Tag Archive for Basil

Meatball Sliders

Meatball Sliders

I was flipping through the January 2015 edition of Southern Living magazine recently and came across this recipe for Meatball Sliders. Can I just say, “AH-MAZING!” I made them on a Friday night when I knew the kids were having friends over since the recipes makes a lot of meatballs. I actually prepared the meatballs the night before and put them in the refrigerator. When I got home Friday afternoon after a busy day, I pulled out the meatballs to bring them to room temperature before putting them in the sauce. This could not have been more easy and everyone LOVED them! Note: I actually tried a meatball by itself and even though I am not a meatball expert, it was pretty awesome! 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 30min; Cook Time – 10 hours

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 large fresh basil sprigs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (28-oz.) cans whole tomatoes, crushed
5 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 pound ground chuck
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
24 slider buns or dinner rolls, split and lightly toasted
12 (1-oz.) provolone cheese slices, halved
Garnish: fresh basil leaves

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Crock Pot

Preparing Meatball Sliders:

1. Stir together first 6 ingredients in a 7-qt. slow cooker; stir in 2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cover and cook on LOW 8 hours. 

2. Meanwhile, place ground chuck and ground pork in a large bowl. Add next 6 ingredients and remaining 1 Tbsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper; mix gently just until blended. Gently shape mixture into 24 meatballs. (Do not pack.) Place meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet; cover well, and chill until ready to use.

3. Let meatballs stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Carefully submerge meatballs in tomato mixture in slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 1 hour or until meatballs are done, stirring after 30 minutes. (I actually cooked my meatballs about 90 minutes).

4. Preheat broiler with oven rack 7 inches from heat. Arrange bottom halves of 12 buns in a single layer on each of 2 baking sheets. Place 1 meatball on each bun;

Meatball Sliders

top with sauce and 1 halved provolone cheese slice. Repeat with remaining buns, meatballs, and cheese.

Meatball Sliders

5. Broil sliders, 1 baking sheet at a time, 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Top with top halves of buns.

Meatball Sliders

Meal Ideas:

Serve with a salad and call it a day!

Vodka Pasta with Shrimp

Shrimp Vodka Pasta

Believe it or not, I made vodka pasta with shrimp for my family a few weeks ago. Melissa made me touch fresh shrimp recently and literally pull off its legs with my fingers so when I was buying shrimp for this recipe, clearly I was going the “already prepared frozen” route. The uncooked, peeled and deveined shrimp looked too small. I wanted larger shrimp and the only option was cooked, peeled, tail on. Yeah me…I didn’t have to do ANYTHING except defrost it! Yes…one member of the family was irritated that she had to deal with tails herself, but when I told her she was lucky I don’t ever make her clean a whole chicken, she was good. My point in saying this is that you can easily use raw or frozen shrimp, precooked or uncooked for this particular recipe as it was delicious…or so I was told!! 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 20 min. 

Ingredients:

9 oz. fresh refrigerated fettuccine

1 T. olive oil

12 shrimp (you can buy frozen that is already cooked and defrost it, or buy uncooked, peeled and deveined)

4 cloves of garlic, crushed, divided

1/3 c. vodka

1 1/2 c. mariana sauce

1/2 c. basil, chopped plus more for garnish, if desired

1/4 c. heavy whipping cream

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

Preparing Vodka Pasta with Shrimp:

Cook pasta according to directions and drain. Set aside. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp and half of the garlic (if it’s already cooked and defrosted, you are just heating it up. If it’s raw, cook until done, about 4-5 minutes). Remove shrimp from pan. Add the rest of the garlic and cook for about one minute. REMOVE PAN FROM STOVE and add the vodka (pouring alcohol into a pan that is a directly over a flame could be a recipe for disaster. I did it once….needed baking soda to put the fire out and ruined the dish). Anyway, cook the vodka for about one minute. Add the marinara, basil, cream, salt and pepper.

Shrimp Vodka Pasta

Bring to a simmer. Return pasta and shrimp to pan and heat all the way the through. Serve hot!

Shrimp Vodka Pasta

Important Tips:

When cooking shrimp, remember that when the shrimp looks like a “C” it’s cooked. If it looks like an “O” it’s overcooked! 

Variations:

If you don’t like seafood, throw in some chicken instead of shrimp!

 

Sauteed Baby Squash

I did it! I finally “pulled a Melissa”! If you have been following our blog for a while, you know that I try to limit the trips to the store that I make in any given week and have a “weekly menu” set for my family. I deviate from it, but not often. Melissa, on the other hand, will go to the store almost on a daily basis and buy ingredients for dinner “that just look good.” Then she goes home and whips up something delicious. 

I have found and embraced The Dekalb Farmer’s Market. That place is like the Mothership to me. If you live anywhere near Atlanta, you really should check it out. It’s truly amazing. Anyway, when I went a few weeks ago to mostly buy herbs, spices and wine, I decided to check out the produce section. I came across these amazing looking baby squash. I just HAD to buy them. I was already buying fresh basil (because Melissa hasn’t helped me plant my herb garden yet..ahem) so I thought I would make sautéed baby squash for dinner that night. There really is something to be said about eating FRESH ingredients. 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 5 min; Cook Time – 5-10 min.

Ingredients:

Baby Squash (enough for your family)

3-4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

1 T. fresh basil, chopped

1. T. Extra Virgin Olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparing Sauteed Baby Squash:

In a medium saucepan bring water to a boil, add the baby squash for a couple of minutes, take out and plunge in an ice cold bath (a process called shocking). Drain. Heat oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic and basil and cook for 30 seconds. Add the squash and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to coat with garlic and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste!

Sauteed Baby Squash

Important Tips:

Don’t overcook the vegetables. Cook them just enough so they are hot but still crunchy!

Way to go Denise! Those little baby squash are so adorable. And, I’ll get over there and plant that herb garden for you!! Really! ~Melissa

Grilled Chicken with Tzatziki Sauce

Who says a good meal has to be time consuming and require lots of ingredients? Certainly not me!!! I’ve always wondered what heating tzatziki sauce and pouring it over chicken would taste like, so that’s what I did for the main course of Greek Week. My husband absolutely loved this grilled chicken with tzatziki sauce, and so did I! (I bet this is another one that Melissa freaks out over…at least it’s not powdered hollandaise sauce)!

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 5 min; Cook Time – 15 min. 

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts

1 c. tzatziki sauce

1 roma tomato

1/4 c. basil, chopped

Preparing Grilled Chicken with Tzatziki Sauce:

Preheat grill to medium high heat. Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Put tzatziki sauce in a medium saucepan and heat on medium, stirring occasionally. Grill the chicken about 8-10 minutes, depending on thickness. Transfer cooked chicken to serving platter and pour heated tzatziki sauce on top. Sprinkle with basil and add tomatoes for color. That’s it!!

Grilled Chicken with Tzatziki Sauce

Important Tips:

The tomatoes aren’t a necessary part of the dish in regards to flavor, but it does make it look pretty! 

Now Denise, why would you think that I’d ‘freak out’ over this? Costco Tzatziki is just about perfection. I’m sure fresh, homemade from Ya-Ya’s prized recipe is better, but I don’t have a Ya-Ya so Costco will have to do. Cool idea to warm it up. Yummmmm ~Melissa

Throwback Thursday – Lemon Thyme Chicken with Feta Herb Salad

Today we are bringing back one of our more popular chicken recipes!

We love this Lemon Thyme Chicken with Feta Herb Salad because it is light and fresh…perfect for this time of year! Whether you have your own herb garden (like Melissa) or buy them from your local grocery store (as Denise does), this is a delicious dish to make and enjoy on the deck with a nice glass of white wine!!

Lemon Thyme Chicken with Feta Herb Salad

By the way…Kim Crawford Sauvignon is now $9.99 at some local Costco stores :)!!!!  

How to cut basil into strips

It’s Tuesday Tip Day!! We decided that it’s important to bring back on a weekly basis some of the most important tips that we have given you over the past year…just to make sure you don’t forget them!! 

This week’s tip is about how to cut basil into strips. There is nothing like fresh basil, and this is the perfect time of year for it! Well…once the cold weather stops, it will be the perfect time of year!!!

This technique applies for basil, mint and other leafy herbs. It can also be used to ‘shred’ leafy green vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, swiss chard. The technique to a classically trained chef is a Chiffonade. But, unless you like crossword puzzles, who cares.

How to cut basil into strips:

1. Wash the basil and pat dry

2. Take the basil by the stems and stack each leaf neatly on top of each other from largest leaf on the bottom to smallest on top.
Chopping Basil
2. Roll the stack. For basil and other soft stemmed greens, roll in either direction you prefer. For greens with a tougher stem you want to remove, roll from tip to stem and just cut the stem out.

3. Slice the basil into thin strips otherwise known as a chiffonade.

Chiffonade of Basil
How to Chop Basil

4. If needed for your recipe, you can turn the chiffonade side ways and cut a few more times to be more of a dice, but generally a chiffonade will do.

Important Tips:

Basil will bruise easily upon cutting so don’t cut too far in advance of use or it will look almost black. Drizzling the leaves with a little olive oil before cutting will help but the biggest help is using this technique and a very sharp knife.

Stuffed Chicken Breast

What do you do for dinner when you have no desire to go to the grocery store but you still have a hungry family looking to you to put something together? You wing it!

You look through your freezer/fridge/pantry and try to think of something that might all go together and not taste horrible and not take too long. Did I mention that I was a bit exhausted from my week too?

Well, you can get lucky every now and again!! Even the kids loved it including a sleepover guest! I got to finish my night with a glass (or two or something like that, who’s counting) of wine and keep my feet up! Heavenly.

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Time Required: Prep Time – 10min; Cook Time – 20-30 min

Ingredients for 4:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup basil, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 cup feta, crumbled
salt and pepper
drizzle of olive oil
1 cup marinara

How to make stuffed chicken breasts with basil, parsley and feta:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Before you get your hands all yucky, chop your basil and parsley, and crumble your feta into a bowl. Add some salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil (maybe 2-3T). Mix it together.

Then cut a slit in the thick side of your chicken breast (not the side that tapers off and is really thin). The cut should be about 3-4 inches down the length of the breast and back towards the other side without actually going all the way across. I have a picture of this but it looks kinda x-rated so I did not add it. It at least gave Denise and I quite a laugh about the comments we might receive if I posted it. 🙂

Stuff 1/4 of the mixture into each of the breasts and then secure it closed with a toothpick. I used a 4 inch wooden skewer to easily do the trick.

Add some salt and pepper on the chicken. Bake for about 10 minutes then top with the marinara sauce. Place back in oven and cook until done about 10-20 minutes longer depending on the size of the breasts.

Let rest for a couple of minutes before serving.

chicken breast stuffed with feta, basil and parsley

Important Tips:

Be sure not to cut all the way through the breast. Stuffed proteins will dry out quickly if you overcook them so be sure to pull this out just as it is done.