Any of you out there grown your own cherry tomatoes? (Raises hand.) Do you also feel overwhelmed by the amount that are ripening right now? I can’t eat them plain or in salads fast enough, or give enough away to neighbors. If I see just one sad tomato on the ground, I feel like a failure. I need to make sure I get ALL of them. And eat ALL of them. It’s becoming impossible. SO. I had to get creative. Enough with eating tomatoes, mozz, and basil. We need to take it to another level. Enter in – caprese pull apart bread. It’s doughy, chewy, and surprisingly refreshing. Perfect for a party, side dish at a BBQ, or just an excuse to use up those tiny tomatoes.
2 cups flour
1 tsp dry active yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
Dash of salt
1 cups olive oil
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 cup cherry tomatoes, whole
1 cups olive oil
Dash of pepper
1/4 cup basil, chopped
2-3 cups shredded mozzarella
To make the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, and water, stirring until the yeast is dissolved. Let stand for 10 minutes until it becomes frothy. Mix in sugar, milk, butter, and salt. Using a dough hook (or by hand), slowly add in the flour until a dough forms and is no longer sticky. Roll 1 inch pieces of dough into little balls and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and grease a bread pan.
In another mixing bowl, combine the basil, olive oil and pepper (feel free to add a dash of salt). Next, take the little dough balls, roll them in the basil olive oil mixture and begin to line them on the bottom of the bread pan. After 1 layer, scatter the cherry tomatoes, and some of the shredded mozzarella. Repeat these steps until you reach the top of the pan, tucking in any remaining tomatoes. Bake for roughly 30 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown.
In an attempt to drag the summer out just a little longer, I tried making Jo Cooks’ corn dogs. They’re seriously out of this world. However, if you’re over the summer, don’t worry! They’re a great dish for football season too. (And you know how much we LOVE football…and food.) They’re super easy to make and will cost you less than buying the frozen ones at the store.
6 hot dogs, cut in half
12 lollipop sticks or wooden skewers (I was able to make them without the sticks, but feel to try them both ways)
Vegetable or canola oil for frying
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ cup to ¾ cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
In a large Dutch oven or sauce pan, pour the oil to a depth of 4 inches and heat to 350 degrees F. Slice each of the dogs in half and skewer on the sticks, (if you’re using the sticks, obviously).
In a bowl, combine all the batter ingredients and whisk. If you’re using sticks, I found it easier to pour the batter in a long glass. If not, a wide bowl will do. Dip each hot dog into the cornmeal batter to completely cover the hot dog. Carefully place the hot dogs into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 2 or 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels. I fried about 2 or 3 at a time. Repeat with remaining hot dogs and batter. Serve with ketchup (Heinz, duh) and/or mustard.
So apparently the Italians aren’t the only ones that do cheese sticks. One night when I was in Madrid last month, the kitchen was closed at this local bar and the owner said he would whip us up yummy Venezuelan tapas. (Tapas literally just mean small plates). So much to our surprise these tapas were pretty much the Latin version of a cheese stick that they served with this slap your mama good aioli. I swear we crushed them in under 5 minutes so ofcourse I had to come home and try & replicate them immediately.
Store bought string cheese (4 sticks since you will be cutting them in half for 8 servings. I say use a mozz and don’t get fancy with any Colby Jack)
Store bought garlic flavored crescent rolls (don’t do the regular, these are more buttery & flavorful)
Literally use the same method from the pizza roll ups, but just with the cheese and dough. Also make sure that the cheese is sealed in by the dough and nothing can ooze out when baking. The pizza roll ups were more free to form whereas in this recipe you want the cheese locked inside the dough. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 min. (until golden not brown). Let them cool for 3-5 min before serving.
Aioli (I think this is how its made, no clue since the guy barely spoke English, but it tasted like this so I cant be that far off)
1/4 cup of plain yogurt (don’t do greek, its too thick & tangy)
1 tbsp. of mayo
1 tbsp. of crushed garlic
1 shallot (dice it a bit so it breaks down easier in the processor or blender)
So if you are actually more of a grown up than me and maybe wanna swap out these recipes for a bridal or baby shower vs. a make-believe Easter bunny tea party, feel free to. I mean that is OBVIOUSLY not what they are intended for and are strictly meant for large hat, gloves, and pearl wearing occasions such as Easter Sunday. However, I will not judge you for using them for adult events in which Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s are served in place of tea & crumpets. Not that I have any clue what a crumpet is nor will I be showing any of you how to make one. Luckily, a lot of the essentials for this tea party you already have in your arsenal of recipes. Look back at the truffled crostini and the deviled eggs as a good place to start.Then build upon the fine tea party foods by adding the two finger sandwich recipes below:
2 tbsp. butter (unsalted)
1 tbsp. chopped chives
1 cucumber thinly sliced in rounds (word on the street is radishes are a great replacement ,but kids find it spicy so I left it as cucumbers, but a thought if you want to do half & half).
salt & pepper to taste
6 slices of bread cut into the same sized rounds as the cucumber (I used a brioche)
Mash together the salt, pepper, chives, & butter. Spread a thin later on the bread and place the cucumber slice on top. Smear the other bread before finishing the sandwiches. Serves enough for you, the Easter Bunny, a doll, and Mr. Teddy Bear. (or 4 adults if again, that’s something you are into, hanging with adults or real people for that matter).
2 tbsp. whipped cream cheese (or crème fraise)
1 tbsp. chopped dill
6 slices of bread cut into squares (I used a pumpernickel since it was darker than the brioche)
salt & pepper to taste
6 slices of bread cut into the same sized rounds as the cucumber
*same methodology to “construct” as above.
Finally, offer an assortment of teas. Not just hot, think iced tea as well! Fruit infused or even good old Arnold Palmers. Lastly, some store bought cookies would be a good way to finish off with something sweet. Enjoy a relaxing Sunday afternoon with your dolls & the Easter bunny or bridesmaids, whatever you see fit.