The Best Things in Life Are Cheese

Cheese…what more can we say? It’s one of those ingredients that can make a simple meal so much better, a small party into a great gathering, and basically make most humans the happiest humans around! It’s a year round crowd-pleaser and satisfies those midnight cravings for munchies.

Cheese…what more can we say?  It’s one of those ingredients that can make a simple meal so much better, a small party into a great gathering, and basically…make most humans the happiest humans around!  It’s a year round crowd pleaser and satisfies those midnight cravings for munchies.

Cheese Boards by the Sprouted Cottage - Tips for choosing, assembling, and serving cheeses to a crowd.

We are big about cheese around here.  Busy days often call for homemade mac and cheese or a delicious, grilled-to-perfection, grilled cheese sandwich.  Before the Sprout came along, Dave and I would often frequent our local cheese shops and select a couple types to take home for Sunday afternoon lunches and beach side picnics.  Then the Sprout came…after two months of her experiencing acid-reflux symptoms and the screams to match, we discovered that she was lactose intolerant.  Heavy sigh…cheese was a way of life for Dave and I!  Well maybe not a way of life, but we definitely survived on it often!

Cheese Boards by the Sprouted Cottage - Tips for choosing, assembling, and serving cheeses to a crowd.We aren’t the kind of people who give up easily, though.  After all, Dave’s a chef…so we set out to find ones that she could tolerate, which also meant that I could eat them while nursing.  And find them, we did!  We found many varieties that she not only tolerated, but enjoyed discovering when she got older.  Life had returned!

Continue reading “The Best Things in Life Are Cheese”

Summer Red Sangria

One of our favorite drinks from that restaurant was the House Sangria. It paired so well with the warm and slightly spicy flavors of the dishes. It was light, sweet and refreshing.

We moved to the central coast back in 2012 for a job.  Dave had recently graduated culinary school and the recession hit us pretty hard.  We quickly realized that the jobs back in the mountains would always be seasonal, (at one point in late 2011, Dave worked a grand total of 36 hours in a month…MONTH not week!) and that the competition for each position would be cutthroat.  The recession ended up becoming the best adventure for us.  With only a few weeks notice, we packed up our whole life and moved 4 hours from everyone and everything we knew.

img_2072The job he took was for a new restaurant owned by a local restaurateur.  It was a tapas style restaurant with global and Spanish dishes.  We had never even heard of tapas before and had a hard time pronouncing items on their menu. We quickly learned all about this type of cuisine and what made it unique.  It’s now one of our favorite types of dining because of its unique social aspect. Continue reading “Summer Red Sangria”

Sparkling Strawberry Basil Lemonade

We are right in the middle of summer here in California.  The Central Valley has had a month of triple digits and that heat has extended over to the coast.  When our Sprout was a newborn, I often drove the twenty minutes over to the central coast just to get a break from the heat. It was so nice to top those hills in Atascadero, and drift down into Avila Beach, Morro Bay or Cayucos.

Now that we live on the coast, I am spoiled with lovely weather every day, or almost every day.  Instead of running to the coast to get a break, I now get to run home from our activities inland and breathe a sigh of relief when I see that fog cresting over the hills.

Heat or no heat, there is one thing that we make all the time during the summer…lemonade!  This is the season when bright, beautiful citrus is ready for your kitchen!  There’s a reason all the kids in your neighborhood start pulling out their card tables and plastic cups.  Lemonade is a classic drink that satisfies your sweet tooth as well as your thirst.

In today’s recipe for our Summer Produce Series, we pair juicy lemons with sweet strawberries and a hint of fresh basil.  It’s topped off with some sparkling water to make it refreshing and satisfying.

The recipe is easy to prepare and customize.  Any berry can be substituted for the strawberries and the basil can be swapped out for rosemary, or mint.  Another favorite of ours is blueberry/rosemary lemonade.

img_2039The key to our lemonade is to use a fruity flavored honey.  We buy it locally at our farmers’ market.  I tend to use “Orange Blossom” or “Wildflower.”  They both add a layer of flavor that you won’t find with store brand honey.

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This is a great option to use up strawberries that are starting to over ripen or basil that is less than perfect.  Just wash all produce well and remove blemishes.

Another tip is to use Meyer lemons if you can.  Meyers are thought to be a cross between a mandarin and a lemon.  They have a richness and natural sweetness that allows you to reduce the amount of sweetener used, in this case, honey.

img_2052We hope you enjoy this recipe!  Follow us on Pinterest and Instagram.  Don’t forget to tag #TheSproutedCottage in your posts!

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Cheers!signatures

Sparkling, Strawberry Basil Lemonade

  • Servings: 8 Cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A bright and summery lemonade with a refreshing twist.



Ingredients

  • 2 pounds strawberries, halved and stems removed
  • 6-8 medium basil leaves
  • 4 Meyer Lemons, (yields about 1 cup of juice)
  • 1 cup honey (more or less to taste)
  • 6 cups sparkling water or club soda

Directions

  1. In a blender, puree the strawberries, basil, lemon juice and honey until smooth and syrup like.
  2. Pour the strawberry mixture into a pitcher or carafe. Mix in the sparkling water and chill for 1 hour.
  3. Serve over ice and garnish with lemon slices or strawberries.

Summer Produce Series Coming Soon…

Produce season is upon us! It is one of those times during the year where farmers’ markets get fuller and if you are fortunate enough to have your own trees and vines in your yard or homestead…you probably have fruit coming out of every drawer and bin in your fridge!

Produce season is upon us. It is a relatively short season, even in some parts of California. Some farmers’ markets in the mountains are just now seeing the first fruits of all their hard work.

It is one of those times during the year where farmers’ markets fill up with vendors and if you are fortunate enough to have your own trees and vines in your yard or homestead…you probably have fruit coming out of every drawer and bin in your fridge! At one point last week, our entire dining room table was covered with strawberries and plums.
This leads to our first series on the blog; a week of daily recipes to help you preserve and cook your way through all that produce! Continue reading “Summer Produce Series Coming Soon…”