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guilt-free birthday treats

August 26, 2016

Walnut fig bars pleasure in simple things blog

A birthday doesn’t have to be defined by a cake dripping in sugary icing, does it?

Because I gave up processed sugar at the start of 2016, I decided this year I would make my own birthday treats so I wouldn’t feel obligated to indulge in a sugary dessert that might not even be my favorite taste treat.

My two favorite tastes this time of year?  Watermelon and fig…not necessarily combined, of course.

making walnut fig bars pleasure in simple things blog

I looked through this month’s giveaway book, My New Roots by Sarah Britton, to get some recipe ideas!  I decided to make the Walnut Fig Bars.  My love for figs was the motivation for this choice, but it seemed a good recipe to try out for the upcoming fall season as well.  (For a chance to win your own copy of My New Roots, click here and leave a comment.)

birthday walnut fig bars pleasure in simple things blog

I also leafed through my go-to recipe book, Clean Slate from the editors of Martha Stewart Living for dessert ideas.  This book was given to me as a Christmas gift last year and it jump-started a whole new way of eating – an unprocessed foods way of eating!   I love frozen treats and this book included a few recipes for really simple frozen treat ideas.  I chose a watermelon-lime granita to add to my birthday dessert selection!

With just three ingredients – watermelon, honey, and lime juice – what could be easier, or tastier, for an icy birthday treat!  Watermelon and frozen – a great summer birthday combination!

making watermelon lime granita pleasure in simple things blog

To make:  Pulse 7 cups chopped seedless watermelon, ¼ cup honey and 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice in a food processor until smooth.  Pour into an 8-inch square glass baking dish, cover tightly, and freeze overnight.  To serve, scrape with a fork into bowls.

birthday watermelon lime granita pleasure in simple things blog

My birthday present to myself – unprocessed, guilt-free treats!

Thanks for sharing my birthday treats with me today on Friday field trip!  Have a wonderful weekend!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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watermelon gazpacho

August 12, 2016

making watermelon gazpacho pleasure in simple things blog

Watermelon is a favorite of mine.  I have shared some of my standard watermelon recipe creations with you in the past, as well as crafts with a watermelon design.  Today, I would like to share someone else’s watermelon recipe!

close up of watermelon gazpacho pleasure in simple things blog

I came across Tyler Florence’s recipe for watermelon gazpacho and had to try it!  Love gazpacho.  Love watermelon.  What’s not to love?  I just had to give it a try!  A cold soup on a hot, humid day – what could be better?!  So, I gave it a try and I was not disappointed!

Tyler Florence watermelon gazpacho on pleasure in simple things blog

Here is the easy, make-in-the-blender recipe:

Tyler Florence’s Watermelon Gazpacho

  • 1 large tomato
  • ½ serrano chile
  • 2 cups cubed seedless watermelon
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons minced red onion
  • ½ English cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh dill, plus more for garnish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese

Puree the tomato, chile and 1 cup watermelon in a blender.  Add the vinegar and olive oil and pulse.  Add the red onion, cucumber and dill, season with salt and pepper and puree until smooth.  Chill at least 30 minutes.  Loosen with a few tablespoons of water, if needed.

Pour the gazpacho into chilled cups or bowls; top with dill, the feta and the remaining watermelon.

Serves 4

watermelon gazpacho in the blender pleasure in simple things blog

My gazpacho did not come out really red like the color of watermelon – as you can see.  I am thinking if the tomato I used was a darker red; it would have helped make a deeper shade of red for the soup.  But, no worries – it tasted wonderful!  What a great first course for company!

enjoying Tyler Florence's watermelon gazpacho recipe pleasure in simple things blog

I hope I have inspired you to try this gazpacho recipe or to experiment with a cold soup of your own!  Have a wonderful weekend!  Thanks so much for stopping by!

finishing up watermelon gazpacho Tyler Florence recipe

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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corn on the cob butter

July 19, 2016

Delicious flavored corn butter pleasure in simple things blog

From pizza to fruit – everything finds its way to the grill at this time of year!

Today, I am sharing a really easy way to add some extra flavor to your grilled corn. It is as simple as adding a few ingredients to your butter!  By picking a few basil leaves from the garden and adding a little cheese, the traditional butter condiment can be instantly upgraded!

Corn butter pleasure in simple things blog

It doesn’t get any easier!

Recipe for flavored corn butter pleasure in simple things blog

I included a recipe for you here, but using a little imagination, you can create your own flavor combinations based on your garden or leftover ingredients in your fridge.  (A little cayenne and lime juice is another great combo!)

Easy flavored corn butter pleasure in simple things blog

I hope I have inspired you to create a flavored butter for your next grilling session!

Thanks for stopping by!  Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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fancy watermelon salad

May 17, 2016

fancy watermelon salad by pleasure in simple things blog

I love watermelon.  If you read my blog, you also know I love watermelon salad.  I make it by cutting chunks of watermelon and cheese (usually Feta), drizzling it with some extra virgin olive oil and adding cracked black pepper and basil.  Yum!

Inspired by a local restaurant, today I am showing you how I give my watermelon salad an upgrade by turning it into a fancier  ‘watermelon sandwich.’

watermelon salad made by pleasure in simple things blog

I do this by cutting 2 ½” rounds from watermelon slices using a cookie cutter.  I use the same cutter to cut a circle of mozzarella.  I drizzle the ‘sandwich’ I have created with extra virgin olive oil and add some cracked black pepper.  As garnish, I sprinkle crumbled Feta cheese on top and add chopped basil and walnuts.  The finished ‘sandwich’ is just soooo tasty!

cutting watermelon for salad pleasure in simple things blog

The same great watermelon salad I always enjoy, but a much ‘fancier’ version!  It is the perfect size and presentation to use as a first course for your next dinner party!

watermelon salad pleasure in simple things blog

With the great weather ahead – the perfect time to enjoy watermelon – I hope you will consider serving this winning dish to your guests!

Thanks for stopping by!  Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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chia seed pudding recipe

March 18, 2016

Chia seed pudding pleasure in simple things blog

For Friday field trip today, I am taking you into my kitchen to share a recipe for a dessert that has become a staple in my home. It came about when I was trying to find something without sugar to satisfy a need for dessert!

making chia seed pudding garnished with strawberries pleasure in simple things blog

I recently decided to give up processed sugar. It has been an interesting experience and most have found it hard to believe a dessert lover like me could eliminate sugar! After experiencing an insane headache for two weeks – what I believe was the result of sugar withdrawal – it was a pretty painless process.

making chia seed pudding pleasure in simple things blog

I once heard a habit is established after two weeks and it seems to be true by me. After the two weeks of headaches subsided, I had no withdrawal symptoms at all. In fact, after the two weeks, I never really wanted anything sweet again.

The chia seed pudding was a result of trying to find something to use as a dessert substitute without eating processed sugar. Now a batch of this pudding is always in my fridge! And, the funny thing is – I don’t crave sugar at all!

chia seed pudding recipe pleasure in simple things blog

If you like Greek yogurt, you will probably like this pudding as much as I do. The chia seeds give it a texture similar to that of tapioca pudding.  You may want to add a little salt – I never use salt, but you may want to add a little if you like it.

You may want to experiment with different recipes, like I did, to find the combination of ingredients that best appeals to your taste. I found getting the right amount of chia seeds as the most challenging part of perfecting the recipe. Since the chia seeds have a gelling quality, I found that adding too many chia seeds made the pudding pasty and not enough made it watery.

I have even made my own almond milk a few times to use in the recipe!

chia seeds to make pudding pleasure in simple things blog

If you want to feel really good about eating this pudding, google the benefits of eating chia seeds!

Thanks for stopping by. Have a wonderful weekend and remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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holiday gingerbread fudge recipe

December 8, 2015

holiday gingerbread boy fudge pleasure in simple things blog

I am taking a little break today from my coastal holiday theme. I will be making sea glass candy soon enough, but today I am sharing the recipe for fudge with a taste of the holidays. What is the holiday flavor I am referring to? Gingerbread!

This is a very easy sweet to make and no special candy making supplies are required. For my dry spices, I always use Penzy brand spices. For those that use spices from the supermarket, you may want to double the ginger and cinnamon since I find Penzy spices to be more potent than supermarket brands.

holiday gingerbread fudge pleasure in simple things blog

Use the best white chocolate you can find – the grocery store usually carries Lindt or Ghirardelli brands. I always buy bars of white chocolate and never white chocolate chips. There are usually a lot more ingredients listed on the white chocolate chips compared to the ingredients on the bars of white chocolate and I prefer to eliminate them! I also choose not to add any brown food coloring, but you can add some if you want your fudge colored brown like gingerbread.

a gingerbread fudge recipe pleasure in simple things blog

holiday gingerbread fudge cut into gingerbread boys pleasure in simple things blogI cut the fudge into tiny little gingerbread boys! I will be making them into pops and using them as a garnish on a cake for a friend’s party. On a stick, they make a great dessert favor!

Using a 1 ¾” gingerbread boy cookie cutter, I cut 17 pieces of fudge. (I rolled the leftover pieces into 14, 1” balls for another purpose.)

Whether on a stick or in a box, there are so many fun ways to package up these tasty little gingerbread boys…have fun with it!

Thanks for stopping by!

Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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gluten & dairy free pumpkin dessert

October 2, 2015

easy gluten free pumpkin recipe pleasure in simple things blog

It is important to have a recipe or two in the repertoire that can accommodate dietary restrictions. Having a couple of recipes for gluten-free desserts that taste good is important to me. I came across a recipe over Labor Day weekend, while flipping through some magazines, that used bananas as a base for a frozen pumpkin dessert. I was intrigued. My favorite gluten-free dessert thus far is an amazing chocolate pudding made from an avocado base. (If you want to look back on it, click here.)

pumpkin dessert for gluten free pleasure in simple things blog

Having a frozen selection – particularly a seasonal one – seemed ideal! So, I gave it a try.  I was not disappointed. I just wish I could remember from which magazine I discovered it! Part of the attraction was the few simple ingredients and easy instructions.

gluten free pumpkin ice cream recipe pleasure in simple things

So, for today’s Friday field trip; a quick and easy gluten-free pumpkin ice cream recipe.

gluten and dairy free pumpkin ice cream recipe pleasure in simple things blog

I made it a couple of times. The first time I mixed all the ingredients together, froze them, and then thawed the mixture slightly and whipped in the blender when ready to serve. The second time, I added all the ingredients to the blender, expect the bananas, and then tossed in some frozen bananas I had in the freezer. This worked also – although I think the ingredients mixed more thoroughly using the first method.

making gluten free pumpkin dessert pleasure in simple things blog

A nice surprise dessert for those who can’t have gluten or dairy…and, a healthy dessert for anyone!

Thanks for visiting!  Have a wonderful weekend and remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

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watermelon ice cream push pops

September 8, 2015

 watermelon ice cream pop pleasure in simple things blog

There are two big things wrong with Labor Day in my book. First, that it is called Labor Day…it is actually ‘No Labor Day’, isn’t it? Well, that’s what my friends and I celebrate each year. We get together and celebrate a day of no work. Over the years we have always joked about our celebration of ‘No Labor Day.’

But, the biggest problem with Labor Day is not its name. The biggest problem with Labor Day is that it signals the end of my favorite season! With Halloween décor in the stores and school back in session, it is hard to ignore the hints of the upcoming season. Fall is ready to pounce and I hate to think of summer as a thing of the past!

Maybe that is why I am still hanging on to all things summer. I know that ignoring fall (bite my tongue for saying the word!) will not make it go away, but I continue to try my best to do so.

 watermelon ice cream push pops pleasure in simple things blog

Watermelon ice cream push pops are a great example of some last minute summer fun! They are super easy to make and just scream summer. I made some for my ‘No Labor Day’ weekend, but they are fun to make anytime!

Now that these plastic push up containers are readily available in stores, you can easily create your own push up ice cream treats. I love these containers for homemade ice cream because soft, newly churned ice cream slips into them so easily.  But, no need to make homemade ice cream for these treats – softened store bought ice cream works just as well!

 close up of a watermelon ice cream pop pleasure in simple things blog

For a watermelon looking treat, use three flavors of ice cream. Pick something green, something white, and something red. For mine, I chose raspberry sherbet, pistachio ice cream, and vanilla ice cream.

I put each flavor in its own bowl and soften each up a little bit using a spoon. For the red flavor, I added some mini chocolate chips while softening, to act as my ‘seeds.’ The ice cream should be a little soft, but not runny. If it gets too soupy, it will start leaking out of the bottom of the plastic container. (I first learned this lesson when I tried to make Jell-O shots in these containers by pouring in the liquid mixture before set – epic fail!)

 ice cream mix ins for push pops pleasure in simple things blog

Holding the plunger all the way down (open) while doing so, I put in a small amount of vanilla – enough to create a thin layer – then a thin layer of the softened pistachio, and, finally, I filled the rest of the container with the raspberry sherbet I had mixed with mini chocolate chips.

Into the freezer they go to harden up, and that is it!

bowl of ice cream pops pleasure in simple things blog

These are easy to decorate for a party.  Add a ribbon to coordinate with your decor.  They also look great with a round sticker – either purchase stickers or print some on your home computer – round ones look great!  I hope I have inspired you to make some ice cream push pops.  You can find the empty containers in any store that sells cake decorating supplies – usually sold in a pack of six.

Thank you for stopping by. Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing at Craftberry Bush.

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adding a spigot to a watermelon

August 4, 2015

watermelon beverage container pleasure in simple things blog

It wasn’t until recently that I heard people were using watermelons as beverage holders. Since yesterday was National Watermelon Day, it seemed the perfect excuse to try my hand at creating one!

I have made many a watermelon basket in my day! Even as a teenager, I loved carving out a watermelon to fill with a fruit salad for a party or get together. The older I got, the more ornate my baskets would become!

national watermelon day using a spigot pleasure in simple things blog

Using a watermelon to create a vessel for a beverage seemed pretty similar to making a watermelon basket. It is an easy concept: Hollow out a watermelon; cut a hole and add a spigot; fill it with a beverage!

To try your hand at making one, first examine your watermelon and decide which way you want it to stand. When you have the top and bottom picked out, make a very thin slice in the ‘bottom’ so it will stand up nice and straight without rolling over. Be careful not to cut too much off, or you could spring a leak in the bottom!

making awatermelon beverage holder pleasure in simple things blog

The spigot is easy to install. Cut a small hole the diameter of the spigot. Then add the spigot – a washer will hug each side of the watermelon; the nut will cap off the inside.

Then, cut off a slice from the top. Use a large, strong metal spoon to scoop out all the good watermelon and reserve it in a big bowl. (I also saved the juice from the watermelon by pouring it into a pitcher.)

Cut a hole for the spigot and position it near the bottom of the watermelon. (Remember that the section of liquid below the level of the spigot will not flow out.)

watermelon spigot on stand pleasure in simple things blog

Now you are ready to fill your beverage container with whatever beverage hits your fancy! I decided to make something of a jazzed up watermelon water. I had enough melon to make the water and still had leftovers for snacking!

watermelon spigot with pleasure in simple things blog

Watermelon Water
6 cups of watermelon, pulverized in a blender (you can count the liquid from the watermelon as part of the 6 cups.)
Juice of one lime (or to taste)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mix ingredients. Strain. Chill. Garnish with basil or mint leaves from garden. ;)

You may decide to fill your watermelon with a punch or some type of alcoholic drink (for those over 21) for your next party. My only advice is to be sure to strain any fruit drinks prior to putting them into the watermelon container. This ensures no pulp will clog up the spigot.

a watermelon spigot instructions pleasure in simple things blog

I know there are spigots marketed now as “watermelon spigots,” but you really don’t need anything special for a watermelon. My spigot cost $4.99. The only adjustment that may be needed is if the spigot is not long enough for the width of your fruit. I needed to shave mine down a little to be sure the washer fit on the back. I probably could have found a longer spigot, but it was easier just to make the width of the watermelon a little thinner in the spot where the spigot attached.

carving a watermelon beverage container pleasure in simple things blog

Now that I know it works, I can try some variations! Just like my watermelon baskets, I can see my beverage holders will also get ‘fancier’ over time! How about a row of fish carved around the top rim? Such possibilities! And, there are so many cute ways to set up a beverage station! Give it a try!

Thanks so much for stopping by!  Remember to take pleasure in simple things, Jackie

Sharing with Shabby Nest, Craftberry Bush,  House of Hipsters,  Sand & Sisal and Coastal Charm.

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august book giveaway!

July 31, 2015

August giveaway for pleasure in simple things blog

I remember, as a kid, the first time I had the bright idea to make my own ice pop. I poured some juice into a paper cup and put it in the freezer overnight. The next day, I rushed to the freezer, peeled off some of the paper cup, and attempted to eat my creation.

To my total disappointment, my ‘ice pop’ was rock solid, like an ice cube. Yes, I could lick it, but it didn’t have that great texture of a store bought ice pop. Little did I know then; what was missing to accomplish the texture I craved, was the right balance of sugar.

August giveaway pleasure in simple things blog

This and other important ice pop facts are explained in the book Irresistible Ice Pops by Sunil Vijayakar – the reason the book is a must have for all ice pop lovers! And, the reason it is the giveaway book for August!  Irresistible Ice Pops. includes all the basics to ice pop creation as well as a collection of some wonderful ice pop recipes. Leave me a comment and I will pick one lucky winner at random at the end of the month, from those that comment, to receive this great book. Good luck!

Congratulations to Emily for winning last month’s selection The Heirloom Tomato Cookbook.  Thank you also, Emily, for the heartfelt email.  A big thank you to everyone that entered to win!

August 2015 Instagram Challenge Icy Summer Treats

Instagram lovers, please read on! What’s your pleasure on a scorching hot summer day to help cool off? Is it a frozen drink? An ice pop? A slushie? Use hashtag #pleasuregram during the month of August to share photos of your favorite icy summer ice treat!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a fabulous weekend, Jackie

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