Strawberry Bruschetta

I love a good cheese plate during happy hour (or really anytime)! During my single days before I had a husband who likes meat and hearty dinners, I would frequently eat cheese and crackers and fruit for dinner. If I'm preparing a meal for guests, I love the fact that I can unwrap a couple blocks of cheese, set out some crackers and accoutrements, and have something to serve in under 5 minutes. However, during the warmer months, sometimes it is nice to change up my standard appetizer and serve something a little lighter and fresher, and this strawberry bruschetta recipe fits the bill!

Strawberry Bruschetta

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

  • 24 small slices French bread

  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 pound strawberries, washed and diced

  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus more for serving

  • 1 cup goat cheese, room temperature

  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  1. Heat vinegar in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Simmer until reduced by about half, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

  2. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place bread slices on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.

  3. Combine strawberries and thyme in a small bowl and set aside.

  4. Toast the bread in the oven for 7 minutes or until slightly crispy.

  5. Spread goat cheese on toasted bread. Add black pepper, salt, and reduced vinegar to the strawberry mixture. Spoon over the goat cheese topped bruschetta. Garnish with additional thyme.

 
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What are your go-to summer appetizers?

 
 

Refreshing Summer Strawberry Trifle for Fathers' Day

We spent this past weekend celebrating Fathers' Day at the lake. Our dad loves to spend time relaxing outdoors, so it was the perfect family afternoon. We started the day with a boat ride and dropped anchor to grill some burgers and fresh corn for lunch. After lots of swimming, we indulged in strawberry trifle, per Dad's request.

While this strawberry trifle isn't a light dessert, it was surprisingly refreshing on a hot afternoon. There are ways to cut some of the calories by using sugar free Jello and pudding or low-fat dairy products, but since it was Fathers' Day, I used the regular ingredients.

 
 While this looks a little pudding-heavy, It wasn't. The "Good Stuff" just ended up settling in the middle of the dish.

While this looks a little pudding-heavy, It wasn't. The "Good Stuff" just ended up settling in the middle of the dish.

 

Strawberry Trifle

1/2 package Knox gelatin
2 cups cold water
1 (6 oz) package strawberry Jello
2-3 cups of strawberries
1 (6 oz) package instant vanilla pudding
3 cups milk
1 large container Cool Whip (thawed)
3 oz cream cheese
1 angel food cake (I just picked one up at the bakery)

Dissolve gelatin into cold water and then heat to a boil.  Add Jello and stir.  Stir in strawberries.  Set aside.  Prepare pudding with the milk.  Then beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Fold in the Cool Whip.  Then fold in the pudding.  In the bowl, place 1/3 of the angel food cake that has been cubes into about 1 inch cubes.  Pour 1/3 of strawberry mixture over the cake.  Spread 1/3 of the pudding mix over the strawberry mixture.  Repeat two more times.

 
 

Farmers' Market Recipes: Quick and Easy Weeknight Broccoli

Earlier this week, we spent all night with our architect to see if it was feasible to add a bathroom on the second floor of a house we're considering. If you know about the renovations we did to our current house, then you may or may not be surprised. Anyways, we came home exhausted and hungry. 

Luckily we had some leftover pork loin and fingerling potatoes that we grilled the night before but needed a green vegetable to balance the meal. Since I'm not a huge fan of the microwave, I tend to heat up most leftovers wrapped in aluminum foil in either the oven or toaster oven. While the leftovers were heating, I had about 15 minutes to whip up a large head of broccoli that we picked up at the farmers' market. Steaming is always a quick option for broccoli and other vegetables, but I can't think of anything more bland and boring than steamed veggies. I decided to saute it, so I could add a bit more flavor to the broccoli.

Simple Sauteed Broccoli

  • 1 head of broccoli, washed and cut into florets

  • 1 T olive oil

  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced (I love garlic, so if the clove is small, I tend to add a second one.)

  • red pepper flakes

  • 1/3 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)

  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium/high heat. Add garlic and pinch of red pepper to the olive oil. Stir and heat until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add broccoli. Cook for about 3 minutes or until the broccoli is bright green, stirring frequently. Add about 1/3 cup of a broth of your choice (I used chicken) and salt and pepper. Cook about 5 more minutes. Serve and enjoy!

This only took about 10 minutes to whip up, which made it a quick, healthy, and flavorful side for nights when you're either in a pinch for time or just don't feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen.  

I'd love to hear if you have any flavorful sides that work well for weeknights!

 
 

 

 

 

 

Farmers' Market Recipes

I've mentioned before that we've joined a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) this summer and are excited to experiment with produce we don't normally buy. If you're unfamiliar with CSAs, this webpage breaks it down. I really like the idea of cooking with seasonal ingredients, and summer is the best time to do that with so many fresh fruits and vegetables available. 

Since it is still early in the season, there aren't tons of local fruits and vegetables available at our farmers' market like there are in July. However, there are still lots of good options. This week, I received spinach, lettuce, turnips, and radishes in my CSA share. I also purchased strawberries and local honey at the farmers market. Lots of farmers have fresh herbs available right now. I grow most of my own herbs, and they are great to use in recipes right now too.

Earlier this week, I made turkey and spinach meatballs with the spinach in my CSA share and a few herbs from my garden using this recipe. Like I normally do, I changed the recipe slightly by adding in fresh thyme and parsley as well as an extra garlic clove. 

 
 

Turkey and Spinach Meatballs

  • 3 cups packed spinach, finely chopped 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • ¼ tsp lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • oil for greasing baking sheet
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil.
  3. In a large bowl, using a fork, mix together spinach, garlic, flour, parmesan, thyme, chili flakes and lemon zest.
  4. Mix in egg and ground turkey.
  5. Form into 30 small meatballs and place on baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until fully cooked.

Like I mentioned, I added in additional fresh herbs and garlic. I also made about 20 slightly larger meatballs instead of 30 small ones. I don't like touching ground meat, so I didn't spend too much time rolling them into balls, which meant they weren't as pretty and rounded as the ones in the original recipe. Since mine were larger, I extended the cooking time to 25-26 minutes. 

 
 

I also threw together a salad with strawberries, radishes, and mixed greens on an evening when Jay was out of town. Because I was cooking for one, I didn't measure out ingredients and just used tried to use amounts that were proportional to the flavor I wanted. 

Strawberry and Radish Salad

  • Greens (I used a mix of spinach and lettuce)
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Avocado cut into small cubes (I really wanted to use goat cheese but didn't have any on hand. I think either goat cheese or avocado would be a good option for a creamy addition.)
  • Sliced almonds
  • Few chopped basil leaves  
  • Dressing: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, drizzle of honey, salt and pepper
  1. Wash greens, strawberries, and radishes. 
  2. Slice strawberries and radishes. Chop avocado and basil. 
  3. Whisk about a teaspoon of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice with a bit of honey and salt and pepper to make the dressing.
  4. Combine strawberries, radishes, avocado, and basil. Place on bed of greens. Top with almonds and drizzle with dressing. 

Of course, I forgot to snap a picture of this salad, and it was a lot prettier than the meatballs...

Stay tuned throughout the summer for more fresh farmers' market recipes, and let me know if you have any favorite recipes to share!

 
 

Strawberry Jam

A couple weeks ago, I shared that I was looking forward to making some strawberry jam using this recipe, and I’m happy to report that I made strawberry jam! It's hard to beat homemade jam on a warm biscuit!

 
 

I’ve made strawberry freezer jam in the past, which turned out well. Using this recipe, it is fairly simple and doesn’t require pectin. When I made it, I used lemon juice for half the batch and lime juice for the other half. Both worked well, and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for an easier jam recipe.

I decided to go with a more traditional canning method for this batch for a couple of reasons. First, my current freezer/refrigerator is smaller and doesn’t utilize the space as well as many newer ones, so I just don’t have much space in my freezer. I’ll also start making and freezing pesto soon, and I need plenty of space for that (plus, I have to have room for the essentials, read: ice cream). Also, it is nice to give the occasional jar of homemade jam to friends or neighbors, and it’s more of a hassle to give away a jar if it needs to stay cold.

I have my grandmother’s old canner, but it is at my parents’ house until we have more space in our kitchen to store it. I think it would have been much easier with the canner, but I used pots of boiling water, and it worked fine.

I used the Pioneer Woman’s Strawberry Jam recipe as a starting point, but made a couple of changes. For example, her recipe calls for 7 cups of sugar, and I only used 5, which still seems like a lot. The berries I used were naturally really sweet, but if they weren’t, I would have considered using a bit more sugar. Here’s the recipe I followed.

Strawberry Jam

  • 5.5 cups hulled and mashed strawberries

  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice

  • 7 T pectin

  • 5 cups sugar

Yield: 8 mason jars (8 oz.)

Place the mason jars in a large hot water bath canner (or pot). Cover with water and bring to a simmer. Simmer the center lids in separate saucepan full of water.

Place the mashed strawberries and lemon juice in a separate pot. Stir in the pectin until dissolved. Bring the strawberries to a strong boil.

Add the sugar (measure beforehand so you can add it all at once), and then return the mixture to a full boil that can't be stirred down. Boil hard for 1 minute 15 seconds. Skim foam off the top.

Remove one jar at a time from the simmering water. Pour water back into the pot. Using a wide-mouth funnel, fill each jar with jam, being careful to keep the liquid/fruit ratio consistent. Fill the jars so that they have 1/4-inch of space at the top. Run a knife down the side of the jar to get rid of air bubbles. Wipe the rim of the jar with a wet cloth to remove any residue or stickiness.
Remove the center lid from the simmering water and position it on top.

Put screw bands on jars, but do not over tighten! Repeat with all the jars, and then place the jars on a canning rack and lower into the water. Place the lid on the canner, and then bring the water to a full boil. Boil hard for 10 to 12 minutes.

Turn off the heat and allow the jars to remain in the hot water for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove the jars from the water using a jar lifter, and allow them to sit undisturbed for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, remove the screw bands and check the seal of the jars. The center lids should have no give whatsoever. If any seals are compromised, store those jars in the fridge. Otherwise, fill your pantry with your newly canned goodness.

I initially thought not using a canner would make this process really difficult, but it was only slightly more tedious and only added about 15 minutes onto my cooking and prep time. When the recipe calls for using a jar lifter, I used kitchen tongs, and they worked fine. I also used the Pioneer Woman's cooking notes to make sure I sterilized my jars correctly.

 
 

After this, I'm feeling inspired to make some more homemade jam this summer. I'd love to hear any and all recipe recommendations or canning tips!