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favorite things

My friends have started a great tradition of throwing a "Favorite Things" party twice a year. A week before Baby M was born, we gathered at my friends home for the Spring party (they also have a Winter party in early December). Funny enough, I think this may be the only photo of my pregnant belly.

Here's how it works: Each person brings their favorite thing (anything you like.. your favorite lip gloss, favorite kitchen tool, favorite gift wrapping supply, a gift card for your favorite frozen yogurt, etc.). It can't cost more than $6, and each person brings five of the same thing. When you arrive at the party, you write your name on five slips of paper and throw them in a big bowl. The bowl is passed around, and each person takes five names (making sure you don't pick your own.. or two of the same name).

One at a time each person introduces their favorite thing and then reads the five names they picked from the bowl, passing out their gift to those five guests. After everyone at the party has presented their favorite thing, each person should end up with five gifts to take home. It's always interesting to see what people choose, and some guests have started to bring a notepad and pen to jot down what people love (this is how I was introduced to Trader Joe's Sea Salt Chocolate Caramels, which are nearly my undoing each winter).

This year I decided to bring basil plants as my favorite thing. It's always nice to cook with fresh herbs, but I hate buying a little pack at the store, using a few leaves, and then tossing the rest away when they go bad. Basil plants are inexpensive (these were $2.99) and somehow they stay alive for quite a while in my yard, despite my lack of a green thumb. I printed up some of my favorite recipes that use fresh basil and included that, along with a little jar of pre-made pesto (I like Trader Joe's version).

You can download my favorite basil recipes here.. (These are printed four to a page, so you can print them out, and add them to your recipe file.) And if you have a favorite basil recipe you'd like to share, feel free to comment, my basil plant is producing like crazy right now!

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Reader Comments (66)

wonderful idea...i love basil too...esp on pizzas!

just stumbled upon your blog and i have to say i LOVE it. please drop by mine too when you have some time. maybe we can follow each other. =)


07.18.2010 | Unregistered Commenterpersis

What a great tradition! Thank you for sharing the enticing recipes so I can expand my basil repertoire beyond caprese salad.

I love this party idea!

And, I also love that I haven't killed the basil in my garden yet, either.

07.18.2010 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Kinne

What a lovely thing to do! I'm inspired.

07.18.2010 | Unregistered CommenterCat

What a cute idea! Your basil book looks fabulous! Basil is one of my favorite herbs -- I love cooking with it!

07.18.2010 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

Hi! I loved the idea! Kind of a secret santa that can be done all year long :)

I love your blog, I've been reading it for a long time, and it was one of the inspirations to creating my own (I'm on my second post). I would love if you could visit it and maybe tell me what you think of it?

Congratulations on new baby M! You deserve all the happiness in the world :) How's she doing?

Love, Livia

07.18.2010 | Unregistered CommenterLivia

so great! i think i need your cool group of friends...

07.19.2010 | Unregistered Commenterbelinda

Brooke, you're brilliant! Here are my two favorite summertime basil recipes:

BASIL LEMONADE: throw a couple basil leaves in the bottom of a glass, top with a couple spoonfulls of raw sugar, mash it around, add fresh lemon juice, water and ice. Stir. Sip.

BASIL PEACHES: peel and halve a few fresh peaches, place them in a sauce pan and top with some julienned basil leaves and sugar, cook and stir until softened and syrupy. Place peach half in a bowl and top with vanilla bean ice cream and drizzle with the syrup from the pan.

07.19.2010 | Unregistered CommenterSara C

What a fabulously fun idea for a party! I think I just might borrow it! Also, growing herbs is so much fun and they really are the best to cook with. Thank you for sharing these basil recipes. :)

07.19.2010 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Thank you for sharing this fantastic idea!

07.20.2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohanna

that is a lovely idea for a party - and so nice to bring something home-grown.

07.21.2010 | Unregistered Commenterclaire

What a wonderful idea! My favorite thing would be Bonne Bell's Dr. Pepper lip smacker. Tried and true since age 8.

What a cool idea!

07.21.2010 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

what an awesome, fun idea!

07.21.2010 | Unregistered CommenterInha

Brilliant. I really love this idea and the basil plant seems prefect for this season.

A superb idea Brooke. Thanks for sharing!

And good luck with that newborn who decided to show up early! Your baby must've been so excited to join your family. Wow, and one less month to be pregnant! Wahoo! So glad to hear all is well with baby.

07.21.2010 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

This may be the greatest idea ever. I love how creative you are and love the basil+belly shot:)

07.23.2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiss B.

hi - thanks for the great basil recipes.
here is one of mine - passed on to me by my husband's parents - italians with good tastebuds.

Fresh Tomato-Basil Pasta Sauce

great for summer barbeques & potlucks, holds up well, delicious warm or cold, excellent left-overs!

1 large bunch of basil
1 clove garlic (or more - you can cook this to take off the bite or leave raw)
4-6 large ripe tomatoes, 2 lbs or so
½ c extra-virgin olive oil (i use less - never measure)
Salt & pepper
1 c grated parmesan cheese for serving

Strip the basil leaves from the stems and chop them coarsely. Finely chop the garlic.
Coarsely chop the tomatoes without peeling or seeding them. Put the tomatoes, basil, garlic in the bowl and stir in the olive oil in a thin steady stream. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Toss with cooked & drained pasta al dente. Sprinkle with parmesan and enjoy.

Side note: The recipe calls for 1 lb fettuccini; I use rotini or bowties. I also toss in feta cheese. You can add pine nuts, sauteed zucchini, whatever you like to dress it up.



07.23.2010 | Unregistered Commentererin

oh your blog is so beautiful!!! loveliest of thoughts

07.25.2010 | Unregistered Commenterchenoa

great idea!

07.25.2010 | Unregistered Commenterpks

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