30 June 2009

Basil Mint Parsley “Pesto” Sauce Recipe

This garden fresh sauce is so light and delicate, unburdened by cheese or nuts. It tastes herbal and green. Like summer.

1 cup washed, loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
1/4 to 1/2 cup good tasting extra virgin olive oil, as needed
Sea salt, to taste

Combine the basil, mint, parsley and garlic in a food processor bowl; pulse and process the mixture until it is chopped very fine. Slowly add extra virgin olive oil in a steady drizzle as you pulse the processor on and off. Process until it becomes a smooth, light paste. Add enough olive oil to keep it moist and spreadable. Season with sea salt, to taste. Cover and store chilled for at least an hour to saturate the flavors. If storing overnight I pour a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil over the top of the pesto to help keep it bright green. Makes roughly a rounded cup.

Spread it around:

· Serve on cooked spaghetti (shown is Tinkyada's gluten-free White Rice Spaghetti), or other pasta shapes.
· Spread on warm Herbed Flatbread or a pizza crust.
· Use in a summer vegetable gratin dish, such as my Pesto Zucchini Tomato Gratin.
· Toss fresh grilled veggies in this sauce.
· Use it instead of butter on fresh corn on the cob.
· Spoon it on cooked wild salmon, chicken breasts or grilled veggie burgers. Use it in quesadillas, burritos, and grilled sandwiches.

Two Potato Salad - with Sweet Potatoes

This isn't my recipe (wish I could take credit) but it is really delicious. If you are interested in glutten, vegan, dairy free recipes that all taste fabulous I recommend a look at:


This is a fun and spunky little potato salad recipe. Pairing tender orange sweet potatoes with sturdy gold potatoes makes this salad not only flavorful but lower in carbs.
Pairing tender orange sweet potatoes with sturdy gold potatoes makes this salad not only flavorful but lower in carbs.
It's blissfully dairy, mayo and egg-free.

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, diced
2-3 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, diced
Sea salt
Cracked pepper, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
Apple cider vinegar, to taste (use a clean, light vinegar- not too strong)
2-3 teaspoons dillSliced or chopped red or purple onion, to taste

Place the cut potatoes into a pot of fresh salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are fork tender- about 20 minutes. Drain well.
Season with sea salt and cracked pepper. Sprinkle with apple cider vinegar. Drizzle with olive oil. Add the dill and onion. Toss gently to combine.
Taste test:
Keep adding vinegar, sea salt and olive oil a sprinkle at a time; and toss; until the salad achieves the flavor you prefer.
Note- I add a lot of vinegar because I love the combination of vinegar, sea salt and potatoes. So I add more than I expect to usually, based on tasting. That's why it's so important to taste test while you're seasoning.
A recipe is only a blueprint. You have to engage your own senses.One flavor tip I've learned from experience- it's better to season assertively when it comes to potato salad- especially if you're going to chill it before serving. Chilling dulls the flavors. You'll often need more than you think.
Serve this two potato salad warm- I love it still warm. Or cover and chill it for serving later. It's also good cold.
Serves 4-5.

25 June 2009

"darn good chocolate cake"

This is from the Cake Doctor cookbook - I made it last year for my friend Jackie, and today for Adam's birthday. Everyone who has had this LOVES it - so moist and rich!

1 box of chocolate fudge cake mix
1 small box (3.9 ounces) of chocolate instant pudding mix
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
semisweet chocolate chips

powdered sugar

Mix all the ingredients except the chocolate chips and powdered sugar. Be careful with your hand mixer because this is REALLY thick. I think I may have started to burn out the motor on my mixer with this.

Fold in the chocolate chips just before you put it in the pan.

The recipe says to make this in a bundt pan - I did it that way with Jackie. Today I made it with 2 8-inch rounds, which also worked fine. It wasn't as pretty as the bundt, because I don't frost it so you could see the split between the layers in the side. But whatever. No one commented on it. I don't know that anyone even noticed, let alone cared. Anyway ...

Grease and flour the pan, bake at 350. If you use a bundt, bake for 45 minutes. The 8-inch rounds took 30 minutes.

Cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then another 20 minutes on a wire rack. Sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar, and eat! It's really great warm!

Greek vinaigrette

#29 - used on the Greek quesadillas, and from Recipezaar.

2 tbl. red wine vinegar
2 tbl. lemon juice
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

Put everything except the olive oil into the blender, and mix it up a little bit.

Take the opening out of the lid of the blender, and while the blender is turned on, pour the oil slowly into the mix. (You'll want to block the opening with your hand, or you'll get splattered.) Keep the blender running until it's completely blended.

Greek quesadillas

Number 28! We had this for dinner with homemade Greek vinaigrette dressing (which is number 29 and will be posted in a sec), and YUM! I'm not a huge fan of cucumbers, and Greek recipes tend to have a lot of cucumber. I'm okay with them if they're chopped small ... but wow, they just fit right in with all of this! The original recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens. I just did a Google search for a Greek dressing, since this called for a store-bought dressing. I didn't think we'd eat enough to justify having a whole bottle of it around.

flour tortillas (or you could use pita bread for this salad mix as well
  • grilled chicken - I did 2 chicken breasts on our little Foreman grill, and then shredded it
  • feta cheese
  • red onion - thin slices
  • cucumber - chopped fairly small
  • tomato - either cherry tomatoes cut in half or small dice of a larger tomato
  • Greek olives - the recipe called for kalamata olives which were pretty expensive at the store, so I just got black Greek olives. I had to pit them, but it was fine.
  • parsley and oregano - I used regular dried stuff, and just sprinkled it on.
  • Greek vinaigrette dressing
Spray one side of a tortilla with cooking spray, and then flip it so it's spray-side down. Put all the ingredients on one half of the tortilla, then fold it over. Cook it in a skillet until it's a little browned and the edges turn crispy. Then cut it into 3 pieces and eat.

Yum yum yum! This is definitely on the repeat list!

beef cabbage hash

This is number 27, which I got off AllRecipes and varied it a bit. It's more of a winter dish than summer, but I needed to use both potatoes and cabbage, and this took care of both.
  • 1 pound hamburger
  • 1 onion, chopped - I used about half an onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • potatoes - chopped into bite sized pieces, and I microwaved them first to soften them.
  • shredded cabbage - the original called for an entire head. I think I used about a third of the head. It does cook down quite a bit, but it was still plenty in the balance of the whole thing.
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 beef bullion cube - or you could use vegetable
  • Worcestershire sauce - to taste
  • salt and pepper
Brown the hamburger with the onion and garlic in a large skillet. Drain any excess grease out of the pan. Add the rest of the ingredients, and keep mixing it around to cook it through. Then eat!

If you don't precook the potatoes to soften them, it will take FOREVER to cook and the cabbage will be completely obliterated. I added the cabbage at handful at a time - there just wasn't room in the skillet for everything all at once, and it did wilt down fairly quickly while waiting for the potatoes to get done. We were surprised at how much we liked it, and the cabbage had a sweet taste to it that we weren't expecting. I'm putting this on file to make again when the weather cools off.

22 June 2009

grilled pork chops and chili slaw

This was recipe #26, and I made it exactly as the webpage said (all the way down to grilling the fresh pineapple slices as well), so I won't retype it all. Here's the link where I got it from Better Homes and Gardens:

grilled pork chops and pineapple with chili slaw

I was surprised at how good it was! I was a bit hesitant to try the slaw since I'm not a huge fan of it normally - it has too much mayo. I thought I'd give this a shot because it had no mayo, but even then, the vinegar smell was a little strong. Once I drained off the extra dressing that had pooled in the bottom of the bowl (after mixing everything up), it wasn't as bad.

Adam and I both definitely preferred to eat the slaw in the same bite with the pork. The slaw was okay by itself, and really good with the pork! I plated it with the pork in the center of the plate and the slaw directly on top of it, and the pineapple on the side.

That was our Father's Day dinner. For breakfast, we had these crepes with strawberries, blueberries, banana slices, and fresh whipped cream. Adam didn't get them in bed, because he was taking care of the whipped cream and doing other things while I was making the crepes. But he did get one of his favorites without having to make it himself!

And now I have to find another recipe to use the rest of the cabbage - I think this is the second time I've bought cabbage ever so I have no idea what to do with it. The other time was cabbage rolls with rice and meat in them, but that was a winter meal. I need something light right now.

15 June 2009

broiled chicken with pesto

#25 of 50 - the halfway point! I got this out of a book called "Quick and Easy" - it was easy, but not very quick. The cooking time took half an hour instead of 15 minutes. Adam really liked it and said it's a repeat, which kind of surprised me. He's usually much more indifferent when he says something is fine.

chicken thighs with bone and skin
olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes, strained (I put it in the pasta strainer and let a bunch of the juice drain off)
green pesto sauce (you can buy this in little jars in the Italian section at the grocery store)
French bread
parmesan cheese
pine nuts or almonds

1. Put the chicken thighs in a dish that can go in the broiler, and brush the skin with a thin layer of olive oil. Cook them for 15-20 minutes, turning over occasionally, until the skin starts to turn golden. Make sure the chicken is cooked all the way, especially around the bone. I had to cook our's for 30 or 40 minutes before the red was all the way out of the meat from the bone.

Note: You could remove the skin from the chicken if you want, but it did keep the whole thing very moist. I cooked it with the skin on the chicken, but we didn't eat it. If you get chicken thighs with no bone, your cooking time will go down, so adjust accordingly.

2. Towards the end of the chicken cooking, heat in a saucepan the strained tomatoes mixed with some of the pesto. Use a balance that you like for that - I didn't measure it.

3. When the chicken is cooked through, remove from the oven and drain the excess fat out of the dish. Then put the tomato/pesto mix over the chicken, and put back in the broiler for a few more minutes until it's all heated through.

4. While the chicken is cooking, cut the French bread into slices, and spread the pesto on the slices. Sprinkle with parm cheese and the pine nuts (we skipped the nuts because we had neither) and toast in the broiler at the same time as the chicken until it's golden and crispy.

5. Serve the chicken and bread with salad greens. Adam made little sandwiches with his bread and chicken, but I ate it with a fork. It was good - I liked the pesto on the bread.

pizza pasta salad

Woo hoo! I did make it to 25 by the end of the week! Halfway there!

Number 23 was the herb penne with chicken and tomatoes posted by April. I used the Italian seasoning mix instead of just basil, and Adam added some chicken broth to the sauce. It turned out fine, and the missionaries liked it (they had dinner with us that night).

24 is from my friend Tiana back in DC - she brought this pasta salad to her son's birthday party last summer, and I liked it a lot. I didn't replicate it quite right because it tasted different ... could have been that I used a different dressing, and whole grain pasta. I'm not really liking whole grain pasta in pasta salads ... Anyway, I call it "pizza pasta salad" because it has pepperoni in it.
  • pasta - I used spiral
  • cubes of motzarella cheese (and/or pepperjack)
  • pepperoni - use the thicker stuff you can cut into cubes, it works better than the thin sliced stuff you put on pizza
  • olives
  • diced tomato or cherry tomatoes
  • green pepper
  • whatever other pizza toppings you like
  • Italian dressing - Tiana used creamy Italian, and I used Tuscan something or other

09 June 2009

Baked Beef Ziti

This is a Weight Watchers recipe (5 points per serving) and a huge favorite at our house. I especially like it because it's very flavorful without being full of bad-for-you ingredients; the spices really shine through! Thought I'd share:
12 oz ziti (although I have used both penne and macaroni; whole-wheat is great in this recipe because it makes it even more filling)
1/2 lean lb ground beef (turkey also works well)
2 Tbps olive oil (I just eyeball it)
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
28 oz. crushed tomatos
1 C shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
1. Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain. While the pasta cooks, preheat oven to 350.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet; when it's hot, add the garlic and cook until savory-smelling.
3. Add the ground beef and cook until done, then add all spices and cook until savory-smelling.
4. Add tomatos and bring to a boil.
5. Spoon just enough of the tomato-and-meat mixture into a 9x13 pan to cover the bottom.
6. Layer 1/2 the macaroni, 1/2 the remaining sauce, and 1/2 the cheese, then repeat.
7. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.

08 June 2009

garden pasta salad

For recipe #21, I made Stewie's peanut butter granola bars - my variation is in the comments on that post. Sadly for Adam, he didn't really like them because he doesn't like baked oatmeal or peanut butter in things. But that's good for me! I liked them and I'll make them again!

For #22, I made this garden pasta salad that I found on AllRecipes. The original recipe gives measurements for everything, which I did not follow. I just chopped up the veggies and threw them in - these are the approximate amounts that I used.
  • 1 box tri-color spiral pasta, cooked like usual
  • baby carrots, julienned
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • half of a cucumber, chopped in cubes (that seemed to be better than slices)
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • a couple of full slices off an onion, chopped small
  • Parmesan cheese
  • motzarella cheese, cubed
  • Italian dressing - I used Kraft Tuscan house Italian dressing. We'd never had it before, and I liked it.
You don't cook the vegetables - just chop them and toss everything together with the cooled pasta. Yum! Especially when it's really hot outside.

I may hit #25 by the end of this week - definitely by the end of next week. Halfway to another 50! Go me!

03 June 2009

Yummy Smoothies

When it's too hot outside to even consider flipping pancakes, I like a cold breakfast. I serve a smoothie with a piece of toast, and you get a nice, balanced meal!

Throw all this into a blender (for 2 servings):
1/2 C yogurt (vanilla or plain for any flavor, or go with peach, strawberry, etc. for specific ones)
2 Tbsp flax seeds
1/2 C ice
1/2 to 1 C fruit -- I like bananas, frozen berries, or pineapple
enough milk or orange juice to make the mixture liquid as you blend it

To make it a bit richer, you can add chocolate syrup...my very favorite is bananas, strawberries, and chocolate sauce!

(I also like to make these as breakfasts on the run...subliminally, it feels like I'm getting a milkshake for breakfast, if I drink it with a straw!)

02 June 2009

seeding tomatoes

Lauren B. asked this question in the comments and I forgot about it until now. Sorry ...

Seeding a tomato is removing all the juice and seeds from the middle of it, so you're left with just the firmer fruit sections. How I do it is cut the tomato into wedges instead of slices. Then I run my thumb along the inside edge of the fruit to loosen the seeds and juice and pour it off. If I need the juice/seeds, I pour it off into the bowl I'm using. If I don't, I just dump it down the sink.

Let me know if that doesn't make sense, and I'll take pictures of it or something.


Random question: I've seen a few recipes with this in it. What is it? What's the nutritional value/benefit? Where do I find it at the store?


01 June 2009

Summer Chicken Salad

I could have sworn I'd already posted this since it's my favorite entree salad EVER, but I guess not. It's perfect for those hot days and tastes even better for leftovers from the fridge the next day.

Summer Chicken Salad

2 cups (or three large breasts if that's easier) cubed cooked chicken (I grill them on an indoor grill and season with seasoning salt)
3 celery ribs, diced
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1 cup raisins
1 cup + 2 T. mayonnaise
1 t. salt
1 T. pepper
1 cup chopped pecans

In a bowl, combine the chicken, celery, grapes, and raisins. Add mayo, salt and pepper; mix well. Stir in pecans. Can serve on lettuce and garnish with tomato slices.

Roast, potatoes, fruit slaw and tuiled cookie napoleons

You can buy all the ingrediants for under $20. Hard to do for such a delicious dinner! Bring on the gread spring ingrediants!

Here is a full and somewhat typical LDS Sunday meal (with a twist)


2 pounds beef rump roast
½ cup garlic Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves fresh garlic – crushed
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar

Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Place in a Ziploc bag and add the roast. Marinate overnight, turning 2-3 times. Remove the roast from the marinade and put on a spit, cooking it at medium heat on the barbeque (325 deg) for approximately 25 minutes per pound. Baste occasionally with the leftover marinade. Let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Prep Time: 10 min
Read in: 24 hours
Serves: 4


2 pounds red potatoes – washed and quartered (or for fun use an apple corer)
3 tablespoons butter
¼ cup Italian parsley – chopped
¼ teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper – to taste

In a large pot, cover the potatoes with water. Add about 1 tablespoon salt and place a lid on the pot. Bring to a boil and remove the lid. Let cook until just for tender, about 40 minutes. Drain and transfer the potatoes to a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss gently until the butter has melted and the potatoes are coated evenly.

Prep Time: 5 min
Ready in: 55 min
Serves: 4


3 cups green cabbage leaves, shredded
2 navel oranges – peeled and sectioned
1 cup cherries – halved and pitted
1 cup seedless grapes – halved
1 Granny Smith apple – cored and diced
½ cup celery – thinly sliced
½ teaspoon celery seed
½ teaspoon poppy seed
¼ cup sunflower seeds
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 pinch freshly ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon blue agave nectar

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients up to the sunflower seeds. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Add the dressing to the fruit and toss to coat thoroughly.

Prep time: 30 min
Ready in: 40 min
Serves: 8


1 ¾ cups sliced almonds
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons orange zest
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
5 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon vanilla


¼ cup whipped cream – sweetened
1 cup fresh berries

For the cookies: preheat the oven to 350 deg. Line a cookie sheet with baking parchment or a silicone-baking mat. Pulse the almonds in a food processor until fine. Stir together the almonds, flour, zest, and salt in a large bowl. Place the sugar, cream, corn syrup, and butter in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Stir into the almond mixture and mix until just combined. Let cool until it is easily handled. Form into 1 teaspoon balls and place 3 inches apart on the cookie sheet. You will only be able to fit 6 on a pan. Bake about 10 minutes until almost completely browned. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes. Remove the cookies to a cooling rack with a thin bladed spatula. To assemble, just put a few dollops of cream on a cook and intersperse with berries.

Prep time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour
Serves: 4

(here is an image for the tuiles for ideas on how to decorate if you've never made them - super easy)

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad (tuscan salad)

1 Head Romaine Hearts
½ Pound Ciliegine Mozzarella
1 Whole English Cucumber
½ Pint Grape Tomatoes – halved
½ Medium Red Onion – julienned
12 ounces croutons (I don’t add these but family loves them)
Balsamic Vinaigrette – light drizzle
Piave Cheese – grated for garnish

1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon dry basil leaves
1 cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
4 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sea salt (I prefer maldon or a French grade)
1 teaspoon ground white pepper

For the vinaigrette combine all ingredients except for oil, salt and pepper. Stir with wire wisk and slowly add olive oil to create an emulsion. Finish with salt and add pepper. For the salad remove outer leaves, stock and leafy greens from top of romaine. Thoroughly rinse leaves and pat dry. Stack 4 to 5 leaves on salad plates. Drain mozzarella balls to remove all brine and arrange on plates. Rinse cucumber and slice in half lengthwise and then cut on a bias and arrange on salad plates. Remove outer skin of red onion and rinse. Split in half and julienne against the grain of the onion and arrange on the salad plates. Soak croutons in vinaigrette for fifteen minutes and arrange on salad plates. Drizzle salads with balsamic vinaigrette. Finish by sprinkling with the grated Piave cheese.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Ready in: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

This is an absolutely fantastic salad. Great for spring and summer. This recipe came from an executive chef friend and has never failed. I hate vinegar, but this is perfect! Make. Eat. Enjoy!

(the picture I have here is not what I made … forgot to take a picture). This salad is really good with cornbread or ciabatta and some people like to make this Tuscan salad with some roasted assorted bell pepper and summer squash

beef stroganoff

Okay, I'm really behind on this, but Abby (the one in the "contributor" sidebar over there) posted these two things on her personal blog about beef stroganoff. You should read them. First, because she's hilarious and a fantastically snarky writer. Second, it's a good recipe for beef stroganoff. Sadly, I was raised on the "fake" beef stroganoff and am not fond of it. (No finger-pointing at my mom, though. With 8 kids, there was never steak in our house. I think the first time I actually ate steak, I was an adult.) I'm delighted to discover the correct way to make beef stroganoff because I had no idea there was another way to do it.

By the way, Abby, thank you for posting this blog in your comments, but at the same time, I'm offended that you didn't think yourself to cross-post those posts here. This is, after all, where we promote good eatin' and eliminating the junk from our kitchens. Including junk recipes, apparently.

the initial rant about fake vs. real beef stroganoff

a second post
about how Abby makes the real beef stroganoff - make sure to read the comments as well.