Friday, June 9, 2017

Basil Walnut Pesto

Having a summer garden has always been a favorite of mine! I remember the first time I saw my grandmother cook purple pole beans and when she put them in the boiling water they turned bright green!  After that I believed that everything that came out of the garden was magic!
Every year I plant cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and a copious amount of herbs!  Basil is always one of my favorites as I truly believe the smell of summer comes from this delicious herb.  Here is a little different spin on an old favorite!

Basil Walnut Pesto
original recipe from Once Upon a Chef 

2 cups gently packed fresh basil leaves
2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/3 cup walnuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, best quality such as Lucini or Colavita

Place the walnuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until coarsely chopped, about 10 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper and process until mixture resembles a paste, about 1 minute. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly blended. Add the Parmesan and process a minute more. Use pesto immediately or store in a tightly sealed jar or air-tight plastic container, covered with a thin layer of olive oil (this seals out the air and prevents the pesto from oxidizing, which would turn it an ugly brown color). It will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. (If you're planning on freezing it, omit the cheese and stir it in once you defrost it.
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Monday, June 5, 2017

Peach Bruschetta with goat cheese, basil and infused honey

Every year I eagerly await the peaches brought to town from The Peach Truck.  As soon as I see their signs around town I scour Pinterest for peach recipes....There are so many ways to enjoy these tasty treats...grilled and served with vanilla ice cream, sliced in a salad with red onions and mint, canned for jams and jellies, or, like I tried this weekend, as bruschetta!

I totally forgot the honey part because I was so excited about the goat cheese and peaches so just know, if you don't have time or don't like honey, this is just as delicious without it as I am sure it is with it!

Peach Bruschetta with goat cheese, basil and infused honey 
as adapted from Feasting at Home Blog Recipe  

1 baguette, sliced at a diagonal into ½ inch thick slices 
Olive oil for brushing bruschetta 
4 oz herbed goat cheese (I used garlic and dill but that is just because it was in the fridge already)
4 oz cream cheese 
¼ teaspoon salt 
¼ teaspoon cracked pepper 
3 ripe peaches­ sliced into wedges 
10­-15 basil leaves  cut into ribbons 
honey (to infuse, see note) 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice baguette into ½ inch slices at a diagonal. Brush both sides with olive oil and place on a sheet pan in a 400 F oven for 15 minutes, or until crisp. Or alternately, grill on a bbq. Set aside. 

Place cream cheese and goat cheese in a bowl and either warm in a microwave until just barley soft enough to combine easily with a fork.  Mix with a fork until smooth. Set aside. 

Assemble: Spread a little goat cheese mixture on each bruschetta and top with a peach wedge. Garnish with a few basil ribbons, then drizzle with honey, and sprinkle with cracked pepper. 

Note: To infuse honey, place a cup or so of honey in a small pot on the stove, add a few sprigs of rosemary ( or thyme, sage, or lavender) and warm on medium heat. Once it comes to a gentle simmer, add a couple teaspoons of water, gently stir, turn heat off and let the herbs marinate in the honey, at room temp for a few hours, or overnight. Place in a squeezy bottle. Once cooled, if honey seems to thick, rewarm and stir in little more water.
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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Creamy Garlic Butter Tuscan Shrimp

This time of year I will take any opportunity to eat out on the porch before the summer nights make it too warm and then bugs make it too uninviting.  I recently had some friends over for dinner and we made this quick and easy dish.  We paired it with a side of french bread for dipping and a few bottles of the white wine for sipping!


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pint cherry tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 pound (500 g) shrimp (or prawns) ­­ tails on or off
1 yellow onion, diced
½ cup white wine
1¾ cups milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups baby spinach leaves
⅔ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoons of water (optional)
2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise.  Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.  Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes.  Set aside.  

Heat a large skillet over medium­ high heat. Melt the butter and add in the garlic and fry until fragrant (about one minute). Add in the shrimp and fry two minutes on each side, until just cooked through and pink. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.

Fry the onion in the butter remaining in the skillet. Pour in the white wine, and allow to reduce slightly. Add the tomatoes and fry for 1­2 minutes to release their flavors. 

Reduce heat to low­-medium heat, add the milk and bring to a gentle simmer, while stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

Add in the tomatoes and spinach leaves and allow to wilt in the sauce, and add in the parmesan cheese. Allow sauce to simmer for a further minute until cheese melts through the sauce. (For a thicker sauce, add the milk/cornstarch mixture to the centre of the pan, and continue to simmer while quickly stirring the mixture through until the sauce thickens.)

Add the shrimp back into the pan; sprinkle with the herbs and parsley, and stir through.

Serve over pasta, rice or steamed vegetables.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

One Skillet Chicken with Garlicky Mushroom Cream Sauce

The post #Whole30 world has been so interesting!  I look at everything with a critical eye determining how I can make a recipe Whole30 compliant...what can I substitute? Do any of the ingredients contain sugar?  How did I get brainwashed so quickly?

It is a constant monologue that goes through my mind daily!

With that in mind I was hosting Sunday Dinner this week and was THRILLED when I found a recipe everyone wanted to try, made a few substitutions and VOILA! we had a fantastic meal!  Everyone was raving about it and couldn't believe we had snuck another Whole30 compliant meal by them!

One Skillet Chicken with Garlicky Mushroom Cream Sauce

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper
3 cup chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon dried thyme
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup finely diced red onions
1/4 cup ghee
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 can coconut milk
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (or basil)

Using a mallet, pound down the chicken breasts/thighs into ½ inch thickness. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken.

In a small bowl, combine the chicken broth, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and dried thyme.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and allow to brown for 3-4 minutes stirring as required to brown both sides. Remove the mushrooms to a plate (use one large enough to remove chicken as well).

Heat the remaining oil on medium high heat. Add the chicken and allow to brown on both sides for 2-3 minutes per side. Don’t worry if the chicken isn’t cooked completely, we’ll finish it in the oven. Remove the chicken to plate.

Reduce the flame to medium, add the shallots to the skillet along with the chicken broth mixture. Using a whisk, scrape the bottom of the pan so all the brown bits are loosened. Let sauce reduce for about 8-10 minutes.

When the sauce has thickened, remove from the flame, add the ghee and whisk until it melts completely. With the skillet off the flame add the sherry, coconut milk and mushrooms, and whisk to combine. Place the skillet back over the flame for just 30 seconds, do not allow the sauce to boil. Remove from heat, add the chicken back into the pan and drizzle the sauce over the chicken. Place the skillet in the oven for 10 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked through. Top with chopped parsley or basil and serve warm.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Culinary Experience for the Ages

If your family is anything like ours, when someone's birthday rolls around it is a sheer test of creativity to find something fun and different that the celebrated individual has 1) mentioned they want and more importantly 2) not already purchased it for themselves.

In the age of Amazon Now and 24 hour delivery, our family has found that the gift of an experience is so much more fun than another year of the gift card and sweater vest!

When my dads birthday rolled around the day before Thanksgiving this year we were all in a quandary trying to figure out what he might need when the idea came to my brother that an experiential gift would be something my father would enjoy so much more than anything we could purchase at a store.

This is where our dear friend, and culinary mastermind, Chris Cunningham comes into the picture!  He and his wife Sam have been friends of ours for years and we have loved picking Chris' brain over the years about a better way to cook paella, or what his favorite seasonal veggies he is using in his kitchen, or basically anything that pertains to cooking....typically over a beer while sitting around the pool.

Sam mentioned to us a while back that Chris has been doing private parties in people's homes where he will come and cook a three-course meal in the comfort of ones own home.  This was exactly the type of experience we were looking for for dad's birthday and it couldn't have been more perfect!
On an unseasonably warm day in February, Chris went to work on a meal consisting of seared scallops on top of a quinoa bellini with crushed pistachios, pickled raisins, avocado sauce all topped with the most decadent caviar (a first for many in my family...or at least for me!)
followed by beef tenderloin with sautéed brocollini, root au gratin consisting of celery root, sweet potatoes and turnips, all topped with a porcini truffle hollandaise and crispy fried onions. Are you drooling yet?  Because I am!
To complete this delicious meal, we were served a decadent chocolate tart with fresh berries and homemade whipped cream.  Absolutely amazing!
Entertainment and puppies to top out the night!
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