Living in the South, the humidity hangs heavy in the air until late in the year. Heck, we even had a pool day last weekend. While some other parts of the country are spotting their first snowflakes, here in Florida we're welcoming our first days of daytime temperatures under 75 degrees. While we are definitely not ready to break out the Winter coats, the trees have finally begun to shed their leaves, and cooler temperatures will be here before we know it. I welcome Fall and love everything about it: the crisp sweatshirt-and-jeans weather, the pumpkin spiced lattes returning to the coffee shops, the anticipation of the first bonfire of the year, and all the stick-to-your-ribs comfort food and steamy drinks that warm you up on a chilly night. One of the hot drinks that I like to make when Autumn finally arrives is this peanut butter hot chocolate. It's simple to prepare, sweet and creamy, and the perfect way to celebrate the arrival of my favorite time of year!
Are you a brussels sprout fan or a brussels sprout hater? I've found that most people are usually (emphatically) one or the other. Me? I love 'em. But (yes, there's a but), they have to be prepared the right way. If you do nothing but boil them, they're not so spectacular. A lot of people roast them, which gives them beautiful caramelization and a great depth of flavor. I think few people think to grill them. Even brussels sprout haters would love them when they're grilled! You can switch up the spices to suit your tastes, for those of you who are still skeptical. Give them a shot! You won't be disappointed.
I tried to grow tomatoes last year. Actually, it was a little kit for kids with basil, peppers and tomatoes. We planted the seeds in some containers on the front porch and watched them grow into some pretty pathetic little plants. We got a handful of basil, maybe three tomatoes and one pepper. It was pitiful, to say the least. Black thumb right here.
This year we decided to give gardening another go, but this time we went all out. Four 4 x 8 raised beds filled with rich compost was the beginning to a lush vegetable and herb garden with 10 foot tall tomato plants (I kid you not), eggplants the size of my head, and more squash than I could possibly know what to do with. Throw in some basil, oregano, parsley, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, and cucumbers and we were officially vegetable growing machines.
My basil from the previous year was long gone having not survived the winter, but our cherry tomato plant, with it's lankly limbs, was still hanging out on the porch looking, well . . . sad. I decided to give the little guy a shot in the raised beds and, holy moly, you wouldn't believe the transformation! What once only gave us a measly few tomatoes one season has produced hundreds of perfect sweet little beauties this summer. I paired the garden fresh tomatoes with some of the fresh basil we are also growing to make these super tasty and decadent eggs that exude the flavors of summer!
See the recipe when you keep reading.
One of my favorite treats to make for my daughter in the summertime is popsicles made from fresh fruit. There's something about the bright, vibrant colored, frozen goodness on a stick that seems to delight her sweet, little soul. Ah, to see the world through the eyes of a child.
I decided to put a little spin on these pretty strawberry pops due to the abundance of jalapeños growing in our garden. Never did I imagine that the two itty bitty plants my husband brought home from the store would turn into monster pepper-producing machines that are easily half my size. I seriously have jalapeños coming out my ears. So yeah, I've been trying to get creative with them.
I knew that removing the seeds and white membrane from the jalapeños would eliminate most of the heat from the spicy, little beauts and make them kid-friendly for my little lady. I had a feeling that the earthiness of the peppers would pair beautifully with the sweet, fresh strawberries and key lime juice I had in the fridge. I was right. The combination made delicious popsicles that were perfect for Mommy and the little one on this hot Summer day.
Keep reading for the recipe.
I love appetizers. Dips, finger foods, little bites of this and that. Yum, yum, and yum. A lot of times when we go out to eat, I'll even order off the appetizer menu for my meal. And if there's a sampler? Fuggedaboutit. That's all me.
If I'm going to be honest here, I think it's the appetizers that my sister-in-law puts out that make me love family get-togethers so much. Sure, I love seeing the family, but if you're a foodie like me, you know it's all about the food! Lucky for me, she makes enough to feed an army, so I just hang out around the appetizers and graze all night.
I'm thinking about making these tasty little tartlets to take with me the next time we get together. They would be the perfect addition to any appetizer spread. The sharpness of the parmesan pairs just right with the sweetness of the peppers, and there's just a little kick from the spices. Using prepared puff pastries saves time on prep and makes these tartlets delectable little bites that will be the talk of the party!