Marinated Heirloom Tomato Soup

1-1/2 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored and quartered (do not peel)
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 teaspoon ground piment d’Espelette or dried Anaheim chili (or ground mild chili pepper)
2 tablespoons best-quality sherry-wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
20 fresh basil leaves

Combine all the ingredients with 1-2/3 cups water in a food processor or a blender and purée to a smooth liquid. Taste for seasoning.

The soup can be served immediately, but the flavors will benefit from ripening for 3 to 24 hours, refrigerated.

At serving time, reblend the soup. Serve in chilled soup bowls.

Cooking with Basil

Cooking with Basil

Black Bean Gazpacho

3 cups chopped, peeled, and seeded tomatoes
1 12-oz. can (1-1/2 cups) hot style vegetable juice cocktail
1 cup cubed fully cooked ham
1 15-oz. can black beans or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped seeded cucumber, yellow summer squash, and/or zucchini
1/2 cup chopped green or yellow sweet pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
2 tablespoons Italian salad dressing
bottled hot pepper sauce (optional)

In a large mixing bowl combine tomatoes, juice, ham, beans, cucumber or squash, chopped pepper, green onion, and dressing.

Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours.

If desired, serve with bottled hot pepper sauce.

Makes 4 main-dish servings.

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Cherry Tomato Salsa

2 pints cherry tomatoes
1 large shallot, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh coriander
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 serrano chiles, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a food processor, coarsely chop the tomatoes, turning the machine on and off. Do not puree.

In a medium bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes and their juices with the shallot, garlic, coriander, vinegar, chiles, lime juice and salt. Stir well.

Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 2 hours to blend the flavors.

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5 Minute Eggnog Pie

2 boxes instant vanilla pudding (small boxes)
1 quart (4 cups) eggnog
2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
8 oz tub Cool Whip, divided
1 deep dish (or 2 regular) graham cracker pie crust

In large mixing bowl, use a whisk to mix eggnog, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla pudding mix. Mix well for 2 minutes, then fold in 4 oz (half tub) of Cool Whip, mix well. Pour into pie shell(s). Put in refrigerator and let set for 2-4 hours.

Serve with remaining Cool Whip

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Rum Balls

2 1/2 cups crushed vanilla wafers
1 cup crushed walnuts
2 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1/4 cup rum
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix all of the above ingredients in a large bowl. Roll the mixture into small balls. Roll the balls in powdered sugar.

Notes You can substitute your favorite spirits for the rum.

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Cannoli Pie

1 1/4 ounces container ricotta cheese
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup chopped maraschino cherries
1/4 cup blanched chopped almonds
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1 9-inch chocolate graham cracker pie crust

In a large bowl, stir ricotta cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth and well combined. Stir in cherries, almonds, and chocolate chips.

Spoon into pie crust, cover, and freeze for at least 3 hours.

Remove pie from freezer and allow to sit for at least 10 to 15 minutes before cutting.

Cover and store any leftovers in the freezer.

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Black Bean and Poblano Dip

2 cups fresh poblano peppers — seeded, deveined and chopped
14 1/2 oz canned black beans — rinsed and drained
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped scallions
1 cup chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender; process to desired consistency.

Serves 12; Yields about 1/4 cup per serving.

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