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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Who doesn’t love tomato soup?  We discovered a fresh new take on this favorite at More Fruit Please.  She has created an enticing recipe for Tomato, Basil and Cheddar Soup that (thanks to a special ingredient) is both creamy and healthy!

Okay, you’ve got our attention!

 

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

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission: Fall always makes me want to cook. Usually it’s the comfort foods that I really crave. When I saw this recipe it was a MUST. I wanted to try it. I have never made a puree type soup. I pretty much stick to making chicken soup in various ways or making my turkey chili.

 

Details:

I followed the easy to read recipe from More Fruit Please.

It was truly very simple. Saute some onions and garlic, add two cans of diced tomatoes and some vegetable broth, add the basil and other seasonings, and let it all simmer. Add in the Greek yogurt and some shredded cheddar and puree with an Immersion Blender.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The big tip I have to offer you…do not ribbon the basil. Chop it very finely or it gets all caught up in the Immersion Blender.

Pros:

It was an easy recipe and the flavors together were fantastic.

Cons:

I personally wasn’t too in love with the texture. I can’t figure it out.

Conclusion:

This soup was really easy and inexpensive to make. It was definitely a more flavorful tomato soup. There was just something about the texture. I don’t know if it was the yogurt or the shredded cheddar. It just wasn’t as creamy as I imagined it was going to be. It still went well with my grilled cheese.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Kristy

Mission: Cold weather brings out my love of soups so I felt this was a perfect recipe to try for the chilly winter months coming ahead! Added bonus, tomato soup is Mike’s favorite!

Details:

I broke out my handy dandy Oster Blender for this recipe!  Ok, I have to admit…I personally haven’t used it for its food processing capabilities, not even for this project. I had my friend, Heather, over for dinner and she used her amazing chef skills to puree!

The soup curdled with the Greek yogurt!  Sounds gross, right? I went into a panic, the soup wasn’t looking pretty!  Have no fear since once you blend the soup, there will be no more signs that things went array!

Oops, 2 cups of cheese were added! With two cooks in the kitchen something will go wrong, right!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I have goggled for you why the soup curdled and how to prevent it!  From reading, I think it was from adding the yogurt too quickly or maybe because it was too cold, so two options poor the yogurt in slowly or let it sit to room temperature before adding.

Suggestion, a hand held Immersion Blender may be best to prevent a mess as Heather had to blend the soup in batches.

Pros:

Very quick and easy! Yummy!

Cons:

Curdle…ugh, I can’t even handle the word!

Conclusion:

I loved this soup!  Mike is my tomato soup connoisseur! He was a fan but commented it was bit too cheesy!  Next time, just one cup of cheese!  Heather’s comment was that it needed a little tomato paste to give it a bit more tomato flavor…I think less cheese may do the trick!

When you are chilled this winter, this is the perfect soup to warm you up!  I paired the soup with grilled chicken and salad…I thought it all looked too yummy to not share!

I would also recommend pairing the soup with a cheesy sourdough grilled cheese for a perfect winter meal!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sarah

Mission:  I absolutely love soup – and tomato soup at that! This recipe sounded easy and didn’t sound like it had an excessive amount of ingredients, which to me is always a good sign. I also had some yummy canned tomatoes from my mom’s Iowa garden that I had been looking to add to a recipe.

Details:

This recipe sounded really straight forward from the get-go and I had many of the ingredients already on-hand, which is a huge plus in my book.

I was able to use up some of my FAGE plain Greek yogurt and had pre-shredded cheddar cheese ready to go in addition to many of the other ingredients.

I sautéed the onions and garlic and continued to follow the recipe as directed. Each step was very straight-forward and easy. The process was simple and quick and came together with ease.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I used as many ingredients as I had on-hand – one less trip to the grocery store is always awesome in my eyes. Not having to load up my crew to just leave the house is a huge benefit.

I love using fresh summer produce! I was able to use my Mom’s canned Iowa tomatoes as well as fresh basil from my own garden.

Pros:

Super easy to prep and make and had pretty good flavor.

Cons:

Because I used my mom’s canned tomatoes, I think there may have been more natural water already, so I feel I could have skipped adding in the vegetable stock all together as the soup was more watery than I had desired.

I feel the onions and garlic could have been cooked longer to soften them more and bring out more of their flavor before moving on to the next step.

In addition, I stupidly forgot that I have a Magic Bullet, so I kept the soup “chunky” in style vs. blending it smooth. I love soup with texture, so I was totally fine with that, but my only complaint is that the Greek yogurt did not ever really fully melt/smooth into the soup.

Conclusion:

Super easy recipe and a great way to use some fresh produce! I enjoyed it, but am not sure I’ll be making it again as it just wasn’t my favorite soup ever.

 

 

 

 

The lovely Tomato, Basil and Cheddar Soup and it’s photo by More Fruit Please


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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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