Strawberry Basil Margarita

Having just moved to Virginia a while back, I’m lucky enough to still be experiencing some lovely summer weather instead of getting ready for a chilly fall and winter like in the north-east. The farmer’s markets are still selling the last of the summer produce with some plump, bright, juicy berries, yellow peaches, and some large and sweet tomatoes. So for my housewarming party, I decided to use some of my favorite summer ingredients in our drinks – strawberry and basil. This is a lovely make-ahead drink (it definitely needs to be made-ahead to let the drink soak up the flavors), and is really quick to throw together as well. The sweetness of the strawberries really complements the citric notes in triple sec and the limeade, and the basil adds a lovely aroma. You can throw in a little less or more water depending on your taste.

Strawberry Basil Margarita

Recipe adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 3/4 can (12 ounces) frozen limeade concentrate
  • 10 – 12 strawberries
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups tequila
  • 1/2 cup triple sec

Directions

  1. Empty the limeade concentrate into a pitcher. Add 3 and 1/2 cups of water along with the tequila and triple sec in the pitcher.
  2. Hull the strawberries, slice lengthwise, and add to the pitcher. Crumple the basil a little in your hands (this will help the basil flavor release into the drink) and add it to the pitcher, too. Place the pitcher in the and refrigerate it for at least four hours.
  3. When you remove the pitcher from the fridge, your margaritas will be a lovely pale pink color.

Enjoy!

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Baked Grilled Cheese Pesto Sandwich

Basil is one of my favorite summer ingredients and I just made a large amount of pesto a couple of days back. Bored with the average pasta, I decided to use some pesto with my grilled cheese. I’ve had grilled cheese with guacamole in the past, and it’s been so great that I’ve been waiting to try other unexpected dips that go really well with grilled cheese.

However, it’s also been pretty hot here on the East coast, and it was particularly hot today. Not wanting to stand over a hot stove or deal with the mess of a buttery frying pan, we decided to make grilled cheese in the oven, based on this recommendation. It turned out to be way easier, instead of having to flip it over constantly on a stove and literally took just 8-10 minutes. Plus it gave the bread the perfect, crisp texture. We used a mixture of gouda cheese and habanero-jalapeno aged cheddar cheese, and the latter added just that right kick to the sandwich. (Fringe benefit – eating spicy foods is good in the summer as it helps you sweat, bringing down your body temperature!) I’ll definitely be using my leftover pesto to make another one of these!

Grilled Cheese Pesto

Baked Grilled Cheese with Pesto

Baked Grilled Cheese with Pesto

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bread of your choice (I used a loaf of French bread)
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2-3 kinds of cheese of your cheese. Personal preference – Gouda & Habanero-Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread, spreading more thickly around the edges and less in the center. This will prevent the edges from burning before the center is crisp.
  2. Place half of the slices, buttered side down, on work surface. Top each with a slice of cheese, a tablespoon of pesto, then another slice of cheese. Top with remaining bread slices, buttered side up.
  3. Place sandwiches on a baking sheet. Bake for 4 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven. Immediately turn the oven up to 450 degrees F. Carefully turn the sandwiches using a large spatula.
  4. Bake for another 2-3 minutes, watching carefully, until bread is toasted and crisp and cheese is melted. The first time you flip these sandwiches, they won’t look done at all – the bread will be only slightly brown. But when the sandwiches are done, they will be beautifully crisp and brown on both sides. Serve immediately.
Baked Grilled Cheese with Pesto

Baked Grilled Cheese with Pesto