Homemade Dark Sweet Cherry & Basil Sorbet

Homemade Dark Sweet Cherry and Basil Sorbet.

What could be more refreshing on a hot August day than deliciously creamy sorbet?!

And who knew how easy it is to make?

No special equipment needed.
Simple ingredients.
Gourmet flavor!

You simply make a simple syrup from water and sugar and blend with fresh fruit (and herbs if you like).

I made mine yesterday with fresh sweet dark cherries and a hint of fresh basil, but imagine all the possibilities!  Cantaloupe, Raspberry, Blackberry, Blueberry, Pear, Watermelon, Honeydew, Pineapple, Kiwi, Mango…….  Maybe a  leaf or two of mint instead of basil.  Maybe a sprig of rosemary.  Maybe no herbs.  A dash of fresh lemon or lime juice would add a lovely kick.

Here is the recipe for this simple, refreshing, indulgence.

Homemade Dark Sweet Cherry and Basil Sorbet


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 fresh basil leaves
  • 4 cups pitted dark sweet cherries


Make simple syrup by boiling water and sugar for 2-3 minutes in small saucepan until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat, and add basil leaves.  Pour syrup into a small glass bowl or measuring cup and refrigerate approximately 1 hour until cooled.  Remove and discard basil leaves.

Place cherries in a blender.  Pour simple syrup over cherries.  Blend on high until cherries are fully blended into syrup and no chunks remain.  Pour into glass 9×13 dish and place in freezer.  After one hour, stir with spoon from outside edges to center and mash together.  Repeat after two hours.

Remove from freezer and place sorbet in blender again.  Blend on high until consistency is creamy.  Pour back into glass dish and place in freezer for another 2 hours or until ready to serve.  Scoop out with ice cream scoop or spoon.


Cheers & Hugs,

New Lighter Chicken Parmesan


Our little garden is just bursting with tomatoes this time of year, and the little cherry tomatoes are so juicy and sweet and delicious and plentiful that I wanted to use them creatively in a recipe instead of the usual simple throwing of them into our dinner salad.

I also have a really healthy crop of fresh basil.


Anyone that’s been around thecreativelifeinbetween.com for more than a minute likely knows I LOVE chicken for dinner and am always looking for new, creative ways to prepare it.

So last night, I decided to try a newer, lightened-up version of the classic chicken parmesan recipe that is typically dipped in milk and egg wash, rolled in bread crumbs and fried in oil before topping it with cheese and baking it.

For this recipe, I marinaded the chicken in buttermilk – a great tip for making baked (or fried) chicken moist and tender – and then simply topped it with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano instead of rolling it in bread crumbs.

I’ve said it before, and many of you know this well, but there really is no substitute for the real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  Powdered cheese in a green plastic container will not do.   Other cheeses called “Parmesan” will not do.  The real deal –  Parmigiano-Reggiano is worth the spend (even if you have to skimp somewhere else – like that Starbucks latte or the pricey bottle of red wine).  Nothing can compare to the sharp, complex, fruity/nutty, strong savory flavor and slightly gritty texture of Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Inferior versions can impart a bitter taste, so if you think you do not like “Parmesan” cheese, because you ate the powdered stuff from the green plastic container as a kid, please give the real “parmesan” a try!  You won’t regret it.


I then roasted it along with lots of sweet, juicy marinated tomatoes with tons of fresh garlic and basil and healthy extra virgin olive oil.


We ate ours over whole grain thin spaghetti and a tossed fresh green salad.  It was divine!

Don’t expect it to taste like the familiar fried version soaked in sauce (which is quite yummy in moderation!), but allow yourself to enjoy the fresh, lighter flavors of this wonderful winner, winner of a chicken dinner!  (You knew I had to say it – right?!)


Here is my recipe, which is adapted from one I found on Epicurious.  Hope you’ll give it a try and let me know how you like it.

New Lighter Chicken Parmesan


  • 3 lbs boneless chicken breasts and thighs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (you can easily make by adding 1 Tbsp vinegar to 1 cup milk)
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup finely minced fresh basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 8 oz. fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced


Wash and prepare chicken.  If chicken breasts are thick, cut them in half horizontally so they will cook faster and more evenly.  Marinade chicken in buttermilk for a minimum of 2 hours or up to overnight in an airtight container or large Ziploc bag.

Whisk together olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano, and salt.  Pour over tomatoes and stir.  Let marinade a couple hours if time allows.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Remove chicken from buttermilk marinade and place on a baking stone or dish with sides that will fit all pieces evenly without overlapping.  Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and pat to press into chicken.  Spoon marinated tomatoes in between chicken pieces pouring remaining oil marinade over top.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes until chicken is cooked, cheese begins to brown, and tomatoes begin to bubble and brown.  Add a slice of Mozzarella cheese on top of each piece of chicken, and return to oven for approximately 5 minutes until the Mozzarella is browned and bubbly.

Serve over whole wheat or regular pasta or by itself with a fresh green salad.


Cheers & Hugs,

Lemon Butter Chicken

Lemon Butter Chicken 2

We found yet another way to make an easy and oh so delicious chicken dinner this past week.  My son, Nick, actually made this from a recipe he found and we adapted slightly.

lemon butter chicken

He’s been practicing cooking more, and is getting really good (at breakfast and chicken at least!).

He will soon be moving out, and I am trying very hard not to be sad.  I am trying to focus on the fact that we have done a great job in raising our boys to be independent, competent men who have found wonderful partners to share their lives with.

Both of my boys know how to cook and are very handy.  They are smart and kind and generous.  (I’m not partial at all – right?!)   They both have found amazing women who are just right for them, and who we love dearly.

I digress….

Back to the point….   Chicken!

Here is another Winner Winner Chicken Dinner we hope you will try.

Lemon Butter Chicken

Ingredients:Lemon Butter Chicken 2

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup Half and Half, Milk, or Cream
  • 1 pt cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt & Lemon Pepper to taste
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • Cooked Rice to serve with it (I love Jasmine)


Season chicken with salt and lemon pepper.  Heat olive oil in large skillet.  Add chicken and sear until golden and cooked through, about 5-7 mins. per side depending on thickness.  Transfer chicken to a plate and make the sauce.

Add butter to pan drippings and let melt.  Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add lemon juice and zest and half and half.  Bring to a simmer.  Add cherry tomatoes and basil.  Simmer until thick, about 5 minutes.  Add chicken back to sauce and coat.   Serve over rice.

I’m sure we will be making this one again.

Cheers & Hugs,

Tomato Bruschetta Chicken

Tomato watercolor 5x7 arches 140lb rough DS Pyrrol Scarlett Hanssa Yello Green Gold Sap Green

Tomato watercolor 5×7 arches 140lb rough DS Pyrrol Scarlett Hanssa Yello Green Gold Sap Green

Oh fresh, sweet, vine-ripened ruby red tomato…
How I love you from my head to-ma-toes!

It is tomato time of year around here, and there is nothing finer than a fresh-picked tomato right from the vine to the dinner table.

For today’s #WorldWatercolorMonth painting, I give you …. the Tomato…. in Daniel Smith Pyrrol Scarlett, Hansa Yellow, Green Gold, and Sap Green.

And to celebrate, here is a recipe for what we had for dinner the other evening – Brushetta Chicken.  A plump grilled chicken breast smothered with fresh mozzarella cheese and topped with sweet, juicy tomatoes, basil, and garlic.

Oh the yumminess!

And even better – oh the easiness!

Hope you’ll give this winner winner chicken dinner a try.  We had it with some brown rice and quinoa and a fresh spinach salad.  How will you serve yours?

Bruschetta Chicken

Bruschetta Chicken

Bruschetta Chicken


  • 4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts seasoned with garlic herb seasoning and salt
  • 1 large ripe red tomato
  • 1 large ripe yellow tomato or 1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 large garlic clove minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 slices fresh mozarella cheese, optional


Prepare Bruschetta by chopping tomatoes and combining with chopped basil, minced garlic, salt, olive oil and vinegar.  Let sit and flavors mingle while you grill chicken breasts.

Top grilled chicken breasts with slices of mozzarella cheese, if desired, for last few minutes on grill and let melt.

To serve, top grilled chicken breast with large spoonful of fresh bruschetta and enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,


Chicken Caprese Pizza

chicken caprese pizza 2

A fun, fresh, delicious way to use a rotisserie chicken is to make it into a pizza!

Chicken Caprese Pizza.

chicken caprese pizza

A tube of Pillsbury Pizza Crust, some red, ripe campari tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, garlic and balsamic vinegar, along with the chicken make an amazing quick and easy weekday or weekend dinner.

chicken caprese pizza 1

Served with a fresh green salad, and you are ready to rock in 30 minutes or less.

We made this last night for dinner and absolutely loved it!

What is your favorite way to use a rotisserie chicken?

Chicken Caprese Pizza

Ingredients:chicken caprese pizza 2

  • 1/2 rotisserie chicken, diced
  • 1 Pillsbury pizza crust or your favorite
  • 1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 3-4 campari tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Spread pizza crust out on baking stone or cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with minced garlic.  Bake for 5 min.

Remove pizza crust from oven and spread chopped rotisserie chicken evenly on top.  Layer sliced campari tomatoes, followed by sliced mozzarella cheese and chopped basil on top.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  Return to oven, and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and beginning to brown and crust is golden brown.

I hope you will enjoy this yummy pizza as much as we did!

Cheers & Hugs,


Chessy Caprese Tarts

caprese tarts 2

In honor of National Cheese Lovers Day today, (you knew that – right?!) I am sharing a yummy new Cheesy Caprese Tart recipe I made this past weekend for the family while we got together to watch football playoff games.

caprese tarts cut

This recipe could also be great for brunch, lunch or even a light dinner.   It would be a well-received snack to take to a Super Bowl Party too, I am certain!

caprese tarts

Does anything beat ooey, gooey, chewy fresh melted mozarella cheese?!  Especially when topped with sweet juicy tomatoes and some lovely fresh basil?!  And everything is yummy when on top of golden, flaky puff pastry – right?

This recipe is really simple, yet it turns out looking so impressive, you are going to be a Cheese Lover’s ROCK STAR when you make this!

Caprese Puff Pastry Tarts

  • Servings: depends on how hungry you are!
  • Print

Ingredients:caprese tarts 2

  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh ripe Campari  (my favorite!) or cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh basil
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper


Roll out the puff pastry sheet and cut into four squares.  Top with sliced fresh mozarella and then sliced tomatoes.  Drizzle with olive oil, then salt and pepper to taste.  Bake in 375 degree F oven for approximately 15 minutes or until puff pastry begins to puff and turn golden brown and cheese is melted and bubbly brown.  Remove from oven and top with freshly chopped basil.  Tastes wonderful hot or cold.

For small bite-sized tarts, you could cut into 16 squares and do same.  You could also do one large “pizza” by not cutting the pastry sheet at all.

ENJOY, and Happy Cheese Lover’s Day!

Cheers & Hugs,



Homemade Basil Pesto

basil 0715

It’s not easy being green….

unless you are yummy homemade basil pesto sauce!

I have an abundance of basil in my garden this year (for once!), and decided to try my hand at homemade pesto.

basil 2 0715

So I picked a bunch – oooooh the glorious smell! There is seriously nothing like (except maybe rosemary!)

pesto marcona almonds and garlic
Then I added some fresh garlic and a handful of Marcona almonds I had (as I didn’t have pine nuts on hand).  These made a great sub!

Marcona almonds are imported from Spain. They are shorter, rounder, softer, and sweeter than the California variety. They are blanched and roasted in olive oil, then sprinkled with sea salt, making for a truly delicious flavor if you have never tried.

parmesan grated for pesto

Olive oil, salt, pepper, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese are the only other things you need to make this amazing fresh sauce that goes great on a caprese sandwich or as a pasta sauce, pizza topping, or chicken marinade around here.


We especially like it on orzo pasta.

Here’s the recipe.  Enjoy!

Homemade Basil Pesto

  • Servings: approximately 1 cup
  • Print


  •  2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)pesto
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup marcona almond or pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste (freshly ground is best)

Combine the basil, garlic, nuts, and olive oil in food processor or blender.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour into a bowl, and gently mix in the parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately over pasta, chicken or fish, on a caprese sandwich, as a pizza topping or use as a marinade.

Cheers and Hugs,


Lemon Basil Shrimp Risotto

lemon basil shrimp risotto 1

When trying to decide what to make with a beautiful bag of shrimp I had, I came across this recipe from one of my kitchenista heroes, Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman.

lemon basil shrimp risotto ingred

Risotto gets a bad rap for being difficult, but it really isn’t, and it doesn’t even take that long.

And oh how the fresh lemon juice and zest in this recipe combined with the fresh basil gives this recipe such a light, Springy, refreshing twist.

lemon basil shrimp risotto

Here is the recipe as I slightly adapted from Ree:

Lemon Basil Shrimp Risotto

Ingredients:lemon basil shrimp risotto
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1-1/2 pound Large Shrimp
1 Onion,  Diced
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
2 cups Arborio Rice
2 cups Dry White Wine
4-5 cups Chicken (or Vegetable) Broth
1 Lemon
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Half & Half Cream
1/2 – 3/4 cup chopped fresh Basil Leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese


Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook for 3-5 minutes until opaque in the middle.

Remove shrimp to a cutting board, chop into bite-sized chunks, and set aside.

Add the onion and garlic to the skillet that still has the butter and olive oil in, and cook for 2 – 3 minutes over medium-high heat or until onion starts to turn translucent.

Add dry Arborio rice to the pan and stir for a couple minutes.

Pour in 1 cup of wine and stir gently, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid. Add second cup of wine and do same.  After the wine is absorbed, begin adding broth 1/2 cup to 1 cup at a time, allowing the rice to cook and absorb the liquid each time. Stir occasionally as you go, and add the salt and pepper during one of the broth additions. After 4 cups of broth have been absorbed, taste the rice. It should have a slight bite, but if it seems undercooked, add additional broth and cook it until it absorbs until the risotto is the perfect doneness.

Zest and juice the lemon and add both the zest and the juice to the risotto toward the end of cooking. Stir in the half and half cream, the chopped basil, and serve immediately with extra lemon zest and Parmesan cheese on top.

This recipe would also taste delicious with chicken breast substituted for the shrimp.  I think it could also be great adapted as a vegetarian dish using your favorite vegetables.  I could imagine it with some broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, or maybe even some yummy roasted butternut squash.

This is a very versatile recipe that could become a staple in your dinner repertoire. Hope you’ll give it a try.

Cheers and Hugs,


The Best Sandwich I Ever Made!

…or maybe I was just really hungry….

… but O. M. G. – I made the BEST tomato sandwich for lunch yesterday!

This was after staring at the overflowing bowl of tomatoes I picked the day before that is sitting on the counter with the abundance that is finally coming out of my tiny, little neglected 😦  garden.

(I AM going to do better next year – –  – she says every year!)

Oh  why do they have to come all at once!?!  Wouldn’t it be nice to have about five or six a week ripen throughout the whole year?  But NOOOOO – – – we get 30 at once for a couple weeks – then NOTHING!

And homegrown ones are so much sweeter than what we can get around here in Western PA the rest of the year at our local grocery stores.

tomato cut

So I plopped a couple slices of honey whole wheat bread in the toaster, smeared some mayo on them, then sliced (now this is a WHOLE new experience for me!!) some


I bought last weekend at Penn Mac in the Strip District.

Oh people – let me tell you….  actually – I can’t describe how YUMMY it is!!!

My favorite before this was smoked gouda, but WOWZERS, did this make for a good tomato sammie!!  (and I’m thinkin’ I must have a thing for smoked cheese…)

smoked buffalo mozarella

On top of the sliced cheese, I layered some fresh basil as if it were lettuce (oh how I love the anisey, licorice-like taste and smell of fresh basil!), then finally the tomatoes, a pinch of salt, and smooshed it down.

tomato sammie whole

And seriously – I’m sorry I did not get a very good photo, but I did not have the patience to check it before diving into it, and then it was too late for any retakes. 😐

tomato sammie

So I hope I described it well enough to get you to try.  A simple, but oh so delish sandwich for a hot summer lunch or dinner or snack!  Heck – – – I’d even eat this for breakfast!


Cheers & Hugs,


BLT with Fresh Basil Mayonnaise – A Simple Sunday Supper


We had such a wonderful weekend – starting with The Best Book Club Ever Friday evening followed by a fun Saturday with family and friends eating, shopping, brewery touring and tasting, and lake cruisin’ at #ConneautLake.

After a busy weekend away, a simple Sunday supper was in order:  Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato (BLT) Sammies with fresh corn on the cob.

basil mayo

The fresh basil mayo is what REALLY puts this sandwich over the top (thanks Joyce for teaching me this yummy twist!).   Simply mix some chopped fresh basil and a sprinkle of sea salt to mayonnaise.  You WILL NOT REGRET it!

Mediterranean Sourdough

I picked up a loaf of Mediterranean Sourdough bread at the local farm market  (#Soergels) where I also got the Yellow Heirloom Tomatoes and Corn on the Cob.

All you need do is:  Toast the bread, then generously spread with some fresh basil mayo.  Top that with lettuce of your choice, fresh sliced tomato and a couple slices of crisp smoky bacon.  Smoosh it together and ENJOY!

blt cut

Add a side of corn on the cob with a sprinkle of Old Bay Seasoning (thanks Rob for this idea, because now I don’t even want or need butter on it!) – and that completes a yummy, but simple Sunday supper.

corn on cob with old bay

I’m just guessing, but I think this dinner would also taste good ANY night of the week :).

Cheers & Hugs,