Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Strawberries & Cream Basil Bruschetta

Need a quick and easy appetizer for your Summer barbecue?
These bruschetta bites come together in a snap!

strawberries & cream basil bruschetta


How ya'll been?  It's been bananas around these parts, but I was bound and determined to get my weekly food post out to you!  I mean, can the world really go round without a new recipe each week?

I think not.

It was my birthday yesterday {cheers to 38!} and we also just got back from vacation.  A week of pure bliss.  Lake time with family is one of my favorite times of the year.  This is how my day goes {often in this order}...wake-up, take an early morning walk around the lake, grab coffee at my favorite local joint, come back to the cabin and start making breakfast for our crew of 14, clean up and get our suits on for heading to the lake or pool, sit on the dock for hours reading and soaking in the sun and people watching, come back to the cabin to shower, either go out for dinner or cook at the cabin, hit shops and ice cream after dinner, come home and go to bed.


It really is the just THE BEST TIME for a gal who is super lad back and loves to chill almost everyday.

strawberries & cream basil bruschetta

But life got real once we headed back.  We hit up an urgent care on the road for an ear infection {because, kids} and came home to 7 loads of laundry.  I'm a once-a-day-load kinda girl, so I loathe nothing more than having to do that much in a day.

This week continues the trend of getting back to life, not to mention getting the kids ready for school soon!  We have one entering 4th, 3rd and Kindergarten.  I still have school supplies to buy, but hey at least they are registered!

We've been eating simple because I've refused to go to the grocery store until Friday...but I did make time today in between dentist appointments and whiny kids to create this Strawberries & Cream Basil Brushetta.

strawberries & cream basil bruschetta

I had gone out to the garden with the girls yesterday and noticed my basil plant was flourishing, so naturally traditional bruschetta came to mind {tomatoes, basil, garlic, oil, balsamic, etc.}, but I decided to go a different route.

What's great about this easy dish is it can fly either way - an appetizer or dessert!  I mean, whip these up and your family will think they are at a fancy dinner party.  Minus the black tie affair.

Think your kids won't eat this?  Think again.  Mine each devoured one each {after photos} and loved them!

strawberries & cream basil bruschetta

And these are so darn pretty.

I'm laid back, but I still like pretty things.

What's also great is you can make a few or a whole sheet pan full of them!  The whipped cream cheese mixture stays in the fridge FOREVER.  Cut up a few slices of baguette or slice up the whole darn thing.

It doesn't matter to me.

strawberries & cream basil bruschetta

Oh, and I should be sure to mention - yes, you can use any fruit.  People always ask me these weird things.  I'm not your mother or teacher.  I will not give you an F if you don't use strawberries.  Go ahead, be a rebel!  Swap them with blueberries.

All fruit works.  No need to take sides, I just personally love the strawberry basil combo.

Snap a photo when you make these and tag me {@sweetsavoryeats}, I'd love to see it.  I'll be sure to share the love on my social media pages too.

Strawberries & Cream Basil Bruschetta

Yield: 12-18
prep time: 5 Mcook time: 6 Mtotal time: 11 M
This fresh, summery appetizer can be eaten before a meal or as dessert! Thick, crusty bread is topped with a sweet cream cheese, sliced strawberries and freshly picked basil.


  • 1 baguette, sliced on an angle into 1 ince slices
  • 8 oz. whipped plain cream cheese
  • 2 T honey
  • 8-10 sliced strawberries
  • freshly chopped basil
  • olive oil spray


How to cook Strawberries & Cream Basil Bruschetta

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice the baguette on an angle into 1 inch slices, lay on a rimmed cookie sheet and spray both sides of the bread with an olive oil spray.
  3. Toast the bread for 2-3 minutes a side.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  4. While the bread is toasting, mix together the whipped cream cheese and honey and set aside.  Slice the strawberries and chop the basil.
  5. To get long confetti stings of basil, stack up the basil leaves, roll them up and slice thinly.
  6. To prepare the bruschetta baguette, spread the toasted bread with a generous dollup of the cream cheese, sliced strawberries and a sprinkling of basil strings.
  7. Serve at room temperature or chilled.


These are a great party appetizer! Or even served with family and friends before or after a meal. Any fruit can be used as a topper, but we love the sliced strawberries.
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Created using The Recipes Generator

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The Only Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe You'll Ever Need

Tuck this chocolate chip cookie recipe away and don't lose it!
They are crispy on the edges and soft and chewy in the middle.

chocolate chip cookie recipe (

I've debated long and hard about sharing this cookie recipe with you and if you know me you know I don't debate long and hard about most things.

I'm a quick thinker and often make decisions based on my gut reaction.  Nothing irriates me more that hem hawing back and forth over a decision, checking and rechecking figures, asking people around you what they'd do, etc.

Unfortunately for some reason THESE COOKIES were the exception.

chocolate chip cookie recipe (

I stumbled up a chocolate chip cookie recipe last year that added hot water to the dough.  Huh?  What? What does it do...activate the baking soda?  It just sounded odd.

Anyway, I started experimenting with adding hot water to this dough {a dough that over the years I've perfected} and guess what?  It made the best cookie.  A cookie that is exactly what I had been searching for - a tad crispy on the edges, but still left a sweet, soft and chewy middle.

This is a cookie that makes people want a second cookie.  You see them reaching for another every single time.

chocolate chip cookie recipe (

So very long story short....I debated on sharing this chocolate chip cookie recipe for many reasons.  Do people really need another chocolate chip cookie recipe?  Do they even care?  You can google chocolate chip cookies and come up with approximately 7 million hits.  It's not like it is a NEED.  We don't need cookies to survive {that was hard for me to type}.

Do I keep this secret dandy of a cookie recipe to myself?  I can be selfish.  It crossed my mind to have this be one of those secret recipes where I clutch the recipe card to my grave.

I can also be dramatic. 

In the end I decided to share, so here you go.

chocolate chip cookie recipe (

In other BIG NEWS.

If you've been stalking my Instagram feed, you've seen I've hinted at a book!  Yes, a book.  I should have a big box arriving at my doorstep soon.  Come later this month you'll be able to purchase something I actually designed!  With the help of a great graphic artist of course.

This book is a labor of love.  After many, many disappointments and not getting signed to write an actual cookbook I took it into my own hands and created something of my own.  This book is one-third meal planner, one-third shopping list organizer and one-third 50 of my most beloved recipes.

This is a book designed to take with you on-the-go.  Especially for Moms!  We are busy and if you are like me staying organized is a big part of me staying sane.  I cannot wait to share this with you.  Stay tuned as ordering information will be happening later this month.  Great for back-to-school!

As always, I love and appreciate all of my reader's support.  You are the best!

The Only Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe You'll Ever Need

Yield: 32 cookies
prep time: 5 Mcook time: 12 Mtotal time: 17 M
I have finally found the only chocolate chip cookie recipe I'll ever need to get through life. A bit crispy on the edges, yet soft and chewy in the middle. The best of both worlds!


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 3 t hot water
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips


How to cook The Only Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe You'll Ever Need

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer combine the softened butter and sugars, blending until light and creamy.
  3. Add in the eggs one at a time, along with the vanilla extract, baking soda, hot water and salt.
  4. Gently add in the flour until just combined, then fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop heaping scoops of cookie dough onto the cookie sheet, around 2 inch balls, placing 12 on the sheet.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes until just golden on the edges but the middle are still a bit soft.
  7. Immediately remove from the oven and move the cookies to a wire cooling rack.  Allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.  They will stay fresh for 3-4 days.  Or freeze for up to 3 months.
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Created using The Recipes Generator

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

How to Pickle Banana Peppers

If you are growing a banana pepper plant, here's a fun way to use them up!
Pickling these beauties gives you a few more ways to eat them.

how to pickle banana peppers (

How's your garden coming along?

We had such a wet Spring here in Iowa that I feel like we are a little behind, but finally my garden is starting to produce the goods!

So far we've eaten broccoli, used many an onion in my blender salsa, as well as jalapenos and are just starting to pick some tomatoes {I had my first juicy one on a BLT!}.  It was heavenly.  And per usual, my banana pepper plant is going strong.  It always does, each and every year.  When I picked 10 on the first picking I knew I had to find a way to use them up as more would be coming.

Unlike my green and red peppers {who never seem to like my backyard}, these banana peppers are my best friend.

how to pickle banana peppers (

Banana peppers are a very mild chili pepper and have a bit of a "tang".  They are most often yellow, but they can change to orange or a deeper red if they stay on the vine a bit too long.  Their shape {oblong} makes it seem like they would be hot, but they are not.

Since they are easy to grow it's very popular to pickle them as that gives them an even tangier taste.  You love a puckery pickle?  Then you'll love these.

Once pickled the options are endless for ways to use them.  Here are my favorites.
  • Topped on homemade pizza, like my BBQ Pulled Pork, Pineapple & Banana Pepper Pizza.
  • In chopped, cold lettuce salads mixed with diced meats, tomatoes and bacon in a light vinaigrette.
  • Thrown into a crock pot beef roast meal like my Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches.
  • Layered on cold subs as a topper {just like Subway does!}.
  • Baked onto a sheet pan tray of cheesy nachos.
  • Eaten on a charcuterie board with various cheeses and crackers.
  • Diced and mixed in cold pasta salads, like my Zesty Spaghetti Salad.
  • Topped on hot dogs, brats and burgers.

how to pickle banana peppers (

These peppers were on my list to make before we leave for vacation this weekend and I checked it off!  Does anyone feel like the list of things to do prior to vacation is longer than any list you've ever managed to tackle?


Laundry to do, food to bake {my famous banana bread}, a Costco run to make for vacation essentials like juice boxes, Gatorade and granola bars, so many bags to pack {because Moms pack for everyone}, meals to make and freeze {stuffed shells and lasagna is our meal to bring}, a lawn to mow, lists to give neighbors who are taking care of flowers and garden, swimming lessons to finish up, a blog to keep running, van to vacuum out {because kids} and I'm sure I'm missing about 50 more things.

how to pickle banana peppers (

What's great about these pickled banana peppers is they take just one week to ferment in the fridge and then they are ready to eat!  This recipe makes just one pint, which I love because I'm not staring at multiple jars in my fridge....just enough to eat over the course of a few weeks on subs, pizza and salads.

Give these a try!

Tag me on social media {@sweetsavoryeats} and share how you use them.  I'll be sure to tag you back and share the love.

How to Pickle Banana Peppers

Yield: 1 pint
prep time: 5 Mcook time: 1 Mtotal time: 6 M
My banana pepper plant always goes bonkers in the summer so this fun pickling recipe is a great way to use them up! Great on salads, sandwiches and pizza.


  • 10-12 medium-sized banana peppers, sliced in rings
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 t mustard seeds
  • 1/2 t celery seeds


How to cook How to Pickle Banana Peppers

  1. Wash and rinse out a pint sized glass jar with a seal and ring, dry and set aside.
  2. Slice the peppers into thin rings and place into the clean jar.
  3. In a small saucepan combine the vinegars, sugar and spices and bring to a boil.  Let it boil until the sugar is dissolved, around a minute.
  4. Using a funnel, pour the brine into the pint jar covering the peppers and seal the jar.  
  5. Place in the fridge and let ferment for 1 week.
  6. Eat and enjoy!


We love these peppers baked on homemade pizza, thrown on sandwiches, eaten on a hot dog or sprinkled in cold lettuce and pasta salads.
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Created using The Recipes Generator

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Zucchini Bread Pancakes

When zucchini comes into season, it's comes on with a vengance.
Here's a great way to use some of it up in my Zucchini Bread Pancakes!

zucchini bread pancakes

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in the kitchen listening to some of my favorite podcasts and making a helluva mess.  Both our girls were gone with a friend at the pool for the afternoon and with just one child at home {let's face it, the easy older one} I busted out three new recipes.

One being these pancakes!

More on those in a moment.  One recipe I'm still holding secret and one being a fun pickling recipe with some garden veggies that are currently frementing in my fridge.  Hopefully those turn out and I'll be showcasing them next.

zucchini bread pancakes

Speaking of podcasts they kinda keep me sane.  I listen to one every morning when I venture out while the house is quiet with the dog for our daily walk.  I will also pop one on when I'm weeding the garden {because I loathe weeding and desparately need a distraction}, sometimes when I'm driving and other times when I have a spare moment of quiet.

Like yesterday in the kitchen with only one kid at home.

Some of my favorites {because I know you'll ask} are as follows: The Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, The Big Boo Cast, That Sounds Fun, On a Mother Level, Squad Life with Crystal Blin, Ordinary People, Ordinary Things, The Popcast, The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey and so many more.

zucchini bread pancakes

Moving on.  Now you know what I listen to!  For podcasts anyway.

How about these flapjacks?

I remember growing up in the summer my Mom made the BEST homemade zucchini bread.  It's like banana bread but better {if that's possible}.  We only had it in the summer as that was when random zucchinis would be waiting for you on your doorstep when you arrived home from various outings.

You never really knew who put them there as the possibilities were endless {everyone and their brother had a garden full}, but basically it was like playing a game of door dash.  Who can run up to that house, place it at the door and run away before anyone notices type of game.

This is the kind of fun we have here in the Midwest.

zucchini bread pancakes

Anyway, instead of making a typical batch of zucchini bread again {although that will still happen}, I figured I'd change it up and turn that ideas into PANCAKES.

We love a good pancake in this house.  In fact I have one child who would eat them every single darn day of her life, but I try and limit her to once a week {usually Saturdays}.  My homemade recipe is engraved in my brain.  It's rare I have to look it up!

I took that recipe and tweaked it a bit to make it taste like that zucchini bread we all know and least pretty similar.  Then I shredded up that zucchini given to me by a friend and folded it into the batter and well, it was a match made in heaven. 

zucchini bread pancakes

All three kids LOVED them.  They did ask, "what's that green stuff?", but didn't even flinch when I told them zucchini.  They gobbled them down anyway.

They are a bit thin and a bit thick - right in the middle, light and fluffy and so incredibly soft.  It is exactly how I enjoy a homemade pancake.

Slather on a bit of soft butter, drizzle with some quality maple syrup and breakfast is made!  Give these a try on your next pancake day and let me know what you think!  Tag me on social media {@sweetsavoryeats} and I'll help to share the love.

Zucchini Bread Pancakes

Yield: 12, 5-inch pancakes
prep time: 2 hourcook time: 4 Mtotal time: 2 H & 4 M
Extra zucchini on hand? Why not turn our favorite zucchini bread flavors into pancakes!


  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% or whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 2 T vanilla
  • 2 t nutmeg
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda 
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini, pressed and drained


How to cook Zucchini Bread Pancakes

  1. In a bowl combine the vinegar and milk.  Let this sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Whisk in the vanilla, sugar, spices and egg.
  3. Sift in the flour gently stirring to combine.
  4. Fold in the shredded zucchini (make sure the zucchini has been pressed and drained of all excess liquid).
  5. Cover and place in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.
  6. Cook pancakes on a hot, greased griddle, ladeling two large serving spoons to form  5 inch pancakes.  Cook 3 minutes the first side (or until bubbles pop), then another minute on the other side.
  7. Serve warm with butter and maple syrup.
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Created using The Recipes Generator

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Why I Purchased a Costco Membership After Not Having One for 10 Years

Recently we purchased a Costco membership and I had many ask, how come?
Well, here are my reasons.

Why I Purchased a Costco Membership After Not Having One for 10 Years....the 9 reasons why, plus my favorite items to buy!

Big box, big bulk stores.  I've found over the years people either love them or hate them.  Saying this I've also realized that people will tend to join one during various periods of their lives.

Single, living in a one room apartment and on a tight budget?  Not so much.

Mother of four, working full-time, willing to pay for convenience?  Absolutely.

The husband and I recently purchased a membership at Costco. 10 years ago we had one {before kids} when we lived in a much, much bigger city with it right down the road.  Then we moved, went down to one income, had 3 kids in 5 years and didn't have one close.  Needless to say it wasn't needed or in the budget.

Then a few years ago one opened up 25 minutes from us and then recently another one opened up 30 minutes from us in a different direction.  We were basically sandwiched between two brand new stores.  We talked about joining again in recent years, but up until last week we hadn't.  When I announced on Instagram we had joined again, I had quite a few readers ask simply, "WHY?".  There weren't being critical, they just really wanted to know the reasons for our decision.

And so I have written this blog post.

Here are the reasons that after 10 years of not being a member, we now are back in the saddle.  Read on and I'd love to hear your opinions {keep 'em nice}!

1.  Like I said prior, we now have two Costcos each within a 30 minute driving distance.  Both are in towns that we frequent at least monthly {if not more}, so it is not "out of the way" for us.  I strongly feel that if we did NOT have them this close then having a membership would be slim to none.

2.  We have 3 very hungry kids.  Ten years ago we were childless and even though we took advantage of many of their deals, let's face it - we were not going through granola bars like we are now.  It's simple math, we have a 9 year old boy, an 8 year old girl and a 5 year old girl.  In the summer especially I feel as soon as we finished breakfast, they are asking for lunch and as soon as we've finished lunch they are asking for a snack.  You get the picture.
Why I Purchased a Costco Membership After Not Having One for 10 Years....the 9 reasons why, plus my favorite items to buy!
3.  Two of our kids are on travel ball teams.  Baseball and softball consume our lives from April until July.  I'm not complaining, I absolutely LOVE watching them both play a sport they love, but it does require some planning when it comes to meals.  In fact last week when we bought our Costco membership it was prompted because we needed to purchase hot dogs, brats, buns and condiments for 50 people.  It was our daughter's end of the year softball pool party and since the husband is the head coach and in charge of the team's funds, we needed to purchase the food.  Let's just say purchasing this many hot dogs, brats, etc. was much cheaper at Costco then buying multiple of smaller quantities at a regular grocery store.

4.  I often found myself asking friends and relatives to purchase items for me at Costco.  My parents have a membership and a good friend of mine here in town has a membership, so if they ever mentioned they were making a trip there I'd ask them to grab me this or that or in some case I'd go with them.  I never needed much, but after awhile didn't want to rely on them for what I wanted to buy.
Why I Purchased a Costco Membership After Not Having One for 10 Years....the 9 reasons why, plus my favorite items to buy!
5.  As a food blogger I need to keep certain larger quantities of ingredients on hand.  I am forever running out of butter.  ALL THE TIME.  I bake a lot and generally just use it in our everyday cooking so I tend to keep a few boxes in the fridge and then a few more in the freezer {butter freezes great!}.  Often I'll have to remake a recipe as it needed some tweaking, therefore my butter stash dwindles quickly.  I also use a lot of canned tomatoes {fresh salsa, homemade sauces, etc.} and various kinds of cheese {do I have to explain why I need a lot of cheese?}.

6.  During the sports seasons we are often eating on the go.  All of our kids are involved in various sports, many of which require us being gone all day on a Saturday for a meet or multiple games.  Our rule is they can get ONE item at that said game or event, but I will not be purchasing junk for them all day long.  Let's face it some days we leave at 7 a.m. and don't get home till dinner.  Therefore, I'm packing a cooler and we're eating a lot of sandwiches, chips, cut up fruit and dip, granola bars and sports drinks.  It's much easier for me buy a 54 count bag of Frito Lay mini chips for $14.99, then to buy 54 separate mini bags of chips at the grocery store for 75 cents a piece each.  Easy math.

7.  Sometimes life hands you curve balls or special events come into play.  I will never become a weekly Costco shopper {our home is just too small with little storage}, but I can see myself stocking up for events on the calendar.  Forseeable we leave for vacation the first week of August.  I will be making a trip to purchase juice boxes, crackers and other fun food.  Remember how I mentioned that softball pool party?  Definitely an event that doesn't come around often.  And let's not forget that school starts in late August.  I'll be making a trip for granola bars, hands down.  Other life events include holiday Christmas parties, birthday parties and other various events like showers, family reunions and such.
Why I Purchased a Costco Membership After Not Having One for 10 Years....the 9 reasons why, plus my favorite items to buy!
8.  Frankly, I just like the store.  I like that I can walk in and buy a mattress, or a couch, a best selling book or a case of ketchup.  It's kinda fun!  Saying this, you do need to keep yourself in check.  It can be VERY easy to walk out spending much more than you budgeted for.  Plus they have many more amendities that we haven't even used {yet} like their photo department, pharmacy, optical, grocery delivery and heck even travel services (rental cars, vacation packages and hotels}.

9.  We chose to purchase the Executive Membership for $120 a year annually.  This also gives us 2% back on all our purchases at the end of the year.  Many people have told me it is often enough or they receive at least half back to pay for your membership that following year.

So there you go!  Those are the 9 reasons WE chose to buy a Costco membership.  I fully understand not all of our reasons will pertain to everyone.  If you have 8 kids, then you clearly have another reason I don't with only 3 kids.  If your kids aren't in sports then you might not care about their snack food as much.  But if you are a techy and love always having the latest and greatest in TVs, phones, laptops and more, then you might really love Costco {as they have it all}.  We all have different reasons and that is okay.

Here are a few of our favorites and/or staples that we often throw in the cart.

Clorox Wipes, $16.49 for a 5 pack {super handy during the winter flu season}

Pure Maple Syrup, $13.29 for 33.8 oz {I use a drizzle in this for my coffee every morning}

Quaker Oatmeal Packets, $11.49 for 52 packs {great for back to school busy mornings}

Gatorade, $10.99 for 28 count, 12 oz. bottles {ideal for summer sports}

Planters Variety Pack Nuts, $9.79 for 24 bags {the husband loves taking these to work}

Metamucil, $31.99, 2 pack {for the husband - who might be 80 - but this is such a cheap price!}

Capri Sun Juice Boxes, $8.99, 40 count {great for vacation coming up}

Why I Purchased a Costco Membership After Not Having One for 10 Years....the 9 reasons why, plus my favorite items to buy!