Sunday Caprese Salad

Oh Fresh Tomatoes!  The smell.  The taste.  A sweet friend gave me some of the best tomatoes right out of her garden.  With a few extra ingredients, I whipped up this yummy salad for dinner.  Will loves the drenched mozzarella!  Enjoy the smell and taste of the last few days of summer.

Caprese Salad

Sunday Caprese Salad

8 oz mozzarella

two large tomatoes

a handful of basil- cut in small strips

salt and pepper

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

Slice the tomato. Slice mozzarella.  Arrange on platter alternating the tomatoes and mozzarella.  Top with basil.  Add fresh pepper and sea salt.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic.  There is no messing up this salad.  Chill until ready to serve.

Bite-Sized Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

On this Meatless Monday, I wanted to share a favorite “meatless” salad. In the summer, I make this salad once a week to accompany pasta dishes, steaks, or even hamburgers. It perfect to bring as your side to the next neighborhood cookout. And with the 4th right around the corner, serve your salad in a blue bowl to capture all the red, white, and blue! Taste the summer!- Amanda

Bite-Sized Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

1 cup small cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 cup fresh mozzarella, diced

4 fresh basil leaves, chopped into pieces

1 1/2 T olive oil

1 t soy sauce (we use low sodium)

1 t balsamic vinegar

pinch of sugar

freshly ground pepper

Mix together the tomatoes and mozzarella. In separate bowl, whisk together oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and sugar. Toss the tomatoes and mozzarella in dressing. Then add the fresh basil. Top with fresh ground pepper.

Angel Hair Pasta with Chicken and Grape Tomatoes

We all want a quick weeknight meal.  A meal that does not need a lot of brainwork and is delicious.  This meal has all our favorites: pasta, tomatoes, and chicken.  Serve it with a salad and garlic bread.  Here’s to keeping it easy on a weeknight!- Amanda

Angel Hair Pasta with Chicken and Grape Tomatoes 

2 skinless chicken breast halves, diced in 1 inch cubes

cooking spray

1/2 t dried basil

kosher salt and fresh pepper

8 oz angel hair pasta

2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

6 cloves garlic, minced

4 T extra virgin olive oil

3 T chopped fresh basil

Heat a large skillet on high heat. When hot, coat with cooking spray and add chicken. Season chicken generously with salt, pepper, and basil. Cook about 3-4 minutes, until no longer pink. Remove chicken and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Reserve about 1/2 cup pasta water before draining.  While pasta cooks, add olive oil to skillet on high heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden brown. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium-low. Sauté about 4-5 minutes. Add drained pasta to garlic and tomato mixture and toss well. If pasta seems too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.  Then add fresh basil and chicken and toss well. Serve and top with grated cheese.

Third Course: Linguine with Pesto Avocado Cream

I am not a fan of trying a new recipe out on an important occasion.  It makes me nervous.  I feel that my recipes should be tried and true.  But with basil, avocados, and garlic, how can you go wrong! The linguine was a success and will be repeated in the future. If you love pesto, this is your meal.  On to dessert! -AF

Linguine with Pesto Avocado Cream

1 pound linguine

1 bunch fresh basil, reserve some leaves for garnish

1/2 cup pine nuts

2 avocados, pitted and peeled

2 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed

3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add linguine and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, make the pesto by combining basil, pine nuts, avocados, lemon juice, garlic and oil in a food processor. Process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss pasta with pesto.  Divide pasta among serving plates and sprinkle cherry tomatoes over linguine.  To complete, garnish each serving with a basil leaf.

Happy Birthday Meal: Starter: Caprese Skewers

I LOVE birthdays!  It is a perfect time to celebrate and of course, cook.  Today it was time to celebrate Chris.  William and I whipped up a four course meal fit for our king.  After consulting various cookbooks and notes, our menu was filled with his favorites.  I will be sharing all four courses over the next few days.

Birthday Menu

Our first course started with Caprese Skewers.  These bite size appetizers made it easy to mingle and make casual talk about the day.  Chris loves the combination of tomato, basil, and mozzarella.  The drizzle of a balsamic vinaigrette completes the taste.

Caprese Skewers

1 T balsamic vinegar

1 T + 1 t extra virgin olive oil

1/4 t ground black pepper, divided

1/8 t kosher salt

12 small mozzarella balls

24 grape tomatoes

24 small to medium leaves of fresh basil

24 toothpicks

Cut the mozzarella balls in half. In a small bowl, toss mozzarella with the 1 t of olive oil and 1/8 t of the pepper. Set aside to allow the mozzarella to absorb the flavors.

In another small bowl create a vinaigrette by whisking together balsamic vinegar, remaining 1 T of olive oil, 1/8 t pepper, and kosher salt. This vinaigrette will be brushed on the skewers, once assembled.

Create skewers:

Slide 1 grape tomato onto a toothpick. Fold 1 basil leaf in half; pierce with toothpick and slide up to the tomato. Slide 1 mozzarella piece onto the toothpick.  Continue assembling skewers laying them on serving plate.
Once all skewers are assembled, brush them with the balsamic vinaigrette.

Cover until serving.