There’s nothing like a basket of fresh strawberries to give you the feeling that summer’s on the way. Strawberries are one of the most popular fruits — in fact, ninety-four percent of households in the U.S. consume strawberries, and the average person eats about 3.4 pounds of fresh strawberries per year and 1.8 pounds of frozen berries. Continue reading
Delicious food and travel come together in desserts from around the world! One of the finest parts of travel is exposure to new regional food favorites. Even if a Eurotrip is not in your near future, trying dishes from around the world is one way to experience other countries and cultures from the comfort of your own kitchen. While ice cream, brownies, and patriotic berry pie are certainly enough to satisfy any sweet tooth, you must try these desserts from around the world at least once.
This egg-based pastry makes its way to American kitchens from Portugal. The outside is crispy and brown, and a creamy custard tops this dessert. Pastéis de Nata is perfect paired with decaf coffee after an evening meal.
If you want to create this Portuguese pastry in your own kitchen, get a muffin tin with 2 by 5/8 inch wells, and follow the recipe from Leites Culinaria.
Baklava’s hometown is Istanbul, Turkey, although this dessert is enjoyed all over the world. Light and flaky, baklava is perfect if you want something sweet but not too heavy. Often filled with nuts, the layers of this pastry are held together by syrup or honey. Beware – this dessert can be messy to eat!
Check out Epicurious.com for the how-to!
Flan is a favorite Mexican dessert that has become popular in many other parts of the world. Although there are several variations of this tasty treat, flan typically has a pastry-like exterior with a sweet filling in the middle.
Read here for full details on making your own flan! Prep time is only 20 minutes, which makes this dessert an easy one for beginners.
Regardless if you ever visit Portugal, Turkey, or Mexico, you nevertheless will have enjoyed staples of their cuisine. Want more delicious dessert recipes? Check out The Food Network!
Are there any other international treats that you recommend? Comment below and let us know!
St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, which means it’s time to think about festive recipes, decorations, and crafts for the special day. Here are a few of our favorite ideas:
Let your inner leprechaun out by creating some of these fun recipes. If you’re looking for a festive recipe to make with your kids, consider Rainbow Cupcakes. First, make a white cake mix according to package instructions. Then divide the cake batter between five bowls. Put a different color of food coloring into each bowl of batter. Spoon some of each colored batter into cupcake tins. Bake according to package directions. After the cupcakes have finished baking, they will look like the colors of the rainbow. Frost them with blue frosting. Pipe white frosting on top for clouds. Decorate them with Airhead Extremes Sour Belts for rainbows and Rolos for gold coins. Kids will love these colorful and creative cupcakes! If you want more fun recipes to make with your kids, subscribe to Yum for Kids. For a classic corned beef and cabbage dinner, combine 4 cups of water and 1 corned beef brisket with spice packet (most grocery stores carry the brisket around St. Patrick’s Day) in a pressure cooker. Close cover tightly. Turn regulator knob to pressure and select high pressure. Cook for 45 minutes. Next, cut a head of cabbage into 8 wedges. Combine the cabbage with 2 chopped red potatoes and 1 can of chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add 4 chopped carrots and 1 chopped onion. Cover and simmer 20-25 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender; drain. Release pressure cooker according to manual instructions. Remove beef to a serving platter. Discard cooking liquid. Serve beef with cabbage, potatoes, carrots and onion. This recipe serves around 4-6. You can find more classic, traditional recipes like this one from Taste of Home.
Trying to add some Irish flare to your home? For an easy-to-make decoration sure to add extra St. Patrick’s day charm to your household, use puffy paint to draw shamrocks and write sayings on Mason jars. Next, spray paint the jars green. Fill them with flowers or other decorations. You can also spray paint wooden blocks and stencil Irish sayings onto them. If you’re hosting a party at your house, consider making a green yarn wreath to stick on the front door. You could also hang a horseshoe on the door. For more simple ideas like this one, consider a subscription to Real Simple. The magazine is filled with easy decorating, craft, and recipe ideas designed to simplify life for today’s busy women.
If you have young children, make finger paint rainbows with them! To complete the craft, you will need white and black construction paper, rainbow paints, glue, scissors, and gold glitter glue. Start by cutting a black “pot of gold” out of the black construction paper. Glue it onto the bottom corner of a piece of white construction paper. Then, have your child dip their pointer finger into one of the paints. Starting at the pot, make an arch across the rest of the page. Continue making arches with different colors, wiping off their finger before switching to a new color. After you’ve finished the rainbow, use the gold glitter glue to decorate the “pot of gold.” For a fun craft to give their teachers or friends, put a layer of gold-foil wrapped chocolate coins on the bottom of a Mason jar. Top the coins with a row of blue skittles, then a row of green skittles, then a row of yellow skittles, then a row of orange skittles, then a row of red skittles. Put some miniature marshmallows on top for clouds. Tie a gold ribbon around the lid. This is a cute, creative, and simple craft idea! For more details like this one, subscribe to Decorating Digest Craft & Home Projects.
May the luck of the Irish be with you!
Guest blogger and frequent visitor Emily McMackin reveals what makes Edenton one of America’s prettiest small towns, along with its can’t-miss sights, shopping and cuisine.
Everyone needs a hideaway. A place you discover all on your own and find yourself wanting to return to as often as possible. For me, that place is Edenton, N.C.
I first came to Edenton on a work trip. My job as a magazine editor often takes me places I would have never visited otherwise — and that’s what brought me to this town of 5,000 near North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
A few weeks before my visit, Edenton was named one of “America’s Prettiest Small Towns” by Forbes magazine — and it was obvious why. The first time I turned down North Broad Street, the town’s main thoroughfare, I felt like I was crossing into another time.
Lush oaks, elms, sycamores and magnolias towered above the road like a canopy, draping columned homes in curtains of green. Crepe myrtles colored yards in rainbows of pink and filled the air with fragrance.
Nearly every house had a spacious front porch with a swing and an American flag fluttering in the breeze. I was tempted to trespass just so I could sit on one for a little while.
Right away, I was captivated by Edenton’s storybook beauty, but I soon discovered more about this town that I loved. Here are three reasons I keep coming back and why you are sure to fall in love with it, too.
Steeped in Stories
Edenton folks are natural-born storytellers, but perhaps that’s because they live in a place so rich in history. Established in 1712, this waterfront town is the second oldest in North Carolina and served as its first Colonial capital until 1743.
Almost every street has a historical marker, including two for National Historic Landmarks. Downtown is full of restored homes spanning two centuries and showcasing a range of architecture, including Jacobean, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival and Victorian styles.
For a small place, Edenton has played a big role in shaping American history. History buffs won’t want to miss:
Chowan County Courthouse: Built in 1787 with funds raised by Declaration of Independence signer Joseph Hewes, this Colonial courthouse is the most intact one left.
Cupola House: Constructed in 1758 for one of the royal governor’s agents, the home is known for its gardens, modeled after their original 1769 layout.
Barker House: This mansion was home to Penelope Barker, leader of the Edenton Tea Party, America’s earliest group of female political activists (a teacup-themed memorial to the ladies can be viewed nearby). From rockers on the back porch, tourists can admire watercolor reflections of historic homes across Edenton Bay.
Edenton Harbor: Part of the Maritime Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Trail, Edenton’s Harbor on the Albemarle Sound has a deep history. Visitors can walk the docks where Edenton native Harriet Jacobs, whose Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl memoir documented her harsh treatment as a slave, secretly boarded a boat bound for Philadelphia and sailed to freedom in 1842.
Haven for Hospitality
If you love bed and breakfasts, Edenton is for you. Innkeepers are famous for their attentiveness. One of my hosts got up before sunrise to brew coffee and put out sweet bread for me when I left early one morning to catch a flight.
Some of them, like bed and breakfast owners and New England transplants David and Dora Drohen, moved to Edenton after falling in love with it themselves. For a memorable stay, book a room at:
Granville Queen Inn Bed and Breakfast: Guest chambers in this turn-of-the-century Victorian house come with antiques, crystal chandeliers, fireplaces and private balconies. Don’t miss rocking on the grand front porch or breakfast in the plantation room, where delicacies like poached pears, crepes, sausage puffs and frozen amaretto cream baskets of mixed berries are served.
The Pack House Inn: Given the best innkeepers award by Bed and Breakfast Directory, this 1915 tobacco packing house includes period furnishings, canopy beds, fluffy bathrobes and a kitchen stocked with an endless supply of homemade treats. Guests receive a chilled bottle of Chardonnay upon arrival and can choose between blueberry pancakes or egg souffle for breakfast, with sides of home fries, grits, sausage links and fruit cocktail.
Delectable Dining, Specialty Shopping
A downtown stroll is mandatory to the Edenton experience. Holly trees line brick sidewalks, where locals stop to shoot the breeze. The marquee of restored 1925 art deco Twin Taylor Cinema lights up each evening as it did 80-plus years ago, and 19th-century commercial buildings house some of best restaurants and antique stores. Foodies should try:
Waterman’s Grill: Savor the finest Carolina cuisine — crab cakes, seasoned shrimp, stewed tomatoes and corn pudding — in a candlelit yet casual setting. Have a glass of muscadine wine and save room for pineapple upside-down cake!
Downtown Cafe & Soda Shoppe: Scoot a red patent leather stool up to this old-fashioned soda fountain and enjoy a sundae, milkshake or float in this former pharmacy-turned-cafe.
Edenton Coffeehouse Bakery & Cafe: Linger over a used book and a latte, smoothie or frappuccino at this coffee bar and its adjoining bookstore (appropriately named The Garden of Good Readin’). The cafe bakes its own biscotti and has daily soup and sandwich specials. My recommendation? Try the apple chicken salad.
Love souvenir shopping? Don’t leave town without stopping by:
Edenton Bay Trading Company: This bayside shop sells everything from sea salt truffles and Carolina wines to coffee-table books, handmade jewelry and beachy collectibles. I bought my souvenir there — a shell box with red velvet lining. Every time I look at it, it reminds me of Edenton and all its hidden gems.
Visit for yourself to see what treasures you can uncover in one of America’s prettiest small towns!
For even more visuals or to create a travel board for your trip to Edenton, check out our latest Pinterest board featuring Emily’s picks!
When you think of summer entertaining, don’t think you suddenly need to transform yourself into a gourmet chef to make your get-together a culinary success. Pay attention to just a few simple details and you can add just enough flair to dress up any party—whether it’s planned in a few weeks—or just a few hours—in advance!
Whether you’ve got a from-scratch meal on the menu or you’re relying on store-bought hors d’oeuvres, incorporating any of these elements will instantly add that little something extra that will make your guests feel welcome and special in your own seductive home. After all, they are the most important ingredients to any party!
Colorful Fruits and Veggies
Add color and healthy finger foods to your table by serving trays of fruits and veggies. Be sure to mix in something exotic like kiwis or pomegranates in with peaches, pineapple or strawberries! For a cold treat, you can also freeze raspberries, grapes and strawberries and use them as ice cubes in refreshing beverages!
Nothing dresses up a table like a cheese plate—and nothing is easier to prepare. In fact, this party-ready purchase will just about serve itself! For a very chic touch, add garnish with red and green seedless grapes.
On their own, olives instantly lend a little luxury to any party spread. There’s plenty of options out there, but opt for ones stuffed with delicacies like jalapeños and blue cheese for extra decadence! In my opinion, the spicier the better!
Dips and Salsas
Banish the blah from your table by opting for dips and salsas a step above everyday standbys. Think a chipotle ranch rather than just ranch or a salsa flavored with hints of summery mango or pineapple.
Even if you don’t feel comfortable in the kitchen, you can impress your guests with an assortment of thaw-and-bake treats. Provide decadent garnishes or dips and serve on a great platter.
Forget boring white or solid color napkins. Opt for funky patterns or fun sayings to add a little personality to your party—and maybe even get the conversation going!
Create Your Own…
Whether it’s mini pizzas, tacos or ice cream cones, allow your guests to express their personalities on their plates. They’ll love the personal touch, and providing lots of options and toppings is simple!
Presentation is everything! Even if you whip up something at the last minute, you can make it look gourmet by serving it on a beautiful platter or in some other unique way, like serving fruit in a scooped out melon or fill colorful peppers with dips.
Remember that you set the tone for your get-together. It’s your party, from what you wear to what you serve. Be the hostess with the mostess, always let your guests know what the attire is and the type of vibe you are going for in advance.
What are you waiting for?