Friday, September 28, 2018

Pattie’s Fresh Basil and Walnut Pesto

Last week my nephew called and asked if he could have my recipe for pesto. For the first time ever he has a small garden, and decided that he wanted to grow basil and make his own. I sent him this recipe, along with the link to this food processor (a relatively inexpensive, yet reliable machine of slightly smaller capacity), telling him that you must have a food processor in order to make pesto, and, indeed, you do! But, the expenditure, and storage space, is well worth it for something as delicious as this. If there is something that beats fresh pesto in the fall, I’d like to know what it is. I hobbled out into the open portion of my deck this morning (Did I mention that I broke my toe? Yeah.), and gathered up half of the basil. Later on, just before frost, I’ll retrieve the rest so that I can make my final batch of the year.

As I told my nephew, I don’t have a recipe, per se, just toss things together until, as my grandmother used to say, “it looks right.” I did manage to jot down what I do, and here it is. This is so good that I don’t even need pasta, I could eat it right out of the bowl.
There are many ways to get creative with pesto. I will stir it into mayonnaise to use a sandwich topping, put a dollop on top of soup, add some to chicken salad, or blend a healthy amount into softened unsalted butter to then spread on thick slices of French bread topped with grated cheese and run onto the broiler for a minute or two. Heaven! 
Pattie’s Fresh Basil and Walnut Pesto

2 c. packed fresh basil leaves, washed and thoroughly dried*
1/3 c. roughly chopped, toasted walnuts
1 large garlic clove
1/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan
1 t. freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ t. kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon Melissa’s Lemon Pepper Seasoning
1/4 - 1/3 cup good olive oil**

Place all ingredients EXCEPT olive oil into the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until thoroughly ground and paste-like. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until it reaches desired consistency. Taste for additional seasoning.

*I use a salad spinner for this
**More or less to reach desired consistency

If pesto is not your thing, this One-Pan 30-Minute Pasta Alfredo is sure to please.

This post is linked to:

This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie

Unless it’s a cheeseburger, there is nothing that I like better than a homemade cookie. What I don’t like is making homemade cookies. It is too much tedious work. So, when I found this recipe for one giant chocolate chip cookie I thought it was absolutely for me. The same delicious taste of chocolate chip cookies that I can just cut up into nice wedges. Perfect!

What I didn’t take into consideration is that I can’t cut a pizza or a pie to save my life. While the first slice comes out perfectly, it goes seriously downhill from there. Because I never seem to start exactly in the middle, each shape takes on a different form until I end up with a trapezoid, a polygon, with one remaining lump that most closely resembles a tetrahedron. For this reason, I can only show you a couple of the cookies that I baked. But, they were absolutely delicious, and I highly recommend this recipe.

This is actually the second time I made them. The first time I confused White Lily Baking Flour for White Lily All Purpose Flour, and the cookie expanded across the pizza pan, climbed over the edge and showered down onto the bottom of my oven, where it formed sort of a cobbled layer that burned, causing smoke to billow out the oven vents and into the kitchen. I cleaned this up to the screech of the smoke detector. It was a lovely evening.

I changed up the original recipe a bit in that instead of using one and a half cups of semisweet morsels, I used a half cup of semisweet morsels and one full cup of mini morsels. I think you get a better dough-to-chocolate-chip ratio doing it this way. If you like, you can sprinkle some regular sized semisweet morsels on the top when you pull it out of the oven, and pat them in gently for more chocolate and a more attractive appearance.

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie
From Sally’s Baking Addiction

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet, or
pizza pan (or cover with parchment or a Silpat).

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat on high, about 1 minute. Add vanilla extract; mix until combined.

Add dry ingredients and mix on low until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. With floured hands form go into a large, flat round, transfer to prepared pan, and flatten to ½” thick. Scatter and press additional chocolate chips into top, if desired.

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned on top. If you want the cookie a little crisper on the edges, bake for a couple of extra minutes. Allow to cool in the pan set on a wire rack before slicing into, hopefully decent looking triangles.

If you prefer the drop style of Chocolate Chip Cookie, you will love these Copycat Doubletree Chocolate Chip Cookies!

This post is linked to:

This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Creamy Beef and Shells

Perhaps it’s because, as a kid, I found great comfort in a can of SpaghettiOs, that I find pasta and red sauce to continue to be comforting today. When I spotted this recipe, it had “comfort written all over it, so I had to make a big batch for me, the freezer, and dad. In the doing, I changed this up a bit. When I make any kind of red sauce, I have to add red wine. I also swapped out the elbow pasta for orecchiette. This wonderful shell-shaped noodle is perfect for holding luscious scoops of richly flavored pasta sauce. With these changes, I loved it!  It’s soothing, warming, and intensely satisfying. I think this is going to be my “go to comfort dish this winter.
Creamy Beef and Shells
Adapted from DamnDelicious

8 oz.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground chuck
1 large
Melissa’s shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tablespoon
Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons flour
1½ cups beef stock
½ cup dry red wine
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
¾ cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1½ c. shredded extra sharp cheddar

In a large pot cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground chuck and cook until browned, 3 to 5 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef as it cooks; drain excess fat. Set aside.

In same skillet add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and Italian seasoning until fragrant, about one minute.

Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about one minute. Gradually whisk in beef stock, wine, and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced and slightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes.

Combine pasta, beef, and heavy cream until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in cheese until melted, about two minutes. Serve immediately.

Another tasty and comforting little pasta meal is this Pepperoni Pasta.

This post is linked to:

This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Sunny End-of-Summer Tablescape

The pastel colors of spring have given way to the bright colors of summer. End of summer colors tend toward those of the sunset, and are made use of here.
As with my Farmhouse Table, this one sports a floral centerpiece, in this case potted Rudbeckia.
Inspired by these sunny flowers, I selected similar blooms in the napkin rings that hold checkered napkins.
Last week’s placemats and galvanized chargers make a return visit. This week the chargers are topped with sunflower yellow
Waechtersbach dinner plates.
On top of the dinner plates are Carly Dodsley salad plates in a chicken design.
As I’m sure you have noticed from the recipes I have posted most recently, I have been crazy about corn lately, so will be serving corn on the cob for dinner in these adorable corn holders that look like corn themselves.
These are Bordallo Pinheiro. The corn cup and saucer at each place setting are also Portugal majolica, as is the sugar and creamer set at center.
Antique replica flatware, a family favorite is from Pottery Barn.
Join me for dinner. We’ll have something corny.

You can see the corn dinnerware and be further inspired in this Crow & Corn Tablescape.

This post is linked to:

This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Spinach Artichoke Chicken for Two

Cooking for one or two is not often easy, largely because of the lack of availability of truly good recipes that makes such an endeavor worthwhile. I generally will make two entrées when I cook so that I can either share one with my dad, or if I’m making something I think he won’t enjoy, pop one into the freezer for later.

I like a dish that I can put together early in the day, because as the day wears on and I wear out my interest in cooking diminishes. This is a tasty, company worthy meal that I started the day before. It’s not necessary, but, as I’ve often mentioned, chicken needs to be marinated in buttermilk to make it juicy. So, this time I included that step in the recipe. You can skip this step if you are short on time, but it makes a world of difference, so I always encourage it. Another advantage to this recipe is that you can make the topping 1 to 2 days ahead of time, so this dish can go together in a hurry. I served mine with rice pilaf (Truth be told it was
this, and this is an excellent price, by the way.) and roasted carrots from my garden. It was an elegant meal.
Spinach Artichoke Chicken for Two

1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut horizontally*

1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup Italian Dressing, any kind will do

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ 10-oz. pkg. froz. chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
½ cup chopped artichoke hearts
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper
2 slices provolone cheese

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Grease a 1-quart baking dish (or individual au gratin dishes); set aside.

Place chicken breast halves into a shallow bowl, cover with buttermilk and return to the fridge for 6-8 hours or overnight. Remove chicken from buttermilk; pat dry. Pour salad dressing into a Ziploc bag. Place chicken breasts into bag, squish to cover chicken with dressing, set aside for 15 minutes while you prepare topping.

Place all topping ingredients into a medium mixing bowl. Beat until thoroughly combined.

Remove chicken breasts from marinade, pat dry. Place breasts into prepared casserole. Divide topping among the two breast halves, thoroughly covering the top of each. Place a slice of provolone cheese on each piece of chicken, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F.

*You can learn how to do this here.

Another delightfully easy Dinner for Two is Beef Stroganoff for Two.

This post is linked to:

This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Plastered Hot Fudge Sauce

As I promised when I showed you a small (read: minuscule) portion of my recipe postcard collection, I tried the recipe for Plastered Hot Fudge Sauce. If you have never made hot fudge sauce before, this is the recipe to start with because it is easy and so good! I used the called for Jack Daniels, but my guess is that you could use the spirit of your choice, e.g. brandy, scotch, or bourbon, or a favorite liqueur like Kahlúa, Amaretto, or even Grand Marnier for a luscious orange and chocolate combination. This is delicious over ice cream, orange sherbet, or pound cake, and a tasty dip for fresh fruits like strawberries, raspberries, or bananas. Easy, delicious, and with a hint of booze, what’s not to like?
Plastered Hot Fudge Sauce
From page 179 of Jack Daniel’s The Spirit of Tennessee Cookbook

1 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c.
unsweetened cocoa, sifted
1 t. instant coffee granules (I used
espresso powder)
Dash of salt
2 T. Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup butter

Combine sugar, cocoa, coffee, and salt in a medium saucepan. Mix Jack Daniel’s Whiskey with cream; add to sauce and whisk until sauce is smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. When sugar has dissolved, add butter and cook until thickened, about five minutes. Serve warm. Makes 2 cups.

If patience is not one of your virtues, try this Microwave Fudge Sauce.

This post is linked to:

This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Farmhouse Tablescape

With all of the harvesting of vegetables in my container garden that I have been doing of late, I have felt like nothing less than a small-scale farmer, so I figured that a farmhouse table was in order. Here is the result.
I always have fresh flowers in the house, alstroemerias being one of my favorites. This lovely bouquet of white flowers in its brown vase is the perfect centerpiece. Next year, I’ve told myself, I’m going to grow these out on the deck. I had some amazing luck with flowers on the deck this year, so my plan next year is to grow an equal amount of vegetables, herbs, and flowers.
The placemats you have seen before, these were purchased at a local shop called Three French Hens. I use these constantly, as you may have noticed, and don’t look too closely, or you will notice that they are beginning to show some wear.
Another local find, from The White Rabbit, are these wonderful galvanized chargers. They are perfect for a rustic farmhouse look.

The plaid dinner plates, and farm appetizer plates are from Pier 1. The plaid plates I can recommend highly, the appetizer plates not so much. Mine arrived chipped, crazed, and with a dollop of white touch-up paint on them. Fortunately, I got a full refund, but these are used solely for decoration.
Beneath the appetizer plates are wonderful chicken luncheon plates that you will see more of next week.

The plaid napkins are from Pier 1 as well, and have been used more than any other set of napkins that I have. Black and white check goes with pretty much any color you can imagine.
The flatware, antique replicas, is from Pottery Barn. I keep them on the sideboard in these jars, and thought, why not just put them on the table that way, so people can take what they need. I like the farmhouse look.
I consider this table to be the quiet before the storm. By storm I mean the burst of color that comes with fall. Stay tuned for a gradual transition from neutrals into the fires of autumn.

Another cool summer look is this Green & White Summer Tablescape.

Get the Farmhouse look with this Rooster Pitcher.

This post is linked to:

This post contains affiliate links.