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July 29, 2015

Heirloom Tomato Panzanella

Panzanella is the perfect summer salad to serve with anything - a piece of grilled fish, chicken, steak, shrimp... burgers, kebabs, sandwiches, anything.  The homemade croutons just slightly soak in the vinaigrette.  So good.

When produce season is in full swing, it is great to have a recipe that utilizes the vegetables that look great at the farmers markets - this was our loot from last weekend.

When I saw all of the beautiful heirloom tomatoes at the market, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them....

It uses the best summer vegetables & herbs (peppers, tomatoes & basil - you can add cucumbers, too).  The best part is all you have to do is chop vegetables, stir together a dressing and make croutons - which, by the way, is much easier than you'd think!

Heirloom Tomato

Croutons :
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small loaf of good bread (6 cups)
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Sea Salt & Pepper

Vegetables :
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound of tomatoes (I used heirloom tomatoes)
1 yellow bell pepper
1/4 red onion 
4 large basil leaves
3 cups of arugula

Dressing :
1 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon
3 tablespoons White Wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For Croutons :
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut bread into 1-inch cubes and place them on a baking sheet.  Drizzle the bread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for 7-10, tossing after ever couple of minutes until slightly browned.

For the Vegetables :
Cut the tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers into 1/2-inch cubes.  Cut onion into thin slices.  Add all of the vegetables to a bowl along with chopped fresh basil.

For the Dressing :
Whisk together dressing ingredients with a fork.  Pour over vegetables.  Add croutons just before serving. 

July 22, 2015

Summer Clearance + 20% Off

 Summer Clearance + 20%

Not only are there so many items on sale, but now I'm offering 20% off all orders over $50.   This sale includes some of my favorite items that have just been restocked like the Kitchen Brush SetLaundry & Bathroom Bottles and the Classic Platters Collection.  Just yesterday, I restocked all of the Tablet + Le Pens - sorry it took so long for all of you that have emailed me : )  It is the perfect essential to get you organized for fall.

Use the code : SUMMER20

Shop the Sale + 20% Off >

I love these lightweight linen towels in classic Blue & White.

The Tablets+LePens are restocked in lots of colors including the ever popular, Falmouth Grey. 

Take the opportunity to get 20% off your favorite baking items, too, like this Jumbo Tip for Hydrangea cupcakes.

This collection of Classic Platters are quickly becoming an essential around my home - the come beautifully packaged, too.

The Laundry & Bathroom Bottles have just been restocked, too!  Happy Summer Clearance Shopping : )

Use the code : SUMMER20

Shop the Sale + 20% Off >

July 21, 2015

Homemade Blackberry Preserves | Printable Labels | Saving Summer

Easy Homemade Blackberry Preserves

As I mentioned last week, we have a prolific amount of blackberries due to my Dad's blackberry patch.  After making several Blackberry Cobblers, we still didn't seem to make a dent in the berries.  

Sometimes in the middle of summer bounty, you can almost forget the bleakness of winter that is just 6 months away.  Our Granny used to always put up peaches in the summer and get them out on Christmas morning.  They were always a little frozen and slushy, and delicious on Christmas morning.  A little breath of summer.  

The thought of bottling a little bit of our carefree summer in the form of Blackberry preserves gave Emma and me a little motivation after school last week.  I can't wait to get these out to top our biscuits for a snuggly fire-side breakfast this winter. 

While I did consults some recipes, truth-be-told, I have no idea how much sugar is in our preserves.

That's what happens when I'm behind the camera and Emma is in charge.

I was shocked to find out how much sugar other recipes sited - ours was not nearly as sugar heavy.  I wanted it to taste like fresh blackberries, not sugared jelly.

I think it was a little something like this : 

6 cups of Blackberries
1 1/2 - 2 cups of sugar
juice of 1 lemon

Put it in a big saucepan and cook for maybe 30 minutes.

As I said, I wanted to preserve the taste of a fresh summer blackberry, so I didn't mash or smash or attempt to remove the seeds.  Not only will they be more of the essence of a real summer berry, it was much easier.  Much easier.

While the berries continued to simmer and thicken (cooking for almost 1 hour on low heat), I sterilized the jars in water for 5 minutes.  Just make sure the water is simmering.

I removed the jars with tongs and put them on a pan for filling.  Make sure jars are still hot when spooning in hot jam so the jars don't break.

I found that ladaling the mixture into a pouring measuring cup made filling very easy.

Our recipe made 5 jars.

I sealed the jars by submerging them in simmering water for 10 minutes and watching until there were no more bubbles coming out.  For detailed canning instructions, try here.

Of course I needed some cute labels for our jars.  I used the 2.5" Printable Circle Labels from my store.  They come as 6 sheets of 12 for $5.  I love having them around to make homemade goodies look great.

Here is the template download for the labels.  You can personalize them, of course, for anything.

Now, if I could just bottle up this...  

Happy Summer : )

July 20, 2015

The BEST Mozzarella & Tomato Platter

Good food is really so simple.  In the thick of tomato season, every restaurant, bistro and cafe in America is featuring a tomato salad or appetizer of some sort (if they're smart!).  However, so many times when I order out and about, I'm disappointed.  Sometimes there is an infused vinaigrette dousing the tomatoes, or the bread isn't toasted, or the tomatoes are not good and flavorful.  The worst is when there are two thin tiny slivers of tomato and the tiniest bit of mozzarella.  Ugh.  Bounty, folks!  It is summer, I want a huge, huge tomato salad.

Keeping it simple is the key.  And big and bountiful. Delicious summer tomatoes rarely need anything but a little sea salt and olive oil.  While this is hardly a complex recipe, there are a few key details that shouldn't be skipped or (worse) embellished.  

If you come to our house July - August, you will likely be confronted by this platter with a glass of rose before dinner, or as a side dish with steaks, shrimp, fish, etc.  It is also so lovely to take to a party - beautiful and goes with almost any summer menu.

This is everything you need.

Good Tomatoes
Fresh Mozzarella
Fresh Basil Leaves
Good French Bread
Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove
Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper

Grilled Garlic Toasts.

We'll start with the Grilled Toast.  I love grilled bread with tomatoes.  Something about the slight char bitterness and crunch with the silky sweet tomatoes that is so divine.  You can also toast/broil in the oven for a couple of minutes to achieve the same browning.  I like to only toast one side so the other side stays soft.  After you grill or broil for about 2 minutes, remove from heat at rub all over with a garlic clove immediately.  The heat from the toast take the slightest bite out of the garlic.

I slice the baguette into very thin pieces - maybe 1/4 inch.  Any thicker then it will be hard to bite into when topped with tomato.

If you don't have an oil bottle with a pour spout, get one.  I missed mine so much - I didn't realize how much a relied on it for quickly drizzling oil over bread, veggies, everything.

I place mine on a baking sheet ready to go out to the grill, or go into the oven.

I usually slice the garlic clove in half - 1 clove will work for an entire loaf.

It is easy to make this appetizer look beautiful - the tomatoes do all of the work for you.  I really like them all lined up.  It is modern and clean, but very bountiful, too.  I like to do a couple of big bunches of basil leaves instead of chopped.  Mike is not a big fan of basil, so this makes it easy for him to avoid and others to pick whole leaves.

This is the Classic Service Tray in my store with a Pewter Finish.  It is the perfect size for an appetizer platter.

Just before serving, I drizzle olive oil and sprinkle sea salt and pepper - generously.

So simple and such a treat in the summertime.  Seriously, with a steak and ear of sweet corn, why would you make anything else for dinner?

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