Basil Simple Syrup

Even though I made a boat load of pesto and have been eating caprese salads several photo-1times per week, I still have basil coming out of my ears.  I hate to waste any food, especially food I grew myself, so I have been searching for new things to try using basil.

When a neighbor came down and asked to use some basil, naturally, I was curious what she was using it for.  What she said blew my mind.  Basil simply syrup for watermelon cocktails!  Being that it’s a holiday weekend, that sounded like a perfect way to use some of my basil.

This took only 10 minutes to make and tastes lovely!  It’s obviously sweet with the sugar, but if you didn’t know it was basil, you’d have that “what do I taste?” thought.  While I haven’t tried it in a drink yet (it is only 11am), I am excited to give it a whirl when guests arrive.  I’ll likely add it to a vodka soda with lime, or even in a watermelon margarita.  It would also be yummy drizzled over some fresh fruit or over vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

What you need: 

  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup loose packed basil

What you do:

  • Heat ingredients over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved.
  • Remove from heat, and allow to steep for about 15 minutes.
  • Strain syrup.
  •  for about a week in the refrigerator, stored in an airtight container.

Eeeek…it’s my 1st garden!

It’s no secret I love to cook. And being able to have fresh picked ingredients for my meals is a dream. But this girl isn’t known for having a green thumb. In fact, my hubby typically takes care of watering the indoor plants. However, now that we live in “the cabin” full time and I actually have a yard, this year it was time. Time to have my own farm fresh ingredients grown by me!

I am starting with more of a simple garden with plants I am hoping are easier to grow since they need full sun. And full sun I have! I planted tomatoes, jalapeño and cilantro so I can make fresh pico de gallo. I planted basil for my favorite caprese salad and chives just because I can use them on anything.

I vow to water my garden and only cook the best of dishes with my ingredients. If anyone has any tips for me as I embark on this new adventure, please share!

Happy Sunday everyone!




Herbs and Wine Corks

I love fresh herbs but during the long Minnesota winter, I use less of them since they cost $4 for a tiny container at the grocery store.  Lame.  Come spring time, I can buy a plant for $3.50, plant it and use herbs all summer for free.  Score!

Since we don’t have much space to plant a garden, I simply put them in containers on my patio.  This year, I used wine corks and made cute little labels for my patio herb garden.  Adorable, no??  In case you were wondering, I did spray paint the red pot 🙂  I couldn’t resist.


Adorable homemade gift: Painted planter with fresh herbs

What’s my inspiration?
WARNING to all my friends and family: This post might be a SPOILER ALERT for gifts you may receive in the future.  Consider yourself warned!

We were invited to a good friends house for dinner last week.  It was the fist time I saw their new home so I was super excited.  Naturally, I wanted to bring them a little housewarming gift and something personalized is always more fun.  Plus, I couldn’t bring the standard bottle of wine since the owner is a wine rep.  Clearly that would mean he doesn’t need more wine!  Since I am recently obsessed with spray paint and love fresh basil, I figured I could combine 2 loves into 1 gift.  The results…an adorable painted pot with freshly planted basil.  Super easy, super cute.

What you need:

  • Terra Cotta Pot
  • Primer
  • Spray Paint
  • Potting soil
  • 1 plant
What you do: (Yes, a 5-year-old could follow these!)
  • Clean Terra Cotta Pot
  • Prime & Paint Pot
  • Fill with dirt and plant

Caprese Salad

What’s my inspiration?

Caprese salad is easy to make, filled with fresh healthy tomatoes and beautiful in color.  It’s accented with tasty, aromatic basil, which is one of my all time favorite herbs.  This is something anyone can make in no time at all and can be served as a side salad or eaten as a light lunch or dinner. Feel free to shake it up by using different sized tomatoes and mozzarella balls or slices. You will love this one!

Tip 1:
Make it fun and serve it on a cute plate or bowl.

Tip 2:
If you choose to, you can use large slices of tomatoes layered with mozzarella medallions. Be creative and have fun with the presentation!

Tip 3:
It should be equal amounts of tomatoes to mozzarella.  You can make this salad as small or large as you wish.

Tip 4:
It tastes great made fresh and served immediately, or equally as good made the night before and served the next day.  This just gives the salad a little time to marinate.

What you need:

  • 1-container small cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in ½ (About 30-40 tomatoes)
  • 1-container small mozzarella balls, quartered
  • 6-7 large fresh basil leaves, julienne
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Salt and cracked pepper

What you do:

Combine sliced tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil in a bowl.  Drizzle enough balsamic vinaigrette and EVOO over to lightly coat. Season with salt & pepper to taste and enjoy!