Homemade Tomato Paste

 

 

Homemade Tomato Paste

We use a lot of tomatoes in our house. A LOT (yes that’s totally a technical term) I love to garden (it’s calming and soothing to me, well not the dirt under the nails but everything else). I grow most of the tomatoes we use and/or supplement from the farmer’s market. In the summer time I honestly have more than I know what to do with. Since I HATE to waste any food with the excess we CAN (hello fresh tomatoes in December), make OVEN ROASTED TOMATOES and tomato paste.

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Spicy Caramel Sauce

Spicy Caramel Sauce

I like sauces. It’s true. Savory, salty, sweet a little heat. Doesn’t matter to me just bring on the sauce. I also like simple and it doesn’t get much simpler than this 4 ingredient Spicy Caramel Sauce. It’s savory sweet and has a little heat. Covering almost all of my bases. It takes less than 15 minutes and I’m betting you’ll find all kinds to drizzle this deliciousness on. My go to is ice cream. Preferably vanilla bean because it goes with everything that I feel like bringing to the ice cream party. It’s also great drizzled over cream puffs. I mean who doesn’t like cream puffs. Don’t tell me if you don’t. That would crush me.

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Chilled Spicy Tomato Soup Shots

 

Chilled Spicy Tomato Soup Shots

I’m an all year round soup girl. I love it in all it’s glorious forms. Clear, Creamy, Chowdery (is that even a category well it is now) and most definitely Chilled. While it’s not your usual run of the mill hot soup don’t let the cold nature of these stop you from giving these a go. They’re super refreshing, and perfect for sipping all summer long. If you can work a blender you can make this recipe.

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Spicy Grilled Tuna Steaks with Garden Salsa

Spicy Grilled Tuna Steaks
I hope you things HOT, besides the weather which here in North Cackalacky is already sweltering. Not that I should be surprised after 6 years of being here. What does surprise me is the bill. I’m thinking I should start a savings fund for said air conditioning bill. Sigh. We however are talking hot as in hot and spicy food. This week we’re partnering with TABASCO to bring you not one but FIVE hot and spicy recipes. An entire week of recipes dedicated to that little iconic bottle. You know the one. It’s pretty unmistakeably. That bottle has been gracing my family’s fridge for longer than I can remember. I’m betting it’s in most of yours too.

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El Diablo Cocktail

Diablo Cocktail
I’ve never been able to do shots (well unless they were of the jello variety). I just can’t. I have to sip them and well that’s just embarrassing (it’s okay I know it) so I avoid the inevitable mocking and bright red face by running away from them like they were the plague. Cocktails now are another story. I prefer those that pack a little punch and are on the fruity side. What can I say. I like them and especially those with tequila. Tequila kinda has a reputation of sorts. There are odes to it all across the airwaves. Kenny Chesney’s- “you and TEQUILA make me crazy” (it’s true) and Joe Nichols “tequila makes her clothes come off” (ehem not going there) are just a few of my favorites that reference that clear concoction.

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Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Preserves

Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Preserves 1

Jams, jelly or preserves? I’m a preserves kinda girl through and through. I like a little texture going on. Plus it’s less work. Truth. Strawberry is my preserve poison of choice. It’s what I gravitate to, well that and Fig Preserves, which is also the bomb diggity. Lately I’ve been on the strawberry rhubarb bandwagon. Adding the rhubarb to the mix adds another dimension, it takes it from casual sundress to cocktail dress but in the culinary sense. This preserve is giving my old favorite a run for it’s pole position in my pantry.

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DIY Outdoor Serving Tray

Outdoor Serving Tray

Now that the weather is warm we spend a lot of time on our deck, which is located directly off our kitchen and faces our backyard. We’re fortunate to have a decent size deck that houses our container garden, a sitting area plus a dining table with umbrella and chairs. When the weather permits, we like to enjoy our family meals on the deck as well as entertain in this space. The deck overlooks our backyard which is heavily wooded and I can pretend that I’m in a tree house. One that just so happens to have plumbing. I’m not really the camping type, have I mentioned that?

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Chewy Power Protein Bars

Chewy Power Protein Bars

My littles get out of school NEXT week. I’m having a hard enough time dealing with the fact that it’s already JUNE and on top of that it is the end of school year. Pass the wine. While I will enjoy the laid back slow mornings, because y’all know that I am not, nor will I ever be a morning person (my dream of owning a farm complete with a big green tractor is held up because of this and okay a big fat down payment as well) I’m dreading hearing the “I’m BORED” or “What’s there to eat” every two seconds. Maybe it’s just my kids? Time to start cranking out the homemade snacks.

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Get Your Garden Growing + {GIVEAWAY}

Miracle-Gro Gro-ables www.bellalimento.com
A few weeks ago we got our started our container using Miracle-Gro Gro-Ables. Gro-ables are seed pods that provide an ideal growing environment for your seed. Each ready-to-plant seed pod contains growing materials, plant food and a specially selected seed from one of 17 different varieties including basil, spinach, cilantro, dill, sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes and more. All you need to do is plant your seed, water and enjoy watching it grow into something greater. Easy right?

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Honeysuckle Watermelon Cocktail

Honeysuckle Watermelon Cooler

If you were to ask me to describe summer in a glass I would give you a sip of this cocktail. It screams summer. This cocktail reminds me of the spiked watermelon that we used to enjoy during our college days except now I can enjoy it in a glass. Because of course we’re way more refined. That’s it. We’ve also upped the ooh and ah factor by adding our  HOMEMADE HONEYSUCKLE SIMPLE SYRUP. You’re going to want to keep this handy all summer long. You’ll find yourself using this simple syrup in all types of summer sippers (that can be spiked or not.) Sweet tea flavored with Honeysuckle anyone?

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Honeysuckle Simple Syrup

Honeysuckle Simple Syrup

Work is getting harder and harder to focus on now that it’s SUNNY outside. Is anyone else having that problem? I believe I have a serious case of spring fever. By the time noon rolls around all I want to do is jump in my beetle, drop the top and go joy riding.  Back roads, cow pastures (“If I’m gonna hit a traffic jam, well it better be a tractor man”)  blue skies, hair in the wind equals happiness. Thank goodness I get good gas mileage because this is my most every afternoon lately. I also now am sporting quite the farmer’s tan. Be jealous. It’s hawt. LOL.

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Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet

Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet

One bite of this balsamic roasted strawberry and rhubarb sorbet and I think you’ll agree that your spring and summer just got a whole lot zesty and zippier. If you’ve never tried roasted strawberries I’m going to have to insist that you do (in the non pushiest way possible of course). If you have then you know how absolutely intoxicating the berries are when they’ve been hit with that low and slow heat.  I find that to be true of most things that go through the roasting process. In short, roasting rocks and you should and simply must try it.

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Coffee Caramel Creme Brulee

Coffee Caramel Creme Brulee
Creme Brulee is one of my half dozen go to desserts (and my second favorite all time dessert next to Tiramisu). There’s a reason it’s on my short go to list. Besides being spoon licking good, It’s EASY. Yes it may sound all fancy schmancy (despite it’s literal translation of burnt cream) but it doesn’t require any special equipment. You of course CAN use a blow torch which is fun and all but you honestly don’t have to have one. You can use your broiler in a pinch.

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Coffee Granitas

Coffee Granita www.bellalimento.com

I think spring made a guest appearance and then summer blazed in and sent her two stepping. Blazing as in it’s already been in the 90′s in my neck of the Southern woods.  Which means, if there isn’t rain coming down, my rag top is down, shades are on and my crazy convertible hair (how do “those” girls keep perfect convertible hair anyway?) is flying all over the place. When I get home I’m always looking for something COLD to enjoy. Like a granita. A caffeinated coffee granita tops that list. What’a granita you ask? It’s pretty much an adult version of a sno-cone.  They’re super easy to make and that gives you an excuse (as if we need one) to enjoy coffee without the heat.

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Burrata Caramelized Onion and Prosciutto Pizza

Burrata Prosciutto and Carmelized Onion Pizza www.bellalimento.com

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of going on a media trip to Vidalia, Georgia. Being a Georgia Peach myself I was naturally over the moon excited about seeing these sweet spheres in their natural habitat. One of the things I love about my job is visiting farms, getting to know the actual farmers and seeing how much love and attention goes into growing, harvesting and packaging the food that ends up in our grocery bags and on our kitchen tables (or breakfast bar because yeah sometimes the table is covered in photography equipment. It happens).

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Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

Spinach Shroom Lasagna

I kinda have a thing with lasagna. Not going to lie. I love it. It’s a classic and there’s a reason things become classics. They’re GOOD. Alright better than good. They’re G-R-E-A-T. Now Tony Tiger is swimming around in my my head and I’m sure in yours as well. You’re welcome. I make my Lasagna alla Bolognese in the fall and winter. It’s heavy, rich and begs to be made during colder weather when I need to be warmed up from my head to my toes. That doesn’t mean I don’t crave lasagna in the warmer months. I do. I just go a little different route.

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Strozzapreti with Burrata and Broccolini

Pasta with Burrata and Brocolini www.bellalimento.com

I honestly can not fathom how anyone could ever get bored with pasta. Ever. The possibilities are endless. ENDLESS. Take this dish for instance, it was one of my clean out the fridge dinners. I picked up some gorgeous broccolini and burrata from Trader Joe’s earlier this week (when I was on my monthly gourmet jelly bean run – have you had them? oh my GAWsh) and cherry tomatoes from my local farm stands (which I do until my garden starts pumping them out, come on garden!).  I knew those would make an excellent quick and healthy dinner so off to the dinner races we went.

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Coconut Crusted Chicken with Pineapple Jalapeno Salsa

Coconut Crusted Chicken www.bellalimento.com
My kids absolutely adore chicken tenders. They would eat them every day of the week if I would let them. Typically fried, chicken tenders although tasty (why are fried foods so good? Sigh.) aren’t the healthiest. We’ve hacked that traditional fried recipe and turned it into a healthier BAKED gluten free version that’s turned into a family favorite. We’re thinking it’s going to be one of your favorites as well. Yes we hacked a recipe. What the heck is a What the Hack? We’ve teamed up with Udi’s to share about their Udi’s Hackathon Challenge.

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Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Berry Compote

Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Berry Compote www.bellalimento.com

If you’re looking for a summer stunner to complete your meal (or just because you’re craving dessert) this is it. It’s a show stopper and best of all it doesn’t take too much effort to pull together. A Pavlova is simply a fancy name for a meringue based dessert. We’re not going to get into who came up with the dessert because well I don’t want to open that can of worms. Let’s just say thank you that it does exist and we can make and enjoy it. Okay.

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Front Door Decor

Front Door Decor www.bellalimento.com

It is finally spring! I can’t tell you how excited I am for sunshine, my garden and flowers! I’ve slowly been spring cleaning the inside of our house and now it’s time to focus on the outside. My front yard is let’s just say very natural. Our lot is extremely shady due to the amount of trees (practically a forest) we have. Trees mean lots of leaves to rake and limbs to pick up.  On top of the piles of leaves and limbs, we also many many LARGE rocks (boulder size) peppered throughout the front yard. I’m thinking they were too large to move when the lot was being graded and someone thought they looked good (read not me). Sadly because of the shade we don’t have a ton of grass in the front yard besides a small patch by the mailbox. Cutting down trees (to allow more sunshine) is expensive so we’re looking into other ways to add pops of color and improve our curb appeal.

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