is my favorite time of year to sit outside in the evening while the kids are playing or swimming with their friends and enjoy a cocktail or two!

Its Colleen here again, and today I have a delicious and refreshing Strawberry Lemon Mojito recipefor you! Jo-Lynne’s mint mojito recipe is so popular, we decided we should come up with a few variations!

Next time you are at the grocery store or farmer’s market, be sure to grab some extra strawberries for this cocktail. Make them by the pitcher and invite girlfriends over and catch up! A couple of appetizers and a couple of pitchers of these mojitos, and I can almost guarantee you a wonderful night!!

Strawberry Lemon Mojito Recipe

This Mojito starts with a crazy delicious Strawberry Lemon Simple Syrup which will only take you 5-8 minutes to make start to finish…and then guess what? If you don’t use it all for Mojitos, you can use it to make Strawberry Lemonade, Water Ice, flavored water or whatever your think will go good with it….An ice cream soda maybe…oh boy…there’s an idea!!

Here’s a printable recipe for your convenience Continue reading “Strawberry Lemon Mojito Recipe”

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