irrelephant has captured one fab way to grab that last taste of summer with her Caprese Pasta Salad full of the freshest ingredients in your garden.

 

Easy to make, and easy on the wallet, we couldn’t wait to dive in to this delish dish!

 

Please click here to visit irrelephant and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: To make a delicious and refreshing pasta salad with a few basic ingredients. Potato salad and chips get old, fast!

 

Details:

  • We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollabAny type of pasta works great. I used Penne because that is what I had on hand.
  • I planted an herb garden on the deck this year and I used a few handfuls of sweet basil for this recipe
  • Fresh mozzarella is always best
  • My hubby ate half of my grape tomatoes, so I had to cut mine in half to get more bang for my buck
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Balsamic vinegar although recipe calls for a dressing.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The recipe states to cool or chill the pasta 4-6 hours before adding the dressing. Yeah right! If any of you know me at all, I have zero patience for waiting. I rinsed my pasta off in cool water and then drained it thoroughly. Next, I popped it in the fridge for a few minutes before adding all the ingredients and dressing.

Pros:

So easy to make.

Cons:

None!!!

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

I was pleasantly surprised! This salad has such a light and yummy flavor and will definitely make this again with that yummy fresh mozzarella.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: Create a fresh and light pasta dish that would complement any BBQ cookout!

 

 

Details:

  • DSCN8222I stuck with Bow Tie pasta and used Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette. It has the perfect balance of tang and flavor.
  • For the cheese I used one of my favorites Bel Gioioso Fresh Mozzarella Pearls. I like to have these on hand for an impromptu mommy dinner complete with a nice glass of wine, some olives and crispy crackers (all while sitting in a dark closet where my children can’t find me).
  • The tomatoes and basil were harvested out of my deck garden. YUM and cheers to super fresh eats!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I definitely suggest testing your dressing to salad ratio before chilling. You hate to have a flavorless side!

Pros:

This salad is a cinch to throw together and a serious crowd pleaser. I had family over when I made this and they loved it.

Cons:

None. Not a single thing to complain about or be disappointed in with this dish.

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

This will now be in permanent rotation in our house. I can’t wait to get invited to a BBQ or potluck so I can serve this to friends!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: Perfect dish for a family get together!

 

Details:

  • I am not a huge pasta eater, but love the Bow Tie pasta!
  • Grabbed a handful of fresh basil then picked up a ball of fresh mozzarella and grape tomatoes.
  • Be sure to coat the pasta with the olive oil, I think this is what helps the pasta stay moist and soak up the dressing!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Buy fresh ingredients, it makes this salad taste so yummy!

Pros:

Easy and flavorful! Tastes great even the next day so perfect for leftovers!

Cons:

None!

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

Great for get together…I love this as a side dish or main course!  Throw in some grilled chicken or shrimp, or simply add-on the side as I did!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sheri

Mission: Caprese salad is one of our all-time summer favorites. I’m a huge fan of fresh mozzarella combined with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette. When I saw this recipe I instantly knew it would become a summer staple for cookouts with the family.

 

Details:

  • This was a very, very simple recipe with minimal ingredients. I started with getting my pasta water boiling. I used a whole wheat fusilli pasta because I was all out of my favorite Campanelle pasta.
  • I diced up the fresh mozzarella and I chose to split the grape tomatoes in half making them more bite-size. I sprinkled both with some black pepper.
  • I contemplated making my own balsamic vinaigrette but then decided to use my favorite  Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette.
  • I combined the ingredients, tossed, and then ribboned the basil leaves and put them in.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Use a serrated knife when cutting the mozzarella and tomatoes. It keeps the edges nice and clean and not all squished.

Salt your pasta water after it comes to a boil.

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Pros:

Freaking yummy and super easy, using minimal ingredients.

Cons:

Absolutely none!

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

This recipe of course was delicious. Everyone at the party enjoyed it. You can jazz it up a bit more too; I often like to add black olives or diced salami, both keeping with the Italian theme. So if you like the classic caprese salad, you will love this pasta salad. Quick, easy, and delizioso!

 

 We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab


The gorgeous
Caprese Pasta Salad and it’s photo by irrelephant


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The Curvy Carrot has shared a delicious recipe for Strawberry Bruschetta that looks as delicious as it is easy on the eyes!

Fresh ingredients like strawberries and basil, paired with rich goat cheese, balsamic vinegar and a crispy baguette! We had to try this one out!

 

Please click here to visit The Curvy Carrot and see the recipe that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Amanda

Mission: Create a unique appetizer that is still family friendly.

 
 

Details:

  • I didn’t have a French baguette so I opted for cutting a couple of Ciabatta Rolls instead.
  • I also opted to leave the cracked pepper off in hopes that my family would actually try it. This was a smart move but when I make it again I will add the pepper. It would bring a nice bite to the dish.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Dice the strawberries small – per the instructions. It makes it easier to eat them. Also, let the balsamic and olive oil sit on the bread, cheese and topping before consuming.

Pros:

Pretty and SO tasty! It is a lovely combination of sweet and savory. Perfect pairing with wine!

Cons:

There really are none. I personally loved this dish and plan to make it again for people who can appreciate it as much as me (my family was as excited as I was about the dish but mainly that was because we had a LOT of food in addition to the appetizers on our table to consume).

Conclusion:

This is a fun way to bring sweet and savory together in one dish. Perfect for a dinner party and ideal for a night of wine and snacks. I will definitely be making this one again!
 
 

Reviewer #2 – Sheri

Mission: At first glance on Pinterest these things look delectable. A sweet take on the traditional bruschetta. I clicked on a gorgeous pin that initially to me to a fantastic food blog called Annie’s Eats.

The recipe itself looked simple, but to be honest it didn’t sound as delectable as I originally thought. Black pepper, olive oil, and basil with strawberries!? Let’s just say my husband and parents were giving me strange looks as I was preparing it.

Details:

  • First I sliced up a cup of strawberries and coated them with a tablespoon of sugar.
  • While I let the strawberries stand in the sugar I sliced the baguette.
  • Then it was assembly time. I spread the goat cheese on the baguette and then applied the strawberries and sprinkled them with some fresh ribbon-cut basil.
  • Lastly, it was time to drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over them and finish it off with some fresh ground black pepper.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Tips I am going to use the next time I make these:

a.)   Toast the baguettes a little. Spreading the goat cheese on soft bread was tough and I think a little bit of crunch might make them a little better.

b.)   Be cautious when “drizzling” the balsamic vinegar. I ended up dousing a few.

Pros:

They’re fast. They’re pretty. They taste surprisingly great.

Cons:

Trying to get someone to try them.

Conclusion:

As previously stated, these little appetizers looked fabulous but after reading the recipe I got a little bit nervous. My husband and parents were good sports and tried them…then we devoured the entire plate. They were fantastic.

The sugary strawberries were paired nicely with the balsamic vinegar, tangy goat cheese, and even the basil and ground black pepper. So yes, they are as good as they look and easy to assembly to boot.
 
 

Reviewer #3 – Sarah

Mission:  To try out this yummy sounding summer appetizer.

 

Details:

  • Baguette
  • Strawberries
  • Goat cheese
  • Basil
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic
  • Salt and pepper

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Pre-mix your olive oil and balsamic and just use a spoon to drizzle it over the strawberries on your bread/goat cheese mix.

Pros:

Easy and delicious.

Great way to use in-season fruits and herbs – I picked the basil fresh from my garden!

Awesome combination of savory and sweet.

Cons:

In my opinion, more of a gals-type appetizer. I don’t foresee many of the guys in my friends circle even giving this one a try.

Conclusion:

This appetizer was AMAZING! I was hosting for my book club (consisting of 10 gals) and made this as the appetizer and there were rave reviews! It was an easy one to prep and a delicious one to eat! And, on top of that – it is just beautiful to look at…great colors!

I’m pretty sure everyone at the book club requested this recipe.  I will be adding this one to my recipe box 🙂
 
 

Reviewer #4 – Mandy

Mission:  Find a unique twist on my usual garlic/tomato/basil bruschetta that I love to serve. It’s my “go-to” app.

 

Details:

  • I followed the recipe as written. It was super easy to follow and turned out fabulous!
  • I made the bruschetta again at a later date and forgot to drizzle the bruschetta with balsamic. It was good, but not as full-flavored as the first go-around.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Don’t skip or forget any of the ingredients as I explained above.

It helps to “fan” the strawberry slices on the bread. Helps with the messy eating.

Pros:

Pretty easy. As long as you have access to the ingredients, you’ll be fine.  I was in my hometown (a smaller town) and it took a little bit of digging to find goat cheese. It’s Wisconsin… land of cow cheese, I guess.

So, so yummy!! Everyone that I had try it (even the picky eaters) loved it.

It’s also a little unique. People would typically think of a bruschetta to include tomatoes, basil, etc. This is a unique spin on it that is really good!

Cons:

There aren’t many… maybe it can get a little messy? Probably not a passed-type of appetizer.

Also, so good that you can’t stop eating… goat cheese calories galore!!

Conclusion:

Yum. Yum. Yum. I think this is such a great, easy appetizer that is unique and delicious.
 
 

Reviewer #5 – Maren

Mission: Try out a new twist on my favorite hors d’oeuvre!

 

Details:

I followed The Curvy Carrot’s recipe to a T!  I didn’t forget anything or screw anything up!  So proud.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

My baguettes were pretty dinky; a little tough to fit the strawberries on.  However, they were the perfect size to shove in your mouth.  Next time I think I’ll get the standard two-biter size.

I mixed my balsamic vinegar and olive oil together first, then spooned over the strawberry topping.  I felt like a genius.

I found that the vinegar made the bruschetta slices a little soggy, so next time, I would either bake the slices to make them crispier, or use a balsamic reduction… leaning towards the reduction option because I LOVE balsamic vinegar!

Lastly, don’t go too thin on the goat cheese.  It really adds to the flavor!  My mom agreed.  In reference to a few that were a little light on the cheese she said, “Well, they’re not knocking my socks off, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t keep shoving them in my face.”  Haaha!

Pros:

Totally amazing!  Such a unique and yummy combination of flavors.

Easy to make + easy on the eyes!

This recipe is easy enough to make any night of the week, guests or not!

Cons:

None – seriously, these were great.

Conclusion:

They are so pretty and easy to prepare – I cannot wait to make this the next time we have guests!  My mom, husband and I couldn’t eat enough of these suckers!   We practically licked the plate.  I will recommend this tasty dish for years to come.
 
 

The lovely shot of Strawberry Bruschetta taken by The Curvy Carrot


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Skinnytaste has whipped up a gorgeous Grilled Flank Steak with Tomatoes, Red Onion and Balsamic that is said to be easy to make and sure to please!

 

Please click here to visit Skinnytaste.com to see the recipe that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sarah

Mission:  Make a healthy, delicious dinner for my family.

 

Details:

  • Flank steak
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Basil
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic
  • Salt and pepper

Tips & Tricks Learned:

A little side of homemade mashed potatoes and some grilled baguette bread are great additions!

Pros:

Easy preparation!

Looks gourmet and tasted like something you would order at a restaurant.

Cons:

I honestly don’t have any cons for this dish. It was truly great!

Conclusion:

This was such an easy dinner to prepare, it looked gourmet and tasted AMAZING! Plus, the cost for this meal was very doable for our family of four. It was right around $20. And I even got to use some goodies from our vegetable garden, which is a win-win!

I will definitely be making this again – it has been added to the recipe box and my husband enjoyed it 🙂 I would highly recommend this for anyone!!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Kristy

Mission:  I knew Mike and I would love this meal…grilling is one of our favorite methods of cooking.  I must be honest I am not the griller but for this recipe I decided to learn!  Since we have an electric grill, it was easy to get fired up and ready for grilling.

Easy enough to get started and very few ingredients equals perfect recipe for me.

Details:

  • The ingredients, all fresh which is the best way to cook! I have learned its best to have everything you need ready to go for efficiency and to not forget ingredients. It was also time to fire up the grill at this time.
  • Instead of flank steak, I substituted with a skirt steak.  I couldn’t find the flank steak in the beef section.  Piercing the steak with the fork was an easy task.  I seasoned first and I am thinking you should potentially do the piercing first so the seasoning can seep into the meat.
  • Next, I headed to the grill.  I fear eating meat that is still alive so I was hoping when I took it off it was going to be cooked and not still mooing. Once I took the steak off the grill, the bloody juices ran across my white platter so I made a judgment call to put the steak back on the grill for a few more minutes.
  • The tomato salsa needs to be made prior to the grilling so you give it time to marinate.  It’s simple with just chopping, pouring and mixing.
  • After letting the steak rest, just dump the salsa on top and viola! Looks tasty and smells great!  (Notice, my picture was taken after I started eating…I almost forget to take a picture! It was that good that you would have done the same!)

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Let the meat rest, holds in the juices!  Simple and fresh ingredients can make some of the best dishes.

Save one day a week for chopping so when you are rushed for time, you can quickly put together dishes such as this on even the busiest of days. Sundays or Mondays are my chosen days.

Pros:

It was simple to follow and allowed me to learn to grill!  I started making the tomato salsa as my lunch salads for the week.

Cons:

None!

Conclusion:

I can’t wait to make it again.  I love to eat fresh ingrediants and have easy meals to put together.  This recipe is for keeps!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Maren

Mission: To grill up a delicious and healthy dinner that shouldn’t wipe me out before even getting to eat it!

 

Details:

  • I always forget something!  This time it was the red onion, so I substituted for some diced shallots that I had in the freezer – they worked perfectly!
  • Our local butcher was out of flank steak, and we had also planned on halving the recipe – so we used two small tenderloins instead.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

We experienced a torrential down pour with about 5 minutes left to go on the grill!  The steaks were way too rare, so I wrapped the plate in foil for the 5 minutes and they turned out perfectly!

The tomato topping is exactly what you would pair with a bruschetta!  Since we halved the steak part, and then forgot to halve the tomato part, we ate up the remaining topping on some sliced baguettes – delish!

Pros:

This was a super easy dinner to make – even weeknight worthy!

Cons:

My mom and husband were in LOVE with the tenderloin that we got – my husband almost fell out of his chair when I said that I had only seasoned it with garlic salt, salt & pepper.  They both felt like the tomatoes overpowered the flavor of the meat.  I however, am not as big of a meat fan as they are and felt like the tomatoes were the perfect match for our steak!

Conclusion:

We really enjoyed this easy meal!  My husband and I also really enjoyed the tomatoes on their own, and with a bit of bruschetta!  This is great any night of the week, and also for summer, when you can grow the produce right in your garden or pick up at the farmers market!

It was so quick and versatile that I will most definitely put it on our list of recipes to make when we not only have company, but entertain lots of friends!

 

 

The beautiful shot of the Grilled Flank Steak With Tomatoes, Red Onion and Balsamic taken by Skinnytaste


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