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The smell of basil makes me hungry for tomato + mozzarella. With basil of course.

Try this quick & easy lil' recipe for a salad that is a good way to change up your greens grazin' repertoire. I add spinach to give this plate a little bit more substance. Make a chiffonade to make it a little fancy - because you know how much I like my food all fancy-like.

All ingredient amounts are to taste - or whatever makes your plate full of the colors of the Italian flag. Start with a little of everything, and add more if you need to! Use the most fresh ingredients you can find.

You'll need:
Fresh Basil (you can get your own basil plant at your local grocery store)
Fresh Tomatoes (your favorite kind - mix and match is scrumptious!)
Fresh Mozzarella (shreds will not be good with this recipe)
Kosher salt
Fresh-cracked black pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic vinegar
Baby Spinach (optional)

From here it's easy.
1. If you're using spinach, make this the base of your salad. You want to see all the pretty tomatoes, basil & mozz when you're done!
2. Slice up your tomatoes, place over spinach.
3. Strain your mozzarella and scatter all over.
4. Use a pinch of Kosher salt, a few turns of a pepper grinder.
5. To make a chiffonade: stack up the basil leaves, roll 'em really tight and slice into thin strips. (Click either word "chiffonade" to get a better idea.)
6. Fluff up your pretty basil and adorn your nearly-finished caprese!
7. Drizzle EVOO (not too much!) and Balsamic vinegar (careful!)

Ta da! Beautiful. Delicious.
Grab a glass of Pinot Grigio and sit on your patio to enjoy your creation.

P.S. If you must make this in advance for your fab dinner party, don't make the chiffonade until you are ready to serve it!

 
 
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One of my most favorite desserts to make is Berry Trifle. It is always a crowd pleaser! You can find a pretty trifle dish almost anywhere. It's most effective when it's clear glass - so everyone can see the layers. I made this one for Mother's Day!

It's best when you allow the berries to soak overnight in the Orange Liqueur mixture.

You will need:
1 pint each: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries
1/4 c. Orange juice
1/4 c. Orange liqueur, like Patron Citronge
1/4 c. Sugar in-the-raw or granulated sugar
2 loaves pound cake or angel food cake- I used
                                        pre-made strawberry angel food cake
1 package Jell-O Instant Sugar-free vanilla pudding

2 c. cold skim milk
2 c. heavy whipping cream
1/2 c. powdered sugar: more or less to taste
1 tsp vanilla extract
Sweetened cocoa powder for garnish, if desired


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1. Slice strawberries and toss in large bowl. Set aside one for garnish.
2. Rinse blueberries & blackberries, then add to strawberries. Set aside a few of         each for garnish.
3. Add OJ, liqueur and sugar-in-the-raw and gently toss berries to mix. Cover and         refrigerate.
4. Meanwhile, cut off dark outsides of poundcake with a bread knife, then slice into      cubes. Set aside.
5. Prepare pudding according to package.
6. At this point, you can cover everything and assemble the next day, or continue and     put together the trifle!
7. Combine heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until cream         forms stiff peaks. (Use a cold metal bowl to make this process go faster!)
8. Cover bottom of trifle dish with cake cubes. Spoon berries over cubes. Next, add     pudding, then repeat until dish is nearly full.
9. Top with fresh whipped cream. Arrange berries into a pretty design. Sprinkle             sweetened cocoa powder on top.

You've just created a beautiful and easy dessert!