Sangria in the Summer

sangria pitcher

Fruity, refreshing cocktails go so well with many of my summer activities like sitting around for extended hours at the pool or watching kids ride bikes up and down the street. We also live in a beach town so that contributes to the summer cocktail vibe.

I rarely drink wine, but I will drink sangria. To kick off the summer season, I made a pitcher of sangria. My recipe has the fruit steep in rum for several hours before adding the wine, but I have seen recipes that use brandy and/or triple sec.

Ingredients

  • 1 orange
  • 1-2 lemons
  • 1-2 limes
  • 1 1/2 c. light rum
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle dry red wine
  • 1 c. orange juice
  • club soda

sangria fruit slices

Directions

  • Chill fruit, rum, wine, orange juice, and club soda.
  • Slice the lemon, lime, and orange into thin rounds and place in a large glass pitcher.
  • Add the sugar and rum and stir until sugar starts to dissolve. Chill in refrigerator 2+ hours.

sangria rum and sugar

  • Crush the rum soaked fruit slightly with something like a wooden spoon and stir in wine and orange juice.
  • When ready to serve, pour over ice leaving a little room at the top for a splash of club soda. Make sure to top with a few fruit slices.

sangria servingNotes

  • Since I don’t know how to pick out good wines, this is a good recipe for me because it is perfectly acceptable to use cheap red wine a la the sale aisle at the grocery store. Most recipes recommend Rioja, Pinot Noir, or Beaujolais.
  • Try to remove seeds from the fruit slices before adding to the pitcher.
  • Sangria is easy to serve from those party beverage dispensers with a spigot, and it transports well in go-cups.

sangria go cup

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The Chocolate Brownie Trifle

chocolate trifle finished

A friend once told me that all good southern desserts should have a crushed up candy bar added to them. Check and check. I brought this “Chocolate Bomb” (TheRoomDad’s official name for the dessert) with Heath bar sprinkles to the Memorial Day picnic we attended yesterday. I actually have a hard time eating very much of this brownie trifle because it is sooo chocolate-y, but no one else seemed to have a problem with it.

Trifles are a layered dessert with some type of cake pieces, pudding/cream filling, and another item like fruit (or candy) pieces in a footed glass dish. They are easy to assemble and must be made ahead of time, so the flavors and ingredients will meld. I think they make a great recipe choice for large groups.

chocolate trifle ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 boxes brownie mix (I use Betty Crocker fudge brownie mix)
  • 16 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
  • 3 (3.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding mixes
  • 4 c. milk
  • 6 (1.4 oz.) Heath candy bars, frozen
  • trifle dish (or other glass serving dish with tall sides)

Directions

  • Bake brownies according to the directions on the box for a double recipe. The Betty Crocker double batch bakes in a 15″ x 10″ pan. After the brownies cool completely, cut or break apart into large pieces. You will crumble the large pieces into bite size pieces as you layer into the trifle dish.

chocolate trifle brownie pieces

  • Pour the dry pudding mixes in a large bowl and add 4 c. milk (this is less milk than what the recipe on the box will indicate). Using a whisk, mix the pudding until smooth.
  • While the Heath bars are still in their wrapper, hit them on the counter to break apart. If they are frozen, they break apart more easily. After the candy bars are crumbled, open the wrapper.
  • In the trifle dish, create a bottom layer of bite sized brownie pieces. You can break the brownie into small pieces using your hands or cut into little pieces with a knife.

chocolate trifle layer 1

  • Spread a layer of chocolate pudding on the brownie pieces.

chocolate trifle layer 2

  • Spread a layer of Cool Whip on the pudding layer.

chocolate trifle layer 3

  • Sprinkle Heath bar pieces on the Cool Whip.

chocolate trifle layer 4

  • Repeat the layers ending with Heath bar sprinkles.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 2+ hours before serving.

chocolate trifle bite

Notes

  • One box of brownie mix is not quite enough, but you will have extra brownie pieces using a double batch. I usually have a little leftover pudding and Cool Whip too.

This recipe is not exactly swimsuit friendly, but I couldn’t resist. Do you eat delicious party food to kick off the summer, or do you lean towards “healthier” options?

chocolate trifle bite

Paper Pockets

paper pockets tied

Awhile ago I found This Pin for paper pouches that could be used for party favors or little sirsees. It was an easy sewing project (only required one straight sewn edge) and even had the option to assemble without sewing. The pockets reminded me of May Day baskets, and I knew they were a crafty RoomMom idea waiting to happen, so I saved the pin for a rainy day.

paper pocket w lottery ticketsToday is the rainy day. It turns out the paper pockets are just right for scratch off lottery tickets, which I deemed the 2014 end of year gift idea for all of the teachers and support staff at school who work with my Mr. Star Wars and Miss Priss. I purchased a big stack of $1 scratch off lottery tickets and filled the little envelopes. My kids added Avery 8163 Thank You Gift Labels that I printed and signed their names. We hole punched and tied the end with curly ribbon. The Original Post with the paper pouch directions had a different suggestion for sealing the end closed.

paper pockets materials

Materials

  • scrapbook paper pieces (6″ x 7″)
  • double sided adhesive roller (I used Scotch brand)
  • hole punch
  • curly ribbon
  • Avery white shipping labels (#8163– 2″ x 4″)

Directions

  • Using a paper cutter (essential), cut scrapbook paper into 6″ x 7″ pieces.
  • Using the double sided adhesive roller, place a sticky strip down two adjacent sides of the paper. There will be tape down a 6″ side and a 7″ side, and they will meet at the corner.

paper pocket adhesive directions

  • Roll the paper up to look like a toilet paper roll with the 6″ sticky side on the outside of the roll. Carefully make sure the edges line up straight. Press the 6″ side, so it sticks to the length of the side of paper beneath it forming the roll.

paper pocket rolled

  • The inside of one end of the roll will have the remaining sticky edge exposed. On a hard surface, press the edge down flat sealing the end closed.

paper pockets pressed end

  • If desired, sew a zig zag stitch along the pressed end leaving a 3/8″ seam allowance. Backstitch at the beginning and end, so the thread does not unravel. The sewn edge adds detail to the pocket but is not necessary.

paper pockets sewing

  • As an additional decorative edge, you can cut with craft scissors to add a scalloped border. My (crappy dull) craft scissors did not cut through two layers of paper well, and I ruined some of my ends.

paper pockets fancy edge

  • Gently press the pocket flat and attach a label to the front.
  • Hole punch the center of the open end.
  • Fill with treats.
  • Tie curly ribbon through the hole and use scissors to curl.

paper pockets pile

Alternate Finish

  • Do not press flat after sewing the one ending closed.
  • Fill with treats.
  • Holding the pocket with the closed end flat on the table, pinch the opening closed the opposite direction (up and down) and press the corners slightly.

paper pocket closed

  • Roll a little adhesive in the center of the open top and press firmly.
  • Sew (or use more adhesive) to finish closing.

paper pockets sewn closed

I know you are probably thinking, “Her teacher gift label should say ‘I am so lucky to have had you as a teacher this year’ since it would go so well with a lottery ticket and that is what everybody on Pinterest would do.” I just don’t do play-on-word notes.

5 more days of school where I work! Bring on summer…

Family Picnic

sun dried tomato pasta salad

We attended the annual end of year family picnic for my son’s Cub Scout den. The other moms usually request my Pasta with Pesto and Peas side dish that both adults and children love, but I decided to go rogue this year and bring a sun-dried tomato pasta salad.

The recipe is a little risky because it uses black olives. Many people (meaning TheRoomMom) avoid olives. However, this recipe has just enough olives to give a salty/briny taste without actually having a super olive-y flavor. I originally got the recipe from an Ina Garten cookbook and have tweaked it a little over time. With Memorial Day picnics just around the corner, this recipe might be something to consider.

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fusili pasta (corkscrew pasta)
  • kosher salt
  • good olive oil
  • 1 lb. ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
  • 1/4 c. black kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 lb. fresh mozarella, medium-diced
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
  • 1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 c. basil leaves cut in chiffonade (thin ribbons)

Dressing Ingredients

  • 5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 2 T. red wine vinegar
  • 6 T. good olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 1 t. capers, drained
  • 2 t. kosher salt
  • 3/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for the time given in the directions on the box (about 12 minutes). Drain well. Add pasta to a large bowl, and toss with a little olive oil (~2 t.) to keep from sticking together. Let the pasta cool.

sun dried tomato tomatoes

  • While pasta is cooling, seed the tomatoes and dice. I used Roma tomatoes because they looked like they would be the reddest and tastiest of my choices in the store. If you can get really good homegrown tomatoes in another variety, use them.
  • Pit (if needed) and chop the black olives into a very small dice. Chop 6 sun-dried tomatoes. Cut the mozzarella into medium dice.

sun dried tomato ingredients

  • Add diced tomatoes, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella to the cooled pasta and toss gently.

sun dried tomato dressing

  • For the dressing, combine the dressing ingredients (sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper) in a food processor and run the food processor until the dressing is almost smooth.

sun dried tomato add dressing

  • Pour the dressing over the pasta and toss well.
  • Just before serving, add basil and Parmesan cheese and toss again.

Notes

  • Can be made ahead.
  • It is served at room temperature, so it works well for tailgates, picnics, or group meals.
  • Diced artichoke hearts are a good addition.
  • Pairs well with grilled chicken or grilled steaks.

sun dried tomato paste close

 

Mother’s Day Monogrammed Umbrellas

monogrammed umbrellas khaki

I have totally been on a gift kick lately. I have several family member birthdays, Mother’s Day, and Teacher Appreciation in May; all good reasons to hunt around for fun little presents for people. If possible, I try to choose gifts that will work for many individuals, so I can mass produce or buy in bulk.

monogrammed umbrellas folded

I recently had coffee with a friend that I met through my children’s swim team. TheSwimFriend has been borrowing an embroidery machine and monogramming almost anything that will fit under the sewing machine foot. During coffee, she showed me a monogrammed umbrella. I had to have one (or five). After a quick trip to Target for travel sized umbrellas, I dropped off my purchases with TheSwimFriend who kindly monogrammed them for me.

monogrammed umbrella pink

I am hoping USPS has already delivered TheRoomMomMom’s Mother’s Day umbrella, so I am not ruining the surprise. Since I used travel size, my mom can leave the umbrella in her car or stuff it in her purse on a rainy day. I had one made for Mr. Star Wars’ teacher for an end of the year gift because the teachers at school have to walk about two blocks from the parking lot to the school, rain or shine. The umbrella is just the right size for a teacher bag. I have a few more ready for upcoming birthday gifts. My favorite combination is the navy and white polka dot umbrella with the kelly green monogram.

monogrammed umbrella polka dotTheSwimFriend played around with the monogram size and liked 3 1/2″ tall at the center point. The monogram also needs to have stabilizer on the back in order to keep the umbrella material from puckering.

My SwimFriend did this as a favor for me, and I would like to do something nice back. Any suggestions? TheSwimFriend has seen all of my recent gift ideas.

monogrammed umbrellas open