Recipes

Best Pancakes from Scratch: Corn and Bacon Pancakes Recipe (Plus Many Frugal and Shortcut Tips)

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by Cassie on August 21, 2014

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Corn and bacon pancakes?!? YES! They are AMAZING!

My family loves these pancakes and they are just so awesome to make and even more awesome to eat.

We actually make these for dinner as our preferred “breakfast for dinner,” but they are just a great at breakfast too!

We are going to share a few things with you on this post! First, the basic recipe for creating corn and bacon pancakes.  It’s quite simple really!

Then we are going to share a gluten-free version of this pancake, which Alex prefers over the regular version, even though he doesn’t have to eat gluten-free like a couple of us do! That’s how good they are!

But before we share these two recipes for the Corn and Bacon Pancakes, we want to direct you to some tips for better and more frugal cooking that you can easily incorporate into this recipe!

Best Bacon Cooking Tip

First, you are going to need bacon!  Each batch of pancakes requires 1/2 cup of crumbled and cooked bacon – this is about 4-6 slices, depending on the thickness of the bacon. You will be using cooked bacon in the pancake batter.  So you will want pre-cooked bacon or cook your own.

I have to be honest and say that I totally stink at cooking bacon. I have since they day we got married.  I literally tried every method that others shared with me and still could never nail it……. until one day…….

I can now make perfect bacon effortlessly! This is one of my favorite cooking tips, not because we do this often, as we don’t often have bacon, but that is why it is so important and helpful. Bacon can be expensive and so you want to nail the proper cooking the first time! Well, to find this tip, see our post here on How To Cook Perfect Bacon in George Foreman Grill.

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Cooking with Corn Tips

Second, you will need corn too! One cup of kernel corn per batch in fact! Honestly, you can use kernel corn in any form: canned, frozen and even fresh from the cob.

Fresh from the cob is so good! Plus, we find that typically one cob will make two batches.  You can grab cobs of corn from your garden or locally for .25 or less – this is a lot cheaper than store-bought canned or frozen corn.

With that thrifty comparison – we wanted to show you a quick and easy way to get your corn fresh from the cob to cooked to mix in the batter in less than 5 minutes.

How to Cut Kernels from Corn on the Cob

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Shuck the corn and remove as many hairs as you can. Then get a medium to large bowl and place a small bowl upside down in the bottom.

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Cut the end off of the corn to make it “even.”

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Set the even end of the corn on the bottom of the smaller bowl, inside the larger bowl.

The reason why is… the larger bowl with “catch” the kernels and the smaller bowl raises the corn so that you can cut all the way down without restriction.

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The next trick to a “clean cut” is to use a small and sharp knife.  Paring knives are perfect. The smaller the knife, the less “flying” you will have… along with cutting down the cob slowly.

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This is one cob of kernels – which is about 2 cups, perfect for two batches!

Tips on Pre-made and Homemade Pancake Mix

The third trick to prepare to make these are that you can use any pancake mix, or the full recipe I will share with you to make them from scratch. But one thing you can do is prepare a bulk batch of pancake and waffle mix to use for many recipes.

We have shared all of this frugal and helpful information here in the Homemade Pancake and Waffle Mix recipe.

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Homemade Pancake and Waffle Mix Recipe HERE

In addition, we also have a Gluten-Free Flour Mix recipe that you can make.  With this flour, you can follow the same recipe as the Homemade Pancake and Waffle Mix recipe, and just replace the flour with the GF flour recipe.  That is exactly what we did to make these super tasty pancakes!

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The Best Gluten-Free Flour Recipe Ever HERE 

So now that we have gotten those few tips and tricks out of the way, let’s get started with this super tasty breakfast…or dinner…. fare!

Step #1 – Prepare the Batter for the Corn and Bacon Pancakes

Either make a batch from a store-bought box or a batch from our bulk homemade pancake and waffle mix for pancakes.

If you want to make a one-time batch from scratch, here’s the recipe:

  • 1.5 cups of flour (or gluten-free flour for GF pancakes)
  • 1/3 cup of Dry Powered Milk
  • 1.5 TBSP of Sugar
  • .5 TBSP of Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp of Salt
  • 1 cup of Water
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 TBSP of oil (we like melted coconut oil)

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Then add all of the wet ingredients.

Step #2 – Add the Bacon and Corn

  • 1 Cup of cooked corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup or 4-6 strips of cooked and crumbled bacon

Fold the bacon and corn into the prepared batter.

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We make both regular and gluten-free for each diet type! 

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Close-Up of Regular  Wheat Flour Mix

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Close-up of Gluten-Free Mix 

Step #3 – Prepare the pan for the pancakes!

  • Turn a counter top griddle to medium heat or a stove top pan to medium heat.
  • Grease it by rubbing a stick of butter on it- don’t use the whole stick, you will only use a teeny bit, but it’s just easier to run the stick across the surface to grease it!

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Step #4 – Time to Cook ‘Em Up

  • Then, using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out your mix and pour onto your hot pan!  We cook gluten-free pancakes first!

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Gluten-Free Pancakes Turning to Hot Cakes :) 

  • Cook for three to four minutes on one side, until they reach the brownness and doneness that you desire.

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One side of the gluten-free pancakes cooked and now time for the other side! 

  • Flip them over and repeat!

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We typically get about 8 nice, fluffy and thick pancakes from this gluten-free batch. They are a bit more dense and thicker than using normal wheat flour. 

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So perfect, so yum! 

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  • Make your regular wheat-flour pancakes the same way – medium heat, grease pan with butter, use 1/4 cup of batter and cook each side for 3-4 minutes!

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Now it’s time for the regulars too cook :) 

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The regulars are done! 

  • We find that the regular batter will make about 10 pancakes of the same size, but they are not quite as dense as the gluten-free.

Step #5 – Serve Them Up With Your Favorite Toppings and Enjoy!

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One of our favorite toppings is the classic maple syrup! We were blessed once to receive real, homemade maple syrup from a family that made it from the trees in their yard when they stayed with us and stayed many miles from home.  We don’t have those kinds of trees here.  So since then, we have enjoyed the organic maple syrup from Tropical Traditions (the makers of coconut oil!).

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The regular pancakes getting a maple bath! 

We also like a little sprinkle of powdered sugar too!

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The dressed gluten-free corn and bacon pancakes! 

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And the dressed regular flour corn and bacon pancakes! 

The maple, bacon and corn flavors are an amazing combination together.  It like satisfies every part of your tongue’s taste buds. 

These can serve well on their own as a pancake dinner or breakfast.  But they also are awesome with hash browns and eggs! You can also make these before hand and freeze them for 1-minute corn and bacon pancakes on those mornings where you are in a hurry!

 

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Alex & Cassie
 

Best Gluten-Free Flour Recipe Ever: Makes for Near Perfect Replacement

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by Cassie on August 20, 2014

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I am so excited! After a long time of trying many recipes, combinations, concoctions and other gluten-free ideas – I think I have finally found the winner! The best of the best when it comes to gluten-free flour!

You see, at our home, one way that we live frugally, but live life to the fullest, is by creating our own homemade versions of store-bought products.

We make our own breads, our own pancake/waffle mix, our own bulk muffin mix and all are wonderful – except for a relatively recent discovery of two members of our family with gluten issues.

There was “sticker shock” on gluten-free products and mixes. They are seriously an arm and a leg when you have a $125 weekly grocery budget for a family of 7, who tries to using their budget for natural, organic and whole living.

Well, this recipe has been the answer and I am so excited to finally share a gluten-free flour recipe,that is not only gluten-free, but nut free too (we can’t use almond or nut flours due to nut allergies too!).  In addition, the flours we are using are organic, corn-free, dairy-free, soy-free and non-gmo.

You really can’t get much better than that and for a decent price too!

Not only does it have all of these (or rather lack of these) ingredients, but this mix actually does make very fluffy and tasty foods! So good in fact, my hubby and kids turn their noses up at anything gluten-free and leave it for the GF members.

Well, when I cook now, I make two of something – the regular and the GF version – and my family members, especially Alex, have preferred the gluten free versions.  That is AMAZING to me!

Now that I have finally found the perfect recipe, I finally feel great about sharing many GF recipes with you too! So along with our traditional, money-saving, taste bud-pleasing recipes, you will start to find a GF collection that is just as tasty (or better tasting)!

I found this recipe from A Little Sanity site, where Erika claimed this was the “Best Gluten-Free Flour Mix” and if you are like me… you are like..”yeah right” until you try it! Right?  Well that was me!  And I was impressed to say the least!

Just like my homemade cleaning recipes and other recipes, I try and try until I find what I consider to be the best combination of ingredients to do a good, natural job!  

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Here’s what you need:

  • 4 1/4 Cups Brown Rice Flour
  • 4 1/4 Cups White Rice Four
  • 4 1/4 Cups  Sweet Rice Flour
  • 4 1/2 Cups  Tapioca Flour (aka Tapioca Starch)
  • 2½ TBSP Xanthan Gum

As a note, the xanthan gum comes in a several sizes, but most commonly 6-8oz.  This means you will have tons left over and be able to use it for a very long time.   This is a very important ingredient as it is the gluten replacer.

The bags are plastic/paper flour type bags, which are not great for longer term storage and so I just put all of the remaining xanthan gum in a recycled spaghetti sauce jar to store for longer term.

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How To make the Best Gluten-Free Flour Ever

It’s so easy, that I am not even going to break it down – just mix all of these in a big bowl until well mixed and then store in a glass container.

Then use this mix as a replacement in recipes for the flour.

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I picked up these at Hobby Lobby during a common sale where they will have glass storage for 50% off.  This sale happens about once a month and they have teeny tiny glass storage to giant glass storage for a great price with the common sale!  The other place has been Walmart. In addition, I recycle all of my glass food jars, we’ve also used the giant Costco/Sam’s Club pickle jars for dry pre-mix storage solutions.

Where to get the best prices on the ingredients for the Gluten-Free Flour Mix 

So, I wanted to talk about the price of this mix. It is actually quite affordable, especially when compared to many pre-made gluten-free products, or baking mixes. This still fits in our budget, unlike many products.

I purchased all of the products from one of my favorite sites: Vitacost.  I had to also buy products that were totally peanut and tree nut free due to other allergies – so this can affect prices.  However, even with that, it was still a fantastic deal! This is a big batch of bulk mix and it will last a while.

When I made this, I used these exact products, but there are lots of options, including Bob’s Red Mill (which we love, but not nut safe and it makes it even cheaper).

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You can head to the Vitacost site for all of the ingredients at a discount.  If you get these exact sizes and packages, here’s how this works:

  • The Tapioca Flour (2.5 lbs) and Sweet Rice Flour (3 lbs) will make for 2.5 batches.
  • The Brown Rice Flour (2 lbs.) and the White Rice Flour (2 lbs) will be about 1.5 batches.
  • Xanthan Gum will last for around 12 -14 batches (haven’t used it all yet to know for sure!).

Each batch of this mix is a large bulk amount that usually lasts me 3-5 weeks of regular use.  So this is a few months worth of mix for a much better price than buying already made flour.

You get free shipping with orders for $49 or more OR if you are a first time customer to Vitacost…. you can get $10 off your total order of $30 or more if you use this link HERE for the $10 coupon! 

Returning Customers: Head to Vitacost HERE to see the current sale prices on these ingredients

First-time Customers: Use this link HERE to check sale prices and get a $10 off coupon on the Vitacost site!

If you use the $10 coupon for first time customers to Vitacost, it is even that much better of a deal!

You can probably also find these at various health food stores in your area. Kroger will often have a decent health foods section too!

I hope you have as good of results as we have had with this recipe.  It has been a huge help to the budget and makes GF living a bit more enjoyable!

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Alex & Cassie
 

How to Cook Perfect Corn on the Cob in a Cooler

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by Alex on August 18, 2014

how-to-cook-perfect-corn-on-the-cob-in-a-cooler

Cooking corn on the cob in a cooler? Weird, right?!?  Well, it is actually awesome because it cooks perfectly without hardly any effort!

We recently had a big gathering with many friends and corn on the cob is sold everywhere around here with all of our local farmers and farmer’s markets.

Well, it is a lot of work to cook up tons of corn on the cob on the stove.  A few pieces work out well, but a lot is a lot of heat and back breaking, time consuming cooking!

Well, one of our friends had this idea that she had seen some where about cooking corn on the cob in a cooler.

So we put it to the test!

There was 18 full cobs or 36 half cobs in a cooler at once to be cooked.

How To Cook Perfect Corn on the Cob in a Cooler

Boil about 10-14 quarts of water on the stovetop (varies based on cooler size and amount of corn).

While the water is coming to a boil, shuck the corn and place in the cooler.  We like our’s split in half for ease in eating and smaller portions for littles.

Once the water is boiling, pour it over the corn in the cooler until the corn is fully covered.

Then close the lid and don’t open it for 30 minutes as it “cooks” in the cooler.

After 30 minutes, open it and check it to see if the center of the cob is soft and can be pierced by the cob holders or forks.  This means it is done!

If it isn’t quite done, just close the lid for a bit more time.

30 minutes was perfect for us. The corn was not over done at all, but rather just barely complete and was the crisp perfect taste that makes corn on the cob so great!

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Party Guests Grabbing The Perfect Grub

We just let our party guests use tongs and the cob holders to grab their corn.  We had a stick of butter on a butter dish with flavored salts of all kinds to “dress-it.”

It was a perfect corn party solution and a great way to feed a large crowd and it was really easy to prepare this much food! It can easily be transported too (which is what this cooler did!) from it’s original destination to the party!  The water was just poured right before leaving and perfect upon arrival!

So no matter how to plan to serve it, this might be a great solution!

What do you think of this idea? 

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2-Ingredient Homemade Fruit-Rolls Ups (Easy Fruit Leather that is Natural and Gluten-Free)

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by Alex on August 15, 2014

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How to Make Homemade DIY Fruit Roll-Ups and Fruit Leather – Easy Recipe

Fruit roll-ups or fruit leather is an awesome snack for kids! But we either find 2 major problems…. many fruits roll-ups or leather contain food dyes and high fructose corn syrup, to name two ingredients that our family tries to avoid…. or you try to buy natural fruit roll-ups or fruit leather and they are so incredibly expensive.

So we learned a long time ago how to make our own.  It is cheaper, especially when you can make it with seasonal fruits, and quite easy. In fact, before we learned this a while back, we hadn’t realized just how incredibly simple this is!  This is just yet another recipe to add to our collection of recipes to replace a store-bought product!

You can follow this same recipe for pretty much any fruit (except citrus – we haven’t tried that)! We are going to demonstrate with our latest batch from the cheap strawberries and blueberries that we grabbed in season recently.

Strawberry fruit roll-ups are a favorite flavor in our house.  Which is a good thing as this is also the most popular.  I made strawberry, blueberry and a mixture of strawberry/blueberry in this round of fruit roll-ups.

Recipe for Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups and Fruit Leather

Ingredients:

  • 3 Cups of Fresh Fruit
  • 1 TBSP of Honey (we use local raw honey)

*If this is for pregnant mothers or infants, we would recommend using sugar or maple syrup instead of honey.

How to Make:

  • Wash the fruit, cut out stems, seeds, etc.

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  • Stick in a blender or food processor
  • Then add your sweetener

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  • Blend until it is slushy like.

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  • Line your pan(s) with parchment paper. You will need to use parchment paper.  It will not work with wax paper, or right on the pan.  Sorry! Shortcuts here means your batch is ruined.

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  • Pour the slushy fruit mixture right onto the pan of parchment paper.

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  • Then, using a rubber spatula, spread the mixture evenly and push the mixture to the edges. Make as smooth as possible. It’s important to make sure that the center does not “pool” with the mixture and the edges be “thin.” If this is the case, the edges will over-crisp while the center stays soft.

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  • Bake/dry out in a 200 degree oven for 2-4 hours.  You will know it is done when you touch it and it does not stick to you, but is “leather” like.

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  • The reason why the time is so broad is because each oven and each fruit will take a different amount of time.  In some cases, some fruits may be thicker and we have found that turning up the oven to 225 or 250 was needed.  Just check on it periodically.
  • Then, pull it out of the oven, you can let it cool in the pan overnight or take it out and let it set on the parchment paper overnight.

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  • The next day, you will see a nice leathery fruit feel and it will even lift easily from the parchment paper.

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  • Cut the fruit roll-ups and fruit leather into strips.

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Strawberry sheet of fruit leather

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Strawberry, Blueberry and Mixed Berry Leather Strips

  • Then “roll it up” for fruit leather, or cut strips in half for fruit leather.  We store ours in the fridge and they stay for a couple of weeks.

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Yummy! They slide right off the paper, just like the classic fruit roll-ups!

They are great snack additions to our homemade, allergy-friendly Trail Mix recipe too!

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Ideas and Ways to Use Cherry Tomatoes Recipe Collection

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by Alex on August 12, 2014

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What to do with fresh cherry tomatoes?  Last week we posted about ideas for fresh garden tomatoes as part of our Ideas for using fresh garden veggies series.  Well, Cherry Tomatoes are just different enough that we decided they deserved their own focus because their uses are differents on many fronts.  However, don’t miss the fresh garden tomatoes post as many of the ideas will work for these too!

Well, with that, let’s talk about these fancy, sweet, bite sized, goodness!

Fresh Cherry Tomatoes Idea #1 – Quick and Easy Salsa Recipe

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Making a quick, easy and simple salsa is a great use for Cherry Tomatoes.  Check out the recipe for Easy Healthy Salsa HERE. 

Fresh Cherry Tomatoes Idea #2 – Stuffed Cherry Tomato Appetizer or Snack

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Stuffed cherry tomatoes are a fun way to go…. why? Well, kids will eat them, they are eye candy at parties, they are easy and they are healthy.

You can stuff them with many ideas, soft cheeses, ranch mixed with sour cream, a piece of feta marinated in olive oil and Italian seasoning, a piece of mozzarella is simple elegant and yummy too, etc.  You can be quite creative!

Here’s some specific recipes using cream cheese and greek yogurt for stuffed cherry tomatoes that are GREAT with any vegetable!

  •  Mix equal parts of cream cheese and plain Greek yogurt, minced garlic or garlic paste, dried rosemary and dill weed (all to taste) and stuff the cherry tomatoes.
  • Mix equal parts of cream cheese and plain Greek yogurt with dry ranch mix to taste and stuff the cherry tomatoes.

Also, sticking them with toothpicks helps to display and eat the tomatoes with ease! A piece of mozzarella cheese is a fun and tasty addition.

Fresh Cherry Tomatoes Idea #3 – Cherry Tomato Kabobs or Skewers

This is another idea that is a great snack or appetizer for kids, parties or just because.  Again, healthy, easy, tasty and fun!

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The recipe is a very classic Italian appetizer.

It’s very simple to make:

3 bite-sized mozzarella balls (bocconcini) PER skewer. (HINT: for a frugal alternative, chunks of mozzarella from a block or cheese sticks cut into 4th’s works fine too – might not be as soft and fancy, but still tastes GREAT!)
4 cherry tomatoes PER skewer
3 basil leaves PER skewer
Dahes of fresh chives, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
Drizzles of extra-virgin olive oil

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Also, I happen to have a Spicy Italian Spice Grinder which is awesome dashed on top! I got this at Kroger, you don’t have to use this, it’s just a fun addition.  The bottle says it has these spices: rosemary, black pepper, red pepper, garlic, onion, sea salt, tomato, parsley.  Perhaps a mixture of these would be good :)

To make: Simply thread the mozzarella, tomatoes and basil leaves onto skewers in alternating order – starting and ending with cherry tomatoes. Repeat until all of the ingredients have been used. Transfer the skewers to a serving platter and sprinkle with the chives. Season with salt and pepper (or special seasonings shared above), drizzle with  a bit of olive oil and serve.  They can also “marinate” in the fridge for a short time to prepare before hand.

We also came across grilled cherry tomato skewers on the Health.com site and these look amazing too!

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Photo Credit

The recipe for the grilled cherry tomato skewers is on the Health.com site HERE.

Fresh Cherry Tomatoes Idea #4 –  How to Pickle Cherry Tomatoes

Another great idea is to make pickled cherry tomatoes.  This is also a great way to preserve them for a longer term time!

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Photo Credit

There is an easy recipe for Pickled Cherry Tomatoes HERE on the Chicagoist site.

Fresh Cherry Tomatoes Idea #5 –  How to Freeze Cherry Tomatoes

Finally, if you run out of ideas and recipes, you can just freeze them! 

Finally, just like we have shared the process with the previous veggies in our series, we do also want to share the easy process of freezing cherry tomatoes.

These are so ridiculously easy to freeze, that it is really the last minute no-brainer way to save instead of toss out. You don’t have to blanch them like you do all other veggies because tomatoes are actually a fruit! The process of freezing is actually just like freezing some fruit – wash, dry, lay on a cookie sheet, place cookie sheet flat in freeze. Freeze overnight, transfer to a gallon size ziploc and store in the deep freeze long term! That’s it! 

And similar to the vegetables, you really cannot defrost and eat. Frozen produce rarely works this way. They will need to be used in sauces and cooked dishes.

What do you plan to do with your cherry tomatoes?

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Keep watching for more ideas on using your garden veggies as we have many more veggies recipes and ideas to share this summer with you as you make the most of your garden and farmer’s market finds! 

For actual garden ideas, we wanted to remind you that we have been sharing so many gardening ideas on our Garden Gallery of Ideas HEREPinterest HERE and Facebook HERE that we hope you are seeing some incredible results with your homegrown food supply.  And, as always, we will continue to share gardening tips and ideas on all our site.

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