tomatochutneyWhat do I feed 12 boys, ranging in age from 7 – 14 without spending my entire weekly grocery budget on that one meal? We have done away with hot dogs and instead have adopted sausages in it’s place. After much thought, grilled sausages with homemade condiments is the route I will be taking. Setting everything up, buffet style, works with a crowd. Add a big bowl of veggie chips, cut up fresh cucumbers and jicama (spiked with fresh lime + chili powder) and just maybe all of this good stuff will counteract the sugar high that will ultimately be taking over the evening.

I like to prepare for the hectic week ahead and doing as much prep and organization in advance keeps me sane through out the week. Onion marmalade, ketchup, barbeque sauce, teriyaki, and homemade sodas can easily be found in our fridge, stored in glass jars of all shapes and sizes (I hoard glass vessels). I have recently gotten into making chutneys and this tomato chutney has become a a household favorite.

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apple-peanut-butter-tartMany projects I work on have a moratorium on sharing. Sometimes by me, other times by the publisher or editor who usually lets me know when I can start blabbing about it. Sometimes the lead times are long (a year or two in advance!), other times I just have to wait a month or two until whatever I photographed has hit the streets.

Of course, most of the time it’s ok to share a little bit via Instagram and Facebook, but I usually err on the side of caution and keep my mouth shut.

Which is painful when there are great recipes I want to talk about. Like this one. Oh my goodness, this one.

I am a peanut butter freak, and combined with an apple or banana it’s my standard sweet snack. I knew I’d love this recipe from Jenny Flake’s The Picky Palate Cookbook when we were reviewing the recipe list, and when Adam and his team began to assemble it I knew that the shape would photograph beautifully, and I knew that the shape would also fit in my stomach perfectly.

I think I ate the whole damn thing.

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blueberrybucket.jpgMy friend, Lynn, rubs up with mosquito spray and grabs a bucket as she heads out each year at this time to pick wild blueberries. She's been doing this for years, so it doesn't take her long to pick enough of those small, sweet berries in her secret spot to make at least a couple of blueberry pies. And, she makes the world's best pie crust. This year, she brought me a small pie that was perfect for my husband and I to share. We savored each bite of flaky crust that held her homemade wild blueberry pie filling. It was absolutely heavenly.

I don't pick wild blueberries, except for the few that grow along my driveway. Too many bears, woodticks and mosquitoes to worry about when one is out in the woods picking berries. And, I don't make pies. I make at least a few dozen of my favorite bluebery muffins each year at this time.

Today, I tried something a little different by baking a whole batch of my favorite blueberry muffin recipe in a springform pan to make a muffin cake.

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roasted_pepper_topping.jpgNo matter the time of year, I always appreciate an appetizer I can serve that looks awesome, tastes wonderful and can be prepared ahead of serving time.

During the summer, bruschetta is my choice. Bruschetta (bruce-KEHTA), toasted slices of baguette, serve as small crunchy, yet chewy plates that can be topped with just about whatever you can think of. Typically, the first thing that comes to mind is the traditional Italian topping of tomatoes, garlic and basil. I like to add fresh mozzarella to that topping. When fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes are available, this topping can’t be beat.

Sweet bell peppers are also approaching their seasonal peak in my area. I buy several green and red peppers at the farmers market, roast them and once sliced, I marinate them in an olive oil and vinegar mixture, along with some minced fresh basil and parsley. The marinating peppers can be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

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