How to Dye Easter Eggs

April 14, 2014 by  
Filed under Holidays, How To

Dying Easter eggs is a great activity to share with the kids, just prepare ahead to prevent messes. You don’t have to buy the special egg dye kits in the supermarket, instead use the food colorings that you already have in your kitchen cupboard or try some of these natural methods to dye eggs.

How to Dye Eggs

Easter Eggs

Easter Eggs (Photo credit: GraceFamily)

Protect All Surfaces

Cover your table with plastic, then add another layer of newspaper. Wear old clothes that you don’t mind getting dyed and think about wearing gloves if you don’t want multi-colored hands.

 You Need:

  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Plastic Table Cloth
  • Newspaper
  • Bowls or Cups
  • Food Coloring or natural coloring materials
  • Vinegar
  • Spoons
  • Paper Towels
  • Colander or Egg Tray


How to Dye With Food Dye

  1.  Add 1 teaspoon of vinegar to 1 cup of boiling water. Add food coloring by the drop until the water is a deep shade of the desired color. You want the colors strong, they will be lighter on the egg
  2. Dip the hard-boiled eggs into the coloring with a spoon and let them soak. The color darkens as the egg soaks. Remove the egg when the color is your desired shade. Place them on paper towels to dry.
  3. Create patterns on the eggs before dying by wrapping them with rubber bands or string, or drawing on them with wax crayons. You can create multi-colored eggs by dipping eggs in several colors, soaking only part of the egg at each time.

Dying Eggs with Natural Foods

  1.  You can also use the natural colors found in foods to color eggs. Simmer the colored plant or vegetable in water until the water is colored.
  2.  Strain the water and add 2 to 3 teaspoons of white vinegar for each cup of colored juice.
  3.  Soak the eggs as before. Some colors may require long soaking times, so keep them in the refrigerator while soaking.

Try these colors:

  • Red or Pink: Beet juice, cranberry juice, cherry juice, raspberry juice and pomegranate juice.
  •  Yellow or Gold: Tumeric
  •  Orange: Carrots or paprika
  •  Green: Spinach
  • You can also use herbal teas and flowers. Experiment and have fun.


Creating Natural Patterns

Interesting patterns can also be created by applying leaves or flowers directly to the egg before boiling. Start with raw eggs and place the leaves directly against the egg. Hold them in position with a layer of cheese cloth tied tightly around the egg. Boil them for 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the eggs and allow them to cool. Remove the cheesecloth and leaves to reveal your natural patterned eggs.


Tie-Dyed Eggs


  1. Fill a small bowl or cup half full with white vinegar. Dip hard-boiled eggs into the vinegar, turning it to coat the egg.
  2. Place the colander or egg carton on several layers of newspaper to absorb spills.
  3. Drop food coloring onto the egg, letting the colors run together as desired. For best results, start with lighter colors.
  4. Use a toothpick or small brush to move the color around on the egg as desired. Kids might enjoy blowing the drops of color around with a well-aimed straw. You don’t have to cover the entire egg, leave a little white space.
  5. Let each color set for a minute before adding the next color, then let the eggs dry before handling them.  You can rinse off extra color or blot it off with a paper towel.
  6. Gently rinse the excess dye off of the eggs and place them on a paper towel to air dry.
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An Easy Superbowl Party Idea — Grilled Quesadillas

January 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Holidays

I first posted this in 2007, when I had a house full of young men. Things have changed and it is quiet around here now. We still love these Quesadillas. Buy some flour tortillas and cheese and clean out your refrigerator for leftovers to use as fillings — meat, vegetables, whatever you have.  I cook these on my electric grill.

My Original Post:

I’m not really a football fan, so to me the Superbowl not a note-worthy event.  I never planned a party, never intended to have a party.  However, it seems that if you have give birth to four boys, then you are automatically drafted to host the party on short notice 18-25 years later.

Our house is always full of teenage boys, so I should have planned ahead I guess.  Anyway, I am now hosting a Super Bowl Party.

I am choosing to serve Quesadillas, mainly because they are so cheap, easy, and versatile.  If you have tortillas and cheese, you can make Quesadillas with whatever is in your fridge and pantry.  I’ll also serve some Nacho’s.  Maybe even throw in some Hot Wings if they are  nice to me.  (They always are.)  I probably should buy some munchies and sodas as well.

Here is a recipe and some further ideas for Quesadillas.  You can toast these in a skillet, in the oven, or I usually just throw them on the George Foreman, two at a time.  No need for a quesadilla maker.  (The grill does put ridges on them, but who cares?)  Don’t stuff these too heavily, a little filling makes a nice easily manageable finger food.  Just make (and eat) more of them.

Grilled Quesadillas

4 flour tortillas

1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded

1 cup stemmed, coarsely chopped watercress or arugula

1 tablespoon thinly sliced red onion

1 tablespoon tomato, finely chopped

1 tablespoon garlic (optional)

1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Lightly oil the grill rack and place it about 4 inches above the coals.

Over medium heat, grill the tortillas for about 1 minute. Turn over and sprinkle with the remaining ingredients. Cover loosely with heavy-duty foil (or the grill hood) and cook until cheese melts (about 1 minute), checking to ensure that tortillas do not burn.

To serve, remove from grill and cut into wedges. Serve with salsa, guacamole or sour cream.

Other Filling Ideas

Use a mixture of Morzarella and Feta Cheese, greek olives, and diced onions.  Flavor with fresh or dried oregano, basil, and rosemary.

Use Monterey Jack cheese and cheddar cheese mix with diced roasted chicken.  Add fresh or grilled onions and bell peppers.

Stuff with grilled or lightly stir-fried vegetables such as zucchini, onion, mushrooms, peppers… any that you like.  Add a slice of provolone cheese or freshly grated parmesan.

Enjoy!  Dee

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Gingerbread Houses – Step-by-Step

December 1, 2013 by  
Filed under Desserts, Holidays, How To

by Alison Anton

There’s no better way to spark up the holiday cheer than to create a gingerbread house with the whole family. My mom, brother and I made these every year that I can remember as a child. My mom would make the dough from her old authentic German recipe handed down from her mom’s mom, and we’d cut out the patterns, assemble the house, frost it and adorn it from top to bottom.

Things have changed a little bit since then… I adapted the dough so that it is easier to work with, and I always make sure to use all-natural ingredients and candies that have no high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils or food colorings. I also incorporate dried fruits, nuts and seeds (a phenomenon that would not have occurred in the home-designs of the 70’s). Goji berries and banana chips were definitely the favorites this year!

Since the icing has to hold all the candies in place throughout the weeks before Christmas, it uses about one ton of powdered sugar that allows the icing to get rock-hard within about 30-45 minutes of being exposed to the air. I generally do not recommend powdered sugar since it is goes through such a vigorous refinement process, but for such a specific purpose, I just don’t see any way around it.

Plan to set aside at least 3 hours for making your gingerbread houses, from start to finish. The dough and frosting can be made several days in advance (see storage techniques below). The dough or baked cookies can be frozen for several months until ready to use.


Enjoy and have a very merry Christmas!

RECIPE: Gingerbread Houses – Baking, Assembling and Decorating
Yield: 1 large house (House A) OR 2 medium houses (House B) and 1 small house (House C)

This recipe makes a crisp cookie that can withstand the test of being frosted, adorned with candies and oogled over for weeks during the holiday season. The extra dough can be rolled and cut out into ginger people, but know that the cookies will be a touch harder than a typical gingerbread cookie.
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups organic soft brown sugar
1 cup light organic sugar
1/4 cup molasses or sorghum syrup
4 eggs
4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon allspice
1/2 cup light organic sugar

Gingerbread house ready to be assembled. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MAKING THE DOUGH: Blend the butter with the sugars and molasses in an electric mixer on medium speed until light and creamy (put the molasses into the mixer before turning it on or you will have molasses everywhere but in the dough). Add in the eggs and blend another 1-2 minutes.
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and gradually add them into the mixer, scraping down the sides until incorporated. The dough will be slightly crumbly.

Remove the dough to a large bowl or a flat work surface. Bring the dough together with your hands, working it until the dough forms a smooth mass that holds together easily. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate at least 30-60 minutes before rolling.

ROLLING: Divide the dough into five pieces. Roll each piece out on a flat, floured work surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out the patterns for the house using the templates. Work quickly, as the dough is easier to cut and shape while it is still cool. Using a pastry or pizza spatula, carefully lift the pieces onto sheet pans lined with a baking liner or parchment paper (or double up two sheet pans) to keep the cookies from burning.

BAKING: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Bake 10 minutes, until golden, rotating the cookies halfway through baking. Cool on the pan for 1-2 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack to cool completely before assembling.

SUGAR GLUE: Heat the 1/2 cup sugar in a medium sauté pan over medium heat until it bubbles and turns a very dark brown, 8-12 minutes.

ASSEMBLING: Have ready a sturdy surface on which to place your house (inverted sheet pan, wooden or plastic cutting board, sturdy cake board, etc.)

Prepare the sugar glue, keeping it on low heat while working so that it doesn’t harden up.

Have ready a house side panel and a front or back panel. Place them together to get an idea of how they will fit. Dip the edges that will come together into the sugar glue and very quickly hold them together, assembling them at the proper angle. It should hold within 10-20 seconds. Adhere the back panel and the other side panel in the same fashion.

To assemble the roof, very quickly drizzle the sugar glue onto the top edges of one side of the house. Place one of the roof cutouts on top of the house, letting it adhere to the glue. Repeat for the other roof cutout. Drizzle glue along the top of the roof where the two panels come together.

Assemble the chimney by dipping the edges of the pieces into the glue and holding them to the roof. Assemble the door, leaving it slightly ajar. You can do the same for window panels, if desired.

Royal Icing
Yield: for 1 large house (House A) OR 2 medium houses (House B) and 1 small house (House C)
This icing gets rock-hard in order to keep the candies on top of the house and to hold throughout the weeks before Christmas. If you plan to decorate a snow-drifted yard with your house, make a double batch of the icing. This recipe uses raw egg whites, but if you are hesitant, they can be substituted with meringue powder for the same affect (use recipe from any packaged meringue powder).
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 pound organic powdered sugar, sifted or whirled in a food processor

Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar until the frosting stands in firm peaks and is stiff enough to hold a sharp line when cut through with a knife.

STORAGE: Place a piece of plastic wrap over the frosting so that the plastic is in direct contact with the frosting. Wrap the bowl in plastic and store refrigerated for up to 2 days.
While working, keep the bowl of frosting covered with a damp towel to keep it from drying out. Once spread onto the house and exposed to the air, it will harden up within 15-25 minutes. Decorate one panel at a time and work quickly!

Decorating Ideas:
Nuts and seeds
Dried fruits
Chocolate dipped dried fruits
Candied ginger slices
Banana chips
Pretzel fences
Panda brand red licorice
Shredded coconut for icicles and frosty trees
Ice cream cone trees

About the Author:

I am a Certified Nutritional Chef, food writer and culinary instructor through Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts in Northern California. I teach cooking and nutrition classes through the Whole Foods Market Salud Cooking School and write a monthly eLetter, also entitled Whole Gourmet Natural Cooking, to a wide audience.

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Leftovers: Thanksgiving Sandwiches

November 29, 2013 by  
Filed under Holidays, Quick and Easy

By: Amanda Jade

My family takes Thanksgiving seriously.  Growing up, we regularly had a half dozen or more guests at our place throughout the day, plus even more for the leftover days.  I’m fairly certain it had to do with Mom’s Thanksgiving Sandwiches.  There are only so many days one can eat the same meal on a plate and we always made enough to feed an army,  So one year Mom got creative.  She took a good sized spoonful of stuffing, tossed it into a sauté pan with a bit of oil and bits and pieces of the collection of leftovers and pan-fried the most delicious sandwich I’ve ever had (second only to her fried meatloaf sandwiches, it’s a trend).

This recipe is rather fast and loose with the ingredients, as everyone makes a different variation on Thanksgiving Dinner.  Feel free to be as creative as you would like! Try it as a wrap!

Use leftovers to make a Thanksgiving sandwich, ...

Use leftovers to make a Thanksgiving sandwich. photo taken in Preston, UK — Ein Club-Sandwich, Foto aufgenommen in Preston, UK (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


  • Stuffing
  • Turkey, shredded
  • Green Beans
  • Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Bread
  • Mayo or other Condiments
  • Honey Baked Ham, sliced and shredded, optional
  • Butter or Oil


  1.   Heat a little butter or oil in a pan and add the turkey, ham and green beans.  Cook until just heated through.
  2.   Add the stuffing and mashed potatoes, creating a kind of pancake and incorporating everything into a patty-like shape.
  3.   Apply mayo to your bread and add your Thanksgiving patty.
  4.   Drizzle gravy and cranberry sauce over your Thanksgiving patty.
  5.   Consume carefully to avoid wasting even a tiny drop.

I have made this recipe using other Holiday leftovers.  I’ve even added a scrambled egg to keep it all held together.  Macaroni and cheese makes a great mashed potato substitute, as does cheesy mashed cauliflower.  Sometimes I even pull this one out on leftovers day, just for a change.  The possibilities are limited only to what you have in your fridge.

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Little Smokey Recipes

November 24, 2013 by  
Filed under Appetizers, Holidays

By: Amanda Jade

Occasionally my family buys Little Smokeys as finger foods.  We have a pair of very simple recipes that turn this into a delicious and memorable meal:  Pigs in a Blanket and Sweet and Sour Smokeys. These recipes are great as appetizers or on a buffet.


Pigs in a Blanket Ingredients:

English: American-style pigs in blankets.

English: American-style pigs in blankets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1 package Little Smokeys

2 packages Crescent Rolls


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and oil a cookie sheet.

2.  Open Crescent Rolls and cut each one into quarters.  Roll out into pieces approximately 3 inches by 1 inch.  You do not have to be exact.

3.  Open Little Smokeys package.  Roll each one in the crescent rolls so that just the two tiny ends stick out.  Place on cookie sheet.

4.  Bake the Pigs in a Blanket in the oven until golden brown, 12-15 minutes.  Oven times may vary.


Sweet and Sour Smokeys Ingredients:

2 cups Grape Jelly

2 Tablespoons Yellow Mustard

1 package Little Smokeys


1.  In a small saute pan, heat the grape jelly on medium heat.

2.  Add mustard and stir to combine.  Simmer for five minutes or until desired thickness is reached.

3.  Add Little Smokeys, simmering until sauce has thickened.


These two recipes can be made together using the Sweet and Sour Smokey recipe as a sauce for the Pigs in a Blanket.  Fun as finger foods, snacks or appetizers!

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Rock Cornish Game Hens with Cranberry-Orange Glaze

November 23, 2013 by  
Filed under Holidays, Meats

Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free
This is an elegantly delicious recipe that requires minimum work, perfect for a romantic holiday meal for 2. You can roast the hens whole if you prefer, but I halve them first to save on roasting time. These hens are too small to carve properly anyway.

Roasted Cornish Game Hen, Photo License CreativeCommons

Roasted Cornish Game Hen, Photo License CreativeCommons

You could add an orange slice or two if you’d like an additional garnish, but the colors of the orange cranberry sauce are great just poured over the hens. Simmer the sauce for only long enough to cook the cranberries. Too long will reduce them to a thick sauce that, while tasty, isn’t as pretty.
Two hens will serve 4. If there are two of you, you can easily halve the recipe. I complete this meal with a wild rice pilaf and crisp peas in the pod, but you could serve it with traditional holiday sides for an intimate Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Rock Cornish Game Hens with Cranberry-Orange Glaze

12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 rock Cornish game hens, completely thawed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a roasting pan or thick baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup.
  2. Combine the cranberries, sugar, orange zest and orange juice in a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir gently until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low, cover and simmer until the berries have popped, about 5 minutes. You will hear a popping sound if you are nearby, otherwise you will see that they have broken open.
  4. Cook 2 more minutes, then remove from the heat.
  5. Halve the rock Cornish game hens. Using a sharp knife, cut through the hen at the center of the breast, continuing to cut through the soft breast bone. Grab each side of the breast and pull apart and backwards to crack the backbone. Then, cut through the hen at the cracked bone. You will have two halves, one slightly larger than the other. If you prefer, you can remove the backbone by cutting it from the larger half, leaving you with two equal halves. Repeat with the other hen.
  6. Rinse the hen halves and pat dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper the cavity side.
  7. Place the hens onto the prepared baking sheet, skin side up.
  8. Brush the sauce evenly over the hens. Leave the cranberries in the pan, just brush with the juices of the cranberry sauce, coating generously.
  9. Roast the hens at 400 degrees until they are done and the juices run clear when pierced with a fork in the thick part of the thigh. It will take about 30 to 40 minutes depending on the size of your hens, but check them after 25 minutes and brush again with more sauce.
  10. Reheat the sauce again if needed and spoon over the hen halves on the serving plate. Garnish with an orange slice if desired.
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My Thanksgiving Menu

November 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Holidays, Uncategorized

Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving dinner(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thanksgiving has always been a big traditional holiday in my family. Friends and family from far and near gather to give thanks for all of God’s gifts. We celebrate with a big feast. My memories of thanksgiving center around the time I spend in the kitchen cooking with my mother and my own kids. We work all day to create the feast, but the conversations we shared are more important than the food.

It is so many times easier to do the cooking yourself, rather than ask for “help” from children. However, I encourage you to avoid taking the easy way out. Cook alongside your children, teach them not only to cook, but also to love.

I hope this menu helps you plan your own Thanksgiving feast. While this menu has quite a bit of cooking to be done, I will do some of it the day before. You can downsize it to fit your family and time available or ask the guests to bring one dish each. I am serving smoked turkey this year, it is so much easier, but I have included links for Roasted Turkey and Deep Fried Turkey for your conveniece. If you are roasting your turkey, consider brining it, if you have the time.  All the recipes are posted her on Easy Southern Cooking. Enjoy! Diane

My Thanksgiving Menu

Toasted PecansDeviled Eggs
Smoked Turkey , Roasted Turkey or Deep Fried Turkey
Giblet Gravy or Turkey Gravy
Sausage Apple Pecan Stuffing
Creamed New Potatoes
Grated Sweet Potato Pudding
Green Beans with Bacon and Onions
Baked Squash Casserole
Holiday Cranberry Salad
Heavenly Ambrosia
Sweet Potato Pie / Pecan Pie
Iced Tea

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How to Make Turkey Giblet Gravy

November 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Holidays, How To, Meats

Begin the giblet gravy while the turkey is roasting and finish it off with the pan juices while the turkey is resting. This recipe is a classic in my family and produces enough gravy for your holiday meal and leftovers.

Turkey Giblet Gravy Recipe

Giblets from turkey
8 cups cold water
1 onion
4 stalks celery, plus tops, leaves and trimmings
handful of fresh parsley or 1 Tablespoon dried
2 boiled eggs, optional
drippings from turkey
additional chicken broth may be needed

1. While the turkey is cooking, cover the giblets and neck bone with 8 cups cold water.
2. Add onion, celery and parsley and simmer for 2 hours.
3. Strain, and set aside until turkey is done and you’re ready to make gravy.
4. Pick the meat off the turkey neck and chop the giblets, if desired.
5. When the turkey is done, remove it to serving platter and drain all juices from the roasting pan into a cup or bowl to separate fat from broth.
6. Skim the fat from the pan, measure and place into the roasting pan with an equal measure of flour.
7. Put the roasting pan on the burner, cook and stir to brown the flour.
8. Measure 1 cup of broth for each tablespoon of flour used. Add chicken broth if needed to make full amount. Add the turkey drippings and measured broth to the flour in the roasting pan. Cook, stirring to loosten any browned bits in the bottom of the roasting pan.
9. Add salt and pepper and a pinch of oregano. Simmer gravy until thickened.
10. Add the meat and giblets back to the gravy. My mother always adds 2 chopped boiled eggs as well.

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Toasted Pecans Recipe

November 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Appetizers, Holidays


pecans (Photo credit: meghanmconrad)

1 pound pecan halves (or other nuts)
2 Tablespoons butter
Salt to taste
Additional seasonings if desired

Spread the pecans and butter into a single layer on a baking pan. Place into a 300 degree oven, stirring frequently roast until pecans are lightly toasted, approximately 20-30 minutes.
Remove from oven and season to taste.

You can use hot pepper sauce, cayenne pepper, etc. if desired. I prefer plain salt. If using hot pepper sauce, add it with the butter before toasting.

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Smoked Turkey and Other Turkey Tips

November 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Holidays, Tips

Pre-Smoked Turkey is an Easy Holiday Entree

My Thanksgiving meal is always a very traditional meal, just like my mother always made. My only concession to convenience is my smoked turkey. I purchase a pre-smoked turkey at the grocery store. The turkey is pre-cooked, and requires only thawing and reheating. It is tender and moist, with wonderful smoked turkey flavor. It is so easy, and my family likes it so much, that we occasionally cook one for parties or busy weeks and freeze the leftovers. Without the long cooking time of a raw bird, turkey can be enjoyed anytime.  The downside of this is that you don’t get the giblets, so you have to settle for regular turkey gravy. To cook, simply follow the reheating instructions on the package.

Smoked Turkey

Smoked Turkey (Photo credit: SaucyGlo)

Other Turkey Tips

Did you know that you can get the butcher to cut your turkey in half? If you have a small family and don’t need a lot of leftovers, have the butcher cut the (frozen) turkey in half lengthwise. Place one half in the freezer for a future meal and use half for your holiday meal.

You can also have the turkey sliced in 3/4 inch slices crosswise for easy turkey nuggets. Thaw a slice, remove the bones, batter and fry for cheap and easy turkey nuggets. Even easier is to slice a turkey breast for boneless nuggets and turkey tenders. Stock up while prices are low.

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