I enjoy our little harvests, watching the fruits and vegetables grow through the season, and turning them into dinners and baked goods. Today I harvested basil (probably the last of the season) and the apples. I really should've picked the apples sooner as many had fallen or the birds had pecked at them! It's been a busy few weeks for me!
A lot of my basil harvest each year goes to making pesto. It's so easy and so yummy! Just throw some basil in the food processor, add salt, pulse a bit. Then add parmesan cheese, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil and process until smooth.
I usually freeze the pesto in a muffin-sized silicone pan I have. Once frozen I store in freezer ziploc bags. It's easy to grab a "muffin" or two to make pasta, add to a soup, make a sandwich. It's one of my go-to freezer staples.
There are many recipes for pesto, here is the one I use.
2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves, well dried after washing
Salt to taste
10 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese
6 tablespoons pine nuts
4 cloves garlic
1 cup olive oil
In a blender or food processor, combine the basil and salt. Process until chopped, just a few seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and process until a smooth, creamy sauce forms.
Next on the agenda was Caramel Apple Coffee Cake. The recipe came from Southern Living (recipe here.) It was very good but next time I make it I will use a sour cream coffee cake base instead. The cake was a little dry for me plus the sour cream would add more richness. Just my two cents! It would be a great coffee cake for a fall brunch or tea and could easily be made the day before.
The cake has multiple steps but each are easy, don't let the recipe intimidate you. The caramel and streusel topping can be made ahead of time.
The caramel has honey in it, which is a little different twist from normal caramel. It actually went very well with the apples. All the ingredients are combined in a pan, brought to a boil, stirring continuously for two minutes.
The coffee cake consists of a layer of the cake, some caramel, sauteed apples and streusel topping. Once baked and cooled, it's topped with more caramel.
As I was cleaning up the kitchen I noticed that I had an unexpected guest residing on my butcher block. I suspect he came in with the apples! Praying mantis are great for the garden so I carefully scooped him up and took him out to a rosh bush.