Tag Archives: parmesan cheese

Basil Pesto

I’ve grown basil every summer for many years–sometimes in a garden, but lately in a large pot, since I don’t have space for a garden right now. I love making homemade pesto with my basil! It’s really easy to make and there’s nothing like cutting fresh basil from your own garden or pot to make it. What probably takes the longest time in making this recipe is picking the basil leaves off the cut stems…but even that task is enjoyable because you get to sniff the wonderful aroma of fresh basil while you’re doing it! Here’s a simple recipe I use…it’s a good starting point, and you can adjust the amount of certain ingredients (like the garlic, for example) to suit your taste. You can use a food processor or blender–a food processor probably works best, but a blender will work, too.

BASIL PESTO by NancyC

Makes 2/3 to 3/4 cup

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves. packed
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. pine nuts (I often substitute pecans or walnuts, because they’re less expensive)
  • Dash or two of salt, to taste (optional)

In a food processor or blender, add the basil, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic; blend or process until smooth (the mixture is on the thick side, so if you’re using a blender, you may have to stop the blender and stir with a spoon to help it along). Add the Parmesan cheese and nuts (and salt, if desired) to the basil mixture, and blend well. Spoon it out of the blender or food processor into a small bowl (or covered container if you’re going to use it later).

I mostly eat pesto spread on a thick slice of crusty bread. It’s also really good on the Asiago cheese bagels you can buy at Panera Bread or Atlanta Bread Company. If you’re a sourdough bread fan like I am, it’s good on that too!

Do you grow your own basil too? What do you like to make with it?

Sharing at Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me MondayFiesta Friday

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Sun-Dried Tomato Spread or Dip

I never seem to get tired of eating sun-dried tomatoes, and lately I’ve been craving bagels and cream cheese. So I thought I’d try making a Sun-Dried Tomato Spread. It turned out to be a very savory cream cheese spread with chives, basil, garlic, and some finely shredded Parmesan cheese sprinkled in…yum! It’s a nice, thick spread for bagels and you can also use it as a veggie dip–if you want the consistency to be thinner for the dip, just add a little more plain yogurt to the recipe.

SUN-DRIED TOMATO SPREAD OR DIP by NancyCreative

  • 1 (8-ounce) block of cream cheese, regular, light, or fat-free
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise, regular or light
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (use 3/4 to 1 cup if you want to make a thinner dip)
  • 3/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives (or substitute green onion stems)
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • additional finely chopped chives or green onions for garnish, optional

In a medium bowl, blend softened cream cheese with mayonnaise and plain Greek yogurt. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese, blending well. Then add in the chives, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper, blending all ingredients well.

Scoop mixture into a serving bowl and garnish with chopped chives or green onions. Spread on bagels or serve with fresh veggies and/or crackers.

Other optional add-ins or substitutions: 2 Tablespoons finely chopped green or black olives; 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley; 2 Tablespoons finely chopped red onion; 2 Tablespoons finely chopped walnuts or pecans.

This spread tastes great on Asiago cheese bagels, and it’s also really good on Everything bagels.

Are you a sun-dried tomato fan? What’s your favorite way to eat them?

Moving and Hot Ham and Cheese Rolls

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I’ve been busy moving these past few weeks, which is why I haven’t been posting much. My little house sold much sooner than I expected (one week, in fact!), so I had to find a rental place really quick! Now I’m in the process of unpacking…I’m not sure which is worse–packing things up, moving them, or unpacking them! I still have more unpacking to do, but the stacks and stacks of boxes are getting smaller…so things should be back to normal in the next few weeks.

Because of the move, I haven’t been cooking much. But a friend of mine, Brian, brought some Hot Ham and Cheese Rolls to work that his wife Elizabeth made and they were so good I asked him if I could share the recipe on my blog. They’re made with frozen bread dough, which cuts down on prep time, and they’re perfect for serving at breakfast or brunch. Brian took some great pictures of these rolls, too, to give you an idea of what they look like. Serve them right out of the oven while the rolls are warm and the cheese is melty, and you won’t be able to stop at just one!

ELIZABETH’S HOT HAM AND CHEESE ROLLS

  • 1 Loaf of frozen bread dough (purchased from the Freezer section of  your grocery store)
  • Ranch dressing
  • 1/4 to 1/2 pound chopped deli ham
  • 4 oz. (or 1/2 of an 8-ounce package) of shredded Parmesan cheese

The night before, place one loaf of frozen bread dough in a glass 9 x 13″ baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Cover loosely with  plastic wrap that has also been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Place in refrigerator overnight or allow to thaw for a couple of hours on counter.

In the morning, take the dough out of the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes.  On a lightly-floured surface, gently roll or press dough loaf out into a rectangle shape (about the size of an 11 x 15″ jelly roll pan). Making these are similar to making cinnamon rolls: spread  a light coating of Ranch dressing all over the dough (just as you would spread the butter for cinnamon rolls), then sprinkle the chopped ham over the dressing and then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over everything.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, if desired.  You can add garlic salt, too.

Starting with the long side, roll up dough and toppings jelly roll–style (Elizabeth rolls hers about 2 1/2 times). Then pinch to seal the edges all along the length of roll.  Slice into 1-inch slices.  Place rolls, cut side down, in your 9 x 13” glass baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.  Cover with a towel and let rolls rise for about 30 minutes.  Then bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes or until lightly browned.  Makes about 15 to 16 rolls.

Elizabeth adds, “It’s so easy to just go ahead and do two loaves at the same time.  Roll both rolls out, then spread Ranch dressing on both, etc.  Same amount of work for double the rolls!”

Thanks, Elizabeth and Brian, for sharing this yummy recipe!

Creamy Lemon-Basil Pasta

Basil has been growing so well in my garden this summer and I’ve been making lots of pesto. You can mix pesto in with pasta for a nice meal, but I’ve seen some different ideas for creamier basil sauces and decided to experiment. Sometimes I add extra lemon juice to my pesto for extra lemon flavor, so I thought a lemon-basil sauce would be good to try. It turned out nice and creamy, and it’s great served over whatever type of pasta you like to use. I used penne pasta, but angel hair pasta would be good, too. After putting some of this sauce over your pasta, just sprinkle on some parmesan cheese, add a few cherry tomato slices, a few basil leaves, and you’re all set to enjoy a great meal! This recipe makes about 4 servings.

CREAMY LEMON-BASIL PASTA

  • 1 (13.25 -ounce) package of your favorite pasta (I used whole grain penne)
  • 3 cups well-packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3-1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3-1/2 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3-1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2-1 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • extra shredded parmesan cheese for garnish
  • 4 cherry tomatoes (or small regular tomatoes), sliced, for garnish
  • basil leaves for garnish (optional)

Prepare pasta according to package directions. In blender, add basil, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, nuts, parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, and salt; puree ingredients until smooth. (NOTE: the sauce is not cooked, so it won’t be warm, but you can remove the sauce from your blender and put in a microwaveable container to heat it before spooning over pasta if you want. I just used it right from the blender without heating it.)

Divide pasta onto 4 serving plates and spoon the creamy lemon-basil sauce equally on the 4 portions. Sprinkle each serving with parmesan cheese and top with tomato slices. If desired, garnish with additional basil leaves. (Note: If you like a lot of sauce with your pasta, you may want to double the recipe, or make an extra half portion).

Another way you can serve this is to mix the sauce in with the pasta and toss, evenly coating the pasta. Then you can serve it either in one big pasta bowl or on individual plates, garnishing with parmesan cheese, tomato slices, and basil leaves.

This could also be used as a veggie dip, because it’s a thicker sauce. You could serve it in a small bowl with a platter of fresh veggies for a healthy and tasty appetizer!

Linked to Sunday Showcase, Sundae Scoop, Mouthwatering Monday, Tuesdays at the Table, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday.

Parmesan-Cheddar Squash Casserole

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I found a delicious yellow squash recipe about three years ago in an old Southern Living magazine, and made a few small changes to it–it has become one of my favorite side dishes! I usually make it in the summer months, when yellow squash is so abundant. I either use squash from my garden or purchase it from the local Farmer’s Market. The combination of Parmesan and Cheddar cheese in the casserole is really tasty, and I add more cheese than the original recipe calls for…you can’t go wrong with extra cheese! 🙂 Hope you have a chance to try it this summer.

PARMESAN-CHEDDAR SQUASH CASSEROLE by NancyCreative, adapted from Southern Living

  • 4 pounds yellow squash, sliced (1 pound of squash yields about 2 cups sliced, so you’d need about 8 cups)
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups soft breadcrumbs, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic salt

In large skillet, cook squash, covered in boiling water, for 8-10 minutes or until tender. Drain well and remove squash from skillet; gently press squash between paper towels to take out remaining moisture and set aside. Then, in same large skillet, melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat; add onion and garlic, and saute 5 to 6 minutes or until tender. Remove skillet from heat; stir in squash, 1 cup breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and the other remaining ingredients, except for the garlic salt. Spoon into a lightly greased 13×9-inch baking dish.

Melt remaining 2 Tbsp. butter and stir with remaining 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and garlic salt. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the top of the casserole. (If you want, you can also sprinkle another 1/2 cup of Cheddar cheese on the top to make it extra cheesy.) Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until set. This makes 8-10 servings.

Linked to Foodie Friday, Favorite Things Friday. Vegetarian Foodie Friday.