All posts tagged basil

For real, I’m back. With Chunky Tomato Basil Soup.

Published February 15, 2016 by jenmatteson

Can you believe it – it’s me! I’m back(ish). I’ve had far too many requests for me to return to my blog, so that is precisely what I’m going to do (trying…). It’s easy to become distracted and/or complacent, which is exactly what I’ve been up to the last year. I have had a wonderful year of memories with my family, closest friends and new friends! In case you’re curious, here’s a quick hit list of the year’s events¬†in hindsight:

  • Ladies winter wine party 2015
  • A trip to Sonoma County, CA with some of our best friends
  • Lake time at cabins which are not ours ūüôā
  • Ladies summer wine party
  • My first trip to Moondance Jam with a mini-flood and tons of rockin’ music
  • State softball tournament with our first place team
  • Annual canoe trip down the Namekogen River in WI
  • Annual end of the summer party
  • Las Vegas for bachelor/bachelorette party
  • Wedding in beautiful Saint Paul for aforementioned bachelor and bachelorette
  • Apres Ski themed Friendsgiving
  • Hunger Games marathon party
  • New Years Eve bash
  • Snow tube soiree
  • Scuba diving trip to Bonaire
  • and finally, a yet another ladies winter wine tasting party

Wow, quite a year! And these are only highlights. Oddly many ending in “party”.

It’s now the deepest part of winter, and the current temperature as I write this is 5 degrees. I don’t even want to mention the wind chill over the last few days. My tan from Bonaire is fading fast, and I have been craving something to warm me to the core. Soup seemed to be the answer here…


Tomato soup. Chunky tomato soup. Chunky tomato basil soup. What could be better. I choose a recipe with canned tomatoes for two reasons. 1. Its the middle of winter, so I don’t have an overwhelming amount of tomatoes flourishing in my garden (try none). 2. I find that fresh tomatoes tend to be a bit more watery than their canned counterpart. I used whole peeled tomatoes so I could control chunkiness, but you could use diced if you prefer. It would be far less messy!


I loved this soup because it tastes creamy and rich, but there is no cream. There is a touch of butter, which surprisingly adds a luxurious texture. The basil gives a nice fresh balance to the acidity of the tomatoes. Overall a perfect soup to cure your winter blues!


Chunky Tomato Basil Soup

Source: Adapted from The Roasted Root
Servings: 10-12


olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 oz fresh basil leaves, chopped
3 28 oz  cans whole peeled tomatoes with juices
2 cups vegetable stock (I used chicken broth as that’s what I had on hand)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp baking soda
salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until soft and slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook another 3 minutes.
  3. Open canned tomatoes and dice, reserving juices. Add tomatoes and juices, stock, basil and butter to the onions. Stir until butter is melted and incorporated.
  4. Add baking soda (*Note: this will cause the soup to bubble up, but bubbles subside after stirring for a minute).
  5. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Meatless Monday: Basil Portobello Hoagie

Published April 14, 2014 by jenmatteson

Final trial veggie sandwich before the shower…

I must say, it was wonderful, but I sure wish I had more Portobello, because not only does the hoagie look slightly un-plump, but I could have really used a little more veg and less bread.¬† Don’t get me wrong, the entire thing was wonderful, but I wouldn’t have been upset with more mushrooms.¬† Who could be?

Basil Portobello Hoagie

I roasted my own peppers for this sandwich (soups easy), as well as used homemade hummus.¬† Feel free to speed up the process with jarred roasted red peppers and/or pre-made hummus.¬† This was another vegan try for the baby shower, and while I think taste-wise this was my favorite, it would be too difficult to keep warm and leave out for several guests.¬† So, I’ve decided on the Hummus Supreme!

But go ahead and give this one a try too.¬† I made this when it was still freezing in MN, which wasn’t too long ago, so I didn’t grill the Portobello.¬† I just saut√©ed them in some olive oil quickly on the stovetop.

Basil Portobello Hoagie

Portobello Hoagie

Servings: 2


4 large Portobello caps
2 hoagies, or about 2 5-inches pieces of French bread, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup hummus
6-8 fresh basil leaves
1 roasted red pepper (approximately 1/2 cup jarred)


1. If grilling, preheat grill to medium high heat.  Brush mushrooms with olive oil, and grill until just tender, about 2-3 minutes on each side.  Remove from heat, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and let rest.  Slice into 1/2-inch strips.  If you are using your stovetop, Slice mushrooms into long strips, about 1/2-inch thick.  Preheat olive oil in a small skillet over medium high heat.  Add mushrooms and cook over moderate heat until just softened, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let rest.

2. Meanwhile, divide hummus evenly and spread on both sides of bread.  Layer with basil leaves, roasted red pepper and sliced Portobellos.  Close and enjoy!

Meatless Monday: Balsamic Roasted Veggie Wrap

Published February 24, 2014 by jenmatteson

I am getting really tired of this winter.¬† All these veggie sandwiches makes me excited to start planting my garden and having fresh produce at my fingertips daily!¬† But alas, it’s¬†still awful cold out ūüė¶¬† To try to get into the spring state of mind, I wanted to try another veggie option for my friend’s baby shower, and this time, it’s a roasted wrap!¬† This takes a bit longer than the hummus supreme sandwich, as you have to first salt the eggplant and let the excess water drain, then wait for the vegetables to roast ūüė¶¬† But don’t worry, the wait is worth it.

Balsamic Roasted Vegetable Wrap

The veggies are soft and sweet and the arugula adds a little crunch and extra freshness.¬† I would make a large batch of the roasted veggies so you can have this wrap every day for lunch, ready to go.¬† Cold or warm, it’s delicious.¬† You could use lavish, pita or tortilla wrap, like I did.

Balsamic Roasted Vegetable Wrap

Roasted Vegetable Wrap

Source: Inspired by Vegan Soul Power
Servings: Makes about 4 wraps


1 large eggplant (or 2 small), peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
kosher salt
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2″ dice
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 pint button mushrooms, rough chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (I used blood orange balsamic, but use what you like/have)
fresh cracked pepper
16-20 basil leaves
1 cup arugula
4 tortilla wraps


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Place diced eggplant in colander and sprinkle generously with salt.  Toss to coat evenly.  Set over bowl or sink and let sit for 10-15 minutes.  Excess water will begin to drain from eggplant.

2. To a large bowl, add eggplant, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.  Drizzle with olive oil and half the vinegar.  Add salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly.  Transfer vegetables to prepared baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes.  Halfway through, flip vegetables.  With 5 minutes remaining, drizzle additional vinegar over vegetables.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.

3. Divide basil and arugula among tortilla wraps, and top with roasted vegetables.  Wrap as desired and enjoy!

Pesto Chicken and Quinoa Salad (Gluten-Free)

Published January 23, 2014 by jenmatteson

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with the amount of odds and ends in your refrigerator that are on the edge of going bad?¬† Maybe ‘overwhelmed’ isn’t the correct word –¬†terrified seems more like it.¬† At least for me.¬† I hate wasting, and I despise throwing food away because I’ve let it go bad.¬† In fact, it even irks me when other people let food go bad and have to throw it away.¬† I know, this is a bit of an issue.¬† But, there are¬†starving kids in ….¬† well, you know.¬† Don’t get me wrong, if¬†it has¬†gone bad, throw it out.¬† But, my point is that you should be aware of what you’ve got and what needs to be used up before¬†meeting it’s demise.

Pesto Chicken and Quinoa Salad

I truly just threw this salad together one day with a ton of leftover stuff in my fridge (cooked quinoa, shredded chicken and shredded cabbage), and it was so good, I had to re-create it and share it with you.¬† This is a fantastic, healthy, fresh salad.¬† It is packed with flavor, it’s quick, and is a perfect weekday lunch!¬† It’d even be great to bring camping, on a picnic, or even to a potluck.¬† Bonus, it’s gluten-free! Don’t have these leftovers in your fridge, it’s okay, you could use rice or couscous instead of quinoa (of course, these alternates aren’t GF); turkey or beans instead of chicken; and broccoli slaw, arugula or spinach instead of cabbage.¬† Get creative!

What has been your favorite recipe you’ve made with leftovers?

Pesto Chicken and Quinoa Salad
Pesto Chicken and Quinoa Salad

Source: Pigzilla Original


1 cup cooked quinoa
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1/2 cup shredded cabbage (broccoli slaw would be great, too!)
2 tbsp. basil pesto
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
2 green onions, chopped


1. In a medium bowl, mix together quinoa, chicken, cabbage and sun-dried tomatoes.  Stir in pesto until evenly coated.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar and olive oil.  Pour over salad a little at a time until coated as desired.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with green onions.

Thai it, you’ll like it! Thai Basil Chicken

Published April 3, 2013 by jenmatteson

When I lived in lowertown St. Paul, I had an abundance of options for food (if¬†I wasn’t in the mood for cooking, of course).¬† Not only that, but most of them would deliver.¬† Score!¬† Now that I live out in the ‘burbs, our delivery is limited to Chinese or pizza ūüė¶¬† One of my favorite places to get take out from was Sawatdee.¬† I fell in love with this Thai place¬†after the first time a friend of mine brought me there.¬† I couldn’t believe what I’d been missing, and it was just up the block from me!¬† One of the best things about it is was you could order anything on the menu, with a pepper number (1-5, 1 being very little heat, 5 being insane hot).¬† So for example, I’d get the vegetable curry fried rice, with four peppers.¬† It always seemed to depend on who the chef was, as sometimes a 4 pepper was too hot for me, and sometimes it was perfect.¬† Since they had such huge portions, I ordered most stuff a 3 pepper so Nate and I could share whatever we got.

Thai Basil Chicken

One of my favorite dishes that¬†Nate ordered was Thai basil chicken.¬† I love basil, but it didn’t really appeal to me on the menu.¬† I think of basil and I think of only one flavor.¬† I don’t at all think to pair it with spice.¬† Until I tried that dish.¬† It was out-of-this-world flavorful and amazing!¬† Which is exactly why I saved this recipe as soon as I saw it.

One ingredient I will never understand is fish sauce. ¬†That stuff smells so disgusting, its terrifying putting in dishes because you are afraid to ruin it. ¬†However, while it smells like nasty dead fish that have been sitting in the sun for the last week, it actually adds a delicious rich flavor to dishes. ¬†It’s pretty much a staple for Thai cooking. ¬†One thing I just learned is that the longer the fish sauce ferments, the less horrible smell it has. ¬†This means it’s not a bad idea to invest in something a little more pricey – assuming it’s been fermented longer (which is usually the case). ¬†Now I know for next time!

I had some leftover basil in my fridge that I wanted to use up (though it wasn’t Thai basil), and everything else is definitely a staple in my kitchen, so I didn’t even have to go out of my way to make this. ¬†The result was just as good as the take out, with the benefit of knowing exactly what went in it. ¬†I’d likely use Thai chilies instead of Serrano chilies, but I still had two left from making coconut lime chicken with chilies from a few nights ago. ¬†I cannot wait to have this again very soon!

Thai Basil Chicken

Thai Basil Chicken

Source: Adapted from Cooking by Moonlight
Servings: 4


olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, chopped
1 Serrano chili, chopped finely (seeded for less heat)
1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced (about 1″)
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped basil
1 cup basmati rice, cooked


1. In a large skillet or wok, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, shallot, Serrano chili and red bell pepper.  Saute until they begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes.

2. Add chicken and saute until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes total.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low.  Add fish sauce, lime juice and brown sugar.  Stir and let simmer until sauce begins to thicken, 10-15 minutes.  The longer you simmer, the thicker the sauce.  Once the sauce reached desired consistency, remove from heat and stir in basil.  Serve over rice.

Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup

Published February 26, 2013 by jenmatteson

When the cat’s away, the mouse will play! ¬†Nate is gone fishing again this weekend, which means I get to keep myself busy with some cooking. ¬†It’s not exactly prime tomato season, but it certainly is perfect soup season! ¬†We just got a small snow storm, which was super awesome for traffic, but even better for sitting at home with a kitty or two, and some homemade soup.

Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup

Roasting the tomatoes for this soup really amp up the flavor. ¬†It’s key! ¬†I adapted Nicole’s recipe only by adding basil. ¬†This would be great with a little cream (add after boiling) for an added rich flavor. ¬†For those of you who like cheese, this is a wonderful soup to go along with your gourmet grilled cheese. ¬†I thought this crusty sourdough bread was perfect for dipping in my soup!

Tomatoes before roasting

Tomatoes after roasting







If I get a bazillion tomatoes from my garden or from my dad’s this summer, I’ll be making much more of this soup to throw in the freezer so we can have it anytime! ¬†It’s so simple and so delicious!

Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup

Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup

Source: Adapted from Prevention RD
Servings: 4


3 lbs plum tomatoes, halved and seeded
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme (fresh would work, but I didn’t have any on hand)
1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
5 cups low-sodium vegetable stock


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place tomatoes and garlic cloves on a foil lined baking sheet, cut side up.  Sprinkle generously with salt and black pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 60 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.  Peel garlic cloves.

2. Transfer tomatoes, garlic and any accumulated juices into a food processor or blender.  Pulse until they form a chunky puree. Transfer to a medium stock pot and add thyme, basil and vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 25 minutes.  Remove from heat and adjust seasonings to taste.

TBA (Turkey, Bacon, Avocado) on Tomato Basil

Published February 12, 2013 by jenmatteson

If you haven’t tried this tomato basil bread yet, you’re really missing out.¬† What are you waiting for?¬† Of course I just made it on Saturday night, and so I was dying to make a sandwich with it for lunch on Sunday.¬† It snowed all day on Sunday, and while Nate headed out to shovel for the second time, I started these sandwiches.¬† To take it to the next level, I even broke out the Panini press!¬† Oh yeah ūüėČ

Turkey Bacon Avocado on Tomato Basil

I added a little mozzarella¬†to Nate’s sandwich (we had a tiny bit in the fridge that I just wanted to use up), but of course I loved it without .¬† There was so much flavor, I wouldn’t even know where to begin explaining it.¬† Crisp salty bacon, creamy avocado, oven roasted turkey, and fresh, fluffy tomato and basil bread.¬† It was a perfect little lunch on a snowy day.¬† I also brough one for lunch today – minus the bacon and Panini pressed part.¬† Looking forward to lunch in a few minutes…

Turkey Bacon Avocado on Tomato Basil

TBA on Tomato Basil

Source: Pigzilla Original
Servings: 2 sandwiches


4 slices tomato basil bread
2 tbsp low-fat mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
16 leaves fresh spinach
sliced red onion
1/2 lb oven roasted turkey
4 slices cooked bacon
1/2 avocado, sliced thin
mozzarella (if desired)


1. Spread 1 tbsp of mayonnaise on two slices of bread.  After the mayonnaise, layer each slice with 8 spinach leaves, sliced red onion, 1/4 lb oven roasted turkey, two slices bacon and avocado slices (add mozzarella if desired).    Top each with remaining slices of bread.

2. Place sandwich on heated Panini grill.¬† Press and cook for 2-4 minutes.¬† Keep an eye on it so the bread doesn’t burn.¬†Remove, slice, and enjoy!

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