Archive | June, 2013

Lemon Picnic Pasta and a Free Printable Label (Plus 20 more fantastic summer recipes!)

Summer is great for light and easy recipes and I’ve joined forces with some other fabulous bloggers to bring you some fantastic summer recipes!

I love the flavors of lemon in the summer. I usually think of lemon dessert when I have a bunch of lemons, but this savory pasta dish comes in as my favorite picnic dish ever!


In fact, I am in love with this new pasta we made for our picnic last week. I call it “Lemon Picnic Pasta” because you can take it with you on a picnic, and it doesn’t have to be refrigerated. In fact, it is BEST when eaten warm or at room temperature. And that is the best kind of dish to take on a picnic!

It’s a quick recipe to throw together, too. {Bonus!} All you have to do is first, boil the bowtie pasta in water until al dente. Drain.
Add the butter, garlic, olive oil, salt, basil and lemon zest. (Find the full recipe near the end of this post). Stir well to well incorporate. Then simply enjoy!


Have you ever used a pair of these herb scissors? They are so great for cutting your basil into ribbons (chiffonade) for this dish! Or you can use a knife or a pair of regular herb scissors, but these are WAY more fun. :)


That lemon zest adds just the right amount of freshness and flavor to the dish. It is so refreshing in this pasta dish!


Just look at that pasta bursting with basil and lemon flavor! My husband prefers a little less lemon than what I usually put in, so I suggest you add a little at a time and taste it for yourself. You can always add more. :)


To take this on a picnic, just package it up in a chinese take-out box and add your label.  Oh, yes, I made a Lemon Picnic Pasta label just for you! If you don’t have printable label sheets, you can print it on regular paper and just tape it onto your take-out box.


To download this tag, just like my blog here:

Then download the pdf tag here:  lemon picnic pasta tag pdf

Oh, and before I forget, here’s the RECIPE for Lemon Picnic Pasta:

Lemon Picnic Pasta | Sunshine In My Pocket

Lemon Picnic Pasta | Sunshine In My Pocket


  • 4 c. bowtie pasta
  • 4-6 leaves of basil, cut into ribbons
  • 4 T. butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-2 T. olive oil
  • lemon zest of one lemon
  • pinch of salt (or to taste)


  1. Boil pasta in water until cooked al dente. Drain.
  2. Add butter to hot pasta and stir to melt.
  3. Add garlic, basil and lemon zest.
  4. Drizzle on olive oil. Add pinch of salt.
  5. Stir well to incorporate.
  6. Eat it warm or at room temperature.
  7. Store leftovers in refrigerator, and warm them in microwave before serving.

Enjoy your picnic and your Picnic Pasta!


And now, take a look at these great summer recipes:

Summer Recipes

  1. Great-Grandma’s “Secret-Ingredient” Potato Salad
  2. Blueberry Pie Bars
  3. Watermelon Green Tea
  4. Independence Day Cranberry Pop Rocks Mocktail
  5. Fruit Pizza
  6. Zucchini Recipes
  7. Grilled Pizza
  8. Fruit Yogurt Parfaits
  9. Root Beer Float Popsicles
  10. Watermelon Smoothie
  11. Refreshing Summer Noodle Salad
  12. Frozen Banana Rum Cocktails
  13. Coke Float Popsicles
  14. Peach Cobbler Cupcakes
  15. Lemon Picnic Pasta
  16. Sand Castle Rice Krispies
  17. Frozen Chocolate Bananas
  18. BBQ Chicken Pizza
  19. Watermelon Berry Chia Seeds Pops
  20. Fresh Summer Melon Ideas
  21. How to cut a watermelon
  22. And, even more Favorite Summer Recipes


May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 22 }

Recipe Found! Brown Sugar Bumps

When I was a little girl, my sister and I used to make a recipe ALL. THE. TIME: called Brown Sugar Bumps. They were easy to make (no baking, no cooking) and SO delicious (at least I thought so when I was a kid).

Since we’re both OLD(er) and married now, we’ve talked about that recipe many times, but we misplaced that well-used recipe book.

The other day, I came across the recipe and I was ECSTATIC! So of course I made them right away! They are just as delicious (and easy) as I remember. And they only lasted ONE DAY at my house.


These aren’t very fancy looking, so I gussied them up with a little gold. :) They sort of remind me of tiny no-bake cookies, but they don’t have chocolate or cocoa in them. Here’s what they require: (full recipe near the end of this post)


First, melt the butter in the microwave. Add the brown sugar, peanut butter and oats. Stir until well combined. This mixture is a little soft, so refrigerate for a bit before you form them into little “bumps.” I just put them in the refrigerator while I was cleaning up, then they were ready to form. See? Easy!


I remember my sister and I would hand roll each of the little bumps, but now I have a mini ice-cream scoop that does the trick nicely! {It’s about the size of a melon baller.}


And in no time at all I had all these little treats:


I sometimes think that when you grow up loving something that you are just “trained to like” them. Case in point: I used to LOVE Tiger’s Milk protein bars. My mom told us they were candy and she’d hide them at the top of the pantry. That wouldn’t stop us as kids: we’d climb up those shelves and find them! I still like them to this day. But my husband (and many of my friends) who have tried them tell me they are not so good!

So I thought this might be the same story with these Brown Sugar Bumps. So far, everyone loves them. Proof: they are gone already! I will have to make some more and take a poll. :)

Here’s the recipe:

Brown Sugar Bumps


  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1/4 c. peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. oats


  1. Melt the butter in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Add the brown sugar, peanut butter, and oats.
  3. Stir until well combined.
  4. Put in the refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes to firm up.
  5. Form into "bumps" about the size of a small walnut.


So go ahead and give one a try and let me know what YOU think.
These are for you, Sis!

May your days be filled with sunshine,
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Taste Test Tuesday — Chocolate Cereal

When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to have sugar cereals often. They were a special treat for me and my siblings and I’d love to get CEREAL for my birthday or Christmas when I was young! (now I prefer gift cards, just in case you were wondering)

So now that I’m an adult, I love to have cereal as a snack every now and again. And most of the time I crave a chocolate cereal. So that is how this taste test was born. I knew that we MUST find the best Chocolate sugar cereal out there, and with the help of all my judges (which included both adults AND kids this time…a first in the history of Taste Test Tuesdays) I think we found a winner!


When I was doing research for this taste test, I was surprised at the number of chocolate cereals out there! There were so many, that I included all that I could without adding any generic brands this time. And I just had to put my foot down on one possible contender:


I just couldn’t see myself saying “Oh, I am really craving some Fiber One” (chocolate or otherwise)! So, sorry all you Fiber One fans out there, this one was NOT included in the taste test!
But seriously, has anyone tried these? Are they any good?

So here are the REAL contenders for this taste test:


1) Cocoa Krispies
2) Chocolate Frosted Flakes
3) Chocolate Cheerios
4) Chocolate Chex
5) Double-Chocolate Krave
6) Cocoa Pebbles
7) Chocolatey Crunch
8) Good Morenings
9) Chocolate Lucky Charms
10) Cocoa Puffs

Wow, that’s a bunch of great chocolatey options! Have you tried all these? I have to admit, I hadn’t tried the majority of these so I knew this was going to be an eye-opening taste test.

My sister predicted the winner from the adults taste test panel would be CHOCOLATE CHEERIOS. She said it was chocolately enough without being too sweet. Guess what, sis? It placed in the top 5, but NOT first place!

We had to conduct this taste test in multiple panel meetings because there were so many cups of cereal!


Now to declare the winners in each category:

The adult taste test panel found that they enjoyed the Cheerios, but the top five cereals in order were….(drum roll, please)


Interestingly enough, the top five for KIDS were nearly the same:


That Post Good Morenings is interesting…it had cinnamon mixed in with the chocolate and tasted a little like mini churro bites! Personally, I’m not sure I could eat an entire bowl of it, but it was pretty good. Many kids picked this as their favorite.

Now to declare the WINNER:


Congratulations, Chocolate Frosted Flakes! It had the best chocolatey taste and it made delicious chocolate milk. (followed closely by Cocoa Puffs)

I’m very much in agreement with the winner…it’s been a favorite of mine for a long time. And it remained my favorite after this taste test.


Now, I must mention that KRAVE made it to the list of top 5 for the kids because if you are a 5 or 6 year old little boy, apparently this is the BEST cereal ever!! It was voted #1 by boys in that age bracket (only). For all others, kids and adults included, it was the LEAST FAVORITE and some had even very STRONG adverse reactions to this cereal. Most didn’t eat more than one or two bites of it.

I have lots of this box left, but I’m glad my nephew Garrett will take care of that for me! :)


A special thanks to all the judges, both kids and adults! I couldn’t do this without you. I hope you enjoy the extra cereal I sent home with you!

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 2 }

Dose of Sunshine Monday — Trust the path will Illuminate

Happy Monday. I was inspired this weekend! And it caused me to remember a coach who would tell me to take a leap of faith. He says you don’t need to see all the steps in front of you, you only have to take the FIRST step and the step stones will appear. That takes trust and faith. Even if you don’t know WHERE you are going right now.

Take a deep breath, and take a first step.


Have a GREAT week filled with trust that your path WILL illuminate! Happy day. :)

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 0 }

Thank you Berry Much card

It’s the first day of summer. (Although it has felt like summer for weeks now, here in Arizona!) And to celebrate, I put together a little summer fruit berry card with a few scraps of paper, a few scraps of felt and a thanks banner.

I love strawberries in the summer, and how cute are they as the star of this card? Enjoy:




I love felt as a medium for cards and tags. {See my orange felt slice here.}

Linking up to the Summer Fruit Card Challenge.


May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 1 }

Ginger-Lime Grilled Beef Salad

Today is my wedding anniversary and what better way to celebrate and praise 14 years of wedded bliss than with a perfect and delicious recipe?! This is special tribute to my husband who is a grill master (you are awesome, Honey!) and he will grill anything I ask him to!! I love that we are such a perfect couple for this: I love to cook and deliver up great recipes, he loves to grill them…:)

Summer is perfect for grilling and for salads…and when you have a recipe that combines the two, you have the perfect summertime dinner!

We love this recipe at our house. In fact, whenever my son comes home from college, he requests it! It is easy to make and nice and light for summer. It’s a fast recipe too…just marinate the meat in the morning, then grill it up for dinner! I can’t even begin to tell you how flavorful and delicious this recipe is, you’re just going to have to try it yourself. :)


To make the marinade, use some simple ingredients. I always keep these ingredients on hand so I can whip this up at (almost) any time!


Less Sodium Soy Sauce, Chili-Garlic sauce, ginger root, lime juice, and a little brown sugar (not pictured). Those ice cubes in front are actually frozen lime juice…if I can’t use my limes up in time, I just squeeze them and freeze the juice. And did you know that you can freeze ginger root?! It’s true…I’ve had this ginger root in my freezer for a few months and it’s still delicious and fresh tasting in this marinade! (see the full recipe below)

Just mix together all these ingredients, then reserve some aside to use later as your salad dressing. Pour the rest into a resealable bag with the meat and add a little extra lime juice. Then make sure to coat all your meat and store it in the refrigerator until ready to grill. I found that if you marinate for four hours or longer, the taste is SO much better. So make sure to stir this up for marinating earlier in the day.

You can use either Flank Steak or London Broil for this recipe. I’ve tried both and we all seem to like the Flank Steak the best. I will be experimenting with other cuts of meat, I’m sure and I’ll report back. :) Now just grill up the meat:


(Here’s the picture to prove it: My husband is the best at grilling…Happy Anniversary, Honey!)
And while that is on the grill, get your salad ready:


I like to use the organic salad mix from Costco. It has spinach and arugula, but sometimes I just make a simple romaine bed of lettuce for this recipe. It’s always just delicious! I will add tomatoes or green pepper from the garden, and sometimes I shred up a carrot to add, too. Mmmmm….


Let the meat rest for a few minutes before you slice it thinly. This allows the meat to retain more of it’s juiciness! Since everyone at my house likes their salad different, I will put the additions on the side so it’s more like a salad bar…then you can build your own salad and top it off with a bit of the grilled meat. Add a little (believe me, this is flavorful stuff so you only need a little!) of the reserved dressing and enjoy!

{The recipe suggests that you add all the ingredients together and combine with the reserved salad dressing, but at my house everyone likes different amounts of the dressing (or none at all) and so I just let everyone make their own plate.}




See, it’s a hit! No leftovers!

*Recipe here

Ginger-Lime Grilled Beef Salad


  • 1 pound London broil or flank steak
  • 3 T. lime juice, divided
  • 3 T. low--sodium soy sauce
  • 3 T. vegetable oil
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 1 t. minced garlic (2-3 cloves)
  • 1 1/2 t. minced ginger (fresh ginger root is best)
  • 1 t. chili-garlic sauce (or less if desired)
  • 1/2 head red-lef lettuce, spinach, and romaine (about 6 cups)
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c. basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
  • carrots, tomatoes, green peppers (optional)


  1. In a medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, soy sauce, vegetable oil, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and chili-garlic sauce.
  2. Reserve about half of the mixture (to be used later as salad dressing)
  3. Pour the rest of the mixture in a resealable bag and add the meat.
  4. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice to the bag.
  5. Seal tightly and marinate the meat in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight. (Turning occasionally)
  6. Grill steak until medium-rare or at desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side. Let rest until room temperature and then slice thinly.
  7. Combine lettuce, shallot, and basil. Add the beef and the reserved dressing and toss to coat. Divide among 4 plates and enjoy!


Try this recipe and until next time, have a delicious summer!

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 0 }

Sending Happy Thoughts

It’s time to send a card to someone very special. (Hey, Sis, if you are reading this..don’t look! It’s on its way up to you)!
And I had a great time figuring out how to “Send Happy Thoughts” with my card.


I love this glitter paper that I used for the backing, and it just happened to match my embossing powder I used on the word “Happy” almost perfectly! I cut circles out to serve as balloons and drew on the string…”attaching” it to HAPPY. So THIS is how you transport a little bit of happy. :)  After I finished this card, I decided to add a little shine to the balloons with Glossy Accents.

Sending a few Happy Thoughts your way, too!

{Linking up to Simon Says Stamp Transport challenge!}

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 4 }

Dose of Sunshine Monday – We are here for each other

Hello to a fresh new Monday! This week is going to be a great one.

I’d like to share gratitude for people in my life who have been there for me. I really believe that we are here to help each other. To mourn with those who mourn, and comfort those who need comforting; to help through hard times, and encourage and motivate. Sometimes the work of God is done through people here on Earth (for that I am grateful).

I sometimes start my week off by asking, who can I help this week? What can I do? Who needs a little sunshine or a smile? And usually I just know. One of my favorite things to do is help someone to smile.


So dear reader, thank you for your encouragement, your kind comments, your support in my efforts to bring sunshine to you in my little space of the blog-o-sphere.

What can you do this week to inspire a smile? This week, be kind to others and to yourself. :)

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 0 }

Taste Test Tuesday — Chips for dipping

It’s Taste Test Tuesday! I love this day. And today I am reporting on our taste test for TORTILLA CHIPS.


Here are the Tortilla Chip Contestants:

1) Santitas
2) Food Club
3) Doritos
4) Mission
5) Tostitos

This was a “blind” taste test. I numbered the bowls for each brand of chips #1-5. Then all the judges took one (or more) of the chips in each numbered bowl.

When I first tried all the chips, I liked them all. But we had some judges who are true “chip conneseuirs” and took this taste test VERY seriously. You may be just like me and not really care about a dipping chip…but many judges INSISTED that there is a big difference in chips and that you’ll be much happier with a truly delicious chip.

In fact, my sister and brother-in-law had already done some chip research for me and told me to make sure to include a couple brands of chips in this particular taste test. (Thanks Wendi & Kevin!)

We started out just trying the chips alone, then added homemade salsa to the mix. And most of the judges agreed on the TOP TWO chips. Care to make any guesses?

Here are the WINNERS:


First, Santitas and
Second, Tostitos!

Interestingly enough, these two chips are very similar AND they are both made by Frito-Lay in Texas!  I was actually happy to learn that Santitas chips are very similar to Tostitos, but they cost much less (see the bag: $2 only!)
(Note: Doritos are also made by Frito-Lay, but they are only available in a yellow corn chip; Most judges liked the white corn chips better).


I always like to include a generic brand (ie: inexpensive) for each taste test. In this case, our generic brand did not fare so well.
Last place: Food Club & Mission. Judges reported that Food Club chips were “bland” and “boring.” They reported that Mission chips were “too thick” and “too crunchy/tough.”

{A BIG thanks to all the judges for this taste test!}

So, dear readers, let me know what are YOUR favorite tortilla chips. And comment if you have any suggestions for future taste tests you’d like to see.

Until next time…

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 2 }

“I ruff you” Card

If you know me at all, you know that I make mostly “girly” gifts, packages, tea parties, cards, etc. I LOVE all things ribbon and lace, pink and curly. So when it comes to making more “manly” things, I have challenges!

My nephew had a birthday recently (he just turned 8), and he came down for a visit. I knew this was my opportunity to make something that he would like. I know that he loves dogs and so I got the most adorable doggie stamp set from Lawn Fawn to try out! Here’s the card I made for Porter:


and here’s the inside:


I tried some “masking” by cutting out a cloud from white paper and sticking it temporarily on the card front, then I used some distress ink on a cotton ball to rub on the sky color around those clouds. When I removed the cloud masks, I was left with a beautifully calm sky with the clouds left white!

I think this card turned out adorable (and not too girly). What do you think?

So guess who’s going to be using this set to make a nice Father’s Day card?! I think my Dad will smile.
Linking up to the Simon Says Stamp Challenge.

May your days be filled with sunshine,
Comments { 2 }