Tag Archives: basil

Cook’s County Cookbook Minestrone

19 Jan

Oh my gosh, this soup. This soup!

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I mentioned the Complete Cook’s County TV Show Cookbook on my new Cookbook Club page last week, but I only recently delved into its meticulous pages to try a recipe. I’d followed Chris Kimball, the creator of America’s Test Kitchen, via his excellent Cooks Illustrated magazines in my mother’s kitchen. However, I was unfamiliar with the Cook’s County recipes until this fabulous book showed up under the tree. (Thanks, Mama THT!)

What to do? Why, try a recipe, of course! Hence, this absolutely unreal minestrone soup.

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Fruits of Our Labors: Cookbook Club 101

11 Jan
Image sourced from kcrw.com

Image sourced from kcrw.com

Pesto is much-loved around here — I’ve cooked with it in pasta dishes, as a pizza sauce, and even as an addition to hummus or other dips. And while I’ve enjoyed playing with the basil – Parmesan – pine nut formula by swapping in spinach, kale, cashews, almonds and more, until recently, I had never ventured too far outside of that routine. That is, until I tried Rachael Ray’s Roasted Red Pepper Pesto.

That is, until my DC girlfriends and I created a Cookbook Club.

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The Urge to Herbal: An Herb-Growing Update

15 Jul

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My Herbs and I: A Complicated Love Story

Once upon a time — a couple of months ago, in fact — I tried my hand at growing a series of herb plants on the galley kitchen’s big windowsill. I’m a fan of growing and cooking with fresh herbs whenever it’s feasible (check out this post for more herbalicious ideas!), and with pots, seeds and soil in tow, I made my move.

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A Little Bit of Luxury: Cooking with Truffle Oil

11 Jun
Image sourced from google.com/images

Image sourced from macchiinc.com

Sometimes, when I’m watching “Top Chef” or “Chopped” or any slew of cooking TV, I hear chefs reference the almighty “truffle oil.” Until recently, I’d never even tried the stuff. All I knew was that it came from mushrooms. Which sounds like a complicated process (did they press them? Infuse them? Squeeze them in a vice? Stomp on them like that episode of “I Love Lucy?”).

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Get This Party Starter

4 Apr

Well friends, I’m having a party.

Image sourced from Wikimedia.com. Granted, there's no way my party will be this cool. But hey, a lady can dream.

Image sourced from Wikimedia.com. Granted, there’s no way my party will be this cool. But hey, a lady can dream.

No, this isn’t a party to relive one of the best comedy films of the nineties. Young Kid and Play got me beat on the cool scale. However, this one should be just as fun, because it’s a birthday party! And you, lovely readers, are invited to join in on the fun.

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Meat-Free Fridays: 5 Vegetarian Pizza Pies

16 Feb

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A pizza, by any other name, would smell … just as delicious. 🙂

For this week’s Meat-Free Friday, I’m starting the series with an old Lenten stand-by: Pizza! Pizza can easily be meatless — contrary to what any fan of a “Meat-Lover’s” pizza pie will tell you. While meaty toppings are often quite tasty, vegetarian pies on Fridays are such a great Lenten meal. Here are 5 Vegetarian Pizzas to try on a Friday.

Fun Fact: I’ll also throw in a BONUS recipe for whole grain dough that you can make at home. If you’re pursuing healthy eats in general, why not go whole hog (er, whole … vegetarian hog?) and try your own dough? Happy eating!

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Crunchy, Crispy, Healthy: Italian Oatmeal-Breaded Chicken

26 Jan

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In my recent Googlings (Hey, if “Google” is a verb, then I’m making “Googlings” a noun. #englishteacher #stillfollowinggrammarrules?), I noticed a few recipes for unconventional breadings for baked or sauteed chicken breasts. Like these gems:

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Friday Night Dinner Ideas: Easy Shrimp & Tomato Pesto Pizza

4 Jan

ImageIt’s Friday night. You’re on your way home from work. You (and your wallet) don’t want to order take-out again, aren’t interested in nuking any leftovers lurking in your fridge, and can’t stomach the thought of scraping together a meal from the cereal, Planter’s peanuts and instant oatmeal in your pantry cabinet. What’s a gal or guy to do?

Whit up a quick pizza, of course!

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Pinterest Challenge: Gluten-Free Cauliflower Pizza Crust

27 Oct

It’s officially time for Sherry Petersik and Katie Bower’s Pinterest Challenge! While I’ve been soldiering on with recipes this year in the spirit of their challenges (such as this one, this one, and this one), I can now officially submit mine to the Petersik’s blog paradise. Hurrah! For the official Pinterest Challenge submission, I decided to tackle something that I’d seen repeatedly in the hallowed … pages (?) of the Pin: Flour-free Cauliflower Pizza Crust.

While I’m not vegan, nor am I gluten-free, I like exploring veggie-based meals for both environmental (fewer methane emissions? Woot.) and health (fewer calories + more nutrients? Dietary goodness FTW.) reasons. With more than a few friends and relatives with Celiac’s disease and other gluten struggles, I’ve explored gluten-free baking and cooking with mucho curiosity. And with pictures like this circulating on Pinterest, my interest was officially piqued:

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Viva Italia! Homemade Pesto & Tomato-Topped Pizza

17 Sep

“And they say pesto, pesto, pesto” — adapted from Michael Buble’s “Cuando, Cuando, Cuando.”

In the spirit of this post from the lovely Ree Drummond (a.k.a. the Pioneer Woman, whose show you should watch and blog you should read. ‘Nuff said), I’ve been on a basil and pesto kick lately. And how could I not be? My basil, shockingly for this whatever-the-opposite-of-a-green-thumb-is lady, is abundant and so, so fragrant. Mmmmm!

Pesto, for the non-Italians, actually comes from Northern Italy’s region of Liguria — specifically, the city of Genoa. Check out this sweet map. What up, MS Paint arrow:

It’s practically Switzerland! (Well, not quite. But hey, you get the idea.)

Its combination of basil, parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil, and seasoning makes pesto an easy and deeee-LICIOUS sauce with Mediterranean flair and earthy flavor. Killer combination of tastes = one of my favorite toppers for pasta, pizza or, um, pretty much anything. Here are some easy-peasy pesto directions if you’re making it at home (note: this is enough for 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup sauce:

The players — the walnuts added such a cool flavor to the mix.

  • Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup basil, parmesan cheese, pine nuts (though I used walnuts recently, and they were molto bene), and some salt & pepper (to taste) to a food processor or blender. Process / Blend at full blast. (WOOOOO! Listen to the whirring noises!)

  • Slowly add olive oil to the mixture as it blends, or add a splash or two of oil and pulse the sauce in your food processor until the pesto reaches a consistency that you like.

  • Eat. Ideally in something else, but I won’t judge you if you eat it with a spoon. Not one bit. 🙂

So how can you use this nectar of the Roman (Er … Ligurian?) Gods? Here are a few ideas that I love:

  • Mix your pesto with mayonnaise, then spread on a grilled cheese sandwich or panini.
  • Dress a pasta salad of whole wheat penne, peas, grape tomatoes and parmesan with pesto. Mix thoroughly for super-tastiness.
  • Stir a little pesto into your favorite tomato-based pasta sauces.
  • Try mixing pesto into unconventional combinations, like with scrambled eggs or as a garnish / topping on a grilled steak.
  • PIZZA! Pizza, pizza, pizza.

I love making pesto pizza — when I did a volunteer teaching program a few years ago, my housemates and I would often whip up this easy pesto pizza for Community dinner in 30 minutes flat. If you have homemade pesto or just bought a jar of the pre-made stuff (still delicious, by the way — no shame in a little convenience), here’s a vegetarian-friendly dinnertime treat for you.

“Community Living” Pesto Pizza — serves 4. Easily doubled or tripled!

Awwww yeaaaah.

You’ll need:

  • 1 batch pizza dough, or 1 store-bought pizza dough (wheat dough is especially good here)
  • 1 jar pesto sauce, or 1 batch homemade pesto
  • 1 small bag shredded mozzarella cheese, or 1 cup freshly grated mozzarella
  • 1-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Basil and parmesan for garnishing

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. If you like to use a pizza stone, allow the stone to heat in the oven as well.
  • Roll out your dough to the desired size, and place on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel. (A cutting board works just as well!)

Aaand, glamor shot! Thanks, flash button …

  • Spread the dough with pesto sauce, in an amount that you prefer. Top with mozzarella cheese, sliced tomato, parmesan and torn basil leaves / up to 1 tsp dried basil.

  • “Shimmy” the dough onto the stone by shaking it off of your peel / cutting board. Quickly close the oven and allow the pizza to bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese has bubbled and browned to your liking.

  • Eat. A lot. I also wouldn’t judge you if you ate the entire pizza yourself. Have I done that before? Um …. [she said, glancing awkwardly around the room.]

Not the greatest picture, but still. Now I’m hungry again. As usual. 🙂

  • Note: This pizza can easily be vegan with an alternative crust (cauliflower is popular right now), a cheese-free pesto (use a little Bragg’s nutritional yeast to add salt & flavor), and dairy-free cheese. To add a meat-lover’s twist, try adding grilled chicken or even sauteed shrimp to a smidgen of pesto sauce, then spread on TOP of the tomatoes before baking.

Are you guys and gals “pesto people?” How do you like to use pesto sauce? Do you make your own, or prefer jarred sauces? What else might you add to a pesto pizza?