All posts tagged basil

Tomato Basil Bread: Panera Copycat

Published February 10, 2013 by jenmatteson

I have been eyeing a KitchenAid stand mixer for a few months now.  When they first came out – okay, when they first came out again a few years back – I wasn’t buying into all the hype.  But I also didn’t cook and bake nearly as much as I do now.  I was completely satisfied with my hand mixer – seriously.

Tomato Basil Bread

Nate and I moved in together in the summer of 2011, which meant the marrying of our stuff.  He had an old Krups stand mixer that was a hand-me-down from Mama Marsha.  I’m quite sure he never used it.  But, I made some really good use out of it over the last year and half.  Here’s what it looks like:

My low powered stand mixer

Once I started baking a little more, I realized that it didn’t have quite as much power as I thought it should – it couldn’t handle large bread doughs and thick cookie doughs.  Finally, I came to the conclusion that I should invest in a new stand mixer for myself (I rarely spend a lot of money on anything, let alone kitchen gadgets – unless you count my awesome fridge!).  Like almost any large purchase I make, I did a lot of research before making a decision on what I wanted.  From what I found, the new Cuisinart and KitchenAid were fairly similar. Part of the reason I went with the majority and wanted the KitchenAid was because Mama Marsha had one, so we could swap attachments.

Just last week, I got my 20% off one item coupon for Bed, Bath, and Beyond, plus I saw that KitchenAid had a $30 mail-in rebate, which made the $350 Artisan Series $250 – a $100 savings!  I immediately told Nate that I was going to get it, to which he responded, “no”.  After a conversation, he said he didn’t think it was money we needed to be spending now, which I understand, but was sort of annoyed as I rarely buy myself anything, I’ve wanted this for a while, and I had the patience to wait until I could get it $100 less than regular price.  But, I agreed, and begrudgingly decided not to buy it. 😦

Turns out, his parents had purchased one for us for his birthday/our Valentine’s Day gift.  I found out the next day.  I was so surprised and super excited to start using it.  Mama Marsha said it wasn’t the Artisan Series, which I didn’t really mind – as far as I know, the only difference is the Artisan has more power and a larger work bowl.  Anything was an upgrade from what I’d been using!  Here is my new baby:

My new KitchenAid stand mixer!

I knew the first thing I wanted to make was bread – my sworn enemy.  I had recently had lunch at Panera Bread, and I have always loved the tomato basil bread.  I get it on any sandwich I order.  It’s so light but packs so much flavor!  After a quick Google search, I found quite a few copycat recipes.  I’m not sure why, but I settled on a recipe from The Keenan Cookbook.  It was a fantastic choice on my part, because this bread turned out so tasty!  It was hard to be in the kitchen while this was baking.  The tomato and basil combo smelled heavenly, which is exactly how the bread tasted.  Someday, I’ll master this bread thing…but I think this is a great start!

Tomato Basil Bread

Tomato Basil Bread

Source: Adapted from The Keenan Cookbook
Servings: 1 loaf


2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
3/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 1/2 – 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour


1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add basil, parmesan, tomato paste, sugar, olive oil, salt and crushed red pepper.  Gently stir until ingredients are combined.  Add 2 cups flour and start mixer.  Once dough begins to come together, add an additional 1/2 cup flour.  Add additional flour if needed to form a stiff dough.  Continue kneading dough for 1-2 minutes in mixer, or by hand for 3-5 minutes.

2. Transfer dough to greased bowl, turning once to cover all sides of dough with oil.  Cover with damp cloth and let rise until doubled in size, about one hour, in a warm place.

3. Punch dough down and knead for 1 minute.  Shape into a round loaf and transfer to a greased baking sheet.  Cover and let rise for another hour.

4. With a sharp knife, cut a large “x” into the top of the loaf.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

B.L.T. with Poached Egg and Basil Mayo

Published September 30, 2012 by jenmatteson

I’m still on tomato overload and finally made our first B.L.T.s with them (I really can’t believe it’s taken this long!).  However, I wanted to make them a little fancy, so I added a poached egg and basil mayo.  Not that B.L.T.s alone aren’t good enough, because let’s face it, bacon and fresh from the garden tomatoes, YUM!  But, I thought the egg would add just a little bit of class (because “money can’t buy you class”, right Countess LuAnn?).  I love basil on my B.L.T.s, but didn’t have any on hand.  I went for the next best thing and mixed an equal amounts of basil pesto and Miracle Whip (mayonnaise would work just fine, but we prefer the tangy zip of the Whip).

Taking a picture of this beauty was another story.  Of course, as mentioned previously (and probably in many posts to come this winter), the pictures aren’t very good since it gets so dark so soon now-a-days (yes, I’m blaming light, not my photography skills, and I can because I haven’t yet invested in one of those super fancy lights).  Not only does the lighting suck, but I was afraid to put the top of the sandwich on and cut it, because of course, the beautifully poached egg would puncture.  That’s the point of the sandwich in the first place, but trying to capture that moment when the yolk leaks out of the egg and all over the rest of the sandwich is an art.  Which is precisely why I am not a food photographer, or even a photographer in general!

This was really good.  Nate didn’t even speak a word while putting it down.  Very quick, very easy, and if you can’t or don’t want to poach an egg, you can always use a fried over easy egg.  Works the same!

B.L.T. with Poached Egg and Basil Mayo

Source: Pigzilla Original
Servings: 2 sandwiches


2 tsp distilled vinegar
2 eggs
2 tbsp basil pesto
2 tbsp Miracle Whip (or mayonnaise)
4 slices whole wheat bread, toasted
16 leaves spinach, washed and dried
1 large tomato, sliced
6 slices bacon, cooked


1. Fill a large sauce pan with water and add vinegar.  Bring to a low simmer.  Slowly add eggs, one at a time (tips for a perfectly poached egg).  Cook for about 3 minutes, until whites are set and yolks are warm and runny.

2. Combine pesto and Miracle Whip in a small bowl.  Spread on one side of the four slices of toasted bread.  Layer one slice of bread with spinach, tomato, bacon, and top with poached egg.  Add second slice of bread and serve immediately.

Chicken and Basil Stuffed Twice Baked Potatoes

Published August 28, 2012 by jenmatteson

I’ve had this recipe on my “to try” list for a while, but since we don’t eat a lot of potatoes, I haven’t had any on hand recently.  Until a few days ago, when I got a bag on sale (SCORE!), and I had this recipe in mind.  Plus, I had bunches of basil – seemingly my only hearty herb to grow this summer – to use up.

This recipe comes from Nicole, at Prevention RD.  I love her recipes and she’s so incredibly awesome, she’s working on her first cookbook!  I had to laugh as I made this last night, and this morning was the big reveal of the most recent Recipe Swap: Bloggers Choice.  You don’t know who has your blog until the day the swaps are revealed, but I woke up this morning to find that Nicole had my blog.  Wow!  I was really excited because I’ve made tons of her recipes, but then I thought, it must have been hard for her to pick something from my blog, since so many recipes are already hers!  But, she settled on my Pesto Chicken Pinwheels, and made Pesto Chicken Roll-Ups.  Sounds like it was a hit!

Her recipe was a hit in the Pigzilla household, too!  If you don’t already have cooked chicken on hand, these can be a little putzy, but totally worth it.  You could always use rotisserie chicken or some leftover from another meal.  I didn’t have any, so I had to cook the chicken first, then the potatoes.  I was shocked by how flavorful these were.  The lemon juice in the sauce really pops, so don’t omit it!  I omitted the parmesan in my own, not Nate’s, so I’m sure his was extra flavorful.  Not only are these really easy, but it’s an incredibly cheap meal!  I love saving a few bucks 😛  You could even use another herb if you have it on hand.  I think rosemary would be delicious, and that may be going in my next batch of these stuffed tatters!

What is your favorite meal to make on a dime?

Chicken and Basil Stuffed Twice Baked Potatoes

Source: Adapted from Prevention RD
Servings: 4


2 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and dried
olive oil
kosher salt
1/2 onion, diced
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup milk (or half and half)
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
small handful basil, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan, divided
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.  Prick potatoes all over with a fork and place on baking sheet.  Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Flip and repeat.  Bake until tender when pricked, about 45-60 minutes, depending on size of potato.

2. While potatoes are cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions and saute for 3-4 minutes, until tender.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Pour in milk and broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. After sauce has simmered for 10 minutes, add basil, 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese and lemon juice.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

4. Once the potatoes are finished baking, cut them in half, lengthwise.  Let cool for a few minutes until you are able to handle them.  Scoop out the insides, leaving a thin shell around the outside.  Combine the insides of the potatoes with the chicken, then add the sauce.  Stir to incorporate all ingredients, then scoop mixture back into the potato shells, over-filling them by an inch or so.  Top each stuffed potato half with remaining parmesan cheese.

5. Place stuffed potatoes back in the oven for 10 minutes, turning the oven to broil for the last few minutes to brown up the parmesan.  Remove and let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Basil Pesto Turkey Burgers with Sun Dried Tomatoes

Published July 1, 2012 by jenmatteson

There is something about pesto and sun-dried tomatoes that goes so well together; it’s like chocolate and peanut butter, or peanut butter and jelly.  Wait…does peanut butter go with everything?  Okay, well probably not with pesto or sun-dried tomatoes.  Anyway, I’ve made pesto turkey burgers in the past, and since I just made my very own basil pesto, I thought I’d give it whirl with my turkey burgers.  I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t have fresh tomatoes to add to my burgers, but then I thought, well why don’t I give the sun-dried tomatoes a try.  Good thing I did, because it was a match made in heaven and the burgers were super delish.

I served these on sandwich thins with a little Miracle Whip and lettuce.  Raw onions would have been a great addition, but I didn’t really think of it until my first bite of the burger.  Nate’s burger (pictured below) was topped with a mozzarella-provalone mix.

Basil Pesto Turkey Burgers with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Source: Pigzilla Original
Servings: 4


1 lb ground turkey, extra lean
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp basil pesto
2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper


1. Preheat grill (or skillet).  In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, olive oil, pesto, and tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Gentley mix together with hands and form into four patties.

2. Over medium-low heat, grill burgers for 8-10 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.  Serve on buns with desired garnishments.

Basil Pesto

Published June 24, 2012 by jenmatteson

I adore pesto, but most places make it with parmesan cheese, so I always have to examine the ingredients or ask how it’s made.  Finally, I made my own.  I assumed making pesto was petty simple, however, I’ve never had a whole heck of a lot of basil at one time.  My grocery store only sells appoximately 2 sprigs in a package.  I know it’s available in bulk at superstores, but I don’t belong to any of those 😦

But, Mama Marsha to the rescue!  That’s the nickname my girlfriends and I gave Nate’s mom while we were in Sonoma last year.  She gave us wonderful recommendations and even set up and paid for one of our tastings.  We stopped over to grab their garage door opener so Nate could feed Sprout, their kitty, while they were out of town.  She chopped off a huge bunch of basil for me to take home.  This was just wonderful because we were planning to make grilled pizza that night, so I decided to whip up a batch of pesto for our pizzas.  Even better…I had just finished off my jar of yeast, so I could store my pesto in there.  Couldn’t have been more perfect!

For making this in the fly, I thought it was a pretty good go.  The pesto had such a fresh herby taste, and you can easily add parmesan if you like that added saltiness.  This should last in an airtight container for about two weeks.  I anticipate that we’ll be having some pasta in our near future 🙂


Basil Pesto

Source: Pigzilla Original
Servings: Makes about 1/2 cup


2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
2 cups fresh basil
4-6 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste
1/4 parmesan cheese (optional)


1. In a food processor, pulse pine nuts, basil, and garlic.  While processor is running, stream in olive oil to desired consistency.  Add salt and parmesan to taste.  Run processor for another 30 seconds to completely combine ingredients.  Use immediately, or store in an airtight container and refrigerate.

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