Ready for a food post? Here it comes...
Every few weeks, I buy a new potted basil plant at Trader Joe's, determined to keep it alive for easy access to fresh basil in the kitchen. It usually lasts a week or so, then I forget to water it or move it around for better sunlight. I use as much as I can before it dies, though. I do love fresh basil. My current basil plant is doing better than they usually do; we're going on two weeks already and it's still healthy and green! Maybe I'm getting the hang of it. How hard can it be, really? I'm using it nearly every day in something while it lasts. Here are some of the highlights:
I've made tomato-basil sauce twice in the past two weeks. I love this easy recipe, which I found years ago in an early Rachael Ray "30-Minute Meals" cookbook. I blogged about it here in 2013 if you'd like to read the recipe (there's a cannellini bean salad in that post which also made use of some basil). This sauce is fast and very simple and is my go-to recipe when I'm in the mood for something a little nicer than Ragu from a jar (which is also good, I'm really not that picky).
I used lots of fresh basil (along with fresh spinach) in my slowcooker minestrone soup (that recipe is here). I make soups year-round, especially when they're full of vegetables like this one. I loved it with fresh basil; it tasted completely different from the times I've only used dried herbs. I will definitely make sure to plan a minestrone soup every time I have fresh basil around.
I concocted this pasta dish on a hurried Friday night before the LB's guitar lesson. It was delicious! I cooked a 12-ounce box of tri-color rotini pasta with about 8 ounces of fresh broccoli florets added in the last few minutes of cooking. Meanwhile, I halved about 15 grape tomatoes and put them in a large serving bowl with one cup of ricotta cheese. I added the pasta and broccoli once cooked, along with salt, pepper, a little olive oil and about ten torn-up basil leaves, stirring everything to combine. We all loved it. It was fresh-tasting. The ricotta got a little warm and spread creamily through the other ingredients. We had enough for lunch the next day too.
For the past few months, the Bear has been on a sort of self-improvement quest; he wants to become better at baking bread. We recorded a podcast on this subject, if you'd like to know more (way more) about this endeavor. Last week, he made crackers, which turned out amazingly well. He used a recipe from the Washington Post, Everona Market Crackers, which he liked a lot. He made a few batches, with different combinations of toppings: "everything" (like the bagel), with poppy, sesame and caraway seeds plus kosher salt; sesame seed and black pepper; poppy seed and salt. They came out great and they didn't last long!
Our two little hens produce at least a dozen eggs a week. I never expected such an output and while I know it may not last, I'm thrilled about it for now. It's great for baking, of course, but it also forces me to look for different ways to incorporate eggs into our daily meals. I really wanted to make better frittatas, for one thing. After lots of tries, I can make a pretty good one now! They aren't burned on top, they come out of the pan in a neat slice and they're set all the way through. This one was made with spinach, onion, mozzarella and parmesan, really simple, and it was my best one yet, I think. What a relief.
A delicious marinated pork loin, which I'm showing you just because it was soooo good.
The Bear and I still enjoy our "stove popcorn" every Friday night. It's a special treat that I truly look forward to each week. The company is wonderful too.
I love to cook from scratch but I'm not above taking shortcuts; we have meals like this one - Shake 'N Bake chicken and Rice-A-Roni - fairly often too.
Let's talk about food. What are you cooking lately? Have you tried a new recipe? Please share!