Archive for July, 2009

Pesto With Caption copyIt’s that time of year – basil is in the house. I love basil. It’s the perfect companion herb to hot-weather vegetables such as tomatoes and green beans. Isn’t it funny though, cilantro, a cool-weather herb also pairs well with tomatoes, but the reality is: cilantro and tomatoes are rarely, if ever, in “season” at the same time. Cilantro bolts in the heat of the summer garden (meaning it goes to seed) while tomatoes are prolific in the heat of summer.

I like plain and simple recipes. (See Hummus and Guacamole for example.) Here’s my fool-proof recipe for Basil Pesto. In another time we could say “pesto” and that implied basil. Now we have pesto made out of everything from arugula to sun-dried tomatoes, so for clarity’s sake I say Basil Pesto. If you don’t have a food processor, use a blender or immersion blender. Either works just as well. The trick to maintaining a bright green-color is to #1: add the basil last and #2: store the pesto in the refrigerator with a thin layer of olive oil on top to prevent oxidation, or darkening, of the basil. The pesto can always be thinned by stirring in additional olive oil.

Makes about 2 cups

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup walnuts
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups fresh basil leaves (from about 4 ounces fresh basil)

Place cheese, oil, walnuts, garlic, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Run the processor to form a thick paste, about 30 seconds. With a silicone spatula scrape down the sides of the bowl and run for 15 more seconds. Place the basil in the bowl and process until the basil is finely chopped and well incorporated into the cheese/olive oil paste. Serve immediately or store, refrigerated, in a glass or plastic container with a thin layer of olive oil on top of the pesto.


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2007_0714FarmersMarket0042Monday – Spaghetti and Quick Italian Meat Sauce, Green Peas

Tuesday – Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Rice, Corn, Salad

Wednesday – Cincinnati 5-way Chili (homemade, thank you, thank you very much.)

Thursday – Red Beans and Rice, Green Beans

Friday- Grilled Pizza with homemade crust, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, olives

Saturday – Grilled Chicken Breasts, Pesto, Corn on the cob, Mixed Greens

Sunday – Dinner at a picnic/party.

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Typewriter Eraser1. I celebrated a mid-life birthday last week and just last night managed to finish the remaining piece of Happy-Birthday-To-Me-Ice-Cream Cake with my seven-year-old son. Eating the cake was his idea and I said “Yes”. Funny how this particular seven-year-old always knows the exact location, and quantity, of ice cream, or cake, or ice cream cake, in our house. I had sort of forgotten that 1/8 of the cake remained. He stood on his tippy toes and reached into our garage freezer to pull out the large covered plate with a pretty-good-sized wedge of cake perched on top. We shared the last piece and for that reason I had a birthday gift, one week later, right in my own kitchen, at 10:00 pm. Ice-cream-cake conversation with my youngest son.

2. Cooking dinner in the summer time is more of a challenge for me than any other time of the year. It’s not that I don’t have the food in the house, it’s just, I guess, I’m a bit out of my routine. First, with the sun setting later, 5:00 pm seems like the middle of the day. That’s the time I can be found urging my oldest son to get ready for football practice or warding off requests to go to the pool. (I like the pool, and I like it best in the evening, but not every day). I kick into gear in the kitchen around 6:30 pm and dinner appears by 7:30 or 8:00. That’s OK I guess. I truly believe Mother Nature, and her season of summer, calls me to live a bit differently. Stay up late, get up early. Eat dinner late, eat ice cream cake late. Whatever. Before I know it the routine of school will move us in a different direction.

3. Yesterday my oldest son (before football practice) asked if he could make fresh squeezed lemonade. (I had a bag of lemons on the counter.) “Yes”, I said. While I had him in the kitchen I asked if he would test this recipe for Fresh Blackberry Cake as a sheet cake. “Yes”, he said. Gives me a new idea for a cookbook, Can You Cook Like A 7th Grader. The sheet cake test turned out well, so, if you want to bake this cake as a sheet cake, just put the batter into a prepared (as in greased and floured) 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan and bake for about 40 minutes. Sheet cakes travel well and for a casual snack around the house it beats a bag of store-bought cookies.

4. I’m trying to say “Yes” more, “Yes” to things I’m afraid to do, “Yes” to party invitations, “Yes” to my son wanting to eat ice cream cake at 10:00 pm on a summer night, “Yes” to my other son requesting to make lemonade, “Yes” to my daughter who loves to make Ranch Dip, peel carrots, or mix pitcher of Kool-aide, “Yes” to a few new projects, “Yes” to spending the night in the ER with an elderly relative. “Yes” feels better than “No”.

5. I’ve been working hard on a manuscript for a cookbook. I’ll share details as they unfold. A cookbook?  “YES”.

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(Just in case you’re keeping track I back from a bit of a “blogging vacation”. My sister got married, my elderly relative broke her hip, and I was in re-entry mode from vacation. Thanks for continuing to visit whether I’m here or not. I must admit though it’s more fun when I’m here and trust me  – we ate the week of July 6th, but it wasn’t too exciting. Pizza at the pool, leftovers, stuff like that.)

DSCF8874Monday – Baked Fish, Broccoli, Rice

Tuesday – Black Bean and Rice Soft Tacos, Corn

Wednesday – Grilled Salmon, Mixed Green Salad, Happy Birthday to Me Ice Cream Cake

Thursday – Fresh Squash and Tomato Sauce over Pasta, Fresh Green Beans, Salad

Friday – Grilled Italian Sausage Subs, Green Beans,

Saturday – Dinner on camping trip – Barbecue Pork, Baked Beans, Cantaloupe Balls, Layered Salad, More Happy Birthday to Me Ice Cream Cake

Sunday – Ravioli with Basil and Olive Oil, Fresh Apple, Walnut and Carrot Salad

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DSCF8499Friday – Pulled Pork, Cole Slaw, Green Beans, Cornbread (Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que – Williamsburg, VA)

Saturday – Smoked Pork Shank, “Grits” (or as some say – Polenta), Whole Green Beans (Shields Tavern – Williamsburg, VA)

Sunday – Smoked Beef Brisket, Red Beans and Rice with Chili Vinaigrette, Sliced Bread (Moseley, VA)

Monday – Grilled Chicken Breasts, Roasted Potatoes, Spinach Salad (Moseley, VA)

Tuesday – Edelweiss Restaurant – Weinerschnitzel, Red Cabbage, Spatzle, Green Beans, Bread, Black Forest Cake (Staunton, VA)

Wednesday – Grilled Sausages, Watermelon, Carrots and Cucumbers, Ranch Dip (Springfield, VA)

Thursday – Popeyes Fried Chicken, Red Beans and Rice, Jackson Salad (Springfield, VA)

Friday – Steamed Blue Crabs, Steamed Shrimp, Penne Pasta Salad, National Bohemian Beer (Natty Boh), Buttermilk Chocolate Sheet Cake (Catonsville, MD)

Saturday – Bison Sliders, Baked Beans, Penne Pasta Salad, Mojitos (Catonsville, MD)

Sunday – Pasta with Tomato Basil Sauce, Mixed Green Salad, Green Beans, Strawberries and Vanilla Ice Cream (Catonsville, MD) (note: had Sunday Brunch at Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore. If you’re in Baltimore, go. It was great fun and the food was good too.)


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Favorite Posts

DSCF8450In honor of today I thought I’d link to your favorite posts over the past 8 months. I haven’t had my 1 year anniversary yet, but am proud I’ve passed the average 3 to 6 month life span of a blog. Incidentally, the basil on this pizza is out of our garden. We’ve been harvesting basil for about the past 2 weeks. We planted basil plants in mid-May. The rain and warm days have helped I’m sure as has our coffee-grounds-rich compost. 

 *10 Money-saving Menu Ideas
*Listing of blog recipes
*25 Random Acts of (mostly food) Kindness
*The ever popular Moist Carrot Sheet Cake recipe
*A non-basil pesto made with arugula and last but not least
*10 Ways to Feel Edgy, Irritable, and Just Plain Tired

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