Tomato Salad with Sheep’s Milk Cheese and Fresh Basil

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I found the cutest little organic tomatoes the other day at Trader Joe’s. I was also excited to run across white balsamic vinegar. I didn’t even know such a thing existed! It opens up a whole new wave of ideas where a dark balsamic can’t be used.

Trader Joe’s is new to our area. I have to admit I was a little disappointed with its tiny size and lack of a gluten-free aisle. I think I was secretly hoping for a Whole Foods experience. Whole Foods it’s not, however, their organic produce prices cannot be beat.  Now I make a trip up there just about every Friday to stock up on fresh, organic, veggies for the week ahead.

This is a simple salad that can be eaten alone or served as a side. I think it would go wonderfully with gluten-free focaccia bread with a little side of balsamic and olive oil…maybe some roasted garlic…

Tomato Salad with Sheep’s Milk Cheese and Fresh Basil

Organic Cherry Tomatoes (variety)

Sheep’s Milk Cheese

Fresh Basil

Olive Oil

White Balsamic

Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper

Slice some of the larger tomatoes in half. Tear a couple of basil leaves into small pieces, drizzle with olive oil and white balsamic, season with sea salt & pepper. Stir to combine. Crumble the sheep’s milk cheese and fold into the tomato mixture.

Summer Salads

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A few days ago our son graduated from high school. Such an exciting time for the whole family! It really is true what “they” say…it all just goes by so incredibly fast. Eighteen years in a flash! We are all really looking forward to the next stage in life. Exciting times ahead!

With our family, I can’t even think of one event that doesn’t revolve around a lot of food. Most of us love to cook, entertain, and visit so any excuse to get together,we’re on it. And of course, a graduation celebration is no exception. I wanted to make this one a little easier by doing summer foods and barbecuing. We grilled burgers, hot dogs, and German sausages. Had all of the traditional sides plus peppers and onions for the sausages. Several different types of salads, home-made baked beans, cupcakes, sugar cookies, and a Costco cake. This is the point where I imagine you’re hearing a loud record scratch and everything comes to a halt. A Costco cake? Imagine that. In a family full of women that love to cook, my son couldn’t wait to order a Costco cake.  Oh well, it saves me the intense all day labor of making a four layer gluten-free, dairy-free German Chocolate Cake. High school graduation only comes along once and I think it’s only fair that he have his cake (whatever it may be) and eat it too.

I’ll try to list the most accurate ingredient amounts in these recipes. I’m more of  a “little of this and a little of that” cook.  They are all easy though and can be tweaked to your liking.

Home Made Baked Beans

Forgot to take a picture of the beans! They are gorgeous & delicious!

About 6 pieces of All Natural Bacon, fried to almost crisp

1 Whole Sweet Onion, diced

1/2 Each Red & Orange Bell Peppers, diced

3 Cloves of Garlic, diced

2 Whole Jalapeno Peppers, stem removed, seeds & membrane intact

1/3 Cup Brown Sugar

2 18 oz. Bottles of Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce

2 15 oz. Cans of White Beans, rinsed & drained

2 15 oz. Cans of Kidney Beans, rinsed & drained

2 15 oz. Cans of Butter Beans, rinsed & drained

In a large skillet drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, or reserved bacon fat, and heat on medium-high. Saute the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeno until the onion just begins to turn translucent.

Place the sautéed ingredients and all other ingredients in a crockpot, stir well. Heat on low for about 5-6 hours.

Tomato & Onion Salad with Herb Dressing

About 8 -10 Roma Tomatoes, sliced in quarters lengthwise

About 1/2 Cup Fresh Basil, chopped

About 1/2 of a Large Red Onion, sliced thinly

Herb Vinaigrette:

About 1/2 Cup Olive Oil

About 3-4 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

2 tsp. Dijon Mustard

Pinch of Sugar

Pinch of Salt & Pepper

Whisk or place in covered container and shake until it is emulsified. Drizzle over tomatoes, onions, and basil, and gently toss.

Pea Salad

3 12 oz. Bags of Petite Peas, thawed

About 3/4 of a Red Onion, diced small

1 Pkg. (block) of Sheep’s Milk Cheese or Goat Cheese

About 1 Cup of Olive Oil Mayonnaise

About 4 Tbsp. Rice Wine Vinegar

Dash of Salt & Pepper

Whisk mayo, vinegar, and salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Spoon over peas and onions. Crumble cheese block over peas and mayo and carefully mix until incorporated. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Waldorf Salad

About 6 Sweet Apples, washed, dried, and diced (do this into a bowl of lemon water so they don’t brown)

About 2 Cups of Red Seedless Grapes, washed and sliced in half

About 3/4 of a Cup of Walnuts, rough chopped and toasted until lightly golden

About 3 Stalks of Celery, sliced down the middle and then diced thinly

About 1/2 Cup of Olive Oil Mayonnaise

Dash of Sugar

Dash of Salt & Pepper

Place all ingredients in a bowl, toss carefully. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Three Bean Salad

2 15 oz. Cans of White Beans, rinsed & drained

2 15 oz. Cans of Kidney Beans, rinsed & drained

2 15 oz. Cans of Garbanzo Beans, rinsed & drained

4 Stalks of Celery, sliced down the middle and chopped thinly

1 Red Onion, diced small

1 Cup Parsley, rinsed and drained, chopped finely

2 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary, chopped finely

About 2/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

About 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar

About a 1/2 Cup Olive Oil

Several Grinds of Sea Salt & Pepper

Whisk the vinegar, sugar, olive oil, and salt & pepper together until sugar is dissolved. Pour over remaining ingredients and toss. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Below is a picture of one of my favorite and super easy “go to” summer drinks for parties and camping. It doesn’t really have a name…I just call it the Rum Fruity Drink. It’s an incredibly simple mixture of rum, Squirt (or any other type of your favorite soda or juice), a squeeze of lime, squeeze of lemon, and squeeze of Cutie oranges. We also had mint to put in them but I forgot to set it out, that would also be really tasty.

 

Cheers!!