my favorite basil pesto

This is BY FAR my favorite Basil Pesto recipe.

Truly, it’s hard to go wrong with Ina Garten.  The Barefoot Contessa pretty much rocks my kitchen’s world.

This is such an easy thing to make and packs SO MUCH flavor!  Your kids will love it (mine practically lick the bowl clean).  You can serve it for company and feel like you’ve done something “fancy”.  And it only takes a few minutes to whip up.  If you don’t have an overly abundant basil plant waiting for you to pick the heck out of it, grab a fresh bunch from the farmers market, or Trader Joe’s ($4!)  It’s worth it!

Then grab a bunch of garlic.  I cheat and love to use the frozen cubes from Trader Joe’s.  Each cube is a clove of garlic.  Frankly, this is just easy and quick for me and it still tastes fresh.  But get your garlic anyway that works for you.

Load everything up in your food processor.  (You might also be able to use a blender. I’ve never done this, but it would probably work too…just don’t hate me if it doesn’t work, and well, if your blender brakes…).  Then let your Little help you with the buttons.  Mine get the biggest kick out of pushing that “Pulse” button.  It’s “their job” when the food processor is out.

This particular batch I packed up in Tupperware and took on my road trip to make an easy dinner for friends, so I don’t have a fun dish to show you.  Sorry about that!  But seriously, it tastes yummy over EVERYTHING!

Here’s some ideas….

Mix it in with warm cooked pasta and serve with a little grated Parmesan on top…

I love to make a “Caprese Pasta” dish with it – fusilli, tomatoes (chopped or grape), cubed mozzerella, Parmesan and Pine nuts to garnish….

A friend brought it to me after Piper was born in Chinese food containers with peas and pine nuts, delicious and great packaging!

First time I made this, I toasted little baguette slices, slathered a little pesto on the warm bread, and topped with left over Oven Tri-Tip, and a fresh tomato from the garden….oh HEAVEN HELP ME!  That was good!

Anyway, great pesto, quick and worth making rather than using a store bought pesto.  It has a great salty, nutty flavor… to die for!

Enjoy!

Barefoot Contessa’s Basil Pesto

Ingredients:

1/4 cup walnuts (definitely don’t leave out!)
1/4 cup pignolis/pine nuts
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt (don’t skimp!)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (I use this generously, just sayin….)

Directions:

Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 30 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Serve, or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

barefoot contessa’s roasted shrimp orzo

Ever since returning from Thermador’s Steamy event, I’ve been on a bigger than normal cooking kick.  Plus because it’s Summer and the garden is bursting with great herbs and veggies to use, it just MAKES you want to cook.  But it DOES NOT MAKE me want to clean up dishes, or be slaving in a hot kitchen when we are in the middle of a heat wave.  So I’ve been searching out quick and easy dinners, that are super flavorful, AND that everyone in the family can enjoy.

I started to watch Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, ages ago.  I loved her design eye and the glimpse into her kitchens.  I also loved that she left a job at the White House to pursue her dreams.  The more I watched her, the more I fell in love with her recipes.  They are always simple, never with complicated steps.  They use great ingredients that really bring out the most in a dish. Ina Garten’s goal is easy entertaining as she doesn’t feel the host should be stuck in the kitchen throughout a dinner party.  Amen! I love this as it also translates to a family dinner, where mom doesn’t want to be tied to the oven all night! Amen again!

This is a great pasta dish.  It is meant to be prepared with Orzo, but really, any pasta will do.  I use Orzo sometimes as it looks like rice to my kids, other times, I do it with Penne or Fussili as it’s easy for their cute, chubby fingers to pick up.

Another reason I love the simplicity of this meal is that you can complete things in short 15 minute windows.  While the kids played with their little kitchen this AM, I quickly chopped up the veggies and the herbs, and mixed the dressing.  Done in under 15 minutes. Which is good, because I would have had more helping hands than I needed if it had taken any longer!  But now that I’m done, and it’s in the fridge waiting for tonight, I can go about the rest of my crazy day knowing the bulk of dinner is waiting for me.  Left to do?  Roast the shrimp, cook the pasta and add it all together with Feta.

Roasting shrimp couldn’t be easier.  I use frozen shrimp from Costco.  They are cleaned and deveined with the tail on (and is super easy to pull off).  I do this on a foil lined baking sheet. Less clean up in the end, just roll up and toss in the trash!

5-6 minutes and you’re golden….errr, opaque.  Which is what you want.

Add the shrimp with the veggies & herbs, to the pasta, toss in the feta and dressing, mix together and serve.  It has a wonderful lemony dressing…one bite of this dish just screams “SUMMER”!  Nice served with a fresh Baguette.

We also enjoyed the leftovers as a side with cheeseburgers a couple of nights later.

Here’s to easy, impressive dinners, that everyone in the family will enjoy!


Barefoot Contessa’s Roasted Shrimp with Orzo
Food Network

Ingredients:

Kosher salt
Good olive oil
3/4 pound orzo pasta (rice-shaped pasta)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds (16 to 18 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
1 cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
1/2 cup small-diced red onion
3/4 pound good feta cheese, large diced

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and a splash of oil, and bring the water to a boil. Add the orzo and simmer for 9 to 11 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it’s cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Pour over the hot pasta and stir well.
  3. Meanwhile, place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Don’t overcook!
  4. Add the shrimp to the orzo and then add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss well. Add the feta and stir carefully. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and bring back to room temperature before serving.

Barefoot Contessa Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins

Barefoot Contessa Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins

Ingredients

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 half-pints fresh blueberries, picked through for stems

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place 16 paper liners in muffin pans.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula and be sure the batter is completely mixed.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup just over the top, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top and a cake tester comes out clean.

**The only addition Hubby asked for was a sugar topping.  Not hard, just sprinkle sugar over the top before you bake.

Barefoot Contessa’s Parmesan Chicken

Parmesan Chicken – Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Serves: 6 servings

(My notes are included below).

Ingredients:

4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
Unsalted butter
Good olive oil
Salad greens for 6, washed and spun dry (Grab a box or Organic Spring Mix at the market)
1 recipe Lemon Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Directions:

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4-inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin. (I like to do this inside a large zip lock withe the air sucked out – less mess.)

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts. Toss the salad greens with lemon vinaigrette. Place a mound of salad on each hot chicken breast. Serve with extra grated Parmesan.

(I like to serve the chicken on top of the greens and then add a couple spoonfuls of Trader Joe’s Bruschetta on top of the chicken with extra parmesan Addie likes hers as chicken bites with a side of ranch and some strawberries.)

Recipes Chick ParmRecipes Addie Chick Parm

Lemon Vinaigrette: (Or if you are short on time, I use Girrard’s Champagne Dressing)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Yield: 6 servings

Barefoot Contessa Fillet of Beef

Fillet of Beef:
2008, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

Ingredients:

1 1/2 to 2 pounds fillet of beef, trimmed and tied
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepperDirections

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. (Be sure your oven is very clean!)

Place the beef on a sheet pan and pat the outside dry with a paper towel. Spread the butter all over the beef with your hands. Sprinkle the beef evenly with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Roast for exactly 22 minutes for rare and 25 minutes for medium-rare.

Remove the beef from the oven, cover it tightly with aluminum foil, and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Remove the strings and slice the fillet about 1/4-inch thick.