DIY Running Stitch Throw Pillow

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DIY running stitch pillow

I have really been loving the look of hand embroidery lately, and when I saw this cool throw pillow at Anthropologie I knew I wanted to make my own version for our house. Gotta love a good Anthro hack!

The DIY version takes a bit of time (think a good Netflix binge amount of time) but it couldn’t be easier! You really don’t need any embroidery or sewing experience to try this one, I even started with a ready-made pillow sham.

hand embroidered pillow

Start with a basic white or other solid colored pillow sham, some embroidery floss in cool colors and an embroidery needle. These kinds of needles are a little bit bigger than your typical sewing needle and have a larger eye.

running stitch

Start out by threading your needle and tying a double knot on the opposite end. Working from the inside of the pillow sham first, poke the needle up through the fabric near the seam.

You only need to learn one type of stitch for this project. It’s called the running stitch. Basically, you are just going down through the fabric and then coming back up again a short distance further. You can even make several stitches in a row and pull them all through at once as shown in the photo above. If you’ve never done this stitch before, you will get the hang of it really fast! Trust me.

running stitch embroidery

Continue with your running stitch until you reach the seam on the opposite end of your pillow sham, ending on the inside. Then cut about a 3 inch tail, separate the threads in the floss into two halves and tie a knot to secure. Trim off the excess.

Keep on stitching lines in the same fashion, changing colors and spacing as you like until you have covered the whole front of your sham. You can finish here or add some extra embellishment by tying on some yarn tassels or pompoms to the corners! I went with oversized blue tassels made in the same way as we showed you in this past post.

DIY tassel pillow

I stuffed my stitched sham with a down pillow insert to make it extra comfy. I love it on my favorite vintage pink chair!

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Lighter Brunch Quiche

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Vegetable Pie Recipe

Breakfast post alert!!! (Surprised?)

The weather is warming up, and restaurant patios are opening.  We all know what that means…brunch season is here!  I love a good breakfast/brunch outing, but I also love eating healthier and that can be tough when you’re out with friends.  Thankfully, cooking healthy is easy, affordable, and contrary to popular belief, FLAVORFUL.  Bring the BYOB to your place for a change, and serve up this lighter spin on a brunch staple.  Throw whatever vegetables you have on hand into this lower-fat version of a classic quiche, and enjoy an extra mimosa (or two three) instead!

Egg White Quiche Recipe

Ingredients:

– 1 Wholly Wholesome Organic Whole Wheat Pie Shell

– 1 16 oz. carton of egg whites

-10 oz package of mushrooms

-4 cups raw spinach

-1 bell pepper

-1T minced garlic

-½ T olive oil

-reduced fat feta, asiago, or other cheese to top

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take your pie shell out of the freezer, and let thaw.  I placed mine on my preheating oven, to help speed up the process.  Next, chop up your vegetables – including the spinach – and heat a large skillet on the stove over medium heat.  Add olive oil, minced garlic, and vegetables – sautee until the peppers are soft and the spinach has wilted.  Remove the sautéed veggies from the heat, and let cool until at room temperature – be sure not to mix anything that is too hot with raw eggs, or else you might start cooking them!

Whole Wheat Breakfast Quiche

When cooled, add the veggies to the thawed pie shell and place on a baking tray. Carefully pour the egg whites over the veggie mix – it will look like you won’t be able to fit all of the egg whites, but you will!  Cook for 30 minutes, then shut the oven off and keep the quiche in the cooling oven for another 15 minutes.

Low Calorie Brunch Recipe

You can enjoy this quiche warm, room temperature, or my favorite, cold!  It’s a great make-ahead dish, and can even be frozen after it’s cooked! I know that you can freeze casseroles and other dishes with cream and cheese, but I prefer not to when it comes to egg based recipes.  I did, however add some crumbled feta to my serving…because you just can’t have a quiche without cheese.  I picture this quiche on a brunch table with fruit, some grilled/roasted asparagus, and a strong cocktail.

Low Calorie Vegetable Quiche

Now, if you’re NOT looking for a lighter recipe, substitute the egg whites for 4 eggs and about half a cup of cream or a cup of crumbled/shredded cheese.

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Top 5 Posts: Winter

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What to do with Lemons is a fledgling blog. Katie and I are still VERY new to this amazing community and we are constantly learning. It’s exciting! As we head into our third full season of blogging, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the past season and see which posts readers have liked the most! We plan to do this at the end of each season so that we can continue to grow and evolve our little corner of the internet and hopefully share more things that you will love!

So, without further ado, our Top 5 Posts of Winter 2015:

#5) Double Take: Easy Game Day Appetizers

Superbowl Snack Ideas
In our “Double Take” features, Katie and I each test out the same idea separately, then come together to create our post and see how differently (or similarly!) we each interpreted it. In January, we each set out to make an easy appetizer for Superbowl Sunday! Katie made a Chicken Vodka-Parm Dip and I made a baked pepperoni roll. Both turned out to be great crowd pleasers! Yum.

#4) Soft Pretzel Twists with Spicy Cheddar Cheese Sauce

pretzel twists and cheese sauce
Another delicious appetizer, in February I tried my hand at making this ballpark classic, and it turned out great! I actually get cravings for these all the time now…

#3) Perfect Fudge Brownies

Heart Brownies for Valentine's
Katie was actually a bit famous for these babies back in college, so it took a bit of convincing to get her to share her recipe online! This time she cut them into perfect little hearts for Valentine’s Day. <3

#2) DIY Constellation Tights

hand-painted star tights
This project was a little collaboration with our good friend Ashley of AU Gold Standard. I had a lot of fun making AND wearing these, so I was so happy to see that our readers liked them too!  Of course they feature my own astrological sign, Pisces!  What’s your sign?! *wink wink*

#1) Washable Pet Travel Mats

flannel pet travel mats
And finally, our most viewed post of this Winter was the easy-sew Washable Pet Travel Mats! If you can’t already tell, I LOVE my cats! I often make special projects just for them. These soft flannel mats are great for pets and hold up really well through wear-and-tear and frequent washings. I love anything that makes my fur babies happy, and I’m so glad to see that we have many animal-loving readers out there too!

We love to hear your feedback, so tell us if you have any favorites too! I hope you’ll keep coming back to visit and help us towards our top five posts of Spring 2015! And don’t forget, if you have an Instagram, let’s be friends! You can find us at @whattodowithlemons

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Classic Gooey Lemon Squares

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     Lemon Squares for Easter Spring is here, and here at WTDWLemons we are excited.  This week, I’m sharing an appropriately lemony inspired recipe that will brighten up your palet and have you smiling for spring.  (Insert something whitty about lemons and the blog title, here.)

What to do with Lemon Juice

I’ve been making these bars for years, and I have no idea where I got the recipe from.  It’s possible I made it up, it’s possible that I did not.  I do know that the extra lemon juice and vanilla were personalizations, but as for the rest of the recipe…we can all just thank the dessert gods for this one.

Classic Lemon Bar Recipe

In any case, these squares are classic, and a necessity to any springtime celebration.  In the words of my Dad, these bars don’t stand a chance when it’s time for dessert.  Make these, eat them all, make them again, and maybe share.

 

Ingredients:

For the base:

-1 cup flour

-¼ cup powdered sugar

-½ cup (one stick) butter

-1t vanilla extract

For the lemon custard:

-1 cup sugar

-4 T fresh squeezed lemon juice

-2 eggs

-½ t baking powder

-¼ t salt

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper.  To make this recipe, we will start with the base.  Cream together the flour, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until well blended.  Gradually add in the flour until you have a sticky, cookie-like batter.  Using a greased spoon or floured hands, gently press the batter into the lined pan until you have a thin, even layer.  Bake for 10-12 minutes – don’t worry about underbaking here, as we will be adding the lemony goodness and baking again!  Warning: This is not the easiest thing to do.  The base layer for these bars is thin by design, so there isn’t much batter to go spread around.  If you’d like a thicker base, simply double the ingredients and follow the same instructions.  In any case, it will be hard to spread – keep some extra flour on the side to coat your hands while working.

Cutting Lemon squares

After the base has cooked and while it is cooling, we’ll make the lemon layer.  Add all of the custard ingredients to a bowl, and mix until frothy and light in color and texture.  I used my stand mixer for both portions of this recipe, but a hand mixer will do just fine.  Pour the lemon mixture over the slightly cooled base, and bake the squares for another 18-22 minutes.  I’m a chronic underbaker by choice, and opt for colser to the 18 minute mark.  You’ll notice that the top layer will puff up a bit and brown in the oven – don’t panic! The brown color is coming from the caramelization of the sugar and lemon juice, and the poof will de-poof.

Classic Lemon Square Recipe

Allow the bars to fully cool; before cutting – I even throw mine in the fridge for an hour or two.  They are sticky, but it is so worth it.

Best Lemon Bar Recipe

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Upcycle Old Greeting Cards

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DIY greeting card bookmarks

Today’s upcycling project comes from the crafty repertoire of a FABULOUS Great Aunt of mine. This is a woman who’s homemade flair puts Martha Stewart to shame (sorry Martha, you know I love you!) Never one to waste a beautiful piece of paper, my creative Aunt will often put an already used greeting card to use as part of an even better NEW card, bookmark, tag, or other paper craft. She will then tuck these into some snail mail to make someone’s day!

how to re-use greeting cards
If you’re anything like me, you might have some little box tucked away holding sentimental and pretty things that you just couldn’t bring yourself to throw away. Or if you are my co-blogger Katie, you might have five or six such boxes…haha! Anyway, if you’ve got one, pull it out. If you don’t have one, maybe you should start one, because these things can come in handy!
Grab a few pretty cards that you don’t mind cutting up, and make something new.
bookmark making supplies!
A few other supplies you might want for this project are a hole punch, a glue stick, some string or ribbon, and maybe some charms or beads.

Just get creative. Cut out images or shapes from the cards, layer them up with pieces of paper or cut out words and phrases, write on them, draw on them… whatever feels right and looks great! Then punch a hole in the top and tie on some ribbon. This is a great way to utilize little scraps. You could even make a tiny tassel for one of your bookmarks!

upcycle old greeting cards into stylish bookmarks
Sometimes it feels great to make something new from recycled materials, especially in April in honor of Earth Month! Tuck these little creations into snail mail or tie them on packages. One more cute and creative way to show someone that you think they’re awesome!
kitten birthday tags!
Bonus: pink kitten birthday tags! So cute.

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Loren’s Homemade Hummus

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Homemade Hummus

My boyfriend Loren has always made the BEST homemade hummus. I wanted to share his recipe, but when I asked, he told me he doesn’t really have one and just makes it each time by memory and taste. But I still wanted to share an easy, basic, homemade hummus recipe with you guys… SO we made a batch together and I took studious notes! This is a recipe for a basic hummus base which you can mix up to make dozens of different delicious versions!

Here’s what you will need:
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
2/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

The prep couldn’t be any easier – just throw all of the ingredients in a food processor (or blender – but this takes more patience) and pulse it all together until smooth!

My favorite add-in for this basic hummus is olive tapenade. I’ve recently made my own which I might share soon! It gives an awesome added Mediterranean flavor. Roasted red peppers, hot peppers, and roasted eggplant are also great additions! Get creative and create your own mix or enjoy it plain. Serve it with fresh cut veggies, bread and crackers, or spread it on toast or a sandwich.

Loren's Hummus Recipe

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Countdown Calendar

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  DIY Countdown Calendar

I LOVE COUNTDOWNS!  Seriously.  I love calendars and organization and planning and lists and fonts, and countdowns are just an exciting way to put all of those things together.  I think that for me, it’s all about that feeling of anticipation.  I’m a serial daydreamer, and thinking about future adventures lets my imagination run wild and just gives me a serious case of the smiles.  I also think that countdowns have some serious mood boositing powers…they help feed into the “today might be tough but it’s one less day until that fun something you’ve been waiting for” attitude which was beyond needed this winter. It may be tough to get up that extra hour earlier for Dayligh Savings, but hey…only 74 more days until Memorial Day Weekend!

For this craft, you’ll need a frame – new, or recycled – chalkboard paint, acrylic paint, paint brushes, painter’s tape, a ruler or lined cutting board, and something to put in the frame. 

 old frame calendar

 

Start by creating a shape for your chalkboard on the glass of the frame using painter’s tape.  I made a rectangle in the top third of the glass, but you can put it anywhere you’d like.  I also had a lined quilter’s board that I used to keep my edges straight.

 Paint Chalkboard on Glass

 

Next, paint on the chalkboard paint accoriding to directions – remember my WTDW Chalkboard Paint post?  Take a peek back at how I painted on glass in that tutorial – it’s easy, I promise!

Paint Chalkboard on Glass Frame

While the paint is drying, play around with some fonts for “days,” which will be positioned under the chalkboard.  I hand drew my letters – re: DIY Calligraphy – but you can print them out too! 

Paint on Glass Frame Font

Once the paint is dry, peal back the tape, position the “days” lettering under the glass where you’d like to paint, and go for it!  Paint usint a small brush, and dont be afraid to put two coats on there…just have patience, and let it dry!

Reverse Trace Glass Letters

Paint letters on glass by tracing 

And while that’s drying, chose what background you want for your countdown!  I chose bright white/pink-red striped cardstock because it looks bold and reminds me of beach umbrellas – after all, my countdown is to MDW.  This is another reason why I love this craft – just like the changing numbers, you can also change the background!  Maybe you have a photo of a memory, a concert ticket, or something else that reminds you of the event you’re looking forward to. I love “anything goes” crafts!

   chalkboard paint on glass

What are you counting down to?  Tell us @whattodowithlemons on instagram!

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How To: Brightly Colored Yarn Tassels

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make your own bright yarn tassels!

If you’re looking for an easy, fun, and trendy craft to make this weekend, this is it! Flouncy little tassels made of brightly colored yarn. Adorable. Tie them on packages, hang them on doorknobs and rear-view mirrors, sew them onto pillow corners and blankets, make a garland, or turn them into key chains and cat toys! Go ahead, everyone loves them. Including me! I kinda want to put them on everything I own.

They are so fast and easy to whip up you could probably make a dozen or more in the time it takes to plop on the couch and watch the latest episode of your favorite show (The Walking Dead anyone!?). Lucky for you all, I made a photo tutorial so you can get started right away:

craft supplies for yarn tassels
Round up some cool colors of yarn (any kind will do), a rectangular piece of cardboard twice the length that you want your tassels to be, and your trusty scissors.
how to make tassels out of yarn
Start out by wrapping a length of yarn around the cardboard 10-15 times, then cut the end.
tassels from scrap yarn
Cut another piece of yarn about a foot long. Slide the wrapped yarn gently off the cardboard, then tie the second length of yarn around the middle of the loops as shown above.
simple way to make tassels for decoration
Cut through the loops on both sides to create loose ends. I know, in most situations “loose ends” are a bad thing… but in tassel making, they’re everything!
handmade yarn tassels
Fold the bundle over in the middle with the tie at the top. Using another length of yarn, wrap several times around the whole bundle about 1 inch from the top, and tie off. Slip the two ends of the tie you just made up, over, and down through the wrap so that they lay with the rest of the tassel ends.
trim ends of yarn tassels
Lastly, give your fresh new tassel a little trim so that all the ends are even and tidy.
funky yarn tassel
Voila! Now you can make a dozen more in every color of the rainbow! Or maybe that’s just me…
colorful yarn tassels
Show us your yarn projects on Instagram with the hashtag : #wtdwlemons

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Recycled T-Shirt Work Out Tank Top

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DIY gym tank top

There is nothing more exciting than some new gym gear.  Ok, settle people.  I can feel the side-eye shade through the inter web and I get it.  But seriously…I want you to honestly tell me that when you go out and buy some new sneakers, tank tops, leggings, etc., you don’t get even the slightest bit more motivated to do something active.  That’s what I thought.  Now let’s talk DIY.

For this project, all you need is a baggier shirt (long or short sleeve), and a pair of scissors.  We’ll be using truly sophisticated measuring techniques and precise trimming here – just kidding, this is really not a mark/cut kind of thing, so I included a lot of pictures to take you through the process.  Don’t be afraid to mess up – any frays will even out with a wash, and non-symmetric lines will disappear once we tie the back.  Let’s start with the neck!

Cut the neckline of a t shirt

Visualize the new neckline – you’ll want to cut the TOP layer of shirt, starting along the seam where the shoulder meets the neck.  Use your hand as a guide – hug the seam at the beginning, and gradually angle your cuts so that the neckline is about 2″ deeper than the original neckline in the center of the shirt.

Cut Neck off t shirt

Fold the cut part of the shirt up, and cut along the BACK seam – we have a new neckline!

Next, align your pinky to the neckline and your middle finger to the shoulder seam to use as your cut guide.  Cut the sleeve (both layers) starting on the inside of the armpit seam, up through the shoulder seam.

cut sleeves off t shirt

Fold the shirt in half, and use your already cut side as a guide to cut the next sleeve off.

make sleeveless tank

To make the back more like a racerback tank, you have to cut off a bit more of the BACK layer. Start at the armpit again, and cut in an elongated “<” and “>” fashion, so that you end up with something like the left photo, below.  To get rid of that overhand of the front layer, cut another inch from the FRONT layer on both sides.  I used my scissors to “score” the shirt, creating a line to follow.  Repeat on both sides.

DIY gym shirt

The transformation is already unbelievable.  SUCH an upgrade from the super wrinkly, neglected, sad old red-league baggy T.

DIY gym tank

To shape the BACK neckline, cut a “V” shape into the BACK layer only.  I stopped at the center point, and folded the cut piece over the non-cut piece as a guide. We’re almost done!  Now we just need to tie the back.  Using a scrap sleeve, cut a “string” of shirt – make sure to cut out any seam pieces from the ends.v neck t shirt DIY

Lay the string in between the two layers of shirt, at the smallest part of the racerback.  Tie one knot around the back tightly, wrap the strings around the middle, and tie twice more, finishing with a bow.

upcycle t shirt

And that’s it! You’re done.  A brand “new” workout tank.  I have 3 4 of these tanks now, and can only see more of them in my future.  They are wash/dry-able too, and require no special treatment.  Just be warned, they will become slightly more revealing with the first wash, so don’t be afraid to cut more conservatively for your first shirt until you get the hang of it.  Also, feel free to try the shirt on at any point in the process so that you can see how it is forming!  Remember you can always cut more, but you can’t cut less.

Tag us in your new shirts on Instagram, @whattodowithlemons, pin us on your boards on Pinterest, and give us a shout out on Facebook/Twitter!  #Flexfriday has never looked so good!

DIY racerback tank top

 

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Soft Pretzel Twists with Spicy Cheddar Cheese Sauce

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soft pretzel twists

Soft Pretzels are one of those foods that remind people of good times. Maybe its memories of ball games, amusement parks, or if you’re like me: mall shopping with Mom and splitting a big Auntie Anne’s pretzel… because of course she had a coupon! Whatever the memory, soft, warm, doughy pretzels are generally a fun time food.

While not the quickest recipe, making them at home is a lot of fun too. I have to confess that since I’ve been playing around with pretzel dough in preparation for this tutorial, I’ve become a little obsessed. They’re so good. I could eat them all day. And apparently so could my cat, Luna! Cats love soft pretzels… who knew? Anyway, without further ado: Homemade soft pretzels. And cheese. Did I mention the cheese? Wow.

pretzel twists and cheese sauce
I adapted this pretzel dough recipe from my kitchen hero Alton Brown on the food network. Its largely the same except that I don’t use a stand mixer. You really don’t need one as long as you have two arms!

For the pretzels you will need:
– 1 package of active dry yeast
– 1 1/2 cups warm water
– 1 tbsp sugar
– 2 tsp salt
– 4 1/2 cups of flour
– 1/2 stick of butter (melted)
– 2/3 cup baking soda
– 1 egg yolk
– course salt for sprinkling
Making soft pretzel dough
Mix the sugar and salt into the 1 1/2 cup of warm water, then add the yeast packet on top. Don’t stir it, just let it sit for about 5 minutes while you measure out the flour and melt the butter
mixing soft pretzel dough
In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, melted butter, and yeast mixture. Fold together with a rubber spatula until a dough ball forms. Once the dough has come together into one mass, pick it up and move to a large cutting board or clean floured counter top.
hand kneaded soft pretzel dough
Now knead away! If you’ve never kneaded a yeast dough before, you basically flatten the dough ball with the heel of your hand, fold the dough back onto itself, and repeat. Check out YouTube for some great video demonstrations of the kneading process.

Kneading strengthens the dough by forming strands of gluten. Gluten free diets be damned, this technique is centuries old! You’ll know your dough is well kneaded when it’s smooth and velvety to the touch.

Spray a large bowl with some non-stick spray and place the kneaded dough ball inside. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm room for about 1 hour.
rolling soft pretzels
Once your dough has doubled in size, cut it into 15-20 evenly sized pieces. You can vary this depending on what size and shape of pretzels you want to make, anything goes!
twisting pretzels
Roll each section out into a long snake. Then fold in half, pinch the two ends together, and twist 2 or three times. Place each twist onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
boiling the soft pretzels
Around this time is when you’ll want to preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Fill a large shallow pot with about ten cups of water and mix in the baking soda. Bring to a boil.

Gently place the pretzel twists into the boiling water and baking soda mixture, a few at a time. Let them boil for 30 seconds, then lift out with a slotted spatula or spoon and place back onto the baking sheet. This step is what gives the soft pretzels that lovely toasted brown outer layer and soft white middle!
egg wash and salt
Thin one egg yolk with a spoonful of water, and gently brush over the top of each pretzel. Sprinkle liberally with coarse salt. You can season your pretzels with anything you like here. I made one batch with some everything bagel seasoning and they came out awesome!!

Bake for 15 minutes, then allow to cool a bit before stuffing your face! These are best served fresh and hot! Because I loathe mustard, I served them with a hot cheddar cheese dipping sauce (recipe below!). But hey, if mustard is your thing, go for it. It is traditional I suppose.

Extras can be stored in a zip top bag and taste pretty great warmed up briefly in the oven or toaster oven.
pretzel twists and cheese sauce
Spicy Cheddar Cheese Sauce:

– 1 cup milk
– 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (grated)
– 2 tbsp butter
– 2 tbsp flour
– 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
– 1 dash hot sauce
– sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes

Heat the milk in the microwave until steaming. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Sprinkle in flour, whisking constantly, to form a rue. Slowly add in the warm milk, keeping the mixture moving. Toss in the cheese and stir until melted. Add cayenne, red pepper, hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Serve along side your fresh homemade soft pretzels and enjoy!
Yummy baked soft pretzel twists

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Winter Greens with Citrus Thyme Dressing

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Blood Orange Tangerine Salad Dressing Recipe

It’s CITRUS SEASON!  Here at Lemons we are so so excited for citrus season.  It brings a ton of brightness to our foods – in taste and in presentation – and helps us dream of warmer weather while we’re stuck in this winter tundra.  Plus, lemons are a citruis fruit, so it’s almost like a celebration for us…and as I’m sure you can see, we love to celebrate.

 Orange Honey Dressing

I love love love vegetables, and I’m not ashamed of it!  So many people think it’s sarcasm, but as my sarcastic/joking skills are not resume worthy, I can assure you it’s the truth.  But in the winter time, all I want is BREAD.  Anything bread-y.  And dense and rich and carb-centric.  Another wonderful thing about citrus?  It is an amazing compliment to lighter proteins and (almost) all vegetables, and starts to pull us out of our carb-induced hybernation and into the fresh and even raw foods that we enjoy in the spring and summer months.  In this case, we’re complimenting sweet citruis and raw honey with sharpness of fresh shallots, and keeping it winter appropriate with the bitterness in the greens and warmth from the thyme. 

Swiss Chard Salad Recipe

 

Ingredients:

-fresh juice from 4 small citrus fruits – I used 2 blood oranges and 2 honey tangerines

-2t raw honey

-1 shallot, divided

-2-4T extra virgin olive oil – this just depends on how light you want to make the dressing

-2t dried thyme

-salt and pepper to taste

-winter greens – I used swiss chard

Orange Thyme Salad Dressing

Instructions:

(If you’re making the salad and not only the dressing…) Wash your greens!  When choosing your greens for this salad, pick something in season and hearty – for winter, that means dark, leafy, and nutrient PACKED!  I chose a mixture of white and red swiss chard.  I love the texture of both, and the color and earthy flavor of the red chard – it’s almost beet like.  The white chard is much more mild in it’s earthiness, so if you’re not a fan of anything remotely similar to beets, stick with the white.  Plus, its a good winter green that is still enjoyable raw!  If chard’s not your thing, try kale, escarole, collard greens…anything that looks fresh.  Just keep in mind, some greens are best when cooked, and some leafy stems are just not fun to eat (i.e. kale).  Not sure what green to use? Ask your produce man, or better yet…ask us!!

Swiss Chard Chopped

I washed, rinsed, and de-stemmed the chard, keeping the stems for later on.  Stacking the leaves on top of one another, I tightly rolled them almost like a sleeping bag and cut the chard into ribbons.

How to Cut Swiss Chard

Next, juice your citrus.  I don’t have any type of citrus juicing tools, and find that a good squeeze works just fine.  If your fruit is a little stubborn, try using a fork like a traditional reamer.  Remove all seeds using a strainer or fork. 

 Healthy Citrus Salad Dressing Recipe

Add the honey, and whisk.  I’m LOVING raw honey these days – the texture is almost like gooey table sugar but the taste is sweet and floral.

 Raw Organic Honey Recipe

Next, mince the shallot, and add half to the bowl.  Crush the dry thyme in your palm, and add all spices to the bowl, whisk.  Finally, add your olive oil, and you guessed it, whisk again.  At this point, you can pour the dressing over the greens and mix, or you can store the dressing for use, later.  If you are using the dressing in a hearty-greens salad, it’s perfectly OK to make this dish in advance and let it sit in the refridgerator.  Winter greens are very strong and will actually benefit from this pseudo marinating technique both in texture and in flavor.

 Healthy Dressing Swiss Chard with Shallots and Citrus Juice

 

Heat the rest of the shallot in a little olive oil in a sautee pan.  Chop the stems of the chard – which will look like celery and rubarb stalks – and sautee in the pan for a few minutes, just to slightly soften and remove some bitey bitterness. 

 Citrus Salad Recipe Winter Greens

Add the stems to the dressed salad, mix, and enjoy!  This would pair wonderfully with roasted chicken, walnuts and cranberries, or heighten the earthiness with beets and goat cheese!  How do you eat your greens?? Let us know!!

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DIY Faceted Bead Statement Necklace

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make faceted beads with polymer clay

I have been noticing this design trend of faceted objects lately, from art to home decor to wearable accessories, and I’m loving it! Facets seem to lend a modern architectural look to just about anything, and I am really drawn to these crystalline shapes. Naturally, I set out to make my own interpretation, and settled on this funky beaded statement necklace.

I made the beads from polymer clay, then hand-cut the facets. It turned out to be a simple and inexpensive way to experiment with this trend, and I have to say I found the process pretty therapeutic. If you’re drawn to these gem-like forms also, and like quirky jewelry like I do, I highly recommend giving it a try!

faceted clay bead supplies
You don’t need a lot of supplies, just round up:

– some polymer clay
– leather cord or chain
– rub-n-buff or silver paint
– a paper clip
– an xacto knife or razor blade

I also covered my workspace with a piece of wax paper to protect the surface of my table.
making polymer clay beads
Start by rolling out 5 small balls of clay, with your largest one in the center, then two matching pairs, getting a bit smaller each time. It looks like we are about to make Wilma Flinstone’s signature necklace at this point, but just wait, it will get cooler.
shaping beads in polymer clay
Using the palm of your hand, roll each sphere into a cylindrical shape, applying a bit more pressure on one end, so that you’re making something like a carrot.
fimo clay beads
With the paperclip, make a hole at the narrower end of each bead, making sure as you go that it’s large enough for your leather cord to fit through.

Place the beads on a cookie sheet, and bake in a 275 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool.
cutting faceted beads in polymer clay
Once cool to the touch, use the blade to cut facets all around the surface of each bead. Work lengthwise and away from yourself, making shallow slices. Keep cutting facets until no rounded edges remain.

At this point you can bake your beads a few minutes longer if they are not completely cured. You should not be able to press into them with your fingers.
DIY faceted bead statement necklace
I added a silver tip to each of my beads using some scotch tape and silver Rub-n-Buff. Acrylic craft paint, spray paint, or even nail polish would work well also.

String them up and tie a knot in the cord so that its just long enough to slip on and off over your head. If you’re using chain, add a clasp.
faceted bead statement necklace
This was a fun experiment and a great a addition to my growing collection of statement necklaces! I think it has sort of a “modern-tribal” vibe. What do you think?

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Kitchen Sink King Cake for Mardi Gras

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Mardi Gras King Cake

Happy Mardi Gras, Friends!!! There is nothing we love more at What to do with Lemons than fun – and tasty – traditions, and Mardi Gras has been something we’ve celebrated together for years.  One of our good friends would get a king cake delivered to her dorm room every year to celebrate the season – we’d all get a good laugh in about how much she’d wished she didn’t get the apple kind, and then all indulge in this sweet treat in hopes of finding the baby for good luck.  As you can imagine, the cake never lasted very long in her dorm room, but the fun of it all became one of our favorite memories.  There are a “few” other religious aspects to this tradition, but for us girls it was all about that cake. And the luck!
 

Cinnamon Roll Cake

had to keep the tradition alive, so I set out to make this EASY recipe – all you need are a few standard ingredients, and you’ve got yourself one delicious treat.  Think giant gooey cinnamon roll here…yes.

Cream Cheese Frosting Pecan Cinnamon Roll Ring

Ingredients:

-refrigerated not sweet dough – I used pizza crust

-butter

-brown sugar

-cinnamon

-vanilla

-candied pecans

-cream cheese

-sprinkles – purple, gold, green

 

Instructions:

Preheat your oven according to the dough package instructions.  Using a rolling pin, gently roll the dough out on parchment paper into a big square.

Pizza Dough Sweet Roll

Mix 1 cup brown sugar and 1-2T cinnamon in a bowl.  Brush the entire dough surface with melted butter, and sprinkle with sugar – you may/may not use all of it, and that’s ok! Use your own discretion.  Chop up the pecans, and evenly top the sugar mixture with the nuts.  Using the parchment to help lift the dough, roll it up in cinnamon roll style, and pinch the seam shut.

Pecan Cinnamon Roll Cake.IMG_2693

Next, transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet, and shape the dough into a circle.  Brush the outside of the dough with more melted butter, and bake in the oven according to the time on the dough package, about 8-12 minutes.

Pecan Brown Sugar Cinnamon Roll

While the dough cooks/cools, heat 1 package of cream cheese in the microwave until easily mixable – I did this in 30 second intervals.  Add a heaping quarter cup of white sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract and stir.  Spread the frosting onto the outside of the cake, and decorate in traditional Mardi Gras sprinkles.  Then EAT…don’t forget that.  It is Fat Tuesday after all…

Fat Tuesday Recipe

I called it the kitchen sink recipe, because I used stuff I (mostly) already had.  Aside from the dough, I almost always have everything else.  So, I threw it all together and was actually pretty surprised as to how well it turned out! Sweet, sturdy but not soggy, and perfect for the celebration.  OK, maybe not perfect.  I didn’t have a baby, but I did have a mini wrestler figurine, so he was our lucky trinket for the year. *Note – if you’re participating in the hidden baby aspect of this recipe, cut a small slit in the COOKED cake, and place the baby in after you’ve already COOLED the cake but before you’ve frosted it…don’t cook the baby.

Baby King Cake Recipe

I made this recipe in about 40 minutes total, before jumping on a plane to meet up with some friends last week…you have no excuse not to try it.  I’d eat it for breakfast or dessert, and it’s definitely bead worthy, if you catch my drift.  How’d you celebrate Mardi Gras this year? Let us know @whattodowithlemons on Instagram!!

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Red Hot Candy Infused Rum

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cinnamon candy infused rum

No matter what kind of Valentine’s Day you’re having, it can probably be improved with a festive cocktail! Hot date? Fun “gal-entines” day plans with girlfriends? A quiet night at home with your cat? ALL deserve a special drink to toast the occasion!

I’m not sure if you knew this, but infusing alcohol with fun candy flavors is easy peasy. I mean really easy. Perfect for last-minute valentines. So I whipped up a version to share with you all that feels very appropriate for Valentines Day: red hot cinnamon-candy infused rum. Mmm!
infusing alcohol with candy
All you need is some light rum, some cinnamon candies, and an empty glass bottle or jar. Or no empty bottle if you want to make ALL the rum cinnamon flavored, in which case you can keep it in the big bottle!

If you can’t find Red Hots specifically, (they aren’t that common anymore) most grocery stores will carry something called “cinnamon imperial hearts” either in the baking or bulk candy aisle. Those will do just as well.
red hots cinnamon candy infused rum
The ratio that I used was 2 Tbsp of candies per 1 cup of rum, but you can adjust based on how strong you want the cinnamon flavor to be. It will also add sugar to the rum, sweetening it up quite a bit.
making candy infused rum
Combine your rum and candy, close off the container, and give it a good shake! It should immediately turn red. It will take an hour or two for the alcohol to completely dissolve the candy. Just let it sit on your counter for a while, giving it another shake every once in a while,
valentines day cinnamon rum drink
Once all the Red Hots are dissolved, you can move right on to taste testing! I like it over ice and topped with ginger ale, with some fun holiday garnishes. Here I used a pink sugar coated rim and a lollipop stirrer. I think I’ll call this little concoction “Cupid’s Flaming Arrow”… what do you think?
cinnamon rum and ginerale
If you’re making candy infused booze as a fun Valentine’s gift, you might add a nice label and some ribbon. Done. Move over chocolates and flowers, RUM is this year’s romantic gift of choice! <3
Red Hot candy infused rum
Cheers and Happy Valentines Day! We love you all!!! <3

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Perfect Fudge Brownies

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Heart Brownies for Valentine's

I started making these brownies about 4 years ago, for one of my best friend’s 21st birthdays – in fact, they’re still called “Ashley’s 21st Brownies” in my recipe book!  Shout-out to Ashely, our fellow blogger and fashionista, featured in our Constellation Tights Post – follower her blog, AUGoldStandard, she is incredible.  Ok, back to the brownies.  They are the chocolate-iest, densest, fudgiest, most delicious perfect brownies I have ever had.  Ever.  And I’ve had my fair share of brownies.  If you like cake-like airy, light, artificially tasting brownies, well then these just aren’t for you.  These brownies are everything. And they are the only recipe you’ll need to celebrate Chocoholic’s Anonymous Day.  I mean Valentine’s. Whatever.

Chocolate Chip Brownies Recipe

 

Ingredients:

-1 ¼ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
-1 ¼ cups sugar
-¾ cup plus 2T cocoa powder, unsweetened
-¼ t salt
-1T vanilla extract
-2 large eggs
-½ cup flour
-half of a bag of mini-chocolate chips, semi-sweet

Fudge Brownie Ingredients

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350. In a glass bowl, combine butter, sugar,  salt, and cocoa powder. Heat over a double boiler, stirring until ingredients have melted together but are still slightly gritty. Remove from heat, and let the chocolate mixture cool. When the batter is still warm – but not hot enough to cook your eggs – add the vanilla, and mix until just combined. Add each egg one at a time, and stir until the eggs are incorporated – don’t over mix! Next, add in the flour, and once again, stir to combine. This last step shouldn’t take you more than 30-40 stirs. We want to keep these brownies dense and fudgy! Add in the chocolate chips, and stir until the chips are sprinkled throughout. “Pour” this thick batter into a parchment lined 8×8 pan, and spread it around with a spatula until you have even thickness. Bake for 20-25 minutes – it’s ok to keep them slightly under-cooked. Less stirring + less cook time = PERFECTION. There isn’t much flour in this recipe – these are not cake-y – so there won’t be much batter left on the spatula…but the batter will stick to a wooden spoon, just FYI.  Taste testing is important.

Fudge Brownie Batter Homemade

Remember when I said these brownies are thick and fudgy?  Well that means they need to be cooled before you cut them, or else they’ll just get stuck to your knife, and you’ll end up with less squares for sharing and more scraps for snacking…not like that’s a bad thing…

Fudge Brownies No Mixer

 

I usually cut my brownies into squares, but you can use most cookie cutters to make shapes in your brownies – I’d avoid anything with thin/delicate areas, as they will break off and you’ll end up with a headless brontosaurus, not like I tried that or anything.

Brownie Heart

This time I used heart cookie cutters – it is Valentine’s Day after all!I I allso melted up some white chocolate chips and decorated a few brownies, just for some added color and fun.

Valentine's Day Dessert

Do you also remember when I told you to make the blondies that week?  Yea, welll, this time I’m “suggesting” that you make these right now, and I mean right now, like…ASAP.  And, if your Valentine’s Day plans are anything like mine…sharing is optional.

 

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DIY Sugar Scrubs: Coffee and Green Tea

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DIY green tea and coffee body scrubs

Winter weather is harsh on your skin. We’ve been getting pummeled with snow up here in New England these past few weeks and I’m finding that I just can’t use enough lotion. Every once in a while, especially this time of year, your skin just needs a little revival, and sloughing off all those dead cells might be just the thing. Luckily, making your own exfoliating sugar scrub is super easy, and today I’ll show you how!

I made two different types of scrub: one “coffee” and one “green tea” but both have the same base ingredients: coconut oil and raw cane sugar. You can make a basic scrub by combining just those two things, or you can add a little extra to make all kinds of different variations! The one thing they all have in common? They work wonders for dry winter skin! The two I’ll share with you today are packed with natural benefits and blissfully absent of nasty chemical additives that you can’t pronounce. Good stuff.

Green Tea Scrub with Raw Honey and Lemon:
how to make a green tea sugar scrub
For the green tea scrub you will need:

-5 Tbsp raw cane sugar
-1 Tbsp coconut oil
-1 tsp steeped green tea
-1 tsp green tea leaves (you can cut open a tea bag)
-2 tsp raw honey
-1 tsp of fresh lemon juice and zest

First, steep one green tea bag in a small amount of water (you want strong tea!). While the tea is steeping you can soften your coconut oil a little, since it is usually solid at room temperature. You can just pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds or so.
green tea skincare
**By the way if you aren’t completely in love with virgin coconut oil as a beauty product yet, you’re totally missing out! You can use this stuff to replace so many products, from shaving cream to body lotion to hair masks. It’s the best. AND it smells awesome too! (I get mine from Trader Joes)**

Once you’ve prepped the tea and the coconut oil, just measure everything out, stir it all up, and press it into a pretty glass container! Now lets talk skin happy benefits:
DIY green tea honey and lemon sugar scrub
Since I’ve already professed my love for coconut oil, we’l start there. Coconut oil is an amazing natural moisturizer, and it absorbs into skin really well.

The sugar acts as a gentle exfoliant, and starts to dissolve under hot water, turning into a fine polish as you go.

Green tea is packed with protective antioxidants called polyphenols and also has a bit of caffeine which can be great in skincare, but more on that later…

Lemon contains lots of vitamin C and citric acid, which can help to brighten your skin tone.

Finally, raw honey – the “raw” part is very important here, since most of the good stuff in honey is lost during heating and processing. Sadly the kind of honey that you find in those cute little bear shaped bottles is essentially just sugar. Check your local health food store for the raw stuff, it usually comes in a jar, often in solid form. Raw honey has natural antibacterial properties, is a potent moisturizer, and contains gluconic acid, which can help to reduce dark spots. I could go on forever with all kinds of cool stuff about raw honey, but I’ll save that for another post ;).

Coffee Scrub:
how to make a coffee sugar scrub
You’ll need:

-4 Tbsp of coconut oil
-4 Tbsp of raw cane sugar
-1 1/2 Tbsp of coffee grounds
– 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract (optional)

This one is a little simpler, just soften the coconut oil, and mix everything together.
make your own sugar scrub at home
I found that I prefer to use a light roast coffee. I just think it gives off a more pleasant aroma. If you really want to enhance that coffee shop scent, add the vanilla! It’s great to use this one in your morning shower – the smell alone will perk you up a bit.

The coffee grinds in this scrub give it a rougher texture. Since the grinds won’t melt in water, you can scrub for longer, making this one particularly great for your legs but maybe not so much for your face!
DIY coffee sugar scrub
The coffee in this recipe contains more caffeine than in tea. Caffeine can cause blood vessels to constrict, giving it an anti-inflammatory effect and also helping to reduce redness. As if I needed another reason to love coffee…
make your own sugar scrub
Homemade bath products are really fun to make, and arguably a lot healthier for your skin. You can even do some experimenting to come up with your own personal “formula” that’s perfect for you. Go ahead, raid your pantry and slather something on! We dare you.

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What To Do With: Juice Pulp

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Juice Pulp Recipes

Did I mention I got a juicer for my birthday? 2014 was the year of kitchen gadgets, and I’m NOT upset about it.  It saves a ton of money for someone who enjoys a good juice – NYC juices are $$$.  One thing about my juicer – and there’s only one thing – that I don’t love, is that there is just so much pulp left over after I’ve juiced all my vegetables, and I don’t always know what to do with it.  Composting would be great, but I don’t have that resource where I live.  And there are only so many times you can add the pulp to eggs…why not stretch the buck – and the nutrition – of these veggies into some other, more fun, recipes???

Juice pulp from Juicer Recipes

I juiced 3 cucumbers, one package of celery, one package of carrots, one large bag   of spinach, and one large head of romaine.  I also juiced half a pineapple – sometimes I like a little sweetness to my green juice.  Keeping my carrot juice separate, I mixed all of the green juices together, added the pineapple juice and one container of unsweetened coconut water, and ended up with a TON of delicious juices for the week, and with these recipes, I really stretched out the value of these veggies – aside from the peels from the carrots, I didn’t throw out anything.

Fresh Cucumber Relish

1) The Easiest Relish…Ever!

This is the only “recipe” that I know that takes less than 30 seconds, and is perfect every time.  Mix the cucumber pulp with some pickle juice from your favorie pickle.  Refridgerate overnight. That’s it.  It’s like pickle up-cycling!

Green Vegetable Spread

2) Roasted Vegetable Tapenade

Take one cup of the spinach, celery, and carrot pulp mix, and all of the romaine.  Add some fresh minced garlic and 1T olive oil, and roast in a 350 degree oven on a sheet pan for 20 minutes. When the vegetables have cooled, add them to a blender or food processor with salt, pepper, any other seasonings you like – I added some onion powder – and another 1T of olive oil. You’ll end up with a flavorful and nutritious spread for crackers, paninis, or even other veggies to dip in!

DIY Veggie Burger Recipe

3) Quinoa Edemame Veggie Burgers

I impressed myself with this one.  Take the rest of the spinach, celery, and carrot pulp, and warmed it in a pan with some olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, just until the flavors came together – about 5 minutes.  Once the mix is cool, add a cup of cooked and cooled quinoa, just shy of a cup of shelled edemame, and one whisked egg.  Stir all of these together – I used my hands – and refridgerate a few hours.  Form the veggie mix into burger shapes, and freeze in a single layer on a sheet pan.  When the burgers are frozen solid, move them into a freezer safe container or bag for long term storage.  I’d recommend reheating these burgers in a sautee pan.  I served my burger on a toasted Ezekiel sprouted english muffin with a smear of Trader Joe’s tzaziki and a simple watercress side salad.

 Quinoa Veggie Burger Edemame Juice Pulp

Do you have any favorite recipes, or recipes you want us to experiement with? Let us know in the comments!  Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and now announcing, TWITTER!

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Double Take: Easy Game Day Appetizers

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Superbowl Snack Ideas

Game Day.  And this weekend, its the ultimate game day – the Super Bowl.  From the start of pre-game conferences and split-square bets, to cheering on your team, to half-time scandals and ranking new commercials, we all know what the real highlight of the day is…the food.  A marathon of food, to be exact.  Not everyone will wake up ready to bring their A-Game but we can guarantee that everybody brings their appetite to the Super Bowl. We’ve got two quick and simple recipes that are both large group friendly and delicious.  Everybody wins.

And in true team fashion, we made this post a DOUBLE TAKE.  We both set out with the idea of Super Bowl Snacks in mind, went our separate ways, and then shared what we came up with.  Hayley shared her mom’s perfect pepperoni bread recipe, and Katie altered her mom’s buffalo chicken recipe to make chicken vodka-parm dip.

PEPPERONI BREAD:

Easy Superbowl Snacks: Pepperoni Bread

This pepperoni bread is an appetizer that my mom has been making for all kinds of gatherings for as long as I can remember. It is sooooo good! And with only three ingredients, also really easy and affordable. Perfect combination for the Super Bowl.

three ingredient pepperoni roll

All you need is some frozen bread dough, pepperoni, and provolone cheese! I like to go with a plain white dough and some large sandwich pepperoni from the deli. Just keep in mind that your dough will need a good amount of time to thaw and rise – about two days in the refrigerator, so plan ahead!

assembling the pepperoni roll
Once your dough is thawed and soft, spray a large bowl with non-stick spray on place the ball of dough inside. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it sit out at room temperature until it doubles in size.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, then on to the assembly! First, roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Then place an even layer of pepperoni, leaving an inch or so around the edges uncovered. Follow with a layer of provolone. Fold in the shorter edges, then roll up lengthwise and pinch the seam and the ends closed.
Simple pepperoni roll
Place the roll onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and poke a couple holes in the top so that steam can escape. If you would like, you can add an egg wash here to help make the top of your bread nicely golden brown and shiny, but if you’re short on time or eggs, don’t worry about skipping this part. Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning the pan half-way through.

It’s going to smell really really good at this point, but try to hold yourself back – it’s best to let your pepperoni roll rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting, or you’ll have a greasy mess!
Superbowl foods - quick and easy pepperoni bread
Slice that baby into thick pieces and serve warm!  If your timing isn’t spot on for your game day festivities, no worries! These are just as good (if not better) toasted back up in the oven for just a few minutes.

 CHICKEN VODKA-PARM DIP:

Superbowl Appetizer Dip Recipe

I wanted to make a dip recipe for game day, but knowing how popular Buff-Chick dip is nowadays, I tried to come up with something a little different.  This dip is inspired by one of my cousins’ favorite sandwiches that can be found at a local pizza shop.  The brother cousins are still fighting over ownership of the idea to replace the marinara sauce on a chicken parm sub with vodka sauce, but I’d guess the “invention” originated somewhere in the late 90s.

I took my mom’s famous buffalo chicken dip recipe, and replaced the ingredients to change the flavor. You’ll need a rotisserie chicken, vodka sauce, ricotta cheese, creamy garlic parmesan dressing (creamy caesar could also work), grated parmesan, and shredded mozzarella.

Chicken Vodka Sauce Ideas

Start by preheating your oven to 350 and shredding the rotisserie chicken breasts – I used my hands, its messy.  Mix the chicken with 1 and a half cups of vodka sauce, and sautee over low heat in a large skillet.  When things are starting to simmer, add a quarter cup of the creamy garlic dressing, and a quarter cup of the ricotta cheese, and stir.  Once everything looks well combined, remove from the heat, add one third cup grated parmesan cheese, mix, and pour into a baking dish.  Cover the top with the mozzarella, and bake covered in the oven for ten minutes, then uncover the dish and bake for another 10 or until the cheese is starting to brown.  Not many (any) process pictures for this dip because well, it’s just not too pretty when it’s being mixed together.  But rest assured.  Once those cocottes come out of the oven with the cheese all brown and bubbly, you won’t be able to resist.

Chicken Vodka Sauce Casserole

I think the dip tastes best when eaten.  But if you’re looking for some dipping options, I’d choose toasted bread – I used a seeded semolina loaf from a local italian bakery, and would love to try it with some crispy garlic tostadas.

This is not your average dip recipe.  It’s a creamy tomato garlic italian chicken cassarole overload.  I kid you not I made a test batch of the recipe and ate it with a spoon. By myself. At 7am.  New high, definitely – Chicken Vodka-Parm dip FTW!

Buffalo Chicken Dip Spin off Recipe

And just like the pepperoni bread, this recipe can be made a day or two before and baked off fresh before kickoff.  I’d actually recommend letting this one sit overnight in the refridgerator to let the flavors meld together

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Fudgy Butterscotch Blondies

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Perfect Blondie Bar Recipe

Prepare yourself, for the best and only blondies recipe you will ever need.  Ever.  Unlike other blondie recipes, this bar style dessert will NOT remind you of a cookie.  They are the EXACT texture of the dense, fudgy, most wonderful brownie of your dreams (recipe for that one to follow).  The only difference between these heavenly squares and their brownie cousin is the chocolate factor.  My sister doesn’t like chocolate – I KNOW, I know.  I don’t get it either.  To be honest, I felt bad for her.  Not only because she misses out on all the wonderful chocolate recipes out there, but because she also misses out on that texture element – and after a ton of experimentation, this sinful recipe was born!   Do yourself a favor.  Buy the ingredients. Make these blondies. Don’t share.

White Chocolate Chip Blonde Brownie Bars

Ingredients: (for an 8×8 pan)

-1 ⅓ cup flour

-1t baking powder

-1t ground cinnamon

-¼t ground nutmeg

-¼t cream of tartar

-½t salt

-1 cup brown sugar, packed

-1 stick unsalted butter

-1 egg

-½-1T vanilla extract

-½-1 cup both white chocolate chips and butterscotch chips

*see some of our other baking posts for flour/vanilla measuring and mixing techniques!

Butterscotch Blondies

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350, and line an 8×8″ baking pan with parchment paper.  If you don’t have parchment, butter and flour the pan to prevent sticking.  Measure all dry ingredients in a bowl, whisk to combine, and set aside.  Cream the butter and sugar until well combined.  Next, add the egg and vanilla and mix until it looks like the second image above.  Gradually add in the flour mixture until just combined – don’t over mix! Add the chips and stir by hand, then scoop this heavy sticky batter into your pan and (patiently) spread it out until you have an even layer of deliciousness.

White Chocolate Chip Brownies

Bake for 20-28 minutes, until the middle is just set (remember, not cookies, brownies).  When the top is glistening but slightly brown, take the pan out to cool.

Homemade Blondies Recipe

When cooled enough to handle, lift the parchment out of the pan and slice your bars – try not to take a bite. I dare you.

Best butterscotch bars ever

Sometimes, I like to make these bars extra cinnamon-y – like snickerdoodle blondies – and replace the chips with cinnamon chips, add some more spice, lean towards the 1T side of the vanilla pour, and add a spiced whipped cream drizzle.  Is it time to eat yet?

White Chocolate Butterscotch Brownies

If you do nothing else this week…make/devour these blissful little squares.  You will feel more accomplished than you ever have, not to mention totally sweet-tooth satisfied.  I failed a ton of times until I came up with this recipe – I can’t WAIT to know what you think!

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Recycled Tin Candles

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scented soy candles in recycled vintage tins

There’s no denying the cozy vibe that a few well-placed candles can bring to a room. I often feel the same way about cute vintage pieces. One of the items I am always on the lookout for when I’m on a thrift hunt are small, interesting, vintage tins. They’re usually pretty abundant at secondhand or antique stores, and always very cheap! There are tons of different uses for them: taming small collections, storing precious items, or even holding little plants! For this post, I used a few to put a cute and thrifty twist on a crafting classic, the homemade candle.

soy candle making supplies
You don’t need a ton of supplies to make candles at home, especially if you opt to use natural soy wax. The supplies are also surprisingly inexpensive if you buy in bulk. A 10 lb bag of soy wax flakes will cost you around $20 on Amazon. If you’re using recycled containers it averages out to around $2 – $3 a candle – that’s way cheaper than buying something similar in a retail store! Like I said, we’re getting thrifty today!

Candle making is a science, and I certainly do not profess to be an expert or even very experienced in candle making, but these simple soy candles are a great way to start experimenting!

The basic supplies:
– small metal tins
– soy wax flakes or pellets
– wicks long enough to fit your containers
– fragrance or essential oil of your choice

The other tools you will want to have handy are some scotch tape, a hole punch, a microwavable measuring cup, some scissors, and a disposable stirrer.

use scotch tape to steady wicks
Start by preparing your containers. First things first: give them a good wash and dry. Cut a few strips of scotch tape long enough to fit across the top of each tin, and punch a small hole in the center of each piece. Center a wick in each tin. If your container is on the larger side, or unevenly shaped, you should use multiple wicks, evenly spaced apart.

Use the tape to steady and hold each wick in place. You can also secure the wicks to the bottom with a small bit of wax or glue, but I found that if you are careful when pouring, this step isn’t strictly necessary.

making scented candles

You can melt the wax right in your kitchen microwave! Times will vary depending on how much wax you are melting at once and how strong your microwave is. Mine is a bit on the wimpy side, so it takes roughly three minutes on high to fully melt 2 cups of wax. Heat in intervals until the wax is just fully melted. If there are still a few chunks floating around, that’s hot enough, they will melt as you stir it.

Once melted, let the hot wax rest for a few minutes to cool down a bit, then add your fragrance oil. My favorite is a combination of vanilla and clove, I think it’s warm and wintery! Many sources will recommend about 1oz of fragrance per pound of wax, but I like to add a little more than this, since soy candles don’t have as strong of a scent as their paraffin counterparts. (Although soy wax is touted to be a cleaner and more sustainable alternative!) You can do a lot of your own experimenting with this step.

pouring soy candles

Arrange your tins on a flat surface in a space where you can leave them for a while. You don’t want to move them around while they are cooling. Gently pour the wax into each container until it reaches about 1/2 inch below the rim. Do the pouring indoors at room temperature so that the wax can cool and harden evenly. Now leave them alone until completely hardened! The time it takes can vary depending on the size of the container, but just be patient and err on the side of caution if you are tempted to move them.

Recycled tin soy candles

Too cute right? There are so many cool containers you can find for this project aside from a boring old glass jar. Katie is probably going to gasp when I say this, but… Mason jars are overrated! Take a look around your local thrift shop or even in your own pantry – pretty tea and spice jars are equally adorable, so are dainty teacups!

vintage tin candles DIY

This is a really fun creative project to do with friends! If you try your hand at making candles, share some pictures with us by using the hashtag #wtdwlemons

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Dirty Rice with Roasted Chicken and Turkey Sausage

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Turkey Sausage Creole Rice

“Dirty Rice” is a creole spiced dish that has earned it’s name from the brown-ish color the rice turns when you cook it down with seasoned poultry innards.  Now, as much of a eat-with-your-eyes kind of person that I am, I’m starting to discover that I’m also sensitive to how things are cooked, and what they are cooked with.  Something about changing the color of rice because it becomes “dirty” from livers and such just didn’t seem appealing to me, especially because I love the creole spices. 

Choosing black rice gives this recipe rich color, and replacing the protein with roasted chicken and sausuage adds to the smokey flavor of the dish – nothing dirty about it!

Black Rice Trader Joe's Recipe

Ingredients:

-chicken, cooked – I prepared boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the oven

-smokey sausage – I used turkey

-1 cup black rice

-1 zucchini

-1 red pepper

-half of one onion

-1 package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

-1T minced garlic

-2T olive oil

-2t creole seasoning

-¼ – ½ cup white cooking wine

-½ t cayanne pepper

-salt and black pepper to taste

 

Instructions:

Start by cooking your chicken –  I cooked my chicken in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes, brushed with some olive oil, salt and pepper – and cooking your rice according to package directions.  One that’s all cooking, chop up your vegetables.  I like a good half moon for the zucchini, a bite-sized dice for the peppers, and a finer dice for the onions.  I also ran my knife through the thawed, chopped spinach just to break it up.  In a large skillet, heat up the olive oil, onions, and garlic over medium heat,  Once the onions become translucent, add the rest of the vegetables.  Remember to stir so that all vegetables are coated and get equal time to brown on the hot surface.

Clean Eating Dirty Rice

 After about 8-10 minutes, add in the seasoning, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes.  Cube the chicken and the sausage, and add the sausage to the dish – cook another 5 minutes.  By now, your rice should be done. 

Zucchini Dirty Rice with Chicken Sausage

Add the rice, chicken, and wine to the pan, turn the heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes so that the flavors combine.

Dirty Creole Rice Low Fat

I’m so happy with how this recipe turned out – like most of my savory dishes, it’s simple and healthy, and packed with flavor.  And, it’s pretty flexible!  Use whatever leftover starch you have lying around – quinoa, orzo, riced cauliflower – or add to the flavor pallet with some rotisserie chicknen.  So long as you keep the seasoining the same and be sure to add a protein with some smokiness, you won’t be dissapointed!

Black Creole Rice

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Jumbo Frosted Animal Cookies

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home made frosted circus animal cookies

Remember those awesome little Circus Animal Cookies many of us used to eat as kids? I loved them. For me, their appeal was more about the aesthetic quality: bright happy colors and adorable animal shapes… what’s not to love? Eating them always felt like a mini party!

This week I decided to recreate this classic treat in jumbo size, using some cute animal shaped cookie cutters that I have been meaning to put to use. While my party animals are not all exactly “circus” animals, they still put a big smile on my face, and that’s really the best part!

Frosting Cookies with Candy Melts

You could use any plain sugar or shortbread cookie recipe to make these yourself. The plainer the better, I think, since the candy coating will ultimately steal the show! I’ve shared the recipe I used below.

cut out animal cookie shapes
You will need:

For the dough:
– 1 cup sugar
– 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
– 1 egg
– 1 tbsp vanilla
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 3 cups flour

For the decoration:
– some cookie cutters in animal shapes
– candy melts in white and pink
– rainbow nonpareil sprinkles

shortbread animal cookies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. First, cream together the butter and sugar. Then stir in the egg and vanilla. Mix in the baking powder and flour until a homogenous dough forms, divide into 3 balls, then chill the dough for at least an hour.

Using a little extra flour for sprinkling, roll out your dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut out the animal shapes. Place your party animals on a parchment lined baking sheet about an inch apart (they won’t spread much). Bake for 15-18 minutes or until browned along the edges.

cover cookies with melting chocolate

For the frosting: set up a double boiler by filling a medium sized pot with water about half way, then placing a bowl of slightly larger size on top. (If you have a bowl with handles it will work particularly well here.) Heat the water on medium and fill the bowl with one color of the candy melts. Stir until smooth and melted through, then turn the heat down to low.

Dip each cookie face down into the coating, then gently lift out and place onto a sheet of wax paper or a wire rack. This part can be a little tricky, so its nice to keep a spoon on hand to help cover any missed spots. Don’t worry about them looking perfect, a generous helping of sprinkles with cover any imperfections! After you’ve frosted about half your batch of cookies, wash out the bowl and continue coating cookies with the other color. The coating sets pretty quickly, so don’t forget to pause after every few cookies and sprinkle with nonpareils!

pink and white frosted animal cookies DIY
Aren’t these guys so festive and fun? The pink piggies are my favorite. I think they would make a really great Birthday surprise for someone, or you could customize with other shapes or colors.

It’s a lot of fun to try to recreate your favorite classics at home. Sometimes the homemade version turns out even better (and usually healthier). Are there any other classic snacks or treats you would like to see us DIY on What to do with Lemons? Let us know! We would love to hear from you!

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Chicken Broccoli and Orzo en Cocotte

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 Chicken Broccoli Orozo and Parmesan

I must have been good this year, because Santa brought me some amazing kitchen gadgets that I can’t wait to use (and share!).  I’ve always wanted cookware from Le Creuset, and I fell in love with the concept of these little cocottes when I was at a restaurant out west.  All of the sides – roasted broccoli, cheesy potatoes, brussels sprouts – were served to the table en cocotte, and all of a sudden the dinner out with friends felt more like a meal with family.

They are like mini casserole dishes meet ramekins meet tiny dutch ovens. Did I mention they’re mini?!  But don’t be mistaken – they are marketed as “individual servings” but I think you can get a full meal out of a cocotte, or a side to share!

Cooking in Cocotte

Aside from the presentation, finishing off a dish by baking them in the cocottes really helps to meld all of the flavors together, and that’s where this recipe comes into the story.  My mom used to mix pan seared chicken, steamed broccoli, cooked orzo, chicken broth and spices together in a big pan and serve it to us on cold nights.  What better first meal to make in my new cocottes?

Ingredients:

 -1lb chicken breast

-1 head broccoli

-1 cup orzo

-4 cups chicken stock, unsalted

-minced garlic

1 T olive oil, divided

-salt & pepper, to taste

-parmesan

Instructions:

Start by cutting the chicken into bite sized pieces.  Heat a large skillet over medium, add 1 t of olive oil, and sautee the minced garlic – I used 2 heaping teaspoons.  Once the garlic starts to brown, add 1t of olive oil and all chicken.  Cook the chicken through, making sure to brown on all sides.

Pan Seared Garlic Chicken and Orzo

While the chicken is cooking, heat 3 cups of chicken stock in a pot, and cook the 1 cup orzo according to instructions on the package.  Be sure to slightly undercook the orzo, as you will be heating it later in the oven.  I like to use stocks instead of water to bump up the flavor.  When it comes time to drain the orzo, pour the leftover stock into a bowl – we’ll use it later in the dish.  Mix 1t of olive oil into the drained orzo to prevent sticking.  At this point you can also steam/blanch the broccoli, and start to prepare your cocottes!

Chicken Broccoli Orzo Broth

Preheat your oven to 300.  Layer the orzo, broccoli, and chicken into each cocotte, and pour overtop a few ladles of stock (use any from the extra 1 cup if necessary).  Top the cocottes, place on a baking tray, and heat in the oven for 10-15 minutes.  Finish each dish off with a sprinkle – or six – of parmesan.  When serving the cocottes, keep in mind they will be very hot to touch!  Chicken Broccoli Orzo

The cocottes really bring the flavors all together, in an almost stew-like way.  Can’t wait to see what else these little guys can do!

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Make Your Own Flavored Coffee Syrups

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make your own flavored coffee syrups

You guys! I got an espresso machine for Christmas this year and it might be the best thing that’s ever happened! I’ve had to limit myself to only making lattes on weekend mornings, or I would be a total caffeine crazed maniac 24/7. I’ve been a little obsessed with all the possibilities this opens up for my daily coffee fix, and in the midst of all that orange-mocha-frappachino dreaminess I made some flavored syrups. They turned out to be incredibly easy, and surprisingly versatile!

You know that lineup of sweet Italian syrups they use at Starbucks to make your regular latte a hazelnut, pumpkin spice, or cinnamon dolce? These are just like those, and quick and easy to whip up at home. You can use them in an espresso drink, regular coffee, hot chocolate, tea, cocktail…. virtually anything that you would normally sweeten with regular sugar, but this way it’s just… fancier. I made four flavors: vanilla, almond, dulce de leche, and cinnamon. (Side note: you only see two flavors pictured above because I only had two cute glass bottles on hand, but I promise the other two are just as good!)

easy coffee syrups

The recipe for these syrups couldn’t be simpler: Mix equal parts water and sugar. Heat until dissolved. Add desired flavoring. Pour into a bottle. Done.

making cinnamon syrup with whole cinnamon sticks

Just start with a basic simple syrup: sugar supersaturated into water. Based on the size of my containers I used one cup of each. Heat the sugar and water mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is completely dissolved. Then, stir in your flavor (amounts of each below) and continue to heat until just a bit thickened.

DIY cinnamon coffee syrup

For Dulce de Leche syrup: add 2-3 tbsp dulce de leche sauce (this works the same with caramel sauce)

For Vanilla syrup: add 1 tsp of vanilla extract

For Almond: add 1 tsp of almond extract

For Cinnamon: add 2-4 whole cinnamon sticks, depending on size of sticks and desired amount of flavor

DIY flavored coffee syrups

These are so easy to make, it’s no problem to make one of each to have a whole arsenal of flavor on hand. Having overnight guests or hosting brunch? Your new barista skills are sure to impress! Did I mention these are perfect for iced coffee? The sugar is already dissolved, so they mix in easily.

So. Many. Options.

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“Calligraphy” Cards

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DIY Calligraphy Cards

Happy New Year!!  2014 brought me and Hayley some great memories – I ran a half marathon, Hayley moved into a new home, and of course, we started WTDWL and haven’t looked back!  It’s been a crazy adventure, and we are SO excited to see what this year has to bring!  And what better way to kick off our 2015 posts with one of our favorite things…Snail Mail!!!!  You already know we love all things handwritten and homemade, and we spend a lot of time writing letters, cards, and notes to friends.  You may also know that we really like to keep things simple and affordable.  There are already so many excuses out there that keep us from writing notes to friends – email, texting, social media, inconvenience – and those pricey Hallmark cards can just put us over the edge.

Thankfully, calligraphy is so in this year, and we’re taking full advantage of it with these DIY “calligraphy” cards.  They are the perfect rainy day, music binge, or just couch sitting activity – who doesn’t love a good doodle session?

Materials:

-blank cards, or heavy paper (like card stock, oaktag, or even manilla folders)

-envelopes

-sharpies, or other heavy inky markers (like staedtler fineliners)

-pencil with eraser

Instructions:

When hand-drawing your own cards, I think there are a few key things to focus on:

-Font(s)

-Doodles

-Theme

It’s a short list, but it’s an important list.  Design, colors, mediums used…none of those things really matter!  No one expects handwritten items to be perfect, and quite frankly, I think they look better when they are less perfect.  Though I do think my handwriting is pretty “neat,” my hand isn’t always steady and I’m definitely not a good “drawer.”  Calligraphy was so…intimidating to me.  I guess that’s sort of embarrassing to admit, but whatever its 2015 anything goes!  I’ve found with a few tricks, anyone can impress themselves and their friends with a fancy card.

Let’s start with themes/fonts.  FUN fonts, to be specific.  Stray away from the thin, delicate looking fonts.  The theme part of the card is incorporated here into the words you choose – if you’d rather not put words, the same idea applies to images! I start by writing out my word/phrase (image) in the shape of the font, but using one stroke.  Next, shape those letters into the font you chose.  You can do this by making the outlines thicker or adding dimensions.  I like using bold letter outlines.  Fill in any blank spaces, and move on to the next font.

Fake Calligraphy

Fun fonts have made my life one zillion times easier – there are no special pens involved, and by shaping each letter you have multiple chances to make it look cohesive.  And I’m not the only one who thinks so!  Check out what Hayley found on Cupcakes and Cashmere’s blog from last June – I didn’t know there were real calligraphy classes!!

Calligraphy without Calligraphy Pen

Don’t be bummed if you’re card looks too blank – that’s where the doodle comes into play.  Dots, circles, arrows, stripes, flowers, swirls – anything goes.  These are space fillers, and really make the card unique.  This is where theme can also be enhanced – choose images that represent the idea of the card.

Copy Cat Calligraphy Card

When I first started drawing my own cards, I just used a thin, black sharpie.  I think the black keeps the card looking neater, especially if you haven’t mastered steady handwriting.  For design inspiration, look to quotations, an object to trace, a favorite doodle, or holiday – and don’t be ashamed of using the image searches!  There’s nothing that a good clip art-doodle-google search can’t fix, especially when thinking about fonts.  I used cookie cutters in this thank you card that I got while in Disney with a friend – use a pencil to outline, erase the lines, and trace with marker!

Stencil Calligraphy

Disney Calligraphy DIY Card Cookie Cutters

My favorite cards are pretty busy – lots of doodles, and different font styles…can you tell?  What are your favorite card styles? Don’t forget to email us, tag us @whattodowithlemons, and use the hashtag #wtdwlemons with your creations!

 

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