A Day in the Country

If you live in the city, a family day in the country may be exactly what you need. Taking a break from the hustle and bustle of daily city life could give your family a new perspective on spending time together. Visit a farm, spend the day at a lake or take a hike in the woods. All of these options could make for great family togetherness.  Even if you live in the country, spending a relaxing day at a favorite location will be a day to remember.

A day to relax should not be complicated. Plans should be flexible. Preparing a simple picnic lunch will eliminate the need to find a place to eat and give you a chance to spread out a quilt and listen to nature.

Involving the family in plans and preparation will heighten the anticipation. Let the kids help bake some cookies and/or plan the picnic menu. Make a list of all necessary items. Remember to pack paper plates, napkins, garbage bags for clean-up, hand sanitizer, insect repellent and sunscreen. Don’t forget the cooler with ice for drinks and foods that need to stay cool.

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Easy Cowboy Cookies

 

Martha White® Muffin Mixes come in handy for easy treats. Here is a trio of cookies made with Martha White Chocolate Chip Muffin Mix that are so easy the kids will love to help you make them:

Do you have ideas for great day trips that you have experienced with your family?

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Chocolate Chip Muffin Cookies

Southern Spring Party Appetizers

There are usually so many things to celebrate in the spring. Graduations, weddings, end-of-year school parties, the random baby shower, birthday or anniversary party. These events may range from casual to fancy, but in the South we’re all about entertaining in our own personal style. Plan a party that blends your style with the style of the honorees and don’t hesitate to ask friends to help.

Thankfully, it’s a great time of the year to decorate with seasonal flowers and greenery. You may be able to use flowers and plants from your own yard or from a friend or neighbor’s yard.

Food is where your style can shine. Think about family favorite recipes, traditional and regional favorite recipes or trendy new recipes that reflect your preferences. If you are into your heritage and family history, include some of your family’s best loved recipes. These recipes are easy to incorporate into a bridal tea, baby shower, anniversary party or birthday party.

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I was thinking recently of a Southern appetizer that was always on our tea menus in college home economics – refreshing cucumber sandwiches. We made them with a seasoned spread of cream cheese and/or mayonnaise on little rounds of crustless bread and topped with sliced cucumber. Blue and Cheddar Cheese Straws and Wafers are a Southern party staple as are country ham biscuits. Cheesy Country Ham Biscuit Bites are an easier version of the original, but are always a hit!

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What are your favorite party foods?

Southern Desserts Inspire Muffins

Muffin mixes have become a pantry staple. By having a few packages on hand you can always come up with a quick breakfast, a snack or party treat.

Over the years we’ve realized how versatile a muffin mix can be. A fresh, warm muffin is welcome any time of the day. By adding simple ingredients like nuts, dried fruit or baking chips, you can transform a convenient mix into your signature muffin. For inspiration, think about how some of your favorite desserts can be transformed into something new.  I used Southern classic recipes to help create the recipes below.

Banana Pudding Muffins include fresh banana pieces and a creamy vanilla pudding filling.  Baked muffins are encased in a charming vanilla wafer cup. Great for a snack or breakfast, these muffins are easy and fun to make with a little help from your kids.

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A Martha White® Chocolate Chocolate Chip Flavored Muffin Mix is the perfect starting point for the Mississippi Mud Muffin recipe. With the addition of oil and egg the muffin mix they become more cake-like. Topping muffins with mini marshmallows, fudge sauce and toasted pecans completes the transformation from a basic muffin to a delicious snack or casual dessert.

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Hummingbird Cupcakes are sure to be a hit. The addition of crushed pineapple and bananas to the Martha White Banana Nut Flavored Muffin Mix makes the cupcakes moist and delicious. Topping the cupcakes with a swirl of cream cheese icing will have everyone thinking you made them from scratch!

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Corn Cake Salad with Mixed Greens and Bacon

We’re finally getting into fresh produce season! It won’t be long before the dinner table consists of locally grown produce and cornbread. Tender spring lettuces and cherry tomatoes are available now, so start taking advantage of them.

Traditional Southern salads were rarely the combination of greens and fresh vegetables we favor today, possibly due to hot weather and limited refrigeration. Many salads were made with marinated vegetables – like cucumbers and onions, coleslaw and bean salads. Wild greens like poke sallet, dandelion greens and watercress were gathered for food and medicinal purposes. And, of course, potato, chicken and seafood salads were often served at picnics or parties along the coast.

Green salads as we know them today became more popular with the availability of a larger variety of produce and improved refrigeration. I can remember when topping a green salad with chicken or steak was the greatest new idea! Now the range of salad combinations is limited only by the creative instinct of great cooks and chefs.

Corn Cake Salad with Mixed Greens and Bacon LOW

Corn Cake Salad with Mixed Greens and Bacon puts a delicious spin on the way we usually think about cornbread. A salad of mixed greens is topped with delectable little corn cakes made with corn kernels, Parmesan cheese and chives. Sprinkle with bacon, cherry tomatoes, blue cheese and drizzle with raspberry vinaigrette. What a wonderful way to celebrate spring!

A Mother’s Day Care Package for Mom

Remember how wonderful it was to get those care packages from Mom when you were away at camp or in college? More than the homemade cookies and cake, a package from home was filled with love and memories. Over time, the nostalgia was replaced by the joy of sharing the special treats with all your friends.

Why not use this Mother’s Day as an opportunity to thank your mother for her thoughtfulness by making a care package for her? Think of how thoughtful this will be, especially if you can’t be with your mother on Mother’s Day. Even if you will be together, sending mom home with a care package or having one delivered to her will extend your appreciation for days to come.

If shipping a package, select treats that will travel well and stay fresh for several days. You may want to send mom something that you remember receiving from her. Do you have any specialties of your own that she enjoys?  Almond Raspberry Bars and “Go To” Southern Corn Meal Cookies are two of my favorite cookie recipes sure to be appreciated by your mother.

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For packaging your treats – baskets, plastic bags, tins or waxed paper lined boxes can all be decorated with stickers or tied with a ribbon for an inexpensive presentation. For shipping, be sure to pad baked goods with layers of waxed paper. Pack tightly so that the contents don’t move around in the box or tin.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers who so richly deserve a special day to celebrate you!

Look What We’ve Added to Our Gluten Free Product Line!

Martha White® is pleased to tell you that a new product has been added to our line of gluten free products – Martha White Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuit Mix. This mix joins the existing Martha White gluten free muffin and cornbread mixes.

These mixes can provide new and delicious alternatives to traditional mixes. With Martha White Gluten Free Blueberry Flavored Muffin Mix, Gluten Free Chocolate Flavored Muffin Mix with Real Chocolate Chips, Gluten Free Sweet Yellow Cornbread and Muffin Mix and Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuit Mix, you have more options than ever.

Packaged in an easy-to-store convenient pouch, all you add to the muffin and biscuit mixes is milk. The cornbread mix calls for milk and an egg. Easy to stir up and you can have fresh baked treats in just a few minutes.

Deliciously made by the package directions, these mixes can also provide a shortcut to delectable recipes. Just go to www.marthawhite.com and search gluten free. You’ll find lots of delicious recipes for dressed up muffins, breakfast treats, desserts, main dishes and side dishes. These recipes are sure to inspire you to create your own recipes using these products. As I’m sure you know, be sure to check the ingredient label of any added ingredients to make sure they are gluten free.

For a quick muffin variation, try Gluten Free* Blueberry Muffin Tops and Gluten Free* Chocolate Walnut Muffin Tops. Easy, delicious and you don’t even need a muffin pan!

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*Ensure all recipe ingredients are gluten free by referencing the ingredient labels, as products may vary. If uncertain, contact the ingredient manufacturer.

Strawberry Muffin Waffles

This post comes to us from our friend Brandie at The Country Cook.

It’s amazing to me how creative we can get when we are wanting something for dessert, yet don’t have anything actually prepared for dessert. That’s when I start digging around in my pantry for something that will satisfy my sweet tooth but doesn’t necessarily require a ton of work on my part. It is for this reason that I always keep my favorite flavors of Martha White® muffin mixes in my pantry. Sure, I could make muffins with them, but I thought, why not make waffles? You get those crispy edges with a soft, fluffy middle. It takes less than 10 minutes to whip these up and bake them up in the waffle maker. I used my favorite Strawberry Cheesecake flavor and topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Dessert was finished in a flash and I can freeze any leftovers for another time! I’ve also made blueberry waffles and apple cinnamon waffles using Martha White® muffin mixes. Once you start making these, you will find so many combinations of flavors to love!

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh strawberries
2 tbsp. sugar
2 packets Martha White® Strawberry (or Strawberry Cheesecake) Muffin Mix
1 cup milk
Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
whipped cream, for topping

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Directions:
Preheat waffle maker. Turn it onto a medium-high heat which on many waffle makers would be between number 4 and 5. While it’s preheating, hull and slice strawberries. Place sliced strawberries into a medium bowl, sprinkle with sugar. Stir well, then pop into the fridge until ready to use.

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Mix together packets of muffin mix with milk. Combine well (batter will be lumpy.)

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Once waffle maker is ready, spray both sides of the waffle maker plates with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray.

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Then pour about a cup of batter into the waffle maker. Close the lid. Note: I have a Belgian waffle maker so these are pretty thick. Please adjust batter amounts according to your waffle maker manufacturer’s instructions.

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Waffle maker will beep or a light will flash when ready.

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Remove waffle carefully from the waffle maker.

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Top with strawberries that you prepared and dollop with a squirt (or ten) of whipped cream.

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