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Grilled Bruschetta Pizza; A Joy of Summer — July 27, 2020

Grilled Bruschetta Pizza; A Joy of Summer

“It’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine, it’s Summertime! Sweet Summertime!”  –Kenny Chesney

There are so many joys of summer: swimming in the pool,  digging your toes in the sand at the beach, swinging on a rope and dropping into a clear, cool lake, heading into the woods with your family in your RV, or family fun at an amusement park— there is so much to enjoy about summer!

One of my favorite joys of summer are the vegetables that are at their best in the warm summer months like summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn on the cob, and fresh herbs of all kinds. I love a good farmer’s market or the blessings of a neighbor’s good will and overly abundant garden for fresh vegetables.  In a pinch, even the grocery store gets better produce options in the summer!  I love to cook and the fresh summer ingredients certainly help me to make yummy, healthy summer eats. 

One of our favorite summer meals is Grilled Bruschetta Pizza.  This summer, we grew our own Cherry Tomato and basil plants specifically to make this recipe.  Thankfully, our plants did not disappoint!  We’ve also been blessed by our neighbor’s garden with an abundance of sweet heirloom cherry tomatoes of yellow, orange and red.  I’ve made a lot of Bruschetta and we are making the best pizza this girl and her guy can ask for. 

The colors of summer! Bruschetta ready to top the pizza crust.

If you like a flavorful, light summer dinner, Grilled Bruschetta Pizza is a great recipe to try.  It’s easy to make at home or take with you on an RV trip. 

The Star: What Tomatoes Work Best

While this summer, we have enjoyed the sweet Cherry tomatoes that we’ve grown, Roma tomatoes are a good option as well.  Use your favorite tomato but a sweet, fresh tomato variety makes this recipe a delight.  Tomatoes have a lot of liquid inside them when you cut them so I always squeeze the liquid and the seeds out and then chop them into small bites. 

The Co-star: Roasted Garlic

Depending on how you feel about garlic, you should know that when you roast it, it gets sweet and mild and it really shines in this recipe.  To start, I roast the garlic earlier in the day to allow it time to cook and cool so it’s ready when I’m ready to put the Bruschetta together.  To roast the garlic, peel away any loose layers of the garlic head skin.  Cut the top of the garlic bulb off to expose some of the cloves.  On a sheet of aluminum foil, sprinkle the cut garlic with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Lightly fold the foil around the garlic and place it into a 400 degree toaster oven or conventional oven for 45 minutes to one hour, depending on the size of the garlic bulb.  I always check it when I start to smell the garlic cooking, testing it with a fork.  The garlic should be fork tender.  Allow the garlic to cool completely and then pop the garlic out of the head and chop.  YUM!

Mixing up the types of tomatoes!

I recommend roasting two heads of garlic.  I find that, for us, one head is not enough for this recipe and while two heads might be too much, the remainder of the roasted garlic can be used in other recipes that you might use garlic in and it can be saved in your refrigerator for a few days for later use.   

The Supporting Cast: Pizza Crust

You should know that I struggle with yeast and dough.  As a result, I avoid any recipe with yeast.  If you are a Yeast Guru, then make your own crust!  (Lucky Duck!)  The cool thing is that you can make this part how you wish and the pizza crust options are up to you and the preferences of those you’re feeding!  We have used Naan, fresh pizza dough (from the pop-can in the biscuit section of the grocery store, cooked on the grill), and pre-made crusts of all kinds.  We like the crust to be thin and crispy so the Bruschetta becomes the star of the show. 

Bruschetta Pizza on the grill

Grilled Bruschetta Pizza

Ingredients

Sweet, fresh tomatoes like Roma or cherry tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1/2 Red Onion or Sweet Onion, finely diced

1-2 Roasted heads of garlic, chopped

1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh basil, julienned

Salt and pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Mozzarella, shredded or in chunks (whatever your preference).  Mozzarella is a mild but gooey melted cheese and doesn’t mask the other flavors.  It plays well within this recipe.

Pizza Crust of choice

How to make it

  1. Roast the garlic in advance so it is cooked and cooled when you are ready to assemble the Bruschetta-see tips above.
  2. Prep your ingredients.  Chop the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and julienne the basil and place in a bowl. 
  3. Drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle lightly with sale and pepper.
  5. Combine gently all ingredients with a spoon. 
  6. Shred or cube the cheese in tiny cubes. 
  7. Spoon the Bruschetta over the pizza crust and top with cheese.
  8. Carefully place pizza on a pre-heated grill on medium heat.  If you are working on a grill, cover.  Grill for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. 

Slice and enjoy!

My personal heaven with Angels singing!

This might be a great summer recipe but let me assure you that when we are deep in January with temperatures outside dipping below freezing and we are missing summer most, this is still a recipe I go to when I really miss the warmth of summer.  In the winter, the pizza can be placed on a cookie sheet and popped into the oven at 400 degrees until the cheese is melted and the pizza is hot.  It’s a great hint of summer just when you need one. 

I hope you enjoy this simple taste of summer, anytime of the year!

S’mores: 5 Versions of Your Favorite Childhood Treat You Need To Try This Summer — July 13, 2020

S’mores: 5 Versions of Your Favorite Childhood Treat You Need To Try This Summer

“Life is better when you add fresh air, a warm campfire, bright stars and s’mores.”  —Unknown

Whether you’ve had them as a Girl or Boy Scout, over a grill in your back yard or over a fire on a camping trip, a S’more is a marvelously simple and delectable treat!  I loved them as a child and still adore them as an adult and I hate the idea of hot coals in a grill or a roaring fire going to waste when there are S’mores of all kinds to be made and enjoyed.  

Never waste hot coals!

S’more are fun for kids of all ages and while the original version sparked my obsession, let me help you to think outside the box and make your next cookout dessert one that everyone will talk about!  To that end, I am dedicating an entire blog to the beloved and humble S’more and sharing with you several of the variations I have come to love.

The Original

S’mores as God intended!

The Original S’mores version is probably the one that hooked us all as kids. A roasted, fluffy marshmallow on a stick over an open, smoky fire, or over some red-hot charcoal left over from a grilled dinner and you have the star of the show. Sandwiching your marshmallow between two pieces of graham cracker and joined by a piece of a chocolate bar and Viola!  There you have it.  Simple, sweet, gooey, messy, and if you’re not licking your fingers when you’re done, you didn’t do it right!  Do it again! Practice will make perfect!

Fudge Striped Cookie S’mores

Easy Peasy!

This version of S’more can’t get any easier to make and is just as delicious. Roast your marshmallow and sandwich it between two fudge striped cookies. Yum!

Ritz Cracker S’mores

S’mores with Ritz Crackers! My favorite!

To me, there is nothing better than a salty-sweet combination and this version is my favorite. Roast your marshmallow and sandwich it between two Ritz Crackers.  With this option, I’ve used a chocolate bar and a peanut butter cup as my sources of sweet.  The peanut butter cup is delicious!  Salty, sweet, gooey! Yum. I make sure to have the supplies for this version on every camping trip we take!

S’mores Cones

Mission: to make S’mores cone

S’more cones is a fun adaptation of the classic s’more and great fun with family and friends. Set up a “buffet” of ice cream cones and any filling you can imagine to fill the cones and let the fun begin. Everyone builds their own!

To build your cones, you’ll need, well, cones.  We opted for sugar cones to experiment but highly recommend that you opt for a larger waffle cone so you have more room for your goodies! 

Start with a few mini marshmallows in the bottom of your cone. Then, layer in other fillings such as strawberries, raspberries, or bananas.  Make sure to mix in your chocolate too along with more marshmallows.  For the chocolate, consider chocolate chips, Rolos, or my favorite, peanut butter cups.  Other options can include a smear of peanut butter, or Nutella inside your cone as a base for your other goodies.

Peanut butter cup, banana, and marshmallows! Oh my!

My favorite combo was a peanut butter cup, banana, and marshmallows.  YUM!

Wrap your cones loosely in aluminum foil and place them over your hot coals.  It only takes a few minutes to melt your chocolate and marshmallows and warm your cone, which is what you’re after.  If your heat source is really hot, be careful not to leave it on too long or you will burn the cone.  

NOTE: With kids participating, adults should handle the hot wrapped cones and the goodies inside will be very hot so care should be taken when taking the first bite.    

S’mores dip

S’mores Dip. Great to share with friends! Photo by @orange.tree.square.

We tried S’mores dip for a July 4th treat and this option is definitely fun for a group. It’s also a great way to bring your s’mores into the house to enjoy at any time of the year.

Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 450 degrees.  Meanwhile, over a low flame on your cooktop, heat a small cast Iron skillet, melting 1/2 tablespoon of butter in the bottom and sides of the skillet.  When the butter is melted, turn off the heat.  I used enough mini chocolate bars to cover the bottom of the skillet but you can use chocolate chips if you prefer.  Top the chocolate with an even layer of mini marshmallows.  In the preheated oven, toast the dip for 5-6 minutes or until the marshmallows are toasted.  The marshmallow toast quickly so be sure to watch your dip carefully. Serve right away, placing the skilled on a trivet. Dip pretzels, crackers, or graham crackers into the dip and enjoy!

Note: Be sure kids know that the skillet will be very hot. It might be a good idea to spoon the S’mores goodness onto a plate if there is a concern.

There are endless combinations to the beloved S’more.  I plan to continue to experiment and hope to find more versions I can share with you in another blog soon!  I mean, this is the best research for a blog EVER!

If you have a favorite version you think I should try, oh yeah, and blog about, be sure to reach out!