Monthly Archives: August 2011

Bestest pesto pasta

Bestest pesto pasta

About this time every year my garden gets hit by swarms of Japanese beetles.  I guess they love it here in the Ozarks as much as we do!  They are nasty little creatures that gobble up many of my favorite plants during the middle part of the summer.  I refuse to spray harsh chemicals on what will eventually be a part of my body, so every year I lose about 1/3 of my produce to the hungry little buggers.  This year I put my foot down and decided to fight back!  I searched the web and found my weapon of choice–this organic solution (1 1/2 gal warm water, 3 t garlic powder, 2 t cayenne, 1/4 c veg oil, and a couple of squirts of dish soap) for managing their onslaught.  It seems to be working, and so far (knock on wood) my basil has hardly been touched.  My 10 sweet basil and 5 thai basil plants are about knee high now and looking good! Hooray!

I love it when my basil plants get this big and I can safely start lopping off large amounts to make pesto–which is what it takes for really good pesto!  A couple of days ago, in 105 degree heat mind you, I went out to the garden and got busy chopping. I then spent the afternoon, cool in my kitchen with my food processor, listening to some good funk grass music making bestest pesto.

Naturally I had to create something for dinner thick with this awesome green puree!  Again, there was no time (or desire) for a trip to the local grocer, so I used what I had in the pantry (and fridge) and came up with this belly buster of a dish.

A couple of weeks ago, I had my mom pick up a bunch of big jars of sun dried tomatoes at Costco for me (they are good quality and a steal compared to buying them at the grocery store!) so I decided to add a healthy amount to the basil inspired sauce.  Their sharp, tangy flavor and meaty texture was such a great way to balance the heavy garlic and creamy richness of the shrimp and sauce.  We stuffed ourselves silly with this sinfully delicious dish last night!   The cool chardonnay I served with dinner was the perfect accompaniment and put extra big smiles on our faces!  What a great evening spent enjoying the fruits (herbs) of my garden labor!

Bon Appetit!

Bestest pesto pasta

Servings:  4

4 c Angel hair pasta, cooked al dente

1 c bestest pesto

1-2 T oil from the sun dried tomato jar

1/2 c frozen corn

1 # asparagus, cleaned and cut into bite sized pieces

1/2 c (or more) sun dried tomatoes, diced

1 T garlic, minced

2 T heavy cream

1 t sea salt

1 t black pepper

1 t (or more) chipotle pepper flakes

1/4 c dry white wine

1 # shrimp, uncooked, deveined, shell on.  I like my shrimp frozen when I put them in the sauce–it renders more shrimpy juice to the sauce!

In a large sauce pan, heat the sun-dried tomato oil over medium.  Add the garlic, black pepper, and chipotle pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes–until garlic just starts to brown.  Add the sun dried tomatoes, and asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the pesto, white wine, salt, and cream.  Allow the sauce to cook for 1-2 minutes and then add the corn.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes and add the shrimp.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 7-10 minutes (if shrimp is frozen), 4-5 if not frozen.  Uncover, stir, well.  Serve over angel hair pasta.  Garnish is not necessary!

Isn't this a gorgeous sauce??



Mango lime pie

Mango lime pie!

Wow, being stuck in the house because of record breaking outdoor temps STINKS!  I guess I could clean or paint or busy myself with some other domestic activity like reorganizing the closet…NO THANK YOU!  Instead I think I will get my hiney in the kitchen and whip up something new!  What should I make??  Well, my sweet tooth is really kickin right now, so how about a pie??  Oh, a key lime pie sounds so0oo good, but I only have 3 limes in the house…and not key limes!  Problem?  Nah!  I have my usual stash of ripened champagne mangos, so lets see if mango lime pie soothes that aching tooth!

This post is 16 hours and 2 slices of pie later…I can’t seem to keep myself out of that darn pie!  The texture is soft and creamy and the flavor is sweet, yet perfectly tart!  I am thrilled with the result and am looking forward to having another slice after dinner tonight!  In the meantime, you can find me working it off on the elliptical downstairs!

FYI–this pie is even better second day, so make it well ahead of time for the best flavor!

Bon Appetit!

Mango lime pie

Servings:  8

  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 large and juicy limes
  • 2 large mangos or 3 champagne mangos, ripened and cubed
  • 2 14 oz cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 c graham crackers, crushed
  • 4 T butter, melted
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 c sour cream–I used tofutti sour cream
  • zest from 1 lime
  • 2-3 T powdered sugar
  • PAM cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix the crushed graham crackers, butter, and sugar together.  Spray a 9 ” pie pan with PAM.  Using your fingers, pat the cracker mix to line the bottom and half way up the sides of the pan.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until nicely browned.  Remove from oven and cool to room temp.  Lower the oven temp to 325 degrees F.

While the crust is cooking, put the mango cubes in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.  Put the puree in a liquid measuring cup and then squeeze the limes in with the mango puree until you have added enough lime juice to have 1 c of liquid.  Put the fruit puree into a medium bowl, mix in the evaporated milk and eggs.

Once the crust is at room temp, put the fruit puree into the pie shell and bake for 20-25 minutes–until the pie is firm.  Allow the pie to cool.

While the pie is cooling, mix together the lime zest, powdered sugar, and sour cream in a small bowl.  Taste and add more powdered sugar as needed to achieve the sweetness that you desire.  Once the pie has cooled, put a layer of the sour cream mix on top of the pie.  Garnish with a fresh slice of mango and more lime zest.



Tuna artichoke melt

Tuna melt with fruit salad

I went to a diabetes cooking class (don’t worry, I don’t have diabetes) a few weeks ago and this is what we made!  I am not going to lie…I wasn’t thrilled when I got there and discovered that tuna melt was on the menu!  I like tuna just fine, but really??  At a cooking class??

I got over my menu issue pretty darn quickly–just as soon as the instructor distributed the recipe!  I hope this doesn’t freak you out, but this crazy melt tastes a lot like pizza!  The oregano, artichoke, and EVOO really make this sandwich work, and trust me it works GREAT!  This is a bright and healthful sandwich–a flavor explosion– and it couldn’t be easier to make!  This one surprised me, BIG TIME and I know it will pleasantly surprise you too!  In fact, it is way, way, way too hot here in the Ozarks to cook!  So guess what is on the menu tonight here at the casa–yep, tuna melts!   Served with a nice caprese salad, fresh melon and berries, and a glass of chilled white wine and we will have very pretty plates and happy bellies!

Lots of great color, flavor, and good nutrition! I love this dinner!

Tuna artichoke melt

Servings:  2

  • PAM cooking spray
  • 2 whole wheat sandwich thins, split open or two slices of whole grain bread
  • 3/4 c canned artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed.  Diced into bite size pieces
  • 3 medium green onions, diced (1/4 c)
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 t EVOO
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1/8 t black pepper
  • 1/8 t chipotle pepper flakes
  • 1-6 oz can of chunk light tuna (in water), drained and flaked

Combine tuna, EVOO, lemon juice, oregano, pepper, onion, artichoke, and hot pepper in a medium bowl.Coat a skillet with PAM cooking spay and heat to medium.  Toast one side of the bread and flip over.  Place 1/4 of the tuna mix on each piece and top with the provolone.  Cook until the cheese starts to melt and the bread is toasted.  Serve open-faced.


Caprese salad: pineapple tomato, basil, mozzarella, basalmic vinegar, freshly ground pepper.