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Puff Berry Stars – A Delicious 4th of July Treat!

June 28th, 2014


As some of you may know, I went on a 4th of July recipe marathon this month.  I tried a bunch of great recipes.  Some worked and some didn’t. Here’s a recipe that was really each, fun with the kids, and delicious… Puff Berry Stars!


  • 1 sheet puff pastry dough
  • 8oz container of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup various berries (strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries)
  • Star cookie cutters (various sizes)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Thaw the puff pastry sheet at least 45 minutes and roll out a bit to make slightly thinner, wider, and longer.

Take your cookie cutters and cut out star shapes using as much of the dough as you can (the bigger the stars, the better). If you are left with dough, you can roll out the dough and cut out the stars again, but I have to warn you, manipulating the puff pasty does something weird to it, so those stars will come out looking “different” then the original ones.

Bake the stars for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven, until they are slightly brown. Make sure they do not burn. You can also brush them with egg wash to make them a bit darker on top.

In the meantime, create the cream cheese filling by beating the cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar and vanilla, beating well.

When the stars are done baking, let them cool about 15 minutes.

Spoon or pipe the cream cheese filling on top of each star and top off with berries. Best when eaten right away.

Blueberry & Basil Lemonade – A Summer TREAT!

June 28th, 2014


Brace yourselves, because I’m about to introduce you to a fabulous drink that not only YOU will enjoy, but your party guests as well.  Its key ingredient… of course lemons… but the other is agave nectar!  I’ve heard “agave this” and “agave that” for years.  But to be honest, I don’t have too many issues agains sugar, so as long as there is moderation, I don’t really mind using it in my drinks and desserts.  HOWEVER… I had to learn more about this agave nectar everyone is buzzing about.  So, I did and I must say… I really like it!  Plus, it’s kind of cool to tell people that they are drinking a delicious concoction you created with agave nectar!  If you are interested in learning the difference between agave and sugar, here’s a link to a great article.

Lastly, I highly recommend you make the ice-cubes.  They really add personality (and the actual blueberries) to this drink.  Oh, one more thing… if you would like to save calories, you can flavor your Fresca with this lemonade.  I will use 1/2 glass of lemonade and 1/2 glass of Fresca and it makes a wonderful lower calorie version of this drink.  Also, if you would like to take this drink up a notch, add a shot of vodka, and you’re set!  Well enough talk… here is the recipe.


Ice Cubes (these are very important)
2/3 cup agave
2 cups water
1 cup blueberries (I added strawberries as well)

Fresh Lemonade
2/3 cup agave
4-5 cups water
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 5-6 lemons)
1 fresh-sliced lemon
3-6 basil springs

For Blueberry Ice Cubes
Combine agave with water.  Pour into an ice cube tray.  Add whole blueberries (I added strawberries too) and freeze for 3 hours or more.

For Fresh Lemonade
In a large pitcher, combine lemon juice, 4-5 cups of cold water and agave until desired sweetness is achieved.  Chop 2-3 springs of basil or mash up the leaves.  The goal is to get the oils out of the leaves.  You may drop the chopped pieces in the lemonade.  You may want to fish out the basil before serving, although I leave mine in the lemonade.  Chill in the refrigerator for one hour.  Serve with blueberry ice cubes, fresh lemon slices, and basil springs.



Patriotic Puff – A Braided Pastry Tart – Perfect for the 4th of July

June 27th, 2014


There are great recipes and then there are “trendy” great recipes.  This is one of the trendiest things to do this summer… braiding and pastry puffs!  I’ve watched several shows on HGTV where similar desserts have been showcased and even though braiding and pastry puffs have been done for many years (especially with meats and fish), this year, it seems to be the “thing to do”.  I’m not opposed to trendy recipes… but when it’s coupled with the words “super easy” and “delicious”, it’s an absolute must for me to try.  And so I did, and from the very first try, I came out with a stunning dessert that my family gobbled up within minutes.  Seriously, this is a no-fail!  This is wonderful to serve with whipped cream, cool-whip, or the my ultimate favorite, a scoop of ice cream (while the tart is hot!).  Okay, enough with the chit chat, here’s my recipe.  Also, the Pepridge Farm Puff Pastry web site has TONS of recipes, including one similar to this.  A great resource if you love to bake with puff pastry.


1 Sheet of ready-made puff pastry dough (thawed at least 45 minutes)
2 cups of mixed berries (you can use strawberries and blueberries for the patriotic look or add blackberries and raspberries for a wild berry feel)
1 8-0z package of cream cheese  (softened)
1/2  cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg (for brushing)
powdered sugar


Unfold your puff pastry and roll it out a bit to make it flatter and larger.  Place it on top of a well-greased baking pan.

Heat the oven to 400°F.  Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork.

Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar and vanilla, beating well.

Spoon the cream cheese filling lengthwise down the center of the pastry.  Then top the cream cheese filling with berries.   Cut slits 1 inch apart from the 2 sides of the pastry rectangle to within 1/2 inch of the cream cheese mixture.


Starting at one end, fold the pastry strips over the berries and cream cheese, alternating sides, to cover cream cheese and berries.  Brush the pastry with the egg mixture.


Bake for 15-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.  Let the pastry cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 20 minutes and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Enjoy with whipped cream, ice cream, or even on its own!