Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fresh Rosemary Tips and Potato Recipe

Fresh Rosemary, a Mediterranean herb, is used in several types of dishes to enhance the flavors of stews, chicken and even pizza. Here is how is looks as it grows in the garden. It comes up all year long. Another wonderful hearty herb that will freeze well and perfect for sauces.
See the tips below for more information on using this herb. My favorite way to use this herb is on pizza or chicken however there are many other delicious uses for this amazing herb.
Rosemary is a member of the mint family. It grows easily and with stands lots of different kinds of weather including cold and drought. The herb enhances stuffings, potatoes and other vegetables,  Italian style pizza, salad dressings, stews, sauces chicken lamb, turkey and pork. Rosemary has been stated that it improves the memory. Rosemary is high and rich in iron, B6 and calcium.

Here are some great tips to use this amazing herb:

These fresh sprigs come off easy by removing from the bottom to the top with your thumb and index finger. Chop, or leave whole. Place in zip lock bags to use whenever you need all year round.

Toss this amazing herb whole on the grill to enhance meat and grilling flavors. You can also use the tough stems as skewers to thread the meat on.

Add to salad dressings.

Used on top of pizza dough called focaccia. Herbs and spices with olive oil and butter.

Harvest by freezing the cleaned single and removed from vine sprigs into olive oil and freeze in ice cube trays. Once frozen place in zip lock bags and toss into your favorite sauce and stew recipes.

Roasted Potatoes with Fresh Rosemary

Red skinned potatoes
olive oil
salt, pepper and cayenne to taste
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh minced rosemary
Italian flavored bread crumbs
grating cheese

Heat oven until heated to 450 degrees. Dump cut in half potatoes into a large bowl and toss with 1/4 cup olive oil, seasoning and herbs.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place coated potatoes on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs and grating cheese.  Bake around 1 hour or until they are nicely browned turning occasionally.

+claudia lamascolo  Author

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pesto Fresh Basil Tips and Recipes

I am fortunate enough to be able to grow fresh herbs all year long. Here are some great suggestions to use fresh basil. You can preserve it in the freezer for later use in many ways. Read on.

Freezing the basil is an excellent way to do this. Not only will it keep it fresher than dried basil, you are able to keep it for longer periods of time. There are many recipes that call for fresh basil as opposed to dried basil, so you may want to consider freezing some to have on hand when your recipe calls for it. Before freezing the basil make sure that you wash the leaves thoroughly.
Just like drying basil, there are many ways to freeze basil too. Basil is a delicate leaf that can be ruined easily so you want to take caution in finding a way that works best for you. The first recommended is to place your basil in an ice cube to be frozen. You should take about 1 teaspoon of basil and add it to unfrozen water in your ice cube trays.
You can then freeze several of these until you're ready to use the basil, just take out the ice cube and add it to whatever recipe you are making. The water will evaporate, leaving just the fresh taste of fresh basil to spice up your recipe. This works especially well with homemade stews, sauces and other dishes high in liquids.
Another popular method is to throw the leaves into a food processor with enough oil to make a thick or thin paste depending on your taste preference. You then put the paste in seal a meal bag and place them flat in the freezer.
When you are ready to use the paste you can break off a piece and put it into the recipe. You would want to use this for dishes that have some form of liquid in it, such as a sauce, stews, casseroles, soups, or salad dressings. Keep pesto on hand when your in a hurry which is a mixture of basil, oil and nuts, it also stores well in the freezer.  
Another basic method for freezing basil is by placing it on parchment paper onto a cookie sheet and putting it in the freezer, my mom use to use this method all the time. After they are completely frozen you can take the leaves and put them in a seal a meal bag or something air tight like a freeze bag. Freezing basil works well and there is no waste.

Italian Basic Basil Pesto Recipe

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts or combine below suggestions 1/4 cup each (for a real nutty flavor I like to toast mine first)
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2 large cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process to a fine paste. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve over your favorite cooked pasta or freeze the sauce for a later time.

Pesto Combinations and Suggestions:
Use half Pine nuts with 1/4 cup below suggestions of nuts:
Basil and Walnuts
Basil and Pistachios
Basil and Pecans
Basil and Macadamia
Basil and Almonds
See above for using the same exact instructions and basil amounts.

Plastic Filled Christmas Ornaments

The skies the limit with imagination with these plastic filled Christmas ornaments! Using things I find around the house and outside t...