Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shore to Please

I’m back from the most beautiful beach days that summer could give to us down at the Jersey Shore in Wildwood with some girlfriends!

Since we were all arriving at different times Friday night, we decided to keep it simple with appetizers and drinks. We started with Jodi’s mom’s mozzarella, tomato and basil plate where I found a new balsamic vinegar that I really like (Bellino aceto). We also had homemade Margherita pizza made with Boboli, sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and oregano), my crab dip, Jodi’s parmesan artichoke dip, Marissa’s guacamole, Erica’s buffalo chicken dip, shrimp cocktail, and a fruit and veggie plate! We snacked on these goodies all weekend long...

My friend Jodi, who hosted us, introduced us all to the delicious Belmont Skinnygirl Cocktail from
  Bethenny Frankel’s website  and highly recommended! The ingredients are as follows:
  • 4 tablespoons vodka
  • 3 tablespoons club soda
  • 1 tablespoon Peach Schnapps
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
*Serve on the rocks and if you want to spice it up, garnish with an orange slice!
So, my shopping list for this week is to stock my pantry/fridge/freezer with some new balsamic vinegar, Boboli pizza crust, buffalo mozzarella, and Peach  Schnapps. This way if I have visitors at the house I can whip up a quick homemade pizza and yummy drink!

Friday, August 27, 2010

I'm heading down the shore this weekend to visit some girl friends in which we will be making some yummy appetizers and drinks featuring 
the Skinny Girl Margarita by Bethenny Frankel from The Real Housewives of NY. Not to worry as I will update my blog as soon as I get back with lots of fun things from the weekend to share with you. While anticipating my return, I thought I'd leave you today with a few of my favorite things in the kitchen…

Being an avid Vera Bradley fan, that all my friends, coworkers, and family can attest to, I have to start with my Vera Bradley Apron Gift Set in the Blue Rhapsody and it’s the perfect cooking accessory for the female chef in the kitchen! The set includes an apron that’s packaged in a coordinating fabric-covered recipe box. The apron ties around the neck and waist, has a small ruffle across the chest that accentuates the top, while two pockets below help hold utensils and hand towels.  You can also get your initials monogrammed on the front. My mom, my sister, and I all have an apron in different fabrics and love them!
The other fun thing about the recipe box is that you can buy fun recipe cards of your choice. There are a lot of great websites out there where you can choose whatever design you’d like. My sister, Erin bought me the super cute Bee Recipe cards pictured above to keep track of all my recipes!

My best buddy Kellie from Wilmington, NC sent an Oster Electric Wine Opener to my fiancee and I for a housewarming gift and it’s just a genius and so thoughtful for the avid wine drinker! No more twisting the knozzle, no more half corks still stuck in the bottle, and no more pinching of the fingers! 
The Oster Wine Opener is easy-to-use and effective. All you have to do is place the opener over the neck of the wine bottle and press the button. In a matter of seconds the cork is removed without any effort. Corks are removed quickly and in one piece, every time! The Oster Wine Opener is portable and comes with it’s own recharging station that also houses a foil cutter. According to the manufacturer, the device can open 30 bottles of wine on a single charge! They are currently $19.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond so get this in your kitchen if you don't already have one!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Easy Cheesey Garlic Chicken

I found a recipe online yesterday called Garlic Cheddar Chicken at allrecipes.com and switched some things around since I didn't have all the ingredients at home. I made this for dinner last night and the chicken came out so juicy and the breading was crispy and so delicious that I wanted to share with you. Prep time takes about 15 minutes and cook time is 35-40 minutes depending on your oven. So, of course while it's baking I was catching up on the Hollywood gossip on The Daily 10! Below are the ingredients in which I used...


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup 4C Seasoned Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Italian cheese (consists of 4 different cheeses; asiago, provolone, mild cheddar, and Parmesan)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, and cook the garlic until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a shallow bowl, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano, pepper, and salt.

4.Dip each chicken breast in the garlic butter to coat, then press into the bread crumb mixture. Arrange the coated chicken breasts in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Drizzle with any remaining butter and top with any                     remaining bread crumb mixture.

5. Bake 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.
Ant was running out the door so I quick made rice and threw some carrots on the plate with some garlic bread. If I had more time I would of made our vegetable a little more pretty looking (LOL) but Ant gave it a thumbs up and said "the bee out did herself again, this chicken is cooked perfectly!"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love...Wine

I can't say enough about the book and movie "Eat Pray Love." If you love to cook and/or travel and  you haven't read it yet or seen the movie, I highly suggest it... I read this book in between cooking and baking, waiting for the timer to ding as the character Liz was traveling and eating her way through Italy... If I could add just one more word to the end of the title in which I did in my heading, "Wine", this would reflect everything about me. After having read this book, I find myself smiling more, an even bigger passion to cook, and of course, travel to Italy, India, and Bali! Enjoy!

Low country NC Shrimp Boil

I emailed my friend Kellie from Wilmington, NC and said "you gotta send me the recipe for the shrimp boil that we had when we visited you in!" I just had to share this with you because it was so delicious and since summer is starting to decline, we want to hold on to it as long as we can, and this will make you feel like summer all night long! Thanks KELLIE!!
What you need:
  • Large Crab Pot
  • Bag of baby red skin potatoes (cut in halves)
  • Bag of Peel n'eat frozen shrimp (big or small, whichever you prefer - I like shrimp so I get the big bag of medium to large size shrimp 40-60count)
  • 1-2 Hilshire Farms Kielbasa or Smoked Sausages cut into quarter inch slices (depending on how much sausage you like or how many people be eatin' - I like sausage, so 2 in the pot for me)
  • 1 box of Zatarans Crab Boil Bag
  • Optional - Fresh or Frozen corn on the cob
  • Ketchup, Horseradish, Lemon
  • Creole seasoning or Old Bay Seasoning
What you do:
  • Boil water in Crab Pot with your Zatarans Crab Boil Packet (fill it up with water a little more than half way)
  • Dump in your halved potatoes and let cook for about 20-25 minutes (until almost tender but still slightly al dente)
  • Dump in the frozen or fresh corn and cook for about 3 minutes
  • Add in the sliced sausages and frozen shrimp (shrimp boil is ready when the shrimp turn pink and start floating- this is about another 3-5 minutes)
Make the Cocktail Sauce:
Mix in half ketchup to half horseradish (more ketchup if you don't prefer the sting of horseradish), sprinkle in desired amount of old bay or creole seasoning & squirt a half a lemon into your mix. Stir it up.
Dump everything out on a table (with a vinyl table cloth cover) and eat it up! (i recommend stock piling your favorite item in your own corner since it goes quick!)

Rachel Ray's recipe for Spanish Burgers with Manchego

Tuesday night I made the Spanish burgers minus the chorizo hash browns (since I forgot to get those ingredients, hehe) but I substituted roasted potato wedges instead with chopped up cucumber from my garden and made a peanut butter dipping sauce.

Not only have I never made burgers before but I don't have a grill either. Turns out you really don't need one! You can either make them on a skillet on your stove or use an electric griddle like I did. The Manchego cheese really kicks these bad boys up a notch and were so good. Ant even said it was the best burger he's had and that seasoning that the recipe calls for is perfect! They would make great apps as sliders too! 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Garden

After I got home from work last night, I went outside to check on my garden and realized, I should take some pictures to put up on here to let you see how its going! My fiancée built me a garden bed in June and its beautiful. It was a lot of work, a lot of dirt, but so worth it.
Below are some beginning pictures back in June

We planted cherry tomatoes, beef steak tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis, and green/red peppers to start out. Granted we planted them somewhat later then advised via the books I read about gardening, but thats OK. After dealing with some animal issues (note to future gardeners, put chicken wire up asap) and lack of rain in NJ this summer, I thought all our hard work was defeated since I had nothing to show,
but in the last few weeks, I've been proven wrong. 

I have so many cherry tomatoes I don't know what to do with them (we have them in our salads, my pasta sauces, and now I'm venturing into salsa!). I have about 11 large beef steak tomatoes about to turn red, I have 3 green peppers, and 1 cucumber. I think my zucchini plant got sick because I got nothing out of it other than a lot of foliage, hehe, but there's always next year! 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Skinny Italian: Eat It and Enjoy It: Live La Bella Vita and Look Great, Too!

One of my favorite reality shows is The Real Housewives of NJ, and I especially love Teresa Giudice! She did a book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Moorestown, NJ and of course I stood in line to meet her and have her sign (2) books; one for me and one for my friend Jodi who would of been right there in line with me, but was in Colorado at the time.
This is an absolutely beautiful cookbook but more than that, she talks about her family and culture in her same silly way you see her on TV. The 60 + recipes are great, instructions go above and beyond (she explains it so simply) and the illustrations make you want to cook everything in her book! I absolutely recommend this cookbook!

Novice cook and Novice Blogger intro

Welcome to my first blog, The Basil Bee!!  Let me tell you a bit about myself and how I got to this blogging part of my life... I’m 27 years old living in South Jersey, getting married in February, and recently bought a new home with my fiancée and we love wining and dining. I wanted to embrace that more and really learn how to cook, which has become my new passion the last few months! When I got engaged (and he’s Italian), I learned that “gravy” (not sauce from a jar) has so much more flavor than I ever imagined, and it’s all about finding the right seasonings and being able to control the flavor, which I never really paid much attention to! I love using fresh ingredients, and I like to experiment with different tastes and textures. I try to keep my recipes lower in fat but still tasting great.

My favorite hobbies are cooking, reading, traveling, running, surfing, reality TV shows (Food Network , Bravo, Cooking channel, etc...) and my new hobby of blogging with you so I decided to combine them all. and I'm thirsty for a great recipe book. There’s so much out there that I don’t know and I just want to embrace it all, hence , the creation of my first blog. A few of my friends have the same passion for cooking and learning all this stuff too, so you will be meeting some friends along the way throughout my blog...

So driving to work this morning, I’ve decided to stop overloading my friends inboxes with picture messages with things I’ve made over the weekend and the status of how my new garden of NJ tomatoes are growing and I just post it here and track my cooking historical events as I progress! I feel this will be a great way to organize recipes, get advice, share tips and most of all, share the love for cooking at the same time. 

A big thank you to my amazing fiancée Anthony who has supported me through my egg spills, wrong ingredients, and other cooking/baking trials and errors I have surpassed. And another big thank you to my friends and family whose inbox's I overloaded with pics! 

I hope my journey will help you other novice chefs to enhance your cooking experience and make taste buds smile!