After all my whining and complaining about not being able to grill this year, my parents ended up bringing us an old barbecue when they came to visit. They really shouldn’t have. Now how will I ever learn that complaining doesn’t get you anywhere? That would never have worked when I was younger. But maybe I have a little more pull now? Hmm… ;)
But really, guys. I am so excited! (And, thankful!) We’ve been grilling up a storm ever since. And it came in so handy on the scorcher of a week we had last week, especially when the power went out and we used the grill to cook our entire meal. It’s amazing what you can all cook in foil packets.
This grilled caprese chicken was one of my favourite summer meals last year. I’m sorry I didn’t share it with you sooner. I was too busy eating it. Grilled chicken gets topped with charred summer tomatoes, drizzled with a basil vinaigrette, then topped with marinated fresh mozzarella and set aside until the mozzarella is melted and gooey. It tastes so fresh and summery and yet is so comforting at the same time. It’s also super quick to make so you can end your work day in true summer fashion – with a relaxed grilled dinner on the patio. Cheers!
Grilled Caprese Smothered Chicken
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4 inch slices and patted dry
4 small or 2 large chicken breasts, flattened to an even thickness or sliced in half lengthwise
salt and pepper, to taste
2 large tomatoes cut into 1/2 inch slices
Mix together basil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking as you go, until fully combined. Remove 3 tablespoons vinaigrette to a medium sized bowl, toss with mozzarella. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook on a hot grill, along with tomatoes, until chicken is cooked through and tomatoes are lightly charred on both sides. Transfer chicken to a platter, top with tomatoes, drizzle with remaining vinaigrette and top with marinated mozzarella. Cover with foil and set aside for 10 minutes, or until mozzarella is melted. If the cheese isn’t melting to your liking you can place this in a slightly warm oven to help the process along.
Pesto has to be one of summer’s best condiments. It’s easy to make, tastes fresh and lively, and adds pizzaz to practically any dish imaginable. This is actually my first time making pesto at home. This recipe stuck out to me and got me in the kitchen for two reasons 1) I practically always have all of these ingredients on hand at all times (i.e. no pine nuts!), so I can whip up a batch whenever I want and 2) I only ever have one basil plant which was pretty much completely bare after picking 1 cup from it. So, I love the fact that spinach makes up for half of the basil in this recipe, meaning I can actually make a decent amount of pesto without having hoards of basil around. As a result, this pesto isn’t as strong and intense as many pestos are, but it is uniquely flavourful in its own right and tastes just as pesto should – delicious! I’ll be making this often and using it in all my favourite recipes calling for pesto, because who can resist such delicious simplicity?
Need idea’s to use up that little bit of extra pesto? Spread it onto sandwiches, stir it into pasta, mix it into scrambled eggs, plop spoonfuls of it onto pizza before baking, or freeze it in ice-cube trays to use for later.
Spinach Walnut Pesto
1 cup baby spinach
1 cup fresh basil
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon water
salt and pepper, to taste
Puree all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Last week I put the call out on Facebook for some trusted company-worthy eats. There were many delicious suggestions but this one from Natasha (a fellow Canadian ex-pat living in Switzerland) really stuck out to me because a) there was a link to the recipe and b) it contained sun-dried tomatoes, which I love and James hates.
Being the bad wife that I am, I like to make at least one dish that James doesn’t like when company comes over because I know that I’ll have someone to help me finish it. After all, I’m cooking for them not him, right? (Although it sounds more like I’m cooking for me.)
James, being the good husband that he is, usually tries a piece anyways, and I couldn’t believe when he reached for seconds, thirds and fourths of this dish.
I wouldn’t have needed to make anything else, because this was really all we wanted to eat. Even Max was unhappy with his bowl of usually pre-occupying spaghetti and kept reaching for the plate full of bruschetta.
Who could blame him? A crusty slice of baguette topped with a pungent and robust Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade. Such simple ingredients melding together to make one mouthwatering bite.
This would be a great appetizer or side dish to serve alongside a summer barbecue. You could even keep the house cool by popping it on the grill once the meat is done and resting. I have some leftover tapenade in my freezer and I have a feeling it’s going to make it’s way onto some homemade pizza very soon.
I know we’ll be having this often, to the disdain of all those within a five mile radius of our breath. Goodbye friends, it’s been nice knowing you.
I have a confession to make. I am not so great with potatoes. Don’t get me wrong, I love potatoes. In fact, they are one of my favourite vegetables. But, my husband does not appreciate their texture or lack of flavour so making potatoes is a little foreign to me.
When I saw some Roasted Mashed Potatoes on Hot Garlic I knew I had to give them a try. Mashed potatoes that are loaded with flavour and no fuss? Count me in! You know what my husband said after digging in? “These are pretty good for mashed potatoes.” Score! I probably still won’t be making them very often because I enjoy cooking for other people rather then myself, and pretty good just doesn’t cut it for me. But, as a potato fan I have to say, these had an excellent roasted garlicky flavour.
This is the beginning of my countdown to Thanksgiving. I am a Canadian living in Norway so I won’t be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family and friends, which makes me a little sad. So, I thought it would be fun to spread out our Thanksgiving meal over the next couple of weeks so that James and I can enjoy the food without a ton of leftovers. Plus, I was hoping to help inspire you if your Thanksgiving Meal Planning Well was running dry. :)
Anybody have any great potato tips they would like to share?
This is the recipe that first opened my eyes to using fresh basil, actually any fresh herb. It made me realize that nothing beats the real thing. Which is true of all foods, in my opinion. The flavours are so much richer and add so much more pizzaz when you use fresh herbs over dried, in most cases. I now have a basil plant growing in my house and I am trying desperately to keep it alive despite my black thumb. Now I just have to find more ways to use it. For, man cannot live on Cordon Bleu alone (although I might like to).
This dish tastes high class without the massive bill or hours of preparation. You may not have everything on hand but it is worth a run to the grocery store. Prosciutto should be easily found in the deli section, just make sure to ask for the thinest slice possible. You can sub another kind of deli ham if needed, but prosciutto is like the bacon of luncheon meats and who wants regular ham when you can have bacon! Plus, you only need as many slices as servings you are making so it should not be too expensive.
Anybody have some favourite uses for fresh basil? (besides pesto) :)