Loving my veggie garden this year because with all of the rain – comes a huge harvest of tomatoes! For Labor Day weekend, I made a few different recipes using tomatoes. Bruschetta was at the top of my list! So easy to make and you don’t need plum tomatoes. I used the large juicy big boy-type tomatoes!
Slice a baguette thin and place on a cookie sheet in one layer. Place under a hot broiler for just a minute or two until they start to brown. Flip to the other side and repeat.
When they come out of the oven, drizzle with olive oil and rub the top surface with a sliced garlic clove.
Using 3 or 4 large tomatoes, slice a tomato side ways (so that the top half of the tomato has the vine) and squeeze the juice and seeds over the kitchen sink. Repeat with the bottom half to remove seeds.
Dice the tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, S&P to taste.
Fresh basil! Pull 10-12 fresh basil leaves, roll them up together and slice thin. Add to the tomato mixture and stir.
Scoop the tomato mixture on each toasted baguette slice.
A fresh tomato appetizer perfect for late summer. Ready to serve or transport to a party!
Sweet Stackers are reusable, stackable trays that insert into a container your already own. The classic Tupperware 9×9 inch container and 8×8 inch Sweet Stackers tray set is pictured. Two layers of bruschetta in one container without a soggy mess. Ready to transport to a party or picnic!
The weather was absolutely perfect this past weekend! Cool, low humidity and the perfect time to pull out the big pot to do some canning.
During the week, my kids and I went raspberry picking to a nearby farm. Raspberries were just in season to start picking. For a low volume day, we still ended up filling 5 pints. My kids helped themselves to plenty of raspberries while picking. So once we arrived back home, I picked through them and layered them on cookie sheets to freeze them for later use.
In the past, I had canned blueberry jam which lasted us all winter. The kids especially loved adding a small dollop to plain yogurt (which I feel is way healthier than eating other yogurt that is filled with sugar).
Raspberry Preserves were so easy to make and only took 2 ingredients – raspberries and sugar! Raspberries are considered to be a low pectin fruit, though I was able to get it to thicken enough. Somewhere between a sauce and jam. But boy, it is delicious! I secretly was grabbing a spoon and pulling out a jar from my fridge…yes eating it by the spoonful! But don’t tell…
Can’t wait to use it in future recipes (keep an eye out!), spread on toast, mixed in yogurt, topped on ice cream! Oh my!
(or just eat by the spoonful…if you can’t resist)
2 lbs. fresh raspberries
4 cups sugar
Combine the berries and sugar; let stand until the juices begin to flow about 10 minutes. In a large saucepan, bring to a slow boil until sugar dissolves. Stir frequently until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Ladle hot preserves into sterilized jars, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace. Place the 2 piece cap on the jar. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.
Happy Independence Day!
This is the perfect dessert to take to your 4th of July parties or BBQs! The little tartlets are star-shaped and filled with red cherry filling and blueberry filling. Very patriotic! Sweet Stackers made it easy to store the bite-sized desserts stacked and in one container without messing the tops. They are ready to transport to a party!
The tartlets were very easy to put together because they were made from refrigerated pie crust. Preheat the oven to 350º. Rollout the dough. Using a 2.5 inch star cookie cutter, the star-shaped dough pieces were gently pressed into a lightly greased mini-muffin tin and baked for 7-8 minutes. Remove the little tartlet cups to cool.
The tartlets can be filled with any flavor pie filling. But, to keep with the patriotic holiday, I wanted to alternate red and blue filling. I actually had some cherry pie filling on hand and I filled half of the tartlet cups with a little dollop of cherry. Then I made a batch of homemade blueberry filling.
Blueberry Pie Filling
- 1 pint blueberries
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 TB corn starch
- 2 TB butter
Place all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat to cool.
Once the remaining tartlets were filled, the following cream cheese filling was piped on top.
Cream Cheese Filling
- 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons butter , softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Using an electric mixer, on high, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Lower the speed and add vanilla, then gradually add the sugar.
Sweet Stackers are a handy way to store bite-sized desserts and cookies in one container to maximize the container space. The stackable trays convert your food storage container into multi-level. Tartlets fit perfectly in two layers in a 3″ deep container without messing the filling or having them stick together. Visit sweetstackers.com for more details on the product, sizes available and where to purchase them. Great thing is that they are reusable and ready to use for your next summer party!
Hope you enjoy the holiday with your family & friends!
My dream is to have a lemon tree someday!
There is nothing more summer than a refreshing glass of lemonade. Maybe this is a silly post to some people, but I have never made freshly squeezed lemonade before. On occasion, I have resorted to buying the powdered or frozen forms of lemonade. Never again, because it is so easy to make your own!
Freshly Squeezed Lemonade
- 1 cup of lemon juice (approximately 6 lemons, squeezed)
- 1 cup simple syrup
- Pitcher full of water
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. Heat until the sugar dissolves (do not boil).
In a large pitcher, add the lemon juice and simple syrup. Then completely fill the pitcher with more water and ice. Everyone’s taste buds are different, so you could add more simple syrup if you need it sweeter or more lemon juice if you need it more tart.
Note: to cut back on sugar, I dissolved ½ cup of sugar in 1 cup of water.
I infused the lemonade with a couple of ripped leaves of basil in my glass and a garnish on top. I am sure you could do this with other herbs too!
What do you add to your lemonade?
Hooray for Summer and the kids being off of school! It was a great day to pick some fresh herbs from our garden. All of our radishes were ready to harvest too. This fruit & veggie plate made for a super healthy afternoon snack with my girls on the porch. We didn’t limit ourselves to veggies, we even tried it with peaches and plums. I love it when they at least try a new veggie they wouldn’t eat before!
I don’t think you can get any healthier than this dip! It is only made from Greek Yogurt (which I think has the same taste and consistency of sour cream). I chopped some fresh chives, thyme and dill and added a little salt to taste. The kids were pleasantly surprised that they liked it!
Fresh Herb Greek Yogurt Dip
1 cup Greek Yogurt
1 TB chopped dill
1 TB chopped thyme
1 TB chopped chives
S & P to taste
Combine all ingredients and serve with veggies and fruit.
The spring fairies must be visiting my garden! The flowers are blooming and my daughter has been busy building fairy houses in our yard. She just turned 7 and to celebrate, I wanted to make a fairy house cake for her party.
A few years ago, I bought a beautiful story book called Fairy Houses by Tracy Kane. It was about a little girl who went into the forest on an east coast island to build fairy houses made only out of natural things. My daughter enjoys the idea so, that we still go on walks to collect sticks, bark, rocks and even seashells on vacation. You may not collect anything living. She then builds these cute little homes for the fairies, tucked into hidden places in our gardens. I thought it would be very fitting if she had a fairy house cake for her birthday!
The idea was to make the cake look like a tree stump fairy house. It had 4 layers of chocolate cake, two 9″ layers of dark chocolate boxed cake mix and two 9″ layers of german chocolate cake mix. The layers were alternated light and dark to add interest when you cut into it.
The chocolate ganache frosting was very simple to make. I was inspired by a recipe from Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman).
Chocolate Ganache Frosting
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 24 ounces bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
Heat the heavy cream until very hot (not boiling) and add the chocolate chips. Stir over heat until completely melted. The mixture will turn smooth deep chocolate color. Remove from heat and pour into an electric mixer bowl. Refrigerate until completely cooled, but do not let harden. After 2 hours, the bottom of the bowl was just slightly warm to the touch. I added the vanilla and started to beat the chocolate using an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
The chocolate ganache frosting filled between each 9″ chocolate cake layer and the sides of the cake. I covered the sides of the cake and then stroked from the bottom up to create the look of bark. The door and windows were a graham cracker, cut with a knife to shape. They were trimmed with a tube of orange decorative cake icing. The vines were piped using a tube of green decorative cake icing. The edible sugar flowers were packaged by Wilton.
To vary the color of the top of the cake, I made a box of butterscotch pudding and spread this over the top of the cake to look like the inner part of a tree. The fairy figurine that adorned the top of the cake was purchased at a local craft store. A piece of wax paper was placed down underneath to separate her from the cake. The fairy figure will make a neat keepsake on my daughter’s bedroom shelf after her party. The springy butterfly party plates napkins matched perfectly!
Happy Birthday! Stop growing so fast!!
I was on the hunt for a healthy French toast casserole recipe since we were having guests spend the night. A breakfast casserole is great because it can be prepared ahead of time and I could actually enjoy my time with them in the morning. This recipe stood out right away because it was covered with fresh fruit and needed to be refrigerated overnight. A perfect summer breakfast recipe…or really any time of year!
Peach French Toast Casserole
- 1 large whole-wheat baguette (about 8 ounces)
- 8 whole eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 cups sliced peaches, fresh or frozen (I also added some strawberries and blueberries)
- 1/2 lemon, juiced about 1 1/2 tablespoons
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Cut entire baguette into half inch slice and place at the bottom of a greased 9×13 casserole dish. Whisk 8 eggs, milk and vanilla into a medium-sized bowl. Pour the egg mixture over the bread. Toss fruit with lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Layer the fruit over the bread and egg mixture. Sprinkle the remaining two tablespoons of brown sugar over the top and sprinkle cinnamon. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.
Top with maple syrup or yogurt.