Friday, July 27, 2012

Sweet Summer Salad with Blackberries & Raspberries

One of my favorite things about summer is the fresh fruit and veggies.  I love making fruit salads to pair with a grilled entree.  Here is a fruit salad recipe that you must try.

Summer Berry Fruit Salad
- 1 package of raspberries
- 1 package of blackberries
- 1 package of strawberries, sliced
- 1/2 TBSP cider vinegar
- 1/2 TBSP honey
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Salt and pepper, lightly flavored

Rinse and drain all the berries.  Slice the strawberries.  Combine all into a medium size bowl.  Drizzle with cider vinegar.  Season with the spices.  Gently fold all ingredients together.  Some of the raspberries will fall apart and add extra juice to the salad.  Serve and enjoy.

There are other ways to enjoy fruit that doesn't involve co-mingling other fruits.  I'm a big fan of smashing food groups together in a salad.  Lettuce, tomato and cucumber are too predictable.  Sometimes you have to liven it up a bit with peppered bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, or edamame.

Last week, I wanted to do something with our raspberries and blackberries.  Since I am not a baker... the only logical solution was to throw it on a regular salad.

Give this salad a try, you might be surprised...

Summer Salad with Blue Cheese
- 1/2 cup raspberries
- 1/2 blackberries
- Chopped lettuce of your choosing
- 1 stick of smoked string cheese
- Blue cheese dressing
- Salt and pepper

Drain the fruits and veggies.  Cut the string cheese into bite size pieces.  Combine and enjoy.

You can incorporate your own favorite ingredients.  This salad would also be great with sliced almonds or walnuts to add some crunch.

After eating the salad, I noticed that the blue cheese dressing had a "wheat" warning under the nutritional information.  Although "traces of wheat" won't harm me, I probably won't be using this dressing again.  If you are looking for a dressing that isn't store bought, try my Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette recipe (found at the bottom of the post - written before my gluten free days).  It will pair very nicely with the berries and smoked cheese.

Hope you all are having a great summer!  Take care, readers.

Copyright 2012 Hint of Thyme.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

You Ate What?! - Fried Ricotta Squash Blossoms

Finally!  The wait is over.  I have eaten a squash blossom... and it was... well... ordinary.

Perhaps it was the breading or the seasoning that made my taste buds flop.  I am a bit disappointed by my overall experience in making the fried squash blossoms.  Allow me to explain the lack of enthusiasm for this particular food experiment.

I began this process by searching recipes for techniques in cooking squash blossoms.  I've seen the flower used in recipes on Food Network and figured it would be a delightful dish to try.  My new garden provided the blossoms and my mind built up the anticipation.

If you've ever touched or seen a Squash plant, then you know that it has a pokey protective layer on the stems and blossoms.  I was concerned that it wouldn't be edible if I didn't try to remove some of the hair-like stubs from the outside of the blossom.  As I comically attempted to "shave" the flower with my sharp knife, 3 perished in the process.  I realized that my efforts might be wasted and gave up on the ridiculous idea of plant shaving.

When it came to cleaning the blossoms and removing the center, it was quite tedious.  The flowers are extremely delicate and tore very easily.  I was close to quitting the whole process, but Jon convinced me that no one would care if the blossoms didn't "look pretty".

After stuffing the Squash Blossoms with Ricotta Cheese.

I proceeded to clean, cut, and bread the blossoms.  The first step consisted of stuffing them with ricotta cheese.  The second step was an egg wash.  And the last step was breading the blossoms in a blend of gluten-free corn meal, salt and pepper.  We heated up the deep fryer to 375 degrees and carefully slid them into the bubbling pool.

Breaded with corn meal and ready to fry.

The blossoms emerged golden brown and beautiful.  I was nervously excited to try this unusual meal.  We said our pre-dinner prayer and eagerly dove into the dish.

Squash blossom after the fryer.

I'm not sure if I was expecting an explosion of floral taste or just a hint of floral.  There was none of that.  In fact, the blossom simply provided nothing more than a gluten-free skin to the melty ricotta cheese.

With that said, I am going to try this again!  Are you ready for round 2 of the squash blossom experiment?  This time I will incorporate more herbs, spices, and veggies.  If all else fails, we will have a large supply of acorn squash to contend with.

I apologize if you were expecting a recipe in this post.  As a fellow foodie, I am morally obligated not to pass along sub-par recipes.  It's the truth.  If you have any ideas, please feel free to send us your squash blossom recipe to try at  All credit goes to you.

If you missed my random post about harvesting the blossoms, read it here - Gardening and Cooking - It's a Learning Process.

Have a great week, readers!  Thanks for stopping by Hint of Thyme.

Copyright 2012 Hint of Thyme.  All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Gardening and Cooking - It's a Learning Process

This morning, I ventured out to water my garden.  I was delighted to see new blossoms that had appeared overnight.  Amazing.  It was the perfect opportunity to harvest at least 10 blossoms for a trial run.

As I was picking, I was careful not to disturb the blossoms in which bees were pollinating.  I checked each blossom as I cut and harvested.  Upon bringing them inside, I took pictures and bagged.  While bagging the blossoms, a giant honey bee started flying around inside the bag.  Where the heck did it come from??

Lesson learned:  Wash and bag the blossoms outside.

There were 2 more little black and yellow squash bugs that crawled out while in the bag.  I graciously set one free... the other was not so lucky.

Jon and I were talking about future plans for our raised garden and things we would change to improve the process.  Since it's our first year gardening, there is much to learn!  If you missed the garden post, read it here - Glimpses into the Garden.

Next year, we will purchase some wooden barrels to place next to the garden.  In the barrels we plant the ever-growing squash and at least 2 tomato plants.  I have definitely over extended myself with 4 tomato plants this year.

In fact, if you have any good tomato canning tips or recipes... please feel free to send them to me.  Who knows, it could end up on Hint of Thyme.  Email contact:

Thanks so much for reading!  I look forward to sharing more about my squash blossom experience.

Take care readers.

Copyright 2012 Hint of Thyme.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Glimpses into the Garden

During the month of March and April, we had a very unexpected early spring in the state of Wisconsin.  It's typical to get snow until the end of April or even into May.  But, not this year.

This year, Jon and I decided to build a raised garden.  As mentioned in several posts, I have a back condition that causes me to be in chronic pain.  My husband was sweet to think of building me a raised garden; which means... NO bending!  I am able to garden with the rest of them and love it.

Putting this raised garden together posed a few challenges, but it was definitely worth the effort.  We picked out the vegetable plants and seeds; green beans, green pepper, red pepper, jalapeno, Thai basil, squash, 5 tomato plants, lettuce, and peas.  It's pretty ambitious for 2 people that haven't gardened before.

Raised garden after planting in May
The plants have done very well; especially with unusual heat waves in our part of the country.  I am already creating fun and easy recipes for the vegetables that are harvested.

Over the last 2 weeks, our squash plants have flourished in this hot weather climate.  It has gone from slightly hanging over the edge to weaving it's vines into the grass below.  I probably could have researched what to expect when planting squash, but it has been fun to watch.  Check it out...

Squash plant - 6 weeks after planting
Jon and I are out in the garden every day to water it and check the progress of our plants.  It has been so much fun and can be surprisingly relaxing.

Since we have an abundance of squash buds beginning to grow, I've been looking for tips on how to cook Squash blossoms (otherwise we will end up with 74 squash to eat).  If you're looking for unique recipes to try... keep an eye on Hint of Thyme.  I will be posting the experience of eating and a recipe for Squash Blossoms.  And yes, it involves stuffing them with some sort of cheese.  Mmm!

Have a very Happy 4th of July.

Copyright 2012 Hint of Thyme.  All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Gluten-Free Roasted Pepper Tuna Melt

I have been eating wheat free for 6 months now and feeling great.  There is still a lot to learn.  We recently received a bread maker and plan to take it for a spin soon.

If you eat gluten free, then you can understand the pain that comes with the price.  At almost $6.00 for a loaf of bread I definitely avoid eating it every day.  I've been exploring options that do not include bread, gluten-free pasta or rice.

One night I was looking for a simple dinner solution and came up with stuffing tuna salad into green pepper boats.  If you aren't a fan of canned tuna or tuna in general, I understand.  Try canned chicken or salmon instead.  The green pepper was an excellent substitute for bread and also caters to any low-carb dieters out there.

Prep time:  5 - 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 - 20 minutes

Tuna Salad Mix
- 2 cans of tuna in water
- 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
- 1/2 TBSP fresh or dried cilantro
- 1/2 TBSP fresh or dried dill
- 2 TBSP of mayo (substitute with cream cheese if you prefer it)
- 1 tsp of garlic powder
- 1/2 TBSP of yellow or Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper

Other Items Needed:
- 2 green peppers, halved
- 1 or 2 cups of mozzarella cheese
- Optional: Hot sauce

Combine in a bowl and set aside.  Cut green peppers in half and remove all contents.  Each half should appear like a bowl or boat shape.  Fill each half with the tuna salad mix.  Do not cover with cheese yet.  Place the peppers into a shallow baking dish and in the oven at 425 for 15 minutes, uncovered.  After 15 minutes, add the cheese to each half and bake for an additional 4 to 5 minutes.  The cheese should be melted and bubbly.

Serve and enjoy.

This meal is great for lunch or dinner.  It's budget friendly, quick and wheat free!