Flavors of Summer Virtual Picnic Kick Off plus Giveaway!

Virtual picnic logo

Summertime is in full swing!  I love this time of year and enjoy spending as much time outside as possible.  I look forward to every Saturday heading to the Farmer’s Market for a bouquet of fresh flowers and local produce.  For many of us the weekends are spent enjoying cookouts with friends, catching up with relatives at family reunions and holiday celebrations like the 4th of July which is next week.

I have teamed up with other food bloggers to kick off the Flavors of Summer Virtual Picnic.   We look forward to sharing with you delicious summer picnic recipes, perfect for all your summertime entertaining.

Let me introduce these incredible food bloggers that will be sharing their mouthwatering recipes this week.

Cook the Story
It’s Yummilicious
White Lights on Wednesday
{i love} my disorganized life
Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Sweet Remedy
Big Bear’s Wife
Cravings of a Lunatic
Kokocooks
Katie’s Cucina
The Tasty Fork
Scarletta Bakes

To get the party started, I will be co-hosting a Twitter party today at 4:30pm EDT with author and Southern Living contributing editor Rebecca Lang where will be chatting about 4th of July recipes and entertaining ideas.  Join in the conversation using hashtag #FlavorsofSummer, or you can register ahead of time HERE.  There will be some great prizes too, so don’t miss out.

I have some of my favorite picnic recipes that I can’t wait to share with you starting tomorrow. 

Let’s kick off this picnic with a GIVEAWAY! 

prizes

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Info about the prizes:   Start celebrating the Flavors of Summer and enter below for a chance  to win 1 of 7 prize packages.  Each prize package includes a $50 Visa gift card,  an “I Love Avocados” t-shirt, the newly released cookbook “Summer Thyme” from  blogger Jennifer Dempsey, fresh Vidalia onions, and squeezable herbs from  Gourmet Garden.   The prize winners will be announced during our Virtual Picnic PinChatLive on Wednesday July 3rd, 4:30-5:30pm Eastern on The Flavors of Summer Virtual Picnic Pinterest Board. Come to the board for an hour of PinChat Fun and find out if you won. You’ll also see questions pinned to the board. Every time you answer a question found on a pin, you’re entered to win yet another amazing prize. See you on Pinterest! (Note: we will also contact winners by email).

Please join me, the other amazing food bloggers and our amazing sponsors as we go on a week long virtual picnic! 

Info about the sponsors:
 
Celebrate Sweet Vidalia Flavors of Summer with the great tastes of fresh Vidalia Onions, Avocados from Mexico, Gourmet Garden Herbs, Johnsonville Italian Sausage, mangos, watermelon and Stemilt Cherries. Great food and good friends make everyday a party to remember so start entertaining and visit www.flavors-of-summer.com for recipes, coupons and entertaining tips.

   

Anise Cookies + BeaterBlade Giveaway

anise cookies

These anise cookies are very special to me.  They remind me of cookies I would make with my mother growing up.  She must have used anise in her Christmas cookie cutouts since that distinct anise flavor that are in these were in those cookies too.  We used to make our cookies in late November and freeze them.  As we got closer to Christmas we would spend the day frosting the cookies.  As a child it was so much fun frosting the cookies that were in shapes of Santa, Christmas trees and snowflakes.  I look forward to passing on those holiday baking traditions with my kids as well.

These darling Italian anise cookies are the last featured cookie for this seasons Christmas Cookie Countdown series.  If you plan on doing last minute baking this weekend before the big day, these are simple to make and a perfect addition your holiday cookie tray.  They are slightly sweet and buttery with just the right amount of anise.  They are topped with a simple anise glaze to layer the anise flavor and sprinkled with nonpareils.  If you are looking for a classic Italian Anise Cookie you will love these and love how easy these are make too!

anise cookies

To make my baking easier this holiday season, I have to thank the BeaterBlade.  This brilliant attachment fits perfectly to my KitchenAid.  It also works on Cuisinart, Viking, and Kenwood stand mixers.  It scrapes the bowl while mixing.  How genius is that?  I can’t tell you how many times I used to have to stop while mixing to scrap the bowl before I owned this.  With the BeaterBlade it scraps it for me.  The Beaterblade and Beaterblade Pro also cuts mixing time up to 50%.  With all the baking I am doing for the holidays, this handy attachment is making my baking a lot easier. 

I am in love with the BeaterBlade attachment and I am so excited to giveaway one of these to one lucky MT reader!  Enter below for your chance to win!  Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

anise cookies

Cream butter and sugar.  While mixing add in eggs and anise extract. 

anise cookies

Stir in flour mixture. 

anise cookies

Drop tablespoon size balls on parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes. 

anise cookies

Dip top of cookies into glaze and sprinkle with nonpareils. 

anise cookies

Anise Cookies

Yield: 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons anise extract
  • Anise Glaze
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise extract
  • 3 tablespoon milk
  • Nonpareils or sprinkles for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl combine flour and baking powder and set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer cream butter and sugar. Stir in eggs, one at a time then anise extract. Gradually blend in flour mixture until combined.
  4. Drop tablespoon size balls on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes until bottoms are golden brown. Place on wire rack to cool.
  5. Anise Glaze
  6. In a small bowl stir together confectioners sugar, anise extract and milk until creamy. Dip tops of cookies in glaze. Sprinkle with nonpareils before glaze dries.
  7. Store in an airtight container.
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Cowboy Cookies [Countdown to Christmas Cookies]

The Countdown to Christmas Cookies series is back!

For the next 6 weeks I will be featuring a cookie perfect for your holiday baking.  Last year I featured cookies such as Red Velvet Cookies, Rum Balls, and an all-time favorite Lofthouse Sugar Cookies.

This year I have another great lineup in store. So start baking now and freeze your cookies.  You’ll be happy you did when you need them during the holidays!

First up are these Cowboy Cookies.  A few weeks ago I featured a Brunch Pizza that was in the Taste of Home special edition Best Holiday Recipe.  One Mother Thyme reader was lucky to win a copy of these holiday publications.  If you didn’t win last time, I have some great news!  My friends at Taste of Home are giving another Mother Thyme reader a copy of these special edition holiday publications!

This recipe for Cowboy Cookies is featured in the Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Candies.  There are so many fabulous cookie recipes that I had Mr. Mother Thyme pick;  I think he made a good choice.  If you are a coconut, walnut, chocolate chip, oatmeal cookie lover, these are the cookies for you.

Last year I did Cowboy cookies in a jar as gifts. My thought is to do the same thing this year with this recipe. You will just need to cut the recipe in half to put in a one quart mason jar excluding the wet ingredients, of course. The recipient will just need to add butter, and egg and vanilla.

Whether you decide to turn this into a holiday gift or to make for a cookie exchange, these will be a perfect addition to your holiday cookie collection!

 

Cowboy Cookies

Yield: 4 1/2 dozen

Cowboy Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 12 ounces chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spread coconut and nuts on a large baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes until toasted, stirring every few minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla.
  4. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt and gradually add to creamed mixture.
  5. Stir in toasted nuts, coconut, oats and chocolate chips.
  6. Drop tablespoon size balls onto greased baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until brown. Cool on wire racks.

Adapted from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Candies 2012

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Double Chocolate Chip Muffins plus Giveaway

double chocolate chip muffins


Who loves chocolate?  

I don’t know many people that don’t.  

For all the chocolate lovers out there, these muffins are for you.  They are sinfully rich in chocolate and best paired with a tall glass of milk.  Muffins are typically known as a breakfast food but these are just as good for dessert as well.  

I’ve learned through my years of baking that using good quality chocolate will yield amazing results.  Even if you are making a simple chocolate dessert or these delicious muffins you will taste the difference when using good chocolate.  

Dagoba Organic Chocolates offers a product line that includes twelve pure and exotic chocolate bars, four organic drinking chocolates and a range of home baking products.  This past spring Dagoba Organic Chocolates announced that their full line of chocolate eating and baking products will now be made strictly with cacao from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms.  By choosing products that are certified you are supporting farms that protect the rights and the well-being of farm workers, their families and communities.  

This week Dagoba is celebrating The Rainforest Alliance’s second annual Follow The Frog Week.  This week long campaign encourages people to support a healthy environment by choosing products and services that feature their little green frog.  To find out more about the Rainforest Alliance Follow The Frog Week and how you can participate you can visit www.rainforest-alliance.org.


Would you like to try Dagoba Organic Chocolate? 

For one lucky winner you will receive the following:

GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED

Enter here!  Good luck!

double chocolate chip muffins

Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

Yield: 16 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate or Dagoba Unsweetened Chocolate For Baking
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or Dagoba Chocodrops Premium Chocolate Drops

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin pan with paper liners or spray with non stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  4. Pour chocolate into a large bowl. Stir in sugar, egg, vanilla extract and milk and mix until combined. Stir in flour mixture. Gently stir in chips or Chocodrops.
  5. Pour batter into prepared muffin pan filling each 2/3 full.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes until tester inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.
  7. Set on wire rack to cool.
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Disclaimer:   I received Dagoba products to try.  I was not compensated to write this post.  All opinions are my own.  
double chocolate chip muffins

 

Mini Caprese Frittatas plus Giveaway


I have a little obsession with mini and individual size finger foods.  Maybe because I am always trying to accommodate the four little hands that are reaching out to me all day long as I am standing at the cutting board.

Little individual size portions and bites are so cute, perfect for portion control and as I have said before make an adorable presentation.  So when it came to whipping up a caprese frittata that is loaded with fresh basil, juicy tomatoes and creamy mozzarella I thought making them into little bites would be perfect for any occasion;  plus any excuse to break out the mini muffin pan.

Not only do I have an obsession with mini foods, I have an obsession with the ingredients in a caprese salad.  Seriously, basil, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella are considered staple ingredients in my kitchen.  So with Mother’s Day right around the corner, I thought these little bites would be a great addition for brunch.

I have some fun recipes coming up that are made in a mini muffin pan so I thought it would be fun to giveaway to one lucky reader a mini muffin pan as well.

Would you like to enter for your chance to win?


Giveaway is closed.  Congratulations #47, Marianne you are the winner!  Thank you to everyone that entered and stay tuned for another giveaway coming up soon!    
Of course, as always here are the rules and how you can enter-

Simply leave a comment below letting me know what you like or would like to make in a mini muffin pan.  Leave a contact email address so I can contact you if you win.  

Want a few more chances to win?

If you don’t put your email address, please check back on May 17, 2012 to see if you are the winner to contact me to claim your prize!

You can earn up to 6 additional entries by doing any of the following.  Leave a separate comment for each entry.  One entry per each of the following.  If you are already a fan on Facebook or follow @MotherThyme on Twitter please leave a comment line with valid email letting me know.  
1- Subscribe to Mother Thyme RSS Feed  or email (or let me know if you are already a subscriber).
2- Become a fan of Mother Thyme on Facebook.
3- Follow Mother Thyme on Twitter @MotherThyme.
4- Tweet this giveaway:  “I just entered the mini muffin pan #giveaway @MotherThyme”.  Leave a comment back here that you did.   * You can tweet this once a day for additional entries 
5- Share this post on Facebook. 
6- Follow me on Pinterest and pin this post.  

Giveaway open to US residents only.
Entries can be submitted between May 10, 2012 and giveaway ends at 11:59pmEST on May 16, 2012.  Any duplicate entries will be deleted.  Any entries received after giveaway closes will be deleted.   Only entries left on this post qualify for drawing.  
One winner will be selected at random.  Please leave a valid email address or contact information.  The winner will be contacted via email and have 72 hours to respond.  If winner does not respond within 72 hours a new winner will be selected.  
If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your email address the winner will be announced here on May 17, 2012.  If no contact information is given, the winner will have 72 hours to contact me to claim prize.  If winner does not contact me by 12:00pmEST on May 20, 2012 they will be forfeited.
This giveaway is sponsored by Mother Thyme.  The mini muffin pan is made by Wilton.  Wilton is not affiliated with this giveaway


Good luck! 


Mini Caprese Frittatas
Click here for a printable version


Makes 24 mini frittatas


Ingredients
6 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper
1/3 cup diced tomatoes
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
3oz fresh mozzarella cut into 24 pieces

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a 24 cup mini muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper.  Stir in diced tomatoes, shredded mozzarella and basil.


Place a cube of fresh mozzarella in each muffin pan and pour egg mixture in filling to the top.  


Bake for 10-12 minutes until eggs are set and puffed.


Carefully remove from muffin cups and serve warm.


Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad with Creamy Orange Vanilla Yogurt Dressing

A few weeks ago my friends at Chobani sent me some of their delicious new Chobani Champions yogurt to try.  We are huge Chobani yogurt lovers.  Our refrigerator is never without  Chobani on the shelves.  

I was excited to try their new Orange Vanilla Yogurt and Vanilla Chocolate Chunk Champion flavors.  The Champion yogurts are Greek yogurt for kids, but truly they are fabulous and I eat them as often as the twins do.  
 
Not only did I have a blast grabbing a spoon and diving in to a container of this delicious yogurt but I also enjoyed incorporating the yogurt into some delicious recipes.
 
I love salads.  I have a salad for lunch or dinner or sometimes both everyday.  I always love coming up with new and delicious salad combinations.  It keeps me on track with my nutrition and by having new salads it doesn’t get boring from eating the same old same old salad everyday.  
 
This salad is bursting with orange flavors.   It is simple, light and refreshing and the creamy orange vanilla yogurt dressing I created using Chobani Champions Vanilla Yogurt is a perfect compliment to this delicious salad.   This is perfect to whip up and enjoy for lunch or makes a perfect dinner salad too.


 

Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

    Salad
  • 7 oz. package French Blend Salad Mix (green leaf lettuce, frisee, radicchio and shredded carrots) or any preferred lettuce mix
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken (store bought rotisserie chicken works great)
  • 11 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1/3 cup almond slivers
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened or sweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 oz. crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon flax seed (optional)
  • Creamy Orange Vanilla Yogurt Dressing
  • 2 3.5oz (7 oz. total) Chobani Champions Orange Vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • 2-3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

Instructions

  1. In a large salad bowl toss all salad ingredients.
  2. In a small bowl combine yogurt, orange juice, olive oil onion powder and parsley flakes. Whisk until creamy. Add more orange juice based on desired thickness. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Toss dressing with salad before serving or serve dressing on the side.
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Disclosure-
The reviews and opinions on this product are my own.  I have not been monetarily compensated for my opinions or review.  




Baked Gingerbread Donuts


I have found my newest obsession;  a donut pan.  

I purchased this pan about a month ago at Bed Bath and Beyond and I have been anxious to put it to use.  I had some ideas of holiday donuts I wanted to try and I knew my first creation was going to be gingerbread.

These turned out fabulous!  If you love the flavor of gingerbread, you will absolutely love these.  It is simple to make and only took a few minutes to whip up the batter. Once your batter is made, pour  into the pan and in 8-9 minutes you have fresh donuts hot out of the oven.  Can it get any easier?


I prefer the texture and taste of these donuts versus the donuts made in oil.  These actually remind me of something like an Entenmann’s donut.

The best part of baking donuts?  You can freeze these!  Make a few batches and freeze them and you’ll have donuts on hand for a quick breakfast or to serve to your holiday guests.  If you do freeze these just freeze them without adding the topping.  When you are ready to thaw and serve, you can add the topping or even toss them in confectioners sugar.  

Tis the season for giving.  And since I am so fond of this fabulous donut pan I have one to giveaway! 


Contest is closed.  Thank you to all that entered. 
CONGRATULATIONS to #61 Marianne for winning!
I will be emailing you for shipping information.
Have a wonderful holiday!
Here are the rules-

To enter simply add your name and email address to the comment line below.
If you don’t put your email address, please check back on December 19, 2011 to see if you are the winner to contact me to claim your prize!

You can earn up to 7 additional entries by doing any of the following.  Leave a separate comment for each entry.  One entry per each of the following.  If you are already a fan on Facebook or follow @MotherThyme on Twitter please leave a comment line with valid email letting me know.  
1- What is your favorite kind of donut?
2- Subscribe to Mother Thyme RSS Feed  or email (or let me know if you are already a subscriber)
3- Grab my button and place somewhere on your site.    
4- Follow Mother Thyme on Twitter @MotherThyme.
5- Tweet this giveaway:  “I just entered to win a Wilton donut pan #giveaway @MotherThyme”.
6- Share with your friends or fans on Facebook.  
7- Become a Fan of Mother Thyme on Facebook
Giveaway open to US residents only.
Entries can be submitted between December 14, 2011 and giveaway end at 11:59pmEST on December 18, 2011.  Any duplicate entries will be deleted.  Any entries received after giveaway closes will be deleted.   Only entries left on this post qualify for drawing.  
One winner will be selected at random.  Please leave a valid email address or contact information.  The winner will be contacted via email and have 72 hours to respond.  If winner does not respond within 72 hours a new winner will be selected.  
If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your email address the winner will be announced here on December 19, 2011.  If no contact information is given, the winner will have 72 hours to contact me to claim prize.  If winner does not contact me by 12:00pmEST on December 22, 2011 they will be forfeited.
Wilton is not affiliated with this giveaway.  This giveaway is sponsored by Mother Thyme.  


Baked Gingerbread Donuts

Makes 8 full size baked donuts (using Wilton 6 cavity doughnut pan)

Ingredients
1 cup cake flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon butter, melted and cool

For Glaze
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon water

For Crumb Topping
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray non stick cooking spray on donut pan.

In a large bowl sift cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  Add in milk, sour cream, molasses, egg and butter and stir until just combined.  

Pour batter in to donut pan filling 2/3 full.  Bake for 8-10 minutes until baked through.  Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pan.  

For Topping-
In a small bowl stir together brown sugar and water, set aside.

In another small bowl mix brown sugar, flour and butter until crumbly.

Dip tops of donuts in to glaze.  Set on wire rack or wax paper.  Sprinkle with crumb topping before glaze dries.  

Store in an air tight container.


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Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

Its September 1st, the unofficial first day of fall for some.  Time to start packing up the pool gear and start breaking out the rakes.  Before we know it many of us we’ll be hard at work on the weekends raking up leaves.  

Even though it still feels much like summer, and really it still is for a few more weeks but lounging by the pool just doesn’t feel the same once September begins, unless you live in a year round warm climate of course. 

Most kids are back in school and some will be embarking on their first day back after this holiday weekend.   Time to get ready for fall bake sales, kids slumber parties and Friday night football games. 

Here is a great fall cookie recipe to bake and take while enjoy all the beauty that fall has to offer.  These is a cross between a Sugar Cookie and a Snickerdoodle.  I can’t classify these quite as a Snickerdoodle as it doesn’t have as much cinnamon or the cinnamon topping but they are so good. These are soft and chewy, with a hint of cinnamon. If you love sugar cookies and snickerdoodles, give these little cookies a try. Its like having a sugar cookie with a hint of cinnamon, hence the name Cinnamon Sugar Cookies.  
 

Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

Yield: 4 dozen

Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

These soft and chewy cookies are a cross between a sugar cookie and a snickerdoodle.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cream of tartar and set aside.
  3. Using an electric mix cream together butter, sugar and cinnamon until blended. Mix in egg and vanilla extract. Slowly add in flour mixture and mix until combined.
  4. Make tablespoon size balls with dough and place on nonstick cookie sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
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