Tag Archive: basil

Lemon Basil Sandwich Cookies

It is almost the last day to submit entries for the cookie exchange.  Voting begins at midnight on the 19th!  The top 10 will be featured here, there and everywhere!  Participants will also receive an e-book with all the entries compiled by us here at TWC.  So, go on and link’em up.  If you don’t have a blog you can email recipes to  2012cookies@tumbleweedcontessa.com and we will post them for you.

Cookies 2012

Here is my last submission to the party:

I don’t know about you, but I have armfuls of basil right now.  I am determined to try to use some of it before the first freeze.  That could be tonight or January, 2013.  We never know around here.  Don’t count on the weather man.  I know I could make pesto, but I still have some of that frozen from last year.  (Time to clean out the freezer.)  I prefer to use it in savory and now sweet dishes.  At 1 tablespoon at a time I better plan to bake a lot of cookies!

These cookies just sounded too good not to try.  I think I will make them again and make my cookies much smaller.  These are a bit bigger than would be my choice.  The scent of lemon and basil while they baked was amazing.  I’ve never experimented with herbs in cookies, maybe lavender one time.  For some reason I think of lavender as sweet.  Basil is usually used in savory dishes to me.  It is part of the mint family though and it is sweet tasting by itself.

I think these will make a great hit at your cookie exchange party or on the dessert table for Christmas.  Give them a try and let me know what you think.


Lemon-Basil Sandwich Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ cup white decorator sugar crystals


  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Heat the oven to 400°.  In a large bowl beat the butter, powdered sugar, lemon peel, basil, salt and vanilla in the bowl of the KitchenAid Stand Mixer with the paddle attachment on medium until creamy.  On low speed add the flour and baking powder until well combined and the dough forms.

Place the sugar crystals in a small bowl.  Make dough into 1 inch balls and roll in the sugar crystals.  Place on an ungreased baking sheet about 2 inches apart.   Flatten slightly with a fork making marks with the tines.

Bake 6-8 minutes until set.  Remove to racks to cool completely.  About 30 minutes.

In a small bowl melt the chocolate chips and cream at 15 second increments until melted and smooth.  Put in the refrigerator to cool until almost set. (About 10 minutes.)

Spread about ½ teaspoon of the chocolate on one the bottom side of a cookie and top with the other bottom side down to form a sandwich.  Let stand until set.

Sharing with:
Make-Ahead Meals for Busy MomsJam Handsmop it up mondays

Spicy Lasagna for Shine Supper Club

Spicy Lasagna – Fall comfort food for a crowd at its best!

I can’t remember exactly what spurred me on to make lasagna on this beautiful fall day.  I think it had something to do with a list of upcoming blog ideas and cooler weather.  But I did it anyway.  I weighed this on the scale and it totaled 16 pounds including the casserole dish (which is large).  Krista gave me this for Mother’s Day.  Isn’t that sweet?

Now I need to take some to Amy and her family and put some in the freezer for comfort food this winter.  I can smell it baking and it smells wonderful.  The fennel and Italian herbs make the whole house smell good.  I have the doors open.  I may even have a neighbor drop by to check it out.

I made the sauce the day before in the traditional spaghetti sauce pot.  It is always better if it can cool and be reheated.  Overnight is best.

I had to have about 3 uninterrupted hours to make it up and let it bake.  That is what I did with my Sunday afternoon.  I also washed up the dishes and cleaned every surface that was spotted with sauce.  Counter tops, stove and floor.  Where are my children when I need them?  They always say I use every pot and pan in the kitchen to prepare dinner.  Maybe they were right?

Lasagna is a tradition for Christmas Eve dinner for my family, but it feeds a crowd anytime.  It can be made ahead and frozen or refrigerated. Great to portion it out and put it away for a cold and busy winter day.

This is a tried and true recipe that everyone loves.  Hope you do too.


  • Salt for the water
  • 1 1/2 (16-ounce) boxes lasagna noodles
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage or remove the casing if in links
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (12-ounce) package mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced
  • 2 cups ricotta
  • 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons, divided
  • 1 recipe Tumbleweed Contessa’s Spicy Spaghetti Sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1 pound grated mozzarella

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Working in batches, cook the lasagna noodles until they are soft and pliable but not limp, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove the pasta from the boiling water and immerse in an ice bath, remove and lay flat on a sheet tray to cool. I usually put a little olive oil on the sheet pan to keep it from sticking.

Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until brown and crumbly. Sprinkle in a pinch of red chile flakes.  Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.



Remove the fat from the pan and add olive oil along with 2 cloves of smashed garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Bring the pan to medium-high heat. When the garlic becomes golden and very aromatic, remove it from the heat and discard. Add the mushrooms and season with salt. Cook the mushrooms until they are soft, wilted and dark brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add about 6 basil leaves chopped or torn after turning off the heat.  Remove from pan and set aside.


In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, 1/2 the Parmesan, the eggs, and the remaining fresh basil. Add salt and mix to combine.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

In the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch or deep-dish baking dish, add a couple ladles of sauce and spread out in an even layer. Arrange a layer of the lasagna noodles to completely cover the sauce. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the pasta.  (I had to use my fingers to spread it evenly.) Place a layer of pasta going in the other direction as the first layer (this makes it easier to serve). Spread a light layer of sauce on the pasta and sprinkle 1/3 of the sausage over the sauce, repeat this process with 1/3 of the mushrooms. Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella and some of the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano over the veggies. Repeat these layers until all the ingredients have been used up or the pan is full. The final layer should be a layer of pasta on top covered with sauce and sprinkled with mozzarella and Parmigiano. Cover tightly with foil.

Place the lasagna on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until the lasagna is hot and bubbly, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes of cooking. Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.  Note: It is best to make and bake the lasagna the day before. Heat it up again before slicing.

This sauce recipe is the same recipe I use for spaghetti, except I add sausage or beef (or chicken).  A meatless meal was not acceptable in my house for my husband.

Spicy Spaghetti Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 28 ounce can Cento Tomatoes (puree)
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes +1 can of water
  • 1 can tomato paste + 1 can of water
  • 2 packages McCormick Thick and Spicy dry spaghetti sauce mix
  • ½ teaspoon dried red chile flakes
  • 4 tablespoons Italian dried seasoning herb mix (Tones)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
  • 1 teaspoon garlic grains or 1 fresh clove of garlic finely minced
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons red wine vinegar

An additional can of water may be added, but this must be a thick sauce.

In a heavy-bottomed iron Dutch oven warm the olive oil and add the remaining ingredients.  Stir and bring to a low simmer.  Cover and cook about 1 hour, stirring occasionally to be sure the dried herbs don’t stick to the bottom.  Remove the lid and let cool.  Store in the refrigerator at least overnight before using.  It is ok to use it immediately, but the flavors develop and it is best left at least overnight in the refrigerator.

I’ve just opened the 2012 Cookie Exchange.  Take a look and add your recipe into the mix:

Cookies 2012


This will be the perfect recipe for the Shine Supper Club.  I can’t wait to share and see what everyone else is making.  Since it is sooooo big, I am also going to take it to:
Down Home Blog Hop The Mandatory MoochBarns and NoodlesFreedom Fridays

Thursday Favorite Things mop it up mondays

Something Sweet from the Garden

Almost too pretty to eat....ALMOST!

Did you know that Basil was part of the mint family?   I am surprised there is anything left for me to learn from FoodNetwork.  They always have one more thing though.  Then again, it is kind of like easy listening music in my house.  It is on all of the time, but I only hear it occasionally.

Basil has that sweetness.  It also is a good summer crop for me.  I can grow armfuls of it and I love to eat it.  My favorite thing is bruschetta with my summer tomatoes, basil and tons of garlic.  I need a dessert to take to a party tonight though.  So, voila!  Basil Ice Cream Cake/Pie.  This will be light and pretty and cooling.  It will also spare my kitchen extra heat.

Basil Ice Cream Cake/Pie

  •  ½ gallon of vanilla ice cream-softened to the consistency of firm whip cream(scoops easily not pours)
  • 1 ¼ cups of finely chopped basil
  • 1 package of chocolate cookies-enough to cover the bottom and sides of a pie or loaf pan with a few left to crumble in the middle and one to eat while you are working ;)
  • chocolate syrup (optional)

Line a large loaf pan or deep pie plate with plastic wrap.  Leave enough around the edges to cover over the top at the end.  Place cookies to cover the bottom and sides of the pan decoratively.



Add half of the ½ gallon of ice cream and half of the basil to a food processor.  Whir until the basil is combined and the ice cream flows smoothly.  Pour over cookies in lined dish and smooth with spatula.  Break the “filling” cookies into pieces and place over smoothed ice cream.    Whir the remaining ingredients, pour and smooth into pan.  Close plastic wrap to cover and place in the freezer for at least 5 hours.  Overnight is better.

To serve, remove from freezer and let sit a few minutes.  Open plastic wrap and flip onto a serving dish or cover the open side with chocolate syrup.  Use a sharp knife to slice and serve.  Eat quickly it melts!

Submitting to the contest: iron chef mom

Garden Feast Day 2-Portabello Mushroom “Pizza”

Almost too pretty to eat....ALMOST!

Today’s fresh vegetable feature is Portabello Mushroom Pizza.  What I love is picking almost all the stuff that goes with this meal from the garden.  I literally just bought the mozzarella cheese and mushrooms for dinner tonight.  You may be aware that I am a very low carb eater.  This dish makes me feel like I am eating lasagna and I don’t even miss the pasta.

I started by getting my already made pizza sauce from my first crop of tomatoes out of the freezer to defrost, then I grabbed my biggest bowl possible and headed out to the garden.  What a sight!  All of the dirt digging and bug fighting is worth it.  I picked lettuce, dill (I love a little fresh dill in my field greens), tomato and cucumber for a salad and grabbed some fresh basil for garnish.  I quickly snipped a few early okra and pulled up the last of my onions.  I did a thorough bug check on the tomato plants, then I hurried back to the air conditioning.  No way was I going back out into that heat today.  Grill pan it is!

Portabello Mushroom “Pizza”

  • 4 large portabello mushrooms
  • 8 Tablespoons of pizza sauce
  • Mozarella cheese 4 slices or 1 1/3 cups shredded
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • ¼ cup torn basil for garnish

Pre-heat the grill pan over medium high heat and baste with olive oil.

Gently pull out the mushroom stems and scoop the gills from the inside of the mushroom using a spoon.  Slather the mushrooms with olive oil and place face down on the grill pan.  Cook for 5-6 minutes or until the mushrooms are starting to flatten as the moisture cooks off.  Flip and cook for another 5 minutes to lightly char the top of the mushroom.  Flip one more time for just a minute to cook off the last of the moisture.  Remove from grill pan and place top-side down on a baking sheet or broiler pan.

Assemble the “pizza” by topping each mushroom with two tablespoons of sauce and a slice or 1/3 cup of mozzarella cheese.  Then slip into the oven and broil until cheese is golden and bubbly.  Top with torn basil to garnish and serve.


Chop Chop!

Confetti Salad 1

Chop, chop and chop some more for this great salad recipe!

As it gets warmer I always go back to summers in Kansas.  Homemade ice cream, banana salad, banana bread, homemade chicken and noodles, fresh country eggs and cream.  And the best salads.  I love marinated sweet and sour salads that are cut up in small pieces.  They make a sandwich taste so good.  I’m sure I got this from my grandmother.  She had recipes for 3 Bean Salad, Carrot Salad, and Pickled Beets.  She had small dishes of these on the cutting board along with cold sliced ham, pickles and bread and butter for sandwiches for lunch.

I spent 2 weeks each year in Meade, a little Kansas community, with my parents and brother and sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncle, and cousins.  I had a great time every year.  We had the best meals.   Many of those recipes are still some of my favorites.  But the memories that food conjures up are very special to me.  My grandmother had a little fold out of the wall table in her kitchen.  Lots of times the 3 cousins (Pam, Pat and me) got to eat in the kitchen at that little table.  There were more cousins, but we were the oldest and most important.  When I went back for a visit as an adult I was disappointed to find she had removed the table.

Of course, as a kid I never realized or understood how much energy it took to produce all those meals.  I do know how many dishes there were to wash and how hot it was in my grandmother’s kitchen.  Pam, Pat and I did an assembly line to try to get them done faster.  Aunt Betty and momma would pitch in too, and we would step out onto the back porch as we dried a plate just for a cool breath of air.  I believe the stove in her kitchen could have heated the entire house in the winter.  We would never have complained though.  She would have shooed us out of the kitchen and done them all herself (and we would have been in deep trouble with our mothers!)  Today, I would suggest we go out to eat!  But I would love to do it all over again – just one time in that same tiny kitchen with ALL those wonderful people in my life!

I use Con’ Olio olive oil in this recipe.  It is a great olive oil store in Austin.  Here is the link:  http://www.conolios.com/index.htm  They’ll ship!

Confetti Veggie Salad

  • 2 fresh zucchini
  • 3 fresh carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 can corn (drained)
  • 1 can cut green beans
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (I used about a third of a yellow, orange and red pepper)
  • 1 small package frozen baby peas


  • 1/2 cup light olive oil (I used Basil Olive Oil from Con Olio in Austin)
  • 1 cup vinegar (I used my homemade Basil Vinegar)
  • 3-4 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
  • 4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic granules

Cut all the vegetables the size of the corn (or about that small). It took me about an hour to chop everything.  I was in no particular hurry so I’m sure it wouldn’t take a super chef that long.



Combine all dressing ingredients in a  jar.  Shake well until the sugar is dissolved and pour over the vegetables to marinade at least 2-4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container.  Stir occasionally to give all the vegetables a good coating.  If after marinating overnight it appears to be a little dry, I have been known to make another half recipe of the dressing and add that.  Your option.

When I serve this, I transfer the salad to a chilled bowl and don’t serve it with all the dressing.  Again, your option.

Start off with your largest bowl.  I graduated through three before finding one large enough to be able to toss it with the dressing.  My kitchen looked like my grandmother’s by the time I finished chopping and dressing this salad!  Bowls everywhere!

I have taken some liberty with this recipe and adapted it to my taste.  This wasn’t my grandmother’s recipe. Rather a girl at work brought this salad to a pot luck lunch one time.  Denise was very generous and shared this recipe with me.    I sent a bowl of this with my son to an office pot luck and they loved it too.  So I think it might be worth a try.