Caprese Salad(s) – 2 Way Spin

Are you looking for a new way to spin that classic Caprese Salad? Well I have two ways for you that you will love! Now I love, a good old fashion Caprese. Sweet tomatoes with a beautiful slice of fresh mozzarella, and some big old basil leaves laying on top, With a glorious finish of olive oil and balsamic. Summer at it’s finest. But lets kick it up a notch shall we?  Cause let’s get real here,  you can have a traditional Caprese Salad anytime of the year. One thing that is great about grocery stores, is you can get those in season tomato’s and basil that are being grown in the South or in a local green house. Mozzarella is an anytime of the year cheese like all cheese’s unless, there is something I or you, don’t know about.

Let’s get back to the 2 way spin. What fruits are in high season right now? Peaches and Watermelon!

Watermelon Caprese

Peach Caprese

So let’s first hit on the Peach Caprese Salad. You need to make sure the peaches are ripe but not too ripe. When peaches are perfect the sweetness pairs beautifully with heirloom tomatoes. Your going prepare everything the way you would for your basic Caprese. Plus the slice of peaches. Layer everything the way you would, tomato, mozzarella, basil, with the peaches on top of the mozzarella and more basil on top. Take a balsamic glaze and olive oil and drizzle over with a sprinkle of salt and cracked fresh pepper. Your ready to serve.

 

Let’s head over to the watermelon now. I purchased Season’s http://www.seasonstaproom.com Watermelon white balsamic vinegar. And OMG! It’s my new favorite. I cut the watermelon into large slices or slices that fit your tomato. Layer like you would a caprese  tomato on the bottom, mozzarella next, then basil then finish with a layer of mozzarella with more basil.  Top with salt, cracked pepper and Season’s Cold Smoked olive oil with the Season’s Watermelon White Balsamic. If you don’t have the Watermelon Balsamic, then you can use white balsamic or a champagne dressing would be nice as well.

Prep Time 10-15mins

Serves 4 – but as many as you want

Ingredients for Peach Caprese

  • 1 large heirloom tomato
  • 2 large peaches
  • 1 small ball or log of fresh mozzarella
  • hand full of fresh basil
  • balsamic glaze
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Ingredients for Watermelon Caprese

  • 1 large heirloom tomato
  • seedless watermelon cut in slices, the size of the tomato slices
  • 1 small ball or log of fresh mozzarella
  • hand full of basil
  • Season’s cold smoked olive oil or regular olive oil
  • Season’s watermelon white balsamic vinegar or white balsamic or champagne vinegar
  • sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Directions

  1. Slice your tomato, fruit and mozzarella.
  2. Get a platter, and layer your caprese. In order Tomato, mozzarella, leaves of basil, fruit, leaves of basil. Now top with olive oil, vinegars, sea salt and black pepper.

Now you’re ready to serve. ENJOY!

 

Sun Dried Tomato’s

Easy peasy lemon squeezey. Seriously though. Making your own sun dried tomato’s is so mind blowing easy, it’s crazy. In our house we go through jars of sun dried tomatoes. They are in price range $5.30 – $6 a jar. A large container of cherry tomatoes is around $5.50. In the long run I’m not sure what is cheaper when it comes down to it. But one thing I do know, is that I feel it is more satisfying making my own.

Now I could be traditional old school Italian here, and cut my tomatoes in half. Load them up with salt and lay them in the hot Mediterranean sun for two to three days. But I don’t have that luxury of the Mediterranean, here in North East Ohio, and most of you don’t depending on where you live. So let me take you to my kitchen or yours. Let’s go!

You want tomatoes of either cherry tomato size or small plum size. Depending on what you have will determine how many baking sheets you will need. Also if you have tomatoes that are starting to wilt, those are great for making your own as well. Line your baking sheet with either parchment paper or silicone baking sheet mat. Your going to turn your oven to 225F. Cut each tomato in half and place them on your baking sheet, seed side up. Once all cut and placed, your going to load up with sea salt. You want a heavy amount here. I unfortunately didn’t measure the amount of salt, but I will say it was close to 1 Tbsp, maybe a tad more.

Now you can cram as many tomatoes onto the baking sheet, with no spacing needed. They shrink up so much.

Your going to bake the tomatoes at 225F for 4hrs. Now you can do 1 of 2 things. You can 1) remove them at the 2hr mark and gently press down with a table knife, to help release some of the juices. Or 2) you can just keep baking them for 4hrs straight. No removing. Just baking. Either way works and works well.

So let’s say 4hrs have now passed, and you have beautiful dried tomatoes. Your going to let your tomatoes cool. This should only take about 20-30mins tops.

Note – You know all those pickle, jam, mustard jars you may or may not have? Well start saving them. You will use them for stuff like this.

Now take your tomatoes and place them in a smaller sized jar, (I used a relish jar). Fill the with tomatoes. Don’t worry about them not fitting, you can squeeze them down. Next your going to take chili flakes, Italian seasoning and garlic and pile on top of the tomatoes. Now the really satisfying part of this. Pour your olive oil on top, let it drip down between each tomato, and all that yummy seasoning you just piled in. You want to to fill to where the rim and jar meet. Put you cap on nice and tight. Now shake, turn and or flip a few times your jar. You want the spices to marry with those tomatoes. Leave 12-24hrs before using them. Longer you let marinate the better, IMO.

Prep & Bake Time – 4.5hrs

Complete Time – 24hrs

Serving- 1 small jar

Ingredients

• 50 Cherry or 20-25 Small plum sized tomatoes cut in half

• 1 – 1 1/2 Tbsp of Sea salt

• 1/2 tsp Chili flakes

• 1 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning

• 3 Large garlic cloves minced

• Olive oil – enough time fill the jar almost to the rim

Directions

1. Turn on oven to 225F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking liner.

2. Cut your tomatoes in half, and place them seed side up with as many as you can fin on one baking sheet. Don’t worry about crowding. Sprinkle with all your salt. Place in oven and bake for 4hrs. If you choose to press some juices out of the tomatoes, do that at the 2hr mark of drying them out.

3. 4hrs has passed. Remove tomatoes and let cool. Place in jar and add the chili flakes, Italian seasoning, garlic and olive oil. Place lid on, move the oil and seasoning around through out the tomatoes. Now let sit anywhere from 12-24hrs. I prefer around 24hrs. But you do you. ENJOY!

Note – These will keep for about 10 days in a air tight container in your fridge. So go ahead and store away. In my house they won’t last that long.

Spicy Watermelon Margarita

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I had the girls over last night, for some much needed girls time. Cocktail of choice was a spicy watermelon margarita. With three quick tips.

  1. I’m loving the Simply Watermelon juice right now. It’s a great mixer and takes a lot of time out of cutting up a watermelon and straining it.
  2. Guys I’m telling you to just order from Season’s Tap Room. Their Habanero Agave Vinegar, is honestly my new favorite thing.
  3. Make a large pitcher of margaritas for the week and leave it in the fridge. This way you can just pour a glass and mix the watermelon juice and pour some of the habanero agave in.

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Recipe for a pitcher (depending how big your pitcher is)

 

Directions

  1. Make your pitcher of just the regular margarita. So mix together all ingredients up until the sweetener of the drink. Now you can either place in the fridge, or pour 1/3 of the way up the glass.
  2. If your pour a glass right away, rub your lime wedge on your rim and dip in salt. Now place ice in the cup and fill the margarita 1/3 of the way up. Now add your 1 tsp of the Habenaro Agave. Next add your watermelon. Either fill your glass have way up or a little fuller. Stir and Enjoy!6E8501D9-E0FD-4825-B31E-CE08649D86FC

Wedge Taco Salad

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Looking for a different way to have a taco or wedge salad? Both are classic salads, that I combine into one. I took your iceberg lettuce and cut it into wedges. Topped with some taco seasoned shrimped, grilled corn black beans, bell pepper, guacamole, feta cheese (since I was out of cotija) Doritos and ranch dressing, with a lime wedge. I mean you can’t get any simpler then this and all together takes about 15 mins to make.

I took the tail and vein out of the shrimp. and tossed in taco seasoning. I heated oil in the sauté pan and threw the shrimp in. After getting the cooked on one side I flipped them and then deglazed with tequila and a splash of lime juice.

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Prep and serve time   15-20 mins

Serves 2-4

Ingridients

  • 1 head of iceberg
  • 12 shrimp – raw, tail off and deveined
  • 1/2 Tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1/4 cup tequila
  • 1/2 bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup red onion
  • 10 cherry tomato’s cut in half
  • 1 grilled ear of corn
  • 1/2 cup of drained black beans
  • sprinkle of cotija or feta cheese
  • guacamole
  • handful of crushed doritos
  • ranch dressing
  • lime wedge

 

Directions

  1. Take your deveined and tail off shrimp and place in a bowl, sprinkle the taco seasoning and mix with the shrimp. I a skillet, heat on medium high heat. Drizzle some olive oil, and let it get hot. Place our shrimp in the pan and spread out. Cook for about 2 mins, and then flip. After you flip, add the tequila, lime and deglaze. Cook another 2-3 mins. and turn off heat.
  2. Get a plate out. Cut your iceberg in to quarters, and place on the plates
  3. Top with all your toppings leaving the shrimp for the last after the ranch dressing. Squeeze with lime and you’re ready to eat. Enjoy!4EB08F64-BF80-4246-94DF-7AC15243FD00_1_201_a

Tomato Wine Sauce Pasta

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Tonight was Meatless Monday.  In our house the weekends usually consist of heavy meat.  So come Monday, I like for us all too reset. If I had my way we would be consuming more of a vegetarian life style,  rather than an omnivore lifestyle.

Tonight I had some end of my box Swiss chard, from my Perfectly Imperfect Produce order, that had to used soon. I also had these beautiful tomato’s and leftover grilled corn from the night before. I needed to add some protein to make my husbands tummy full, so I added a can of canilli beans. This dish as you can see, has a lot of different flavors and textures going on. It was pretty hard for a Summer feast, but yummy none the less.

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I heat some oil in the skillet along with a 1/2 tsp of chili flakes and 2 smashed garlic cloves. Next I added all the tomato’s and start to cook them down. I didn’t move them around too much at the beginning. I wanted to get some good blisters on them. This was the beginning of the sauce.

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Once I got a good blister on the tomato’s, I add 1/2 cup of wine, salt and smoked caked black pepper, and started to simmer away. While the tomato’s were cooking, I started boiling water for the pasta. Now tonight I used Campanelle pasta. Campanelle pasta looks like trumpets. So the sauce and all the flavors of the veggies will get into every nook and cranny.

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I brought the tomato’s to a good simmer. Add some more wine as I went along with zest from a lemon. Shortly there after I added the chard, and cooked that down. That takes awhile so you need to be patient. Once the chard was cooked down, the tomato’s at this point are starting to break up and get soft. I added some pasta water at this point to make more of a sauce. Then came the corn and bean, along with a tad more salt and pepper. once everything was heated through I added the pasta, gently mixed it all together. I added some more salt and pepper as well, and continued to let it cook a little longer.

Meanwhile I took about 3/4 cup of ricotta and whipped it up with lemon zest and lemon juice. a took a good dollop and topped of the pasta once plated. Drizzled some leak olive oil for Season’s Tap Room,  www.seasonstaproom.com , and a sprinkle of chili flakes. Ready to serve.

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Prep and Serve time 45mins

Servs 4-6

Ingredients

  • 13oz of Campanelle pasta
  • 12-16 Campari tomato’s or any medium sized Tomato
  • 2 garlic cloves a good size
  • 1 1/2 tsp of chili flakes
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup White wine
  • l lemon zested and some juice for the whipped ricotta
  • 1 – 2 cups of chopped Swiss Chard
  • 1 can of Cannellini beans
  • 3/4 cup or more of Pasta water
  • 2 already grilled corn on the cob trimmed.
  • 3/4 of cup ricotta whipped
  • Leak olive oil

 

Direction

  1. In a deep sauté pan, heat olive oil on Medium high heat, with 1/2 tsp of chili flakes and 2 garlic cloves smashed. Once nice and hot, add the tomato’s steam side down. this is so they don’t roll everywhere. Allow to blister all over. Add a good amount of salt (about 1/2 tsp) and cracked pepper. Keep blistering.
  2. Once you have a good blister, add 1/2 cup of white wine and the lemon zest of 3/4 of the lemon. Let that all simmer together, to start to break down the tomato’s.
  3. Start boiling your water and cooking your pasta
  4. Now add your Swiss chard along with the rest of the wine, and cook down while tossing with the tomato’s and sauce. If you need to add pasta water to get more of a sauce do so, also you can always add more wine if you wish. No shame in that.
  5. When the greens have cooked down, you can add your beans and corn. Toss everything together and let it heat through. Add more pasta water if need be.
  6. Drain your pasta and add to the pot. Gently fold it all together, taste your flavors and see what you need, salt? pepper? chili flakes?
  7. Now in a bowl with a whisk, whisk your ricotta with the rest of the lemon zest and juice of half the lemon. Whisk until smooth and creamy.
  8. Plate your pasta, and add a dollop of ricotta, a drizzle all over of the leak olive oil and a sprinkle of chili flake. Enjoy!

We paired this dish with Ehlers, Sauvignon Blanc 2018

 

Citrus Goat Cheese Cheesecake

IMG_0946Guys this cheesecake is light, airy and loaded with the summer citrus flavor we all enjoy. Definitely a cake you will want to make for entertaining or for the just because. Not a heavy feeling when you eat it, like some cheesecakes, make you feel after consuming them.

I used 12oz of cream and 20oz of goat cheese. I whipped the cheeses together on high speed in my kitchen aid mixer, for 5mins. This is to make the cheese light, airy and full in body.

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I added zest of one lime, one lemon and one naval orange into the batter. After I had all the ingredients combine, it baked in the oven for 65mins at 325F. Or bake until the center comes out clean with a toothpick.

For the top of the cake I candied oranges, limes and lemons. Now I don’t recommend eating, candied limes. I only made them for the decor on top. Limes when candied taste very bitter and a weird sour in my honest opinion.  Making candied citrus is awesome! Not only do you have beautiful tasting citrus fruit as the end result, but you also have citrus simple syrup. Which as we all know, is great for making cocktails.

 

Serves 8-12

Prep and Bake Time 5hr 45min

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 Cup Graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter melted

Cheesecake Filling

  • 20oz Goat Cheese – I used 2 10oz logs
  • 12oz Cream Cheese
  • 1 Cup Granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla
  • Zest of 1 naval orange, 1 lime and 1 lemon
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 4 eggs at room temperature

Candied Citrus Fruit

  • 1 naval orange sliced thinly
  • 1 lime sliced thinly
  • 1 lemon sliced thinly
  • 2 1/4 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of water

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 325F.

  1. In a food processor, mix graham crackers, melted butter and sugar until it looks like sand. In your 9-inch springform pan, press the crumbs in the bottom and bake for 10 mins. When finished, pull out and cool. Try not to burn
  2. In a standardized mixer or hand held mixer, mix on low speed building up to high speed, Goat cheese, cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla. Once you get up to high speed, stay there for 5 mins.
  3. Now add you zest and mix a few times around on low speed now
  4. Blend in the sour cream
  5. Add eggs one at a time while still blending on low speed. Once all is combine, pour over crust. Bake in the oven for 65-70mins at 325F until cake comes out clean via toothpick.
  6. While the cake is in the oven, in a sauce pan make your simple syrup for the candied citrus. Combine the water and sugar. Bring to a simmer and make sure all the sugar has dissolved. Once dissolved, add the fruit slices. Cook them in the simple syrup for about 7-10 mins flipping them every now and then.
  7. While the citrus is cooking in the syrup, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Citrus should be done by now. Remove all citrus and place in a single layer in rows. let cool
  9. Once cake is complete and out of the oven let cool for about 1hr. When cake first comes out of oven take a knife and loosen around the edge. At the hour mark, place citrus on top in a circular patter. Keep in the springform pan. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for 4hrs or over night. Enjoy!

 

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Easy Quick Potato Salad

Have you ever wanted a potato salad that was ridiculously quick and easy? One that you can have completed, in the amount of time it takes to grill chicken, or the whole prep and grill  time of making burgers? Well look no further then this yummy salad.

So let me back peddle. Spring 6 yrs ago, we were visiting friends in D.C.. We took a day and headed to Annapolis. We came across this cute little oil and vinegar tap room. Season’s Olive Oil & Vinegar Taproom,  https://seasonstaproom.com/  There olive oils and vinegars were amazing. We purchased a few bottles of some flavors, and have been purchasing ever since. It’s super easy to order, and at your door step in no time. Highly recommend taking a detour to their site and checking them out.

Now back to the potato salad. Last night we did chicken wings which BTW are amazing!!! Highly recommend this recipe,  https://tasty.co/recipe/honey-bbq-chicken-wings . In the amount of time I made these wings I made the potato salad. Since only 3 out of 4 of us were eating the Potato Salad, I made a small batch. It was the perfect size, with some left over.

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I cut 4 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes, or yellow potatoes, in 16th’s. I boiled until fork tender. While the potatoes were cooking, I chopped up some fresh herbs, thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano, chives. Minced a garlic clove, added a little bit of mayo and the rest of our Pinot Noir Wine Vinegar (from Season’s), which was about 1 1/2 Tbsp, maybe a little more. S & P a pinch of chili flakes, cause why not, and whisked in a small amount of olive oil.  After I drained the potatoes, I waited for them to cool a bit, until they were just warm. I then placed them in the dressing and folded all the yummy goodness together. Let it then sit until dinner was fully complete.  I mean how easy is that?

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Note – If you don’t have the Season’s vinegar, you can just use red wine vinegar. But I do highly recommend visiting their site. You just might find your new flavor combo.

Prep time 30 -40 mins

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sized Yukon gold or yellow potatoes cut into 16 pieces
  • 1-2 Tbsp of fresh herbs of your choice. I used thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano and chives all minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp of mayonnaise
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 Tbsp Pinot Noir Season’s wine vinegar or a Red Wine vinegar
  • S & P
  • A pinch of chili flakes (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

 

Directions

  1. Place cut potatoes in a small pot. Cover with cold water add a sprinkle of salt and bring to a boil. Boil potatoes, until fork tender. Once potatoes are cooked drain in a colander. Leave to cool for about 10 mins
  2. In the bowl you will be serving the potato salad in, whisk the herbs, mayo, garlic, vinegar, S & P, chili flakes and oil together.
  3. Place the warm potatoes in the bowl, fold all together. Let the flavors marry and serve. Enjoy!

Note – You can make this earlier in the day or the day prior to serving.

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Thai Butternut Acorn Squash Soup

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This Thai Butternut Acorn Squash is so flavorful its AMAZING! A soup that is perfect anytime of the year, no matter the temperature outside. There are many layers in making this soup and each one is as important as the next.

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This soup is a large pot of soup. You can serve it right after making it, although I would wait until the next day. The flavors are much larger on you palette, the day after.

You want to first chop up two medium size onions, 4 cloves of garlic, 2 inches of fresh ginger, 1 stick of lemongrass, a large butternut squash, and two acorn squash’s. All this chopping before hand, is going to save you time for when you start making the soup. You will be zesting two limes and squeezing them in. Also with this soup you have your choice to use, chicken broth, vegetable broth or water. I prefer chicken broth as it has more flavor.

Once you have everything chopped and set up, you’re going to heat some olive oil in a large dutch oven, over medium high heat. Once heated start to sauté the onion. You want to do this until it starts to caramelize up a bit. This is important as the first layer. You will then add the ginger, garlic and chili flakes, sauté some more. Try not to burn it.

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Next you will had your paste’s, 1 jar of Red Thai curry and and 6oz of tomato paste. Mix that all together so everything gets well coated. You will cook this for about 2-3 mins until it starts to become fragrant. Once that happens add your squash, and again fully coat the squash. You are going to want to add salt here. Cook again for another 5-10 mins stirring every so often so the bottom doesn’t burn. IMG_0831IMG_0833

Now add you lime zest, of two limes and the juice of two limes. You will then add you coconut milk and which ever broth/water you choose to use. You will want enough to almost cover the squash.  Bring it to a boil and then reduce to medium low with the cover on. You will cook for about 2hrs.

Once cooked you will blend it all up with whatever type of blender you have. I used my Vitamin Blender. I find it just makes soups so much smother and silky.  Place back in pot and server or let cool, and enjoy the day after. When serving add some cilantro, lime wedge and sriracha on top.

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash – peeled seeded and chopped
  • 2 acorn squash – peeled seeded and chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions chopped
  • 2 inches of ginger peeled and chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 stick of lemon grass chopped
  • 1 6oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 4oz jar of Red Thai Curry paste
  • 1 tsp of chili flakes or as much as you want
  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 – 2 limes zested and juiced – 1 limes cut into wedges
  • 1-2 cups Chicken broth, vegetable stock or water
  • couple sprigs of cilantro

Directions

  1. Chop up all your ingredients that need chopping and set aside.

2.  In a large dutch oven or heavy bottom pot, on medium high, heat the olive oil and add the onions. Cook the onions until they start to brown and caramelize a bit.

3. Once the onions have cooked,  add your garlic, ginger, lemon grass and chili flakes and sauté until it become fragrant.

4. You can now add your curry and tomato paste. Stir to coat onion mixture. Cook stirring every now and then for about 5 -8 mins.  You want strong flavors here. Make she it doesn’t burn on the bottom.

5. Add your squash and salt, do the exact same step as 4.

6. Add the lime zest, juice, coconut milk and broths and water. Stir and try to scrape up all the good stuff on the bottom is need be. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to medium low for approximately 2hrs.

7. Once the soup is done cooking and the squash is super tender, in batches blend the soup. You want to blend the soup until it is silky and creamy.  Place back in pot and stir all together so all batches are blended. At this point you can do one of two things. Serve right away, or cool down and wait for the next day. Next Day is my choice that I would.

Serving – When serving top with cilantro, avocado, sriracha and lime wedges. Enjoy!

Note: When you are blending, either have another pot on hand or a large bowl to dump the already blended soup.

 

Sun Dried Tomato Spaghetti

img_0807Welcome to the week leading up to our, Son’s, 7th birthday. During the week leading up to our kids Birthday’s, I usually make their favorite meals. This is then followed up with their choice of  Birthday breakfast and dinner. A tradition we have started in our house.

You are going to see posts of my son’s favorite meals. There are not many. In fact just a small handful. You see he is a picky eater. A very picky eater. Almost to the point of he won’t eat what is served if he doesn’t like it. Dairy is a big no, no for him. he just can’t do it. Cheese good luck. Only eats grilled cheese. Will not touch pizza, however he used to love pizza. Then one day he just stopped. The struggle has been real to get him to try pizza again. He keeps saying “when I’m older, I will try it again” so we keep saying “well you’re older, let’s try it again”. It’s and on going conversation in our house. So with that being said I have to hide dairy products in food. This dish is loaded with dairy. Next to spaghetti or spaghetti and meatballs (depending on his day), this is second his second favorite pasta dish.

So the history behind the Sun dried tomato spaghetti is this. It was one of those days, where, I needed to go grocery shopping but didn’t. A night of what is in the pantry and fridge and go from there. I create some of my best dishes on the whim. I’m more of a recipe creator than a recipe follower.  Now since that night I have given a few twists and altered it over the years. This dish first started with bacon. Now you can use bacon, however we have taken a turn away from it. We enjoy this dish more so as one of our meatless dishes these days. I add the twists after I have served our son’s. He likes it just the way it is. So here is what I found in the house on that day for dinner. A jar of sun-dried tomatoes, cream cheese, white wine, tomato paste, parmesan, spaghetti noodles, chili flakes, garlic and bacon. What I do now is no bacon. Again, you can add it if you want, and it’s in the notes for the recipe below. Our daughter loves artichokes, so I add that at the end. I crisp half of them up and the other half are just straight out of the can. I also sometimes top with burrata and fresh basil. It’s well worth those extra ingredients.

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How I made it tonight. Tonight I pan fried the artichoke hearts until they crisped up. This took about 5-8 mins. Once crisped up, I then set aside. BTW, I fully was cooking the pasta when I was making the sauce. start to finish your probably looking at 30 mins tops. I added some chili flakes to the hot oil so they could bloom and release the oil to give the dish some heat. Now I cook this whole dish in the sun dried tomato oil. Once I could smell the chili’s I added the tomatoes, tomato paste and garlic. Once that starts to heat, you then add the cream cheese and then start to let it melt with everything. You take the wine to deglaze the pan, add a good handful of parmesan cheese and let it cook, until it forms this smooth creamy blush sauce. Once the pasta is finished cooking you, take the cooked pasta, straight from the pot and place it into the sauce. You toss it all together and plate it however you desire.

Prep and cook time 30 mins

Serves 4

Ingredients

• 1 pound of spaghetti noodles

• 1/2 cup of marinated sun dried tomatoes in oil sliced.

• 1-2 garlic cloves

• as much chili flakes as you want

• 1/2 cup cream cheese

• 2/3 cup of white wine

• 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

• 1 Tbsp tomato paste

• 1 can quartered in water artichoke hearts

• Burrata

• fresh basil for on top for serving

• bacon optional see notes after recipe

Directions

1) In a large pot start to boil some water

2) Remove artichokes from the can and let drain. Pat dry. Once dry, take some of the oil from, the sun dried tomatoes and add to the pan. Add the artichokes and pan fry. This should take. 5-8 mins. Flipping once or twice. Once crisp set aside on a paper towel. Your pasta should now be added to your boiling water. Cook as directed or until a’dente

3) In the same pot take your chili flakes and cook, until the oils open from the pepper flakes. Now add your tomato paste, sun dried tomatoes and garlic. Stir all up and make sure the flavors blend together. Now add the cream cheese in dollops. This will help so the cream cheese will melt quicker.

4) Once your cream cheese has melted, deglaze with the white wine. Stir everything up as start to break it down. Bring to a boil and then turn to low.

5) check to see if your pasta is ready. If it’s ready, take it straight from the pot to the pan. Do not drain it. You want to save that starch water. Add more pasta water if you need to loosen up the sauce.

6) Plate your dish now. Top it with some burrata and freshly torn basil. Drizzles some olive oil on top and cracked black pepper. Enjoy!

Note: If you want to use bacon in this dish, chop the bacon in 1/2 inch pieces and pan fry them. Remove when crisp. Also remove all but a Tablespoon of bacon grease from the pan. Once bacon is cooked and grease is removed, you can add a little oil from the tomatoes and continue on with the recipe. Add the bacon back into the dish when you get add the pasta to the sauce.

Also if you can not have dairy for whatever reason it maybe, you can use none dairy cream cheese and just leave out the Parmesan.

Cherry Basil Pie

I’m always one to take pies to a different level. A different unexpected twist on the flavors and textures.

When I was pregnant with our son, towards the last 2 months I was on a pie kick. And BTW my husband loves pie, but that is not why I was on a pie kick. I was on a pie kick cause I was pregnant. I was on the let’s add different nuts to the crust every time I baked a pie. I can’t remember all those pies I made it was 7yrs a go. I do remember one, I made though for my friend Maureen. She was just recently pregnant with her second. Our little nephew Logan. All she wanted was mango. I mean I made sure our house was loaded with mango when she came. I made her a pistachio pie crust with mango filling. Now I thought it was good. She thought it was good. At least that is what she told me. Haha. But it was different.

I have made pie crusts with cheese in them. Those are awesome! Especially when making an apple pie. I would say it’s my favorite that I make and usually my go to. This time around though, I was feeling a cherry pie. But I wanted something unique. Something that would make you go, hmmmm?!

So here’s where I end up telling you I made a Cherry Basil Pie. I put the basil in the crust and did a basic cherry pie filling, minus half the sugar.

I love to make my pie crusts in the food processor. It’s so easy and saves sooooo much time and energy. Also this crust is a ready to use crust, you don’t have to chill for hours after making it.

I pulsed the dry ingredients together a few times around. This helps make the dry ingredients mix together and become a little light and airy. I then dropped in about 1/2 cup of loosely packed basil leaves, from our garden. Gave that a few go arounds until it was all broken up and looked like little flakes.

I then added my cubes of butter (which I cut up and then placed in a bowl in the freezer) a couple at a time, while on the dough setting. Once butter went in and started to look like little peas, I added the ice water. Let the food processor go around a few times until the dough formed a ball. I pulled it out and got rolling.

I cut 1/6 off of the dough and set it aside. Then I rolled the dough out, to fit the pie dish. I added some butter to grease up the dish. Made sure every area was covered. I like doing this step, and I find it gives an extra layer of flaky crust. Also helps so it doesn’t stick.

After the crust was formed I then moved over to the cherry filling. I cut the sugar in half. I did this since the cherries were really sweet as is. Always check your fruit to see how sweet it is before adding your sugar. I cooked the cherries on the stove.

While the cherries were cooking, I started to form the top part of the pie. Now since this was a cherry basil pie, I wanted to make the top look like basil leaves. So I free handed cutting with a pairing knife. This is why I set 1/6 of the pie crust aside.

I poured the cherries into the pie crust, and then started my design. To finish it off I took some egg whites to make a wash and brushed it on the dough. I baked it at 325 for 40 mins.

Prep & Cook Time 1.5hrs

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

• 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

• 1 1/2 Tbsp of granulated sugar

• 1/4 tsp salt

• 1 stick/ 8oz of unsalted butter cubbed and place in freezer

• 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

• 3 Tbsp ice cold water

• 3-4 cups of cherries pitted

• 1/2 cup of granulated sugar

• 1 Tbsp of lemon juice

• 3 tsp cornstarch and a little bit of water added and stir

• 1 egg – egg white separated discard yolk

Directions

1) Cut butter into cubes. Place in a bowl and into the freezer until ready to use. Preheat oven to 325. In a glass add some ice and water.

2) In a food processor on a sharp blade, not the dough blade, add the flour, sugar and salt. Pulse a few times to mix and sift it out. Next add your basil. Mix this until the basil is finally chopped.

3) Take the shoot lid out. Take the butter out of the freezer. Turn the food processor on, and start to slowly add the butter a couple at a time. Do this until all the butter is added. Once the dough starts to look like little peas., add your water. Add all 3 Tbsp. Keep mixing until it forms a large ball of dough. Once that happens, remove and place on a floured surface. Form into a ball and cut 1/6 off and set aside.

4) Take some butter and a paper towel and start to grease the pie dish.

5) Roll dough so that it is larger then the base of the dish. Once rolled out with the thickness you prefer place in the dish and mold it around. Set aside.

6) Pit all your cherries and place in a sauce pan on the stove. Add your sugar and lemon juice to the pot with the cherries. On Medium heat, cook until it starts to slowly boil. Now add your cornstarch and water mixture. Mix it all up and boil some more. Remove from heat once the sauce starts to thicken up.

7) Now take your extra dough and make either leafs or some fun design for on top.

8) Pour the cherry filling on top of the crust. Add your extra dough topping design and place right on top of the cherries. Make an egg wash and brush the dough. Place in the oven on for 40 mins, or until the crust starts to golden up a bit. Pull out and let cool almost completely before serving. Enjoy!