Tomato Cucumber Salad with Feta

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If you like tart and tangy, savory and salty flavors, then this is a salad you may want to try! I decided to make this when my friend Greg gave me some cucumbers from his garden. You can’t go wrong combining cucumbers with tomatoes, but when you add in some feta cheese and Kalamata olives, that really gives this salad a special zing! The “dressing” in this salad is very simple…just some lemon juice and olive oil. So there are lots of healthy ingredients in this. If you don’t have cherry tomatoes, you can chop up larger tomatoes into chunks and that should work fine. If you have a garden, it’s a great way to use all those cucumbers and tomatoes you’re growing this summer!

TOMATO CUCUMBER SALAD WITH FETA by NancyC

Makes about 5 servings

  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese (about 1/4 lb.)
  • 2 small to medium cucumbers, diced into 1/2″ chunks (about 2 cups diced)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced (slice both the white onion part and green stems)
  • 1 cup pitted and sliced or halved Kalamata olives
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

In large bowl, toss the tomatoes with the thyme, salt, pepper, and feta cheese.

Add in the cucumber, green onions, and olives; toss with the tomato/feta cheese mixture, tossing everything together well (you can let this mixture sit at room temperature up to 1 hour before serving). Just before serving, add the lemon juice and olive oil and toss everything together well. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

I love using fresh veggies from the garden or farmer’s market in summer recipes! Are you growing any veggies this summer?

A Peaceful Heart

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Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength.

CORRIE TEN BOOM (1892-1983, Author of The Hiding Place)

“Don’t worry” is easy to say, but so hard to do…yet we really don’t need to worry, since God has everything under control and continues to take care of us. Praying you sense His peace in a special way this week!

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you…Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. JOHN 14:27 NKJV

Linked to Inspire Me Monday.

Blackberry Banana Bread

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It was just a matter of time before I made this Blackberry Banana Bread, since I love trying different banana bread recipes and blackberry season is in full swing! This recipe makes a nice, full loaf that is dense and moist and full of banana and blackberry flavor. It also has a rich buttery taste and the buttermilk gives it a great taste, too. I think this quick bread works best with fresh blackberries, but if you want to try using frozen, your baking time will be longer.

It’s getting a little hot to bake since we’re right in the middle of summer, but you can make this in the evening or early in the morning when it’s a little cooler. Hope you enjoy this bread!

BLACKBERRY BANANA BREAD by NancyC, adapted from Betty Crocker

Makes one 9 x 5″ loaf

  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups fresh blackberries (if your berries are big, use 1 3/4 cups)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan; set aside.

In large bowl, mix sugar, butter, eggs, bananas, and buttermilk until well blended.

Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt and mix just until moistened. Gently fold in blackberries, distributing evenly in batter.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 62 to 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 to 10 minutes, them remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

You can wrap and store the bread at room temp up to 4 days or refrigerate up to 10 days.

I’ve been having fun trying a variety of blackberry recipes–have you been doing much baking with berries?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday.

Blackberry Peach Smoothie

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It’s been so hot the last few days, a smoothie sounded like the perfect thing to make! I like this recipe because it also has a peach in it–blackberries and peaches are such great summer fruits, so what a great idea to use them together in a smoothie! I found this recipe at Clean and Scentsible. If you don’t have blackberries, you can use blueberries or raspberries. Use your berries frozen–it makes the smoothie thicker, not to mention really cool and refreshing!

BLACKBERRY PEACH SMOOTHIE by NancyC, adapted from Clean and Scentsible

Makes 16 ounces–enough for 2 small smoothies or 1 large smoothie

  • 1 cup frozen blackberries (or substitute blueberries or raspberries)
  • 1 peach, sliced (and pit removed–you can peel the peach if you want–I left the skin on; or, you can use canned peaches)
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 Tablespoon flaxseed or wheat germ
  • 2 to 3 ice cubes
  • 1/2 Tablespoon honey (optional)

Add all ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

This really tastes great on a hot summer day! What kinds of cooling summer beverages have you been making?

Blackberry Gingerbread Muffins

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Usually I think of making gingerbread during the winter holidays, but here’s a summerized version in muffin form! Fresh blackberries make these muffins moist and of course the ginger and molasses give these muffins that great gingerbread taste. I had clipped this recipe from an old issue of Victoria magazine and modified it slightly. The original recipe was supposed to have made 18 muffins; I added in extra blackberries, and came up with 24 to 26 muffins, or 24 muffins and 1 mini-loaf. Making the mini-loaf works out great because you can bake it right along with your muffins–it will just need about 5 to 10 minutes extra baking time.

I also added a creamy glaze with a blackberry on top, because without any glaze or garnish these flat-topped muffins look quite plain. In other words, they are not the prettiest-looking muffins without anything on top. But they do taste great plain, so if you don’t mind them looking that way, you can skip the glaze.

I never would have thought of combining blackberries and gingerbread on my own, but I liked it alot! If you like gingerbread, you’ll have to try this out!

BLACKBERRY GINGERBREAD MUFFINS by NancyC, adapted from Victoria Magazine

Makes 26 muffins (or 24 muffins and 1 mini loaf)

  • 3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups fresh blackberries

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line muffin pans with 24 paper liners; set aside. Grease and flour a mini-loaf pan; set aside.

In a medium bowl, blend together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice.

In a large bowl, cream softened butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add molasses, eggs (one at a time), and buttermilk and mix until everything is combined well.

Add the flour mixture all at once to the butter/molasses mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the berries and mix to distribute evenly in batter.

Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full, and put the rest of the batter in your mini-loaf pan. Bake muffins at 350˚F for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; your mini-loaf will need to bake about 5 to 10 minutes longer. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove and cool completely on wire rack.

If desired, drizzle muffins with glaze…

CREAMY GLAZE and BERRY GARNISH

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Half & Half (light cream)
  • 26 blackberries for garnish

In a small bowl, blend powdered sugar and Half & Half until smooth and creamy. Drizzle over cooled muffins and top each muffin with a blackberry in the center.

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A summery gingerbread is definitely a new thing for me! Have you tried any different twists on gingerbread?

Linked to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener.

Blackberry Scones

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Hope you are enjoying the last day of your holiday weekend! I haven’t touched my computer for several days and it sure has been nice to unplug for awhile! :) I haven’t done much cooking or baking this weekend either, but I did make another blackberry recipe with those blackberries I picked. I thought blackberry scones would be nice to try, and I actually tried a recipe out last week which did not turn out well at all! But I wasn’t quite ready to give up on blackberry scones, so this was my second attempt. And these scones turned out so much better! They are slightly sweet, moist, brimming with blackberries, and topped with a light creamy glaze…just the thing for a summer breakfast! You’ll need to use frozen blackberries (or freeze your fresh ones) so they won’t get all mushed up when you’re kneading the dough. The frozen blackberries will color the dough a little as you’re kneading it, but fortunately you only have to knead it a few times. If you don’t have blackberries, blueberries will work fine, too!

BLACKBERRY SCONES by NancyC, adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Makes 8 scones

  • 1/2 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 cup frozen blackberries

LIGHT CREAM GLAZE

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Half & Half (light cream)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, blend Greek yogurt and baking soda; set aside.

In another small bowl, blend together the egg and vanilla; set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the cold butter using a pastry blender until the butter is the size of small peas.

Stir together the yogurt/baking soda mixture and the egg/vanilla mixture; then add this mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Gently stir in the frozen blackberries.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead a few times, just until the dough comes together. Place the dough onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and pat into a round disk about 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick. Score into 8 wedges. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, or until the scones are golden brown and a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean or almost clean.

Cool scones for 15 minutes, then top with glaze. To make glaze, put 1 cup powdered sugar in a small bowl. Add 2 Tablespoons of Half & Half (light cream) and stir until well blended and creamy. Drizzle over cooled scones–drizzle on as much or as little glaze as you like–you probably won’t need to use all of it.

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These scones were probably the most noteworthy thing I made over the 4th of July weekend–did you make any special holiday treats?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday, Show and Share Party, Wow Us Wednesdays, Wonderful Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things.

Blackberry Buttermilk Cake

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I mentioned in my last post that I had been picking some blackberries this past week. And this is one of the recipes I made with them–Blackberry Buttermilk Cake. It’s a recipe I’ve had for awhile, clipped from a newspaper and kept … Continue reading

Shoepeg Corn Salad with Honey Dressing

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I was looking through some old recipes I’d clipped from magazines awhile ago and came across one for Shoepeg Salad. It sounded like a great side dish for summer. I found some other variations on this salad at different recipe sites and ended up making my … Continue reading

Blueberry Oat Banana Bread

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When blueberry season comes around, I love baking with those fresh berries! So I thought I’d try combining blueberries and bananas in a bread, and I also decided to add a little oatmeal–I thought oatmeal would give it a nice texture and … Continue reading

Veggie Chip Salad with Avocado

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Potato chips remind me of summertime–I guess it’s because they always seem to be at picnics and cookouts! I’m not a heavy potato chip eater, and maybe because of that, the last bag of chips I bought at the grocery store about … Continue reading

Scrambled Egg Biscuit Bowls

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If you’re looking for a hearty breakfast idea, maybe even for Father’s Day, here’s a recipe I made with the Perfect Bacon Bowl. I received two complimentary bowls to try out and I read about them beforehand in this Good Housekeeping review. It … Continue reading