A cold pasta salad using rotini pasta that has grapes, celery, crisp apples, smokey Gouda cheese and toasted almonds. All topped with a creamy poppy seed mayonnaise dressing for a perfect dish

Best Chicken Pasta Salad

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A cold pasta salad using rotini pasta that has grapes, celery, crisp apples, smokey Gouda cheese and toasted almonds. All topped with a creamy poppy seed mayonnaise dressing for a perfect dish

Carrie’s Chicken Pasta Salad

My husband and I love a really good pasta salad, so I tweaked and experimented and created the Best Chicken Pasta Salad, which I named after me:) 

With it’s creamy perfectly balanced flavored dressing, crisp  tart apples, smoky Gouda cheese, velvety avocado, crunchy almonds; combined with the other scrumptious ingredients, we think you will agree too that this is the Best Chicken Pasta Salad!

This will generously serve 4-6 adults with a loaf of crusty bread.

It’s a great recipe for a picnic, just be sure to keep it cold because of the mayonnaise and the chicken.

Carrie’s Chicken Pasta Salad

Salad Ingredients:

2-3 green apples, cored and cut into small bite-sized pieces; my handsome hubby prefers I peel the skin off, so that’s a personal preference too (the tart balances the other flavors and compliments the smokey cheese)

3-4 cups of cooked chicken,  A rotisserie chicken is fabulous here and what I generally use.

3/4 – 1 cup celery, chopped into small pieces

8-12 oz. Gouda cheese, cut into small pieces (the package of sliced is the usually the most cost effective, just dice it up)

2-3 avocados, diced

2 cups seedless red grapes, cut in halves (they look pretty, but can use green grapes if they are sweeter and in season)

1 cup sliced almonds, toasted* and cooled

16 oz / 1 lb. package of Rotini style pasta (corkscrew type to hold all the good dressing in and sturdy enough for the other ingredients – use a GOOD brand or it falls apart when you add in the other ingredients.  I prefer Barilla pasta)


Dressing Ingredients:

16-18 oz. light mayonnaise (2 – 2 ¼ cups), only real mayo here, please don’t use Miracle Whip.  You can use regular if you’d prefer over light

1/2 cup light sour cream (you can use regular instead of light)

1 ½ Tbl. poppy seeds

2 Tbl. honey

5 Tbl. lemon juice (bottled or fresh)

3 Tbl. seasoned rice vinegar

1/2 tsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning

1/2 – 1 tsp. roasted garlic seasoning, optional, but balances the sweet nicely – I use McCormick Grill Mates Roasted Garlic & Herb

1/2 tsp. Emerill’s original seasoning


First toast the nuts as shown below*

Cook pasta as directed on package.

When the pasta is al dente (not mushy or too soft), rinse and drain to remove the starch so it isn’t sticky and clumpy later after it sits.

While the pasta is cooking, combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

Pour the dressing ingredients over the salad ingredients and combine gently.

Gently toss in the pasta and fold till all mixed through.

 It is best to serve this salad chilled for at least an hour. It sits well over night too.

Carrie's Chicken Pasta Salad *To toast nuts, pour them into a non-stick pan and cook over medium to high heat, stirring constantly until the nuts are a slightly browned.

It only takes a few minutes but it brings out a delicious deep flavor.


My Carrie’s BEST Chicken Pasta Salad would be perfect to take to a neighbor, friend or family member in need.  If you’d like to know more, I have this post:  What You Need To Know About Taking In A Meal They Will Want To Eat

And even more information at    How Can I Help When Someone Is Sick And Show I Care?

A cold pasta salad using rotini pasta that has grapes, celery, crisp apples, smokey Gouda cheese and toasted almonds. All topped with a creamy poppy seed mayonnaise dressing for a perfect dish

Carrie’s Chicken Pasta Salad

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2015, 2018

Copyright and recipe by Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2013, 2018

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Banana's Dipped in Chocolate

Chocolate Dipped Banana Pops

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Chocolate Dipped Banana Pops

Chocolate Dipped Banana’s to make frozen pops

I loved making these Chocolate Dipped Banana Pops for my kids while they were growing up and then teaching them how to make them as they learned to cook.  

Chocolate Dipped Banana Pops are perfect for a hot day, or any time family and friends get together.

Besides being very economical , they are so simply and quick, it’s a great treat or snack to whip up; and who doesn’t love chocolate!

Dipping the Chocolate Dipped Banana Pops in sprinkles, nuts, whatever you’d like makes them special to your taste.  Freeze extra to have on hand for a frozen tasty dessert. 

Chocolate Dipped Banana Pops


6 -8 large bananas  (use bananas that are ripe, but firm and not too ripe – see picture below)

1 bag of semi sweet or milk chocolate chips

1 Tbl. shortening

Toppings:  sprinkles, chopped nuts, coconut (toasted makes it better) or whatever you’d like

craft sticks aka Popsicle sticks




Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper

Chocolate Banana Pops

Cut the bananas in half , or in chunks about 3 inches in length, which is actually easier for dipping and eating.

Chocolate Banana PopsMake a small slit in 3 places at the cut end of the banana to make it easier to peel. Chocolate Banana Pops

Place stick in end of the banana, pushing in about half way through to make it secure.

If cutting into chunks, push craft stick almost through the banana piece.


Chocolate Banana PopsPlace bananas in freezer to help them be a bit more firm when dipping. While the bananas are in the freezer, pour the chocolate chips into a microwavable bowl, along with the shortening.Heat the chocolate chips and shortening for 30 seconds, stir and repeat a few times until the chocolate is melted and smooth. **Do not over heat as this will make the chocolate clumpy and not usable for this recipe.When the chocolate is melted, take the bananas out of the freezer, and one at a time, roll in the bowl of melted chocolate using a spatula to help coat the banana with chocolate, scrapping of a bit of chocolate if it is too thick.Chocolate Banana Pops

Roll in desired toppings, or leave plain.  

Chocolate Banana PopsPlace the bananas back in the freezer to firm up as each one is coated.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Enjoy now while the center is still soft, or place in a zip-lock freezer bag to eat later.                                                                                                                                               Some like the frozen bananas straight from the freezer and some like to let them sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to soften a bit making the center of the banana creamy and like ice cream. Either way, ENJOY!!!

Recipe by Carrie Groneman, Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2013, 2018
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A large bowl filled with strawberries, blueberries, pineapple tidbits, grapes, kiwi, bananas and mandarin oranges. A citrus glaze is poured over top and tossed in gently.

Quick And Easy Citrus Glazed Fresh Fruit Salad

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A large bowl filled with strawberries, blueberries, pineapple tidbits, grapes, kiwi, bananas and mandarin oranges. A citrus glaze is poured over top and tossed in gently.

Fresh Fruit Salad

Quick And Easy Citrus Glazed Fresh Fruit Salad

Have you wondered how to keep a fruit salad fresh, including the bananas? This Quick And Easy Citrus Glazed Fresh Fruit Salad is the answer!

Are you looking for a healthy fresh fruit salad dressing that is fabulous to make ahead for a party or a crowd? Yep! This fruit salad is the one!

Why is this Easy Fresh Fruit Salad perfect?

Well, to being, it has a light syrup glaze which compliments the fruit, but doesn’t overpower it.

The unique citrus syrup or dressing, glazes the fruit, which brightens and enhances the natural flavors. 

I love how easy this comes together, and it screams summer!  

It’s a great dish for for entertaining, to take to an outdoor concert and serve in nicer paper products, or for healthier eating with your family and they will think you are giving them a gourmet delight:)

MORE Fresh Fruit Salads

If you are looking for another simple delicious fruit salad, you might like this one.  It’s made with a little different twist on the fruit, and the sauce or syrup is an orange base instead of a lime.  It’s equally good.  You can see it HERE

Oh, and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this tart with fresh fruit that my daughter introduced me to.  Danitra makes amazing food, and this one didn’t disappoint.  It begins with a really good sugar cookie type base, next is a creamy delicious filling, and then scrumptious beautiful fresh fruit arranged on top.  To make it extra special, it is finished with a delicate glaze, and it is SSOOO beautiful and tasty!!! Check it out  HERE.

If you prefer a creamy type of fruit salad this Creamy Orange Fruit Salad looks amazing.

I hope you get a change to try this Quick and Easy Citrus Glazed Fresh Fruit Salad, and possibly the others too at your next BBQ, get-together with friends, office party, neighborhood put-luck, or family dinner; you’ll be glad you did!

Quick And Easy Citrus Glazed Fresh Fruit Salad


1 pound of fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered

20 oz can of pineapple tidbits, drained

12-16 ounces of fresh blueberries

1 pound of seedless grapes, red preferably for color

4-5 kiwis, peeled and diced

15 ounce can of mandarin oranges, drained

2 bananas, sliced


Citrus Glaze:

1/4 cup honey

2 tsp. lime zest 

1 Tbl. fresh lime juice



Zest the lime.Quick And Easy Citrus Glazed Fresh Fruit Salad In a mixing cup, whisk together the Quick And Easy Citrus Glazed Fresh Fruit Salad ingredients – 

The honey, lime zest and lime juice; combine well and set aside.Quick And Easy Citrus Glazed Fresh Fruit Salad Add all of the prepared fruit to a large lovely bowl.

Just before serving, pour the Citrus Glaze over the fruit and gently toss to coat evenly.  

Immediately serve your

Quick And Easy Citrus Glazed Fresh Fruit SaladCitrus Glazed Fruit SaladAdapted slightly from Cooking Classy  

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2016, 2018

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Mascarpone Custard Ice Cream

Mascarpone Custard Style Ice Cream

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Mascarpone Custard Ice Cream

Mascarpone Custard Style Ice Cream

This is a rich and delicious custard style ice cream.  The addition of the marscarpone cheese makes this dessert gourmet and fabulous to serve anytime.

With fresh blackberries, blueberries, cream and some white chocolate, you can’t go wrong!  It’s absolutely wonderful:)

Mascarpone “Custard Style” Ice Cream


1 ¼ cups whipping cream

1 ¼ cups whole milk

1 pint blueberries

1/2 cup blackberries

4 oz. Mascarpone cheese (this is an Italian style cream cheese and usually in the deli, do NOT substitute reg. cream cheese)

3/4 cup sugar

Juice of ½ lemon

1/2 cup good quality white chocolate chips


In blender mix all ingredients until smooth and completely combined.

If you want to make the mix ahead of time (no more than 1 day is recommended), pour into a zip lock baggie and place in refrigerator.

Pour the mixture into ice cream canister.

Freeze in the ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.

Makes 1 ½ quarts.*Ratio of salt to Ice: 1 ½ cups table salt to 6 lbs. of whole ice cubes OR 1 cup rock salt to 6 lbs. of crushed ice.

Mascarpone Custard Style Ice Cream

This is a delicious creamy wonderful ice cream!

Mascarpone Custard Style Ice Cream

Recipe Source unknown, adapted by Carrie Groneman, copyright A Mother’s Shadow, 2013

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Grandparents and Summer Fun

WHY Should I Spend Time With MY Grand-kids?

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Grandparents and Summer Fun

What to do with your Grandkids this summer

Strengthening bonds between grandparents and grandchildren of all ages is not just a good idea, but it’s critical to family stability.  

Your children will find strength in the foundation of family (even more so, as teens and adults) as they know their grandparent(s) on a personal level.

Summer is a GREAT time to take advantage of this opportunity to nurture this relationship with grand kids of ALL ages because there are so many inexpensive and free things to do.  Also, being out in nature instantly brings a relaxed and open atmosphere which is perfect for communication – whether it’s the first time you talk, or  you chat every day, the outdoors lends a natural setting for open dialogue. 

Have you considered that Grandparents have a unique position from that of parents or friends?



This is For Parents:

  • Parents who let their children, older kids and teens spend time with grandparents* are wise to promote this connection in anyway possible.


  • As a parent, don’t you need a break is sometimes? Having a grandparent(s) for the kids to go visit for even an hour; where the homework battles, the daily duties and necessary responsibilities are set aside for awhile, there is a healthy environment they can thrive in. The reason for this, is they can focus on the relationship, which will prove incredibly valuable as the years go on. Studies show that cognitive and social behavior is greatly improved the more time children, older kids and teens spend with grandparents. 


  • Grandparent(s) are a pillar of support to you, as a parent, to reinforce the values and guide in the morals you are teaching.  In stories and in other ways, give wisdom and tidbits of advice, which balances what you are doing in the home.


  • In this day and age of busyness and often living far from relatives, it is vital with the disintegration of the family in our society today, that you do not allow that in your family.  By promoting communication with grandparent(s)* the abundance of love, care and attention, that only they can give will pay off immensely as the years roll on.*
Fun With Grandparents

Fun With Grandparents

This Is For Grandparents:

  • Make time for ALL of your grand kids. They are a treasure beyond any gems on the earth! No amount of money can compensate for the cherished time you will spend together.


  • I know it can be difficult to deal with the noise, chaos and a bit of a mess that comes with little ones when they visit.  However, the energy, love and hugs will far outweigh the temporary inconvenience.  They will love you unconditionally and in a way, that no one else can.


  • The older kids will open up to you with their problems if you give them the opportunity.  They may be dealing with small or large challenges that only you can help them with due to your experience, or that they may trust only to you.


  • And teens – they need you! Do not assume that with the changes in technology and life style, that you have nothing in common.  Remember, people are people, and the time in history does not change that.  We all have emotions, feelings, trials and tests to overcome.  They need your wisdom and perspective!  Be there for them, they are listening.  Don’t lecture, but share and have fun together.


  • When they become adults, they will come for to you for advice, look to you as a confidant and a source of comfort.  Be there to let them know that things will get better.  To persevere, always do the right thing, never compromise values and all will be well. 


What do you do if you have grand kids that you do not know as well, or that you don’t ‘connect’ with as easily?

  1. Pray to know what to do and how to reach them.  
  2. Ask the parents for help of what they like to do, what they like to eat, find something you could have in common.
  3. Be persistent, but considerate of the person’s personality, as you work to make the relationship strong.
  4. Don’t be afraid to get out of YOUR comfort zone to open the communication:)  

Now, here’s  some Summer FUN ideas you can do with the Grand Kids!

Summer is one of my very favorite times of the year.  There are so many places to go and tons of FUN to have!  

Fun With Grandparents

Fun With Grandparents

I KNOW it can be difficult to get the family together, with so many schedules, ages and different interests, but I hope you will take on this CHALLENGE –

Which is: 

  • Do something with each and everyone one of your great-grand kids THIS summer
  • Do something with each and everyone of your grand kids THIS summer
  • Do something with each and everyone of your kids, if you have them THIS summer


It may take a lot of effort to accomplish this little challenge, depending on location and availability, but it will be worth all the effort even it it is not apparent at the first. 

Here are a few ideas of things to do:

  • Skype with grand kids. If the children are young, read them a short picture book via Skype.  If they are older have some jokes on hand (check out the local library or bookstore for a good one)
  • Play a board game
  • Have a little party at your house, just simple with one or two of them.  Another grandma I get to share my grandkids with did facepainting!  How fun is that!!!
  • If you can’t get everyone together at one time, still spend time with each one somehow that fits into your budget and health. 
  • Lunch or breakfast at your house, or at a restaurant, with a smaller group gives the opportunity for visiting.
  • Go to the park and feed the ducks and play on the play ground.
  • Visit an outdoor garden or easy trail to walk.
  • Play an internet game at a set time once a week – you can agree on one that is fun and appropriate for both of you.
  • Go to the zoo.
  • Visit an aquarium.
  • Take them to a water park, or a splash pad.
  • A museum geared for children, or older, depending on the age of grand kid.  Many are free and afterwards get an ice cream cone or small treat.
  • See a play – serious or fun.
  • Go fishing.
  • Go bowling.
  • Go on a bike ride together.
  • Go on a hike or an easy to walk trail.
  • Play the X-Box/gaming system together for a set time with the condition they walk around the block with you afterwards.  You will have something to talk about, maybe your poor ‘gaming’ skills??  But hey, you can laugh together about it and have that in common.
  • Sports such as tennis, 4-square (does anyone play that anymore?), hop scotch, you can come up with great ideas to ‘challenge’ them with.
  • This list could go on for pages and pages
  • Most important –  do NOT, I repeat, do NOT give up!! 

Some family members are more receptive to strengthening relationships and bonds within the family, and some may be a bit more resistant.   Keep at it, keep inviting, keep loving and be patient.

Picture1Take the opportunity to be with your family of ALL ages. 

We share grand kids with Derek and Donna Jaco. These two are very supportive of all of their grand kids and enjoy being involved in all they do.

Fun With Grandparents

Dinners and get-together s with all the grand kids are cherished events for the Jaco’s. 

Fun With Grandparents

Fun With Grandparents

And, we share a brand new grandson!

Fun With Grandparents

Fun With Grandparents

Another set of grandparents we share with are amazing and so incredibly creative!  They can make anything – seriously –  you can’t believe the elaborate FUN parties!!!

Fun With Grandparents

Fun With Grandparents

One of the events they enjoy doing with the grand kids is – 

Fun With Grandparents

Fun With Grandparents

Face painting for any holiday, or just because!

Fun With Grandparents

Fun With Grandparents

We also share a couple of grand daughters with another set of grandparents who are really fabulous.  That Grandpa enjoys taking them into the garden and picking the delicious produce he grows.  The Grandma is an extremely talented musician and teacher.  She reads to them and sits with them at the piano either playing alongside, or helping move their fingers along the keys as they learn how it sounds. Tremendous people!

I'll Tell You Why You Want One

Do You Have A Garden? I’ll give you ideas on how to plant one, as well as why It’s important

It’s never too early – or too late – to build a strong family foundation.Collage Corn Huskers

Relationships are spending time, talking, laughing and simply being together.  That’s how communication flows, and love deepens.  Enjoy your family today, and everyday!!!

Fun With Grandparents

Fun With Grandparents

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2014, 2017

*Disclaimer: If there are issues with grandparent(s) or any family members, that could harm a marriage or children, you may want to seek professional help, or counsel as needed. 

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

Water Games for ALL Ages playing with squirt guns, batting at filled water balloons with plastic baseball bats, playing on a slip and slide, water relays and other water games

EASY Water Games for EVERYONE!

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Water Games for ALL Ages playing with squirt guns, batting at filled water balloons with plastic baseball bats, playing on a slip and slide, water relays and other water games

It’s Water Fun for all ages

 EASY Water Games for EVERYONE

Looking for easy water games for everyone to play?  

Something that the old and the young can do together?

Activities that will provide enjoyment while memories are made and relationships strengthened?

Well, that’s what play and having fun can be used for.

And water games are a great way to build friendships and family bonds.

So what water games could everyone play?

Here I have a collection of easy water games that can easily be adapted for all ages with a few minor adjustments.

A huge bonus is that all of these easy water games are inexpensive with low preparation too. 

One that I didn’t include here, but it’s a great game, is  Water Fun with Balloon Volley Ball You could have teams divided into two, with a rope strung across the middle to serve as a net, or simply let there be teams of two’s. Anything goes, just so they are having fun. 

Now onto the water games!

Water Balloon Toss

Simply fill water balloons and divide into teams to toss the water balloons to designated teammates, or as determined by the kids for pure fun.  Sometimes less regimented makes for better play.

Mom is a better catch than this, but it depends on the thrower.  EASY Water Games for EVERYONE!

Notice how prepared her son is, hahaha, the goggles are upside down.

EASY Water Games for EVERYONE!I love how the balloon is going behind her, heeheeEASY Water Games for EVERYONE!Wow, taking turns, how did she talk them into that?EASY Water Games for EVERYONE!

Batting the Water Balloons

If you don’t enjoy filling up all those tiny balloons and then trying to tie them off and pinching your fingers, THIS is the perfect solution.

For an over-sized plastic bat, HERE is a great one.


This was a fav!  We filled the balloons with water, tied on varying length of string then tied them to the swing set bar.

Each kid took a turn with a bat. 

If you have older kids, simple tie it to a higher bar/blindfold them to make it even more difficult. 

What a fun game for adults and teens too!EASY Water Games for EVERYONE! Batter Up!

EASY Water Games for EVERYONE!

Let’s Get Wet! Water games and fun

SWWIINNGGGG batter! Working on getting contact.EASY Water Games for EVERYONE!Oh, look at that concentration!EASY Water Games for EVERYONE!

Water Gun Squirting Game

Line up VERY LIGHT WEIGHT cups. 

Each participant was given a filled squirt gun and there was a bucket of water near by to refill the cups easily as they were shot over. 

One, two, three and shoot away!!! 

Love the stance of each, lol

HERE are some really awesome squirt guns you might want to check out –

EASY Water Games for EVERYONE!

Stand-by’s like the SLIP AND SLIDE are always a hit!

Click to see the Slip ‘n Slide it’s always in style.EASY Water Games for EVERYONE!My daughter-in-law Tawni brought along her slip ‘n slide and they kids had a great time with it.

EASY Water Games for EVERYONE!

EASY Water Games for EVERYONE!

Water FUN Play

Don’t forget the old stand by water games – they are still around for a reason!


A few options for this relay are:

1- With the buckets, fill one with water and divide the kids into teams. 

You will need 2 buckets per team for this game and one spoon.

The filled buckets are placed by the team and all are lined up behind the bucket, with each team about 5 feet apart from each other.

The empty bucket, one per team, is placed about 10 feet from the filled bucket and from the lined up team members.

At the GO the first person on each team dips their spoon into the water, races to the empty bucket to empty the water (whatever is left after running, lol) and races back to hand the spoon to the next person in line, the goes to the back of the line.  The other team is doing the same. 

The race is over when the filled bucket is empty.  Only put as much water in the bucket as appropriate for the age playing the game.


2- The other option for this game is to do this with the water balls. 

Instead of using the spoon, the ball is dipped into the water, squeezed out into the empty bucket at the other end, then handed off to the next player.EASY Water Games for EVERYONE!



Sometimes the best is just letting the kids have fun with the sprinklers, buckets and whatever is out!EASY Water Games for EVERYONE!Just look at those smiles!

EASY Water Games for EVERYONE!EASY Water Games for EVERYONE!

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2015, 2018

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

For More On This Topic:

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Play Sand 6




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Bubbles 2


Tomato, Cucumber and Chive Salad

Tasty Tomato, Cucumber and Chive Salad

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Tomato, Cucumber and Chive Salad

Salad made from Tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh chives

Garden bursting to overflowing and need a fantastic recipe?

Well, this fits the bill, is a simple one that I’ve made for years and it sings summer!                    

Great flavors marry together in a wonderful relationship and you will be amazed at how refreshing it tastes.  Come on with me and I’ll show you how easy it is to make.

Tasty Tomato, Cucumber & Chive Salad
2 ripe tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
1 ripe cucumber, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
2-4 Tbl. chives, cut or you can use the tops of green onions, minced
1/4 – 1/2 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar (this is vinegar with sugar already in it)  
Combine all in a bowl and give a gentle stir.
Eat immediately or store in refrigerator for up to 1 day. Longer and the tomato begins to release most of its juices, making it a soupy consistency. 
Recipe by Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2013
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Make it yourself Orange Julius

Copy Cat Orange Julius

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Make it yourself Orange Julius

Copy Cat Orange Julius

The original recipe came from a 4-H cook book I used to teach my kids from when they were young.      I tweaked it a bit and here you have it – my fabulous version of the original for a fraction of the cost and just as delicious, maybe even more!

Copy Cat Orange Julius


12 oz. can frozen orange juice concentrate (do not dilute, use frozen from can)

3/4 cup water 1 cup milk

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

15-30 ice cubes ( more or less depending on size) till desired consistency

3-4  Tbl. powdered milk (optional but this addition makes it taste richer)  


Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until completely smooth.

Serve immediately.

Carrie’s recipe, Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2013

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