Fresh Basil Dressing

So yes, I’m a little late this week.  I know.  Here in PA, it’s been rainy, gross, and all around dreary the past nine days.  Not only am I sluggish, but my motivation has been literally… nothing.  So I slacked.  Fail Alysha.  But I hope I can make it up for you with a summer family favorite.  I figured, if it can’t be bright and cheery outside… at least I can make something a little bright and cheery for you!

Now, when tomatoes are producing a million a minute in the family garden, we ate this every other night growing up. Sometime this summer, I’m going to show you all the different ways this recipe can actually be used.  It’s like a miracle dressing, and it’s super super easy to make. It can stay in the fridge for a week or if you’re a busy parent, like my mom was, she’d make HUGE batches and freeze it.

Full disclosure, this recipe did not come originally from grandma.  Although she definitely made it.  My mom originally got this from her friend, Jean Barker.  It’s been floating around the family ever since.  If you’re looking for a fun and delicious recipe for Mother’s Day, this is certainly a crowd pleaser.  Add some mozzarella and toasted almonds and it’s like a deconstructed caprese salad with a twist!  The hint of sugar with some red wine vinegar makes this sweet and tangy.

Trust me.  Pure dressing winner.

On the plus side, this is also vegetarian, and very allergy friendly.  You could substitute soaked cashews, almonds, or pine nuts for the parmesan.  Thus making it gluten and dairy free.   So grab some fresh ingredients, and away we go to awesome dressing land.

Fresh Basil Dressing:

  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic (who are we kidding, we always added enough so you could smell us for miles, 4+ will do for those who like it strong)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (I’m lucky enough to have some beautiful EVOO we brought back from Greece)
  • Variety of tomatoes
  • Mixed Green

Here’s the easy part.  You literally put this all in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Drizzle over your salad.  Add other veggies and toppings to taste. Boom. Done.

Tips:

  • If you want it to be more ‘liquidy’ you can add more olive oil or vinegar.
  • If you don’t have a food processor, I use my Magic Bullet or my blender.
  • Salad is awesome with mozzarella and toasted almonds or pecans. Capers also make a great addition.

Seriously, look at that olive oil.  It’s a thing of beauty.  I’m going to be sad when I run out.

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This is the consistency you’re looking for.

Photography and writing by:

Alysha Yoder Photography

(b) www.alyshayoderphotoblog.com (w) www.alyshayoderphoto.com

(e) alyshayoderphoto@yahoo.com (p) 610.762.7810

Sunshine and Coconut

What a lovely day it has been!  After a dreary, rainy, cold week of crap, today the sun was shining and a hopeful spring breeze was in the air.  I’m nursing a migraine but still enjoying my time in my hometown.  Who knew my mother would be the perfect photo assistant?  I should have come to that conclusion on my own as she’s half the reason I’m a great cook AND she also knows what I mean when I ask her to ‘separate an egg.’ I guess it’s also a bit easier photographing with someone who’s right handed (my hubby is left handed and proves to add a level of difficulty when photographing with him).

Today we’re making a grandma staple.  Gram’s loved coconut.  Every year for her birthday she asked mom to make her favorite coconut cake.  It always consisted of a citrus center with whipped icing covered in coconut. Coconut was her jam. She’d always have these little chocolate coconut clusters in the house hidden in her cupboard.  Not to mention, macaroons.  Grams has a plethora of macaroon recipes, so much that you could probably make a book just on those lol.  I know her favs involved almond extract but I have yet to find that in her piles.  I just grabbed one of the first ones I found, but who knows? Maybe in the future I’ll make some others and you can compare and contrast.

A perk about being home (other than of course getting to spend time with the fam and new puppy) is getting some farm fresh eggs from my dad’s chickens.  They even have some lovely blue green eggs from their pair of Americanas.    I also have a huge back porch to photograph on.  Hence the lovely sunshine lit photos from today’s post.  So without further ado, I give you one of gram’s MANY coconut macaroon recipes.

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Coconut Macaroons:

Preheat oven to 325°.

  • 1 1/3 cups flaked coconut (I used unsweetened shredded coconut.  You could also use the sweetened stuff, just know it will make them very sweet.)
  • 1/3 cup of white sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 T all purpose flour
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix together in a bowl until combined coconut, sugar, flour and salt.  Stir in egg whites and vanilla.  Mix well. Drop rounded teaspoons onto baking sheet (either grease or use parchment paper). Bake at 325° for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on wire rack.  Yields about 1 1/2 dozen macaroons. **Also, just a note these aren’t super sweet like a lot of macaroons since you’re using unsweetened coconut. Enjoy!

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Seriously, how lovely are these eggs?  I can’t get enough of them.  Those orange yolks are definitely something you can’t get at the grocery store!

As mom says, “This is separating eggs the ‘old school’ way.”

Isn’t mom the best food model?  Even has great hands for it.  I jokingly said I’d come up every weekend just to get shots with her but now I’m half thinking that might happen.

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You see this wonderfully aged and old looking cooking rack? That’s grams… or great grams.  At this point it could be both but I know that at one point, gram’s used it regularly.

Aren’t these just adorable?  The blues and golden browns make me want to plan a party.  I certainly have gram’s party planning running through my veins.  So until next week, cheers! – Alysha

 Alysha Yoder Photography (b) www.alyshayoderphotoblog.com

(w) www.alyshayoderphoto.com (e) alyshayoderphoto@yahoo.com (p) 610.762.7810

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