Healthy Hollywood: Memorial Day Party Ideas!

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Jeanne Benedict's Star Cookie Pops --
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Jeanne Benedict's Star Cookie Pops --

Memorial Day is Monday! Hopefully, it's day off from work and one that can be spent with good friends and family.

Entertaining expert Jeanne Benedict shares with Healthy Hollywood a few creative recipes to perk up your party.

Star Cookie Pops

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 3/4 cup granulated sugar 3/4 cup powdered sugar 1 large egg yolk 1 large egg 1 teaspoon almond extract 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder Wilton cookie sticks

White Cookie Icing with Red and Blue Fondant Stars

1 egg white 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar 1/8 teaspoon almond extract Red and blue prepared fondant

Add butter, granulated and powdered sugar into a mixing bowl and beat until creamy. Beat in eggs and almond extract until smooth. Sift together flour and baking powder and beat into mixture until combined. Form dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Lightly spray a baking sheet with a non-stick cooking spray. Roll out dough on a floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness (measure the thickness if necessary as the cookie pop sticks may not insert properly into thinner dough). Cut out cookies with a 3-inch star-shaped cookie cutter. Place cookies 2 inches apart on prepared sheet and gently insert a cookie stick into each star cookie. (Note: Cookie dough should be very stiff and cold when it goes into the oven for best results. If dough is left out too long and is no longer chilly to the touch, reform it into a disk, put it back in the refrigerator, and start the rolling out process again when dough is cold.) Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, whip egg white in a clean medium bowl on high speed for a minute. Add almond extract and gradually add powdered sugar, beating on high speed after each addition. Spread icing on top of cookies or for a "pro look" transfer icing into a pastry bag fitted with a no. 5 writing tip. Pipe around the border of the star cookie, and then fill in the cookie by piping icing (a.k.a. flooding the cookie) within the border. Allow icing to set.

Dust a flat surface with powdered sugar and roll out red and blue fondant to 1/16 thickness. Use a 2-inch and 1-inch star-shaped cutter to create fondant stars. Lightly moisten the back of the fondant stars with water and apply in layers on each cookie, such as a red 2-inch star on the white icing, and then a blue 1-inch star on the red star, to create a festive red, white, and blue star cookie pop. Makes about 20 cookie pops

Tortilla Pinwheel Salad Toppers

Corn tortillas Large, black pitted olives Toothpicks

Place a stack of 10 yellow corn tortilla on a paper plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave for 20-30 seconds until tortillas are softened and pliable.

To make a cutting guide, think of the paper plate as a clock and make a mark on the plate rim at the numbers 12, 3, 6, 9. Cut into the tortilla stack at these "number locations," about 1 ½ inches in from the edge.

To form the pinwheel, place a large pitted black olive in the center of the tortilla. Fold the same corner on each tortilla section into the center on top of the olive. Secure the corners into the olive using 1 or 2 toothpicks.

Place tortilla pinwheels on a baking sheet lightly coated with non-stick cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes until tortillas are crisp. Cool completely.

Remove the toothpick and place a Tortilla Pinwheel on top of individual salads with a sliced olive, tomato, and cilantro leaf in the center of the pinwheel as a garnish.

Watermelon Soup

3 cups watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes 1/4 cup sweet white wine (Birthday Cake Vineyards Cheesecake Wine) 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice Sweetened whipped cream Blueberries Lemon zest

Combine watermelon, wine, and lemon juice in a blender and blend until pureed. Transfer to a pitcher, cover, and cool for at least 3 hours or overnight. Pour into shot glasses and top with whipped cream, a couple of blueberries, and lemon zest. Makes about 2 cups

-- Terri MacLeod

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