Tag: basil

Keisha McKinney: Tomato-Basil Jam {Foodie Friday}

Celebrate the Flavors of Arkansas {Tomato Basil Jam}

tomato basil jam medium 500

A couple of summers ago, my Papa fell shelling peas.  I mean, what else are you supposed to do on a summer’s night when you are 90? (Now you know the Energizer Bunny™ is in my genes!) He had already planted a full garden for the summer and it was tomato time.  I remember spending a couple of afternoons during those hot July summer days in his fields and thinking, “I understand now why he gets up so early to do this!”

But that summer was a productive one on the tomato vine.  I learned and relearned a lot of lessons evaluating those plants and the crop they were producing.  Our hearts were full and so was the floor of the carport.  You see my Papa usually overplanted because he knew he was going to spend most of his summer giving those vegetables away.

keisha 500 tomato basil jam

My papa passed away at the end of last summer, and I heard several people say that for the first time in at least 2 decades they would have to actually purchase tomatoes of their own.  I guess it seems fitting that my mom developed this recipe as a way to use up the “ugly” tomatoes in the bunch and give away some gifts in his honor. 

I love this jam on sandwiches or with homemade quesadillas.  And, the Texan in me prefers cilantro instead of the basil variation. But, play with the herbs in your terra cotta pots.  You’re bound to have a favorite too!

As your bounty fills this summer, enjoy this treat, gather folks and your table and take some time to remember what you love about the season!

Keisha McKinney: Tomato-Basil Jam {Foodie Friday}

5 1/2 pints approximately


  • 2 ½ pounds of fully ripe tomatoes (approximately 5 large tomatoes)
  • 6 large fresh basil leaves (or ½ bunch cilantro)

¼ cup lemon juice

  • ¼ cup sugar

  • 1-2 oz. package Sure Jell
2 ¾ cups sugar


  1. Prepare jars, lids and rings for canning.
  2. Bring water in a water bath canner to a low boil. Place jars and rings in canner and leave until ready to fill. Place lids in water that has been heated to boiling, but do not boil the lids.
  3. Wash tomatoes thoroughly. Prepare tomatoes by peeling, removing stem ends, bad spots, cores and seeds.
  4. Place tomatoes in food processor (or you may chop by hand to control size).
  5. Remove stems from basil and add basil leaves to food processor. Pulse 3-5 times until tomatoes are coarsely chopped and basil is mixed throughout tomatoes.
  6. Place tomatoes in a medium stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  7. Stir in lemon juice.
  8. In a separate bowl, combine ¼ cup of sugar with the Sure Jell.
  9. Mix well and pour into tomatoes. Bring back to a boil, stirring constantly.
  10. Stir in remaining 2 1/2 cups sugar.
  11. Keep at a hard boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  12. Set mixture off burner. Remove top foam with a metal spoon and discard.
  13. Ladle hot jam into hot sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids and screw bands.
  14. Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 5 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling). Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks.
  15. Check seals and label.


(from my great grandmother) Mama Jones’ trick for easy peeling tomatoes: Cut an “x” in the bottom of the tomato skin. Place tomatoes in a pan of hot boiling water for 1 minute. Immediately transfer to bowl of cold, icy water. Peeling should easily pull off.


Keisha Pittman: Easy Summer Caprese Salad {Foodie Friday}

Getting to Know Keisha

Easy Summer Caprese Salad with watermark

Surely you are like me and the scent of ingredients from a certain food take you back to the place you first tasted them.  This recipe for me brings back a very special moment.  The tang of the balsamic coupled with the crisp pop of summer tomatoes and mozzarella and the fresh scent of basil remind me of a sacred night where I re-learned the gift of friendship.

My friend Emily and her husband Jon offered to come help me pack up my home before my big move to NWA.  Emily and I have a special friendship (as we say, in spite of ourselves).  She has taught me the meaning of easy talks on the couch late at night, lazy Saturday morning quiet coffee moments and the depth of love created over a homemade meal. 

When your dearest friend is moving away from you, it’s easy to just come over with a box of pizza, an extra sharpie and a fake smile.  You throw a few things in boxes, laugh at the hoarding tendencies we all discover when packing up a home and throw out the dreams and plans of your first visit to their new town.  We definitely covered the hoarding topic when it came to the napkins in my “party closet”, but Emily showed up with way more than a pre-made dinner.  Emily loves best and from the deepest parts of her heart when she makes you a homemade meal and that night, she did not disappoint….a veggie frittata with asparagus and goat cheese and this delightfully refreshing caprese salad. 

Its my go to when I’m missing my sweet friend or wanting to impress my co-workers at the summer salad swap.  With 4 ingredients that you simply stir together, it makes a perfect side dish to grilled burgers, veggie frittatas, and even homemade pizza. 

When I smell basil, tomatoes and balsamic, I will always remember a grande picnic on the living room floor of a farm home that was no longer mine.  But the deep rooted demonstration of true friendship that when we don’t know what to say, we always know how to give!

(and yes, this is my adaptation because Emily always uses the finest ingredients, like European balsamic…I’m the friend that goes for convenience and ease!)



Keisha Pittman 

Twitter – @bigpittstop

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Etsy: K Cutie Designs 



Easy Summer Caprese Salad
Serves 3
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Prep Time
7 min
Prep Time
7 min
  1. 1 package of Cherubs (cherry tomatoes)
  2. 1 package fresh mozzarella pearls
  3. 5 fresh basil leaves
  4. ½ cup light balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
  1. Rinse tomatoes and cut in half crosswise and place in mixing bowl.
  2. Separate mozzarella pearls into individual pieces.
  3. Drop in mixing bowl on top of tomatoes.
  4. Break basil leaves off stems and stack on top of each other.Roll leaves together and cut cross wise into tiny strips (chiffonade).
  5. Sprinkle over cheese and tomatoes.
  6. Pour dressing over first 3 ingredients and stir together.
  7. Chill for 30 minutes. Serve.
  1. Because of fresh herbs, recipe really only keeps for one day.
  2. If ingredients are already chilled when prepping, you can serve immediately.
Arkansas Women Bloggers http://arkansaswomenbloggers.com/


In Between Seasons Basil Cucumber Lemonade

pic1By Jodi Coffee

It’s Fall, y’all! Well, at least that’s what the calendar is telling us. The temperatures here in Southwest Arkansas have yet to fully give way to the cool days of Fall. We have been teased with a few drops into the 50’s and 60’s and then back up again in the high 80’s and low 90’s. It does wonders for one’s sinuses and can make a mama go mad when trying to pack for a weekend with three littles. Packing enough clothes to cover a range of temperatures TIMES THREE has likened our crew to that of the Beverly Hillbilliesand I have an oversized vehicle!

 As I was saying…

 My garden is in an in-between phase as well. My summer veggies are tuckering out and my newly planted cold crops are taking their sweet little time. It’s hard to go from eating from the garden every day to “watching the kettle boil”… a mistake I hope to avoid next season.jodi fall garden

  One reliable source is my herb garden. I LOVE herbs. I love them for many different reasons, but one that tops the list is the fact that they are fairly low maintenance. I keep most of my herbs in pots. It helps to keep them contained (to an extent) and they each hang out in their own space. 

jodi herbs

 In a time when it’s officially one season and feels like another, I tend to stick with food and drink that pair with the temperature. The fashion world doesn’t seem to be this tolerant). I can’t eat chili or drink hot chocolate when it’s 85 degrees out. Just. Not. Right. SO, fortunately, there are ways to eat fresh and roll with Mother Nature.

I am constantly trying to come up with ways to use the fruits of my labor. Literally. As in, the stuff from my garden. During this ‘tween phase, a nice cucumber-basil lemonade is the perfect way to celebrate the phasing out of summer and the welcoming of Fall. It’s simplistic yet divine. It’s refreshing and fabulous all in one. And speaking of ONE, this recipe is for ONE. My kiddos turn their noses up at my herbal concoctions (in actuality they pinch their little nosesthey’re not fond of the smell), SO this is something I enjoy solo. Being SOLO and having the time to sip on some lemonade is a rare occasion. When I am able, I treat this mama right!

I go out and grab a few stems of basil from my herb garden.  I suggest placing them immediately in a mason jar or vase of water as the leaves will brown quickly.  Take one or two lemons (depending on size) and juice the fire out of ‘em. I mean juice the JUICE out of them!  Add your basil and cucumber and get to muddling. 

jodi lemonade collage500

 Since I don’t own a muddler, I used the end of one of my nifty handmade spoons made by my Dad.  This can be rather therapeutic. (Especially if the dogs just tracked in grass on a freshly mopped floorhypothetically speaking and all.)  Add the sweetener (I used Stevia) and water.  Stir and let the flavors hang out for 10-15 minutes.

This may be a good time to go and start some laundry or move the clothes over to the dryer. Or, you could flip through your favorite magazine. But, you may want to save that until you have your drink in hand.  When the time is right, transfer ingredients to a mason jar filled with ice. And YES, I do recommend a mason jar. It makes it that much better.

 Garnish with cucumber slices and basil.  Walk around, enjoy the weather.  Take it poolside.  Oh no! No glass poolside! (Rules are made to be broken, and besides – you’re home alone. The kids will never know.)   Check out the garden. It will help you cope with those oh-so-slow sprouts.

  And there you have it.  Simplicity at it’s best!

lemonade 500

 But, just in case,  here  is the printable recipe just for YOU.

In Between Seasons Basil Cucumber Lemonade
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  1. 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  2. 1/4 cup chopped cucumber
  3. 4-5 fresh basil leaves
  4. 3/4 teaspoon stevia (2 packets) OR 1 1/2 tablespoon extra fine sugar
  5. 3/4 cup cold filtered water
  1. Combine lemon juice, chopped cucumber, and basil leaves in measuring cup
  2. Mix and muddle ingredients for 1-2 minutes
  3. Add stevia OR sugar
  4. Add water
  5. Stir to combine
  6. Let flavors meld for 10-15 minutes
  7. Enjoy!
  1. *Tip: this recipe may be doubled to amount needed if you feel inclined to invite someone to join you.
Arkansas Women Bloggers http://arkansaswomenbloggers.com/

jodi coffee

Jodi Coffee, who blogs at The Coffee House Life, is the mom of three beautiful and energetic little girls that ALWAYS give her something to blog about. She loves to try new things — food, travel and adventure. In her spare timewait a minute. What is that? She enjoys training for triathlons, and has her sights set on an IRONMAN in the near future. She is a backyard farmer, a farmers’ market manager and enjoys helping bring healthy opportunities to her community.



Have You Met Herb? Basil-Infused Lemondade {Foodie Friday}

 By Sarah E. White

There’s really no excuse not to grow herbs. Even if you don’t have a back yard big enough for a garden (or any backyard at all), herbs like basil, rosemary, thyme and mint are easy to grow in pots in a sunny window or on a balcony ledge. The only problem – if you want to think of it like that – with growing herbs is that you tend to get a lot all at once, and it can sometimes be difficult to come up with something to do with them. Take basil, for instance. It’s actually better for the plant if you harvest regularly, and all those leaves can add up quickly. I happen to love pesto (here’s my recipe), but I’d rather do other things with some of the bounty as well. All credit for this idea goes to my husband, who is enamored of the basil gimlets served at Theo’s in Fayetteville. We learned that it’s really easy to make a basil infused simple syrup, and of course you could do this with any other herb you’ve got a lot of that would be tasty in drinks (mint, anyone?).


 Basil Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is a basic recipe of equal parts sugar and water. Start with one cup of each, but if you have a lot of basil or another herb, or are making enough for a party, you can easily double or triple up. Add the water and sugar to a saucepan along with a handful (maybe half a cup if you were the measuring sort) of washed basil leaves. It’s fine if they’re not looking totally pretty. Bring to a slow simmer on medium heat, stirring to melt the sugar. Let it bubble gently for 5 or 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool with the basil inside. Strain and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.syrup-lemon

Uses for Infused Syrups

You can use yours like my husband does, in a basil gimlet (equal parts vodka and syrup, or cut back on the syrup a bit if you don’t like it too sweet, along with a generous application of lime juice), or like I do, in lemonade. You can just add a shot to storebought lemonade if you like, or make your own. Start by squeezing a lemon (or a lime, if you’d rather) into a pint glass, add a quarter cup of syrup and fill the rest of the glass with ice and water. This makes a concoction that’s not too sweet or too sour, so you can add more lemon if you like it tart or syrup if you like it sweet. 


Lemonade for a Crowd

  • Two cups of basil infused syrup
  • One gallon water
  • Two cups of fresh lemon juice

Combine all and serve over ice. Garnish with lemon and basil if you’re feeling fancy



Sarah E. White is a knitter, crafter, mom and writer based in Fayetteville. She writes at Our Daily Craft about crafting with and for kids and creating the life you’ve always wanted, as well as writing the knitting websites for About.com and Craft Gossip. She’s just about finished writing her third book on knitting and getting ready to celebrate her daughter’s fifth birthday.





Debbie Arnold: Feta with Peppered Honey and Toasted Almonds {Foodie Friday}

By Debbie Arnold of Dining With Debbie
One of my favorites for summer dining is a simple cheese and fruit plate, such as this Feta with Peppered Honey and Toasted Almonds served along with locally grown Arkansas peaches.  This plus a fresh-from-the-garden salad (or local farmers’ market) and probably some crunchy bread might easily be a meal at our house.  If needed, a simple protein, perhaps a chicken breast, thrown on the grill could round it out.
The fruit and cheese plate serves two roles: as an appetizer or as a dessert. It’s summer in the south, ya’ll and that means it’s hot!  While most Southern belles “glisten,” I sweat, especially when the oven comes on.  Fortunately, Hubby’s great with the grill and the smoker, and he really doesn’t mind a light meal at all. 

The man has will power.  He does so well with his weight.  I wish that trait passed on to me by osmosis.  Or something that doesn’t involve dieting and exercise (aka work). But he does have a weakness for desserts, nuts and cheeses.

feta with honey 2 Foodie Friday

Ta – dah!  This Feta With Peppered Honey and Toasted Almonds works perfectly to satisfy his cravings (and mine), and it borders on healthy when served alongside fresh, locally grown summer fruits.  I think peaches , such as those we get from our Arkansas Grown friends at Peach Pickin’ Paradise  (Twitter) in Clarksville or Barnhill Orchards in Lonoke, are perfect but you can use whatever fruit you like.  I usually use slivered almonds, but here again,  you can use toasted walnuts or pecans if that’s what you have and what you prefer. I prefer the honey I get from  P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm hives.  If you’re lucky enough to have your own hives, or have a neighbor who does, then definitely use that. 

Don’t limit yourself to feta for this dish either.  Goat cheese or homemade ricotta (check that out next week on Dining With Debbie) work very well.  I like feta because of its sharpness which contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the honey.  And you just won’t believe what the cracked pepper does until you give it a try!  Not a pepper fan?  Leave it off.  There’s nothing hard and fast about the cheese plate — always suit the tastes of yourself and your family.  Be brave.  Experiment.  Some of my best dishes, okay and some of my worst, have been through experimentation.  

feta with honey Foodie Friday

If you have edible flowers available, such as nasturtiums, use those as garnish.  The peppery flavor of the nasturtiums goes quite nicely with this dish.  Or, garnish with basil or mint for a different palate pleaser.

Summer is all about relaxing, and this dish definitely fits that bill.  Take it easy, ya’ll.

What are some of your go-to summer dishes?  I hope you’ll share.


Feta with Peppered Honey and Toasted Almonds
Serves 4
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  1. 8 ounces chunk feta
  2. 1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely cracked black pepper
  3. 1/4+ cup honey
  4. 1/4 + cup toasted slivered almonds
  5. Fruit or crackers
  6. Mint or edible flowers for garnish, optional
  1. Dry feta and place on a serving platter. Chill.
  2. Prepare fruit (slice peaches, etc.)
  3. Stir together cracked pepper and honey.
  4. When ready to serve, pour honey mixture over feta and arrange fruit around the cheese.
  5. Garnish
  6. Serve with crackers, if desired.
Adapted from Gourmet's Casual Entertaining
Adapted from Gourmet's Casual Entertaining
Arkansas Women Bloggers http://arkansaswomenbloggers.com/
Debbie-Arnold-1 Dining With Debbie

 Debbie Arnold serves as a co-administrator for Arkansas Women Bloggers and pontificates and eats at Dining With Debbie.  She and her Hubby split their time between Central and Northwest Arkansas.  She loves to cook, develop recipes and have play dates with her two perfect grands.  Mostly, she has play dates with the Perfect Ones.  If you’re interested in writing for Foodie Friday, she’s the one to contact.