Sunday, July 28, 2013




Several folks we know grow basil.  The thing about basil is, when it grows, it tends to grow well and have plentiful leaves.  When summertime arrives and the noonday heat beats down on it, basil needs plenty of water to keep it happy.  Other than needing water, it's pretty easy to grow!  Basil is so wonderful to have on hand to throw a couple of snipped leaves in tomato sauce for pasta, a few slivers on pizza as it comes out of the oven, or everyone's favorite - fresh basil pesto!  

But what happens when your basil plant grows fast and furious, you already have pesto made and frozen for the wintertime, and yet you still have more basil leaves?

I found myself with a lot of basil right before a recent camping trip.  I knew I had to cut the basil, as it was going to seed and bushing out way too much.  I cut many stems, removed the leaves from the stalks (see above picture) and washed all of the leaves up.  After running the leaves through the salad spinner to remove the excess water, I got to work.  I put small batches of the basil leaves in my mini chopper (or you could use your food processor to make it go even faster) with a bit of olive oil.  That's it!  I didn't add any salt, spices, etc.  All I did was add a bit of olive oil to make the basil easier for the machine to chop up.  

After I had the basil/olive oil mixture, I spooned it onto plastic wrap in little mounds.  I left enough room in between each mound so that it would be separated from the next mound.  I then folded the plastic wrap over the mounds, and pressed to "seal" the mixture in the wrap.  I then placed this row of five or so mounds inside of a freezer bag to place in the freezer.

My goal in doing this is now I have the fresh summer bounty of basil for my late summer canning projects or cooking throughout the fall.  I can easily break off a bit of a mound, or use the entire mound, if so desired.

Some may ask, "Why not dry the basil instead?"  Truth be told, I could have gotten out my dehydrator, but I didn't want to take the time to do that.  This seemed easier and quicker for me in this situation.

As always, if you have a question, please feel free to comment or e-mail us!


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Fresh from the Garden Salsa

This is the time of year gardeners love.  Every serious gardener talks about the joy of making the daily trek to the garden to see what is ripe and what is ready for picking.  Olivia and I are no different.  Filling your pockets with cherry tomatoes and hoping your hands can hold the rest of what you've found is a thrill.  Today I spied one ripe cherry tomato and couldn't wait to start picking up stems of the tomato plants looking for more ripe gems.

The other day Olivia made the trip to her garden and came back with ingredients for a quick, fresh salsa.  The ingredients were few and simple, but boy or boy were they good.  She shared some of it with me and the taste was unbelievable fresh and bright.  Experiment with the goodies that come from your garden.  It is hard to go wrong with the wonderful taste of nature's own goodness.  Enjoy!


From Olivia's garden in her backyard:
* 2 ripe tomatoes
* 2 small red onions
* 2 serano peppers (Tame this down if you don't want a really spicy salsa!)
* small bunch of cilantro

From the store:
* pinch of Kosher salt
*  tablespoon or so of lime juice

Pulse all ingredients in a small mini chopper or a food processor.  Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Pink Lemonade Bars

We didn't post a recipe last week because we were busy celebrating the Fourth of July holiday by camping at one of our favorite state parks.  Nothing makes summer more enjoyable than shared experiences of the season.  Here are a few random observances from the last week that illustrate what makes summer so special to us:

* the relaxing fun of observing fireworks just over the tree tops from the comfort of your lawn chair and seated at your own campfire on a warm, pleasant evening.
*seeing block after block of vintage homes in a neighborhood that prides itself in flying hundreds of American flags during the Fourth of July holiday.
*watching children ride their bikes at full steam and then coast as far as they can.
*picking ripe cherry tomatoes from the garden and then popping them in your mouth while they are still warm from the sun.
*canning and freezing each week's garden bounty for later enjoyment in the winter.  This one includes sitting on the screen porch after the canning is done and listening for the "ping"  from inside the house of each lid as it seals.
*sectioning fruit with Olivia to make citrus marmalade and getting sticky juice everywhere--including our elbows.  By the way, the marmalade made her house smell wonderful.

Whatever makes your summer great, we hope you are enjoying lots of it.  Summer seems to be flying by at lightning speed!  These pink lemonade bars will be a hit at your next picnic or gathering.  They are sweet, tart, and refreshing!

Pink Lemonade Bars

1 package white cake mix
1 cup toasted coconut
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 (6 oz.) can frozen pink lemonade from concentrate, thawed
Few drops red food coloring
1 (4 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (8 or 9-inch) baked pie crust
1/2 cup coconut


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 13 x 9 inch pan with foil, leaving two inch overhang on all sides.  Spray the foil with cooking spray.  Combine the cake mix, toasted coconut, and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until crumbly.  Press mixture into the bottom of prepared pan.  Bake 12 minutes or until light golden brown.  

Cool the crust completely before proceeding with the recipe.

BEAT cream cheese in a large bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk, lemonade concentrate and food color, if desired.

FOLD in whipped topping. Pour into prepared pie crust. Chill 4 hours or until set. Garnish with coconut.