Mini Caprese Bites

Cutest.  Appetizer.  Ever.

Like I said last week, I'm on a tomato roll.  Lots of tomatoes around our house that need eating before they go bad.  That includes cherry tomatoes.  Coincidentally, I came across this recipe just a day before my mother gave me this:

Block o' cheese.  Fresh mozzarella cheese to be exact.  I would've been exited to receive said block o' cheese even if I hadn't just come across this recipe because it is delish on the homemade pizza the hubs and I might be found eating on any given Friday night.  I was especially excited, though, because I think these mini caprese bites are the cutest things ever.  I mean, an entire plate of them sitting out as an appetizer would almost be too cute to eat.  And they are super easy to make.  All you need is a knife and some toothpicks and voila.  Cutest appetizer ever.


1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
Fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste


Thread one basil leaf, 1 tomato half, 1 cube of cheese, and another tomato half onto a toothpick.  Place prepared toothpicks in a shallow dish.

Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Drizzle oil mixture over toothpicks.  Remove from shallow dish to get rid of any extra oil and vinegar.  Place onto serving dish and serve. 

(Recipe from

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

What does one do when one has this many tomatoes?

Naturally one makes a lot of recipes with tomatoes in them.  Tomato tarts.  Tomato sanwiches (on whole grain bread, of course).  Tomato sauce for homemade pizza.  Caprese salad.  I could go on and on. 

This recipe is perfect for your abundance of tomatoes.  Easy to make and versatile.  Good alone.

Good cut into strips for a salad.  Good tucked into a grilled cheese sandwich or on top of cheese toast.

They're almost like sundried tomatoes.  But not.  Give them a try and let me know your favorite way to eat tem.


Grapeseed or olive oil


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Slice tomatoes in half or, if tomatoes are larger, into thick slices. Drizzle with a tiny amount of grapeseed or olive oil. Bake at 300 for 2-3 hours, until edges begin to caramelize and most of the liquid is evaporated. They will not be as dry as sun-dried tomatoes, but nearly. Store airtight in the refrigerator, drizzling the top with more oil if you think they need it.

Greek Pasta

Someone asked me a few weeks ago what my go to recipes are.  It's nice to have go to recipes, don't you think?  Something for which you can be pretty sure you have all the ingredients in your pantry/refrigerator at any given time.  Because let's be honest, sometimes dinner inspiration is lacking and I find myself in a rut.  This recipe is one of those go to recipes that I like to make when I'm in a rut.  I don't make it so much that it becomes my rut, but I make it enough that it can be considered go to.  It's not fancy.  But it is good.  And easy.  As in, it doesn't take more than about 10 minutes to prepare.  You can make as much or as little as you want and if you make extra it's just as good for days to come.  I often make this recipe and save the leftovers for the next day or two for lunch. And it's good hot or cold. 

The best part?  I made it on a whim one night (when the hubs and I were in dire straits for a quick meal) so the ingredients aren't set in stone.  Pick the toppings you might like and enjoy.  Don't like olives?  Leave them out.  Don't like feta cheese?  Add parmesan cheese or goat cheese instead.  Craving a little meat?  Add some chicken.  It's a very forgiving recipe.  And I like forgiving.  Especially when I'm in a cooking rut.


Whole wheat pasta (I use whatever kind I have on hand -- penne, spaghetti, etc.)
Kalamata olives
Feta cheese (or any cheese of your preference)
Olive Oil
Grilled chicken (optional)


Cook pasta according to package instructions.  While pasta is cooking, sauta spinach for a couple of minutes so that it reduces just a bit (not too much).  Chop tomatoes and olives.  When pasta is done, drain it and put it in a mixing bowl.  Add spinach, tomatoes, olives, and cheese.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Stir and enjoy.  Top with chicken if desired.

Balsamic Glazed Tilapia

I asked the hubs, my number one taste tester, (via text message) what recipe I should blog about next, either some fish we had last week or a recipe I was going to make tonight (real foods nutella, recipe to follow in the weeks to come).  His response?  "Dude.  Stick with what you know is awesome.  That fish.  Your entry will be quick, too.  'I don't naturally care for fish.  I love variety.  We had this fish two nights in a row.  Nuff said.'"

I don't know if y'all think that's as funny as I do, but it made me laugh to think about a blog entry that said nothing but those four sentences followed by a recipe and some pictures of fish.  It especially made me laugh that he thought I should say "Nuff said."  Am I the only one who laughs at her husband/thinks it's cute when he tries so hard to be helpful?

He's right, though.  I don't naturally like fish.  I'm teaching myself to like it because of the myriad of health benefits.  (Like when I was little and my mother made me eat things I didn't like.  You'll learn to like it, she said.  99.9% of the time she was right.)  I do love variety, as opposed to the hubs who has a very addictive personality.  And we did have this fish two nights in a row.  And I don't mean leftovers.  I mean I made it two nights in a row.  It's that good.  Soooooo, I guess this is where I should say it. 

Nuff said.


1.5 pounds fresh tilapia (not farm raised)
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 Tablespoon honey
2 cloves garlic


In a zip lock bag, combine marinade ingredients (everything except the fish).  Shake the bag carefully to mix the ingredients.  Rinse fish and pat dry. Place fish in zip lock bag, covering the fish completely with the marinade, and let stand 10 minutes. 

Turn the oven to broil. Remove fish from zip lock bag, reserving marinade.  Place fillets down on well oiled foil on a broiler pan.  If you're like me and don't have a broiler pan, don't worry!  I put a wire rack normally used for cooling cookies on top of a cookie sheet and covered it in foil.  Like this:

Place in oven at least three inches from the top of the oven.  Cook 5 minutes and then carefully lower the pan to the next rack and cook another 4  minutes.

While fish is cooking, place marinade in small saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce liquid for 5 minutes. Transfer broiled fish to serving dish and top with reduced marinade.

(Recipe adapted from


Here is our menu for this week.  I hope it helps you plan yours!

Monday: pasta with roasted zucchini, almonds, and basil and steamed broccoli
Tuesday: goat cheese and chive souffle and roasted asparagus
Wednesday: creamy chicken with biscuits and sesame carrot chips
Thursday: tomato pesto grilled cheese and spinach salad
Friday: spaghetti and spinach salad (made with leftovers)

Butternut Squash Soup

This week has been our first foray into Fall weather here in Nashville.  Cooler temperatures.  Gray skies.  Rain.  All in all, kind of a depressing week (except that I got to eat butternut squash soup all week, but more on that later).  I was talking to a friend yesterday, a friend who hates cold weather, and she said she loves Spring because even when it's cooler it reminds her that Winter is behind us but she hates Fall because the cool days remind of her of what is to come.  I actually like Fall and Spring.  I love Spring because, well, let's be honest, who doesn't love Spring?  It's a nice break from the cold weather and heaven forbid, snow (I live in the South for a reason!), and the days are finally long again!  I love Fall for three reasons: 

College football (hotty toddy!)

photo from here

 Knee boots*

photo from here

And soup. 

Three things I can't live without.

*Speaking of knee boots, check out my new favorite blog, a blog "where we help each other decide what is in and what is out." So when you drop the inevitable pounds after switching to a real foods diet, you can go to this blog when deciding how to revamp your now-too-big wardrobe.

But I digress.  Growing up I never thought I'd say I couldn't live without soup.  We ate soup a LOT.  Can you blame my mother?  She was feeding a family of seven so soup was the perfect meal -- filling, cheap (for the most part), and freezable so easy preparation later.  So she made, and we ate, lots of soup.  I promised myself I'd never eat soup when I left for college.  And while I was in college, I probably didn't eat any soup at all.  But now the inevitable is happening: I'm turning into my mother.  (And I'm so glad I am.  I can't think of anyone better to turn into!)  I can't get enough soup.  I love to make a big pot of soup at the beginning of the week and then eat it the leftovers throughout the week.  This soup is perfect because it makes a lot, it is delicious, and it's good cold or hot.  I took it for lunch every day this week and didn't even have to re-heat it.  I always look for food I don't have to heat up because all we have is a microwave, and I avoid microwaves like the plague.  They zap all viable nutrients from our food.  No good.

Oh my word.  I digress again. Back to this soup.  My sister sent me the recipe a few months ago.  She has six children so she, too, has turned into my mother and is always looking for good, affordable, and healthy recipes to feed her family.  She said this recipe was "truly delish," and while I believed her, I just wasn't ready for soup back in June.  But now it's September.  And I'm ready for soup.  This butternut squash soup was the first soup I made of the season.  And if it's any indication of meals to come this Fall and Winter, I am v. v. excited.  My sister was right.  It really is truly delish.


Two butternut squash 
One regular baking potato
One onion
Whatever spices you like -- I just used salt and pepper but my sister usually does Tony Chachere's and salt and pepper because she likes spicy food (I do not like spicy food, much to the hubs' chagrin).

Optional: one can of coconut milk for a Thai flavor, crumbled bacon, sauteed shrimp or crab meat for a fancier, more complete meal.


Peel the butternut squash.  Peeling it isn't hard, but likely your vegetable peeler won't do the trick because the skin is pretty thick.  After you've peeled it, spoon out the seeds and chop the squash.

Chop remaining ingredients and add all ingredients to a stock pot. 

Boil in chicken broth (and can of coconut milk if desired).  You can see in the above picture that I didn't cover my vegetables completely because I wanted a creamier soup.  But if you want a thinner soup, use more chicken broth.

Puree with immersion blender or in a food processor.  Serve hot or cold.  Serve as an entree plain or topped with bacon, shrimp, or crab meat or as an adorable appetizer, like this:

Tomato Pesto Grilled Cheese

I have more tomatoes than I know what to do with, thanks to my CSA.  Red tomatoes?  Check.  Green tomatoes? Check.  Yellow tomatoes?  Check.  Conveniently, grilled cheese with tomato is one of my favorite sandwiches.  My mother made this recipe a couple of months ago and it's pretty much the perfect solution to my too many tomatoes problem.  Artisan bread, pesto, tomatoes, mozzarella.  Less than four ingredients.  Gourmet grilled (kind of) cheese sandwich.

What exactly do I mean by artisan bread?  When I think artisan bread I think something along these lines:

photo from here

Artisan bread is pretty much what its name suggests: "art" in bread, bread that is crafted, rather than mass produced. Special attention is typically given to ingredients, process, and a return to the fundamentals of the age-old bread-making tradition make artisan bread different from soft, preservative-laden commercial breads.  And as you know, here at snacksanddesserts, we don't eat preservatives so artisan bread is right up our alley.  Find a local bakery or a Great Harvest, or perhaps even make your own.  I think this sandwich would be delish on sourdough.


Artisan bread
Heirloom tomatoes, peeled and sliced thickly*
Mozzarella (or cheese of your preference)

Preheat oven on Broil.  Spread pesto on bread. 

Top with tomatoes.

And cheese. 

Run under broiler until cheese melts.

Top with basil, if desired, for a prettier presentation.

*Note: I always always peel my tomatoes. I blame my mother for spoiling me by peeling our tomatoes! I used to think it was a big fat pain to peel tomatoes until I discovered this method. So easy. Cut an "x" on the bottom of each tomato you want peeled.

Bring enough water to cover tomatoes to a boil. Drop the tomatoes in the boiling water for 30 - 60 seconds, just long enough to heat up the skin. Remove and put in a bowl of ice water (so it doesn't cook). The skin will probably break, but if not, it will have curled up a bit where you cut the "x." 

With a knife pull up on the skin. Voila. The skin will slide right off the entire tomato.

Vodka-Rapsberry/Thyme Lemonade

I've mentioned before that birthdays are kind of a big deal in my family, right?  Well, yesterday was Labor Day (hooray for a day off of work!), and we used the day off to have a belated celebration for my sister's birthday.  What a fun, fun night.  Family, close friends, and, of course, a specialty drink for the adults.  My sister (not the birthday girl) found a recipe for Vodka-Thyme Lemonade (who needs Country Time when you can have Vodka Thyme!), and we decided it would a perfect addish to the festivities.  My sister made it even more special by garnishing it with fresh raspberries.  Beautiful and delicious.  Almost too pretty to drink.  Almost.

As an aside, I pretty much avoid sugar at all costs and instead opt for honey or maple syrup when I need sweetener.  But on the rare special occasion, I'll indulge.  In those instances, though, I still opt for raw, organic sugar.  In this recipe, my sister replaced sugar with organic evaporated cane juice.  Evaporated cane juice is a healthier alternative to refined sugar. Both sweeteners are made from sugar cane, but evaporated cane juice doesn't involve the same degree of processing that refined sugar does. So unlike refined sugar, it retains more of the nutrients found in sugar cane.   Still, though, I'd reserve consumption of cane juice for special occasions (like a sister's birthday).  In fact, next time I make this recipe, I'll probably try honey and see how it works.  I think it would work fine since you melt everything into a liquid anyway, but the jury's still out.  If you try it with honey, let me know what you think.


2 cups organic evaporated cane juice
12 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 24 lemons
2 cups vodka
Fresh raspberries for garnish


In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups of water with cane juice and thyme.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Let cool to room temperature.  Pour mixture through a fine sieve into a large glass measuring cup.  Discard thyme. You should have 2 cups syrup. Cover with plastic and let chill in the refrigerator.

In a large serving pitcher, stir together lemon juice, vodka, and chilled syrup.  Divide evenly among eight glasses filled with ice.  Garnish with thyme sprigs and fresh raspberries.  Serve immediately.

(recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living, July 2003)


Our menu for this week. 

Monday: salmon and quinoa salad
Tuesday: baked macaroni and cheese and asparagus
Wednesday: baked potatoes with ricotta and tomatoes
Thurdsay: brupper
Friday: homemade pizza with whole wheat crust (recipe to come later) and spinach salad

Happy Labor Day!  I hope you get to enjoy a day off of work!

Zucchini Chips

We're still getting zucchini in our CSA, and I've been looking for new ways to cook it.  Don't get me wrong, the creamy pasta and zucchini is one of our favorite dishes, but sometimes I like to switch things up so I don't get sick of my favorites.  These zucchini chips are truly delicious.  And guilt free.  And I think even the pickiest eater would enjoy them regardless of the fact that they are, in fact, green.  So "fry" away and pretend you're back at the grease pit you frequented in college eating fried pickles. 

photo from here

Then take a moment to think about how much better you feel now than you you did then and be glad you're a healthier eater than you once were.  Enjoy this delicious counterpart to fried anything you ate in college. 


2 medium sized zucchinis
3 eggs 
1 ½ cups whole-wheat breadcrumbs*
½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish 
Grapeseed oil 
Salt and pepper to taste

* Typically, store-bought breadcrumbs contain a surprising amount of unpronouncable ingredients (i.e., preservatives). Although you might be able to find whole-wheat breadcrumbs at the grocery store, homemade breadcrumbs are simple to make, so I recommend you make your own. If you don't have homemade bread, buy whole grain bread. Leave a few pieces out overnight so they get stale (or toast them for a few minutes if you don't have time to leave them out overnight). Put them in your food processor and process until they are crumbs. Simple as that.  Freeze any unused breadcrumbs. 


Thinly slice zucchini into 1/8” round pieces.  Beat eggs in a shallow bowl.  Using a small food processor (or a mortar and pestle) process the breadcrumbs, grated cheese, and a couple dashes of salt & pepper together until fine. Put the breadcrumb mixture in a shallow bowl.  Pour a thin layer of grapeseed oil in the bottom of a sauté pan and turn the heat to medium.  Let it heat up while you start preparing the zucchini. 

Make an assembly line of the following: zucchini slices, beaten egg, breadcrumb mixture, and empty plate.  With one hand, coat a few of the zucchini slices with the egg and shake off the excess.  Drop those pieces on top of the breadcrumb mixture and using your other hand coat them with breadcrumbs.  Shake off the excess breadcrumbs and transfer the coated zucchini slices to the clean plate.  As soon as you have enough zucchini slices breaded to make a single layer across the bottom of the pan, place them in the oil to start cooking.

Meanwhile, start coating the next batch of zucchini.  Check the stove after 2 or 3 minutes to see if the bottom of the zucchini is turning golden brown.  Once they are brown flip them over and add more oil if necessary.  Once both sides are golden brown transfer them to a paper towel lined plate and keep warm.

Repeat process until all the zucchini are cooked.  Arrange them on a serving platter, garnish with Parmesan cheese, and enjoy!