Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pesto Chango

So many of you have asked about my pesto.  Just for background, pesto is the Italian name for herb paste and as we all know, there are a limitless number of herbs so pesto isn't just the basil and oilve oil based paste you are used to seeing.  I actually have a book of really tasty pestos of all kinds in case you have an excess amount of herbs and want to do something with them.  Pestos are easily frozen and thawed for later use and that's exactly what I do with my classic basil pesto.

There's this farm market I go to to get bushels of basil.  It's $20 per bushel to be exact which is a steal since the one oz of basil you get at the grocery store costs at least two dollars and then you say to yourself, "I can just buy this basil plant here for four dollars, maybe I should just do that and grow some more", but that plant never has enough for your recipe, so you end up buying two packs of cut basil and it still doesn't even equal the cup you need.  If any herb companies are out there reading this, you ALWAYS need more basil in recipes than, say, fresh thyme or rosemary.  You can use cups of basil but one tablespoon of rosemary so why are the packages the exact same size? Can those people be more uneducated about the amounts of basil used in recipes? 

Table of Basil

Anyway, so my suggestion to you is to find a farmers market that sells basil by the bushel and turn it into a basil and oilve oil puree to freeze for the whole year so you never have to buy that tiny package again.  This is the recipe

2 cups packed basil
1/2 cup oilve oil.

Put all ingredients in blender and pulse, push down, and blend until it's as puree'd as your blender can do.  Pour into a plastic bag and place in the freezer.  I made around 50 bags of pesto base this year.  I had about 30 last year and I ran out two months before the basil harvest.

IF you want to make the pesto with the cheese and nuts you may add them in when you serve your dish.  I read that you shouldn't really freeze the cheese and nuts for long periods of time so you should add those ingredients in when you're serving the dish.  So to your basil paste you add...

1 garlic clove
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs freshy grated Pecorino Romano (optional)
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
Salt and pepper to taste

Throw everything into the blender once more and blend until creamy.

Tip: If you make your own pesto, make sure you wash the leaves well and let them dry before blending them.  Also make sure you pick the leaves off the thick stems.  The small ones are fine, but large stems don't puree.  If your basil is wilted, just soak the leaves in water and put in the fridge in a closed bag overnight and they will crisp back up.  This works with any herb.

I also have a small glass jar in the fridge filled with my basil paste that I use on sandwiches instead of mayo and mustard.  I throw it in omlets, top sunny side up eggs with it, spoon it on top of soft or hard boiled eggs (delicious!) dip cold veggies in it, throw it on top of home-made pizzas, and put it on grilled cheese sandwiches.  The options are limitless so go find your bushel of basil and make your pesto for the year!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Colored Vegetables are the Best

When we went with our friends up to Lake Chautauqua I spent a significant amount of time in the kitchen preparing delicious meals.  Justin, as usual, hid the camera so we have almost no photos of any of the kids, but I managed to get a few shots of my bowl of tomatoes and wildflowers I picked before he hid it again.

Here are also some shots of my colored beets and carrots to go along with my multi-colored tomatoes.  Nothing excites Henry like pulling carrots and not knowing exactly what color will come up.  You should try it at home:). And yes I know that tomatoes are a fruit...just in case you were wondering:)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Canning Craze

What? No comments on my last post? I know it's only been 24 hours but I hope it at least sparked your interest.  I'm actually in the process of ordering bulk coconut oil for me and a bunch of my friends online.  We'll probably get like 30 gallons.  Anyone want in?

Anyway, I've been busy canning everything from salsa to applesauce to pasta sauce.  I have been lucky to have so many friends come to help me in my efforts.  Not only does it make things fun, but having an extra couple hands when you have two kids running loose all over the house is really nice, especially when some of those hands are from baby hungry teenagers:)  Here's my super darling friend De'Mia.  She's a gourmet chef in the making and we've decided to become You Tube stars by doing our own cooking show.  Stay tuned:)  She helped me make salsa and my dried corn the day she came over.

Here are my two salsa recipes.  I am seriously considering planting some tomatillos next year in my tomato garden because they make such thick salsa, way better than any tomato I've used, even roma.  They are already limey and thick so you don't have to add much to get the flavor or consistency of great salsa.

Roasted Tomato Salsa


    * 12 roma (plum) tomatoes
    * 1 small head garlic, unpeeled and cut in half
    * 1 onion,
    * 1 jalapeno chile pepper
    * 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
    * 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    * 1/4 teaspoon salt
    * 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    * 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

   1. Preheat the broiler.
   2. In a medium baking dish, place roma (plum) tomatoes, garlic (cut side up), onion and jalapeno chile pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.
   3. Checking often, broil 5 to 10 minutes, or until outsides of vegetables are charred.
   4. Remove vegetables from heat. Remove and discard tomato cores, jalapeno stem and garlic skins.
   5. In a food processor, coarsely chop the charred vegetables. Transfer to a medium bowl and mix in cumin, salt, lime juice and cilantro.
You may add as little or as much of each ingredient as you like. I like to add more garlic and more lime juice because I’m just that sort of gal, so add or subtract whatever you like to come up with the best combination.  This is best served warm right out of the blender with chips warmed in the oven. Yum!

 Salsa Verde (Tomatillo)

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 1/2 pounds tomatillos,* husked, rinsed
4 large fresh poblano chiles,* halved lengthwise, cored, seeded
4 unpeeled garlic cloves
2 cups (packed) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro plus additional for garnish
1 cup (packed) chopped green onions

Preheat broiler. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil; brush lightly with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Arrange tomatillos, poblano chiles, cut side down, and garlic cloves on prepared baking sheet. Broil until tomatillos and chiles begin to soften and blacken in several spots, watching closely to prevent burning, about 10 minutes (do not turn). Remove from oven. Let stand until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes.

Transfer tomatillos to processor. Peel garlic and add to processor. Peel charred parts of chiles; coarsely chop chiles. Add generous 1/3 cup chopped chiles to processor (reserve remaining chiles for enchilada filling). Add 2 cups cilantro and 1 cup green onions to processor; using on/off turns, blend until coarse puree forms. Season salsa verde to taste with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The amazing truth about coconut oil -- please read for your future health!

The Coconut Oil Miracle (Previously published as The Healing Miracle of Coconut Oil) The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is to the body as the Book of Mormon is to the soul.  It's so horrible to know that our own government allowed the soybean industry to tell us that coconut oil is bad for your health for financial gain, however it's so great to know that all the horrible effects of the free radicals and harm they have already caused in everyone's body can be reversed and your body can be healed by adding coconut oil and coconut products to your daily routine -- and with no calorie restrictions or limitations! This is a must read.  Everyone needs to be using coconut oil almost exclusively to cook and bake with.  The best part is it's so delicious! Thank you God for creating this wonderful fruit/nut/vegetable miracle!

View all my reviews >>

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Big Corn Harvest

I feel like I have been buying, picking, and processing food for weeks now...because I really have been.  Here are some photos of what I've been up to.  The Big Kahuna was the 70 dozen ears of corn that my friend and I bought for .75 cents per dozen at the Amish Auction.  I don't think you'd find a better deal than that anywhere.  We either sold it or processed it all and now I think we will have corn for the next couple years...for every meal.  One recipe I used was an old pioneer recipe for drying creamed corn so it doesn't have to be canned or frozen.  I think it turned out way better than the blanched and frozen kind, but took a lot longer to process, as everything did back then.

Dried Creamed Corn

Put 16 cups of corn and milk from the cobs(you scrape the cobs after you cut the kernals off to get the milk) into a large saucepan with a half cup of cream,  6 Tbs of sugar and 4 Tbs of salt.  cook on high, sturing constantly for 20 minutes.  Pour mixture onto cookie sheets one layer thick and put into oven and slowly bake to dry.  I increased the heat to dry it faster and mine got roasted a little bit, which I think will taste fabulous when served.  After it's looking really dried, transfer the corn to paper lunch sacks and let hang in the driest room in the house until the corn shakes freely in the bag.  Pour into glass jars and keep tightly closed.  Serve by heating corn up with some milk on the stove.  I am going to make a corn soup or chowder with it.