Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Pesto sauce is a favorite all over the world.  Pesto, as it has become known, is a sauce made from fresh basil, garlic, salt, pepper, pine nuts, Parmigiano cheese and olive oil.  In Genoa, in the Liguria region of Northern Italy, where it is believed pesto sauce was invented, this is the traditional way of making pesto as well, along with the addition of another type of cheese called Fiore Sardo, which is a cheese made with sheep’s milk.  However, the term “pesto” itself, means to pound or crush, which leaves it open to the imagination and interpretation of the person making the sauce, thus allowing for it to be made in many different ways, with a multitude of different ingredients.

I don’t always set out to completely reinvent the wheel, but I do look for alternative ways of making that wheel go round.  If the result is that the wheel has been reinvented, then so be it.  That just makes my day.  As I mentioned above, traditional pesto sauce is a world wide favorite, and it is one of my favorite sauces as well.  But I like to “play with my food” to much to only settle for one type of anything.  I am also very creative and imaginative, and LOVE all kinds of food.  That creative combination and sense of adventure allows me to reinvent new dishes and recipes all the time.  Fortunately, my husband is a pretty adventurous eater as well, which makes cooking all that much more fun.

Costco is my favorite place to shop, and as anyone who has ever shopped there knows, their foods come in LARGE quantities.  The other day, when I purchased a Costco sized bag of walnuts, my husband asked what was I going to do with all those walnuts, especially, since out of all the nuts out there, they are my least favorite type, and I LOVE nuts.  I decided to make a sun-dried tomato pesto using some of those walnuts.  The sauce came out great.  I will be serving it over pasta with green chili sausages tonight (tomorrow’s post).  Any type of pesto sauce is so easy to make, especially if you have a food processor.  Just put all the ingredients together in the food processor, and process until it becomes your desired consistency, and voila!  Presto, Pesto, your sauce is made.

Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce

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I cup sun-dried tomatoes, marinated in olive oil

1 cup fresh basil

1 jalapeno, seeds removed

1/2 cup walnuts or nuts of your choice

1 heaping TBSP garlic

salt & pepper to taste

red pepper flakes to taste

1/3 cup Parmigiano cheese

1 cup olive oil (more or less depending on the consistency you are looking for)

 

Place all the ingredients in the food processor and blend.  Sometimes I like a nice thick pesto and sometimes I like it a little thinner.  To make it a little thinner, just add more olive oil.  It just depends on what I am using it for.  Serve over cooked pasta, vegetables, or meat and Mangia!

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Interview time! Ep 1

I had my first interview as a blogger, from Asham at SASE Girls. I am so honored. Thank you so much for thinking of me.

SASE Girls

Hey, guys welcome back to my blog today we are talking about an interview with Jeanne in the kitchen on the series INTERVIEW TIME!

Jeanne in the kitchen is a swim teacher and a blogger with dogs and a husband! She loves food and can cook up an appetite!

1. What do you like and dislike about blogging?

I guess it is kind of double-edged sword, but I’d have to say all the e-mails.  I am finding it so difficult to keep up, but at the same time, it also means my blog and my fan base is growing.

she is really busy!
2. How much time do you spend on a blog post?

Usually, it takes about 1-1/2 hours per blog post.

wow, this girl is really dedicated!
3. When did you first start blogging?

I have been blogging a little less than a year.  The middle of…

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Walnuts – The Healthiest Food Around?

There are a good number of people who have come to think that walnuts are the healthiest food around, and who knows, they just may be right.  There are so many health benefits associated with eating walnuts as part of your regular diet, yet there are way to many to list; the biggest health benefits from walnuts are that they are good for your heart, they are loaded with minerals and vitamins, they are loaded with antioxidants and help prevent cancer and heart disease, and they are full of Omega-3 fatty acids.  Walnuts are also very rich in phenols, and about 90% of those phenols are found in the skin.  Phenols are found in a wide variety of medicines.  Walnuts are used in many different ways.  Obviously, they are used as food and are used in a multitude of ways in the kitchen.   But they are also used for making medicine, shelter, dyes and lamp oil.

Walnuts are grown all over the world and there are many different varieties.  The biggest walnut producer in the world is China, producing about 360,000 metric tons per year, with California as a distant second, producing about 240,000 metric tons per year.  Most of the walnuts grown in the United States come from either the Central Mississippi Valley and Appalachian areas or the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys of California.  Walnuts have been around for 1000’s of years.  They were introduced to many different European countries by the Ancient Romans in the 4th century.  Though there are many different types of walnuts, there are really only three types that are predominately eaten.  They are the English or Persian, the black and the white varieties.  Each of these have many different varieties and variations within as well.

As much as I love learning about these other uses for walnuts, for now, I really only know how to cook with them.  After all, I know about food and cooking is what I do.  I made a tasty spinach and pear salad with a walnut dressing, using my Organic Walnut Butter from Living Tree Community Foods.  A Delicious Relationship   I served it as a side salad with the rest of our dinner, but if you would like to make it a main meal, you can add the protein of your choice.  Chicken would be a great addition to the salad.

I made two slightly different versions for this salad.  I am not a big cheese eater, so I rarely use a lot of cheese for my meals.  My husband, on the other hand, loves cheese.  So his salad has bleu cheese crumbles and mine does not.  My salad has dried cranberries and his does not.

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Spinach Salad with Pears

 

about 2-2 1/2 cups baby spinach, stems removed

1 pear, sliced thin

1/3 cup green onions, sliced thin

1/2 cup candied walnuts

bleu cheese crumbles

Craisins, or dried cranberries

walnut dressing

 

Toss all the ingredients together, unless making different variations, then leave the bleu cheese crumbles and the dried cranberries out and top the the salads with those individually.

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Candied Walnuts

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1 cup walnuts

1/3 cup Living Tree Community Foods Organic Walnut Butter

2 tsp Sweet and Spicy Rub from Pod & Bean

1-2 TBSP honey

1/3 cup butter

Mix everything together and cook in a hot skillet for about 5-7 minutes, or until most of the butter has been absorbed into the nuts and spices, stirring constantly.

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Once the nuts are ready, cool them on parchment paper.

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Walnut Dressing

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1/3 cup Living Tree Community Foods Organic Walnut Butter

2 TBSP rice vinegar

2 TBSP lime juice

3 TBSP olive oil

2 TBSP soy sauce

2 TBSP honey

2-3 TBSP sugar

1 TBSP garlic

1 TBSP ginger

dash of salt

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

 

Combine all the ingredients together and mix well.  Chill before serving, then right before serving, shake well.

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***You can learn more about Living Tree Community Foods and their products by checking out their website at http://www.livingtreefoods.com and Pod & Bean products by checking out their website at http://www.cocoaexchange.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Delicious Relationship

Recently I was introduced to the wonderful products from Living Tree Community Foods, based out of Berkeley, CA.  I have been very privileged to have been sent so many fantastic and delicious nut butters to sample and to create new recipes with.  More Treats from Living Tree Community Foods and New Products to Sample .  Everything I have tried is absolutely amazing.  All their products are fresh and organic, made mostly from ingredients coming from local California farmers, as well as farmers from Oregon, Texas and Vermont.  I have no shortage of ideas on how to use these wonderful products.  My only problem is that there are way too many recipes to create and not nearly enough time.  Lack of time has always been my nemesis.  So far, I have created a chocolate almond butter tart, using the almond butter and the almond meal Chocolate Almond Butter Tart , cashew cookies Frosted Cashew Butter Cookies and cashew shrimp and vegetables Cashew Shrimp and Vegetables with the cashew butter and today, I will be creating something with the walnut butter that was recently sent to me.  The February edition of the Living Tree Community Foods Newsletter has showcased my recipe for the frosted cashew cookies.   WOW!!!!  Thank you so much.  This is a huge honor for me.  Please check it out.  You can find their newsletter, as well as all their delicious products on their website at http://www.livingtreecommunity.com.   Living Tree Community Foods and I have entered into a very delicious relationship that I hope continues to grow and prosper.  I am so very grateful for this opportunity to work with Living Tree Community Foods.  I hope you are all enjoying these dishes and recipes as much as I am enjoying creating them.   Most of my recipes allow for you to be creative too.  For instance, most, although not all, of my savory dishes can easily be converted to either vegetarian or vegan dishes simply by substituting the meats for vegetarian/vegan friendly proteins, or  by just eliminating the meats entirely and using only vegetables.  I can easily cook and adjust menus to please all palettes.  I just need to know who I am cooking for, and what their dietary requests are, then I will stir my magic wooden spoon and make it happen.

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My most recent package of tasty nut butters came just a few days ago.  I will be busy creating more delicious recipes with these new products as soon as time allows.  Be patient.  Many, many more good things are still yet to come.

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I will be creating something from the walnut butter tonight.  Stay tuned.  You don’t want to miss it.

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Honey Sesame Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

My friends Janet and Bob were very creative with my birthday present this year.  Happy Birthday to Me  Janet put together a “dinner in a bag” package that contained two packages of instant brown rice and quinoa, a bottle of Pod & Bean Honey Sesame Sauce, a tin of Pod & Bean Sweet & Spicy Cocoa Rub, and the recipe.   I added chicken and the vegetables.  Dinner was delicious.  Believe it or not, I actually followed the recipe more or less to a T, (well as best as I could) which is so unheard of for me.  I still did make some minor changes, mainly because I did not have all the ingredients, nor did I have time to go to the store to get them before cooking dinner.  As I have always said, use what you have and don’t worry about the rest.  It will come out just fine, plus it will have a little of your own personality added as well.  Pod & Bean spices, seasonings and dressings all have a little something extra (chocolate) that really bring out and enhance the flavors of your food.  They go with just about everything.  And they follow my philosophy of trying out new ideas, being creative and just having fun in the kitchen.  The cocoa in POD & BEAN™ products is the X-factor ingredient that gives any dish that extra oomph – that added mmmm! Sweet, bitter, nutty, peppery, creamy, crunchy and always tasty, cocoa’s got it all and goes with just about everything. So, play with your food using our Sauces, Seasoning Blends, Mustards, Glazes, and more. We dare you.  – The Cocoa Exchange.  You can learn more about the Pod & Bean products by going to their website http://www.cocoaexchange.com.

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Honey Sesame Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

1-1 1/2 lbs chicken breast

2 TBSP olive oil

1 TBSP Pod & Bean Sweet & Spicy Cocoa Rub

1 cup broccoli florets

1 red bell pepper, medium dice

1 cup snap peas – I did not have snap peas, but I did have frozen peas

1 onion, medium dice

2 carrots, peels and sliced

1 cup Pod & Bean Honey Sesame Sauce

salt & pepper to taste

toasted sesames seeds

green onion, sliced

instant quinoa brown rice mixture

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Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and preheat the oven to 400* F.

Rub the chicken thoroughly with salt, pepper and the Pod & Bean Sweet & Spicy Cocoa Rub on both sides and rub in some olive oil.  Marinate the chicken for at least about 30-60 minutes before cooking.

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Cut all the vegetables and toss them together with salt, pepper and about 1/2 cup of the Pod & Bean Honey Sesame Sauce.  

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Spread the vegetables in a single layer on the same pan as the chicken.  Place the baking sheet in the hot oven for about 10-15 minutes, then stir the vegetables and turn the chicken over to continue cooking, for about another 20 minutes, or until the chicken is done and the vegetables are cooked.

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The chicken and vegetables were all roasted together on the same pan.  Dinner was easy-peasy, delicious and clean-up was a breeze.   The chicken came out so tender and juicy.  I served the chicken atop the quinoa, brown rice and a little extra white rice that I had leftover.  I added more sauce to the chicken, then spooned the vegetables over the chicken as well.  I added a little sliced green onions and some toasted sesame seed on top for garnish, and finished the meal with a glass of rich, buttery chardonnay.  Delicious!

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To Busy Celebrating to Cook

Thank you all for the fabulous birthday wishes.  They made my day.  I had a fantastic birthday.  But I have been to busy celebrating to cook anything.  I promise I will be back in the kitchen again tonight, cooking up something delicious and delectable.  So, once again, I leave you with some fun food quotes and notables from those in the know.  Enjoy!

 

There has always been a food processor in the kitchen.  But once upon a time, she was usually called the missus or Mom.

~Sue Berkman~

 

I used to love the way everyone talked about food as if it were one of the most important things in life.  And, of course, it is.  Without it, we would die.  Each of eats about 1000 meals in a year.  It is my belief that we should try and make as many of these meals as we can truly memorable.

~Robert Carrier~

 

Life is so brief that we should not glance either too far backwards or forwards  … therefore study how to fix our happiness in our glass and in our plate.

~ Grimod de la Reyniere~

 

Cooking is like love.  It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.

~Harriet Van Horn, from Vogue, 10/1956~

 

The people who give you their food give you their heart.

~Cesar Chavez~

 

 

 

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday.  I dare not say how many times I have been around the sun, but let’s just say, it has been quite a few.  So far, this birthday is shaping up very nicely indeed.  Larry and I started celebrating when we took our trip up to the Stanley, where we had some spirited guests wish me a “Happy Birthday” as well. A Spirited Stay at the Stanley

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Last night, he surprised me with totally impromptu tickets to go see Elton John and his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour.  I have seen Sir Elton a few times, and he is always the ultimate entertainer.  Although he has trouble walking around the stage, he can still play the piano like no one else.  Despite the blizzard-like conditions, and the bitter cold, Sir Elton was well worth it.

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In between jobs, I went to visit with my friends Janet and Bob and we celebrated over Janet’s fabulous fruit tart, made with some of the Living Tree Community Almond Butter I gave to her. More Treats from Living Tree Community Foods  I had a delicious goodie bag filed wit all kinds of yummy treats to cook with waiting for me on the table, with a yummy new  recipe included.  They know me oh so well.

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Literally, just as I came home from Janet and Bob’s, there was a flower delivery being dropped off as I drove into my driveway.  The flowers were from my friend and sister Kathy, in California.  Kathy and I have literally known each other our whole entire lives.  We grew up as sisters and have been family since I was 5 and she was 4.  Our birthdays are just 3 days apart too.  As Kathy’s card read, she sent me some flowers “that looked like the California sun”.  That was so thoughtful and sweet and the flowers are absolutely gorgeous.  Happy Birthday to you as well my dear friend.  I love you and miss you lots.

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And I have been feeling a whole lotta love from all my wonderful friends and family all day, receiving a ton of good birthday thoughts and well wishes.  Thank you all.  All of you are what makes life so much fun.  I might have to just keep on having birthdays.

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Many, many thanks to all of you.  I feel very loved and especially blessed to have so many wonderful family and friends in my life.