Classic Italian Bruschetta with NatureSweet Eclipses

We moved from Europe to the US a few years ago, and one of the things I miss is the food in Italy. Simple, with the best ingredients, you just can’t beat it. I miss the tomatoes from my in-laws’ kitchen garden, they are unlike anything I have tried before; and when you’re making something as simple as classic Italian bruschetta you need to use good tomatoes. Unfortunately most tomatoes sold in the grocery store taste of… pretty much nothing, and your homemade bruschetta can be disappointing. So when NatureSweet offered me some of their new Eclipses, I knew the way to put them to the ultimate test was Bruschetta. That, and my seven year old. She’s honest and a bit of a food diva, so she’ll tell you like it is.

classic italian bruschetta fb

Elsie loves to bake and was keen on making pink cupcakes this weekend… So when I told her we had some fancy tomatoes to test run, I felt like a bit of a party pooper. However, when I told her we were making bruschetta, she immediately decided it was important to bake our own bread. If you’re going to do it, do it properly, right? Because bruschetta topping is wet, you need a crusty bread base, otherwise you’re going to end up in a soggy mess. Traditionally, bruschetta would be served on a sliced tuscan loaf, an extremely basic unsalted, unsweetened bread – it’s literally made with yeast, flour and water. It is however a bread that requires a ‘sponge’, which means you have to be prepared 24hrs before. Alternatively, get yourself a baguette and slice diagonally, or something a little crustier – avoid a soft fluffy center!

Why Ingredients are Important for Classic Italian Bruschetta

Classic Italian bruschetta is truly simple, which means you taste every ingredient. Therefore this is one of those times you crack open the fancy extra virgin olive oil and the posh sea salt. Similarly, without good tomatoes, bruschetta is going to be rather tasteless, so consider which tomatoes are going to give deep, rich flavor. I knew bruschetta would be the ultimate test for NatureSweet Eclipses and they passed with flying colors! Elsie was a little nervous of the deep color when she first saw them, and as you’ll see in the video, she was a little reluctant to try. Despite the slow start, she asked for a second helping with her dinner, so I think we won her over…

The twins are already hooked on the NatureSweet baby tomatoes, and they were just as happy with the Eclipses, they truly were delicious. 

Big blog news…

I’m hosting a new giveaway! You can win a gift pack from NatureSweet including branded swag items as well as coupons. I’ve got to say, I have absolutely no idea what kind of swag a tomato company make… but I’m pretty excited about it. Who doesn’t like discounts and free stuff? Details under the recipe, good luck!

classic italian bruschetta ingredients

Classic Italian Bruschetta
Yields 6
Simple, using the best ingredients, you just can't beat authentic bruschetta on Tuscan bread.
Write a review
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
26 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
26 hr
For the Tuscan bread (sponge)
  1. 1 tbs (1 packet) active dry yeast
  2. 1/2 cup luke warm water
  3. 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
For the Tuscan bread (loaf)
  1. 1/2 tbs (1/2 packet) active dry yeast
  2. 11/4 cups luke warm water
  3. 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
For the bruschetta
  1. 6 slices tuscan bread
  2. 1 clove garlic
  3. 4 NatureSweet Eclipses Tomatoes
  4. 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  5. 4-6 fresh basil leaves
  6. course sea salt
  7. tsp cracked black pepper
  1. Method: Tuscan bread (sponge)
  2. Add the luke warm water (110-115°F) to a medium bowl and sprinkle over the yeast. Leave to activate for about 10mins.
  3. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and keep mixing until a dough is formed.
  4. Cover and leave in a warm place for around 20hrs.
  5. Method: Tuscan bread (loaf)
  6. Add 1/4 cup luke warm water (110-115°F) to a large bowl and sprinkle over the yeast. Leave to activate for about 10mins.
  7. Add the remaining water, stir in the risen sponge from yesterday and mix thoroughly.
  8. Add the flour and mix with your hands (grease them with olive oil to stop the sticking). Knead until smooth, by hand or using a mixer.
  9. Leave the dough to stand in a greased bowl for 4hrs - it should double in size. Remove from the bowl and shape into a loaf. Leave to stand for another 30mins.
  10. Preheat oven to 400°F, if using a pizza stone, preheat with the stone inside. Sprinkle the pizza stone (or a baking sheet) with flour and place the loaf in the center. Bake for 30mins - it may take a little longer on a baking sheet.
  11. Method: Bruschetta
  12. Slice the bread diagonally and char on a griddle pan or charcoal grill.
  13. Crack the clove of garlic with the side of a knife and peel. Rub the garlic over the warm toast.
  14. Drizzle each piece with olive oil.
  15. De-seed and chop the tomatoes into small cubes and put a handful onto each slice.
  16. Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper.
  1. De-seeding the tomatoes is not necessary, I do it quickly but not thoroughly.
Twin Pickle http://twinpickle.com/

So… back to the GIVEAWAY!!

Want to win a gift pack from NatureSweet with swag and coupons?

In the comments below (or on Facebook if you came through that route), share with me a dish/recipe that would be perfect for Eclipses, and use the hashtag #NatureSweetEclipses! Also, don’t forget to check out the Eclipses webpage

The contest runs until May 22, 2017 at 11:59 PM PST. The winner will be notified directly by email or Facebook Messenger by May 29, 2017. Entrants must be residents of the US and 18+ only. Winner will be randomly selected from comments on this blog post and Facebook.

classic italian bruschetta

I was really pleased how the classic Italian bruschetta turned out, let me know if you try it. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway for some tomato swag! haha, have you ever heard of such a thing?!


Related Posts:

Fig Chia Oat Bars: All the Good Stuff with Just the Right Amount of Naughty

I’ve been destroying the kitchen again… I have sampled so many Fig Chia Oat Bars this week I’ve started to dream about them. But on the plus side, I’m pretty sure I’ve nailed the recipe. The whole household is loving these snack bars – well George is only 50% on board, but Arthur’s been eating his share so everyone’s a winner. We’ve got to the stage with the Twins that they are insistent on eating totally different diets. George likes peas, Arthur likes beans, so I end up cooking both. Arthur likes a banana for breakfast, George likes peanut butter. Will they eat what the other likes… no. Identical on the outside, totally unique on the inside… frankly, it’s bonkers.
fig chia oat bars fb
Anyways, back to the Fig Chia Oat Bars… I wanted to create some kind of snack bar I could keep in my bag for days out with the Twins. Shop bought bars have not gone down well overall, and when you’re buying for big sister’s lunch box too, the good ones get really expensive. I considered going super healthy and savory, but when you look at the ingredients on a yummy Clif Bar, you soon realize all that deliciousness comes with a decent amount of sweetness. I then starting thinking about the traditional English Flap Jack… Oats bundled up in a naughty amount of golden syrup. So, we’ve ended up somewhere in-between, with lots of goodness from the figs, chai seed and rolled oats, but with just the right about of butter and sweet stuff to make them delicious. Enjoy!

fig chia oat bars white side tp

fig chia oat bars white stack tp

Fig Chia Oat Bars
Yields 10
All the goodness of oats, chia and figs with a little naughtiness holding it all together. Delicious snack bars the whole family will enjoy.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. ½ cup butter
  2. ½ cup brown sugar
  3. ½ cup water
  4. 4 tbs maple syrup
  5. 1 cup dried figs
  6. 3 cups rolled oats
  7. ½ cup all purpose flour
  8. ½ tsp baking soda
  9. ½ tsp salt
  10. 2 tbs chia seeds
  11. 1 tbs lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan and mix in the sugar, water and maple syrup. Finely chop the figs and add to the pan.
  3. Simmer the mix for 3-5 minutes until it's dark in color, and slightly thickened.
  4. Add the oats, flour, baking soda and salt to a large mixing bowl. Pour over the sugar/butter mix and stop until the oats are fully coated.
  5. Add the lemon juice and chia seed and mix.
  6. Grease and line an 8" square tin and add the mixture. Press down to fill the pan, and compress a little to reduce crumbling.
  7. Bake for 20-25 mins until it starts to go golden.
  8. Cool in the pan before removing and cutting into bars.
Twin Pickle http://twinpickle.com/
Although I’ve listed a square tin, if you have an 8″ rectangular loaf tin, even better. I split the mix into two and baked in a loaf tin, because the width of the tin is the perfect length for one bar (4″). That way, I easily cut into 6 bars with minimal crumbling!

fig chia oat bars white end tp

I hope all the family enjoy the Fig Chia Oat Bars. My daughter is growing fast at the moment, as is constantly hungry. Oats are perfect for her morning snack because they are slow burning, and she’s not a fan of porridge. She calls them ‘homemade granola bars’, but I think they have to have nuts in them to qualify as granola? What the heck, stick some almonds in there and see what happens…

Related Posts:


12 Meals Kids Can Make Themselves

Children love to get involved in food prep and cooking, and there are plenty of meals kids can make themselves. They can help with pretty much anything, but there are certain activities they particularly enjoy, and others that encourage learning. Whatever the new skill, they will feel empowered by the independence of making their own food, so go on… let them have a go!

12 meals kids can make themslevs fb

Kit-of-Parts Meals

Elsie loves to construct food. She can chop and sort items, but the best bit by far is bringing it all together to make something pretty. Give them separate bowls with everything they need and let them get creative!

Flatbread pizzas

Flatbread makes a great easy pizza base. I buy the wholemeal flatbread too, and no-one ever complains. You can buy or make fancy pizza sauce, but if your tomatoes are high quality you really don’t need to do anything with them. I only ever buy the imported italian tinned tomatoes,  I’m not just being a tomato snob, the best Italian tomatoes don’t have the acidity cheaper tomatoes have, and are good enough to stick straight on a pizza without other ingredients. Elsie’s a cheese pizza kind of girl but if there’s other ingredients available to pretty up her pizza she just might be tempted. Once constructed, place in the oven at 400°F for around 5-10 minutes. 


We often eat tacos together… in Elsie’s words “It’s make your own taco night?!” Put the meat into the slow cooker before school (kiddos can help or just do the fun bit later).  It’ll be perfect for dinner time and your littles can enjoy constructing their tacos with all the trimmings. Elsie likes her tacos with pickled red onion (leave sliced red onion in lime juice for the 2-6hrs in the fridge), chopped cilantro (thats coriander if you’re British) and chopped baby tomatoes. Also, consider guacamole and crumbled cotija… yum. Find a recipe and method for carnitas here at Recipe Tin Eats.

source: therisingspoon.com
source: recipetineats.com
source: closet cooking.com


It’s warming up quick here in Arizona, which means one thing… grilling season is here! You can pretty much skewer anything and grill it, so let the kids pick their favorite ingredients and arm them with a long pokey stick. They can pick whatever they like, but if you’re looking for some inspiration, Food Network have 50 kebab ideas here.


Meals for Motor Skills 

We often take for granted how easy it is to carry out certain activities in the kitchen. I remember my first batch of fairy cakes with little Elsie… there was more cake mix on the worktop and tray than in the actual cake cases. Scooping sticky cake mix is tough!

PB & J

It sounds like small beans, but Elsie was super excited the first time she made her own peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s quite difficult to spread things onto bread using a knife, and even gauging the amount to scoop out is a challenge for those that have never done it before. Cutting the sandwich in half is surprisingly difficult too, so there is loads to learn from this easy peasy meal!

Cornish Pasty

Despite living in Arizona, I grew up in Cornwall, England. I was more than surprised when I moved to the desert, that the local folk are really into pasties! The Cornish are very particular about their pasties, so I’m sticking with a traditional recipe from The Cornish Pasty Association. These are perfect for kids because they also fill the ‘kit-of-parts’ category above, but working with pastry required considerable motor skills. They are perfect lunch box food so get stuck in straight away!

source: localfoodheroes.co.uk
source: localfoodheroes.co.uk
source: joepastry.com

Cottage Pie

Cottage, Shepard’s, Fish… any kind of pie with a mash potato topping. Smashing potatoes with a masher is lots of fun, and spreading the potatoes is quite the challenge, similar to the PB&J. If you have small pie pots I recommend using them, that way your kiddo can scoop the pie mix into the pot, top with potato and claim their own personal pie! They can of course be involved in the pie mix too, if you’re looking for a recipe try Gordon Ramsey’s at Epicurious.


Educational Meals

Kids will learn from any cooking, but some activities open up the perfect opportunities for a little lesson in the kitchen…

Food Hygiene: Chicken Nuggets

I am always extra careful will raw poultry, and I believe it’s good for kids to have an understanding of food hygiene early on. I’m not suggesting you hand raw chicken to a toddler, but once they’re old enough to listen and follow directions, let them make their own nuggets! I buy chicken mini fillets and cut into two or three nuggets for each fillet. Set up three bowls with flour, lightly beaten egg, and breadcrumbs (I like Panko). Add a little salt in with the flour. Elsie loves dipping the nuggets, first in the flour, then the egg and lastly the crumbs. You can then bake in the oven or shallow fry – the Panko will go a pretty golden color if you fry.

Chemical Reactions: Pancakes

It’s fun to watch things cook and change, and what kid doesn’t love pancakes! Take the opportunity to have a science lesson in your kitchen, this PBS Parents video shows you how…

Growing Food: Salad

Elsie and I try and grow food every year. So far we have had little success, despite our efforts, but who knows… maybe this year! There is something magic about planting a seed, watching it grow, picking it and eating it, and it throws up questions about food sources, health and the environment. I love the ideas for fun kid salads at Super Healthy Kids, my favorite is the salad skewers… see kebabs above!


Encouraging Decision Making

Many meals can be made in a number of different ways. I find Elsie is less fussy about food she has chosen herself, rather than something new and green being placed in front of her. One of the advantages of meals kids can make themselves, is they feel more invested in eating it! Let those kiddos browse the veg in the grocery store, and pick something new to chuck in with their homemade meal…


Quesadilla’s are fun and easy to make, and because they are parceled up with cheese they are easy to use to lightly introduce new flavors. You can’t go wrong with a classic chicken and cheese quesadilla, but get them to decide on one or two bonus ingredients! If you want some slightly wacky ideas for quesadilla’s check out this slideshow at Delish.


You can stick anything in an omelette. Let them pick something fun, and create a new flavor sensation. In case you want to know how to create the perfect omelette, Bon Appetite have got you covered. And I love Jamie Oliver’s omelette monsters… so much fun!

omelette monster


Elsie does a weekly cooking club after school. Last week they made greek pasta salad which she was weirdly excited about. Pasta dishes can incorporate whatever your kid enjoys to eat, so let them decide! Tomato base? Creamy? Choose your veg, maybe some meat? Herbs? Cheese? There are so many alternatives, let them come up with the perfect dish and they’re much more likely to be excited to sit down and clear the plate.


Lastly… Snacks

Call me lazy, call me savvy, but I believe the more they do, the less you have to do! Granted the mess may be worse, but put your feet up and let them get their own snacks:

  • Cheese & Crackers – Portion sized cheese helps (Babybel or cheese sticks)
  • Berries & Yogurt
  • Toast – Teach them how to do this safely
  • Hummus & Pita
  • Keep the fruit bowl where they can get to it!


I hope you enjoyed these meals kids can make themselves… do let me know if you have any favorites to add to the list!


Decadent Chocolate Fudge Cake: Elsie in the Kitchen

It’s the weekend and Elsie’s in the mood for chocolate cake. Who am I to deny her an opportunity to work on her baking skills? And I suppose I’ll have to help her eat it too… tough times. This decadent chocolate fudge cake contains A LOT of chocolate, while being extremely moist and messy. I recommend you get on board and make yourself one immediately, and serve with fresh strawberries. This level of decadence is made for strawberries… yum.


Elsie was a little disappointed we didn’t get to film her valentine’s cookies, so this weekend Mom the camera woman and Mom the kitchen assistant were re-employed, and Elsie got busy in the kitchen… enjoy!



This really is a fantastic cake… if you missed Elsie’s fabulous instructions, here’s the full recipe:

Decadent Chocolate Fudge Cake
Serves 12
Rich and decadent cake for the true chocolate lover.
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Cake Ingredients
  1. 7 oz dark chocolate
  2. 7oz butter
  3. ½ cup water
  4. ¾ cup self rising flour
  5. ¼ tsp baking soda
  6. ¼ cup brown sugar
  7. ½ cup white sugar
  8. ¼ cup cocoa powder
  9. 3 eggs
  10. ⅓ cup buttermilk
Ganache Ingredients
  1. 1¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  2. 2 tbsp sugar
  3. 7 oz dark chocolate
Cake Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F and grease an 8 inch cake tin.
  2. Break up the chocolate in a bowl. Melt and stir together with the butter and water. This can be on the stove or in the microwave. Set aside.
  3. Mix the flour, baking soda, sugars and cocoa powder together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. Beat 3 eggs together with the buttermilk.
  5. Pour the chocolate mixture and the egg mixture into the flour mix. Stir until combined.
  6. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 1 hr 15mins.
  7. Allow the cake to cool before slicing into two parts for frosting.
Ganache Method
  1. Heat the cream together with the sugar in a pan but do not boil.
  2. Break up the chocolate in a bowl and pour over most of the cream mix. Keep stirring and adding until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is a good consistency for spreading.
  3. Cover one of the cake layers in ganache and sandwich back together.
  4. Cover the the cake in ganache and decorate as you wish.
  1. Serve with fresh strawberries.
Twin Pickle http://twinpickle.com/
And in case you’re not totally sold yet, here are a couple more photos to get your mouth watering!

choc cake with strawberries
I probably should have taken the photo before we ate a slice, but Elsie is quite impatient when it comes to cake.


choc cake slice with strawberries
I highly recommend serving with strawberries!


Get baking and tell me what you think!


Related posts:
Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies: Elsie in the Kitchen
Elsie’s Madeira Cake
Elsie’s Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

This post is linked up here:

One Messy Mama


What Valentine’s Day Means to Kids

Not everyone is in love with Valentine’s Day, but you can safely say that most kids are. That’s because what Valentine’s Day means to kids may be a little different to us adults… I’m pretty sure it’s not all fancy date nights, or feeling depressed about their single status on Facebook. As soon as the buzz of Christmas had passed, Elsie – aged six and three quarters – was pumped about the next holiday on the calendar. For her, Valentine’s starts Feb 1st, so yesterday she insisted we get on with it and make heart cookies. “It’s February 1st today Mommy, we need to hurry, there is so much to do!” I’m not entirely sure what she has planned for the rest of the month but apparently we’d better get started.

What valentine's day means to kids FB

Apart from wanting to buy everything pink in the vicinity of the store, while proudly wearing her heart jumper dress, Elsie seems genuinely excited. But why? It is the brain-washing of shameful consumerism? I thought I’d better find out by asking her what Valentine’s Day was all about:

“You get to make new friends. Because Valentine’s Day is all about love and friendship.” 

When I asked what people do on Valentine’s Day she briefly talked of Cupid shooting at people with arrows to make them fall in love (why aren’t kids more scared of Cupid? It sounds terrifying). But she then went on to talk about making things to give to friends and making new friendships in the process. She’s a wise girl that Elsie.

So before you go boycotting it, think about what Valentine’s Day means to kids, and how we can all learn from it. It shouldn’t be about couples, sex and Instagraming the expensive gift your boyfriend gave you; it should be about love and friendship. Take your friends out, ring someone you’ve lost touch with, leave a little something on the doorstep of someone you care about. We all need a little more kindness in the World of today.

And in case you’re wondering what cookie delight’s we came up with last night, here’s the recipe…

Strawberry Swirl Heart Cookies
Yields 40
Traditional sugar cookies with a hint of natural strawberry flavor and a pink hue for Valentine's Day.
Write a review
Prep Time
1 hr 15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
1 hr 15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
  1. 8oz (2 sticks) butter
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 3 cups all purpose flour
  4. 1 pinch of salt
  5. 1 tsp baking powder
  6. 1 egg
  7. 1 tsp vanilla essence
  8. 6 strawberries
  9. 1 cup confectioners sugar for frosting
  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (2-3mins).
  2. Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Mix 2½ cups of flour (keep ½ cup aside), salt and baking powder in a separate bowl and then add to the batter. Once a ball of dough is created, remove half of it from the mixer.
  4. On parchment paper, roll the dough into a flat disc around 1 inch thick.
  5. Blend the strawberries into a puree and add to the mixer along with the remaining half of the dough and the extra ½ cup of flour. Mix into a light pink dough.
  6. On parchment paper, roll the pink dough into a flat disc around 1 inch thick.
  7. Sandwich the two doughs together and fold over a couple of times. Knead the dough a little, just enough to get a swirled effect. Split into two balls, flatten to make two marbled discs and refrigerate for around an hour.
  8. Roll out the dough to around ⅛ inch and cut out your heart cookies. Place on a lined baking tray.
  9. Bake at 325°F for 12-15mins, until edges just start to get color.
  10. Once cooled, decorate as you wish. We just whipped up some confectioners sugar with water and dotted the perimeter. For frosting larger areas of the cookie you'll want to make proper royal icing, I've added a link below this recipe card.
  1. Refrigerating the dough hardens it a little and therefore helps the cut out shapes stay crisp. It is not necessary if you're in a hurry (as kids always are).
  2. Giving you exact measurements for flour is tough because it will depend on the size of your egg and strawberries. Use your judgement to create a dough that is easy to work with.
Twin Pickle http://twinpickle.com/
If your kiddo is wanting to decorate a masterpiece on their cookies, you’ll want some royal icing. Here a recipe and even a video on how to decorate cookies!
Hurry now… Elsie says there’s only twelve more days to go.



Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies: Elsie in the Kitchen

I’m still recovering from the holidays (I hope you are too), so Elsie has taken over for today’s blog post. She’s making chewy chocolate chip cookies… delicious. Do enjoy her video!

Well done Elsie, they are pretty yummy if I don’t say so myself. I would suggest taking more precaution than she does with health and hygeine though. I’m pretty sure every surface and every cookie was licked at some point in the making of this film. Still, we will certainly be making these again, and I must give a shout out to Hoast the Toast, as we adapted the recipe from Morgan’s great blog. If you can’t remember exactly what Elsie said, here’s the recipe card:

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields 18
Write a review
Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
52 min
Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
52 min
  1. 2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 1 tsp baking soda
  3. 2 tsp cornstarch
  4. ½ tsp salt
  5. 6oz melted butter
  6. 1 cup dark brown sugar
  7. ½ white sugar
  8. 2 eggs
  9. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  10. 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cornstarch and salt.
  2. Mix in the sugars and melted butter (make sure butter is cooled) using an electric mixer for around a minute.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and continue to mix for another minute.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Refrigerate the cookie dough for 30minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  7. Roll the cookie dough into balls and place on a lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake the cookies for around 12minutes. Keep an eye on them - you want a little color on the edges but still soft in the middle.
  9. Allow to cool on the baking sheet.
Twin Pickle http://twinpickle.com/
chewy chocolate chip cookies

For more video’s of Elsie in the kitchen, check out these on YouTube:


This post is linked up here:

Mummy in a Tutu
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