Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tomato Pesto and Goat Cheese Tarts

Here's another recipe from our Friday Night Specials.  Even though I've made these delicious Tomato Pesto and Goat Cheese Tarts for Wonderfully Hubby after a long week of work, we also enjoy picnicking and find these tarts great to take along.  They're like little pizzas but with a whole lot more flavor!  This picture was taken at Pere Marquette State Park near Alton, Illinois.

Here's how I make them.

  • 1 package of Puff Pastries
  • 2 cups of yellow onions, sliced
  • Olive Oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3-4 tablespoons of white wine (whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 teaspoons of minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 jar of store-bought tomato pesto or bruschetta sauce.  (This is thicker than tomato sauce and has more flavor.)
  • 4 oz.  goat cheese
  • Parmesan cheese, shaved
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, julienned

Cut out the tarts from the puff pastry using a small round plate.

Place the circles on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Score a 1/4 inch border around each pastry and prick all over with a fork or knife to help the pastry puff evenly.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
Slice the onions and sauté them over low heat in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, until they are soft, caramelized and yummy!!  (about 15 -20 minutes)

Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine and they fresh thyme leaves and continue to cook another 10 minutes.

They will really reduce in volume.  But they will be delicious and your kitchen will smell so good!!

Spread 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons of the tomato pesto on each puff pastry round, add some of the onions,

 parmesan cheese and small dollops of goat cheese.

Bake the tarts for 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees F.  (Watch them so they don't get too brown.)

Add julienned fresh basil leaves and let tarts cool on a wire rack.
The puff pastry makes these so light and flaky!  They travel well at room temperature in a sealed plastic container ... or can be enjoyed fresh and warm!
What treats do you like to bring along on your picnics?
Linking to:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Zucchini Cake - Two Ways

We've been blessed with ample zucchini this summer.  We like frying and baking it but I wanted to save some of it to have when our garden was put to bed.  These two recipes are delicious to eat now as well as to freeze and enjoy this winter. 

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 3 cups grated zucchini
  • 3/4 chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan. (I also use 4x8 inch pans sometimes.)
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add the eggs, oil and applesauce and mix well. Fold in the nuts and zucchini until they are evenly distributed. Pour into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake completely before frosting with your favorite frosting.   (This is so moist, I don't use a frosting!)

Lemon-Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread


  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).  Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
  2. Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda.  Add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in zucchini, zest, juice and poppy seeds.  Spoon batter into greased and floured baking pans (4x8 inch is what I prefer). 
  3. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 C) for 40 - 45 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes, remove from pans to wire racks and cook completely.

We like both of these cakes or breads as a sweet breakfast as well as a dessert.  Of course, they also make a delicious pick-me-up snack in the middle of the day!  They freeze well when wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in a freezer zip lock bag.  I pull them out whenever I need a quick, tasty treat! 

Linking to:

Share Your Cup Thursday
Foodie Friday
Home Sweet Home
Fridays Unfolded

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

June and July 2014

I'm late with my monthly reviews.  June came and went; July has passed, as well.  This is an easy way to store and share my favorite photos and memories during the year.  It's a great and simple way to "scrapbook!"  So here are the highlights from these two months.

The Gardens

We've been quite blessed this summer with milder than normal temperatures and humidity for Missouri.  Both the vegetable garden and flower beds have really been loving it and so have I!



Tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and green beans, plus lots of herbs!

(Yes, that's a bowlful of basil in back waiting to be transformed into pesto!)

Lots of green beans turned into ...

... canned beans for winter!  (I'm up to 20 quarts and 16 pints so far.) 
Sweet corn from a generous neighbor!  The squirrels got most of ours.
Multi-tasking in the kitchen!  This has been my life the last two weeks of July!  Making marinara, canning beans, making zucchini relish, plus zucchini cakes and corn to freeze.  Oh, and let's not forget I got to pick it all first!! 
LOVE my vegetable garden!
I put several tables together over the last two months. 
Good Eats

 A luscious salad from my Salad Garden!
Lemon Cream Tart with Fresh Berries

Panzanella with Grilled Shrimp
Zucchini Relish
Tomato Pesto and Goat Cheese Tarts
 Delicious Calhoun County (Illinois) Peaches!!!
And grillin' outdoors!
Fun Times
We've had a fun June and July, as well!  Favorite Son was fortunate to work as a summer field sales intern for a major seed company in our area.  He and Wonderful Hubby have enjoyed playing golf and fishing together.  Precious Daughter has been home some, too.  She brought her boyfriend along one weekend to enjoy our local county fair.  My sister, cousin and I even visited her at her house one day.
Some special events
I hosted book club in June where we reviewed the book Bitter Brew
and then had an AB beer tasting!
We hosted our friends from our local bank again but had to bring the picnic inside due to rain.  We had a great time with everyone, though!!
Several friends and I visited a local winery and a plant nursery.  (Two of my favorite places!! )  :)
Chandler Hill Nursery
These three photos were from Wine Country Gardens,
a lovely event venue.
I bought these tall phlox at Frisella's Nursery
And they found a pretty home in my lily bed.
Wonderful Hubby and I spent a few days along the Great River Road near Grafton and Elsah, Illinois
We enjoyed great weather, beautiful scenery and relaxing time together!
A Few Extra Treats


What a wonderful summer it's been so far!  We're looking forward to an Awesome August; hope you are, too!
Thanks for visiting!