Tagged: basil

Summertime and the Living’s *Insert Adjective*


Meh. That’s too easy. Heh.


No…that’s expected…


Well, yeah…but that’s not what I’m looking for…


What do you think? Exciting works for me. Yes.


Yes, yes, yes…I know it’s been MONTHS since I posted. *SHEESH* I’m done making excuses as to why exactly I come and go as I please.

But I will let you know what’s so gosh darn exciting….

Johnny and I FINALLY have our very own apartment! Me, Johnny and Q!! It’s magnificent. I have a little baby kitchen but it’s all mine and we have the awesomest couch on the planet! When we’re really all totally settled and such, I may post pictures. We’ll see how I’m feeling, hehe.

Anywho, what’s most important is that here I am, back online, and I come with tasty, tasty recipes. Grilled recipes, of course, because it is summertime and that’s how I roll. 🙂

A little while back, I prepared some delightful food for Johnny’s grandfather’s surprise 80th birthday party. These recipes have just sorta been chillin’ on my computer and it’s about darn time I share them with you. (I cooked for about 20 people, so I’ve scaled the recipe down to serve about 6 instead!)

Sausage & Peppers Burgers

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 lb hot italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1/2 lb sweet italian sausage, casing removed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 sandwich rolls
  • 6 slices provolone cheese
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 3 bell peppers (combine whichever colors you like)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

*Note: Peppers and Onions can easily be made the day before and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use*

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Also, prepare your grill!

Toss the peppers and onions in olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer on a large sheet pan. Place the sheet pan in the oven and let cook for about 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the beef, sausage and garlic in a large mixing bowl. (Sure you may want to use a spoon, but your hands really make the job MUCH easier.) Divide the mixture into 6 even patties.

Place burgers onto your hot grill and cook ALL THE WAY THROUGH. (No special orders here, because the patties contain sausage they need to be cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees.) About 8 minutes per side.

Top burgers with cooked peppers and onions and a slice of provolone cheese. Pop the lid on the grill until the cheese melts. Serve burgers with THIS salad recipe!!!

This is my version of panzanella, an Italian peasant recipe, traditionally made with day old bread soaked in some water to revitalize it, squeezed out, and then tossed with tomatoes and a lite dressing for flavor. I like to grill my bread, instead! It adds such a great crunch and smoky flavor to the salad, but you could easily just pop the bread in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes instead, if you prefer. Or heck, if you’re feeling traditional, use some old leftover bread.

Panzanella Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

  • 2 heaping cups of baby arugula
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 loaf crusty bread
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Slice the bread into a few manageable slices.

Mince 1 garlic clove and combine with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Brush the garlic oil onto the bread slices and grill until lightly charred on both sides.
When cool enough to handle, slice bread into cubes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, take 1 1/2 cups basil, vinegar, garlic and oil and pulse in a food processor until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in half of the parmesan cheese. Set aside.

In a large salad bowl, combine arugula, remaining basil leaves, tomatoes, onion and grilled bread. Toss with dressing just before serving, and enjoy with someone you love!

Here I am with my handsome brother, who I love dearly, enjoying some Sausage & Peppers Burgers and Panzanella! NOMS!!


It’s Over!

“But Jen, to what could you possibly be referring??”
I’m so glad you asked!

Winter is over and Spring has finally arrived!!

Now that it’s official, I have decided to share with you the things that I like the least about Winter.

  1. The cold. I’m always freezing and when it’s freezing outside, too, there is no hope for a warm Jen.
  2. The snow. Pennsylvania drivers in the snow. Because they stink. Period.
  3. Shivering under three comforters at night. Basements get super cold, ya know.
  4. Wearing socks every day.

I. Hate. Wearing. Socks.

^^^ Sockless Comic Book Jen ^^^

I guess it’s only fair to also share what I’m going to miss most about Winter, right? Sooooo…..

  1. Using “being cold” as an excuse to drink excessive amounts of hot chocolate.
  2. Watching Quincy in the snow for the first time. First he was scared of it…and then he ate it.
  3. Making soup for dinner. (because I am the only person on the planet who would be perfectly content eating soup every night forever)
  4. Making fun of people in marshmallow jackets – because they look silly.

[I would LOVE to hear what you will and won’t be missing about the winter, too! leave comments!]

Now that I’ve said my formal farewell to Winter, I am so super excited that Spring is finally here!! Today, I decided to celebrate it’s arrival with a light, simple springy dinner. Now that I’ve shared with you my bare feet, I’m certain you’re starving!

Simple Chicken Cutlets

& Deconstructed Pesto Pasta

For the Chicken Cutlets:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Olive Oil, for frying
  • 1 lemon (use the zest for the pasta)

For the Deconstructed Pesto Pasta:

  • 1 box whole wheat linguine  (or whatever you enjoy)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups baby arugula, chopped
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Start with the chicken. It’s best for chicken cutlets to have a nice, thin piece of chicken. If your chicken is on the thick side, you’ll want to place your chicken on a cutting board and top with a piece of parchment paper. Whack it mercilessly with a heavy object – like a small frying pan – until each breast is about 1/4 inch thick, like so. (NOTE: Good to make after a bad day 🙂 )


(sorry, comic book Jen got a liiiiitttle carried away. back to your regularly scheduled recipe.)

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.

Combine the flour, parmesan, pepper, and garlic in a shallow dish. Combine the egg and the water in a separate dish. Dredge the chicken breasts first in the flour mixture, then in the egg mixture, then back in the flour mixture. Gently fry the chicken in small batches (two at a time is good) on each side until golden brown. Place chicken onto an ungreased sheetpan and place into your preheated oven while you finish cooking the rest of them.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta to package directions. Before draining, reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water and set aside.

Once pasta is drained, leave it in your colander (drainer, strainer, whatever ya call it),  and heat olive oil, garlic and lemon zest  right in the pasta pot. Return drained pasta to the pot. Toss in the basil, arugula and walnuts. If it seems stiff, add the reserved pasta water. Add the parmesan immediately before serving.

Remove chicken from the oven and squeeze half of the lemon over top.
Serve immediately… with lemon slices if you’re feeling fancy!

Me, I’m always feeling fancy. 🙂

Not Your Average Chicken & Pasta

I know it’s been a while since I shared a new recipe with you guys. You’ll be happy to know that I took my LAST final today and in exactly one week I’ll be a college graduate!!!!

*excited girly sounds*

I promise I’ll be updating regularly as soon as things get settled. Until then, I’ll share some recipes I’ve had hanging out and never got around to posting. Here is a recipe I came up with while visiting friends in Florida back in December.

I took one of my favorite sauces – PESTO – and deconstructed it into a pasta dish containing all of the main ingredients. I added some tomatoes just for fun, too! It was accompanied by chicken breasts stuffed with ricotta, spinach and some store bought pesto to tie all of the flavors together. Even my dear friend Victoria, who, admittedly, is a rather picky eater, loved it! I hope you love it, too!

Pesto Stuffed Chicken
with Roasted Tomato & Pine Nut Farfalle

For Chicken:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 (6oz) jar store bought pesto
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup baby spinach, washed and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For Pasta

  • 1 box farfalle pasta
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup pine (pignolli) nuts, toasted in a dry pan for 5 minutes
  • 1 handful fresh basil, torn into bite sized pieces
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese (however much you like!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To begin, pour tomatoes onto a foil lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper and place in an oven at 400° until the tomatoes begin to pop open and become fragrant, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, place one chicken breast between two sheets of parchment paper. Using a large, heavy skillet (a meat tenderizer works well too, but most people I know don’t have one, myself included, so I just take a pan and go to town) thin out chicken to about ¼ inch thickness using even blows to the breast. Repeat with remaining three.
For filling, combine the pesto, ricotta, spinach, and garlic in a large bowl and stir until combined.
To stuff, take a thinned out chicken breast and spread with ¼ of the cheese mixture. Roll the chicken breast around stuffing. Secure with toothpicks. Repeat with remaining three.
Season chicken breasts liberally with salt and pepper. Place in a pan with some olive oil over high heat and cook for 5 minutes on each side until a nice, golden crust is formed. Transfer to a baking sheet and cook in a preheated oven at 400° for 10 more minutes until chicken is cooked through.
Prepare pasta to package directions and desired doneness.  Add roasted tomatoes (and all the oil left on the pan), toasted pine nuts, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. If it seems dry, add a little more olive oil. Stir in the parmesan at the very last second.
Serve and enjoy!

    Shrimp Caprese with Penne

    As per usual, I am on a tight budget this week and I didn’t want to go toooooo crazy when I went grocery shopping today. Suffice it to say that I was absolutely tickled when I saw that shrimp were on sale at my local grocery store today!!! :happy dance:

    These particular shrimp were $3.99 a pound when they are usually $8.99 a pound!
    How freakin’ exciting is that?! I must dance again. :happy dance: I love sweet deals!!

    Anywhosers, I knew I had pasta at home. I thought a little more and recalled that I had some garlic, white wine and mozzarella cheese as well. It didn’t take much for me to decided to nab some grape tomatoes and fresh basil for one of the most scrumptious quick-cooking dinners I’ve made in quite a while.

    Shrimp Caprese with Penne

    • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 1/2 pound penne pasta
    • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
      (depending on how big you like your tomatoes), seasoned with salt and pepper
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
    • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    • 1/2 cup white wine
    • 1/2 cup fresh basil, torn
    • 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed

    Cook the pasta to package directions and desired doneness.

    1. (When you strain the pasta, set aside about 1/3 cup of the water for the sauce.)

    While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet with the garlic and red pepper. Add the tomatoes and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
    Add the shrimp to the skillet and cook about 3 minutes per side until they’re a lovely pink color.
    Add the wine to the pan and cook another 2 minutes.
    Add the cooked pasta, reserved water, basil and mozzarella.
    Stir to combine and serve immediately!

      (Italian Lesson of the Day: Most of us are familiar with Caprese Salad, which is simply fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella cheese. The term Caprese actually means “in the style of Capri,” which is an island off the southern coast of Italy where these three ingredients are readily available and used often in local cuisine.)