Tag Archives: sauce

Basil Lime Pesto

I did promise another basil recipe for you today.  And when I make a promise, I most often deliver.  Probably around 88% of the time.

I’m a busy lady.

You guys lucked out this time–mostly ’cause the basil was wilting, limes were dessicating, and the pesto clock was running out of time.  Fritz isn’t a huge garlic fan, so I decided to leave it out and use lime for that special kick.

The limes may or may not have been leftover from some margaritas I made on Tuesday.  Don’t judge me.

Basil Lime Pesto  Printable Recipe Card

  • 2 C tightly packed basil–it looks like a lot when it’s not packed
  • 1/4 C walnuts
  • 1/4 C Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • 1 t salt
  • juice and zest from 2 limes

One of the best things about pesto is how quick it is.  Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.  It’s okay to have some nice basil and walnut flecks in there so it looks pretty, too.

It might taste a little salty (you can start with 1/2 t salt and add more as you like), but don’t forget that a little bit of pesto goes a long way on pasta and other dishes–it won’t taste as salty when you are using it.

Either freeze for long-term storage (I use ice-cube trays for single serving sizes, then transfer to a zip-lock), or keep it in the fridge for a few days (maybe a week with all the lime juice?  I’ll let you know).

The other nice thing besides the ease of making pesto is its versatility–use on sandwiches, with pasta, in a tomato salad, on roasted chickpeas, in soups, with eggs…anything, really.  And the lime is a totally nice change from garlic–brighter.  Summery.  Margarita-y (just kidding!).

I’ll probably freeze half of this recipe (it made about 1 1/2-2 cups) and use the rest over the weekend.  Yum–possibly on top of some grilled veggies?  Part of a steak marinade?  So many ideas!

I received an exciting new box in the mail today containing a new lens that we (okay, I) bought!  I had it out for literally only a few minutes, so I obviously still have a lot to learn on it, but here’s what a few shots look like:

It’s a Sigma f1.4 50mm prime lens–you’ll be seeing a lot more from it later this weekend as I take time to play with it.

The Jensens are coming over for s’mores in a few, so get out there and enjoy the night!

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Rhubarb and Red Wine Compote

The weather lately (really exciting topic, huh?) has been kind of gray, rainy, and chilly, and it’s reminding me very much of why I love fall.  I get to wear sweaters and scarves and not feel weird when I make food that uses copious amounts of cinnamon and ground cloves.  I also get to play melancholy music on my Ipod and think nostalgic thoughts.  Fall–I can’t wait ’till you get here.

But until then, I decided to combine a little summer and autumn together in this rhubarb (which, by the way, I keep accidentally typing as “rhubard”) and red wine compote.  Let the red wine, cinnamon, and cloves remind us of fall, while the ice cream and rhubarb keep us from missing out completely on summer.

And the melancholy music?  Well, that’s up to you.

Rhubarb and Red Wine Compote (original recipe here)

  • 1 lb rhubarb (I used a little over a lb with delightful results)
  • 2 C red wine (our choice: South African pinotage)
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 t honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 t ground cloves

Chop the rhubarb in one-inch pieces, and combine with the other ingredients.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, simmering until it reduces to your desired thickness.  You might want to err on the side of too runny, ’cause it’ll continue to thicken as it cools.

Absolutely serve it over ice cream–I brought it to a girls’ night, and we had it over vanilla bean ice cream and (the popular favorite) coconut almond fudge.  Perfect combination, especially with some fresh sliced strawberries on top.

This brew will make your kitchen (and house) smell like rich red wine and the gorgeous warm spices of fall.  Perfect timing now that our heat wave has abated and it’s actually quite chilly at night.

This compote served a table full of ladies with lots to spare.  Other uses–swirled into some oatmeal (you guys know how I feel about oats by now, right?), in yogurt, on toast…if you can dream it up, you can make it happen.

Tomorrow we get to pick up our next CSA box, and it’s perfect timing, since we have just about managed to finish off the bounty from last week (last recipe should be happening tomorrow morning!).  Have a beautiful night!

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Year of the Vegetable (and Pasta Puttanesca)

I have very exciting news.

News that involves vegetables.  Many vegetables, coming to me once a week in a box from a farm just a little further east on Long Island.  A CSA box.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s a system where the consumer (that’s me) buys directly from a farmer (that’s them).  It’s a bit expensive for our budget, but I talked Fritz into letting us try it this year.  It averages out to about $21 a week (our grocery budget is around $50 a week).

From June 1st ’till the end of November we will be picking up a box of CSA veggies from a drop-off point close by our apartment.  I’m really excited because I can’t wait to have fresh-picked local vegetables at my disposal for 26 weeks.  I’m also looking forward to learning how to use some new vegetables that I’ve never had the opportunity to use–the farm grows over 100 varieties of vegetables, and they promise 6-10 different types of vegetables in each box.  Of course, I am a little nervous about getting stuck with a giant pile of kale every week for 26 weeks–but their list of last year’s boxes has a lot of variety, so I remain hopeful.  I also have wanted to really dive into making us eat a lot more fresh and green vegetables this year, so with this system I’m stuck finding a way to use what I’ve been given (plus I hate wasting food and I love a challenge so…).

The farm we are using is called the Golden Earthworm Organic Farm, and here’s their website if you want to learn more about CSA or their farm: thegoldenearthworm.com

In other exciting vegetable news, our baby tomato plants are growing like wildfire.  On some advice from Mom, I knew I needed to thin them out ASAP since a lot more of them were growing than I anticipated.  I bought some peat pots for $1.50 and got to work.

To prepare the pots, poke a hole in the bottom, fill with potting soil, and drench with water until the pots are saturated.  Transplant the babies, and voila!

Obviously I would rather not be transplanting baby plants when they are this small, but the pots got overcrowded really fast and I didn’t have much of a choice.  Hopefully now with more room these 14 plants will prove their worth (’cause I’m dreaming about fresh salsa and canning tomato sauce already).

I think that Henry also considers himself their watchdog/mother/guardian angel.  He’s constantly watching over them, sniffing them, and not yet eating them.

Not yet.

Lastly, here’s a recipe for a fresh  new pasta sauce I tried for the first time ever tonight: pasta puttanesca.  It’s quick and simple (and I left out the anchovies, so it’s not fishy), and I absolutely loved it.  I normally don’t even like olives, but between the brine and the bright bites of parsley that I harvested from our herb garden (already!? I know!!), it was my favorite pasta sauce ever.

Pasta Puttanesca (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)

  • 1 box whole-wheat angel hair pasta, cooked according to directions
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (I only had dried garlic so I did my best)
  • 1 t red pepper flakes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 C black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 C minced fresh parsley
  • 1 T capers (optional–I didn’t have them)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to directions on box.

Over medium heat, saute the garlic in the olive oil.  Before it starts to brown, add the olives, red pepper flakes, and tomatoes.  Let the sauce simmer until it begins to thicken, then add the parsley.  Flavor with salt and pepper to taste.

Dinner was conceptualized and on the table in less than 20 minutes, including picture time.  Love when that happens.

Light and fresh is really the best way to describe this meal.  Sprinkle some fresh parsley on top for a springtime finish.  We also added a dash of grated parmesan cheese–serious yum.  Fritz did wish that he had some chicken in there.  Sometimes I forget that there are other people in this household who crave meat in their meals–sorry Fritz.  It’s an easy addition for next time, though.

Fritz and I are watching a movie called Creation about Charles Darwin’s life.  I strongly recommend it, even to those of you out there who aren’t giant nerds.  And especially those of you who are (Mom!).

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Thai Coconut-Lime Peanut Sauce

Girls’ night.

What a great invention, right?.

Combine girls’ night with a lot of wine, a strawberry spinach salad, make-your-own Thai food buffet, and strawberry shortcake, and it’s heaven.  I don’t remember the last time I ate (or gossiped) so much.

First course was my friend Brianna’s salad–spinach, sliced strawberries, fresh mozzarella, and candied pecans with a light balsamic vinaigrette.  I didn’t take any pictures, but I did eat two bowls.  I’m not (yet) a huge salad lover, but next time I have to impress someone I know exactly what I’m making.  I would have been okay finishing dinner here.

Instead, the rest of the girls put together the dinner–pad Thai noodles, with cauliflower, bok choy, and shrimp, chicken or steak cooked in coconut milk.  I made two sauces that we tried out and they both went over really well.  If you’ve never had Thai food, I strongly suggest you go out and have some tonight.  My favorite of the two sauces was the coconut-lime peanut sauce.

Thai Coconut-Lime Peanut Sauce (original recipe here)

  • 1/2 C light coconut milk (I actually used pure creamed coconut and dissolved it in 1/2 C warm water)
  • 1/2 C natural peanut butter
  • 1 T Thai red curry paste (mine was hot so I used a little more than half a T)
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 1-2 T fish sauce (you can use soy sauce too)
  • 2 t tahini
  • 1 t honey
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients into a big bowl and stir or whisk until combined.  Soak pad Thai (or other rice noodles) in a bowl of warm water for 30 minutes, then quickly fry for a few minutes until cooked.  The way we served it, we warmed the sauce and spooned it over the cooked noodles once we had picked our toppings, but you could also toss the sauce in with the noodles while you are frying them. 

this is actually a picture of leftovers--bad lighting the first time around!

Peanutty, spicy, and with the mellow flavor of coconut.

Perfection.

And we couldn’t end the meal (though we did have to take a long break) without dessert–which another friend of mine named Brianna made: strawberry shortcake birthday cake.  Filled with a layer of strawberries and topped with fresh whipped cream, it was so good.  Sometimes I forget how good it feels to indulge.

Happy birthday to Lola!

Happy April Fool’s Day (no jokes here, sorry)–new month, new grocery budget.  Hello grocery stores!  I also found out that I am going to be the proud new owner of a hand-me-down ice cream maker from my good friend Jenny’s mom–so many cold and sweet ideas in my near future.

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Roasted Chicken with Mango Chutney

Today was a weird day.  I woke up, admired the sunshine streaming in through the window, went to the kitchen, turned on the tea-pot, started washing dishes, and then fainted.

Whoops.  Turns out I’m a little dehydrated!  Needless to say, it turned into an amazing day when I walked into the bedroom, fainted again, and Fritz leapt into Super-Hubby mode.  He tucked me into bed, turned on the fan (and then the heat blanket…I couldn’t control my body temperature), put No Reservations on his laptop for me, made me banana pancakes, and most importantly gave me about 24,904 gallons of water to drink.

Aside from the fainting part, I could live with that every morning!  I think with the gym and the blood donation yesterday I didn’t realize how little water I had to drink–and you can’t depend on being thirsty to tell you that.  Apparently you only feel thirst when you are already dehydrated.  You learn something new every day, you know.

Needless to say, I had a very relaxing morning–until I started feeling better, and then we did three weeks worth of laundry in two hours.  Impressive, right?

I also took some free time to catch up on some picture editing so that I can blog a few posts during the week without having to spend a ton of time going over the pictures.  On Friday, we had a roasted chicken with mango chutney, and it was drool-worthy.  We ate the chutney the next day with pork chops, and it really elevated the chops from standard dinner fare to gourmet cooking in 30 seconds flat.  Not bad!

For the roasted chicken I used the CIA method that I’ve blogged about before.  As always, I ended up with an incredibly juicy, crispy chicken–made even better than before because of my new roasting pan that we imported from Canada.

Actually, Fritz’s mom gave it to me, and I carried it home as my carry-on after Christmas.  But doesn’t it sound cool to say it was imported?  Either way, it’s the best roasting pan I’ve ever used and it definitely turns out a beautifully cooked chicken every time.  Thanks!  See for yourself:

The chutney itself was fun to make–I got mangos on sale at the store, but they were already ripe and needed to be used quickly.  Fritz loves chutney, but I had only ever had peach, so I thought it’d be nice to try a new fruit.

Mango Chutney (adapted from this recipe)

  • 2 ripe mangos, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced finely
  • 1 T fresh chopped ginger (or grated)
  • sprinkle of red pepper flakes
  • 3 T brown sugar
  • 3 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 C water

Start by heating a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add a dash of canola oil, and cook the onions until softened.  Next, add in the ginger and garlic and continue to cook for a few minutes.  Finally, mix in the mango and the rest of the ingredients and stir.  Cover and cook on low until thickened.  I removed the cover for a few minutes to really thicken it up.

Serve hot over the chicken with a hearty grain–we used brown rice, but it would also be amazing over bulgar wheat.

Isn’t it just gawgeous?

This chutney was a decided success–the chili flakes gave it an unexpected spiciness, and it wasn’t too sweet.  I actually liked it better with the pork than the chicken, but don’t let that dissuade you from trying it with the chicken.  It was still great.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows around here, though.  I’ve had a difficult time getting motivated for school work–I haven’t even bought my books yet. I know Fritz feels the same way, so this week I’ve decided I’m really going to sit down and get some things accomplished.  What do you do when you are having trouble getting your butt in gear?

Henry definitely hasn’t been doing anything productive lately.  Now that the sun is out, he just drifts from sunny spot to sunny spot, following the course of the sun throughout the day, leaving only to eat.  He really can’t wait for spring!

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Chicken a la Nueces de la India

Otherwise known as chicken with a ground cashew sauce.

Yum.

By the way, I’m sorry that I haven’t been as consistent with my blogging lately.  Tomorrow is my last day of vacation (sad), and then I’ll be back to my regular routine again.  However, we spent one of my last nights of freedom doing this:

Oh, I just love my friends.  Eber, Bre, and Zev (henceforth known as Breberz) came to visit!  We met up with Jun Oh and had a lovely night.  Crazy, and lovely.

But back to the chicken.  This is Fritz’s new favorite way to have chicken breasts–and that’s a big statement coming from a man who only makes chicken when he’s home alone.

Chicken a la Nueces de la India (from Padma Lakshmi’s Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet)

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • dusting of flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 C cashews
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 C onion, diced
  • 1 t red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 t dried thyme
  • 2 C chicken stock
  • 3 T honey

Layer the chicken in plastic wrap and pound with a mallet (or in my case, large, heavy spoon) until they are about an inch thick.  Dust both sides with flour, and lay in a glass roasting pan (sprayed with oil) and roast in the oven at 350 degrees until cooked (about 20 minutes).

Meanwhile, make the sauce.

Toast the cashews in the oven (350 for about ten minutes), then grind them in a food processer into powder.

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat until translucent.  Add the pepper and thyme and cook for 2 more minutes, then add the chicken stock.  Pour in the honey and stir until the mixture comes to a gentle boil.  Turn the heat down to medium low and slowly add the cashews (I actually just dumped it all in, which turned out fine!), mixing constantly to avoid lumps.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and allow the sauce to thicken to a gravy-like consistency.

Padma’s book says the chicken can be added to the sauce and served, but I chose to cut each breast in half (they’re huge!), and plate them on top of a mound of cooked bulgur wheat, and pile the sauce on top of the whole thing.

Yum-my!

This was a delicious number, and the sauce tasted very creamy and sweet–perfect over the bulgur wheat.  Definitely try this recipe–I give it five stars for being even better as leftovers.

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