Bruschetta with Feta Cheese & Balsamic Glaze

“To make a great garden, one must have a great idea or a great opportunity”
Sir George Sitwell

Aaron & I were in Myrtle Beach last summer and visited a local restaurant where we ordered pizza & bruschetta. To my surprise it was served with feta cheese & a delicious balsamic glaze. The best part about it though was that Aaron loved it!! I could hardly get him to eat my ‘basic’ bruschetta, but he devoured this. So of course I decided to put my own spin on this for my sweet little guy to enjoy at home! 

Our Favorite Recipes

INGREDIENTS:

  • I loaf Italian bread unsliced
  • 6-8 large roma tomatoes diced, Heirlooms are the most flavorful!
  • 2 fresh garlic clove minced or 2 tsp jarred
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil + ¼ cup+
  • ½ cup fresh basil, snipped- Watch my video on how-to snip basil or any fresh herb in the video to the right
    OR 2 TBSP dried
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, snipped OR 1 TBSP dried
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1- 8 ounce container feta cheese crumbles
  • 1- 8.45 ounce bottle of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena glaze (I love the Kroger Private Selection brand).

With the garden bursting at the seams with ripe tomatoes, now is the perfect time to experiment with new recipes. Let me know if you have any tips for your bruschetta in the comments below!
Watch this video on how-to snip basil & other fresh herbs!

1. Combine in a medium sized bowl all ingredients EXCEPT feta cheese and balsamic glaze; mix well. Set in the fridge for 30 minutes.

2. While the tomato mixture is in the fridge, cut 6- 1” slices of Italian bread; use the ¼+ cup of olive oil and brush oil on both sides of each slice; place on a cookie sheet and toast bread on both sides under a broiler until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

3. Once bread is toasted, spoon tomato mixture evenly over bread; sprinkle 1 TBSP feta cheese on top of tomatoes; drizzle glaze over top.

Serve immediately with any pasta dish, chicken or fish dinner!

PRO TIP:  When snipping your fresh basil, bunch about 8 to 10 leaves, hold firming with your fingers and snip with kitchen shears. Also, be sure to only use the ripest tomatoes, and of course Heirlooms are best!

Added bonus tip: This recipe has been altered from the original in my cookbook. You can go to my blog at www.fordragonfliesandme.com to purchase my original cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats and Treats. The cookbook has almost 1000 recipes on almost 500 pages! Check out the Cookbook Testimonials while you’re there!

Decorative Garden Journal, Gardener’s First Aid Kit, Testing Old Seeds, Freezer Strawberry Jam & Yummy Heirloom Brushetta

“Flowers have spoken to me more than I can tell in written words.” Lydia M. Child

I often talk about my love for journaling and awhile back I talked about a Cookbook Journal I had made for my daughter Taylor.  Well, I also have created several Gardening Journals to show the progress of my gardens as the years go by.  It is fun to put the photo’s in along with magazine articles or pictures that inspired me to my newest creation.  As the years move forward seeing the growth and changes that naturally take place in a garden are both exciting and joyful.  This morning while I should have been busy harvesting, I just couldn’t resist taking a few moments to weed the Pergola garden and walkway… it is so relaxing for me… the cool morning with the light fog across the fields is so inviting as I prepare for the heat of the day.  Yesterday Taylor took the boys swimming and I had some quiet time… in my gardens… Well here we are at the end of June and I haven’t even given you a Strawberry Freezer Jam recipe… shame on me! Well they are still in season so here is my families favorite and if you were fortunate enough to be one of our Winter CSA members you got this in your shares… so here’s the not-so-secret recipe! Enjoy!

Tools and Materials that would be helpful in this endeavor: Ruler
Blank composition book
Scissors
Patterned paper
Glue stick
Bone folder or wallpaper squeegee
Craft knife
2-inch-wide self-adhesive linen tape- be sure the color matches your theme- can purchase at any craft store.

Customized Journal How-To
1. With a ruler, measure the front cover of a blank composition book. Adding 1/2 inch to all sides, measure and cut two pieces of decorative paper to size.

2. Apply a thin layer of glue to the front cover of the composition book including the spine. Lay a piece of decorative paper patterned or a photocopy of one that you have chosen side down on a work surface, and carefully center the book’s glued cover on the paper. Turn the book over, and use a bone folder or squeegee to smooth out any wrinkles; let dry. Carefully trim excess paper using a craft knife. Repeat process with book’s back cover.

3. Cut a piece of adhesive linen tape slightly longer than the book’s spine. Remove the tape backing, and carefully center the tape along the spine. Adhere the tape to the spine; use a bone folder to smooth out any wrinkles. Carefully trim excess tape using craft knife.
   

    As gardener’s we all should have a First Aid Kit handy in the potting shed or at least in the house.  Our garden’s have many hazards all there own and we should take precautions to be safe.  It harbors insects that bite, thorns that scratch, and other potential nuisances that may require simple first aid.
~ A basic kit should include the following: alcohol for cleaning wounds, triple anti-biotic ointment, cotton balls, bandages of all sizes, gauze and tape, Epsom salt for soaking, tweezers for thorns and splinters, organic insect repellent and sunscreen, anti-itch cream for stinging nettles and poison ivy, Benedryl, and of course some wonderful organic hand cream to sooth and soften your dry skin at the end of the day.
*Be sure that if anyone in your home has KNOWN allergies to bee stings you have an epee pen on hand at all times when out of doors.  Be sure to check with your physician for info on this.

Testing Old Seeds
Many of us are still planting and adding things into the garden.  We come across a spot that we are sure could fit one more thing in and decide to plant… what shall it be as we sort through all the leftover seeds? Or we may have some seeds that germinated spotty in the garden so we want to fill in and get a full row. Succession planting keeps us busy seeding and planting right through into late fall. With this in mind you will want to be sure your seeds are viable~ especially if saved over from last year.  I save seeds for up to 3 years, some think that is foolish, but I always do a germination test  and I have not had many disappointments.  This sounds much harder than it is, but anyone with water, paper towel, plastic baggie and seeds can do it~ really!  Seeds saved can be worth sowing — but only if they pass this germination test:

* Fold 10 seeds in moist paper towel, place in resealable bag, mark with date put in and the date germination if viable should take place, as well as the type of seed.
*Be sure to read on the package instructions how many days the seed takes to germinate~ add a couple to be sure.
*After the ‘day’s to germination’ have safely passed by, open the paper towel to see how many of the seeds germinated. *Multiply that number by 10 to calculate the percent of germination. More than 70 percent is passing. If between 40 and 60 percent, sow thickly. Below 40 percent, it’s best to buy fresh seed.
~Be sure to keep any seed you want to save for next year in the freezer in air tight freezer bags or plastic containers.  Also be sure to label any packages that may be tattered or where the labels may be faded. 

 Cute Personalized Herb Pots… make cute gifts or are a wonderful addition clustered together on your window sill or table top.  Personalizing them is so super easy, yet adds such a flare to the simplest pot!   Individually, they’re portable and easy to handle: Bring the basil indoors, for example, when making pesto, instead of stooping in the garden. When you plant the herbs, label the rims with a permanent felt-tip marker, and use these pots year after year!

Strawberries, strawberries… oh yummy strawberries!  Here is our families favorite Strawberry Freezer Jam recipe.  This is one of the few jams I don’t can… Strawberry Jam frozen is like eating them fresh picked~ there is no comparison with canned!
Strawberry Freezer Jam3/4 cup pectin – equivalent to 6oz. (like sure-jel)
1 1/4 cup water
4 cups whole strawberries (1 quart container)
4 cups organic raw sugar
*Following the instructions, especially with the amount of sugar is crucial to have proper set up!  DON’T SKIMP ON THE SUGAR!!!!
1. De-stem berries and then crush berries in a bowl; add sugar and stir for 3 minutes until sugar is dissolved. Let stand for 10 minutes.
2.  Boil pectin and water for exactly one minute and 45 seconds!  Start timing when the mixture is at a rolling boil.
3. As soon as the time is up add the pectin mixture to the strawberry mixture slowly pouring in and continually stirring for 3 minutes to dissolve sugar completely!  It will be grainy if it is not stirred long enough.
4. Pour into either freezer containers or canning jars.  Leave 1 inch head space in either container.
5. Let set on your counter for 24 hours before freezing.
Super yummy!

Heirloom Tomatoes, fresh garlic and just picked basil… this all adds up to Brushetta at our home! Here is our families favorite recipe!
Brushetta
1 loaf Persian Bread from Sunflour Bakehaus or a loaf of fresh bread.
7-8 Roma tomatoes or 4 to 5 large ones, diced~from Garden Gate~ multi colored looks best!
2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. sea salt or earth salt
1/2 cup olive oil from The Olive Oil Store, plus extra for brushing on bread
1/2 cup fresh snipped basil leaves from Garden Gate
Fresh Parmesan Cheese
1. In a 2 quart bowl put chopped tomatoes; sprinkle salt over top. Let set for about 10 minutes.
2. In the mean time snip basil finely; add basil, minced garlic and 1/2 cup olive oil to tomatoes; stir gently as not to mash the tomatoes. Place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving so flavors blend.
3. Just before serving, cut bread into 2-3 inch wide pieces, then slice diagonally; lay on a cookie sheet and brush olive oil onto one side, flip over and brush oil on other side; place in oven under low broiler and toast until golden, about 1-2 minutes; flip and brown other side.
4. Top bread with brushetta topping; grate fresh Parmesan over top.  Serve immediately.

Happy Day,
Jean