Marinated Fontina Cheese & Grapes on Rosemary Skewers

This recipe was shared by one of our gatherers in our “Gather with Nanny Bubby” Facebook group.  It was so beautiful, and so delightfully easy and fun to make, I had to make it myself.  I give her complete credit, Roseanne Heideman is amazingly artistic both with food and with art.  Enjoy this amazing appetizer!

Serves:

6-8

Total Time:

24 hours marinade time plus 15 minutes

To Make

Ingredients:

  • 24 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (I used Temecula Fresh Apple balsamic vinegar)
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I used Temecula D’luscious Fresh Lemon olive oil)
  • kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound fontina cheese wax removed, cut into 24 cubes
  • 48 grapes plus a vine of grapes for the center garnish

Directions:

Prepare the rosemary sprigs by stripping the springs of needles on the bottom half where you will be putting the cheese and grapes later. Set rosemary needles to the side as you will use some in the marinade.

 Mince enough rosemary needles to measure about 1/2 cup.

Create the cheese marinade by adding minced rosemary, red pepper flakes, white balsamic, oil and salt to taste in a bowl. Whisk until combined and add the cheese. Let chill in a ziploc bag or in a covered bowl for 4 hours or overnight, mixing halfway through to help the cheese absorb the flavors.

Assemble the skewers by adding a grape, then marinaded cheese, then a grape to each skewer. Assemble on a serving platter and enjoy! It is best at room temperature.

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Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

I had never prepared or even eaten Zucchini Blossoms before.  I love that my cooking coach came to my rescue and said let’s do it together.  We created this recipe from a combined experience of tastes and experience! It’s always a joy for me to cook with her.  I hope you enjoy it too!

Serves:

6-8

Total Time:

40-45 minutes

To Make

Ingredients:

For the Filling:

  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1⁄2 anchovy fillet
  • 1 tsp. dried and crumbled oregano
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper

 

For the Zucchini Blossoms:

 

  • Blood Orange Olive oil (for frying)
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 12 oz. chilled club soda or Perrier
  • Zucchini blossoms (stamens removed; about 12-16)
  • Sea salt

Directions:

To fill about 16, combine ricotta, oregano, and lemon zest in a bowl. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using a spoon, fill each blossom with about 1 Tbs. ricotta mixture.

In a large pot, heat about 2″ oil over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 360°-375°.

Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl, then whisk in club soda until almost smooth (some small lumps are welcome—don’t overwhisk or you’ll deflate the batter).

One by one, dredge the blossoms in batter, shaking off the excess; gently lay them in the oil, without crowding the pan.

Cook, flipping once with a slotted spoon, until golden brown, 2-3 minutes total.

Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Sprinkle with sea salt and devour while hot.

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Beet Salad with Whipped Roquefort, Pistachios and Beet Dust

I recently tasted this dish at one of our favorite restaurants in Laguna Beach.  I am not one for beets, but I have found in the summer they are ubiquitous on many restaurant menus in the southwest.  I bit into the salad and the layers of flavors with the beet dust, pistachios and whipped Roquefort layered with the sweetness and yet tartness of the beets just placed me in heaven.  I knew I had to duplicate this recipe even though at the time I never knew there was such a thing as beet dust!!!  (better known as beet powder)  This is a summer salad winner.  Enjoy!

Serves:

4 – 6

Total Time:

60 minutes

To Make

Ingredients
  • 3 Golden whole beets
  • 3 Red whole beets
  • 4 oz. Roquefort (room temperature)
  • 3 Tbs. mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 1 Tbs. Olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup chopped pistachio nuts
  • 1 Tbs. beet dust
  • 1 Tbs. sugar

      Directions:

      Wash the beets thoroughly and trim off the beet leaves. Before cooking, peel the beets and dice them in 1” square pieces.  Start with the golden beets and separate them in a separate bowl when finished.  Then peel and dice the red beets and place separately from the golden beets. (this is done to keep the red beets from bleeding over and staining the golden beets). 

      Keeping the staining in mind, steam the golden beets in a steamer basket for approximately 25 minutes or until tender and pierces easily with a fork. 

      If you have steamed the golden beets first, you can now add the red beets into the basket of the same steaming water without fear of staining.  Again, steam for approximately 25 minutes or until tender enough to pierce with a fork.  If desired, chill for 30 minutes or serve room temperature.

      In a food processor add the Roquefort, mascarpone cheese, lemon juice and olive oil and pulse until combined.  Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to firm up. 

      In the meanwhile, chop the pistachios into a rough chop, and toss the arugula with 1 Tbs. olive oil and 1 Tbs. fresh squeezed lemon juice, ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper.

      Plate the arugula and then layer the beets starting with the red beets on the bottom with the golden beets on top.

      Form the whipped Roquefort with two spoons into ovals and place them onto the platter.  If plating individually, place two ovals per salad plate. Sprinkle the pistachios over the top of the plate. 

       

      Lastly, combine the beet powder and sugar together in a small bowl making the beet dust. Sprinkle the beet dust over the top of the entire salad, especially the Roquefort ovals and the plate so it glistens and shows the beet dust generously.  Enjoy!

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      Mascarpone & Lemon, Thyme Gnocchi with Thyme Butter Sauce

      Gnocchi looks daunting, but it isn’t. The first time I made it myself I was shocked at how easy it was and how fun it was. When I coached a client through the process, she giggled with joy at how easy it was and how she could wow her guests by making homemade gnocchi. My memory…..we had a great time together working through this recipe and the satisfaction of conquering this recipe will live on in memory and smiles forever! Enjoy!

      Serves:

      8 – 10

      Total Time:

      45 minutes

      To Make

      Ingredients

      • 1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
      • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated Parmesan
      • 1 tsp. Kosher Salt
      • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
      • Zest of 2 large lemons
      • 1 large egg, at room temperature
      • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
      • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for forming the gnocchi
      • 1 Tbs thyme leaves
      • 3 Tbs. butter

      FOR THE SAUCE

      • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
      • 1 tsp. kosher salt
      • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
      • 1 Tbs. tarragon
      • 1 tsp. lemon zest
      • 1/4 cup shaved Pecorino Romano cheese

        Directions:

        Combine the mascarpone cheese, Parmesan, salt, nutmeg, lemon zest, thyme, egg and egg yolk in a bowl.

        Beat together using a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. 

        Gradually beat in the flour until the mixture forms a soft dough.

        Sprinkle a pie pan or rimmed baking sheet with flour. 

        Drop 1-teaspoon-size pieces of dough into the pie pan using 2 small spoons.

        Shake the pan gently to cover the dough with flour.

        Gently roll the pieces of dough into oval shapes.

        For the Sauce:

        Meanwhile, cook the butter and salt in a heavy medium skillet until it begins  to brown, about 1 minutes.   Add the gnocchi and brown each side of the Gnocchi for about 2 minutes per side on medium heat.  Remove gnocchi to a plate.

        Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the chopped thyme, tarragon, and lemon zest. And toss gently.  Add back in the gnocchi. You can serve it right out of the skillet, and it is amazing.  Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano and extra Thyme and serve.

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        Fresh Mozzarella-Strawberry Caprese Salad

        Serves:

        8 – 10

        Total Time:

        30 minutes

        To Make

        Ingredients

        HONEY-BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE:

        • 2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
        • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
        • 1/4 cup olive oil
        • Salt and pepper to taste

          SALAD:

        • 2 bags (5 ounces each) fresh baby spinach (about 10 cups)
        • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
        • 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered (3 cups)
        • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
        • 2 containers (8 ounces each) Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Fresh Mozzarella cheese – Ciliegine (cherry-sized balls), drained and each ball cut in half
        • 1 package (16 ounces) Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Fresh Mozzarella cheese – Log
        • Fresh basil leaves

        Directions:

        Heat oven to 425°F.

        Shred 1/4 c parmesan. Finely shred remaining parmesan.

        Melt butter in a heavy, large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, salt and pepper; cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

        Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 20-25 minutes longer or until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally.

        Gradually stir in cream. Bring just to a boil; cook and stir until cream is reduced and thickened. Remove from the heat.

        Stir in shredded parmesan until melted; set aside.

        Heat oven to 425°F. Line a 15 x 10-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

        Unfold pastry on a lightly floured surface; roll out pastry to a 15 x 10-inch rectangle.

        Place pastry in prepared pan. Score a 1/2-inch border on edges of pastry with sharp knife. Prick pastry with a fork.

        Spoon reserved onion mixture to edges of scored pastry. Arrange asparagus and tomatoes on top.

        Bake for 18-20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

        Sprinkle with finely shredded parmesan. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. 

        Sprinkle with lemon zest just before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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        Spring Asparagus-Parmesan Tart

        Serves:

        8

        Total Time:

        70 minutes

        To Make

        Ingredients:

        • 3 oz Sartori SarVecchio® Parmesan cheese, divided
        • 2 Tbs butter, cubed
        • 1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
        • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
        • 1/3 c heavy whipping cream
        • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
        • 1/2 lb fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and blanched
        • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
        • 2 tsp lemon zest

        Directions:

        Heat oven to 425°F.

        Shred 1/4 c parmesan. Finely shred remaining parmesan.

        Melt butter in a heavy, large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, salt and pepper; cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

        Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 20-25 minutes longer or until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally.

        Gradually stir in cream. Bring just to a boil; cook and stir until cream is reduced and thickened. Remove from the heat.

        Stir in shredded parmesan until melted; set aside.

        Heat oven to 425°F. Line a 15 x 10-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

        Unfold pastry on a lightly floured surface; roll out pastry to a 15 x 10-inch rectangle.

        Place pastry in prepared pan. Score a 1/2-inch border on edges of pastry with sharp knife. Prick pastry with a fork.

        Spoon reserved onion mixture to edges of scored pastry. Arrange asparagus and tomatoes on top.

        Bake for 18-20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

        Sprinkle with finely shredded parmesan. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. 

        Sprinkle with lemon zest just before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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        Muhammara Mezze Spread

        When I first received a Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook I had never heard of him.  I looked through the cookbook and everything looked delicious but many of the ingredients he calls for in his cooking were spices I was very unfamiliar with as most of them are classic middle eastern.  As a result, without someone to talk me through it, I placed the book on the shelf and never used it.  Then……..I discovered a Yotam Ottolenghi Masterclass.  His passion and beautiful instruction was amazing, and I learned so much.  Chef Ottolenghi and his recipes are now my favorite items to cook.  And, this Muhammara Mezze Spread, to die for.  Enjoy!!!

        Serves:

        10 – 12

        Total Time:

        75 minutes

        To Make

        Ingredients:

        • 5 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and quartered
        • 1 white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
        • 2 plum or Roma tomatoes, halved length- wise, stems removed
        • 1 red chili, stem removed
        • 5 tbsp olive oil, divided 
        • 1 1⁄2 tbsp tomato paste
        • 2 tsp cumin seeds
        • 2 tsp coriander seeds
        • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
        • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses, divided
        • 3.5 oz (just under 1/2 c.) walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
        • 3.5 oz (just under 1/2 c.) pomegranate seeds, plus 1 tbsp for serving
        • 1 tbsp parsley leaves, roughly chopped, for serving
        • Salt
        • Freshly ground black pepper

        Directions:

        Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees

        Add the peppers, onion, tomatoes, and chili to a large parchment-lined baking tray. Toss with 3 tablespoons of oil, 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt, and plenty of black pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

        While the vegetables are roasting, add the tomato paste and 1 tablespoon of the oil to a small frying pan set over medium heat and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomato paste is a deep red and is caramelized. Set aside to cool.

        Add the cumin and coriander seeds to a small pan and toast over medium heat, stirring frequently, until aromatic and you can hear a light popping noise, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the spices from the heat and grind into a coarse powder with a mortar and pestle.

        Remove the peppers and onions from the oven, add the garlic cloves, and mix lightly. Put the tray back in the oven and roast for another 20 minutes or until vegetables are softened and lightly charred. Once they’re cool enough to handle, peel and discard the tomato and pepper skins (don’t worry if you can’t remove it all). 

        Add the peeled roasted vegetables, the tomato paste mixture, the ground spices, 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses, 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt, and a good grind of pepper to a food processor and pulse into a coarse paste, leaving the mixture slightly chunky. 

        Add the walnuts and pulse just enough to roughly blitz (you want the mixture to still have some texture). Stir in the pomegranate seeds.

        To serve, transfer the Muhammara to a serving plate or bowl and create a slight well in the center. Garnish with the extra pomegranate seeds and parsley, then drizzle the remaining tablespoon each of pomegranate molasses and olive oil over the top.

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        Savory Palmiers

        Recipe Adapted From Barefoot Contessa

        Serves:

        6– 8

        Total Time:

        1 hour & 15 minutes

        To Prepare

        Ingredients:

        • 1 package frozen Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, defrosted

        • 1/4 cup store bought pesto

        • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

        • 1/4 cup finely chopped sundried tomatoes in oil, drained

        • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

        • Kosher salt

        Directions:

        Lightly flour a board and carefully unfold one sheet of puff pastry. Roll the pastry lightly with a rolling pin until it’s 9 1/2 by 11 1/2-inches. Spread the sheet of puff pastry with half the pesto, then sprinkle with half the goat cheese, half the sundried tomatoes, and half the pine nuts. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

        Working from the short ends, fold each end halfway to the center. Then fold each side again towards the center until the folded edges almost touch. Fold one side over the other and press lightly. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat the entire instructions for the second sheet of puff pastry using the remaining ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 45 minutes.

        Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

        Cut the prepared rolls of puff pastry in 1/4 inch thick slices and place them face up 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 14 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.

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        Thanksgiving Cheese Ball

        I love the Autumn. In Las Vegas the best months of the year are September, October and November. It is cool and beautiful and everyone comes outside, finally, after a long hot summer. I use this recipe for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and a minor Jewish Holiday called Sukkot, which usually falls in October. Any excuse to celebrate the Autumn, harvest moons and cooler nights – I am ready! Enjoy! 

        Serves:

        8 – 10

        Total Time:

        30 minutes

        To Prepare

         Ingredients:

        • 3 C. orange cheese puffs

        • 2 lbs. cream cheese, at room temperature (softened)

        • 3 C. shredded cheddar cheese

        • ¼ C. freshly grated parmesan cheese

        • ¼ C. chives, chopped

        • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

        • 1 bell pepper with a long stem that looks like a pumpkin

        • crackers, for serving

        Directions:

        Put the cheese puffs in a food processor and process until finely ground. Transfer to a shallow plate.

        Combine the softened cream cheese, cheddar cheese, chives, parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a large bowl and mix to combine.

        Mold the mixture into a ball, pressing the top of the ball with your hand to flatten it.

        With the flat side of your thumb, carve lines down the sides of the ball to resemble a pumpkin.

        Roll the cheese ball in the ground cheese puffs.

        Remove the entire bell pepper stem with a paring knife and put it on top of the cheeseball as the pumpkin stem. Seed and slice the bell pepper.

        Serve the cheeseball on a plate with crackers and slices of bell pepper. Enjoy!

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        Cauliflower Parmesan Crisps

        One Super Bowl year I was experimenting with some gluten-free options. My husband usually goes on a high-protein diet, (more keto than anything) right after the first of the year, and I needed an option for him that he could feel satisfied with while everyone else was eating chips. I initially doubled the recipe so he would have enough and not feel deprived during the day.

        Well, to my surprise, a few people dug into the crisps, and told the next person, who told the next and voila, they were gone in a flash! I was getting stink eye from my husband as everyone was eating his special treats, but everyone else was in heaven. As I remember it, he ended up having no choice but to break the diet regimen on that day! Good thing, everything else that he was going to say “no” to was too good to pass up. We had a great Super Bowl Sunday, and a pretty rough, “Manic Monday” trying to burn all of it off (LOL). I hope you love these as much as we do. Even my four-year old granddaughter loved them.

        Serves:

        6 – 8

        Total Time:

        20 minutes

        To Prepare

         Ingredients:

        • 3 lb. head of cauliflower (1 average head of cauliflower) or 2 bags fresh riced cauliflower

        • 3/4 C. fresh grated parmesan cheese

        • 1 tsp. garlic powder

        • 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced

        • Kosher salt (optional, to taste)

        Directions:

        Cut cauliflower florets off the stem.

        Tip: There are so many riced cauliflower options out in the stores. I love the Whole Foods organic riced cauliflower and you can even steam it right in the bag, which saves time and mess.

        Steam cauliflower florets until tender (10 to 15 minutes) or microwave the riced cauliflower per directions.

        Place steamed cauliflower florets in a food processor and pulse a few times until it looks like fine crumbs. (Make sure there are no chunks left.)

        Transfer cauliflower crumbs in a doubled cheese cloth or nut bag and squeeze out all the liquid. (You may have to let it cool a bit or it will be too hot for you to squeeze.)

        Place cauliflower in a mixing bowl and add the parmesan cheese, parsley, and garlic powder. Mix well, until it is all evenly incorporated. (Taste to see if you want to add salt. Parmesan cheese is quite salty, and you may feel like it’s enough salt.)

        Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat (a food-grade silicone liner, one of my favorite kitchen tools).

        Use a cookie scoop to scoop out cauliflower mixture. Press it into a ball with your hands and place it on the baking sheet. (I used #40 scoop.)

        Press down to flatten the cauliflower mixture into a thin disk, fixing the broken edges. The goal is for the disks to be only about 3 millimeters thin and 3 inches wide at the center.

        Repeat until you get about 12 pieces.

        Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until deep golden brown and crispy.

        Let the cauliflower crisps cool before taking them off the baking sheet. People go crazy for this. Enjoy!

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        My dear friend Karen from Chicago, now Scottsdale, shared this recipe with me before she left Chicago more than 26 years ago. Over the years the recipe morphed while in my hands. But like all recipes that are shared, when I make them, I always think of the person who shared it with me with such love in my heart.

         Tip: This is a great recipe to make on a moment’s notice for friends or family that drop in. I learned that to always have baguettes in the house, it is best to slice them and then freeze them. That way they are always available and ready to toast in the oven. In a moment’s notice you could substitute any cheese you have in the house. Keep dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes in a bag in your pantry. If you are out of fresh tomatoes at the time you can make them with just the sundried tomatoes. It works, trust me from experience. Enjoy!

        Serves:

        8

        Total Time:

        30 minutes

        To Prepare

         Ingredients:

        •  5 sundried tomato halves (not in oil)

        • C. lightly packed basil leaves cut in chiffonade

        • ½ C. olive oil

        • 1 loaf (12 oz.) baguette (French bread)

        • 6 pipe Italian plum tomatoes

        • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

        • 4 oz. smoked mozzarella, shredded

        • ½ C. pine nuts, toasted

        Directions:

        Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

        In a small bowl, soak the dried tomatoes in water for about 5 minutes. Drain, pat dry and mince.

        Combine all ingredients except the basil and ricotta in a large bowl. 

        Mince half of the chiffonade basil and add to the tomato mixture in large bowl. Add ¼ of a cup of the olive oil. Mix until well blended.  

        Cut the baguette diagonally about ½ inch thick. Brush both sides of bread with olive oil and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown.

        Toast the pine nuts in a dry hot skillet, until golden.

        Slather the top of the bread with ½ of the tomato mixture. Add ½ of the remaining basil, Italian tomatoes, vinegar, pine nuts and mozzarella to the sun-dried tomato mixture and spoon over the top of the bread. Sprinkle with the remaining basil. Eat and enjoy!

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        Signature Blackberry Basil Jam

        This one recipe is what turned on all my creative juices and got me hooked on bringing love into the kitchen. After years of cooking terribly and everyone making fun of me, this recipe inspired me. Over time, I morphed it into the current recipe, and it has become my signature dish. I serve it as an appetizer, always, whenever I entertain. I hope you enjoy it as much as everyone who walks into my home.

        Tip: The great news is that this recipe makes enough to freeze in small containers and if you use it as much as I do it will last more than a year and it is something you can throw together quickly as an appetizer. Enjoy!

        Serves:

        A years’ worth of appetizers when frozen in small Ziploc cups.

        Total Time:

        2 Hour

        To Prepare

        Directions:

        • 2 ½ C. sugar
        • 2 oz. Grand Marnier liqueur, or other orange flavored liqueur
        • 2 oz. fresh squeezed orange juice
        • 4 ½ C. (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
        • 8 C. frozen or fresh blackberries
        • 1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled cored and small diced
        • 1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
        • 1 medium lemon juiced
        • 2 to 5 Tbsp. pectin (as needed)

        Directions:

        Place the sugar and Grand Marnier in a non-metallic casserole, such as a Le Creuset.

        Slowly heat till the sugar and liqueur are thoroughly combined.  

        Add the defrosted blackberries and their juice along with the orange juice, lemon juice and basil into a blender and blend until smooth.

        Add the blackberry/basil mixture to the sugar mixture along with the Granny Smith apple, and lemon zest. Simmer about 45-50 minutes.

        If you feel the mixture has not thickened enough, to your taste, you can begin adding some pectin. The jam will continue to thicken as it cools.

        Tip: There is a great deal of pectin in Granny Smith apples which is why we use them in this recipe. Be sure to mash whatever apple chunks have not dissolved before cooling.

        Place the jam in 2 oz. airtight containers and freeze for future use. Enjoy on slices of French baguette with a slice of basil and some rich Spanish cheese or English Cheddar.

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