How to Make Summer Fruit Popsicles

FN_RReardin_13Aug1

In case you weren’t aware already, it’s really hot outside. Even on the days that our iPhones tell us it’s only 20ºC, we still find ourselves in a sweaty, frizzy-haired mess. And since we still have a few more weeks left of summer, I’m sharing the ultimate recipe for the quintessential frozen treat.

No, I’m not talking about the Frappucino you opt for over a steamy cup of coffee (no-brainer), or that cup of FroYo you eat for dinner a couple times a week (it’s summer vacation—duh!). I’m talking about the perfect, healthy alternative to tasty frozen desserts.

Instead of blowing all your money (and bikini bod!) on candy-covered yogurt and Frappa-whatevers, try my easy, inexpensive and refreshing recipes for real fruit popsicles.

Whether you make them for a mid-day snack or a BBQ dessert, you’re in for a real treat.

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Ingredients:

  • Popsicle molds (I got mine from Ikea)
  • Orange juice
  • Vanilla Greek yogurt
  • Strawberries
  • Peach
  • Raspberries
  • Banana
  • Kiwi
  • Blueberries
  • Ice
  • Large popsicle sticks
  • Gel pen
  • Magic Bullet Blender

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Directions:

1. I started with writing the different fruit combinations as labels on the popsicle sticks: fruit punch (a mix of whole fruit slices with orange juice), strawberry-banana (blended together), and blueberry-raspberry (blended separately with vanilla Greek yogurt).

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2. Prepare by slicing the kiwi and peach, and a few strawberries for the fruit punch popsicles (you can leave them whole for the strawberry-banana popsicles).

3. Using a blender (I used the Magic Bullet), blend strawberries and bananas with ice. Then blend raspberries, ice and vanilla Greek yogurt (about half as much as you made for with the strawberry-banana mix), followed by blueberries, ice and vanilla Greek yogurt. By the end you will have three different fruit blends. You can put the blueberry one in the fridge—we’ll get to that later.

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4. Pour the raspberry mix until the halfway mark of the container, and pour the strawberry-banana mix to the brim of the container. For the fruit punch pops, place kiwi, peach, strawberries and blueberries in the containers, and fill them with orange juice.

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5. Using the cardboard packaging from the popsicle molds to secure the sticks, place the labelled popsicle sticks into the molds, and put them in the freezer. After about two hours, take them out, and top the raspberry pops off with the blueberry mix, then put them back in the fridge and leave them overnight.

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6. Ready to enjoy the pops? Run each mold briefly under warm water (but don’t let the warm water touch the popsicle!) and they should slide right out. Enjoy!

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headshot Renée Reardin is a lifestyle writer and stylist living in Toronto. To learn more about her, visit www.reneereardin.com, and follow her on Twitter @reneereardin.

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Best Mason Jar Desserts for Any Picnic

FN_RReardin_8Aug

Salty snacks and comfort foods are great. But desserts? Desserts, I adore. The way I feel about cakes, ice cream, pies, and cookies is how Don Draper feels about his Lucky Strikes cigs. It’s basically impossible to get through the day without something sweet, and pretty rare not to see one in my hand.

However, unlike Lucky Stripes, desserts don’t come in secure little packaging, ready to be taken wherever you go. Until now that is.

I’m highlighting the best, tastiest, must-try desserts that can be made in a mason jar. It’s the perfect (read: essential) companion for any picnic. Just picture it; sitting on a blanket under a tree, with your own individualized, mess-free dessert in hand. Now that’s heaven.

Below, you’ll find eight easy recipes to make your own mason jar desserts. And you really should be making your own because I’m not sharing.

1. Banana Pudding from Lets Dish Recipes

What to do: Crush up ¼ bag of Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies and put half of them at the bottom of the jar. Make the filling found in this recipe and scoop some on top of the crushed cookies. Then, add whipped cream, banana slices, more filling, more whipped cream, and then top with banana slices.

2. Cheesecake from I Am Baker

What to Do: Make the crust and cheesecake from this recipe, but be sure to bake them separately. Crush up the crust and place into the mason jar as the first layer, and then do the same with the cheesecake. Cook strawberries and a few teaspoons of sugar over the stove (about 2 strawberries and 1 teaspoon of sugar per serving), let cool, and then scoop onto the cheesecake.

3. Birthday Cake from Babble

What to Do: Using this classic vanilla birthday cake recipe and vanilla buttercream icing recipe, whip up a batch of each, adding sprinkles to the batter and dye to the icing (if preferred). Crumble up the cake, use one scoop for the first layer of the mason jar cake, add icing, then add more crumbled cake and more icing, and top with a couple of candles.

4. S’Mores from How Sweet It Is

What to Do: Crumble up graham cracker and make a batch of this chocolate cake and crumble. Put the cracker pieces in the mason jar for the first layer, the chocolate cake for the second, and put a few large mashmallows on a baking sheet, broil them for a couple minutes until golden, then carefully push them down in the mason jar to top off the s’mores dessert.

5. Butterfinger Pie from Crumbs and Chaos

What to Do: Whip up a batch of this cheesecake crust, and the follow Crumb and Chaos’ recipe for the filling. Layer the crumbled crust then the peanut butter filling into a mason jar, then top with whipped cream and a piece of Butterfinger.

6. Eclairs in a Jar from Me and My Pink Mixer

What to Do: Crush up one quarter bag of Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies and put half of them at the bottom of the jar. Scoop in French vanilla pudding, and top with this chocolate frosting and a few sliced almonds.

7. Lemon Meringue Pie from It All Started with Paint

What to Do: Start with this cheesecake crust crumbled at the base of the mason jar. The more experienced bakers can go ahead and cook and crumble the lemon curd filling and meringue from our famous recipe, but the rest of us (Aye!) can simply follow the instructions on the “Cook & Serve” box of Jell-O.

8. Apple Pie from Eat Boutique

What to Do: Make this “Blue Ribbon” apple pie crust and filling, baking and crumbling separately. First put the crumbled crust into the jar, followed by the apple filling, then sprinkle lightly with more pie crust.

headshot Renée Reardin is a lifestyle writer and stylist living in Toronto. To learn more about her, visit www.reneereardin.com, and follow her on Twitter @reneereardin.

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How to Make a Naked Cake

FN_RReardin_6Aug

I’d (quite confidently) call myself an expert in cupcakes. I can whip up a batch and have them frosted with a pretty swirl design in no time. But cakes? Cakes are another story. The finished product all too often resembles something that the cat dragged in.

And so, I decided it was time to work on my gateau design skills, and find a way for that typical messy icing to actually add some charm to the design.

It’s called a Naked Cake. In case you haven’t been on Pinterest in a while, it’s probably the biggest trend in cakes right now. And lucky for me, it’s ridiculously easy to create.
Intrigued? Follow my easy steps to see how I pulled it off. New bakers are definitely welcome!

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First thing to do is gather the materials. Follow this recipe for your classic white cake, and this recipe for vanilla buttercream icing. You will need two batches of each.

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As for flowers to top the cake, I went for a bundle of white Freesias, and five roses in light pink, darker pink and yellow.

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You’ll have four cakes in total. With a serrated knife, cut off the top of each cake, so you’re left with a flat surface.

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Spoon a hefty amount of icing onto the surface of the bottom cake, and use a butter knife to carefully dab and spread it around. Be careful not to smear it or you’ll risk getting bits in the icing. When you’re finished one layer, turn the cake around to make sure it’s all covered. Then pile the next layer on top, and do the same.

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It’s okay to be a little messy! The icing shouldn’t be too perfect.

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Once all the cake tops have been frosted, it’s time to add the flowers. I started with the Freesias on the bottom, and placed the roses on top.

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After the roses, I added a few more Freesias in between the roses to make it full.

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And that’s it! The naked cake is perfect for wedding showers, baby showers, birthdays, and other celebratory events. Or if you’re like me, an ordinary Tuesday night.

headshot Renée Reardin is a lifestyle writer and stylist living in Toronto. To learn more about her, visit www.reneereardin.com, and follow her on Twitter @reneereardin.

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