Archive for the ‘Mmmyum’ Category

Presto Pesto

Ooof… it’s been a while.  Sorry about that.  I got all caught up in this whole moving thing and am just now brushing the cardboard dust off and peering out to say a quick ‘hey’.  There’s been a lot of wonky stuff happening, the universe is hammering some curve balls in my direction.  But it’s all good, I’m ducking some, catching a few others.  Trying to do that whole “go with the flow” thing.  It’s working out okay.

And because I have no energy left for effective segway, I have a story.

This summer we planted a garden at my moms.  It was a sad little garden, but what seemed to fair well were the 25 basil plants we stuck out there.  This past weekend, after a loooooooong drive to the airport, I stopped in on my way home and shopping bag in hand I collected the major ingredient for the pesto I was planning on making.

Half way through my harvesting, I happened upon the most peculiar little spider.  It had a bright yellow triangle shaped shell like abdomen and two big spikes shooting out back two points of the triangle with a couple smaller spikes midway up the abdomen.  I tried like the dickens to get a decent shot of it, but the aside from it being camera shy, my iPhone and my moms camera were not cutting it.  Lesson in bringing my camera everywhere with me… check.

Anyhow, after I showed it to the kids, I continued picking my basil and we went home.  The basil lived in the fridge for a couple days until I got the gumption to make pesto.  It was to be a first time for me, inspired by Bub’s desire to eat whole fresh leaves of basil last time I brought some home from moms.

Wednesday night I pulled the bag out of the fridge and set it on the counter.  I brought the kids up for baths and bedtime activities and when I returned to the kitchen to start the process of washing and preparing the basil, I found this:

Clearly a little spider friend decided to hitch a ride on some basil leaves.  The one I saw in the garden was bigger than this gal.  Oh, she is a gal.  She’s actually an Arrowhead Micrathena and only the chics have those cool spikes.  That’s my kind of spider.

Now, the ex would have run screaming from the house refusing to come back in until it was dead, maybe not ever.  I, on the other hand, thought it was dead and peered at it.  Closely.  I blew on it a little and it moved a tad, so slightly I wasn’t sure it was really movement.  Apparently three days in a fridge makes spiders a bit logey.  Huh.  Long story short, definitely alive, definitely caught it into a jar and covered it with cheesecloth and a rubber band, definitely brought to Bean’s preschool so they could check it out.  The kids both approved and thought it was pretty cool.  I specifically wanted them to see it up close in a low anxiety way to combat some of the ex’s ‘spider freak out paranoia’ that runs rampant over in those parts.  They didn’t even flinch… happy momma.

So last night I made pesto, without  the spiders, and my sister and Bub agreed it was delish.  Bean and Banana… well… they liked their chicken.

This is the recipe I used.  It made 2 cups of vegan pesto (at least I hope it was vegan and there weren’t any more stowaways.  Gulp.)  I like it the way it is, but next time I might try a bit of nutritional yeast for some more cheesiness, or even soaking the cashews so it’s a bit creamier.  I love experimenting.

Vegan (I hope) Pesto

8 cups basil

10 Tbsp olive oil (could have used about 2 more,at least)

6 cloves of garlic

1 cup raw cashews, lightly toasted

salt and pepper to taste

I had to split it into two batches to fit it in the food processor.  I tossed a cup of the finished product with some rice pasta and served with bone in chicken breasts.  When I cook bone in breasts/thighs I generously salt the skins and check for doneness by temperature.  Perfectly juicy every. single. time.

Sorry, no pesto pics, every last bite is gone gone gone.  And it was a bit brown.  I think because it needed more oil.  I look forward to trying again, sans spiders next time.


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I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, but we’re gearing up to move.  I’m trying to keep from bringing more than I absolutely need to into the house so I’ve decided to go on a grocery exile. If you’ve never been on a grocery exile it’s a great way to use up what’s in your pantry and freezer (and save money!).  Basically you only buy the perishable essentials.  Tonight I did the last grocery shopping I hope to do for about 2 weeks. I bought a couple loaves of GF toast, some veggies, some small chickens that were on sale and that’s it.  By the way, the kids don’t know so it would be awesome if we could just keep this between you and me.  Great, thanks.

Not having been prepared today, I spent a few more dollars than I should have at lunch, but it was worth it because I bought myself a little inspiration.  There is a little health food store in the town I now work in and those gals can make some mad soup.  I’m a soup girl, 365, can’t get enough soup even on 90 degree days like today.  I tried one of their new-to-me soups called something like Indian Lentil Stew… yeah, that sounds good.  I knew I had 5 lbs of red lentils in my freezer and well, why not give it a whirl? It came out lovely and, since I had everything I needed right here, basically free. Now I have lunch for the rest of the week.

Indian Lentil Stew

2 large carrots, chopped to your desired choppiness (nice if they’re kinda chunky, 3/8 inch or so)

1/2 cup coarse chopped onion (1 sm or 1/2 medium or 1/4 large onion)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 tsp curry powder

1 medium tomato, chopped (I’d use 2 next time, or maybe 3 Romas)

2 cups of red lentils (you should probably pick them over and rinse them, I kinda forgot)

5 – 6 cups chicken stock (or water, or veggie stock)

1 small bay leaf

1/2 tsp salt (to taste)

coconut oil for sauteing

coconut milk for finishing (optional)

Saute carrots, onions, garlic and ginger in coconut oil for a bit until the onions start to turn clear.  Add the chopped tomato and curry powder.  Stir and cook for a minute or so.  Add lentils, toss to coat with rest of ingredients.

Add 4 or 5 cups of broth, bay leaf and salt (optional).  Bring to a slow boil and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occassionally.   Add more broth as needed and watch for sticking on the bottom.  Keep stirring and checking every 5 minutes to see if the lentils are cooked through.  They will break up quite a bit, unlike french lentils, and you will know they are done when they don’t have the solid looking center anymore.  Remove bay leaf and serve with a drizzle of coconut milk, if desired.

I plan to bring a jar of this to work tomorrow with a jar of coconut milk and play with the ratios.  It’s really yummy without it so either way, mmmm.  Free lunch.

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Eye Candy

My peep Janice just started a blog.  There’s food there.  Yummy food.  I can’t eat a lot of what she makes without some mods, but a girl can appreciate good tasting, good looking food, you know?

Go and see for yourself.  You will want to lick your computer screen.  You have been warned.

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out on the deck at Yosaku

enjoying our favorites

and ending the afternoon with a walk

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A few pictures to go along with my recipe posts.  Seems lots of folks are getting here by searches looking for recipes… vegan mushroom risotto, sun dried tomatoes, ground moose… I figure the least I can do it get of my lazy hiney and give you a visual of what I made.  I wonder, though, when it will stop feeling a little wierd to take pictures of my dinner?  Well, tomorrow night, when I’m not doing all the work at home that I can’t seem to get done at work, I’ll be a-cropping and a-updating those posts.  I know, you can’t wait, I can feel the buzz of anticipation from here.

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This recipe is super fast and super yummy!

Chicken Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil

gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, nut-free

2 large boneless chicken breasts

1 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes (about 20 halves)

1 Tbsp dried basil (or 3 Tbsp of fresh basil, finely chopped)

1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium cloves garlic

4 cups gluten-free pasta (I use Tinkyada spirals)

Olive Oil for sauteing

salt and pepper to taste


Reconstitute your sun-dried tomatoes, if necessary, by placing them in a bowl and pouring very hot water over them.  Let them sit until softened.  Once softened, chop into small pieces. Keep your soak water.

Cook pasta according to directions.

Heat 2 – 3 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over med heat.  Put onion in skillet, crush garlic into skillet and saute for a bit.   Add dried basil, stir well (if fresh, do NOT add now).  Lower heat and cook onion, garlic and basil while you cut up chicken breasts into small pieces.  Put chicken in skillet with onion, garlic, and basil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Increase heat to med, or a couple notches above med.  Cook, stirring frequently.  When chicken is about half-way done, add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the tomato soak water then add tomatoes.  If using fresh basil, add now.  Toss to combine well.  Cover and stir occasionally until chicken is cooked through.

Sometime in this process, your pasta will be done.  Rinse with cold water, return to pot and toss with a drizzle of olive oil.

When chicken is done, toss in a large bowl with the pasta.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Eat, drink, be merry.

Serves 3 – 4 adults.  Prep time: if you can multi-task this seriously only takes about 30 minutes.

Note about picture: I slapped a few blobs of Sunset Acres Goat Cheese (Garlic and Herb) on this but I don’t usually because it makes me break out like mad.  Sometimes I forget and am swayed by the yumminess, but I always pay.

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I feel like I need to disclose that I’m in no way vegan, but my avoidance of dairy leads me to things that are dairy-like but dairy-free and therefore vegan sometimes.  The inspiration from this recipe comes from here.  It’s originally a “raw” recipe, but my choice to use maple syrup makes it un-raw.

Bub declared this the tastiest thing he’d ever eaten and I have to admit, it’s pretty darn good.  It doesn’t taste exactly like pudding, but close enough.  It absolutely has the look and consistency of pudding.  Mmmm. Bub requested it in his lunch tomorrow.  If you made it a bit thicker, it would be awesome as icing.  I’m dreaming about a parfait type thing  by layering cashew cream with this pudding.  So much for living ‘without’.

Vegan Chocolate Pudding

gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, peanut-free

2 small avocados (I used frozen ones that I thawed before using)

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup wet sweetener (maple syrup, agave nectar, honey – you might have to tweak amounts for taste depending on which you use – I used half agave, half maple syrup but next time I’ll use all maple.)

2 tsp vanilla extract (I make my own with Cold River potato vodka and vanilla beans… yum)

1/4 tsp salt

2 Tbsp water (add additional water 1 Tbsp at a time to get right consistency)

I tossed it all in the Magic Bullet I’ve borrowed from my neighbor since my blender died (base cracked when I was putting it back together… serious disappointment… neighbor to the rescue).   Blend and scrape down occassionally (or shake up if you have a magic bullet too).  Done.  Eat.  So easy.  So yummy.

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