Tag Archives: olive oil

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?

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Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables

I eat raw veggies with dip every once in a while, but my favorite way to eat veggies is when they’re roasted. I just love them that way! They’re so easy to make–just cube or chop the veggies into bite-sized pieces, coat with an olive oil/balsamic vinegar/herb mixture, spread them out on a large sheet pan, and roast in your oven. I like using a variety of veggies–if you don’t like a particular veggie in this recipe, you can always substitute a different one. So this recipe is versatile as well as easy! If you’re growing a vegetable garden, this is a great way to use those home-grown veggies!

SHEET PAN ROASTED VEGETABLES by NancyC

Makes a large 13×18″ pan (about 8 servings)

  • 2 medium size potatoes, cubed (about 3 1/2 to 4 cups)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini (slice 1/2-inch thick and cut slices in half)
  • 1 small yellow squash (slice 1/2-inch thick and cut slices in half)
  • 2 large carrots, sliced 1/2-inch thick (about 2 to 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 medium size yellow or red onions (or 1 of each), quartered, with pieces separated
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil (use 1/3 cup for a lighter coating of oil or 1/2 cup for a generous coating)
  • 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450˚F. Line a 13×18″ sheet pan with foil or parchment paper; set aside.

Chop vegetables as indicated and put in a very large bowl.

In a small bowl, mix rosemary, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour this mixture over the vegetables in the large bowl and stir until all the vegetables are coated.

Spread the vegetables evenly on the sheet pan and roast in the oven at 450˚F for 40 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes, until veggies are tender. Season with additional salt and/or pepper, if desired, and serve.

These veggies are so good, it’s hard to stop eating them. At least they’re healthy though, so if you eat a big helping you don’t have to feel quite so guilty! Are you a fan of roasted vegetables too or do you like eating your veggies another way?

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Onion-Roasted Potatoes

Onion Roasted Potatoes @ NancyC

This is a super-easy recipe I found a while back on the box of a Lipton® Onion Soup package. It’s so good! And I also like it because you don’t have to peel the potatoes–just leave those skins on and cut them into chunks! This is a very versatile side dish–you can serve these potatoes at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Many friends have asked me for this recipe over the years, and I posted it several years ago but didn’t have a very good photo of it– so this is a re-post of the recipe with a new photo. I also added suggestions on other ingredients you can add to these potatoes if you want.

ONION-ROASTED POTATOES adapted from Lipton®

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 envelope onion soup mix
  • 2 lbs. of potatoes (about 4 medium or 3 large), cut into large chunks
  • Optional: 1/3  to 1/2 cup finely chopped green or red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup non-GMO canola or light olive oil

Preheat oven to 425˚F. Add all ingredients in a gallon-size plastic ziploc-type bag. Seal bag and shake until all the potato chunks are evenly coated with the oil/onion soup mixture. Then put potatoes in a 13 x 9″ baking or roasting pan and discard the bag. Bake, stirring occasionally, 35 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden brown.

FOR BREAKFAST OR BRUNCH: These potatoes are great served with a breakfast casserole and fruit salad for a filling breakfast or brunch. After roasting them, you could add 1/3 cup of finely chopped fresh chives and/or mix in some crumbled bacon if you want to make the potatoes a little fancier.

FOR LUNCH AND DINNER:  For lunch, these potatoes are great with just about any hot sandwich that you would serve french fries with–and they’re probably healthier than fries. It’s a great potato side dish for dinner, too. If you have cheese-lovers in your family, you could sprinkle some cheddar cheese on the potatoes after they’re done roasting, and pop them back in the oven for a few minutes, just to melt the cheese a little. Yum!

These potatoes get eaten up pretty quickly, so you may want to think about making a double batch in a larger baking pan if you’re cooking for more than 4 people.

Hope you enjoy them! Have you made roasted potatoes before?

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Cucumber Dill Hummus

CucumberDillHummus@NancyCreative.com

If you’ve ever grown cucumbers in your garden, there’s a good chance you end up with more than you know what to do with! So here’s a recipe you can use some of those cucumbers in. If you’ve never tried making hummus before, this would be a great time to try it out–you can whip it up in a blender or food processor–it’s very easy to make! This hummus has a mild cucumber and dill flavor–if you really like dill, you might want to add in a little more for a stronger flavor.

CUCUMBER DILL HUMMUS by NancyC

Makes about 1 3/4 cups

  • 1 (15-ounce) can Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas), rinsed and drained
  • Half of a medium-size cucumber, washed, peeled, and coarsely chopped (about 1  cup)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 Tablespoon fresh dill (for a stronger dill flavor, add a little more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • optional garnishes: a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of fresh or dried dill, a sprinkle of paprika, 1 1/2 Tablespoons finely chopped cucumber

In a high-speed blender or food processor, add the Garbanzo beans, cucumber, and lemon juice; blend until smooth. Add in the olive oil, tahini, dill, salt, paprika, and minced garlic; blend all ingredients until smooth.

Spoon hummus into a small serving bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of fresh or dried dill, a sprinkle of paprika, and/or some finely chopped cucumber. Serve with toasted pita bread, crackers, or veggies–cucumber slices are great with this! Cover and refrigerate any leftover hummus for up to 5 days.

It’s hard to believe there are just a few weeks left of summer! I’m really going to miss those long, sunny days and the abundance of home-grown fresh fruits and veggies. Have you grown any cucumbers in your garden this year?

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Olive Oil Soap

OliveOilSoap2

Photo courtesy of The Best Homemade Natural Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps by Mar Gomez, 2014 © www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Have you ever made your own soap before? I really like the idea of using homemade soap with natural ingredients and have been interested in trying to make some myself. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to review the new book, The Best Natural Homemade Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps (Robert Rose, softcover). 

UnknownThe book starts off by sharing some interesting history about soap making. In ancient times, soap mainly consisted of a mixture of boiled fat and ashes. The first people to make olive oil soap were the Syrians, several thousand years ago in the city of Aleppo. “The women of Aleppo realized that by adding ground bay leaves to soap, skin infections were reduced considerably; the leaves from the bay plant possess an extraordinary natural antiseptic.” And other soap-making discoveries continued over the centuries.

This book also includes preparation tips and utensil and ingredient guides so you have everything you need to make your own olive oil-based soap. The step-by-step instructions seem easy to follow and include information on therapeutic qualities of the natural soap additives in each particular recipe–additives like essential oils, beeswax, cocoa butter, kaolin clay, seaweed, and goat’s milk. Some of the 40 different soap recipes include Kiwi Soap, Lavender Soap, Marigold Soap, Seaweed Soap, Green Tea Soap, Chocolate Soap, Coconut Soap, Cinnamon Soap, Rosemary Soap…and many more great-sounding versions!

OliveOilSoap1

Image from The Best Natural Homemade Soaps

I was going to try making the basic Olive Oil Soap recipe. The ingredients are simple and basic enough–mineral water, lye (caustic soda), and extra virgin olive oil. However, I wasn’t able to find lye in any stores near me, so I guess I’ll have to order some from a soap-making supplier (there’s a list at the back of the book). In the meantime, I have permission from the publisher to share the recipe with you! Note: You’ll need safety goggles, a large saucepan, and a kitchen thermometer to make this soap.

OLIVE OIL SOAP from The Best Natural Homemade Soaps

  • 7.5 oz. mineral water
  • 3 oz. lye (caustic soda)
  • 1.5 lbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • Scent (optional), store-bought or homemade
  1. Wearing gloves and goggles, pour mineral water into a large saucepan. Add lye slowly, stirring gently until it is dissolved.
  2. Using a thermometer, monitor the temperature of the lye mixture until it is between 120˚F and 140˚F.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, heat olive oil to between 120˚F and 140˚F.
  4. Remove olive oil from heat. Add lye mixture to olive oil, stirring slowly and trying not to splash.
  5. Stir occasionally, every 15 minutes or so, until the mixture thickens and congeals (it will have a texture similar to that of light mayonnaise).
  6. Stir in scent (if using). Stir for 1 minute with a spoon (or with a whisk, taking care not to create foam).
  7. Pour into a greased or paper-lined soap mold. Gently tap mold to remove any air bubbles.
  8. Cover with a blanket or towel and let stand for 2 days. Uncover and let stand for an additional day if the mold is very large.
  9. Turn soap out of mold. Wait another day, then cut into bars as desired.
  10. Dry bars for 1 month, turning occasionally to ensure they are drying uniformly.
Soap recipe from The Best Homemade Natural Soaps: 40 Recipes for Moisturizing Olive Oil-Based Soaps by Mar Gomez, 2014 © http://www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission.

 

This sounds like a great soap for your skin! Homemade soap is a great DIY gift idea, too! Do you use or have you made any olive oil-based soap, or any other kinds of soap?

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