July 4th

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Celebrate Independence!

Nothing says summer and celebrations like sangria!

My husband introduced me to the world of sangria on my first trip to Chicago. We dined at the beautiful Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba. Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba is a premier Spanish restaurant known for tapas, paella and sangria. Those of you who know me know that I seldom drink. I was very reluctant to try the sangria, a traditional Spanish drink made with wine, spirits and diced fruit, but my husband assured me that I would love it and also reminded me that we took a cab to the cafe...and that turned out to be a very good thing! The sangria was so sweet and fruity, easy to drink and the atmosphere of the cafe just enhanced the experience. I tried the red, the white, the white peach and the black raspberry!! I have since been on a mission to either find a local restaurant that can make a sangria as well as Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba or to create one myself!

I have played with many recipes and this one is very good. I love it for the summer months and to share for the July 4th holiday because the ingredients used are in season and the colors are perfect! I hope you try this and enjoy it! Remember...it can sneak up on you so drink wisely!!

And if you are ever in Chicago try Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!! You will love it!

Celebration Sangria


1 bottle dry white or rose wine (I use a white zinfandel)
2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup blueberries
1 jar maraschino cherries, drained and stems removed
1/2 cup pomegranate schnapps
1/4 cup sugar
Club soda
Apples or star fruit


Add the strawberries, blueberries,and cherries to a pitcher.
Pour in the wine and the pomegranate schnapps.
Gently stir in the sugar.
Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
To serve, fill a glass with ice cubes. Pour the sangria in about 2/3 full, add a few pieces of the fruit. Top off with club soda.
*For the Fourth of July I sliced apples into the shape of stars for a festive touch. You could also use star fruit if available. 


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sweet Summer Treats

Hands down Oreos are my boys favorite store bought cookie. They will fight over the last one! I wanted to make them a special treat so I decided to combine their love of cupcakes and oreo cookies! This cupcake has a brownie like texture with a surprise tucked inside...an oreo cookie! Topped with a light and fluffy oreo buttercream and a mini oreo on top! The kids loved these sweet treats!!


4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, broken into pieces
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar (granulated)
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 c. flour
18 Oreo cookies
18 mini Oreo cookies

Oreo Butter Cream
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
10 Oreo cookies


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line 18 cupcake holders with paper liners.

Place the chocolate and the butter in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave on high for three minutes, stirring every minute, until the butter is melted and the chocolate is just melted. Give it a good stir to mix it all together.

Stir in the granulated sugar, then add the eggs, stirring in one at a time. Then stir in the vanilla. Add the flour and stir well. The batter should be smooth.

Add about a tablespoon of batter to each muffin cup. Place one Oreo cookie on top of each cup of batter and press down gently. Top with the remaining batter, dividing between the 18 cups.

Bake at 350 degrees for 23 – 27 minutes, until the brownies are set but not overbaked. Cool completely.

For the buttercream, seal the Oreo cookies in a Ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin until they’re small crumbs.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and Oreo crumbs. Mix until completely blended.

Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, top with the Oreo buttercream.

Top off with a mini Oreo. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sunshine Lemonade

Its been 17 days since my last drink.  
I've finally given up my very addicting, unhealthy habit.  

I QUIT drinking...soft drinks! No regular, no diet, no nothing!!

I've never been a big water drinker.  But I wanted to make some changes to my diet, and water was the one thing I was defiantly missing.   We have a nice water filter but I still didn't love to drink it.  I tried adding the powdered drink mixes and squeezing a little lemon in it, still didn't love drinking water.  I had a ton of oranges and lemons in the fruit basket and thought I'd give them a try in my water.  I loved the combination! I would slice an orange and a lemon and put them in my water pitcher and the longer it sets the better it tastes.  

I'm trying desperately to get the boys into this new habit with me.  I would love to see them drinking more water.  They like the lemon/orange water but still want something a little sweeter.  So I decided to experiment with my lemonade recipe, cutting back on the sugar and adding some orange to replace it.  Winner!! They loved it! It is the perfect combination of sweet and tart refreshment! Perfect for the hot summer days ahead!! Enjoy!!

Sunshine Lemonade

    4 1/4 cups water, divided
    1 cup sugar
    3/4 cup lemon juice
    3/4 cup orange juice
    2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
    2 teaspoon grated orange peel


In a saucepan, bring 1-1/4 cups water and sugar to a boil. Stir to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and add grated lemon and orange peels, cool. Transfer to a pitcher; add lemon and orange juices. Stir in the remaining water. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve over ice. Garnish with lemon if desired. (If your family does not like the grated peel in the drink, you can strain it before pouring into glasses.)