Easy Irish Soda Bread {recipe}

“Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone;  it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” – Ursula K. LeGuin, The Lathe of Heaven

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!  As most folks associate St. Patrick’s Day with green beer and Leprechauns, I am most excited because today is the day before (drumroll please)….my Birthday!! Woohoo!

I have fond, vivid memories of my mom bringing my grade school class St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes to celebrate my birthday, beautifully decorated in emerald green icing and clovers. (But that’s a different blog post!)

Tonight I am invited to my friend’s home for traditional corned beef and cabbage. Yum!! I volunteered to bring the Irish Soda Bread. Easy enough! Since we have some great bakeries in town I will just swing by the bakery, drop a couple bucks and I’m on my way.

Huh?? NONE of the bakeries baked any Irish Soda Bread?? (Or green cupcakes worthy of Mom!) So, I checked my calendar. Yep, I have the date right, March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day.

Determined and dressed in my green shirt I headed to the grocery store bakery section. Whaatt?? No Irish Soda Bread (and of course no green cupcakes!!) Ugh!

Now I was on a mission!!  I searched the baking aisle for Irish Soda Bread mix. Let’s see… there are mixes for honey wheat, white, multi-grain and even sweet Hawaiian bread. But no Irish Soda Bread mix!

Off to the frozen bread section…Garlic Bread, biscuits, French bread, and dinner rolls. But no Irish Soda Bread. Seriously? (Is today really April Fools Day?)

More determined than ever, I grabbed some buttermilk and Irish butter and headed straight for the checkout.  The cashier accidentally gave me 3 cents extra change. She said, “It must be your lucky day!” Yep! Lucky Lisa!

“Unique to Ireland, Irish Soda Bread is a traditional product of a poor country. Made with only the most basic of ingredients: flour, baking soda (used as a leavening agent instead of yeast), soured milk (buttermilk) to moisten and activate the soda, and salt. A cross was cut on the top before baking to ward off the devil and protect the household.”

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Easy Irish Soda Bread

(adapted from Simple Recipes)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30-40 minutes

Yield: One loaf

Ingredients:

4 to 4 ½ cups flour (I used King Arthur’s All Purpose Flour)

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 Teaspoon salt

1 Teaspoon baking soda

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)

1 cup currants or raisins (I used currants)

1 large farm fresh organic egg, lightly beaten

1 ¾ cups buttermilk

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place rack in center of oven.

Whisk together flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.

Using your (clean) fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add the raisins or currants.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well. Mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until dough is too stiff to stir.

Dust hands with flour, then GENTLY knead dough in the bowl just enough to form a rough ball. (Add a bit more flour if dough is too sticky.) DO NOT OVER-KNEAD!

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. (Note: dough may be a little sticky, and should resemble a shortcake biscuit dough)

Work dough until it just comes together. Again, DO NOT OVER-KNEAD!

Transfer dough to a baking sheet. Score top with an “X” shape.

Bake in middle rack until bread is golden and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a long wooden skewer into the center. If skewer comes out clean, bread is done.

Remove baking sheet and bread from oven. Allow bread to sit on sheet for 5-10 minutes. Move bread to a wire rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Ingredients for Irish Soda Bread

 

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Add currants to flour mixture.

 

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Gently knead the dough

 

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Score the top with an “X” – Removes evil spirits and allows the center to bake.

 

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Tada!! How’s that for Luck of the Irish!!?

Do you have a favorite traditional recipe you use for special occasions?

Photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

18 Sunflower Facts You Never Knew

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 “Bring me the sunflower crazed with the love of the light.” – Eugenion Montale

Here Comes The Sun! From munching on the salted seeds packed in my Barbie lunchbox, to growing the gigantic beauties in my garden, I have always had a love affair with sunflowers. I literally skip when my seeds begin to sprout, anxiously awaiting the bright, canary-colored magical bloom! Check out these interesting facts that I never knew about my favorite flower:

The scientific name of sunflowers is Helianthus, Helios for sun and Anthos for flower.

Sunflowers are one of the fastest growing plants, growing up to 12 feet tall within six months.

The tallest sunflower (over 25 feet) was grown in The Netherlands in 1986.

There are more than 60 different kinds of sunflowers, including yellow, orange, red-orange, maroon, tan, peach and striped colors.

The former Soviet Union grows the most sunflowers. The sunflower is the national flower of Russia.

Sunflower heads consist of 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers joined together by a receptacle base. The large petals around the edge of a sunflower head are individual ray flowers which do not develop into seed.

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“Every friend is to the other a sun, and a sunflower. He attracts and follows.” – Jean Paul Richter

Sunflowers are thought to have existed 3000-8000 years ago. The Aztecs worshipped sunflowers.

Native American Indians used sunflowers for food, oil, in medical ointments, and as dyes and body paints.

Sunflowers are connected to the zodiac sign, Leo.

Kansas is known as the Sunflower State.

The sunflower’s flowering heads track the sun’s movement, a phenomenon known as heliotropism. In French, the word for sunflower is tournesol, meaning “turn with the sun.”

Mature sunflowers can have up to 40% of their weight in oil, which they store as a source of energy and food. Sunflower seeds are crushed to give us oil for cooking.

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 “The sunflower is mine, in a way.” ― Vincent van Gogh

Famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh did a series of paintings featuring and called Sunflowers.

One sunflower can have up to 2000 seeds.

There are two kinds of sunflower seeds: black and stripe. Oil is made from black seeds; snacks are made from striped seeds.

Sunflowers can also be processed into a peanut butter substitute called Sunbutter. In Germany, sunflower seeds are mixed with rye flour to make a type of bread (Sonnenblumenkernbrot).

According to folklore, it is bad luck to cut down a sunflower.

Another folk legend says that if you sleep with a sunflower under your pillow, you will become wise.

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 “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.” – Helen Keller

Original photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

Resources include:  AmazingandWeird.com and SunflowerPlant.com

Shared with: Motivation Monday, Creative Mondays, Fiesta Friday, Plant Based PotLuck, Gluten Free Fridays, Real Food Fridays

50 Shades of Tomatoes {recipe}

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Curvaceous. Juicy. Bursting. Plump. Tempting. Exotic. Heavenly. Sinful. 50 Shades. No, this isn’t the sexy Hollywood movie. It’s 50 Shades of Tomatoes.

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My organic heirloom tomatoes are show stopping in spectacular shades, shapes and sizes with exotic names like: Black Tula, Principe Borghese, Large Barred Boar, Brandy Wine, Purple Russian, Big Pink and Green Zebra.

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 “Only two things that money can’t buy,  

that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.” Guy Clark


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“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.”  – Lewis Grizzard


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 “Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.”


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 “The tomato offers its gift of fiery color and cool completeness.”

  -Pablo Neruda


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“A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins.”

-Laurie Colwin


Nothing screams “Summer!!” like just-picked tomatoes, sun-kissed and dripping with juicy ripeness.  To highlight your mouth-watering garden gems, keep it simple. Start by adding fragrant basil…

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“A man taking basil from a woman will love her always.”

– Sir Thomas Moore 


Add soft, fresh mozzarella cheese…

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Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a thick, rich balsamic glaze.

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Now, how sexy is that?


Caprese Salad

(Shhhh. The secret is the glossy balsamic glaze.) For a more dramatic presentation, vary different shades, colors and shapes of tomatoes.

Serves 8 to 12

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:

2 Cups balsamic vinegar

3 ripe heirloom tomatoes, preferably organic

12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thickly sliced

Fresh basil leaves

High-quality olive oil, for drizzling

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation:

Make the glaze: Pour balsamic vinegar into saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over low heat.

Cook for about 15 minutes (stirring occasionally) or until the balsamic has reduced to a thick (but still pourable) glaze. Cool.

Assemble: Cut tomatoes into thick slices and arrange them on a platter. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper.

Alternate tomato slices with mozzarella slices. Tuck whole basil leaves in between the tomato and cheese slices.

Drizzle olive oil in a thin stream over the top. Drizzle balsamic glaze.

Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, to taste.

***

Buon Appetito!

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“Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes

What would life be without homegrown tomatoes?

Only two things that money can’t buy

That’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.”

– John Denver/Guy Clark

(click on link to sing along to “Homegrown Tomatoes”)

***

Photos by Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

Post shared with:  Fiesta Friday, Motivation Monday, Creative Mondays, Mix It Up Monday, Melt In Your Mouth Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Try A Bite Tuesday, Full Plate Thursday, Gluten Free Fridays, Foodie Fridays, Thursday Favorite Things, Link Party Palooza

Do you grow tomatoes? What’s your favorite heirloom tomato?

Mangoritas! {recipe}

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“If life gives you limes, make margaritas.”-Jimmy Buffett

Calypso music. Breathtaking sunset. Sailing away. A Caribbean cruise with my BFF’s. Decked out in my floppy hat and movie star sunglasses, the only thing missing was a drink in my hand.

The bartender (impersonating Isaac from The Love Boat) tempted us with exotic cocktails, “Mango Tangos, ladies?” Of course we indulged, happily sipping the frozen concoction to the beat of the steel drums.

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Yuk! What promised to be a tropical tequila treat was nothing more than an overpriced sad slushie! I was left with a bad taste in my mouth and a worthless souvenir glass. Since that day I have longed for the perfect mango libation.

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It’s mango season in Miami, when neighborhood mango stands pop up on every street corner! Look at these gorgeous gems I brought home. (Check out my cool Mango Facts)

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With my ripe beauties on the kitchen counter, I brainstormed how to best use my magnificent mangoes to beat the sweltering South Florida heat.

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Then I recalled that disappointing cruise cocktail…

It was now blender time!

Mangorita22_seedylawyerMinutes later, (steel drum roll, please) ….Mangoritas!!

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Perhaps The Love Boat should hire me to bartend? My mouthwatering Mangoritas are silky smooth, tangy, not too-tequila-y, a bit sweet, refreshing, very creamy, exotic frozen goodness. Guaranteed to make you feel sexier than Tom Jones and dance like Mick Jagger. Whip up a boozy batch for your friends.

After all, it’s 5:00 O’clock somewhere.

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“One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.” – George Carlin

Mangoritas

Note: I am lucky enough to live where fresh mangoes are available. If mangoes are not in season or not available where you live, check out the frozen fruit section of your grocery store for frozen mango.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

1 1/4 oz high quality tequila (You will thank me later!)

1 oz triple sec, Cointreau or Grand Marnier

1 1/2 oz fresh lime or lemon juice (plus extra to squeeze on top)

2 oz simple syrup or sour mix

1 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks

1 cup ice

lime garnish

sugar or salt for rim of glasses (optional)

Preparation:

Place ingredients into blender in the order listed. Blend until desired consistency. Pour into margarita glasses. Top with a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice. Garnish with lime slice and a paper umbrella. Cheers!

*** 

What’s your favorite cocktail?

Shared with Great Idea Thursday, Wordless Wednesday, Full Plate Thursdays, Gluten Free Fridays, Foodie Friday, Fiesta Friday, Plant Based Potluck, Flashback Friday, Foodie Friends Friday, Link Party Palooza, Thursday Favorite Things, Showcase Your Talent Thursdays, Simply Natural Saturdays, I’m Loving It Party, Creative Mondays, Motivation Monday, Busy Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Munching Mondays, Totally Talented Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesday, Try A Bite Tuesday, Simple Supper Tuesday

Photos courtesy of Seedy Lawyer and Love Boat.  All rights reserved.

Bravo, Avocado! {raw recipe}

Homegrown Florida Avocados

My avocado-loving Dad always wanted his own tree. So a few years ago he hired a landscaper to plant a big, bad avocado tree in his South Florida yard. Like an impatient kid, my Dad waited for his new budding, guacamole-producing tree. He was soon to be the envy of all the neighbors!

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My Dad loves avocados!

The garden guy brought a huge back hoe (fancy, huh? – yeah, so was his bill!).  He and his crew dug a hole in my Pop’s yard big enough to land a Lear Jet. Oh, just the thought of endless avocados

The time came for the unveiling of the terrific tree. Filled with bursting anticipation, Dad skipped into his backyard. There it was… All three feet of it. The Charlie Brown Christmas Avocado Tree: A sad, lifeless, twig with one brown leaf. Heartbroken, my poor Dad hung his head in disbelief. Good Grief, Charlie Brown Dad. Sadly, at 80 years old, my father knew he would never pick his own avocados.

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Oh, but Darling Mother Nature must have had a crush on my adorable Dad. Just a few guacamole-less football seasons later, things began to change…

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Bloom, baby, bloom!

Voila! May I present my father’s tree featuring ginormous avocados! Ta-da! 

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Pop is so proud of his green goodies! If the Miami Dolphins ever run out of footballs, maybe they can use one of these! Oh, yeah, baby!

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Known to my Miami friends as La Avocado Abogada*, I quickly got my hands on some of Dad’s treasures!

(*Translation: The Avocado Attorney)

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One of Dad’s avocados (Persea americana) even had a huge root wrapped around the pit. I planted it and now my tree is bigger than Dad’s original tree! Ha!

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Avocado Tree I grew from Dad’s Avocado pit!

I love raw food recipes. Years ago, I bought Carol Alt’s Raw Food book. A recipe for a raw Chocolate Banana Shake made with avocado seemed too good to be true. A delicious (milkless) milkshake that’s actually good for you? Get out! No way! So I had to try it for myself…

OMG!! Move over Haagen-Dazs! This shake is:

Thick

Rich

Oh so Creamy

Chocolatey

Mouth-watering

A bit Banana-y

Frozen goodness

A blenderful of bliss

This fake shake is so darn good that I tricked all my friends and family into thinking it’s the calorie-packed, sinful, get-your-butt-to-the-gym, ice-cream shop real deal. I challenge you to do the same!

The results will make you yell,Bravo, Avocado!”

 

Raw Chocolate Banana Shake

Adapted from The Raw 50 by Carol Alt

Ingredients:

¼ cup raw cashews, soaked for about 2 hours, drained

¼ to ½ ripe pitted and peeled avocado

2 ripe bananas, sliced (preferably frozen)

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon Himalayan salt or sea salt

1 tablespoon raw agave nectar or raw honey

2 tablespoons raw cacao

½ cup non-dairy milk (I used chocolate almond milk; can use regular almond milk, flax milk, etc)

2 cup crushed ice

Preparation:

Blend first 7 ingredients in blender for 60 seconds.  Add ice and blend until reaching a thick milkshake-like consistency.  Add enough milk to reach desired consistency.  Blend.  Pour into glass and enjoy!

***

 

A nutrient-packed raw milkshake without the guilt! Cheers!

What is your favorite Avocado recipe?

I am sharing my ripe avocados with:  Green Idea Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Share Your Cup Thursday, Green Thumb Thursdays, Simple Lives Thursday, Home and Garden Thursday, Fiesta Friday, Home Acre Blog Hop, Real Food Fridays, Farm Girl Friday, Simple Meals Friday, Gluten Free Fridays, Simple Saturdays Blog Hop, Savoring Saturdays, Strut Your Stuff, The Party Brunch, Link Party Palooza, Little House Friday DIY Linky, Weekend Bites, Creative Style, Motivation Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Busy Monday

Charlie Brown Photo by Charles Schultz Courtesy of  Anthony Peoples

Original photos by The Seedy Lawyer.  All rights reserved.

White Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream

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White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream!

 “Never trust a skinny ice cream man.” Ben Cohen

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Homegrown Organic Raspberries

So you drop a small fortune on a tiny basket of raspberries at the store only to find the berries are smashed, rotten or moldy! Eww! I gave up on buying raspberries a long time ago. No more playing a fool for bad berries.

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Red, red raspberries!

But, then I found an organic red raspberry plant at the Farmer’s Market. I quickly learned that growing your own raspberries is easy!

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The Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) is originally from Asia and is a member of the Rose Family. The most popular are red and black, but there are also purple and golden raspberries. Wow, delicious and beautiful colors, too. Take a look at my red beauties!

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Ohh-La-La!  Look what I grew!

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Tart, sweet and tasty, this delicate fruit is great in smoothies, jam and many baked goods. I made a mouth-watering puree to swirl into my homemade vanilla bean, white chocolate ice cream. Are you drooling yet?

The best part of this dessert is there are no calories! Okay, maybe just a few. But believe me, this sinful ice cream is worth every minute at the gym! Heck, I chomped on a cone while walking on the treadmill!

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“Life is like an ice-cream cone,

you have to lick it one day at a time.”

Charles M. Schulz 

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“Swirl, baby, swirl!”

 

White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream

A very rich, decadent ice cream made with a custard base and swirled with raspberry puree.

Adapted from allrecipes.com

Serves 12

Ingredients:

For Raspberry Puree:

2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)

¼ cup sugar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

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Making Raspberry Puree

For Custard:

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup white sugar

1 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise, seeds scraped

1 pinch salt

5 large egg yolks

1 (8 ounce) package white chocolate chips

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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Custard

 Preparation:

  1. Heat raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat until raspberries begin to fall apart, 7 to 10 minutes. Press raspberries through a sieve over a bowl to remove the seeds; discard seeds. (Do not skip straining; it’s well worth the time.) Chill.
  2. Heat milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until warm, about 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk egg yolks and about 1 cup warm milk mixture in a bowl; stir egg mixture into saucepan. Continue to cook and stir until custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove vanilla bean (I strained custard into a bowl and returned to saucepan to remove all bits of vanilla bean.)
  4. Stir white chocolate chips into custard until melted. Pour custard into a large bowl and stir in heavy cream and vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  5. Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions until it reaches “soft-serve” consistency.
  6. Gently swirl raspberries into the soft ice cream creating ribbons of raspberries. Transfer ice cream to a one- or two-quart lidded plastic container; cover surface with plastic wrap and seal. For best results, ice cream should ripen in the freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight.
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Swirl raspberry puree into custard.

Grab a (big) spoon and dive in!

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 ***

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“I scream, you scream, we all scream for

White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream!

The Raspberry has been known to be a symbol for kindness. So be kind and share this ice cream with your friends! I am sharing my swirled deliciousness with my friends at Fiesta Friday #36.

Also shared on Green Thumb ThursdaySimple Lives Thursday, Home and Garden Thursday, Share Your Cup Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, HomeAcre Hop, Real Food Fridays, Motivational Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Mondays, Mostly Homemade Mondays, Natural Living Monday, Homestead Barn Hop

In a “Berry” mood? Check out my posts on Wild Blueberries and Blackberries. Berry good!

Looking for an exotic ice cream? Why not try Lisa’s Lemongrass Ice Cream? Yum!

Original photos by Seedy Lawyer. All rights reserved.

 

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