Friday, July 30, 2010

Pasta with Basil Cream Sauce

Click on picture to enlarge....then lick screen to taste... ;0)

We're halfway through summer and fresh fruits and vegetables are sprouting up everywhere!!! It's a fresh food frenzy out there and it's fantastic, but sometimes you need a little pasta....a little caloric intake, so we mix the fresh basil of summer with the ever-pleasing pasta and we end up with this tasty little number on our plate.

It's light, fresh, and spectacular and the best part is YOU decide how basily it will be. BONUS: The next day it tastes great cold or heats up like a dream.

Call me loco, but I think it's a Basily kind of day!

Pasta with Basil Cream Sauce

8-12 Ounces Pasta of your choice
Olive oil as needed
Pinch of hot pepper flakes
One Medium Onion, very finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
3-4 Cloves Garlic, chopped

One Cup Cream
One Cup Chicken Broth

One Medium to Large Batch of Basil, cut in strips (How much do you love the Basil?)

While the pasta is cooking heat the oil in a pan with the hot pepper. Add the onion, salt and pepper and cook until the onion softens. Add the garlic and cook one more minute. IF you like your sauce a little thickened, you could add a tablespoon of flour right now.....

Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the cream and barely return it to a gentle simmer. Since it is light cream, over cooking can cause it to break. Of course you could use heavy cream and dismiss that anxiety.

Add the basil and additional salt and pepper if needed. Add the pasta, stir to incorporate it into the sauce and serve...topping it with freshly cut tomatoes and Parmesan cheese if you desire.

*** I love tossing chopped cherry tomatoes in with pastas such as these right before serving to punch up that fresh garden flavor!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Spiced Asian Pear Muffins

At our Funky Fruit Food Tasting Party the other weekend, we taste-tested the Asian Pear and I fell in love. And when we fall in love with some one or some fruit, we find that we just can't get enough, which totally explains my gluttonous behavior this past week.

Then Jen and I had a conversation about muffins and this recipe from years ago popped into my head and I knew I had to make it ASAP with the Asian pear. I made it with such excitement and anticipation that it was only after the first batch was baking away in the oven that I realized I had forgotten to add the salt.

These muffins need salt.

I know this because I added salt to the remaining batter, baked them up and had myself a taste-off.
Yea...these muffins need salt.

These muffins are super moist and fabulously flavored. What's not to love.....there's cinnamon in them people!!!!?

And the truth is, you don't have to use Asian pears - you can use any pear you want - but use the Asian....use the Asian....use the Asian......

Spiced Asian Pear Muffins

2 Cups Flour
1/3 Cup Sugar
2 Teaspoons Ginger
One Teaspoon Baking Soda
One Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
One Egg
One Cup Greek Yogurt (or regular)
1/2 Cup Oil (I like Coconut)
3 Tablespoons Molasses
1-1/2 Cups Finely Chopped Pears (Asian if you can)

In a bowl, combine first eight ingredients. In another bowl, beat the egg, yogurt, oil, and molasses until smooth. Stir into dry ingredients until moistened. Fold in pears. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 16-18 minutes.

Eat many!!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

We always seem to have overripe bananas laying around. Do you? I don't fully understand this phenomenon, since it seems like my kids always have a banana in one hand, but nevertheless, I am plagued by brownish bananas. HOWEVER, let me be clear...I do not consider this a problem! Quite the contrary, in fact! The flavor of bananas becomes so much more pronounced as they ripen, which makes these bananas perfect for baking! Also for making protein shakes and smoothies, but that is a post for a different day...

Anyway, this morning the kiddos and I found ourselves with a few brown bananas. Being that we were already finished with breakfast, we didn't have room in our bellies for smoothies, so my daughter suggested we make something fun with them. When I asked her what she meant by 'fun', she yelled,"CUPCAKES!!!". And there you have it...the banana cupcakes were born. Of course, we had to add chocolate chips because, well...we love chocolate and chocolate is FUN!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

1/2 c. butter
1 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 c. mashed banana (about 3 medium)

1 3/4 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 c. mini semisweet chocolate chips

2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. mashed banana (1 small)
3 tbsp. butter (softened)
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.

Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners or spray with nonstick spray.

Beat 1/2 c. butter for 30 seconds. Add in sugar and beat until well incorporated. Beat in eggs and 1 cup of mashed banana. When mixture is smooth, mix in flour and baking powder until combined. (I used half oat flour and half white flour.) The batter will be very thick, so don't fret! Stir in the chocolate chips, and then spoon the batter into the muffin cups.

Bake in a preheated oven for 18-20 minutes. Cool in muffin cups for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

For frosting, beat together the powdered sugar, 1/4 c. mashed banana, 3 tbsp butter, and the vanilla until smooth. Spread over cooled cupcakes, and sprinkle with chocolate chips, if it suits you!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lemon Basil Creme Brulee'

Who loves Basil?

Who loves Creme Brulee'?

Who thought of marrying them?

Me neither!

The other day, my friend, Michelle brought me a Ziploc plastic bag filled with pure garden gold ...


Deep green, fragrant, home-grown basil.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

We discussed the obvious uses for this magnificent herb - pesto being the number one choice - but then she mentioned that she had been served a Basil Creme Brulee' at a restaurant once.

Ding, Ding, Ding!

The baking bells were ringing in my head as I googled "basil creme brulee." Since our next Food Tasting Party was this weekend and the subject was "Uncommon Fruits" I decided on this Basil Creme Brulee' because it paired the basil with lemon - which is a fruit - and one of my favorite flavors in the whole wide world.

I know, lemon is not uncommon, but I didn't care - I was already in love with the idea and had already made up my mind. This was going to be the birthday dessert for one of our party guests, Brad who was celebrating his 34th birthday.

Turns out, Brad looooves basil and lemon and he LOVED my Lemon Basil Creme Brulee'!

And he wasn't the only one!

Toot! Toot!

Lemon Basil Creme Brulee'

1-1/4 Cups Heavy Cream
One Tablespoon Lemon Zest
One Tablespoon Basil, chopped
1/2 of a Lemon, juiced
One Tablespoon Honey
4 Egg Yolks
One Tablespoon Sugar
6 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and slightly foamy. Set aside.
In a medium pot, bring honey and lemon zest to a boil. When the honey has come to a boil add the lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add the heavy cream to the honey and let it warm up to boiling point ( or until you see bubbles forming around the edges). Lower the heat and stir in the chopped basil.
Remove the cream mixture from the heat and slowly, gradually whisk in the yolk mixture. Make sure to whisk constantly to prevent hot liquid from curdling the yolks.
Strain the mixture into a large bowl and then use this to fill the ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large roasting pan and pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up their sides.
Bake just until the creme brulee' is set. but still jiggly in the center....about 45 minutes.
Remove ramekins from the roasting pan and allow to cook to room temperature and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
When ready to serve, sprinkle brown sugar evenly on top of each creme and then using a torch melt the sugar and form a crispy top.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tortellini Pasta Salad

I went to a party for food, fun, and friends and this little number was sitting quietly among the buffet of food, calling out to me in a thin whisper, "Try me, try me...I'm fresh, fun, and delicious."

Well, I heeded the call and served myself some tortellini and tomatoes. It did not sit on my plate alone though, it happily shared space with salads, wraps, and dessert - which all pleased my palate - but none stole my heart like the Tortellini. That is why I must share it with you today.

♫ Tor * Ta * Lee * Nee

Tortellini Pasta Salad

2 Family Size Cheese Tortellini Packages
One Container Quality, Fresh, Pesto
2 Pints Cherry Tomatoes, halved
3-6 Ounces Spinach, Torn in pieces
Red Onion, Chopped
Italian Dressing

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Cook tortellini for 7 minutes - al dente! Drain and place in large bowl. Add pesto, tomatoes, spinach, and red onion. Add Italian dressing as needed. Do NOT use too much Italian dressing because you really want the pesto to shine with this salad.

That's it! I don't know how I could have made it easier for you. You could make it more difficult by making your own pesto sauce, but I'm sure you would agree that the extra effort would be more than worth it!

♫ Tor * Ta * Lee * Nee ♫

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Pepper Sirloin Steak

Happy 4th of July!!!!!

We're sure that being the 4th of July, you all are attending cookout after cookout, celebrating the birth of our great nation. And maybe you're as lucky as we are and have tomorrow off as well!! This next recipe is one of our favorites for grilling season...and we really think you'll like it if you give it a chance.

The first time we made these, Barry came in from grilling and exclaimed, "Holy cow! I don't know what's going on with those steaks, but the flames are all OVER them!" That was when Sheri and I started cracking up and informed him that the 1/2 cup butter they were drenched in might have something to do with that! So watch the flames, folks!

Pepper Sirloin Steak

2 1/2 lb. sirloin steak
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. fresh parsley OR 4 tsp. dried
1/4 c. minced onion
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
1/2 tsp. dry mustard

Lightly score the edges of steak at 1" intervals and preheat grill. Combine butter, parsley, onion, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and mustard in small saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly, over low heat, until butter melts. Reserve 1/4 c. of this mixture.

Place steak on grill and brush with butter mixture. Cook, basting frequently, 6 minutes per side. Drizzle reserved butter mixture over steak, take a bite, and moan with pleasure!