Baked Feta With Tomatoes

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

I haven’t talked about our garden much this year, but gardens mean tomatoes. It’s a little early yet, but I want to get this one out there so you have everything ready to go as soon as tomato season starts to pick up. (Shhh, this is so good, we even sometimes make it with tasteless store-bought tomatoes!)


The Journey:

The ingredients seem too simple, somehow. I mean, it’s mostly feta, tomatoes, and a red onion. So what, you know? This is absolutely one of those where the sum is greater than its parts. Trust me on this! As good as those things sound, baked all together, they are better.

The feta doesn’t really melt, just gets soft and warm, and delicious…


The thing I like about this is that you can absolutely impress your guests with it as a fancy appetizer, or else just eat it as meal. Or eat it by yourself. A whole 8-ounces of feta, aaaaall to yourself.

Mmmmmm lovely, salty feta.


The Verdict:

It’s really simple to make, only takes one dish, and you don’t even need silverware to eat it. The crackers *are* your silverware. Edible silverware!


The Recipe:

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen (minus the olives!):

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 8- to 10-ounce block feta
  1. In a bowl, mix the tomatoes, olives, onion, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, oregano, olive oil and a few grinds of pepper.
  2. Heat oven to 400°F. Place the block of feta in the middle of your dish. Pile the tomato mixture on top of the feta. Bake for 15 minutes.
  3. The feta will not melt, just warm and soften. Garnish with parsley and serve with crackers; eat immediately. As it cools, the feta will firm up again. We found that the dish could be returned to the oven to soften it again. We did this with leftovers, too.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

Another catch up recipe post, but this one needed to be posted RIGHT AWAY so as not to miss strawberry season.

And you know what else is in season during strawberry season? Rhubarb.


The Journey:

Well, the journey starts with fresh-off-the-plant strawberries, naturally. Here, Oliver has one to get you started:


Rhubarb is one of my favorite things. Adding something a little sour in with the sweet just hits all the right tongue spots, you know?

When I was a kid, we had rhubarb growing between the shed and the fence, so we always had a good supply (until we tore down the shed and all the rhubarb died). There are lots of rhubarb recipes in my family, so I kind of thought everybody felt this way about rhubarb. As I get older, I find that many people just don’t know about the glory and majesty of rhubarb, including Sara. I have been working on her for years, but I think this recipe is the one that finally brought her to the dark side.


Oh, and if you’re new to rhubarb, don’t eat the leaves. I always heard they were poisonous, which is another plus for rhubarb. I like to live dangerously.

(Seriously though, is it poisonous? Because now that I think about it, that sounds like some B.S. that was told to me as a kid to keep me from gnawing the rhubarb raw, like a garden pest, before we could harvest it.)

The Verdict:

Strawberries and rhubarb go together like peanut butter and jelly. Like…like sweet and sour. I mean, literally, like sweet and sour.

The only way this could be better is if you ate it warm, right out of the oven, with a little vanilla ice cream on top…


The Recipe:

  • 5 cups strawberries, cored and diced
  • 5 cups rhubarb, diced
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch


  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup oats
  • 2/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2/3 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 dashes, nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Put cut strawberries and rhubarb into a 9×13 glass pan. Mix in sugar and cornstarch.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, oats, nuts, and butter. Sprinkle on top of fruit.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm, with ice cream.

Balsamic Strawberry Jam

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

We make a lot of jam. I mean a LOOOOT of jam. Our pantry is stocked with apocalypse-preparation levels of jams, marmalades, curds, chutneys, and compotes. We have an average of about 5 open variety of jams in our fridge at any given time. Short of Frank Smuckers, there are not many people who have more jam on hand than us.

And none of those jams, none of them, are better than balsamic strawberry jam.


The Journey:

It all starts with the fresh strawberries, of course.

Although Sara does most of the canning, it is something of an “all hands on deck” situation. The kids do seem to honestly enjoy the fact that they get to help make the food (although, it’s possible they are just humoring me). Especially something as delicious as jam.


Now, I know what you’re thinking: balsamic vinegar in jam? That sounds absolutely disgusting. Why would I want to pollute something as simple and delicious as strawberries and sugar with balsamic vinegar?


But you do. Oh, how you do. I’m afraid you’re just going to have to take my word on it. I’m something of an expert, you know.


The Verdict:

Did I mention that there is no better jam? There is no better jam.

Use it on whatever you use jam on, but also try it drizzled on some vanilla ice cream. Heavenly.

Naturally, no recipe is complete without the secret ingredient: one photobomb.


The Recipe:

Recipe adapted from Farmish Momma:

  • 8 cups chopped strawberries
  • 3 cups turbinado sugar (white sugar would work too)
  • 5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  1. Put the strawberries, sugar and balsamic vinegar into a pot and cook on medium high.
  2. Mash the berries a little to get the juice out. Once it is boiling, lower to medium and let cook for about 25-30 minutes until it passes the freezing plate test (drop a little bit on a plate you had in the freezer and if it does not drip and gels up you are done).
  3. Process in whichever way you use to can preserves (might I recommend this excellent canning tutorial). Makes about 5 half-pints.

Peach Dutch Baby

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

Speaking of traditions, we have one around here called Pancake Sunday. As such, we are in constant search of new pancake recipes.

The Journey:

I mean, first off, peaches. Yummy, in-season, late summer peaches; I’m not quite as sure about October peaches. Unless you trust your peach-dealer implicitly, you might want to put this one in your back pocket for a bit (sorry I didn’t get this one out in a more timely fashion!)


A dutch baby is like making one big, enormous pancake. It’s German in origin, stemming from a corruption of deutsch. You pour everything in a cast-iron skillet and bake it like a cake (now that’s what I call a pancake!). Plus you get to say you’re eating a “dutch baby”, which the kids think is pretty hilarious.

peach skillet

Honestly, the only downside to pancake day is that you have to make all of the pancakes. Standing over a hot stove for an hour, flipping pancake after pancake…a dutch baby, though, just set it and forget it. WAY easier (though there are a lot fewer leftovers).

dutch baby

The Verdict:

This recipe is amazing. I have been intrigued by the idea of dutch babies for a long time, but I’ve tried a few recipes with “meh” results. This one, though…this one is solid gold. Delicious, juicy, golden peach-gold.


The Recipe:

Recipe from FiveHeartHome.

  • 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • 2 cups peeled, sliced peaches (about 3 peaches)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, blend 2 tablespoons sugar with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Stir in peach slices and toss until evenly coated.
  3. Place butter in a 9 to 10-inch glass pie plate or ovenproof skillet. Place dish in oven for a couple of minutes until butter is melted. Use a potholder to remove dish from oven and swirl to evenly coat bottom with melted butter.
  4. Spread peach slices over butter in an even layer and return to oven to bake for 10 minutes.
  5. While peaches are baking, pour eggs, milk, flour, salt, vanilla, and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a blender. Blend on medium speed for 1 minute. Once peaches have baked, remove dish from oven with a potholder and slowly pour batter over peaches.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until pancake is golden brown and puffy. Allow to cool for a few minutes on a wire rack (it will significantly deflate) before dusting with powdered sugar, slicing, and serving warm.

Farmer’s Market Cherry Pie

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

We were just strolling through the farmer’s market, and this just kind of happened. We got almost all of the ingredients at the market; obviously the sweet cherries, but also the ice cream, and even the flour! It’s hard to beat pie, but it’s nearly impossible to beat homemade farmer’s market pie.

The Journey:

You know who makes a good cherry pitter? A 4 year old.


Cherry pie used to be my all time favorite pie. Now I’d probably say apple, but cherry pie still ranks up there. And you don’t get it nearly as often as apple.


I love our little farmer’s market. It’s not the biggest market, but it has everything you need (and it’s certainly the closest market). A couple of fruit and vegetable stands, chef demos, cheese, meat, eggs, bread, (flour!), crepes, and flowers. What more could you ask for? It’s so nice to see all the familiar faces, both the vendors who have been coming every week for years, and the neighbors you run into when you’re there.

We go every possible weekend that we can, and regret every weekend we can’t make.



The Verdict:

I know it’s almost a cliched debate at this point, but for my money you CAN NOT BEAT warm pie with vanilla ice cream. Don’t give me any of that cake nonsense. I mean, sure, cake is delicious. But moist, delicious, fruity, warm pie, with ice cream melting in your mouth?



The Recipe:

Whole Wheat Crust recipe from Whole Foods. I did get both a full bottom and top out of this recipe.

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons very cold butter
  1. Mix flour with salt in food processor.
  2. Add cold butter and pulse in food processor.
  3. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until dough forms into a ball. (It actually took me 3 1/2 tablespoons)
  4. Gather up and pat into a disc. Cover and refrigerate dough for 30 minutes before rolling out.
  5. When ready to use, roll dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 10-inch circle. (It was very crumbly at first; I had to work it with my hands for a bit until I could roll it.)
  6. Gently fold into quarters using a little flour as needed to prevent sticking. Place dough in pie plate and carefully unfold, fitting loosely and then pressing into place. Trim the edges and crimp for a decorative crust.

Pie filling recipe sort of derived from Food in Jars, but using directions from the Food Network.

  • 4 cups (1 quart) pitted sour cherries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place cherries in medium saucepan and place over heat. Cover. After the cherries lose considerable juice, which may take a few minutes, remove from heat.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch together. Pour this mixture into the hot cherries and mix well.
  4. Add the almond extract, if desired, and mix.
  5. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently. (~10 minutes maybe?)
  6. Remove from the heat and let cool. If the filling is too thick, add a little water, too thin, add a little more cornstarch.
  7. Prepare your crust. Divide in half. Roll out each piece large enough to fit into an 8 to 9-inch pan. Pour cooled cherry mixture into the crust. Place top crust on and crimp edges with a fork. Make a slit in the middle of the crust for steam to escape.
  8. Sprinkle with sugar.
  9. Bake for about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.