One Ingredient: Basil

Just like our last dinner, this week we had to include a certain ingredient (basil) in all of our dishes. Mission accomplished. We incorporated one of our favourite herbs in bread, a spread, pesto (duh!) and even a cupcake. That’s right, we had basil in a cupcake. And ya know what? It totally worked! Even my sister liked them and to say she was skeptical about including basil in cupcakes would be an understatement.

It was a really great night. You know those friends you can talk to about absolutely anything? Yeah, those are the people we have in this group. Our dinners aren’t even about the food (as good as it is), they are truly about the people we eat with and how much fun we all have together. Our trips in the car are pretty fun too. Mary and I live really close to each other, so we usually carpool and this week was no different. On our way back from dinner we had a playlist of our 5 current favourite songs on and we were rocking out. I’m talking singing at the top of our lungs and dancing like crazy people. All those people that gave us weird looks as we were driving by were probably jealous they weren’t having as much fun as we were. This song wasn’t on our playlist, but today and probably for the rest of the week I’ll be listening to Taylor Swift’s ’22’. Not because I love the song, but I’ll be turning 23 this week so pretty soon that song won’t apply to me.

Anyway, back to what you really came here to read about. The food this week was delicious. Hope’s basil artichoke spread paired perfectly with Mary’s tomato basil bread, and Taylor’s pesto topped steaks were great (although I wouldn’t recommend using a plastic fork. We didn’t have anything else and Mary’s snapped in half)! And those basil-infused cupcakes? Unless I told you, you wouldn’t even know there was any basil in there.

Here are the recipes we used this week. Hope you enjoy them!

Tomato Basil Bread: 



  • 1 (1/4 oz.) package active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water (110-115°)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 1/2 – 2 3/4 bread flour


  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Stir in basil, Parmesan cheese, tomato paste, sugar, oil, salt, pepper flakes, and 2 cups flour. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a stiff dough.
  2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until dough has doubled, about 1 hour.
  3. Punch dough down; knead for 1 minute. Shape into a round loaf. Place on a greased baking sheet (or pizza stone). Cover and let rise again until doubled, about 1 hour.
  4. With a sharp knife, cut a large “X” in the top of the loaf. Bake at 375° for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet to a wire rack to cool.
Tomato Basil Bread

Tomato Basil Bread


Artichoke-Basil Spread: 


  • 1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts in water, drained and quartered
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. In a food processor, combine everything and pulse until smooth. Refrigerate in airtight container.
Basil Artichoke Spread

Basil Artichoke Spread



  • 3 cups basil leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp. pine nuts
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Combine ingredients in food processor and pulse until desired consistency. After putting pesto in a container, drizzle more olive oil on top.
  2. Pesto is a lovely accompaniment to steaks and lamb burgers and provides a delicious coating to your favorite pasta. (We had ours with steak. It was good).
Pesto (with steak)

Pesto (with steak)


Lemon Blueberry Basil Cupcakes: 



  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup french vanilla yogurt

Blueberry Basil Filling: 

  • 2/3 cup blueberries
  • 2 tbsp. cold water
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 12 basil leaves, finely chopped

Lemon Basil Frosting: 

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 1 1/2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 tbsp. (3-4 leaves) basil, finely chopped

Blueberry Reduction Drizzle: 

  • 2/3 cup blueberries
  • 4 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

Candied Lemon Peel: 

  • Zest of one lemon, removed with a vegetable peeler, then cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine the butter and sugar for the cupcakes and beat until light and fluffy. Add the 2 eggs and combine. Add the lemon zest and juice, stir to combine. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix. Finally, add the yogurt and stir together.
  3. Put the cupcake filling ingredients in a small saucepan on medium-high heat. Stir frequently. When the mixture has darkened in colour, thickened and the blueberries have begun to decompose, remove from the heat. Put in a bowl in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, so it cools and thickens slightly.
  4. Fill cupcake liners 1/4 full with batter. Add a spoonful of filling to each cupcake and top with the remaining cupcake batter. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Combine all of the ingredients for the frosting, slowly adding the powdered sugar and adding the chopped basil last.
  6. To make the blueberry reduction, follow the instructions in step 3.
  7. To make the candied lemon peel, place slices of lemon zest in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Simmer for 7 minutes over a medium heat and drain. Put the lemon peel back in the saucepan and add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar. Return to a simmer and cook over a low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the zest is translucent and the syrup has thickened slightly. Transfer lemon peel to wax paper and set aside.
  8. Once the cupcakes are cool, cover with frosting (you can spread or pipe it) and drizzle over the blueberry reduction. Top each with a blueberry and some slices of candied lemon peel.
Lemon Blueberry Basil Cupcakes

Lemon Blueberry Basil Cupcakes

IMG_5218Happy eating, everyone!


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