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”

One Seasonal Soup You All Should Try: Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Spiced Cream and Pepitas

This twist on classic pumpkin soup will please everyone around the table. No one can resist this creamy and smooth soup with a hint of heat, and topped with toasted pepitas and spiced cream.

Around here, we eat a lot of soup this time of year.  It’s chilly and blustery and soup just comforts you.  Our Sprout enjoys soup too. She gets antsy at dinner time because she has to sit still.  Haha!  I’m sure you all know what I mean, especially if you’ve ever had a high energy, strong willed toddler. Anyways, soup is a quick meal for her and for us. Which is just what we need this time of year.

Soup requires very little skill, which makes it great for busy families like ours.  Basically any soup is comprised of a base (usually broth or cream), meat or protein, vegetables, flavor add ins (think bacon, scallions, etc.), and toppings.  Once you get that down, the options are endless!  It also freezes easily for future meals.  Make a big batch a freeze for up to 6 months! Continue reading “One Seasonal Soup You All Should Try: Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Spiced Cream and Pepitas”

Falling for Pickles!

The other beautiful part of fall is the abundance of produce that ripens at the end of summer/early fall. Especially cucumbers, tomatoes, and green beans. The cooler weather also makes pickling a little less exhausting at the cottage. Pickles are full of vitamins and minerals and are often consumed to aid digestion as well as other ailments.

Simple Cottage Dill Pickles
A classic and tasty recipe perfect for the whole family.

Fall is officially here and it’s starting to show. Our maple tree is turning red, the plum tree is turning too. We love autumn, especially here on the coast.  The weather is mild and sunny and most of the tourists are back home in school. The other beautiful part of fall is the abundance of produce that ripens at the end of summer/early fall.  Especially cucumbers, tomatoes, and green beans.  The cooler weather also makes pickling a little less exhausting at the cottage. Continue reading “Falling for Pickles!”

Spicy Stone Fruit Chutney

Our Spicy Stone Fruit Chutney is the perfect match for grilled pork chops, goat cheese flatbread, or paired with your favorite meats and cheeses.

In true punny form, we are ending this series with a bang!  Today we bring you a delicious and spicy condiment in Day 7 of our Summer Produce Series.  Our Spicy Stone Fruit Chutney is the perfect match for grilled pork chops, goat cheese flatbread, or paired with your favorite meats and cheeses. Continue reading “Spicy Stone Fruit Chutney”

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.