Strawberry Pretzel Salad

I remember the first time I saw this dessert, I was confused – and kind of grossed out. Let’s face it, it’s certainly not the most attractive looking dish in the world. Whenever Jon has a work luncheon party at NASA, it’s always on the potluck menu. And, is usually the first thing to go as well! I shied away from it for years before I finally gave into temptation and gave it a try. And then promptly kicked myself for not trying it sooner…

A layer of crunchy salty pretzels, coated in butter then baked. Then layered with a sweet cream cheese layer, and topped with a layer of strawberry Jello that’s been studded with strawberries. So, I tracked down the recipe from Jon’s co-worker to share with you guys. I made a few adjustments – making my own homemade whipped cream instead of using Cool Whip, and also using fresh strawberries as opposed to frozen. I’m trying to use up the last couple quarts of my flat I bought last week, and this was perfect for it.

This is the perfect thing to bring to a potluck BBQ, because it’s different and fun. For anyone who loves a sweet and salty combo, this is a winner! I hope everyone has a great weekend welcoming summer into our lives. Don’t forget to enter our grilling giveaway going on through Monday! Be safe, kids!

Fresh Strawberry-Vanilla Bean Sundae Topping

While we’re still trying to fight off winter, spring has already sprung in some of our sunshine states like Florida and California. When I you start to see fragrant strawberries from these states popping up in your stores, you know that warmer days are right around the corner. At least, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell myself…

There are few things better in life than a perfectly red, ripe strawberry. When I buy them, I can always be counted upon to eat at least half of the clamshell package on the way home. So I’ve learned my lesson and usually buy two, just to be on the safe side. As much as I love to eat them “as-is”, it’s so much fun to cook and bake with them in the kitchen!

Cake. Cupcakes. Ice Cream. Vodka. Margaritas. Salad. Salsa. Syrup. You name it – I’ve made it! But one thing that was conspicuously missing was a good homemade strawberry sauce. Which, oddly is probably the easiest of all of those things to make. Fresh strawberries cooked down with a bit of sugar and a vanilla bean. Heaven over a bowl of yogurt and granola in the morning, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the evening…

Look for berries that are a deep red in color, but most importantly – smell them! Good strawberries are extremely fragrant. That’s usually my rule of thumb for most fruits, actually – the better it smells the better it’ll taste. So, keep your sniffer in mind the next time you’re in the produce aisle!

Yesterday I shared with you the most popular posts from 2013 here on Tide & Thyme. Today I’m here to share my favorite recipes that were posted this year. Drum roll, please….

Ham & Cheese SlidersHot Ham & Cheese Sliders – these are without a doubt the recipe that I’ve made the most often this year. We have them for lunch or dinner at least once every couple weeks, which says alot in our house. They’re too easy to be so good! 

Cheerwine CakeCheerwine Cake – another easy favorite. The cake is moist and sweet, and the frosting – which is somewhere between a frosting and a glaze, is just unbeatable. This is the dessert I always turn to when I want something homemade, but don’t feel like spending a ton of time in the kitchen. Equally delicious when made with cola or root beer!

Chicken Tortilla SoupChicken Tortilla Soup – I find myself thinking about this soup on the regular. And, once I think about it, I have to make it. The flavors sing in perfect harmony with each other. It’s a meal that fills you up, without weighing you down. And as with most other soups, it’s even better the second day around!

Macadamia Key Lime PieMacadamia Key Lime Pie – This year I became a Field Editor for Taste of Home magazine, and this is one of the first recipes I tried from them. It’s dreamy, and it was all I could do not to eat the entire thing myself. In fact, I need to make another one soon – it’s been too long!

LumpiaLumpia – This was a favorite that an old family friend used to make, and I finally gave it a spin on my own this year. Having a family full of boys (with one more on the way!), they love meat – so to stuff a bunch of ground pork into a crispy wrapper and then fry it was sure to be a winner. A great football snack!

Shrimp and GritsShrimp & Grits – We had the opportunity to visit the beautiful city of Charleston, SC this spring. When I got home I couldn’t wait to give this dish a try in my own kitchen. This version is from the Lee Brothers. Shrimp cooked in a delicious tomato gravy, served over creamy grits. It doesn’t get much better than this!

Grapefruit CrushThe Grapefruit Crush – any form of citrus crushes are popular here on our Eastern Shore beaches, but the grapefruit rendition is most definitely my favorite. The ingredients are so simple, but they make for a cocktail that is so refreshing and delicious. They’re especially tasty when made with ruby red grapefruits, which happen to be in season right now!

Strawberry Pretzel SaladStrawberry Pretzel Salad – I’m really proud of myself for taking a classic barbecue staple, and making it even better by replacing the Cool Whip with homemade whipped cream. It still held up just as well, and I feel so much better knowing what’s inside. I’m already looking forward to summer to make this one again!

Chicken ChesapeakeChicken Chesapeake – this was definitely another year chock full of blue crabs for us, and this stuffed chicken breast was one of the favorite things I did with it. Chicken, crab meat, bacon, cheese – what’s not to adore?

Raspberry Truffle BrowniesRaspberry Truffle Brownies – these brownies taste even better than they look, which is really saying something. Rich brownies studded with fresh raspberries, and topped with a chocolate ganache frosting that contains more pureed fresh berries. Beautiful and absolutely delicious!

I can’t wait to see what the next year brings in my kitchen, and I really can’t thank you guys enough for spending the year with me here at Tide & Thyme. I hope that everyone has a very Happy New Year – and here’s to a wonderful 2014. Cheers!