Basil Lemonade

Basil Lemonade
This is a favorite for parties and picnics. We served it at my baby shower and everyone loved it. Its also a great use for all the basil in your garden.

What you need:
1 cup Basil packed
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
lemon juice

What to do:
First we are going to make basil tea to use as a base of our simple syrup. We tried to just make the syrup infused with the basil but it did not work well. So boil the water in a pan. When it boils take it off the heat  and throw in the basil. Let it sit like that till it cools. Strain out the leaves, I squeeze them a little to get all the basil goodness. Discard the leaves.

Now to make the simple syrup add the sugar to the tea and simmer till it reduces by half. It will start to look like syrup. Let the syrup cool before using it. You can store it in a jar in your pantry too.

Now to make lemonade it goes like pour 1 part lemon juice 1 part syrup and 2 parts water over ice. Feel free to change the amounts to suit your taste. Garnish with lemon slices.

We have doubled and even tripled this recipes for parties. Also it mixes great with vodka, if you’re into that sort of thing.

This is one of our favorite summer drinks. Hope you like it as much as we do.


Pasta sauce 101

Recently two of my friends told me that they didn’t know people made their own pasta sauce, it just came in a jar like ketchup.  This struck me as strange because it never occurred to me that people don’t. I know that sauce comes in jars, but I come from an Italian family and when I was a kid sauce was made every week. My English/Irish husband makes great pasta sauce.  So for my friends and for everyone else who has only had sauce from a jar… you can make this.

Here’s what you need:

1 can of crushed tomatoes 28oz -Lately I have been seeing cans that are less that 28oz that’s ok. Buy as close to 28oz as you can

1 clove of garlic- Smash it with the side of a big knife, peel it and chop it fine, if you have the pre-chopped stuff in a jar, use 1/2 a teaspoon. Garlic powder won’t work.

3 or 4 Tablespoons of olive oil- No substitute here you have to use olive oil.  It’s good for you too, so buy some.

2 tablespoons of basil- Fresh will taste best, chop it fine. Dried will work too.

1 can of tomato paste 6oz -If you find the kind that comes in a tube like toothpaste use 3 Tablespoons

1/4 to 1/2 a cup of red wine- Make it wine that you would drink. If you don’t drink you can skip it, but, the alcohol will cook off and the sauce tastes better with it.

salt and pepper

possibly 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar, I will explain this later.

OK got everything? Great. Now grab a big ass pan, the heaviest one you can find. It should hold about two quarts. Open the can of tomatoes now, too.

Put the oil in the pan and turn the heat to medium-high. Wait for the oil to get hot (it should take about a minute).  When it’s hot, you will start to see it almost shimmer.  You can put 1 drop of water into it.  You should hear it sizzle or spit. Make sure you only use 1 drop of water though because hot spitting oil hurts!

So here comes the hardest part.  Put the garlic into the oil and stir it constantly for 30 seconds to a minute.  Don’t let it get too brown or burn because burnt garlic tastes awful.  As soon as the garlic is tan-ish pour the tomatoes into the pan. (aren’t you glad you already opened them?)  So that was the hardest part, not too bad, right?

Now turn the heat down to low, add the basil and wine.  Taste it and add some salt and pepper till it tastes good.

Leave it like that for at least an hour, two is better. Stir it every 15 minutes or so to keep it from sticking to the pan. Go read or watch TV or dance around your living room, or do whatever you like to do.  Just don’t forget to stir.

After an hour or two, add the paste,  leave it again for another 1/2 hour to hour.  Remember to stir.

OK almost done. Taste it! If it seems acidic, add the sugar. If you cooked it for long enough you probably won’t even need to.

Make some pasta and eat.

You can add any veggie, onions and peppers are good. You can add meat too even fish or chicken.  Just take whatever you are adding and brown it in the oil before you add the garlic. Everything else is exactly the same.

Oh, and if it seems like too much, or if you make a double batch you can freeze it.  The containers that take out soup comes in work great for this.  I will probably refer back to this recipe later, we eat a lot of tomato sauce.

So now try it, experiment with it and if something goes wrong, try again!