25 October 2013

Lime Basil Juice + Margarita

I've grown lime basil in my garden for the past couple years, but I never seem to use it for anything worthwhile.  I love both lime and basil, so why can't I find a good recipe to use the lime basil in?  Then I chanced upon this recipe - so unique, so unexpected! - and made it mine.
This drink packs a punch of refreshing flavor, making the taste almost as loud as the color.  My only regret now is that I don't have more lime basil leaves to make a bigger batch.
This is also how I found out that if you pull a lime basil (or any herb, really) plant out of the ground, wash the roots off, and stick the whole thing in a glass of water, it will last for over a week!
Put loosely packed lime basil leaves in a blender and squeeze in the juice of one lime.  I added about a teaspoon of zest for some extra limeyness.
Add a little sugar and water, and blend it up.
It's pretty frothy after blending, so I like to let it sit for a few minutes to settle and separate.
Then pour the juice through a fine mesh sieve to remove the leaf dregs.
Ta-da!  It's juice!  I put some of this in the fridge overnight and it discolored, so I think it's safe to say this should be imbibed the same day it's made.
Let's take this one step further!  Any good drink can be made better with alcohol, right?
A shot of tequila, a shot of triple sec, and a splash of lemon and lime juice make this a diet-friendly unique margarita. 
Lime-Basil Juice (inspiration here)
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 c. basil leaves, loosely packed
  • Juice from 1 lime (plus 1 tsp zest, if desired)
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • 1 c. water
Instructions:
1.  Put everything in the blender and blend until the juice is bright green.
2.  Let the juice settle and separate for five minutes.
3.  Pour the juice through a fine mesh sieve to strain out the basil leaves.
4.  Add ice.  Drink!

Lime-Basil Margarita
Ingredients:
  • 1 c. lime-basil juice
  • 1 shot tequila
  • 1 shot triple sec
  • Juice from one lemon
  • Juice from one lime
Instructions:
1.  Mix.  Pour over ice.  Drink.  Enjoy.
I really loved the flavor of both the juice and the margarita.  In fact, I think I liked the juice better - the basil flavor was just so intense.  But I will admit that this is definitely more of a summer drink and maybe not totally seasonally appropriate for a fall post.  Still, if you're looking for something unusual to serve at your next get-together, lime-basil juice is definitely a delicious option.

18 October 2013

Blackcap Cheesecake Pie

So remember last summer's foraging adventure?  Well, knowing there were free berries out there, I made sure I snagged a few more this summer.  And knowing how much Kyle hates dessert...but loves cheesecake (?) I had to try this recipe out.
Blackcaps are black raspberries.  Let's just clear that up right now.  And you don't need blackcaps to make this recipe.  Use blueberries, huckleberries, blackberries, or raspberries!  Recipes are versatile.  This pie starts out with a graham cracker crust and a layer of cheesecake.
Berries are mixed with a little sugar and cornstarch over the stove, then cooled and poured over the cheesecake.  Let it cool fully to set.
Slice it and serve it.
Blackcap Cheesecake Pie (based on this)
Ingredients
Crust
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 9 graham crackers)
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. butter, melted
Cheesecake
  • 8 oz cream cheese (one package) softened
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Berries
  • 2 c. fresh berries (if using frozen berries omit the water)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 c. water
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1.5 tbs cornstarch mixed in 2 tbs water
Instructions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 350*F.   Mix together the crust ingredients and press them into an 9-in pie pan.  Bake for 8 minutes, then cool.
2.  Beat cream cheese and sugar together until fluffy.  Add in eggs, lemon juice and vanilla and mix until smooth and creamy.  Pour into pie crust and bake for 30 minutes.  Cool and then refrigerate for an hour.
3.  Combine berries, water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for five minutes.  Stir in cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil.  Cool to room temperature, then spoon over cheesecake.  Refrigerate before serving.  Store in the refrigerator.

11 October 2013

Curried Lentil Soup

 This soup is like a warm hug on a cold day.  Are you experiencing too many cold days lately?  Great, me too.  I could use a warm hug.  I could use more soup.
I think I'm ready to officially declare soup to be one of my favorite foods ever.  It's an easy way to make healthy food - I'm not a big fan of steamed veggies, so soups are a great way to get those veggie servings without roasting or frying.  I've even added a soup section to the Recipes page.

In addition, I really want to encourage you to try making your own chicken broth.  It's so easy, and this soup really makes it convenient.  Since this recipe requires both carrots and celery, you have the perfect opportunity to throw the celery greens and stubs in with the broth, as well as the odds and ends of the carrots.  The flavor is just phenomenal - I find that store-bought cartons just taste a little too canned.  At least check out the broth-making post and give it some consideration.
Saute onions, carrots, celery and mushroom ('shrooms are optional) until tender.  In retrospect, maybe this still counts as frying ;)
Add garlic, ginger and curry powder and saute for 4 more minutes.  Then add lentils, tomatoes, brats and broth.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, then simmer until lentils are tender (mine took 20 minutes - check the package to see how long to cook your lentils).  Somewhere between adding the lentils and filling the pot with broth, I realized my 4-qt pot wasn't nearly big enough for the job, so I switched to a 3-gal pot.
Simmer, simmer, simmer.  Good smells waft.  Dream of a ready-to-go lunch for the next week and a half.  Finally, the timer dings.  It's go time.  Soup.
I made a double recipe, so if you make this recipe then a 4-qt pot will be fine.  If you want to have a ready-to-go lunch for the next week and a half, double the recipe below.  This recipe could easily be vegetarian, too - skip the brats and sub in veggie broth for chicken broth.

Curried Lentil Soup (inspiration here)
Ingredients:
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 sm onion, chopped (~1/2 c.)
  • 1 c. carrots, chopped
  • 1 c. celery, chopped
  • 4 oz mushrooms, chopped (1/2 a package, or about 1.5 c.) - totally optional
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs fresh ginger, minced (can sub 2 tsp ground dried ginger)
  • 1 - 1.5 tbs curry powder
  • 2 c dry lentils
  • 1 c. chopped tomatoes (fresh preferred, a 28 oz can is fine too)
  • 4 brats, chopped
  • 3 c. chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh parsley
Instructions:
1.  Saute the onion, carrots, celery and mushrooms in olive oil until tender.  Mushrooms add a great texture to this soup, but if mushrooms aren't your thing then definitely leave them out.
2.  Add the garlic, ginger, and curry powder and saute 4 more minutes.
3.  Add the lentils, tomatoes, brats and broth.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer according to lentil directions until lentils are tender (15-20 minutes for my lentils).
4.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with fresh parsley, if possible.

Love!  This soup was so delicious, and really made a cold, busy week easier.  I can't wait to make it again!