Strawberry Balsamic Caprese Pasta Salad

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This time last year: Stuffed Breakfast Tomatoes (2013)

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This time of year, it seems as if every other week I have a potluck or a picnic to go to (because who wants to do school work when it’s so nice outside?!). I have absolutely zero complaints about this potluck schedule; however, casual group gatherings do involve some strategy regarding what dish to bring. Ie: something that might not need heating or isn’t too messy to enjoy while sitting on a picnic blanket. Choices, choices!

This recipe is one of those ideal dishes for a potluck or picnic. I introduce you to this scrumptious Strawberry Balsamic Caprese Pasta Salad! (you’re welcome).

This pasta salad is so easy to make. It only takes ten minutes, five ingredients, and two bowls max. In addition to preparation ease, this dish is also a win in flavor! This pasta salad is beautifully rich and light, with the beautiful smell of the fresh basil, sweet taste of the strawberries, and the delicious flavor of the balsamic glaze.

You can’t go wrong here folks!

Enjoy this pasta salad, and come back and see me!

Happy picnic season 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dry pasta
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1 ball mozzarella, diced
  • ½ cup fresh basil, rinsed, dried, and roughly torn
  • 3 Tablespoons balsamic glaze

 Directions:

  1. In a large pot, cook the pasta according to packaging instructions.
  2. Once soft, remove the pasta from the heat, drain, and immediately rinse with cold water to stop the pasta from cooking any further.
  3. Transfer the pasta back to a serving bowl and toss with the strawberries, mozzarella, and basil.
  4. Drizzle the pasta with half of the balsamic glaze, and stir to incorporate. Once incorporated, drizzle the remaining half of the balsamic glaze over the top of the pasta, serve, and enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Yield: 4-6 servings
  • Source: Gimme Some Oven
  • Gluten Free? Use gluten free pasta!
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious dishes form A Rented Kitchen (Recipe links found below!):
  • Parmesan Pesto Pasta with Roasted Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes
  • Strawberry and Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Mint and Caramelized Onion
  • Balsamic Mushroom and Fruit Summer Salad

Homemade Cherry Pie

cherry

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This time last year!: Hershey Kiss Pretzel Bites 

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Some people like to use their words to express love. I fully support that, don’t get me wrong! I come from a family where if you said it in 5 words, when you could have said it in 10, you just weren’t trying hard enough.

However, I have to add, sharing food feels like a pretty natural way to express my love.

For a little Christmas celebration, my boyfriend and I decided to cook a big dinner together. I had planned this far too elaborate (no surprise there), but very yummy meal for our last night in town together. So, he came over, we turned on some tunes, rolled up our sleeves, and started cooking.

In order to get ahead of the curb, and not overwhelm this wonderful guy in my kitchen, I went ahead and prepared a few elements in advance. This pie was one of them.

(You have no idea how much strength it takes to not eat pie when your entire apartment smells like it! Oi.)

We had been cooking just long enough to dirty every dish in my kitchen, and yet have no finished product when I cut my finger open on a butcher knife. Thus, all the food was abandoned for an ER run, and the pie was left untouched.

Fortunately, in between our ER visit and my very early morning flight home the next day, we thought quickly enough to put the pie in a plastic bag in the freezer, and miraculously, it lasted beautifully! When I came back in town after Christmas break, Patrick and I had one week together before classes. More afternoons than not on that cold January week, we would warm up a little slice of cherry pie and top it with a spoonful of ice cream. Reunion never tasted so good.

Just another example of using food to express love 🙂

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Crust Ingredients:

(Note- to simplify your life, feel free to use a prepared pie crust. If you choose to take that route, simply skip to the Pie Directions section below)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup Crisco
  • teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons water

Filling Ingredients:

  • 3 cans tart cherries in water*
  • 4 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • scant ¼ teaspoon almond extract

Crust Directions:

  • Mix the flour, Crisco, and salt together in a medium sized bowl.
  • Add the water to the dry ingredient mixture and mix well.
  • Once the dough has formed in the bowl, sprinkle a clean and dry workspace with flour.
  • Place the dough ball on the floured workspace and need for one minute- just to ensure everything is well mixed!
  • Divide the dough into two, and then roll the two halves into balls. Lightly powder all sides, and place one dough ball in the center of your work surface.
  • Sprinkle some flour on your rolling pin and gently roll your dough into a large circle. You want the circle to be big enough to cover the bottom of your pie pan and the sides!
  • Once large enough, place the rolling pin on one end of the dough and loosely wrap the dough around the pin.
  • Quickly move the rolling pin over the pie, laying the dough in the pan as you go.
  • Press the dough into the corners and up the sides.

Pie Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and set on the bottom rack (to catch any drips!).
  2. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the tart cherries, plus the juice from 1 ½ cans, with the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and almond extract. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low hear for ten minutes, stirring regularly, or until thick and bubbly (should lightly resemble jelly). Remove from heat to cool for five minutes.
  3. Pour the cherry filling into the crust.
  4. Roll out the top pie crust and arrange over the pie. Fold the bottom pie crust over the edge of the top pie crust, and crimp together with a fork.
  5. Brush the pie crust with a beaten egg white and sprinkle sugar on top.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, and then lower the temperature form 425˚ to 375˚, and add a pie crust shield. (If you do not have a pie crust shield, you can create one using alumninum foil! It will help the center of the pie bake without burning the edges). Bake for an additional 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the juice bubbles up thickly.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool/ set for about 3 hours before eating.
  8. Optional: serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Source: Artful Parent
  • Trouble finding tart cherries in water? Try the Oregon Fruit Products, often in the canned fruit isle rather than the baking isle.
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious desserts from A Rented Kitchen! (Recipe links found below):

Greek Yogurt Fruit Bites

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It is amazing how much ice cream I am capable of consuming in the summer- an absurd and embarrassing amount. I suppose it’s not really rocket science in Kansas City’s 90 degree days.

I believe the math goes something like this:

90˚ F + a sweet tooth the size of Texas = copious amount of ice cream

In an effort to be slightly healthier however, I have started concocting these sweet, yet refreshing snacks. For all you sweet tooths out there, I have good news! These Greek Yogurt fruit bites are just as sweet and refreshing as ice cream in flavor, however are much healthier for you, serving as an excellent source of protein and a much more natural source of sugar.

AKA- Dig in! It all adds up- delicious flavor, healthier choices, what’s not to love?

Happy Snacking!

Love, your sweet tooth friend,

A Rented Kitchen

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon agave
  • 2 cups vanilla Greek yogurt
  • I mango, diced
  • ¾ cup fresh blueberries

Directions:

  1. Rinse, peel, and dice the mango.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the agave and yogurt, stirring thoroughly. Fold in the fruit.
  3. Transfer into two ice trays, and freeze for 3-4 hours, or until thoroughly frozen.
  4. Transfer into ziplock baggies and save for an on the go snack! Enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • If you do not have agave you can use ½ cup powdered sugar, however agave is a much healthier and natural option.
  • Feel free to have fun with this recipe! Not a fan of mango or blueberries? Sub out those fruits and replace with pomegranate seeds, kiwi and strawberries, or make a patriotic snack with blueberries and strawberries!
  • If you like this recipe, check out these other fun and healthy snacks from ‘A Rented Kitchen’! (recipe links found below):

Sweet Potato and Smoked Gouda Grits

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My parents both grew up in the south, and I have spent more years on the south east than anywhere else, so despite currently calling Kansas City my home base, this girl is still pretty southern.

Therefore, to claim the southeast as home, and not have a grits recipe on my blog, is probably a sin. Just guessing, but probably.

I watched my great aunt make cheese grits a few summers ago. She threw in an absurd amount of butter, copious amounts of cheese, and several eggs. I was watching in horror, mentally calculating the amount of fat and calories in this beloved side dish, something that probably could have been rich and flavorful with half of the ingredients she was using. However, as she explained to me, cheese grits used to be a meal during the depression that was designed to sustain you for hours. More often than not, that bowl of grits may be all someone ate in a day, so it was intentionally full of calories and fat.

Today, we often do not need, or want, such high calorie and fat packed side dishes in almost any setting. Therefore, I am keeping true to my southern roots by posting a cheese grits recipe, but have taken my own liberty to eliminate much of the unnecessary butter/fat/calories found in my great aunt’s recipe.

Hold onto your pants, because these grits might just be your new best friend. I know I am biased towards all things sweet potatoes, but daaaang this dish is delicious!

Give it a try! You will never have loved a comfort food so much! And while you enjoy your grits, why not take a second to be grateful for those who came before us.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup dry instant grits
  • 8 ounces Smoked Gouda, shredded
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450˚ F.
  2. Rinse the sweet potato and wrap in a layer of aluminum foil. Place the potato directly on the oven rack and cook for 45 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven, allow to cool enough to be handled, then remove the potato from the skin, transfer the meat into a large bowl, and mash.
  4. Cook the grits as instructed- heating 3 cups of water until boiling, adding the grits to the pot, reducing the heat to low, and allowing to simmer for five minutes.
  5. Once the grits are cooked, turn the heat off, and stir in the mashed potato and shredded Gouda until smooth and creamy.
  6. Serve warm and enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Source: A Rented Kitchen
  • If you like this recipe, try these other dishes from ‘A Rented Kitchen’! (Recipe links found below)

Ginger Peach Sweet Tea

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I don’t know what it was that made me get so into making beverages- the mason jar movement, turning 21, a deep hatred for aspartame?

Whatever it was, in the last few years I have absolutely loved concocting my own yummy, fizzy, fruity drinks- of which this recipe is a perfect example.

In my opinion, summer seems to be the perfect time to whip up a new and fresh beverage of choice, because who doesn’t love the idea of sitting on the porch with a nice glass of ice tea? Or, more realistically in our busy world, who doesn’t love the idea of walking in the door after running errands in the heat and having something chilled and refreshing to sip on? You do, you know you do.

Thus, I bring you my new favorite drink- Ginger Peach Sweet Tea. This pitcher contains so many of my favorite flavors, I could literally drink all of it in one sitting if I did not pay attention! It’s that good.

Invite a friend over, get a glass, kick off your shoes, and enjoy the taste of something homemade for a minute. You’ll be glad you did.

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Ingredients

  • 3 family-size tea bags
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 (12-oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed (I accidentally made the lemonade, then added the tea/mint/sugar to it)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 (1-liter) bottle ginger ale, chilled
  • 1 (1-liter) bottle club soda, chilled
  • Optional: fresh peach wedges for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, boil four cups of water. Once boiling, add the tea bags and mint leaves, and continue boiling for one minute.
  2. Remove the pot from heat, and stir in ½ cup sugar and ½ cup additional water, stirring until the sugar is melted.
  3. Once the sugar is melted, return the lid to the pot, and allow the tea and mint leaves to steep for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the lemonade using the lemonade concentrate, as instructed.
  5. Once the tea is done steeping, discard the mint leaves and tea bags, and add the tea to the lemonade pitcher.
  6. Chill until ready to serve, and then stir in the ginger ale, club soda, and peach wedges. Enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Adapted from: Southern Living
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious beverage options from ‘A Rented Kitchen’! (Recipe links found below):