Community

May 9

Mother's Day Griddle Art Pancakes with Strawberry Butter and Syrup

By Suzanne Clark

My Mother’s Day has always started with breakfast in bed. I can remember some days I would wait for hours pretending to be asleep while my husband and children scurried around the kitchen making me the perfect breakfast. They would present a beautiful tray full of beautifully prepared goodies and gifts. I would pretend to wake up, unaware of all of the preparation going on in the kitchen and be surprised! I am not sure who had more fun. Was it me, or the children and my husband as they created the perfect breakfast? Still to this day, I cherish the gifts and the delicious meals that my children have made for me throughout the years for Mother’s Day.

I thought I would share this perfect Mother’s Day recipe with you. Why buy a bouquet of flowers when you can create heart and flower shaped pancakes! These “Griddle Art” pancakes give your children an opportunity to create something extra special for Mother’s Day, while using their creativity in the kitchen. Whip up some of my delicious fresh Strawberry Honey Butter, and these pancakes become a real gourmet treat! I also share my delicious recipe for Homemade Buttery Maple Syrup. Once you give this syrup a try, you may never buy store bought syrup again. I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day spent with your mother and your children. Hmm….I wonder what my kids will make me this year. I'm hoping for pancakes!



“Griddle Art” Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of cake flour
  • 3 Tablespoons of sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons of baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon of vanilla
  • 4 Tablespoons Challenge Butter, melted
  • Assorted food coloring (note-if using any red or pink coloring, use the “no-taste” variety)
  • Strawberry slices-optional


Directions

1. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl.

2. Mix together milk, eggs, and vanilla in a separate bowl.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring very gently until just combined.

4. Add butter to the batter. Stir in more milk if needed for thinning. The pancakes should easily come out of a squeeze bottle. Divide batter into three bowls. Color each bowl with desired food colors. Using a spoon or funnel, transfer batter into squeeze bottles. Squeeze designs out onto a well-greased griddle. Cook over medium-low heat until bubbles appear Flip, and continue cooking until cooked through. To create heart cakes, slice strawberries into thin slices. Cut a triangle out on the top section to create a heart shape. Place on grill and trace around strawberry with batter to create the perfect heart shaped pancake.



Strawberry Honey Butter

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks Challenge Butter (I love using the Challenge European Style Butter for this recipe.)
  • 2-4 Tablespoons of honey
  • ½ cup of diced fresh strawberries


Directions

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Serve with Griddle Art Pancakes. Refrigerated until needed, best used the same day.



Homemade Buttery Maple Syrup

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons Challenge Butter
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • ½ cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of maple flavoring-optional


Directions

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce temperature to create a gentle boil, and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Stir in Maple flavoring if desired. Serve warm with pancakes!

About Suzanne

Suzanne Clark is a mother of five and enjoys living in Phoenix with her husband and her family. Every day is a creative endeavor for Suzanne. A self-taught artist and cook, she creates award winning recipes and decorates homes with her unique style and artwork. A few of her many accomplishments include winning first place in the top ten in The World Food Championships, and winning many other national cooking contests throughout the past years. As an artist, her artwork in showcased in many homes across the country from Michigan to California. Suzanne loves to share her creativity by teaching art and cooking classes to people of all ages. She also is featured on several local television shows in the Phoenix area, as well as being featured in an upcoming miniseries coming this spring.

posted on May 9, 2014

Apr 18

8 Tips for Throwing the Perfect Tea Party

Suzanne Clark of Living a Creative Life has teamed up with four of Challenge Dairy’s favorite food bloggers: Cookies & Cups, Confessions of a Cookbook Queen, and Sugary and Buttery to help you throw a terrific tea party.

By Suzanne Clark

Tea parties are the perfect excuse to gather friends together for an afternoon and share great food, stories and a laugh or two. That's why we're celebrating Spring with a virtual tea party!

Challenge Dairy has asked me and four amazing food bloggers to share our favorite delicacies perfect for tea, brunch, a shower…basically any special occasion, or even just an excuse to make one of these scrumptious dishes. Plus, I would like to share some party planning tips with you that I have learned over my years of hosting tea parties. Enjoy!


Recipes


Tips

1. Print out invitations on your home computer using pretty floral stationary or parchment paper. Decorate with pearls, lace or rhinestones. Invite guests to come in their “fancy dresses.” Tuck a tea bag in the envelope as a special surprise!

2. Tea parties are for all ages! Great for a children’s birthday, or even for Grandma’s special day! How about having a tea party for your next shower or book party? A tea party in anyone’s honor is a great way to show them how special they are to you.

3. You don’t have a matching tea set? No problem! It is quite beautiful to mix and match pieces of china and glassware. You can even invite your guests to bring their favorite tea cup to the party. If you still want a matching set and can’t find one-make one! You can purchase glass paint designed for home use at any craft store. Consider letting your guests paint their own tea cups for a memorable party favor. For directions and tips on how to create your own tea set, visit my site for more instructions. http://www.livingacreativelife.net/#!how-to-create-your-own-tea-set/cm7r

4. You can elevate your food to new heights when you create your own dessert stand! Simply place a large dinner plate on your table to act as the base. Place a wine glass or pretty drinking glass in the middle followed by a salad plate. Decorate with fresh flowers and add your favorite confections.

5. Decorate your table with memories. Place an old scarf or a piece of lace purchased at a fabric store (just cut, tuck under ends, no sewing needed) Arrange fresh bouquets of flowers in small vases, canning jars or wine glasses down the center of the table. Scatter old pictures and postcards between the flowers. Add your favorite string of pearls, rhinestone broaches and special event earrings to embellish your table. You will have fun talking about the memories that come to mind as you and your friends enjoy your one of a kind centerpiece.

6. Serve an assortment of foods, both savory and sweet. If you don’t have a lot of time to prepare, buy store bought items and embellish them. Make food beautiful by decorating it with edible flowers and fresh herbs and serve on beautiful plates-it is all in the presentation!

7. Offer your guests an assortment of hot and cold teas. For something a bit different, make a garnish plate to add a surprising new flavor to your drink. On a platter beautifully arrange lemon, orange and lime slices. Also include fresh raspberries, strawberries and slices of cool cucumbers. Fresh herbs add fragrance and a refreshing taste. Make sure to include fresh lavender, basil and sprigs of mint.

8. For your ice tea drinkers, spoil them with some fancy ice cubes! Use a standard ice cube tray, and add an edible flower, a curl of lemon zest or some fresh herbs. Fill with water and freeze. Serve cubes in a crystal bowl with silver ice tongs.

About Suzanne

Suzanne Clark is a mother of five and enjoys living in Phoenix with her husband and her family. Every day is a creative endeavor for Suzanne. A self-taught artist and cook, she creates award winning recipes and decorates homes with her unique style and artwork. A few of her many accomplishments include winning first place in the top ten in The World Food Championships, and winning many other national cooking contests throughout the past years. As an artist, her artwork in showcased in many homes across the country from Michigan to California. Suzanne loves to share her creativity by teaching art and cooking classes to people of all ages. She also is featured on several local television shows in the Phoenix area, as well as being featured in an upcoming miniseries coming this spring.

posted on April 18, 2014

Apr 17

Pastry Wrapped Asparagus

By Suzanne Clark

Years ago when my daughter was five, we decided to have her friends over and host a tea party for her birthday. This has to be one of my favorite memories, my daughter and I still talk about to this day! This started a trend in our home, we decided to throw tea parties on a regular basis! In this crazy and hectic world, sometimes it is quite pleasant to sit down with friends of all ages, relax and indulge in delicious treats and a cup of tea.

My recipe I am sharing with you today is one of our tea party favorites. Thin sheets of flakey pastry is wrapped around tender spears of asparagus and baked until they are golden brown and crispy. These savory treats are served with a flavorful butter dipping sauce, full of lemon and fresh dill. So elegant yet simple, perfect for a tea party or any special gathering.

Every once in a while, I will see my daughter sneak around the corner, and pull out her teapot and have a little tea party on her own. It brings a smile to my face knowing I brought this tradition into her life. I hope you try hosting a tea party, and create special moments for you and your loved ones. For tips on how to throw the perfect tea party, see my tips below the recipe.

Ingredients

Pastry Wrapped Asparagus

  • 36 asparagus spear, ends trimmed
  • 18 sheets frozen phylo (fillo) dough
  • 1 stick Challenge Butter
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Fresh Lemon Butter Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons very finely diced shallots
  • 1 stick Challenge Butter
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons finely diced fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt


Directions

1. Thaw pastry according to directions on box. (Note: typically there are two rolls in a box. One roll usually equals 18 sheets!) Line baking sheet with parchment paper, and brush lightly with melted butter.

2. Preheat oven to 350.

3. Cut pastry in half horizontally. Make sure to always keep pastry covered with a clean towel while working, phylo pastry will dry out fast! Place a sheet a phylo on a work surface. Lightly brush with melted butter. Place asparagus at one end of the pastry and roll around the stalk. Place seam side down on parchment covered sheet. When all rolls are complete, brush tops with additional butter and sprinkle with cheese. Place in oven and bake or 20-25 minutes or until pastry is crisp and golden brown.

4. While the asparagus is baking, it time to make your sauce. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, combine shallots and the Challenge Butter. Cook for 3-4 minutes until butter is melted and shallots start to soften. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in lemon juice, fresh dill, mustard and salt. Pastry wrapped asparagus and dipping sauce can be served hot or at room temperature.

About Suzanne

Suzanne Clark is a mother of five and enjoys living in Phoenix with her husband and her family. Every day is a creative endeavor for Suzanne. A self-taught artist and cook, she creates award winning recipes and decorates homes with her unique style and artwork. A few of her many accomplishments include winning first place in the top ten in The World Food Championships, and winning many other national cooking contests throughout the past years. As an artist, her artwork in showcased in many homes across the country from Michigan to California. Suzanne loves to share her creativity by teaching art and cooking classes to people of all ages. She also is featured on several local television shows in the Phoenix area, as well as being featured in an upcoming miniseries coming this spring.

posted on April 17, 2014

Apr 15

White Chocolate Bird Nests

By Suzanne Clark

I thought it would be fun to put a contemporary twist on a recipe that is a “blast from my past!” When I was a child I loved to make Haystacks, a classic recipe made from butterscotch chips and chow mein noodles. It felt so liberating being able to create this delicious little bites all on my own, no stove top cooking necessary! Now that I am a Mom, I thought my children would like to make them as well. Instead of butterscotch chips, I choose to use white chocolate and coconut. I also formed them into birds nest, and filled them with jelly beans to welcome spring. Serve them at Easter, spring parties or as a cute surprise at the next baby shower. I hope this recipe creates new memories for you and your family.

Ingredients

  • 24 oz. white chocolate chips
  • 1 stick Challenge Butter
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 2 cups Chow Mein Noodles
  • Assorted small jelly beans

Directions

Place white chocolate chips and butter in a large microwave safe bowl. Melt chips at 30 second intervals stirring often. When melted, stir in coconut and Chow Mein noodles. Mound mixture into 3 inch circles on a piece of parchment or waxed paper. Form a small well in the center of each to create nest. Work quickly, chocolate sets fast! When nest have hardened, fill each with 3 jelly beans to look like birds eggs.

About Suzanne

Suzanne Clark is a mother of five and enjoys living in Phoenix with her husband and her family. Every day is a creative endeavor for Suzanne. A self-taught artist and cook, she creates award winning recipes and decorates homes with her unique style and artwork. A few of her many accomplishments include winning first place in the top ten in The World Food Championships, and winning many other national cooking contests throughout the past years. As an artist, her artwork in showcased in many homes across the country from Michigan to California. Suzanne loves to share her creativity by teaching art and cooking classes to people of all ages. She also is featured on several local television shows in the Phoenix area, as well as being featured in an upcoming miniseries coming this spring.

posted on April 15, 2014

Apr 4

Garden Parfaits

By Suzanne Clark

Are you looking for a whimsical and delicious dessert to serve at your next party? I thought I would create a recipe that was not only quick and easy, but one that would certainly delight your guests at your next gathering and make you look like a pastry chef extraordinaire! I used store bought cake and a quick and easy filling to be the base—or the” dirt”—in the parfait. Of course our gardens need some beautiful veggies growing in them, so I created adorable carrots made from strawberries and orange candy melts. I then topped this Garden Parfait with a buttery pecan topping to add some crunch to the creamy base. This would be perfect to serve at your next birthday party, picnic, or family holiday celebration.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups orange colored candy melts, found at any craft or baking store
  • 24 washed and dried strawberries
  • 1.7 ounce package of instant pudding, flavor of your choice
  • 1 package (8 oz) Challenge Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 stick Challenge Butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 pre-made pound cake or homemade pre-baked cake, flavor of your choice

Directions

1. Place candy melts in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave at 30 minutes intervals, stirring often until melted. Dip strawberries in candy all the way up to the leaves so your strawberries will look like carrots. Place dipped strawberries on a piece of parchment or waxed paper to dry. If your “carrots” puddle while drying, trim off excess with kitchen shears to create the perfect carrot.

2. To create filling combine pudding, cream cheese and milk in a large mixing bowl. Beat with a mixer until smooth and creamy. Spoon pudding mixture into a large zipper bag and seal. Cut corner tip off of bag, reserve until needed.

3. To make your buttery pecan topping, place butter, brown sugar and pecans in a skillet over medium high heat. Heat until mixture begins to bubble, continue cooking for 3 minutes. Spread mixture onto a piece of parchment paper. Let cool, then crumble into small pieces to resemble garden rocks.

4. To assemble parfaits, begin by cutting cake into cubes. Press about 1/3 cup into the bottom of a parfait cup or small glass bowl. Squeeze a layer of pudding filling over cake. Next press in another 1/3 cup off cake. Place three candy covered carrots on top, slightly pushing them into the cake to look like they are growing in your garden. Next fill around carrots with buttery pecan topping to create rocks in your garden. Refrigerate until ready to serve, best served the day you make them!

About Suzanne

Suzanne Clark is a mother of five and enjoys living in Phoenix with her husband and her family. Every day is a creative endeavor for Suzanne. A self-taught artist and cook, she creates award winning recipes and decorates homes with her unique style and artwork. A few of her many accomplishments include winning first place in the top ten in The World Food Championships, and winning many other national cooking contests throughout the past years. As an artist, her artwork in showcased in many homes across the country from Michigan to California. Suzanne loves to share her creativity by teaching art and cooking classes to people of all ages. She also is featured on several local television shows in the Phoenix area, as well as being featured in an upcoming miniseries coming this spring.

posted on April 4, 2014

Mar 21

Garden Fresh Risotto with Brown Butter

Celebrate spring with award winning home cook Suzanne Clark. We’re excited to have her back to share one of her favorite recipes for the season.

By Suzanne Clark

Springtime is one of my favorite times of year. I love going to the grocery store and seeing what is fresh and inspiring. This recipe is packed full of creamy, savory flavors that celebrate all of the goodness of spring in a classic dish your whole family will enjoy. Mushrooms, fresh garden peas, and asparagus are the stars of this dish, while parmesan cheese gives it an elegant touch. The surprise swirl of fragrant brown butter, and a sprinkle of fresh parsley is the crowning glory to this delicious dish. It’s perfect as an entrée or enticing as a side dish. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 8 stalks of asparagus
  • 8 cups of reduced sodium chicken broth
  • ⅓ cup Challenge Spreadable Butter with Canola Oil
  • 1 cup of finely chopped onions
  • 12 ounces of chopped mushrooms
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1½ cups of Aborio short grain rice
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 1 cup of fresh garden peas
  • ⅔ cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup (1 stick) Challenge Butter
  • ⅛ cup of fresh parsley, chopped

Directions

1. To prepare asparagus, trim ends. Using a vegetable peeler, create thin strips or “ribbons” of asparagus. Cut ribbons into 2 inch pieces.

2. In a saucepan, bring broth to a simmer and reserve until needed.

3. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan and add onions. Cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook for an additional 5 minutes until mushrooms are tender. Stir in rice to toast in pan, about 3 minutes. Add wine and simmer until liquid is absorbed, stirring often. Add 1 cup of hot broth; simmer over medium low heat until liquid is absorbed stirring often, about 3 minutes. Continue this process until rice is tender and mixture is creamy. Stir in fresh peas, asparagus ribbons and parmesan cheese, remove from heat.

4. In a saucepan over medium high heat add butter stirring constantly. Heat butter until it becomes very fragrant and butter turns a golden brown. This happens fast, so make sure to watch and stir. Season risotto with salt and pepper if desired.

5. To serve, drizzle on browned butter and sprinkle with fresh parsley.

About Suzanne

Suzanne Clark is a mother of five and enjoys living in Phoenix with her husband and her family. Every day is a creative endeavor for Suzanne. A self-taught artist and cook, she creates award winning recipes and decorates homes with her unique style and artwork. A few of her many accomplishments include winning first place in the top ten in The World Food Championships, and winning many other national cooking contests throughout the past years. As an artist, her artwork in showcased in many homes across the country from Michigan to California. Suzanne loves to share her creativity by teaching art and cooking classes to people of all ages. She also is featured on several local television shows in the Phoenix area, as well as being featured in an upcoming miniseries coming this spring.

posted on March 21, 2014

Mar 6

Ginger Lemongrass Chicken Soup

Suzanne Clark is back to shake up your weekly menu with this simple and delicious Ginger and Lemongrass Chicken Soup served with melt-in-your-mouth Buttery Cheese Crackers.

By Suzanne Clark

Ginger Lemongrass Chicken Soup with Dumplings

If your schedule is anything like mine, I am constantly on the go. Between being taking care of the kids, work and life in general, it is often a rush at dinner time. This is why I am so happy to share this quick and easy recipe with you. This is one of my favorite “go to” recipes that I know my family will enjoy. It allows me put a bit of love in their tummies, and provide a nutritious and quick meal. When life gets hectic-this Mom makes soup and crackers!

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons Challenge Butter
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced carrots
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon lemongrass
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 4 quarts Chicken broth
  • 2 cups pre-cooked Chicken, diced
  • 12 ounces frozen chicken tortellini, mini wontons or Chinese dumplings
  • 2 cups coleslaw mix
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves

Directions

1. In a large pot add butter, onion, celery, carrot, and mushrooms. Sauté vegetables for about 5 minutes or until softened.

2. Add lemongrass, ginger and garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

3. Pour in chicken broth and diced chicken, bring to a boil.

4. Add frozen pasta of choice. Cook pasta according to instructions on package.

5. When dumplings are cooked, pour soup into bowls. Top with a sprinkle of cole slaw mix and a few pieces of cilantro.

6. Serve with Buttery Cheese Crackers.

Buttery Cheese Crackers

Have you ever had homemade crackers? It's like homemade bread verses sliced sandwich bread…there is no competition! With only 7 easy ingredients, you can make these flakey, delicious Buttery Cheese Crackers in no time at all. These crackers are the perfect accompaniment to soup or salad. Create these delightful crackers to jazz up your traditional cheese plate or as the perfect appetizer for your next party. They're so easy to make. You will never buy store bought crackers again!

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup Challenge Butter, softened and cut into pieces
  • 6 ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour (plus a little more for dusting)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon of milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of sesame seeds

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.

3. Place butter, cheese, flour, salt and pepper in food processor, and pulse until ingredients turn into coarse crumbs. Add milk and process until dough forms. Remove dough from food processor and form dough into a ball. Slightly flatten dough on floured work surface. Sprinkle top of dough with sesame seeds. Roll out dough to a rectangle, about 1/8" thick. Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into two inch squares. Using a spatula, transfer crackers to prepared baking sheet. The crackers will puff up, but not spread much, so you can place them close together.

4. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until edges start to brown, do not over bake. Let crackers cool on a wire rack. When cooled, store in airtight container for up to 3 days.

About Suzanne

Suzanne Clark is a mother of five and enjoys living in Phoenix with her husband and her family. Every day is a creative endeavor for Suzanne. A self-taught artist and cook, she creates award winning recipes and decorates homes with her unique style and artwork. A few of her many accomplishments include winning first place in the top ten in The World Food Championships, and winning many other national cooking contests throughout the past years. As an artist, her artwork in showcased in many homes across the country from Michigan to California. Suzanne loves to share her creativity by teaching art and cooking classes to people of all ages. She also is featured on several local television shows in the Phoenix area, as well as being featured in an upcoming miniseries coming this spring.

posted on March 6, 2014

Feb 13

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bars

Today’s recipe post is from one of our favorite bloggers. Glory is a huge fan of Challenge Butter and even includes it among her favorite ingredients in her soon-to-be-released cookbook Gloriously Layered Desserts.

By Glory Albin of Glorious Treats

As much as I love fancy desserts, there is just something so comforting about a thick, delicious cookie bar. These bars are rich and flavorful and are always a hit with my friends and family. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) Challenge Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1½ cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 package (8 oz.) mini peanut butter cups, chopped (about 1½ cups)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

Directions

1. Prepare a 9"x13" baking pan by lining with parchment paper (on the bottom and up at least two sides, leave a little overhang for pulling out the bars once they're baked).

2. Preheat oven to 350°F

3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt, stir and set aside.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the melted butter and sugar.

5. Add eggs and vanilla and continue to beat until well combined.

6. While blending, slowly add the bowl of dry ingredients.

7. Add chopped mini peanut butter cups and chocolate chips and blend just until combined.

8. Scoop batter into the prepared pan, and use an offset spatula to smooth out.

9. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until light golden brown and the center is set.

10. Allow to cool before cutting or removing from pan. Keep bars stored in an airtight container up to 5 days.

About Glory

Glory Albin is a wife, mother, and also a few other things... a baker, crafter, photographer, floral designer, and an obsessive party planner. She loves color, design, and sweets... and really loves bringing all three of those things together! Visit her blog at: glorioustreats.com

posted on February 13, 2014