Tag Archives: vegetables

Food Focus: Basil

Dearest basil,

How do I love thee? Oh, let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height…

Just kidding, we don’t need to quote Elizabeth Barrett Browning to prove how much we love basil, but it does seem appropriate for an herb with which the world is so smitten. It is fragrant, refreshing and light, and its beautiful green color adds visual interest as well as flavor to almost any dish. Basil is also known as Sweet Basil, the common name for Ocimum Basilicum. The sweet basil we use here is the most commonly found variety and it is used a lot in Italian cuisine. There are many other types of basil (look into Thai basil, lemon basil and holy basil if you are interested in Asian cuisines.) Today, we will focus on sweet basil, which you can find fresh in almost any grocery store, but is also fairly easy to grow at home in a windowsill, porch container or garden.

To select basil, choose bright, sturdy leaves that do not sag. If you grow your own basil, trim the stem just above a grouping of leaves. This encourages the leaves to grow out, rather than up, resulting in a more robust plant and less risk of flowering. Flowers that do grow need to be picked, as flowering indicates that the plant is entering reproduction mode instead of growth mode, so it will stop producing leaves while the flowers are there. Basil can be stored in a plastic bag with a paper towel for a few days or it can be blanched and frozen. Drying basil is not recommended as dried basil loses most of its flavor, and the flavor that is retained tastes much different.


Wash basil only when you are ready to use it by rinsing gently under cold running water. Tenderly pluck the leaves from the stem and dry between layers of paper towels. If you are not gentle with the leaves, they will bruise. Basil is most commonly used in pesto, caprese salad and as a last-minute additive (any earlier and the flavor will disintegrate) to sauces.

 


Traditional Basil Pesto
YIELDS: 2 servings

Ingredients
4 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup (about 5 oz.) pine nuts
4 garlic cloves
1 cup olive oil
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
Instructions
Place basil, pine nuts and garlic in food processor bowl.
Process until almost a puree.
Add oil, Parmesan cheese and salt. Process until mixture is well blended.
Toss with hot pasta, spread on grilled chicken or use as a sandwich spread.
Everyday Good Thinking http://everydaygoodthinking.com/

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Test Kitchen Tip: Divide Traditional Basil Pesto Sauce between two ice cube trays; cover with plastic wrap and freeze. When the pesto sauce is frozen solid, pop the pesto cubes out and place in a resealable plastic freezer bag. Remove pesto cubes from bag, as needed. For an individual serving, defrost one pesto cube and toss with hot cooked pasta or spread on your favorite sandwich or wrap.

 

 


Pasta with Pesto Sauce
YIELDS: 4 servings

Ingredients
1 package (12 oz.) pasta
Traditional Basil Pesto (recipe above)
Instructions
Cook pasta following package directions; drain.
Toss with Traditional Basil Pesto.
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Grilled Vegetables and Pesto Wraps

 


Grilled Vegetables and Pesto Wraps
YIELDS: 4 servings

Ingredients
Grilled Vegetables with Balsamic Marinade
Traditional Basil Pesto
8 (10-inch) flour tortillas
Instructions
Prepare and grill vegetables as directed for Grilled Vegetables with Balsamic Marinade.
Prepare pesto as directed using Traditional Basil Pesto.
Spread tortillas with about 2 Tablespoons pesto.
Arrange vegetables in center of tortillas. Fold up bottom of tortilla and roll up sides.
Everyday Good Thinking http://everydaygoodthinking.com/

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Test Kitchen Tip: For easy carrying at a picnic, serve the wraps in small buckets or cups with chips.

Want more pesto dishes? We thought so.

Chicken Pesto Panini

Grilled Chicken with Basil Pesto

Pesto with Sundried Tomato, Mozzarella and Egg Breakfast Sandwich

 



Father's Day Menu Ideas

Whether you decide to celebrate dad at home or pack a lunch picnic for the local park, these recipes will be sure to help you prepare the perfect Father’s Day meal. The menu we chose can be mostly prepared on the grill. The baby back ribs are perfect for barbecue-loving dads, and the grilled veggies and grilled wedge salad make for healthy sides. While all of this is cooking on the grill, our easy slow cooker baked potatoes can be cooking indoors. We like to serve them fully loaded with bacon, sour cream and chives. All you need to add is fresh iced tea or lemonade and call the family to the backyard. So set the table and fire up the grill; it’s time to enjoy a great meal while celebrating the fathers in our lives.


Baby Back Barbecue Ribs
YIELDS: 6 servings

Barbecue ribs are a treat, and they work great for a backyard cookout. These baby backs are cooked on the grill and sauced towards the end, creating a glaze that will have you licking your fingers. We suggest cooking these on our GrillStation™ 5 Burner Gas Grill but you can always cook them in your slow cooker and finish them in the oven, if necessary.
Ingredients
Wood chips, soaked in water at least 1 hour
2 sheets (18x24-inches each) 18-inch wide heavy duty aluminum foil
1 rack baby back pork ribs (about 3 pounds), cut in half
1 Tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce
Instructions
Preheat grill to MEDIUM heat or GRILL ZONE (ORANGE).
Center half of ribs in single layer on each sheet of aluminum foil. Combine brown sugar and seasonings; rub over ribs, turning to coat evenly.
Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and one end to seal packet. Through open end, add 1/4 cup water. Double fold remaining end, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Repeat to make two packets.
Place rib packets in covered grill and grill 45 minutes. Remove ribs from grill and open foil.
To start SmokeStation™: Drain wood chips; fill SmokeStation drawer about ½ full. Turn SmokeStation burner to LOW. Turn burners beside SmokeStation to MEDIUM. Turn remaining 2 burners to LOW.
Place ribs on grill grate over burners that are LOW. BRUSH ribs with barbecue sauce. CONTINUE GRILLING 15 to 20 minutes, brushing with sauce and turning frequently.
Add wet wood chips as needed on top of wood chips to keep smoke going without flames or use a spray bottle of water set on the stream setting to wet wood chips.
Everyday Good Thinking http://everydaygoodthinking.com/

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Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes
YIELDS: 4 servings

Baking potatoes in a slow cooker imparts steam which keeps the inside of your potato fluffy and delicious. If you prefer to cook the potatoes with salt, be sure to oil the inside of your slow cooker first so it doesn’t stick. Use a medium slow cooker if making only a few potatoes or use a large slow cooker if making more than four.
Ingredients
4 to 8 large baking potatoes, scrubbed
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Instructions
Rub potatoes with olive oil and pierce with a fork.
Place in slow cooker.
Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours or LOW for 7 to 8 hours depending on quantity of potatoes and size of slow cooker or until internal temperature reaches at least 210°F.
Sprinkle with salt before serving.
Top with butter, sour cream, bacon, cheese and chives, if desired.
Everyday Good Thinking http://everydaygoodthinking.com/

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Grilled Vegetables with Balsamic Marinade
YIELDS: 6 servings

We love to use fresh vegetables from the farmers market when grilling. They are lightly marinated to add a boost of flavor, but the grill brings out the natural sweetness of the veggies while imparting a smoky, charred kick. These vegetables turn out great when cooked on our 3 Burner Pedestal Gas Grill.
Vegetables
​1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
2 large portabella mushroom caps
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut in half
1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut in half
1 large red onion, sliced
Marinade
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
​Place vegetables in large glass dish.
Combine marinade ingredients. Pour over vegetables in dish.
Cover vegetables and let marinate several hours or overnight.
Preheat grill to MEDIUM-HIGH heat or GRILL ZONE (ORANGE).
Drain vegetables; discard marinade.
Grill 8 to 12 minutes, turning occasionally until vegetables are browned and tender.
Everyday Good Thinking http://everydaygoodthinking.com/

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Grilled Romaine with Creamy Caesar Dressing
YIELDS: 4 servings

If you’ve never grilled romaine, you have to start. It adds a boost of charred flavor to a light, leafy green that you don’t expect. Skewer the romaine to make turning easier or use tongs to get even grill marks. Top with homemade Caesar dressing and grilled bread croutons.
Dressing
3 anchovies
1 clove garlic
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
​1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup olive oil
Salad
1 head romaine lettuce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Croutons
Instructions
For dressing, place anchovies, garlic, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and black pepper in blender.
Blend until mixture is creamy.
Add mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese and oil to blender. Blend until smooth.
Preheat grill to medium-high.
Slice head of romaine lettuce in half lengthwise through root end. (Root end will help hold romaine together.) Use wooden skewers to hold lettuce leaves together, if necessary.
Spray romaine with nonstick cooking spray or brush lightly with olive oil. Place romaine halves on grill.
Grill 2 to 4 minutes each side until romaine is charred and slightly wilted.
Drizzle dressing over grilled romaine. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and croutons.
Everyday Good Thinking http://everydaygoodthinking.com/

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Fun Family Dinner: Veggie Kabobs

Some kids are resistant to eating vegetables, while others are open to trying just about everything. We have found allowing kids to assist in the preparation of the meal usually makes them more excited to try new things. It also helps educate them on nutrition and healthy choices. These marinated summer vegetable kabobs are fun for the whole family to prepare and kids love to get their hands dirty and create their own kabob combinations. 

This recipe is great for farmer’s market summer squash, but feel free to add or subtract your favorite vegetables and customize the ingredients for your family. If you are using bamboo skewers, remember to soak them in water for at least 20 minutes prior to grilling so the sticks won’t burn.

Serve these kabobs at your next family dinner and get the kids to help you with the prep work, or enjoy this recipe at your next cookout or barbecue with friends and family.


Marinated Vegetable Kabobs
YIELDS: 4 servings

Vegetable kabobs are fun to make, easy to cook and serve, and create a vibrant and colorful plate. Lightly charring the edges of the vegetables gives the flavor more depth. You can marinate the vegetables in a covered dish, or if there is limited space in the refrigerator, use a large resealable zipper storage bag.
Marinade
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Ground pepper to taste
Vegetables
8 large mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, cut in chunks
1 large yellow pepper, cored, seeded, cut in chunks
1 large green pepper, cored, seeded, cut in chunks
1 small red onion, cut in chunks
Instructions
Mix marinade ingredients. Add vegetables.
Cover, refrigerate and marinate 4 to 8 hours.
Thread vegetables onto skewers; place on grill.
Grill 8 to 12 minutes, turning occasionally.
Everyday Good Thinking http://everydaygoodthinking.com/

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Test Kitchen Tips: Use a non-metal dish for marinating. Most marinades contain acidic ingredients, such as vinegar or lemon juice, which react with metal causing “off” flavors.

Be creative with vegetables. Try red potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, or cherry tomatoes. There’s no need to be limited to white button mushrooms. Choose from a variety such as Portabella, Crimini and Shiitake mushrooms.



Healthy Kids Day: Chicken Fajitas

We all know how difficult it can be to provide our family with healthy meals they will actually enjoy, when time is limited and kids are notoriously finicky. Today, we are acknowledging Healthy Kids Day by bringing you one of our favorite kid-friendly recipes: Chicken Fajitas with Grilled Peppers and Onions. This quick and simple dish packs in a lot of flavor so everyone at the dinner table will be happy. Add fun toppings like guacamole, low-fat cheese, sour cream or plain greek yogurt, and chopped tomatoes or salsa. Kids love assembling a fajita just the way they like it, so they are more inclined to eat a well-rounded meal with their favorite ingredients. These chicken fajitas are so much fun to prepare and taste great, what’s not to love?

Kristel’s Tip: Make a double batch of chicken and vegetables so you will have leftovers. Pack lunches for your kids with the fajita mix chopped and mixed with Tex-Mex Style Brown Rice for a protein-packed meal option. Alternatively, serve the mix (with or without the Tex-Mex Style Brown Rice) over chopped romaine for a delicious salad. Heck, these meal alternatives sound so good, you should probably pack some for your lunch tomorrow, too!


Chicken Fajitas with Grilled Peppers and Onions
YIELDS: 6 servings

Ingredients
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon onion salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken tenders
2 red bell pepper, halved, seeded and cut into strips
1 green bell pepper, halved, seeded and cut into strips
1 large onion, quartered
6 flour tortillas
Instructions
Stir olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, onion salt, cumin, pepper and garlic in a medium bowl.
Place chicken in a glass baking dish. Pour marinade over chicken, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight.
Preheat indoor or outdoor grill to medium-high heat. (You can also use a skillet or griddle.)
Drain chicken breasts; discard marinade.
Place red pepper, green pepper and onion in grill basket if using outdoor grill.
Grill peppers and onions 5 to 7 minutes; stirring occasionally until crisp/tender.
Grill chicken strips covered 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until juices run clear and meat is no longer pink. Let chicken rest for several minutes.
Serve chicken strips, grilled peppers and onions with flour tortillas.
Everyday Good Thinking http://everydaygoodthinking.com/

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