Bruschetta (Bread Topping)

Here’s another delicious little something, to make with some of those fresh summer tomatoes!


Bruschetta topping on toasted bread, is a perfect side to a nice salad (as shown here), or an appetizer for luncheons or cocktail parties. (Well, I’ve heard.  I haven’t been to a cocktail party in…..well, I actually can’t think of a time I have ever been to one, come to think of it. Or, maybe I’m not sure what one is.  But I know what bruschetta is!)

‘Bruschetta’ is an Italian word (Tuscany, to be exact), that means to ‘toast or burn’.  I prefer to toast my bruschetta.  ; )  There are many variations that can be made to this recipe, so don’t be afraid to experiment on your own!  That’s generally what I did when I made this bruschetta this evening a couple of weeks ago. My father, with his ever-discerning tongue, was here for dinner, and he gave it all gold forks. (He loved my salad too. He’s a natural born food critic. Ask anyone who has ever sat down and eaten with him.)

No complete step by step this time photos for the directions this time, but it’s easy enough to follow.  I kind of winged it, with loose measurements, adjusting by eye. You can do that….have no fear. Here’s how (generally) I made it:

Participating ingredients:

  • Ciabatta bread; (can be found at bakery), sliced thick.  French baguette loaf can also be used
  • 1 Garlic clove peeled, and cut in half once.  (Optional)
  • ~ 2 cups chopped tomatoes ( I used Early Girls > It’s what I had on hand.)
  • ~ 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • ~ 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Salt & Pepper to taste.

1) Put all chopped vegetables into a small to medium mixing bowl.

2) Add olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper if you choose, and mix well.

3) Place mixture in fridge or just on counter to all sit together in the bowl, while you prepare the rest.

4) Per-heat oven to broil (My oven requires a temp, so I set it for 375)

5) Line cookie sheet with tinfoil, or whatever you use to protect sheet.

6) Place breads on sheet, spaced evenly.

7) Place in oven, and toast for 1-2 minutes, until you see they start to brown or turn golden. (Shown in photo above.)

8) Remove sheet from oven, and brush each bread piece with the olive oil.

9) Rub each piece with the halved garlic clove for added flavor, if desired. (I desired.)

10) Mix mixture in bowl again, and then I drained all of the excess liquid in the bottom.

11)  Spoon tomato/vegetable mixtures onto bread slices.

12) Top with some shredded mozzarella. (Show with all toppings on bread, in photo above.)

13) Put back into oven for a minute or so, watching closely, just until cheese is melted, and remove.

Serve up, and enjoy!!

A Simple Lunch Spread, for a Celebration Gathering

If I had one goal, for the entire day of {JM, O & S}’s First Holy Communion, it was to ‘keep it simple’.  I wanted it ALL simple, so that we could all focus as much as possible on the purpose of the celebration, and enjoy it. That certainly included any food prepping I had to do, to feed our guests, who came back to our home following mass.  I didn’t want anything that needed to be re-heated or kept warm, and certainly not anything messy. I was going for a light, spring lunch.  I was pretty happy with what I came up with!

For a few of the platters, I made a wrote a little food description card, so no one needed to ask what was in this or that, nor would they be surprised when they took a bite. ; )

To start, we put out very Fresh Fruit Cups, we assembled the night before.  So very simple, but everyone was commenting how much they were loving the fruit cups.  You can’t miss, with fresh fruit!   We included:  clementine slices, pineapple, strawberries, black berries, and green grapes.

Roast Beef Horseradish Spirals:  This was one of the items I wanted people to know ahead of time, what it was made with – since it would possibly be an iffy preference for some.  So easy to make, so fancy to display, and as it turns out, a real hit for all! (Even the kids, here!) Combine these 6 ingredients:   1 8oz. of packaged cream cheese, 1/2 cup or 2 green onions chopped, 1/4 fresh parsley, 2 TBS prepared horseradish, drained, 1/4 tsp salt, & 1/4 tsp garlic powder.  Spread evenly over 2 10″ tortillas (we used tomato tortillas), leaving 1/2 inch border around edge.   Divide 8 oz sliced deli roast beef  over 2 tortillas. Roll up tightly, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate to firm > 30 minutes to a day ahead of time.  When ready, remove from fridge, and cut diagonally into 1/2 slices, and serve.

Chicken Salad (w/ a touch of Apple):  4 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped, 2 apples chopped small, 3 stalks of celery, chopped, and mixed with mayonaise until desired consistancy. (We use Real Hellman’s).  Stuff fresh finger rolls, and serve.

Deviled Eggs: We used 18 hard boiled eggs.     Cut eggs in half the long way using sharp knife, gently  remove egg yolks and place in small bowl.  Mash yolks well w/ fork, add 3 tsp of dijon mustard, 3 Tbs minced onion, 1/2 – 3/4 tsp tobasco (preference), salt & pepper, and 1 cup of mayonnaise. Mix well together.  Fill pastry bags with mixture, fill egg whites, and sprinkle with Paprika.

Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes: Prepare tuna salad as usual.  We add chopped celery and onion.  Hollow out grape tomatoes, using a apple corer first to cut in, and then scoop out all of the inside with a melon ball scoop!  Fill with tuna salad, and arrange on platter.  I garnished the platter with fresh parsley.

Cucumber Sandwiches: I forgot to take photos of these, and darn, because they were so cute!  Very easy, very tasty.  Mix 1 package of cream cheese (8 oz.) with 1 packet of Italian Seasoning.  Peel and slice cucumber.  Spread mixture on slices of minim pumpernickel loaf (usually found near deli), place a slice of cucumber on each, and sprinkle w/ a littledill seed.

We also served pita chips with red pepper humus.

For drinks, we offered water, Raspberry Crystal Light, and we also had a punch bowl made, of which I should share the recipe.  It’s my Dad’s recipe and we have it on many special occasions w/ the kids.

One might wonder where the First Holy Communion Cake is. Well….that was one thing I wanted to be so special.  I knew we would not have time to bake anything and decorate it nicely, with all else we had to prepare, and because of {S}’s peanut allergy, we can’t just order a cake from a bakery. SO…..I hired a ‘professional’ to custom bake for us.  What I wanted instead of a cake, was very special cupcakes. (You all know how much I adore cupcakes!)  After several, (several) very specific e-mails, and an in person meeting at which I also included drawings and reviewed again exactly what I wanted, with a professional local custom baker I found online (who has a convincing web site),  ……. they were a disaster. Not what I asked for, not cute or pretty (or photo worthy), and they were not even enjoyable to eat, as they were HUGE, and so dense.  SO……they were the talk of the party, but not in a good way. It is almost comical, that the one area we hired a PRO to take care, and the one area we spent the most $ on, was the worst part of our whole food spread.  I can’t tell you how disappointed I was, with such a special piece of this special occasion.  That’s why I hired a pro!  Michael said all along “We can do that ourselves Honey, I don’t want to spend the money”…. and I always said, “But this is the one thing I really want to be special!”.  In the end, we could have done much more of a professional job, ourselves. I have not even contacted the baker with my complaints yet, because I am quite sure if I begin to speak, I will spew venom.  And we all know that’s not like me. ; )

And since I don’t want to leave this post on a tense note (doing head/shoulder rolls as I type…)…..please remember the light, spring, cheery lunch items above!  I hope you find some of these ideas useful, for an occasion or gathering of your own sometime!

Vittles: Easter Photo Series

Superbowl Menu

We had a nice little Superbowl Sunday.  We kept it pretty low-key, for a couple of reasons:

1) Our own New England Patriot’s weren’t playing.

2) It was a school night.

Every year, I get all excited about Superbowl Sunday, no matter who is playing. And then I realize how late the game is starting!  And then I remember, that I forget that that is the case, almost every year!

Still, we can’t let the opportunity for a little private family party, pass us by.  But considering the circumstances this year, we kept the menu simple-simple.

Pastrami Sandwiches – we love them. We just put a pound 1/2 of pastrami in our steamer for 10-15 minutes, rearranging in the steamer basket about 1/2 way through for even heating of the meat, and then we pile it on a toasted wheat roll.  The kids prefer no mustard, but Michael and I like a little French’s.

Here’s an item we were downright excited to try:  Jalapeno Poppers!

Participating Ingredients:

  • 18 fresh jalapeno peppers
  • 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 shredded or grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 green onion chopped
  • package of bacon, cut in half to shorten (18 slices, 36 halved)
  • brown-sugar BBQ sauce
  • toothpicks

(You will only chop jalapeno peppers without gloves once, but never again.  I did, once, and my fingers spent the entire night in HELL.  Literally, I’m quite sure.  The throbbing pain of burn, was nearly unbearable.  I was near tears.  Just take my word for it, and use gloves when chopping these babies, and don’t touch any part of yourself after having touched the peppers!  Especially your eyes!)

1) SO….once dressed in your gloves, slice the peppers in half, lengthwise. We keep the stems on, and try to cut those in half too. It gives you a little handle later, and keeps them cute! Clean out the inside of the peppers completely – free of seeds and white membrane.  However, the real heat is in the seeds and the white membranes – so if you like more kick, leave a little.  We left just a little seed in ONE pepper, and I got the Lucky Popper. ; )

2) In a bowl, combine softened cream cheese, chopped green onion, and cheddar cheese. Mix well.

3) Being sure your gloves are on again, or still, using a little old-style butter knife, or a cheese spreader, fill all of the peppers halves with the cheese filling. We filled it well, as a little heap.

4) Pre-heat the oven to 275 degrees.  (I realize most cooks/bakers do this first, but I’m too slow to prep the food, so the oven is on for too long, for no reason.  Plus, I feel pressure because the oven is waiting and ready, but I’m not done! lol)

5) Next, wrap each cheese-filled pepper, with a 1/2 piece of bacon.  Do not pull it tight, as the bacon shrinks when it cooks. Secure each one with a toothpick through the side of the pepper as you go, and place on a cookie sheet.  (We cover the cookie sheets with tin foil for stuff like this, to avoid having to wash the pan after. ; )  Call us lazy.

6) Generously brush each bacon-wrapped-cheese-filled-pepper, with brown sugar BBQ sauce.

7) Put in oven for about an hour, or until the bacon is crisp and sizzling.

*You can serve immediately, at the risk of burning mouths.  But we found anyway, that letting them set & cool some for 10-15 minutes, really makes them all the better!  They firm up a bit, and you can really enjoy the different elements of the Jalapeno Popper in your mouth, instead of it all being very soft and mushy in your mouth.

A friend asked us, “Will the kids eat those?”, and the answer was YES!  Our little ones, especially, like hot stuff.  {A} just thought they “were just o.k.”.   But it’s not the recipe, it’s her.    ; )

We’ll be adding these to our appetizer hit-list for future occasions.  We put 1/2 f this batch, already cooked, in ziplock bag and into the freezer, to be able to just heat some up sometime soon. And trust me, soon it will be!

BTW – My friend Mary Beth, from Nothin’ But Country, made up a batch of the Bacon-Wrapped Pineapple Bites for her Superbowl party, and came by the blog here to leave a fantastic review of the recipe!  Check it out! If her review doesn’t convince you to try them, nothing will!  And check out her blog too! She and her husband LOVE to cook, and all kinds of great recipes.

We also snacked on tortilla chips and salsa through the game, in between hoots & hollers at the tv.   As you can see, we already had been at them before I remembered to take a photo. lol.

Our ever-creative boy, {JM}, made a football for our party, as some festive decor.  He made it out of gold and white tissue paper, and a little gold mylar.  That boy is ALWAYS ‘making something’, and he never ceases to surprise us with his great ideas either.   Get this……..

…..the football lights up!!  In the dark, it really puts off quite a glow!

Since our New England Patriot’s weren’t playing in the Superbowl this year <boo-hiss!!>, we decided to cheer on the Saints!  Why?  No real significant reason, except maybe because their names is the Saints, and we like their logo the best. : )  We are really happy for New Orleans.

Did YOU watch the Superbowl?  Which team did you cheer on?  And more importantly, what was on your Superbowl Menu, if you had one?  Do share!

Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Bites

We made these tasty little morsels for this first time,  for New Year’s Eve. My girlfriend Paula wanted the recipe, so I told her I would blog a post on it. And here it is.  Because I’m always true to my word.  And also, I wanted to make (read: eat) these again. : )

Participating Ingredients: 1 pound of bacon, 1 can of Large Chunked Pineapple (or fresh), and 1/2 cup Brown Sugar.

You’ll also need toothpicks.   The colors add to my happy, but if they do nothing for you, plain wood color is fine too.

Set your oven for 375 degrees.

Take the bacon out of the package, and cut it in half, like so.  (Oh my gosh…the things I am starting to say!!  “LIKE SO?”  Did I say that? lol)

Also, pour some brown sugar into a bowl or container.

Take a 1/2 piece of bacon, and press it into the brown sugar, coating both sides of the bacon.

I guess he’s showing us what it should look like?  He held it like this for a long time, so I sensed he was waiting for me to take a photo. lol. Yes.  Brown sugar coated bacon piece.  There it is.

Take a chunk of pineapple, place it on the bacon, and roll it up!

Impale it, with a toothpick.  : )

Place that one down,  and make another.

And another.

Now the recipe instructions said to place them on a rack on some foil in a jellyroll pan?  Honestly, I’m still not sure what a jelly-roll pan is.  But….like the 5 Qt.  Kitchen Aid Mixer I still covet, we are managing with out a jelly roll pan too.  SO….we just covered our toaster oven pan with tin foil, and used the rack from that.

You will notice that the brown sugar seems to disappear.  But it doesn’t.  It just absorbs the moisture and is harder to see. Ready to go in the oven!

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the bacon looks brown and crispy.  But keep an eye on them, because if they are in too long, the sugar WILL burn!

The smell is SOOOO GOOOOD.

I think the salty and then sweet,  that just busts out in your mouth, is the joy.

DO let them cool some, before trying one!!  I mean…’s sizzling BACON, that just came out of the oven.  And if you eat one too soon, ….well.  Let’s just say you won’t be able to enjoy any more, with blisters all over your lips and tongue.   I reckon you’ll be pretty much done eating for a couple of days,  after that. ; )

We used canned pineapple the first time we made them, and fresh the 2nd time.  Dare I say, I seemed to like the canned better for this recipe.   I’m still puzzled by that, because I am all about fresh fruit and vegetables, whenever possible.  Maybe it was actually the bacon was a little different.  Hmmm…will have to make these a few more times to be sure.  Very good, both times, either way.  One batch was just crispier.

Anyway.  They are DIVINE.  It’s hard to believe that something so very easy, can taste so very good.  But, sometimes that’s the case.   What a great appetizer for a party.  Perhaps, a Superbowl party??  Our New England Patriot’s really blew it, and won’t be in the Superbowl this year.  So we’ll just, you know, pick the team with the best colored uniforms, cheer them on, and have a party anyway!