So what do you do when you have basil left over even though you already made 3 batches of pesto, one of which went into your Pesto Potato Salad? You look for other basil recipes, of course! Because you just can’t have too much basil.

Now I know there are cilantro haters out there, but do basil haters exist?  That would be weird. That’s like saying you don’t like chocolate.

Basil is such a quintessentially summer herb. Whenever it’s in the kitchen, the aroma perfumes my whole apartment. I just want to bury my face in it and inhale.

I’m not sure if it’s because it smells so good or because I associate childhood memories with the smells. Don’t you love when you get a whiff of something and it immediately transports you back to another time (hopefully a good one)? Smell memories are the best kind.

Anyway, when I had that leftover basil, one recipe immediately came to mind. It’s one that my mom used to make when she did a little catering on the side. It’s an easy, fresh summer meal, and it’s SO good.

The base is a sauce that’s made from soft goat cheese that melts and coats all the pasta and veggies. It’s heavenly. Please make this for dinner this week.

The recipe is below. You’re welcome.

Farfalle with Zucchini, Tomato and Basil
Taken from Mom’s recipe box :)

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Serves 4

10 oz. Farfalle
2 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced thin crosswise
1/4 cup olive oil
5 oz. Robiola or other mild, soft goat chesse, cut in pieces
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded, diced
1.4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 cloves garlic

1.  Cook farfalle al dente. Drain, rserving 1/2 cup cookin water.

2. In skillet, saute zucchini in oil on med-high, stirring til golden on edges. Salt and pepper to taste. Add pasta, stir and cook 3 min.

3. Remove skillet from heat, stir in cheese and as much pasta water as necessary to form a sauce.

4. Stir in tomato and basil. Salt and pepper to taste.

5. Serve immediately.

*Note: If you will be saving some for leftovers, save some of the pasta water too, as it thickens in the fridge.

I’ve been promising you guys my family’s favorite salsa recipe and I finally got around to making it. As I mentioned in my last post, I visited my friends this past weekend and thought the salsa was a perfect appetizer on a lovely summer day. Plus, I wanted to get you this recipe in time for 4th of July. Obviously, it goes perfectly with any cookout along with some tortilla chips. Although, it’s so good that sometimes I just eat it with a spoon.

There’s nothing particularly special about the recipe, but my family has been making it for years. I’m not sure where it came from originally, but the recipe is called Brad’s Salsa…so thanks, Brad, whoever you are.

The ingredients are pretty standard for a salsa recipe. It uses canned tomatoes instead of fresh though. Is that normal? I’m not sure, but it makes one tasty dip. And for all you cilantro haters out there, I’m sorry, but this recipe contains a lot of it. I guess you could leave it out but it just wouldn’t be the same.

I think what makes it so amazing are that the ingredients are just so fresh. It’s best served after having mellowed out together for a day, giving it all a change to meld togetehr.

Because I made this on the weekend, I was actually able to take some pictures in daylight! I know. Amazing.

So here you go. Enjoy the pictures and the recipe. I hope you make it for this weekend’s festivities!

Brad’s Salsa
Recipe from Brad?

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1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, drained (juice reserved), chopped
1 small can diced green chiles (in the ethnic/mexian aisle at the market)
1 Tbsp jalapeno, diced fine (optional)
1 red onion, diced fine
1 clove garlic, diced fine
tabasco to taste
juice 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


Mix all ingredients. Add some of the reserved tomato juice if desired. Let mellow for 12-24 hours in refrigerator. It tends to get more watery as it sits, so don’t overdo the tomato liquid.

*Note: if doubling this recipe (which I always do), be careful of doubling the chiles and jalapeno. Be sure to taste before adding more than a single recipe’s worth.

As the weather gets warm, I get the urge to eat fresh vegetables.

Maybe it’s because they sit enticingly on displays at the supermarket and fruit stands in nyc, or maybe it’s because I get so thirsty when it’s hot out that I crave juicy things.

Either way, I have no problem giving in to what my body asks for…especially when it’s healthy.

The corn this time of year, specifically, beckons me each time I go to get groceries. I’ve bought it twice in one week  now, and although I could eat corn on the cob at every meal, it begs to be made into something else. Plus, I have to think of Nate, who may not enjoy eating the same thing for 3 meals in a row like I do :)

It just so happens that on my daily perusal of other food blogs, I came across a recipe for fresh corn cakes. Both Nate and I love cornbread, and I figured the sweetness of the corn would make a delicious little cake.

I altered the recipe I found a bit, preferring cilantro to basil. Rather than making a whole salsa, I chopped up some fresh avocado and mixed it with lime juice and some more cilantro and served up some Trader Joe’s salsa on the side. The whole thing came together fairly quickly and can pretty much be made with items in your pantry. In fact, although it may not be quite as fresh tasting, I venture to say that frozen or even canned corn could be used in this recipe for corn cakes all year long.

Although I served these with dinner, they’d be just as well-suited for a summer brunch along with some sausage and bacon.

Fresh Corn Cakes

Adapted from EzraPoundcake

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Makes 12-14 cakes

3 ears corn, shucked
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal (if you can only find cornmeal mix, skip the baking powder)
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
salt and pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp buttermilk*
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
canola oil for frying

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.

Cut the corn from the cobs into a large bowl, and scrape the stripped cobs wit hthe back of a knife (or a spoon) to release the juices into the bowl.

Place 2 cups of the corn kernels into a food processor, and pulse several times, until the corn is slightly pureed but still chunky. Scrape into the bowl with the remaining corn kernels.

Add flour, cornmeal, onion, cilantro, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper to the corn. Stir to mix.

Add the eggs, buttermilk and butter, and stir just to combine (do not overmix).

Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add just enough oil to barely cover the bottom and heat until sizzling hot.

One heaping Tablespoon at a time, scoop the batter into the skillet. Cooking in batches of 4 to 5 to avoid overcrowding, fry the cakes 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown.

Drain on the lined baking sheet, and place in the oven to keep warm while cooking the remaining corn cakes. Serve warm topped with a heap of chopped avocado tossed with lime and cilantro.

*If you don’t have buttermilk, mix 2 Tbsp milk with 1 tsp vinegar and let sit 5 min or until slightly curdled

Raise your hand if you have subscriptions to Bon Appetit, Food & Wine,  Cooking Light or some other cooking/food magazine.

Raise your hand if you tear out recipes and then hoard them, never actually making them.

Yeah, I’m guilty. I always think the recipes sound so good and then I put the clippings somewhere never to be found again. Or sometimes I get the urge to file them somewhere, where they then sit without being touched.

This mostly happened when I was single because I really don’t enjoy cooking for just myself. Since I’ve started dating Nate, however, I find myself cooking for us most days of the week. This has gotten me on the search for new recipes to try out. That’s when I realized…I could finally put my recipe stash to good use!

I pulled all the recipes out the other day and went searching through them. I’ve put aside a few, but one in particular caught my eye.I had mostly been avoiding it in the past because it looked complicated, but when I took a deeper look it wasn’t really too bad- Eggplant, Tomato, & Smoked Mozarella Tart.

I made a few shortcuts revisions so the recipe wouldn’t take all day. One of these included microwaving the eggplant. This was also because I hate how it soaks up so much oil when you roast it. I basically steamed it instead and then baked it quickly to dry it out so as not to get my dough all soggy.

I was also wary of the “dough” since it contained no yeast. I didn’t want this to be a tart and was hoping for something more like pizza. I happened to have some Sweet Rice Flour leftover, so I combined it with regular flour create a more elastic dough (which can usually only be achieved with yeast) rather than a flaky tart shell.

It definitely wasn’t like a pizza dough, since it didn’t rise, but it was a good substitution if you’re short on time and want the same flavor. I also subbed whole wheat flour for the wheat germ since I really didn’t feel like going out and buying a jar just for this recipe, left the fresh mint out, and replaced dried oregano for the fresh.

Nate and I both agreed that it tasted very fresh and the flavors were yummy. I was in such a rush to get it all cooked that I forgot to parbake the crust. I left it in for an extra 10 min, but I assume that had I made it the way I was supposed to, the crust wouldn’t have been as soggy as it came out for me. Oh well, it was still a quick and delicious addition to dinner! *Note that the recipe below is as the recipe was intended, not with my changes.

Eggplant, Tomato & Smoked Mozzarella Tart

Taken from Cooking Light

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Serves 4 (2 wedges each)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon toasted wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cooking spray

1 (1-pound) eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced (about 6 ounces)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded smoked mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400°.

To prepare crust, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (flour through 1/4 teaspoon salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; make a well in center of mixture. Add water and 1 tablespoon oil, stirring to form a soft dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 4 times. Gently press dough into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap; cover and chill 15 minutes.

Slightly overlap 2 sheets of plastic wrap on a slightly damp surface. Unwrap dough, and place chilled dough on plastic wrap. Cover with 2 additional sheets of overlapping plastic wrap. Roll dough, still covered, into an 11-inch circle. Remove top sheets of plastic wrap. Fit dough, plastic-wrap side up, into a 10-inch round removable-bottom tart pan coated with cooking spray. Remove remaining plastic wrap. Press dough against bottom and sides of pan. Pierce bottom and sides of dough with a fork; bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare filling, arrange eggplant on several layers of heavy-duty paper towels. Sprinkle eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon salt; let stand 15 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels; brush eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Arrange eggplant in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Stack eggplant slices on a plate; cover with plastic wrap. Let eggplant stand 7 minutes to steam.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, basil, oregano, mint, and tomatoes.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons smoked mozzarella on bottom of baked crust. Layer eggplant and tomato mixture in crust; sprinkle with 6 tablespoons smoked mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Cut into 8 wedges.

As I mentioned in my other post, I’m not one to stray from a recipe, for the most part. There are, however, a handful of dishes that I can make from scratch without any recipe at all…and I happen to think that they’re the best ones that I make. I know the basics of what should go into them and then I alter the rest to taste.

I can make a tasty pasta sauce, a damn good chicken soup with all the trimmings, but the best thing that I think I make is my guacamole. Every time I make it it gets rave reviews…and if I don’t say so myself, I think it’s better than any Mexican restaurant I’ve ever eaten in. In fact, I don’t usually share my secret recipe, but I thought it was time to let others enjoy it’s deliciousness…no more being selfish.

I know all guacamole has the same ingredients for the most part, but I think the key is the amount of lime juice and cilantro I use. I know lots of people say they don’t like cilantro, but I’ve made many of those people eat my guac, and they always like it. I think it may just convert any cilantro-hater. The ingredients are few, simple and fresh and I’m certain that’s what makes it taste so good.

I love chopping cilantro!

This past week I went to L.A. with Nate to visit my family and friends and the warm weather just screamed for me to whip up a batch.  Plus, the vegetables in California are unbeatable. I stayed with my uncle and so one night when we decided to grill up our dinner, I made a batch to eat while we were waiting for the main meal. It’s too bad that I had some stomach virus the whole time that kept me from having more than a small taste of it :( It was, however, as delicious as I remembered. Make it for yourself, and I think you’ll agree 😉

Manning the grill

**Passover recipes to come soon. I tried making a butternut squash kugel and I’m deciding if it’s worthy of my blog. I’m definitely going to include one dessert.

green just isn't an appetizing color...


Fresh Guacamole

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Recipe by Me
makes 5 LARGE servings

3 ripe avocados
2 plum tomatoes (or other small tomatoes)
1/4-1/2 red onion (depending on taste), finely chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (about 1 cup)
juice of 3 limes
salt and pepper to taste

Cut all avocados in half, remove pit and peel. Put 2 of the avocados in a bowl and mash with fork. Squeeze 2 limes on top to prevent browning and mix well. Set aside other avocado.

Slice tomatoes into 1/4″ slices and remove seeds and rest of liquid parts. Chop tomato into 1/4″ dice. Add to avocados. Finely dice onion and add to avocado mixture. Add chopped cilantro, salt and pepper and juice of last lime. Mix well.

Cut last avocado into large chunks and add to rest of mixture. Mix well and taste. Add additional seasoning as necessary.

May be refrigerated for several hours, but keep well covered to prevent browning. Best served immediately, with chips!