Homemade Basil pesto

It’s incredible how versatile Basil pesto can be: you can use it in tons of recipes as a main ingredient to give an extra tasty flavor. I’m not only talking about pasta with pesto or pizza with pesto, but also chicken with pesto, white fish with pesto, sandwich with pesto, couscous with pesto…and I can keep going.

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Although there are good pesto jars at the grocery store in Italy, the homemade version is so much better with that fresh basil taste and the incredibly intense green. In addition to that the homemade version is cheaper and ready in 5 minutes….no excuses!

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What you will need:

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The procedure is extremely simple: place all the ingredients at once in a blender, close and mix for 2 minutes up until you will obtain a thick bright green paste.

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Few comments regarding the ingredients:

Basil: the king of the ingredients for this recipe. It has to be Italian basil. If you are lucky to find the Italian Genovese basil, that’s even better because that’s the perfect kind of basil for the pesto.

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Cheese: the traditional recipe wants Pecorino cheese only. In my personal opinion a mix of Parmesan Cheese and Pecorino Cheese is better, more delicate and still very tasty.

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Extra Virgin Oil of Olive: that’s another key ingredient as we are using the oil cold and we will taste it. I really suggest a good quality Extra Virgin olive oil, the one you would use on salads. On my side for the pesto I’m using Taggiasche Olives Extra Virgin Olive oil.

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You can store the pesto in a glass jar with a lid. It’s important to cover the pesto with a tiny layer of olive oil on top, it will prevent the oxidation of the basil due to the contact with the air (it will not ruin the pesto, just make the pesto dark green).

I usually divide the pesto in small jars and store them in the freezer for up to 3/4 months. The taste doesn’t change!! Enjoy!

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posted on July 30, 2014

Cucumber cups with tuna filling

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So simple and so tasty! small cucumber cups filled with a tasty tuna&potato filling. The size of each cup is perfect for kids. My little Luca loves licking the top of the filling like an ice cream and than biting the cups with the tuna inside.

Considering the summer heat, I used this recipe more than once as a refreshing and fun lunch idea for the family with a side of tomato salad to keep going with the refreshing part ;-)

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You will need:

cucumber tuna cups ingred

Cucumbers: I used English or Garden cucumbers, medium size. Just consider that the smaller the cucumbers, the smaller the cups. I also tried the recipe with the Persian and Japanese cucumbers, but in my opinion they are too dry and thin: I really liked the watery texture of the English ones.

Tuna: it is VERY important that you pick a top quality canned tuna in Extra Virgin oil of olive. It really makes the difference.

Mayonnaise: a good quality one, follow your personal taste.

Instructions:

peel the cucumbers and cut them in thick slices (1.5 inch) in order to obtain 4/5 small cylinders from each cucumber

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create the cups removing the inner part of the cucumber with a knife first and than with a teaspoon.

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let the cups rest on a flat surface to release some extra water

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prepare the filling. In a blender place the canned tuna, the olives, the mayonnaise and mix everything for 1 minute. In a medium bowl mash the boiled potato (without peel) with a potato masher. Add the tuna mix and the extra virgin oil of olive. Stir in order to obtain a thick cream.

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Fill a pastry chef bag with the tuna mix and start filling and decorating the cucumber cups like small cupcakes. Enjoy immediately or store in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to 2 days.

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The cup shape + the “cupcake style” decoration is extremely fun and inviting, most of all for kids, but if you really do not have time it might be time consuming. no worries. you can still prepare the recipe in no time. Just peel and cut the cucumbers in thick slices and use the tuna mix like a spread or directly dip the cucumber slices in the tuna mix. Enjoy!!

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posted on July 23, 2014

Chicken rice apple baby puree’

A complete meal for your baby: proteins + carbohydrates + vitamins.

I used a small chicken tight with Basmati rice, a Fujii apple and one carrot. Basil leaves to give extra flavor. Basic and gentle flavors, perfect for a very first baby meal.

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In Italy when you introduce solid foods in your baby’s diet (6 months), chicken is one of the first meat recommended by pediatricians as it is very rich in protein and iron. In addition to that it is very easy to digest. Also, the darker meat of the chicken (tights and legs) is higher in iron.

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Steaming is an amazing way to cook for your baby as it retains all the nutrients (like baking). Today I used a rice cooker with a tray on top to cook the other ingredients. In less than one hour I had all my ingredients ready all at once to prepare my baby puree’. I realized 8 baby meals that I stored in small containers and froze to use later when needed.

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How to proceed: soooo simple

- cut the chicken tight in small stripes or cubes, the peeled apple in small cubes and the peeled carrot in small pieces.

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- rinse the rice under cold water for 30 seconds, you want to remove the starchy flour on top

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- in a rice cooker place the rice at the bottom. Cover the rice with water. For the proportions follow the instructions of your rice cooker (they may vary from model to model). In my case I used 3/4 cup rice and 1 cup water.

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- fill the rice cooker upper tray with the remaining ingredients: chicken, apple, carrot and add the 2 basil leaves on top. Close the rice cooker and press the “cook” button. My rice cooker took 45 min to finish.

If your rice cooker doesn’t have the upper tray, you can cook the other ingredients all together in a steamer for 30 min and the rice separately.

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- place all the ingredients in a tall container ( I used a 4 cups measuring glass container): the rice, the chicken, the apple, the carrots and the basil and add 1 cup of liquid. Pending the age of your baby you can choose between hot water, vegetable broth, breast milk or formula milk if your baby is under 12 months, if your baby is older you can use regular milk. Mix everything for 1 minute with an immersion blender in order to obtain a smooth and creamy puree’.

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You can serve the baby food immediately, warm, or you can divide it in small containers with a lid and store them in the freezer for up to 3/4 months.

Ciao!!

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posted on July 17, 2014


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