Polka Dot Sprite Zoku™ Pops
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(more or less) Betty Crocker™ Fruit Gushers™ variety pack (from assorted packs if varied colors are desired)
Place a few Gushers into each mold of the frozen Zoku™ maker. Add a handle to each mold. Add as many more Gushers as you are able to, trying to finagle some around to the sides so they are evenly placed. (Or placing them just along the sides is fine, too.) Use the handle of a wooden spoon to help push the Gushers down into the molds.
Pour the Sprite into the Zoku™ molds, just up to the marked fill line. Allow pops to freeze on the countertop for about 10 minutes (more if they are not yet visually frozen throughout).
Use the Zoku™ quick release handle to remove each pop from the mold. Enjoy immediately!
- This recipe uses a Zoku™ Quick Pop Maker, which must be placed in the freezer 24 hours ahead of use. This recipe assumes the maker is already frozen for the required time.
More About This Recipe
- Polka dots rock these sweet pops made super fast in a Zoku Quick Pop Maker!I was at a wedding once where nearly all the dancing was to polka music. Oh, you're not from Wisconsin? Hmmm. This story may not be so relevant then.If you won't do the polka dance, no worries. You can still do the polka dot. I'll show you how. I've been making Zoku pops for awhile now -- I'm kind of a Zoku guru, you could say -- so stick with me and nobody will get hurt (polka dancing).You need just a couple things: Sprite and Gushers Fruit Snacks...and A Zoku Quick Pop Maker.I used a few different flavors of Gushers to get a bunch of varied colors, but you go ahead and use whatever ones you feel like.If you've used a Zoku before you know that you have to freeze the pop maker for 24 hours before you use it.No biggie, really, considering that then your pops will freeze before your li'l eyeballs in just minutes. It's like food entertainment, it is.When they're totally frozen, grab the handy dandy pop release tool and twist it right onto one of the handles. Then wiggle and jiggle it 'til it loosens up -- not unlike polka dancers, I might add.Pop! Out they come. Yep, it's really that easy.Hand 'em out right away because they're best like that.And now you can say that you know the polka -- sorta.
Rubber Ducky Punch and Elmo Themed 2nd Birthday Party
Our little Munchkin turned 2!! We had an amazing birthday party for her. She is a huge Elmo fan, and we are huge fans of turning up the volume a little bit. So, it was Elmo polka dot theme. Special appearances by Abby Cadabby and Zoe (Elmo's 2 best friends) as well as his goldfish Dorothy.
Having a party for a 2 year old with attendees that ranged from 10 months to 15 years (as well as many adults) was very fun to prepare for. We wanted to make sure that along with great food, company and music there was a lot to keep everyone occupied and having a great time!
We set up 3 main activity areas for the kids. Elmo's Bounce World, Elmo's Coloring World and Elmo's Ball World.
Elmo's Bounce World was fabulously easy. We simply rented a size appropriate bounce house (13"x13") with an Elmo banner. Chad created great signs to tell you where you were and what each activity was. The energy level was high and no child complained of boredom. Not to mention, after indulging in the sweets, what a great place to burn off the sugar. Bounce away! Bounce they did. Munchkin had an incredible time in the bounce house, she held her own with all the different ages of kids bouncing about like little Tiggers.
Elmo's Coloring World was put together with great attention to detail. All the kids had their own personalized coloring book which Chad created. We set out 2 buckets of crayons and used adjustable tables so they could be set to a child appropriate height. There was a tent over Elmo's Coloring World to keep the artists cool as they created their masterpieces and around the tent we created a beautiful crayon banner. Chad printed crayons on sheets of colored scrapbook paper in very bright primary colors. Those crayons were strung together to create this amazing banner. Our Munchkin as well as most of the other kids spent a great deal of time in Elmo's Coloring World and it may be part of her next party as well!
The final, and I have to say, most brilliant activity was Elmo's Ball World. The younger kids (ages 10 months to 4 years) especially enjoyed this activity. We laid down 2 tarps and taped them and anchored them. Munchkin's baby gates were connected around the play area and we put her little basketball hoop in the play area along with a dozen balls that matched the party colors. It was a great activity and everyone loved it! Along with the Elmo's Ball World sign, that you see off to the left, Chad designed character signs and attached them to the gates.
The guest tables were incredibly fun to decorate. We had 3 types of themed tables, Elmo theme, Abby theme and Zoe theme. Each theme had its own color scheme, polka dot punch outs and signs. We will share more details with you later.
There was a Memory Table set up in the house before you walk out to the fun. It included a memory book to write something in, gift bags for the party goers, along with a print of the party invitation and Munchkin's 2 year photo. 6 inch Elmo, Abby and Zoe dolls also made an appearance.
Out the back door the gift table sat and straight ahead was the fabulous Elmo's Eatery Tent. Three tables set up in a U shape. The beverage table to the left, food table to the right and the dessert table (the star of the show) was in the center.
The beverage table featured Rubber Ducky Punch. It was absolutely amazing. Cool and refreshing. There was not a drop left. Adults and kids alike passed up the soda and lemonade and enjoyed glass after glass of Rubber Ducky Punch.We found these adorable light up rubber duckies at the Dollar Tree and they were so much fun. The clear bowl and ladle were also scooped up at the Dollar Tree, what a find for an outdoor kids party.
Rubber Ducky Punch
1 packet blue berry, unsweetened Kool-Aid
1 (2 liter) bottle 7-Up
1 (64 oz) bottle white grape juice
1 cup sugar
8 scoops pineapple sherbet
2-3 Rubber Duckies (washed well)
We provided reusable plastic cups with crazy straws and lids for all the kids (I found these at Party City for 99 cents each) having cups with lids really saved on spills. Bottled water, lemonade, orange soda, Sprite and Coke were also on the table in adorable metal buckets I found at Target. There are little Sesame Street signs on the beverage and food tables that identify each item.
We decided to go with Elmo's favorites on the food table. Dorothy crackers (goldfish), Pepperoni and Cheese Pizza, Dipped Bananas and Cups of Veggies were the stars and they were all hugely popular and so simple.
The main attraction was of course the dessert table. The center of the dessert table featured a fantastic 3 tier cake (Amaretto filled with Vanilla Custard) With Munchkins name on a Sesame Street style sign. We also enjoyed decorated Elmo Sugar Cookies, Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Pops, dipped Oreo's and Raspberry Lemonade cupcakes. It was quite the spread. Decorated with some candies and party favors in vases, it all came together beautifully.
We really hope you enjoyed this sneak peak. We will be sharing recipes and more party details tomorrow. Hope to see you back.
We would like to thank Michelle from I Do Invitations by Michelle for the inspiration for this party. Especially for the dessert table and the memory table. It was so much fun to carry through these ideas and create everything ourselves.
Fun and Fizzle Homemade Soda Recipes
I am amazed at how many different flavors there are in this cola recipe, from lavender to star anise. Yet, when you’re craving the deliciousness of a coca-cola, head over to your pre-made stuff instead. The pre-made recipe, made by Lorraine Elliot, can be found over at Lorraine Elliott – Not Quite Nigella.
2. Blackberry Lime Soda
Deborah, over at Taste and Tell Blog, couldn’t pass up this fruity summer drink. I like the idea of it being a lime flavored drink because the best soda (in my opinion) is Sprite. Flavored Sprite? Even better. Plus, this would be a great way to use the fresh berries from the garden.
3. Homemade Sugar-Free Grape Soda
This base recipe is super simple, with grapes, water, and lemon juice. The author, over at The View from the Great Island, makes a good point though: if you want the best tasting grape soda, you are going to have to bite into them to make sure they taste good because grapes can be hit or miss.
She also adds a little extra flavoring of basil or mint, delicious!
4. Root Beer Homemade Soda Recipes
The discussion over at Serious Eats is a good one, explaining how to tweak your drink if you prefer your root beer taste to be sweet or tart. They also explain different ways to use it.
The most interesting part is that when making it homemade, root beer does have a one percent alcohol content in it!
5. Lemon Lime
Lemon Lime sodas, such as sprite and seven-up, are my favorite flavor of soda. I love the fact that this one shows the food being made. Got lemons and limes? Make a great soda drink!
I guess I should say here that you need to have purified water with most of this. It really will make all the difference.
To see this recipe, head over to Genius Kitchen.
6. Ginger Ale
Ginger Ale is great for upset stomachs and making your own is even better. Part of what makes this drink so wonderful is that you can make the syrup and add the carbonated water when you are ready for it.
The author over at Add a Pinch explains where to find the ginger and sure enough- it really is that easy. Go ahead, hunt down the ingredients, whip up this mixture and enjoy!
7. Homemade Italian Cream Sodas
Now that you have a few syrups down, everyone should have a recipe for Italian Cream Soda. This sweet treat has just a smidge of half-and-half and whipping cream with cherries on top.
It doesn’t take much to feel like you have a complicated drink that will impress others. To get all the details, check out Leah’s recipe over at The Farm Wife Drinks.
8. Cherry Limeade
Since you have a recipe for lemon-lime syrup and can make a soda similar to Sprite, this is another great way to use the same recipe: make a Cherry Limeade.
Isn’t it great knowing you don’t have to spend the money at Sonic or other restaurants and you know what’s in your drink?
To make it for yourself, head over to Taste of Home for the full recipe.
9. Spicy Watermelon Soda
This sweet treat has a bit of spice to it. I wouldn’t have the seeds with mine but I could see my husband drinking it with spice and all. I think it gives it a bit of a “wow” factor.
Added bonus, there is less sugar in this recipe. The author was trying to pull the sweetness from the watermelon. If you’re looking for the wow factor soda, head over to Vegetarian Ventures for the full recipe.
10. Sparkling Raspberry Pineapple Freeze
What a fun, unique way to use the soda stream! This recipe calls for a pre-made mix but you can use what you made yourself and add in frozen fruit.
The combination of raspberry and pineapples makes for a taste of paradise. The full recipe can be reproduced by checking out Dinner at the Zoo‘s recipe.
11. Grapefruit Soda
Grapefruit is another one of those sweet-tart fruits that my husband loves. I could see him adding some spice to this one as well. It doesn’t have sugar- but agave and honey instead. You can customize it to be exactly what you want.
Check out Imbibe for the full recipe.
12. Cold Brew Coffee Soda
I had never thought of the idea of having a coffee soda before I began this list. Now that the author over at ManMade mentions it though, it’s not a bad idea.
They add an orange peel as well, which I would skip out on and still add in my half-and-half. Would that make mine a Coffee Italian Soda?
13. Alternative Soda Drinks
This one is a bit different but still works if you’re looking for a quick alternative to the store bought mixes or store-bought sodas for that matter. Simply add a cup of simple syrup to a packet of kool-aid to a one-liter bottle of carbonated water. Soda flavoring of your choice done!
Thanks to The Vollmer Family for the recipe.
14. Tummy Tamer Soda
Former Chef came up with this recipe because they have issues with their stomach hurting if their diet changes too much. If you feel the same way and are looking for a tasty alternative, this might be the solution you have been looking for.
Tastes good and makes you feel better? That is a double win. Head over now to see the full recipe.
15. Blueberry Lemonade Soda
My oldest one absolutely adores lemonade. This recipe would be right up her alley, plus blueberries are in full swing when this cold thirst quencher would be a winner around the house.
I always see the benefits of using what is available. Combine the blueberry syrup you made with equal amounts of lemon juice and four times the amount of carbonated water to have a winning soda recipe. For the full details be sure to hit up Modern Parents, Messy Kids.
16. Strawberry Soda
Alrene from Flour on My Face has a great post over here that gives lots of great ideas of things to try with the soda machine, including this strawberry recipe.
She talked about how she had made the recipe several times before being able to write the post because she kept drinking the soda before she got a chance to photograph it. Note well taken!
17. Tea Soda
Yet another interesting idea, similar to that of the coffee soda. This tea soda uses flavorful herb teas that can be caffeine free and has no sugar. If you are needing the carbonated sensation but don’t need the other junk, be sure to check out the Healthful Pursuit website. Leanne’s story is great!
18. Sparkling Juice Homemade Soda Secipes
Before I decided to purchase a soda stream, I would buy sparkling grape juice or sparkling apple juice for special occasions such as Christmas, New Years, the end of a hard Culinary Competition. For little ones, it’s like getting a small taste of a forbidden fruit.
Now I can make the sparkling juices, thanks to Margo at Joyful Homemaking.
19. Blackberry Soda
Blackberry soda by itself sounds delicious, purple nails or not! But what sounds even better is adding a sprig of mint in with it. Just a personal opinion.
The tartness of the blackberry and the subtle sweetness means this one would be a big hit in the summer when the kids are playing on their bikes until the eight thirty sunsets.
The full recipe can be found at Peanut Butter and Peppers.
20. Mango Lime Soda
This sounds delicious, a perfect summer treat with the mangos and the lime. Written by a classic French trained chef, I am sure to try this one out in a couple of months when I am craving warm weather and my stand up paddleboard.
It can be used as a sweet reminder that warm weather will be here before we know it! The full recipe can be found over at Pitchfork Diaries.
21. Peach Thyme Soda Syrup
I knew when I started this list that I wanted to do one with peaches. But peaches and thyme? Well, that’s an interesting one. Might give it a nice twang, similar to the jalapeno in the watermelon.
Kiersten over at Oh My Veggies does a good job reminding us that the syrup can be used for other things besides soda as well, including tea and ice cream flavoring!
22. Blood Orange Soda
This recipe is for a blood orange italian soda. I think you could take the creamer out of the equation and it would still be a delicious idea if you like the tartness of the blood orange.
Either way, this recipe is definitely worth a shot. I know I am going to enjoy one soon! For the full recipe check out Annalise’s post over at Completely Delicious.
23. Cranberry Soda
I chose to do Carla Hall’s recipe from The Chew because she uses whole cranberries. I had a urinary tract infection and while back and I chose to water down my cranberry juice with lemon-lime soda. She chose to use gingerale as her water down but either way- if you are sick with a UTI this recipe would work. Enjoy!
24. Vanilla Bean Cream Soda
The author of Urban Baker came up with this recipe to help her boys smile a little more when they see this sweet treat that reminds the three of them of Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda. I love the style, with the polka dot straws sticking out and she’s right, there is nothing better than a dinner experience complete with a cream soda!
25. Cucumber, Mint, and Basil Soda
This one is different because it has the cucumber which gives it a tasty, fresh feel that many of these other drinks don’t. The addition of the mint and simple syrups adds a bit of sweet to refresh.
If you are going for something different at your dinner, this recipe can be found at Bon Appétit.
26. Celery Collins Homemade Soda Recipes
This recipe, created by Thomas Waugh over at Epicurious, is another great one if you are looking for something refreshing and different. It has something with habaneros in it so you know it is going to have a kick. It does have simple syrup though, giving it a hint of sweet.
For most sodas that is a bit of a turn around and maybe, just maybe, that’s what you are looking for. You’re welcome.
27. Japanese Cream Soda
This one is extra interesting to me because it has such an interesting background. In America, cream soda has a vanilla flavor to it. In Japan, it has a melon flavor to it. The recipe creator Nam made this drink as a honor to her carefree childhood and as an opportunity to share her childhood with her kids as well.
She recommends you pick up the flavoring at a Japanese store or purchase it online. I say it’s well worth the little extra we have to put in. To see these homemade soda recipes, head over to Just One Cookbook.
28. Healthy Paleo Red Pop
Similar to the tea recipe we had on here before, this one uses berry tea and sparkling water. I chose to use it as our last one for a number of reasons. The first reason is because it visually reminds me of Big Red, a soda that is very popular here in Texas.
The second reason is because I love berry flavored just-about-anything and this is no exception. She doesn’t use sugar either, opting for liquid stevia instead.
If this sounds up your alley- be sure to check out Oh the Things We’ll Make.
How to make Jello Cake
This Jello cake is really so simple, which is probably why we make it ALL the time.
CAKE. Begin by making your cake (whether you make one from scratch, or use a box mix – either one is perfect!) Once the cake is slightly cooled, poke holes with a fork at ½ inch intervals.
JELLO. From there, make your jello as you regularly would according to the box, and then carefully pour it over the cake, making sure it gets in all the holes you previously made.
CHILL. Chill the cake for a few hours and top with whipped cream right before serving, and you’re set! So easy and SO delicious!
Tips for poke cake:
- You can use a cake made from scratch, a box cake, or a store bought cake.
- White cake pairs well with all flavors of jello
- Add a layer of similar pie filling to the top of the cake then top that with whip cream. Such as strawberry jello with strawberry pie filling
- For a nice clean slice, wipe the knife after each cut.
How long does it take for the jello to set? It won’t set up like normal gelatin does, but it will take at least a few hours for the jello to soak into the cake and cool completely. So plan ahead when making this poke cake!
How to speed up the cook time: You can speed up the time it takes to make this dish a couple of ways.
- First, you can buy a pre-made, unfrosted white cake at a local bakery.
- Second, stick the cake in the freezer for 30-60 minutes. Long enough to set the jello, but not freeze the cake.
Less Sugar Naturally
Many stores now carry stevia sweetened beverages. Notice the ingredients in one popular health food store soda "created with the miracle ingredient, stevia":
"Carbonated Water, Erythritol, Caramel Color, Tartaric acid, Reb A (Stevia Extract), Fumaric acid, Caffeine, Natural flavors, Nutmeg oil".
The main ingredient after water is erythritol, which manufacturers claim is "a naturally fermented sugar alcohol that’s found in grapes and pears”. While this is true, most food grade erythritol is made by fermenting the natural sugar found in a cheaper, usually genetically modified ingredient, corn.
These products also claim to be sweetened with "stevia" but notice the stevia ingredient is actually "Reb A". The FDA states this about Reb A products (here): “These products are not Stevia. In general, Rebaudioside A differs from Stevia in that it is a highly purified product. Products marketed as “Stevia” are whole leaf Stevia or Stevia extracts of which Rebaudioside A is a component.”
Do you find the labeling a bit misleading? Sad to say, this is the case with most, if not all, "stevia" beverages sold in stores. That leaves only one option. homemade stevia soda pop.
Homemade Stevia Soda Pop
There are several ways to make your own homemade sparkling sodas. First, you need a bottle of carbonated water or a Sodastream machine.
I love my SodaStream. It's solid and looks great with all my stainless steel appliances.
There are no batteries or plugs to deal with and works by slowly releasing carbonated air as you need it. I do recommend getting an extra carbonator canister. This way, you'll always have a canister ready when the other runs out.
First, click here to see if there's any Soda Makers available in the Sodastream US Outlet Store. These great deals are usually 50% off retail prices. If you see one of the cheaper models for sale, snap it up!
SodaStreams are so affordable now. Check out these models on Amazon or
Next, you need flavor. I recommend three sources:
1. SweetLeaf offers many different flavors of stevia including Root Beer, Cola, Valencia Orange, Grape and Vanilla Creme. Between these you can make some interesting soda drinks.
2. NuNaturals also makes a Vanilla Stevia that I love in my fizzy water.
3. Use natural detoxifying ingredients that are good for you and sweeten with SweetLeaf's Stevia Clear to taste.