Pasta with Pesto – Dinner


The summer season is ending so I wanted to use my remaining fresh basil in my herb garden to make pesto.  My family loves this pasta and I hope you do as well.

Fresh Basil Pesto
3 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup Parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated
In a food processor blend all ingredients together until well combined.  To store, add a little olive oil on top to keep green.

Pasta Dough

3 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
4 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon water
In an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the flour, salt, eggs one at a time and water.  Continue to mix until it forms a ball. Lightly sprinkle some flour on a dry surface and divide the ball into thirds. Let rest for 20 minutes. 

Press the dough into a rectangle and roll it through a pasta machine, 2 or 3 times, at widest setting. Fold in half each time before passing through the machine. Reduce the setting and run the dough through again, 2 or 3 times. Continue until your desired thickness. Continue with the remaining dough then lay the sheets of pasta out to dry for 15-20 minutes.

Run the pasta sheets through the pasta machine using the desired pasta cutter.  Let dry another 10 minutes then cook in salted boiling water until done.

If you don’t have an electric mixer, combine the flour and salt on a flat work surface; shape into a mound and make a well in the center. Lightly beat the eggs and water and add to the center.  Gradually fold in the flour from the wall of the well. Continue to incorporate all the flour until it forms a ball.  Divide the ball into thirds. Let rest for 20 minutes. 

Lightly sprinkle some flour on a dry surface.  Using a rolling pin, roll out the pasta until thin and cut into desired strips.  Let dry another 25 minutes then cook in salted boiling water until done.

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Roasted Tomato Basil Soup – Dinner – Lunch


Roasted Tomato & Basil Soup


This soup pairs perfectly with rustic grilled cheese sandwiches!




3 Lbs ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon kosher salt

1 ½ Teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons blended oil (I use Smart Balance)

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 Large yellow onion, chopped

6 Garlic cloves, finely chopped

¼ Teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

28 Ounces canned plum tomatoes with their juice (Imported Italian brand)

1 1/2 Cups fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 Teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 Quart Homemade Chicken stock (for store bought use reduced sodium)

Parmesan cheese, shaved


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.


Toss together the tomatoes, 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread the tomatoes in one layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.


In a 8-quart stockpot on medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of blended oil and the butter. Add the onions, garlic and pepper flakes and sauté for 10 minutes until the onions start to brown.  Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme and chicken stock.  Add the oven roasted tomatoes, including the liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth or blend in a food processor.  Serve with shaved Parmesan cheese.

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Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches – Desserts


Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches
¾ butter flavored shortening
1 ¼ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Vanilla ice cream
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix first four ingredients with an electric mixer, then add egg and mix.  In a separate bowl stir together the flour, salt and baking powder.  Add the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture mix well then fold in the chocolate chips.
Drop large rounded tablespoonfuls of dough mixture onto baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Let cookies cool then place a scoop of ice cream between 2 cookies and press together.  Freeze until ready to serve.


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Chicken Panang Curry with Rice – Dinner


I LOVE curry dishes… red curry, green curry, yellow curry… all of them!  When we lived in Cary, NC we would dine often at a Thai place and I almost always ordered this dish.  I asked a few questions from the chef and here’s my version – tastes just like theirs!  Enjoy.

Chicken Panang Curry with Rice
Serves 4-6
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, trimmed and sliced into 1-inch strips
1 cup string beans
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
4 ½ tablespoons Panang curry paste
2 cans lite or regular coconut milk, divided (use 1 cup for soaking the chicken)
2-3 teaspoons sugar
Juice form ½ fresh lime
1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
2 cups white or brown rice
In a medium bowl soak the chicken strips in ½ cup of the coconut milk for 1 hour.
Prepare rice according to directions.
Heat a large non-stick sauté pan over medium heat, and add the chicken and cook for 5-7 minutes.  Next add the string beans and red bell pepper and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients.

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Mexican Chicken Salad – Lunch – Salads


Mexican Chicken Salad
Serves 4
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise
3 tablespoons olive oil plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
Mexican spice blend (recipe below)
2 romaine hearts
2 fresh ears of corn, grilled
fresh salsa (recipe below)
fresh quick guacamole (recipe below)
1 lime, quartered for garnish
In a shallow dish place sliced chicken and rub with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, coat with the Mexican spice blend to marinate.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Heat grill.
Brush corn with 1 teaspoon olive oil and cook on grill for 8-10 minutes. Remove and let cool then slice off the kernels, set aside.
Grill marinated chicken breasts until cooked, about 12-15 minutes.  Remove and slice.
On serving plates, divide the lettuce then top with sliced chicken, grilled corn, salsa and guacamole.  Garnish with lime wedges.
Mexican Spice Blend
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon black pepper

Blend ingredients together and store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Quick Guacamole

2 avocados, large diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup red onion, small diced
juice from 1/2 fresh lime
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a food processor add all the ingredients and pulse until combined. 
Hint:  If storing, leave one of the avocado pits in your mixture and place plastic wrap directly on top of mixture to prevent turning brown.

1 large tomato, quartered

1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup yellow onion, small diced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a food processor add all the ingredients and pulse until combined. 

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Mojito – Drinks



2-3 ounces light rum
Juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons sugar
3-4 fresh mint sprigs
Soda water

Slice of lime

Place the mint and sugar in a tall cocktail mixer, add a splash of soda water and lightly mash until the sugar has dissolved. Squeeze the lime juice into the glass, add the rum and shake with ice. Strain over ice in a tall cocktail glass. Top with soda water. Garnish with mint sprigs and a slice of lime.

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Budget Friendly Flower Arrangements – DIY Projects


Budget Friendly Flower Arrangements

I was at my local grocery store this morning and they had beautiful bunches of flowers on sale for only $1.00 each, what a bargain!  Instead of just placing them in vases I decided that I would add some filler accents from plants, herbs and shrubs from my own yard.

Now I have gorgeous flower arrangements that not only look amazing but only cost me $2.00 that will last for up to two weeks (just change the water every third day and they will stay fresh).  If any of the filler accents begin to wilt, just go out to your yard and replace those stems.

I placed this arrangement in the master bathroom and every time I pass by them I can’t believe this arrangement only cost $2.00 and will last for up to two weeks!

I placed this flower arrangement in my kitchen and because it’s in the kitchen I added some fresh rosemary and mint — it smells so fragrant and looks so pretty!  Because this arrangement all came from my existing outdoor herb garden, plants, shrubs and annuals (that I planted five years ago) the cost was zero!

Making budget friendly flower arrangements:





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Tempura Ahi Tuna Sushi w/ Wasabi-Avocado Cream & Pickled Cucumbers – Appetizers


Tempura Ahi Tuna Sushi w/ Wasabi-Avocado Cream & Pickled Cucumbers

I love these!!

Blended oil for deep frying
Fresh ahi tuna, cubed
Prepared sushi rice
Japanese tempura beer batter
Wasabi-avocado cream
Pickled cucumbers
Black sesame seeds, optional
Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons of the prepared sushi rice on a work surface, place 1 cube of ahi tuna in the center then top another 1 tablespoon of rice.  Press into a square or ball.  Dip into Japanese tempura beer batter and fry until lightly golden brown. Drain on a paper towel, cool slightly then slice in half.  Top each half with wasabi-avocado cream
and pickled cucumbers.  Sprinkle with a few black sesame seeds.
Sushi Rice
2 cups sushi rice, rinsed in cold water until clear
2 1/8 cups water
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Put the rice in a large bowl and wash it with cold water. Repeat washing until the water becomes almost clear. Drain the rice in a colander then place in a rice cooker and add water. Let the rice soak in the water 10 minutes then start the rice cooker.  Once rice is cooked, let it steam for 10 minutes.

Prepare sushi vinegar by mixing rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a sauce pan. Put the pan on low heat and heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool the sushi vinegar mixture.

-Or-     You can use store bought prepared sushi vinegar.

Spread the hot steamed rice onto a baking pan to cool.  Once cooled transfer the rice to a bowl and sprinkle (a little at a time) of the vinegar mixture over the rice (you will only need 1 to 2 tablespoons) and fold the rice with a rice spatula, you may not need all of the vinegar just enough to keep sticky. Be careful not to smash the rice.
Japanese Tempura Beer Batter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 egg whites
1 cup Japanese beer
In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients.

Wasabi Avocado Cream

1 tablespoon wasabi powder
1/2 tablespoon cold water
1 avocado, peeled, seed removed and cut in half
1/4 cup heavy Cream
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced Jalapeno pepper  

Pinch of kosher salt
In a small dish, mix together the wasabi powder and cold water to make into a thick paste.  Set aside.
Next, place the prepared avocado and remaining ingredients into a blender or food processor and the wasabi paste and blend until smooth.  Note: add extra wasabi paste or Jalapeno peppers for desired spice.
Pickled Cucumber Relish
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced small
1/8 cup rice vinegar
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Pinch salt
In a small bowl, stir all of the ingredients together.  Let marinate for 5-10 minutes.

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4th of July Watermelon, Basil & Tomato Skewers – Appetizers


 A perfect combination.   I can’t wait to make them for company in a couple of weeks  for the 4th of July.

Watermelon, Basil and Tomato Skewers


¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup sugar
Watermelon, small square chucks
Basil leaves
Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Small wood skewers

In a small sauce pan, make simple syrup with the balsamic and sugar by cooking over medium-low heat stirring  minutes, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

On a small skewer add a chuck of watermelon, a small basil leaf and a tomato slice (face the cut side up) repeat.  You should have 2 of each on the skewer.

Drizzle the finished skewers with the balsamic syrup, olive oil and some salt.

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Cheese & Scallion Quiche – Breakfast


Cheese QuicheCheese & Scallion Quiche
This is not only great for breakfast but also for lunch or dinner served with a fresh garden salad.

1 store bought pie crust OR homemade pie crust
1-1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1-1/2 cups shredded Havarti or Swiss cheese
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 scallions, chopped
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and beat with a wire whisk until smooth and incorporated. Pour into crust.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until quiche is puffed, golden brown, and set.  

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