Summer Bruschetta - Juggling with Julia

I love the Recipe Redux! Every month this fab group of foodies celebrates both tasty and nutritious food, and this month, we’re getting all nostalgic with our first memories of being in the kitchen. We’ll get to the mouth-watering Summer Bruschetta shortly, but first, let’s hop in the time machine and go way, way back, because all of my earliest memories in the kitchen involve my mom.

1967 Juggling with JuliaThere I am! Just a baby, but, as you can see, I already love to eat as my mouth is wide open. That’s my sweet momma, with my funny and entertaining big brother looking on. It’s 1967 and I’m adored by all.

That turns out to be just a phase, when lil’ sis comes on board in ’71 :)

Oh how I wish I had photos of us in the kitchen. I spent so much time ‘helping’ my mom while she cooked and baked. When she made bread, the aroma of molasses and yeast filled the house with loaves of oatmeal, sweet anadama, and crusty white bread. I helped as well as a wee tike could, standing on a chair to measure, sprinkle, and stir. I tried my hand at kneading, thrilled to be allowed to touch the dough, but my little arms quickly fatigued and my mom took over. She would knead and knead and then knead some more. It was quite the workout!

Note: This was a good 15 years before the first in-home single loaf bread machine. She was the bread machine, and had the biceps to prove it (which I’m sure aided her tennis game immensely).

Flash forward a few years, and we’re dropping my sister and brother off at college. My mom had made a few loaves for them to take back to the dorm. That alone made me want to go to college some day – for a whole loaf, to myself, of my mom’s homemade bread!
Julie and Molly 2016 - Juggling with JuliaHere’s me with my cool mom today – almost 50 years later – on Take Your Mom to Work Day :) She still loves to bake (and play tennis), and a week doesn’t go by that she isn’t making something yummy to share with my family. But not bread anymore, boo hoo. Oh, if only I could get her to make some of that bread now, it would go SO GREAT with this summer bruschetta.

Bruschetta happened because tomatoes happened. We’ve been overrun with tomatoes of all varieties, thanks to our farm share as well as our own unexpectedly successful container gardening.
Tomatoes for bruschetta - Juggling with JuliaNeeding to use up as many as I could while they were fresh, I went with an easy bruschetta, inspired by this recipe and tried it out on friends at an end-of-summer cookout. It was a hit!

Summer Bruschetta
Makes: ~2 cups

Prep time: 20 minutes          Cook time: 4-6 minutes

2 pounds tomatoes (I used a variety of sizes and types)
3 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
8-10 basil leaves
2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 loaf French bread (or similar long skinny loaf bread)

First, blanche the tomatoes:
In a large saucepan, add 2 quarts of water and place on stove on high. Bring to a boil. While the water is heating, make a criss-cross shallow cut on the non-stem end of each tomato. Add tomatoes to the boiling water and blanche for one minute. Remove to a plate using a slotted spoon and allow to cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 450 F. While tomatoes are cooling, cut the bread loaf diagonally in 1/2 inch slices. Brush one side with olive oil and arrange them oil-side down on a baking sheet. Toast for 6-8 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.

When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, pull the skins off with your fingers. Cut each tomatoes in quarters and remove the seeds. Chop tomatoes and move to small bowl. Add the minced garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and the balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with the toasted bread slices.

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Our Favorite Beef Stew

by Julia Robarts on September 7, 2016

in Beef, Crock Pot

early morning sun - juggling with juliaOoh-wee! That was one fantastic summer. Early morning walks, endless sunshine, cool clouds, and tons of fun. Hours and hours by the pool were interrupted only by the need to appear at my paying gig and the occasional slapdash of housework.

blue blue sky - juggling with julia pool hopping - juggling with juliaOh, and the college visits. Cue the meaningful orchestra music. There is not one emoji that could capture the maelstrom of feelings that we’ve experienced since starting that process. #allthefeels

Sigh.

Now more than ever, I simplify life where I can, and in my kitchen is my favorite place to do that. When I find myself needing to feed hungry people, which happens with startling frequency, I turn to those dishes that require the least amount of prep, like our favorite beef stew.

our favorite beef stew - juggling with juliaIt defines simplicity, using just 4 ingredients: top round beef, diced onion, water, and…

Here’s where I tell you a little secret.

processed food is my savior

Not, like, “Here, honey, here’s your Hot Pockets and Tang. Now don’t bother mommy while I’m Netflixing with my Cheetos.”

More like, if there’s one ingredient with not a completely horrible Nutrition Facts label that takes the place of 3 other ingredients and saves me time and is surefire in its results? Then, yes, I am DOWN WITH THAT. In moderation, of course :)
#RDcaveat #thingsdietitianssay

In this case, my savior is canned soup. Campbell’s Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom soup, to be exact. It creates the exact right consistency in the gravy, has good flavor that doesn’t overwhelm the dish, and doesn’t require that I stand over the slow cooker in the hour before it’s done adding a thickener or other such high-maintenance ingredients.

In other words, I could not live without it or this beef stew. I’ve served this at least once a month for the past year, and nobody has complained yet. That is a resounding success in this household, and I am not messing with that :)

Our Favorite Beef Stew
Serves 6

Prep time: 5 minutes     Cook time: 6 hours (slow cooker method)

2 pounds top round stew beef
1 cup diced onion, about one medium onion
1 can lower-sodium cream of mushroom soup
1/3 soup can of water

Add the stew beef to the bottom of the slow cooker. Add diced onion. In a small bowl whisk together the canned soup and water. Pour over the meat/onion mixture. Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours, or High for 3 hours.

Serve over mashed potatoes with a salad or green vegetable.

ENJOY!

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Beach Preachin’

July 5, 2016 Life
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Sand, salt, sea, sun. These are the simplest ingredients for family harmony I know. Our annual mid-coast Maine beach vacation has once again delivered miles of smiles and fantastic memories, all in the style of good old-fashioned fun. We picked strawberries (10 quarts!) for jelly and pie-making, skipped rocks, gazed at stars, hunted for hermit crabs, […]

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Barbecued Chicken Flatbread Bites

May 22, 2016 Appetizers & Snacks
Barbecued Chicken Flatbread Bites - Juggling With Julia

Hello, friends! It’s Recipe Redux time! This month the theme is small bites, also know as appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, or tapas. Portion control in an adorably miniature package? A dietitian’s dream Since, at Juggling with Julia, we love anything in or on a flour tortilla, I’m sharing with you these savory Barbecued Chicken Flatbread Bites.These savory […]

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Juggling with Julia’s 5th Blogiversary!

April 26, 2016 Appetizers & Snacks
5th blogiversary Juggling with Julia

April 26th, 2016. The 5th blogiversary for my little hobby That doesn’t seem possible. I’m having a hard time comprehending that it’s been five whole years. In my mind, that sounds like a lot of work. A lot of time. For sure, it has been. I’ve poured immeasurable amounts of time, thought, and creative energy […]

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Real Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

March 31, 2016 Dessert
Real Strawberry Buttercream Frosting - Juggling With Julia

Hello, my dear ones! As we approach the final day of National Nutrition Month, I encourage you, as always, to enjoy your food. Enjoy every bite, every morsel, every crumb, and every calorie…fruits that sweeten your day, vegetables that fill you up, energizing grains, and power-packed proteins. And when it’s time to indulge? GO BIG. […]

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Savor the Flavor, Everybody!

March 9, 2016 Healthy Lifestyle
Savor the Flavor - Juggling With Julia

National Nutrition Month is upon us once again, and dietitians everywhere would like you to ‘savor the flavor.’ And on National Registered Dietitian Day (today!), I always take the opportunity to remind everyone that a) I am a dietitian and I love bacon, and that b) above all, food is meant to be enjoyed. I’ve said it […]

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Beating Misery

March 2, 2016 Blogging
Beating Misery -- Juggling with Julia

Happy Wednesday, friends! Normally I’d be here enticing you with some drool-worthy picture and new recipe to go with it. Not today. The past week has brought little to my life except the pain and suffering one can expect from strep throat. Fiery pain that intensified with the tiniest of movement had me wincing and dreading […]

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Breakfast Nachos with Eggs, Spinach, and Spicy Fried Onions

February 22, 2016 Breakfast/Brunch
Breakfast Nachos - Juggling with Julia

Rise and shine! Time to make the…breakfast nachos. What? Start your day with nachos? In what galaxy is the favorite food of pub crawlers, sports fans, and margarita-infused shenanigan-makers considered a nutritious start to anyone’s day? In the Recipe Redux galaxy, my friends I’m so excited to be a part of the Recipe Redux, a monthly dietitian-inspired […]

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Shaved Brussel Sprouts and Kale Salad

February 2, 2016 Breakfast/Brunch
Shaved Brussel Sprouts and Kale Salad - Juggling with Julia

I’d like to keep a big bowl of this in my fridge to eat every day. That’s a direct quote, which got an enthusiastic nod of agreement from around the room. That makes Kale and Shaved Brussel Sprouts Salad hands-down the biggest foodie hit I’ve ever had with the book club pals. And that’s saying […]

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