Strawberry Santas

Strawberry SantasA big thank you to my friend Amy for passing this one along to me. She loves my Straw-boo-ries as much as I do so she knew I would go crazy over Strawberry Santas.  I made these for my holiday party last weekend and they were such a hit they were gone before all of my guests even arrived. Given the fact that strawberries are not in season, do your best to find some good quality strawberries and just work with what you can find. These little crowd pleasers are also quite yummy.

Strawberry Santas
 
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Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 lb large strawberries
  • 1 (8oz) package of cream cheese
  • 3-4 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Black Sesame seeds, to decorate
Instructions
  1. Rinse strawberries and cut around the top of the strawberry. Remove the top, (enough for a hat). Prep all of the strawberries and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Add cream cheese mix to a piping bag or Ziploc with the corner snipped off. Top the strawberries with cheese mixture.
  3. Once strawberries have cheese mixture on top, add the hats and decorate according to photo.
  4. If not serving immediately, refrigerate until serving.

Photo Credit: Savvy Housekeeping

Tabbouleh (Cracked Wheat Salad)

  As you can tell, I have been really into using fresh herbs lately. I love how it makes things taste like they came straight from the garden. Unless you have an herb garden of your own, you are often left with a whole lot of extra herbs since you have to buy them by the bunch. There is no doubt that you’ll have some extra mint when you’re finished making your Watermelon with Feta and Mint

Part of the reason I love to travel is because I love to eat and I started making this recipe after I went to Dubai a few years back. So I was reminded of this as I was wondering what to do with all my extra mint.  This is a great recipe because you can make a big batch of it to use up your extra herbs and eat it all throughout the week. Use it as a side, put it on salads or inside wraps. The uses are endless and all quite delicious.

Tabbouleh (Cracked Wheat Salad)
 
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Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3 firm tomatoes, cubed small
  • 1 large cucumber, cubed small
  • 2-3 scallions, diced small
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh mint, chopped (optional)
  • ⅓ cup olive oil – more if needed
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice – more if needed
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Place bulgur in a large mixing bowl. Pour 1 cup boiling water over the bulgur.
  2. Let stand for about ½ hour, or until all water is absorbed.
  3. Drain well, squeezing out any excess water. You can use a sieve and remove excess moisture by pressing down with the back of a spoon.
  4. Add tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, parsley, and mint (optional) to bulgur.
  5. Season with oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  6. Refrigerate, covered, a few hours or overnight.
  7. Serve cold.

Serving Suggestion: If you would like a gluten free version, use quinoa in place of the bulgur. Also, feel free to add raw onion or sprinkle some feta on top.

Photo Credit: Diva:flava

Watermelon with Feta and Mint

Watermelon with Feta and MintI am just returning from Turkey and there is no real way to describe how amazing the food was! I will be attempting some recipes in the future… But for now, one of the things that really caught my attention is that they often serve melon with cheese before and/or after a meal. It is incredibly simple and very refreshing, especially in the summer months.Also, I have always loved eating fruit with a fork and knife! I added my own touch by putting mint into the equation, so I hope you enjoy this refreshing summer treat.  You’ll definitely be seeing some other renditions of the fruit + cheese combination in the future.

Watermelon with Feta and Mint
 
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Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 3 cups chilled watermelon, sliced
  • 3 oz feta cheese, sliced
  • Mint leaves
  • Lime (optional)
Instructions
  1. Layer watermelon and cheese on a plate.
  2. Top with mint leaves and top with a squeeze of lime juice if using.

Photo Credit: Prevention.com

Corn, Cherry Tomato and Asparagus Salad

Corn, Cherry Tomato and Asparagus Salad

I will be a on a plane returning from Europe this Fourth of July so instead of a fun themed recipe (you’ll get that next year!), you get a tried and true favorite salad of mine which will be a nice balance for all those savory and sweet treats you will find at your BBQ’s. This salad screams summer and is very easy to make. If possible, try to use fresh corn, it really makes a difference. Happy Independence Day my friends.

Corn, Cherry Tomato and Asparagus Salad
 
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Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 2 ears yellow or white corn, shucked and kernels cut from the cob (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 pound asparagus, cut into 1½-inch pieces
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
Instructions
  1. Place the lemon juice in a medium bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add the mint and set aside.
  2. Make an ice bath in a large bowl by combining 3 cups of ice with 3 cups water; set aside. In a large pot of boiling water, add a tablespoon salt. Add the corn kernels and the asparagus and boil until just tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Strain in a colander and place into the ice water. When completely cool, strain again.
  3. Place in a large bowl, add the cherry tomatoes, reserved dressing, salt and pepper. Mix well and serve chilled or at room temperature.

Photo Credit: iVillage

Mini Caprese Bites

Mini Caprese BitesOn my honeymoon in Croatia, I became obsessed with Caprese salads and while I have yet to find a mozzarella in this country that even comes close to that in Croatia, this is a great dish to bring to a gathering. You really cannot go wrong when basil and fresh tomatoes are ever in the same equation! And when bringing something somewhere, I always love to add something fresh and healthy to the mix. This is not only appealing to the eye, but it is very easy to whip together, to transport and yes, it tastes delicious.

Mini Caprese Bites
 
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Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 1 pt. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ pound fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Thread 1 basil leaf, tomato half, 1 piece of cheese, and another tomato half onto toothpicks. Place toothpicks in a shallow serving dish.
  2. Whisk together oil and next 3 ingredients. Drizzle oil mixture over skewers; sprinkle with basil and salt and pepper to taste.

Photo Credit: Framed Cooks

White Beans and Cabbage

White Beans and Cabbage

This is on the cover of Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday and it looks oh so inviting. I have this book displayed in my kitchen so I could barely wait to try this recipe out. I, of course, made a couple of modifications that are reflected below but a big thanks to Heidi for sharing her wisdom and to Steamy Kitchen for capturing this shot!

White Beans and Cabbage
 
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Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into tiny cubes
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp hot paprika
  • 3 cups cooked and cooled white beans or about 1 can (15 oz) white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 cups finely shredded green cabbage
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pour the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the potatoes and spread them evenly in the pan. Cook the potatoes for 5 minutes or so, make sure you scrape and toss the potatoes during cooking so that you can get each side browned and cooked through.
  2. Add in the shallots, the white beans and the paprika spread all around the skillet. Let cook, undisturbed for 2 minutes to brown just a bit, then scrape and toss again, making sure to cook until the beans are nicely browned on both sides.
  3. Stir in the cabbage and cook for another minute or so until the cabbage looses a bit of its structure. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir and toss again.
  4. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

 

Arugula Salad with Peaches and Goat Cheese

Arugula Salad with Peaches

Does anyone else literally drool over the peaches every single time they walk by the market? These days, I sure do! The peaches this year are absolutely beautiful and I must say, I have definitely made a couple ‘peach stops’ in the past few weeks and they taste as good as they look. Given that my eye has been on the peaches, I made this recipe last week for my book club and it was not only beautiful but also tasted yummy. Enjoy!

Arugula Salad with Peaches and Goat Cheese
 
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Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 4 peaches on the firm side of ripe
  • 6-8 cups arugula
  • 1 bunch basil, chopped
  • Approximately 4 oz crumbled goat cheese – more or less to your liking
  • Additional freshly ground black pepper, optional
  • Apple cider or a simple lemon vinaigrette
Instructions
  1. Slice the peach in half and remove pit. Cut each half into 3-4 slices.
  2. Place arugula in salad bowl. Toss with the vinaigrette to coat all the leaves. Divide onto plates.
  3. Divide peaches onto plates. Sprinkle each with basil and goat cheese.
  4. Grind a little extra pepper over each, if you like.

Photo Credit: Blue Kitchen

Dilled Green Beans

Dilled Green Beans

Who knew green beans could be so flavorful? I received a copy of Heidi Swanson’s cookbook for my birthday (thanks Nic and Britt), and never have I earmarked so many different recipes to try in one book. This was the first one I made and it was absolutely delicious and tasted so fresh. Honestly, you have to try it. It seems too simple to be true but the combo of the leeks and dill is incredible. Her book gives the option to add some items to make it more of an entree which I tried but below is what I’d suggest as the dish so flavorful that I personally think you don’t want to add much more to it to dilute the flavors. You can check out her blog here. I’m looking forward to trying many more of her recipes and then sharing with you all!

For new and improved recipes, please visit The Simple Kitchen!

Dilled Green Beans
 
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Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • fine-grain sea salt
  • 4 leeks, well washed, root end and tops trimmed, sliced lengthwise into quarters and then chopped into ½-inch segments (see here)
  • ⅓ cup fresh dill, well chopped
  • ¾ pound green beans, tops and tails trimmed and cut into 1-inch segments
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • 2½ cups or 1 can (15 oz) white beans
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet of medium-high heat add olive oil, a pinch of salt and the leeks. Stir until the leeks are browned and glossy, roughly 7 – 10 minutes.
  2. Add the dill, the green beans and 4 Tbsp water. Cook for a couple more minutes then add the white beans and cook until the green beans brighten up and lose that raw bite (you may need to cover to cook the green beans thoroughly).
  3. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Serving Suggestion: Top with some roasted sliced almonds for an added crunch.

Watermelon Baby Carriage

Watermelon Baby CarraigeThat time has come. I’ve gone from shopping for dresses to wear to weddings to shopping for dresses to wear to baby showers…. Earlier this year, I attended a pot luck baby shower for my dear friend and as I am sure you can imagine, got very excited about the what I could bring to this event. Well this is a simple, healthy and adorable dish you can make next time you attend or host a baby shower. Enjoy little ones!

Watermelon Baby Carriage
 
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Serves: 15-20
Ingredients
  • 1 medium watermelon
  • 5 toothpicks
  • 4 orange slices
  • 4 lime slices
  • 2 cups seedless red grapes, divided
  • 1 medium cantaloupe, cut into balls
  • 2 cups seedless green grapes
  • 2 cups halved fresh strawberries
Instructions
  1. With a sharp knife, cut a thin slice from bottom of melon it sits flat. Lightly score a horizontal line halfway up sides and around the melon, leaving 5 in. from one end unmarked on each side for baby carriage hood.
  2. For hood, make another line around top of watermelon, connecting both sides of the horizontal line. Using the rounded edge of a biscuit cutter as a guide, mark a scalloped edge along all straight lines. (Can also just do straight edge here). With a long sharp knife, cut into melon along the scalloped lines, making sure to cut all the way through the melon rind. Gently pull off rind. Remove fruit from melon and removed section; cut fruit into balls or cubes and set aside.
  3. For the U-shaped handle, cut out a 5-in. square from the removed section of rind. Cut out the center and one end, leaving a 1-in.-wide handle. Break one toothpick in half. Attach handle to watermelon with toothpick halves.
  4. For wheels, position orange slices at base of watermelon and attach with toothpicks. To each orange slice with a lime slice and a red grape.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the cantaloupe, green grapes, strawberries, remaining red grapes and reserved watermelon. Spoon into baby carriage.

Serving Suggestion: Use any fruit of your choice!

Thanks Taste of Home for the idea!

Holy Guacamole!

GuacamoleAvocados are incredibly healthy but if you are like me when it comes to guacamole, it is pretty easy to eat the equivalent of four avocados in one sitting… That’s where this recipe comes in handy (and just in time for Cinco de Mayo)! Not only does adding green vegetables to the avocado reduce the fat content but it also boosts the nutritional value of the guacamole. Grab some homemade chips and enjoy!

Holy Guacamole!
 
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Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 medium avocado
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 medium red or sweet onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano chile, seeded and minced
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a blender or in the bowl of a food processor, process the peas until smooth.
  2. In a medium bowl, mash the avocado with a fork or potato masher. Add the juice, tomato, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, garlic, salt, and black pepper. Add the peas and mix well.
  3. If the guacamole won’t be served immediately, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent browning.

Variation: Instead of peas, use 1 cup well-cooked broccoli, edamame, or cooked asparagus tips.

Photo Credit: Simply Recipes