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Posts Tagged ‘basil’

I came across this recipe in the August issue of Cuisine at Home and immediately added it to the following week’s dinner menu. I had a variety of cherry tomatoes from my brother in law’s garden and basil growing in my herb garden. A perfect combination!

These were extremely easy to put together and created a pretty impressive side dish. The flavor was fabulous – what’s not to love about homegrown tomatoes, goat cheese and basil? I went on and on to Brandon at dinner that these would be the perfect thing to make for dinner guests. I also think you could cut the puff pastry a bit smaller for an impressive appetizer. I served my tarts with sautéed grouper and a salad but these could easily be a meatless main course alongside a big salad.

One Year Ago: Summer Corn Dip (this stuff is so addictive! I’m making it for a party this week!)

Tomato Tarts with Goat Cheese and Basil
(Recipe source Cuisine at Home, August 2010)

Ingredients:

2 sheets puff pastry (a frozen 17.3 ounce box)
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
2 ounces herb flavored goat cheese
2 tablespoons milk
16 cherry tomatoes or varying colors (optional), halved
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

Directions:

Thaw puff pastry according to package directions. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut one puff pastry sheet into four even squares. Place squares on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cut remaining sheet into eight strips about 3/4 inch wide and then cut the strips in half crosswise (to create 16 total).

Place four strips around the edge of each pastry square, overlapping the corners (see photo above). Lightly brush edges with egg mixture and bake until puffed and brown, 22-24 minutes.

Whisk together goat cheese and milk. Divide cheese mixture among centers of baked tarts, spreading with a spatula and pressing very lightly to slightly deflate the centers. Top cheese mixture with tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

Return tarts to oven and bake another 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil and serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 4 tarts

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When our friends Graham and Cristen visited last month they came with all kinds of South Georgia goodies – a bag of Vidalia onions, local honey and tons of fresh mint from their garden. I was eager to find a recipe that used lots of fresh mint and after looking around for a while I settled on Jumbo Shrimp with Mint and Basil Pesto from Giada De Laurentiis.

I have to be honest here…it’s been fun to search for recipes from sources other than Gourmet although Epicurious is still my number one choice for online recipes. I’m actually not a huge fan of the Food Network (and I hate their website – not user friendly…I digress) but I do usually like most of Giada’s recipes and this one was great.

You can easily have this dinner on the table in under 20 minutes – especially if you follow my lead and serve it with cous cous. The pesto is very flavorful and the mint and basil complement each other nicely. I did not have time to make it to the bulk bins to purchase pine nuts and was not about to pay $10 for a small amount of them at my normal grocery so I substituted toasted walnuts. The recipe calls for pan sautéing the shrimp but I also think they would be great on the grill. We loved this simple dinner and I enjoyed the leftovers served atop a bed of lettuce for lunch the next day.

I made up the cous cous as I went. I sautéed diced onion and minced garlic in olive oil in a small saucepan and then added in whole wheat cous cous, water and salt. Once the cous cous had absorbed the liquid, I stirred in feta, diced tomatoes and chopped fresh basil and mint.

A great summery dish using the herbs in your garden!

One Year Ago: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – my go-to oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. So good!

Jumbo Shrimp with Basil and Mint Pesto
(Recipe source, Giada De Laurentiis – Everyday Italian)

Ingredients:

3/4 cups lightly packed fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 pounds uncooked jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Combine mint, basil, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add 1/4 cup of olive oil, until well blended. Transfer pesto to a medium bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Toss shrimp with the extra-virgin olive oil in a large bowl to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss again.

Heat a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, add the shrimp and sauté until just cooked through, about 3 minutes, careful not to overcook. Toss shrimp pesto to coat.

Yield: 6 servings

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thaibasilchicken

We visited my family in Atlanta last weekend. While we were there we stopped by the Dekalb Farmer’s Market. It’s not really a farmer’s market but it is a mecca for foodies. They have a huge and varied selection of vegetables, fruits, seafood, cheeses, meats…the list goes on and on. This was Brandon’s first trip and he was taken in by the chili selection. We ended up coming home with four or five different types of chili peppers so you’ll notice a recurring theme in my next few blog posts as I try to find inventive ways to use them.

Today I decided to use the Thai Chilies (also known as prik kee noo). I did some research this morning and landed on Spicy Thai Basil Chicken. This is a pretty basic Thai dish but I thought it’d be fun to make at home with our chilies. I ended up using a combination of two recipes and was pleased with the outcome. I was pretty scared that this dish would be over the top spicy (since I used about 8 chilies and they’re supposed to be a 9 in hotness on a 1-10 scale) but the spice was very manageable. It was a nice slow and constant burn.

If you’re a fan of Thai stir fries and like a little spice I highly recommend this recipe for an easy weeknight meal. I served it over jasmine rice.

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken
(Recipe inspired by Andrea Meyers and Thai Food and Travel)

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, diced (red, yellow, green – whatever you have)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
8 Thai chilies, sliced into then rounds (can substitute serrano or jalepeno if necessary)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
15 basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Jasmine rice, for serving

Directions:

Heat a large skilled over medium-high heat. Add oil and heat until shimmering. Add garlic, shallots and peppers and saute for about 1 minute. Add chicken and chilies and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink. Add fish sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, water and basil leaves and cook for another minute or two. Stir in cornstarch/water mixture and cook for another minute, until thickened.

Serve over rice.

Yield: 4 servings.

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lasagnapan

I have a confession. There are a few simple things that I just cannot seem to master. Among those are pancakes, gravy, biscuits and lasagna. Seriously, who can’t make pancakes and lasagna? It’s embarrassing. Well, last weekend I was craving traditional lasagna. This is strange for me because I’m not the biggest traditional meat lasagna fan – I usually go for the veggie stuff. I’m good about trying to overcome my culinary weaknesses so I decided to give it a go. I researched recipes for longer than I’d like to admit before finally deciding on this Sausage, Cheese and Basil Lasagna on epicurious.com. I figured if it had received 4-fork reviews from 325 people it must be good.

I’m happy to report that it wasn’t just good…it was awesome. I probably said to Brandon five times during dinner, “Wow, this is really delicious. I can’t believe I made good lasagna.” I loved the flavor combination with the homemade sauce, Italian sausage and fresh basil. I’ve decided that I prefer using all Italian sausage versus a sausage/ground beef mixture. If you’re going to make this lasagna DO NOT skip making the homemade sauce. It is so simple and makes a huge difference in the flavor.

Now on to modifications that I did make to the original recipe. First, I read multiple reviews that there was not enough sauce. I corrected this by using a smaller pan – 9 x 11 instead of 9 x 13. It was just Brandon and me and we can never finish a whole pan anyway. Alternatively, I recommend increasing the sauce recipe by one half. It would have been nice to have extra sauce for the leftovers too. Second, I was totally not in the mood to deal with cooking and draining lasagna noodles. I decided to throw caution to the wind and just use uncooked noodles in the lasagna (I didn’t even use the “no-boil” noodles). I rinsed them in water first to dampen them and made sure they were completely covered by sauce. I was extremely pleased to find that they’d cooked perfectly when I served the lasagna.

One final recommendation is to make sure to let  your lasagna rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. I think this makes the biggest difference in having a pretty lasagna that holds together and doesn’t turn into a mess on the plate.

So now that I’ve overloaded you with my ramblings and recommendations, here’s the recipe.

Sausage, Cheese and Basil Lasagna
(Recipe source epicurious.com, originally printed in Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

FOR THE SAUCE
1 pound spicy or sweet (your preference) Italian sausage, casings removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

FOR THE FILLING
1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 (15-ounce) container plus 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

FOR THE ASSEMBLY
12 lasagna noodles
3 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 12 ounces)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
Nonstick cooking spray
Aluminum foil

Directions:

FOR THE SAUCE
Brown Italian sausage in a large saucepan over medium heat until crumbly and cooked through. Drain and wipe down pan.

Heat olive oil in same pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until they begin to look transparent and soft. Add garlic, red pepper and oregano and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add crushed and diced tomatoes and cooked sausage and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

FOR THE FILLING
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until combined.

FOR THE ASSEMBLY
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1 1/4 cups sauce in bottom of baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles on sauce. Drop 1 1/2 cups filling over noodles and spread evenly to cover. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layering of sauce, noodles, filling and cheeses 2 more times. Top with remaining 3 noodles. Spoon remaining sauce over noodles. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Spray large piece of foil with nonstick cooking spray. Cover lasagna with foil, sprayed side down.

Bake lasagna 40 minutes. Carefully uncover and increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until noodles are tender, sauce bubbles thickly and edges of lasagna are golden and puffed, about 20 more minutes. Remove from oven and let stand at least 15 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings

lasagna

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tommozzsalad

We’re back from the cruise! We enjoyed a fun and relaxing week in the Caribbean. We spent every day exploring the best beaches on the islands we visited and enjoyed lunch and rum punch at beach bars. I went on a bit of a “tour de fish sandwich.” I must say the tastiest one I had was in Barbados at a little place called Carib Cafe. We’re going to attempt to recreate it at  home soon so be on the lookout!

My parents so kindly offered to keep Sullie while we were gone. Our flight got in Sunday evening and my dad had dinner waiting for us when we picked her up. He made an amazing pasta dish from Cook’s Illustrated. He sent me home with a ton of leftover fresh basil. One of Brandon’s favorites is Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Salad so I decided to get all the ingredients for it on my weekly shopping trip. We’ve been able to enjoy it as an appetizer/salad this week. I thought I’d share this easy and flavorful dish.

Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Salad
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

SALAD
Cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
Fresh mozzarella, diced
Sprig/bunch of fresh basil, julienned
Salt and pepper, to taste

BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil

Directions

You’ll notice I didn’t give quantities for the salad. You really can adjust the amounts to your hunger/taste. For example, I like a little more basil than Brandon and he probably likes more cheese (hey, he’s a man!).

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey and balsamic vinegar. Once incorporated, slowly whisk in the olive oil.

To assemble the salad. Layer the tomatoes, cheese and basil in a small dish/plate. Season with salt and pepper and then drizzle the balsamic vinagrette over it.

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