Two is better than one

Some things are just better in pairs. Shoes, for example. You always want to wear two shoes. Who wants to walk around with one shoe? And then what would you do with that one really dirty foot?

There’s other things too. Let’s make a list! I love lists!

<cough, cough> Nerd Alert! <cough, cough>

Anyway, back to that list. Here we go.

Things that are Better in Twos:

  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Helpings of birthday cake
  • Hugs from adorable nieces and nephews
  • Consecutive days off work
  • Scoops of ice cream
  • Reruns of Seinfeld
  • Glasses of really good red wine
  • Hits of the snooze button
  • Favorite songs on the radio

Things that are NOT Better in Twos:

  • Sharp sticks to the eye
  • Kicks in the pants
  • Fillings at the dentist
  • Paper cuts
  • Hours in traffic
  • Trips to the DMV
  • Reruns of Friends (Sorry, all. I didn’t like that show when it was on and I don’t like it now. Lower the torches and pitchforks, Angry Mob, please and thank you, not everybody likes the same things. I hope we can still be blog buddies πŸ˜‰ )

Yep. I think that about does it. That was some mighty fine list-making…what other lists can we make?

Let’s see…how about a list of possible lists. As if I couldn’t dork it up any more in here.

  • Bands I Hate and Always Will
  • Top 10 Ways to Make a Huge, Ridiculous Mess in the Kitchen Without Really Trying
  • TV Shows I’m Only Slightly Embarrassed to Admit I Watch But Not Really Because I Don’t Have Near the Amount of Shame I Should When it Comes to That Sort of Stuff
  • Bugs and other Creepy Things I’m Afraid Of
  • Childish Names my Husband and I Call Each Other
  • The Many True and Compelling Reasons Why My Sports Team is Better Than Your Sports Team Despite the Fact that My Sports Teams ALWAYS Lose.

Hold up! These other awesome lists are going to have to wait! I need to make an amendment to the first list. One other thing that’s better in twos:

Ways to use up delicious summer produce!

How could I forget that one? We gotta use this stuff up while we can. Hurry, I say! Hurry! Remember THIS? Yeah, that’s coming back. And soon. Summer’s sun-kissed bounty will be gone before you know it so doing up big in twos, threes, fours – that’s the only way to go.

Here in Iowa we’re just starting to see the few of the seasons best at the farmer’s markets and roadside stands: sweet corn (I’ve got big plans for sweet corn, so stay tuned for that) and tomatoes.

It took me until I was a bit older to enjoy tomatoes in their raw and natural form rather than just in ketchup form. πŸ˜‰Β  Now that I do, I can’t get enough. Bruschetta is one of my favorite ways to stuff them in my face in copious amounts. πŸ™‚ There’s just something about the combo of sweet, juicy tomatoes, garlic and basil, with that pungent kick of balsamic in the background that is one of my favorite things about summer. LOVE it.

Below, I present Bruschetta two ways – because Bruschetta, like so many other things, is just better that way. One is the classic. The one we’re all used to seeing – a fresh tomato mixture, piled high on crusty toasts of french baguette. The other takes all the bruschetta flavors, adds homemade sourdough croutons and leafy romaine lettuce and calls itself a salad. That’s right. It went there.

First, let’s look at the classic. Because some things are so simple they just don’t need to be messed with.

On a recent trip to my hometown, my mom had this Double Tomato Bruschetta recipe picked out and asked if I wanted to help her make it. Um, YES! Before we got to the chopping and dicing, we had to first completely change the recipe. Ha. We nixed the sun-dried tomatoes, decreased the amount of garlic (because there is such a thing as too much garlic) and ditched the top with cheese and bake step. It came out GREAT! My mom really loved the taste of the fresh basil, having not cooked with it much in the past. This particular recipe didn’t call for any onion at all, but feel free to add some if you like it that way.

Now, I think classic bruschetta is best enjoyed outside, around a patio table under the shade of an umbrella with something like this sweating in your hand:

It’s kind of small group food. When you’ve got your four best girls around the table with you drinking sangria and talking about everything and nothing at the same time, this bruschetta fits right in. But if you’re partying on a bigger scale, this recipe may be a bit impractical. Logistics wise, that is….

TOMATO BRUSCHETTA (Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • ο»Ώο»Ώο»Ώ6 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 french baguette

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. In a large bowl, combine the roma tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt, and pepper. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 10 minutes. (The longer it sits the better it tastes, so make ahead if you can!)
  3. Cut the baguette into 3/4-inch slices. On a baking sheet, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer. Bake 7 to 9 minutes, until slightly browned and toasted.
  4. Spoon tomato mixture on baguette slices and serve. Makes 12 servings.

****

So instead of an intimate gathering of girlfriends, let’s say you’re having a great big blow out BBQ type party with 30 of your besties and at least one pony keg. The kind of party where people eat for hours on end, filling their plates to dangerous, teetering levels as they make their way across your white living room carpet to the patio door to sit outside. The kind of party where people are so happy to be there and eating, they don’t even care THEY ARE ABOUT TO PUT POTATO SALAD AND LIME JELLO IN THEIR MOUTH IN THE SAME BITE! If that’s the case, you need something that’s a bit easier to serve.

With this bruschtta salad you can get everything together ahead of time (in fact, I recommend making the dressing the day before, I just find homemade dressing taste better when they’ve had a chance to mellow in the fridge for a while) and then just toss it together with a drink in one hand while your friends are pulling up in the driveway. The bread soaks up the dressing just enough to be amazing but not enough to be soggy. The fresh mozzarella adds a great creamy texture.Β  It really does mimic the taste of classic bruschetta.

It’s so easy, it’s so delicious and you can set it, forget it and actually spend time with your guests as they compliment your awesome spread. πŸ˜‰

BRUSCHETTA SALAD (Recipe Source: The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen)

My tomatoes kind of sank to the bottom after tossing. πŸ™‚

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups cubed sourdough bread
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed through a press
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (about 4 medium)
  • 1 cup diced fresh mozzarella (4 ounces; half inch dice)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread bread on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake until just crisp on the outside – about 6 minutes. Remove from pan onto a wire rack to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, make the the dressing. Whisk together oil, vinegars, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Put lettuce, basil, tomatoes, mozzarella and bread in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and toss until everything is evenly coated. Serve immediately. Makes 6 main dish or 12 side dish servings.

ENJOY! πŸ™‚

****

And, finally, one last list. If you’re still here and reading…HI! Thanks for playing. πŸ™‚

The lovely and talented Branny at Branny Boils Over tagged me with a bit of a getting to know you challenge. It just happens to contain lists. What luck! My answers appear below. Thanks for the shout out Branny! πŸ™‚

1) What was on your To-Do list today:

  • Sweep the bathroom. Make the sheer amount of hair I pick up into a wig. πŸ˜‰
  • Wash some clothes.
  • Clean out the fridge. Free to a good home: a container with….something inside. It used to resemble food.
  • Eat a cupcake. That one was so easy I may do it twice.

2) 5 Snacks you enjoy:
I actually don’t do much snacking let’s see what I can come up with:

  • Apples. I eat an apple every day.
  • Yogurt
  • Caramel corn. I can’t keep it around or else I will eat it until I get sick!
  • Hummus
  • Chips and salsa

3) 5 Places you have lived:

  • A happy home on a great block in suburban chicago
  • A couple of assorted dorm rooms at the U of IL
  • “The Players Club” that’s what we called our college apartment.
  • An apartment with my then boyfriend (gasp!), now husband
  • Our current lovely home. πŸ™‚

4) What were you doing 5 years ago:

  • 5 years ago was my first full year out of college. I went crazy and followed my boyfriend to Iowa. I sold clothes in the Junior’s department in a department store. Thanks, college education! The boyfriend proposed! And we bought our home. I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since all that. Wow!

5) 5 things you would do if you were a Billionaire:

  • I’d start a writing group for girls. I’m not sure how, what kind or the logistics of the whole deal but I want to help girls discover and cultivate their talents.
  • Travel, of course. Maybe I’ll even leave the Midwest! How ’bout them apples!
  • I want to have my own bakery. But I don’t want to do any of the hard stuff like working 14 hours a day 6 days a week. I bet if I were a billionaire I could hook that up. πŸ˜‰
  • I’d help my family and friends realize their dreams too, whatever they may be!
  • Save a whole bunch. I can’t help it. It’s what I do.

Passing on this little challenge to a few other awesome bloggers I adore:

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2 Comments

Filed under appetizers, salads, veggies

2 responses to “Two is better than one

  1. Thanks for nominating me! I am making bruschetta tonight.

  2. Jen

    This post just cracked me up! I’d love you to continue posting ways for me to use up the summer produce!!

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