Avocado Pesto: A Chicklets in the Kitchen Post

Avocado Pesto

I was scrolling through the channels the other day and landed on Food Network’s Trisha Yearwood’s show, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen. She had a vegetarian guest on and they were making Avocado Pesto Toast (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/trisha-yearwood/avocado-pesto-toast). I didn’t copy the recipe down and I didn’t go back to look it up when I made this for dinner but my recipe and hers is pretty close.  Next time I’ll remember the lemon. That would be even better.

Why avocado pesto? Some people, my daughter included, find a full basil pesto too much. Basil is a powerful flavor and it can be overwhelming. Cutting down on the basil with avocado (or Swiss Chard, Spinach, Arugula, Asparagus, or some other green) is a really good alternative. The avocado lends the sauce a smooth, rich mouth feel and is good for you too!

The best thing is that this is a no cook sauce and serves 2 – 4.

the ingredients

Hardware

Blender

Serving Bowl

Pot for Spaghetti

 

Ingredients

2 oz package of pine nuts

1 package fresh basil (about 1/2 cup) stems removed

1 cup shredded parmesan

1 4oz package avocado (guacamole that is just avocado) (or 1 whole fresh avocado)

1 Tblsp minced garlic

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Lemon juice (2 Tblsp Optional)

In a large pot, cook 12oz spaghetti according to package directions.

It’s All in the Blender

While the water comes to a boil and you cook the spaghetti, add the pine nuts, cheese, garlic, basil and guacamole to the blender.

Add the oil and pulse to puree.

Blend until smooth drizzling in the olive oil. Add the lemon juice if you so desire. If it’s too thick, add up to 1/2 cup of water. Adding more oil can make the pesto too greasy and the avocado is already pretty fat.

It’s smooth and creamy!

(Note: I probably should have spun the dry pine nuts a few times to break them up first, then added the basil, then the rest but, it all worked out in the end.)

Time to Mix it Up!

Drain the cooked pasta, put in serving bowl, add the pesto and toss to coat.

Enjoy.

My hubby loved the meal. He didn’t find the basil overpowering and the avocado gave the meal a nice rich feel.

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Do you have a favorite pesto supper? Please tell us about it in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Mysteries, and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

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Chicklets in the Kitchen Post: Swiss Chard and Basil Pesto

Swiss Chard, Basil, Pesto

Swiss Chard and Basil Pesto

Last month I talked about all of the fantastic fresh vegetables you can get at the Farmer’s Market. That’s still the case in July but also in July your home gardens should be producing like crazy. That’s when you want some recipes to use all of that wonderful fresh, organic bounty.

Pesto is just such a recipe. Traditional pesto calls for all basil as the green along with pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan cheese. I have found, however, that all that basil can be a little overpowering. So, the best way to tone it down is to mix it with another green. You can use spinach, arugula, beet greens, anything you have on hand. The best thing about a pesto spaghetti dinner is that it’s nearly no cook. The pesto is a raw sauce, just add hot pasta and you have a lovely meal.

In this case I had an abundance of parsley and just enough basil and chives in my garden, all I had to do was buy some Swiss Chard at the Farmer’s Market to make a delicious meal. I know, I did a Swiss Chard recipe last month. But it’s so good and if you have it growing in your garden, you want to use it, right? So, here’s how you do it.

Pasta, Primavera, Ingredients

Pasta Primavera Ingredients

Ingredients

1/2 pound of Swiss Chard, chopped, leaves and stems

1 small bunch basil,

1 handful chives

1 Cup parsley, picked from stem

1 4oz pkg pine nuts (or walnuts if you prefer)

Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes to taste

1 1/2 lb Gluten Free Pasta

1/2 Cup olive oil

Heat the water for the pasta while you’re chopping the vegetables.

Gluten Free, Pasta

Gluten Free Pasta

Drop the pasta in the boiling water and follow the package directions for al dente pasta. NOTE: I used this Hodge’s pasta because I really wanted an angel hair type pasta. I was disappointed to see that once I started mixing it into the pesto, the strands broke down into 1/2 – 1/4 inch bits. Not spaghetti at all. It tasted fine, just wasn’t spaghetti. Use your favorite pasta.

Bring a small skillet to medium high heat.

Toasting, Pine Nuts

Toasting Pine Nuts

Drop in the pine nuts to toast. DO NOT walk away. As soon as you can smell the nuts, it’s too late. Watch that pan, toss around to brown evenly. As soon as they brown, take them off the heat to cool.

Swiss Chard, Chopped

Swiss Chard, Chopped

Trim the stem ends of the Swiss Chard and chop. Strip the basil from the stems, same with the parsley. Have the chives on hand, ready to go into the food processor.

Grated, Parmesan, Cheese, Connie Cockrell

Grated Parmesan Cheese by Connie Cockrell

Using a grating blade in your food processor, grate the parmesan cheese. I just grated a whole brick of it. You won’t need all of it but it’ll be ready for your next pasta meal.

Pine Nuts, Food Processor, Connie Cockrell

Pine Nuts in Food Processor by Connie Cockrell

In the food processor, change out the grating blade for the regular blade. Add the pine nuts and whirl until nearly pasty.

Process, Swiss Chard, Connie Cockrell

Process Swiss Chard by Connie Cockrell

Add the Swiss Chard a batch at a time. Process until reduced then add more.

Add, Basil, Chives, Connie Cockrell

Add Basil and Chives by Connie Cockrell

Add the parsley and process.

Scrape down, bowl, food processor, Connie Cockrell

Scrape down the bowl of the food processor by Connie Cockrell

Scrape down the sides a little to get the nuts to mix with the greens.

Add the basil and chives. Whirl some more, drizzling in 1/2 of the olive oil to loosen the sauce.

Add, Parmesan Cheese, Red Pepper Flakes, Connie Cockrell

Add Parmesan Cheese and Red Pepper Flakes by Connie Cockrell

Add the cheese and the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Process again adding more olive oil to loosen.

Finished Swiss Chard and Basil Pesto

Finished Swiss Chard and Basil Pesto

Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and do a quick rinse. In a large bowl, drop the pesto onto the spaghetti and toss. Add some of the pasta water, it just helps loosen the sauce. Stir to combine. Top with more basil and some grated Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Please tell us about your Farmer’s Market or favorite pasta recipe in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Thrillers, Mysteries and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at http://www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

Swiss Chard and Basil Pesto

Swiss Chard, Basil, Pesto

Swiss Chard and Basil Pesto

Last month I talked about all of the fantastic fresh vegetables you can get at the Farmer’s Market. That’s still the case in July but also in July your home gardens should be producing like crazy. That’s when you want some recipes to use all of that wonderful fresh, organic bounty.

Pesto is just such a recipe. Traditional pesto calls for all basil as the green along with pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan cheese. I have found, however, that all that basil can be a little overpowering. So, the best way to tone it down is to mix it with another green. You can use spinach, arugula, beet greens, anything you have on hand. The best thing about a pesto spaghetti dinner is that it’s nearly no cook. The pesto is a raw sauce, just add hot pasta and you have a lovely meal.

In this case I had an abundance of parsley and just enough basil and chives in my garden, all I had to do was buy some Swiss Chard at the Farmer’s Market to make a delicious meal. I know, I did a Swiss Chard recipe last month. But it’s so good and if you have it growing in your garden, you want to use it, right? So, here’s how you do it.

Ingredients, Swiss Chard, Basil, Pesto, Connie Cockrell

Ingredients for Swiss Chard, Basil Pesto by Connie Cockrell

Ingredients

1/2 pound of Swiss Chard, chopped, leaves and stems

1 small bunch basil,

1 handful chives

1 Cup parsley, picked from stem

1 4oz pkg pine nuts (or walnuts if you prefer)

Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes to taste

1 1/2 lb Gluten Free Pasta

1/2 Cup olive oil

 

Heat the water for the pasta while you’re chopping the vegetables.

Gluten Free, Pasta

Gluten Free Pasta

Drop the pasta in the boiling water and follow the package directions for al dente pasta. NOTE: I used this Hodgson Mill’s pasta because I really wanted an angel hair type pasta. I was disappointed to see that once I started mixing it into the pesto, the strands broke down into 1/2 – 1/4 inch bits. Not spaghetti at all. It tasted fine, just wasn’t spaghetti. Use your favorite pasta.

Bring a small skillet to medium high heat.

Toasting, Pine Nuts

Toasting Pine Nuts

Drop in the pine nuts to toast. DO NOT walk away. As soon as you can smell the nuts, it’s too late. Watch that pan, toss around to brown evenly. As soon as they brown, take them off the heat to cool.

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard, Chopped

Swiss Chard, Chopped

Trim the stem ends of the Swiss Chard and chop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basil, Connie Cockrell

Basil by Connie Cockrell

Strip the basil from the stems, same with the parsley. Have the chives on hand, ready to go into the food processor.

Grated, Parmesan, Cheese, Connie Cockrell

Grated Parmesan Cheese by Connie Cockrell

Using a grating blade in your food processor, grate the Parmesan cheese. I just grated a whole brick of it. You won’t need all of it but it’ll be ready for your next pasta meal. Empty the cheese into a bowl. No need to clean out the food processor.

Pine Nuts, Food Processor, Connie Cockrell

Pine Nuts in Food Processor by Connie Cockrell

In the food processor, change out the grating blade for the regular blade. Add the pine nuts and whirl until nearly pasty.

Process, Swiss Chard, Connie Cockrell

Process Swiss Chard by Connie Cockrell

Add the Swiss Chard a batch at a time. Process until reduced then add more.

Parsley, Connie Cockrell

Parsley by Connie Cockrell

Add the parsley and process.

Scrape down, bowl, food processor, Connie Cockrell

Scrape down the bowl of the food processor by Connie Cockrell

Scrape down the sides a little to get the nuts to mix with the greens.

Add, Basil, Chives, Connie Cockrell

Add Basil and Chives by Connie Cockrell

Add the basil and chives. Whirl some more, drizzling in 1/2 of the olive oil to loosen the sauce.

Add, Parmesan Cheese, Red Pepper Flakes, Connie Cockrell

Add Parmesan Cheese and Red Pepper Flakes by Connie Cockrell

Add the cheese and the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Process again adding more olive oil to loosen.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and do a quick rinse. In a large bowl, drop the pesto onto the spaghetti and toss. Add some of the pasta water, it just helps loosen the sauce. Stir to combine. Top with more basil and some grated Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Please tell us about your Farmer’s Market or favorite pasta recipe in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Thrillers, Mysteries and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

 

Chicklets in the Kitchen: Pasta Primavera

Pasta, Primavera, Ingredients

Pasta Primavera Ingredients

It’s summer and the Farmer’s Market is overflowing with fresh, beautiful vegetables. We’re fortunate enough in our area that we have local dairies as well, both fresh cow’s milk butter and cheeses and goat’s milk cheeses and delicacies. If you haven’t been to your Farmer’s Market yet this year, you’re missing out. Last Saturday I scored marvelous young Swiss Chard, just picked cherry tomatoes, and fresh goat cheese. I had a plan when I went, you see, to pick up just those luscious things for Saturday night dinner, Pasta Primavera.

Pasta Primavera is great for whatever vegetables you happen to pick up at the market or what’s growing in your garden. You can substitute whatever you have for what I used. Feel free to mix and match.

Ingredients

1/2 pound of Swiss Chard, chopped

1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved

4 – 5 Green Onions, chopped, green and white parts

1 Cup Frozen Peas (or fresh if you have them)

1/4 Cup Basil, chopped

1 Red Pepper, chopped

12 oz Goat Cheese (not feta, the soft stuff)

Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder and Cayenne Pepper or Red Pepper Flakes to taste

1 lb Gluten Free Pasta (I used spirals, but you can use whatever you have)

1 – 2 Cups Chicken Broth (to make the sauce. Use vegetable stock to keep the whole meal vegetarian)

2 -3 T olive oil

Cooking, Pasta

Cooking Pasta

Heat the water for the pasta while you’re chopping the vegetables.

Drop the pasta in the boiling water and follow the package directions for al dente pasta.

Large Skillet, Olive Oil

Large Skillet with Olive Oil

Bring a large skillet to medium high heat.

Saute, Swiss Chard, Red Pepper, Green Onion

Saute Swiss Chard, Red Pepper, Green Onion

Drop in the chopped red pepper, the green onions, and the Swiss Chard. Saute until soft.

Saute, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil

Saute Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

Drop in the cherry tomatoes and basil. Saute until the tomatoes begin to soften. Use the broth to loosen the mixture.

Goat Cheese

Add the Goat Cheese

Add the goat cheese and stir to combine. Notice that the cheese melts into the broth and the tomatoes make the sauce kind of pink.

Add Peas

Add Peas

Don’t forget the peas!

Stir, Combine, Ingredients

Stir to Combine all Ingredients

Drain the pasta and do a quick rinse. Drop the cooked pasta into the sauce. Don’t worry about extra water getting in there, it just helps loosen the sauce. Stir to combine. Top with more basil and some grated Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Please tell us about your Farmer’s Market or favorite pasta recipe in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Women’s Fiction and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

Rainy Day Lasagna

February, Rain, Birdbath, Arizona, Connie Cockrell

Rain in the Birdbath by Connie Cockrell

We had a long stretch of cold, rainy days at the end of February and early March here in central Arizona. Very unusual weather for us but the rain was very welcome. What better for a cold rainy day than to substitute my usual spaghetti Saturday night supper with lasagna?

Mozzarella, Parmesan, Ricotta, Sauce, Parsley, GF Lasagna Noodles

Lasagna Misen Plas by Connie Cockrell

Notice the pan of sauce? You can make your own spaghetti sauce, see the September 2014 pasta sauce recipe on this blog at http://chickletsinthekitchen.com/category/pasta-sauce/ or you can cheat a little. This time I used 1/2 jar of left over marinara and 2 full jars of marinara and about a cup of leftover sauce from last week’s spaghetti night. I poured all of that over cut up, browned, hot Italian sausage and added 2 bay leaves, dried basil and oregano and fresh chopped parsley, onion and garlic powder, and cooked that until thick.

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit by Connie Cockrell

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit by Connie Cockrell

About an hour and a half before dinner time I began my assembly. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lasagna, Cheese, Connie Cockrell

Lasagna Cheese Mixture by Connie Cockrell

First, the cheese mixture.

Cheese Mixture

3/4 lb shredded mozzarella

8 oz ricotta

8 oz shredded parmesan cheese

1/2 c chopped parsley

Mix it all together in a medium mixing bowl

 

Ready to Assemble the lasagna by Connie Cockrell

Ready to Assemble the lasagna by Connie Cockrell

Then we’re ready to assemble the lasagna. Note here that I’m using gluten-free no-cook lasagna noodles. If you’re making a regular lasagna or using GF noodles that need to be cooked, only cook them for half the time given on the package. That way they’ll finish cooking in the lasagna while it bakes and make the lasagna less sloppy.

 

Sauce the pan by Connie Cockrell

Sauce the pan by Connie Cockrell

Notice I don’t spray the pan. I use a layer of sauce across the bottom of the 9X13 inch baking pan to prevent the noodles from sticking.

 

Gluten-Free, No-Cook Lasagna Noodles by Connie Cockrell

Gluten-Free, No-Cook Lasagna Noodles by Connie Cockrell

Then put in a layer of noodles. I’ll have to admit, using these no-cook noodles makes handling them much easier than half-cooked noodles.

Add a layer of Cheese Mixture by Connie Cockrell

Add a layer of Cheese Mixture by Connie Cockrell

Then add a layer of the cheese mixture. This layer doesn’t have to cover every square inch.

 

Next layer of sauce by Connie Cockrell

Next layer of sauce by Connie Cockrell

Add another layer of sauce, noodles, cheese mixture and keep doing that until you run out of ingredients or space in the pan.

 

Spray your foil by Connie Cockrell

Spray your foil by Connie Cockrell

Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with non-stick spray and cover the lasagna.

 

Covered Lasagna on Cookie Sheet Placed in Oven by Connie Cockrell

Covered Lasagna on Cookie Sheet Placed in Oven by Connie Cockrell

Put the pan on a cookie sheet to catch any boil overs. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour.

 

Uncover pan by Connie Cockrell

Uncover pan by Connie Cockrell

Uncover the pan and cook another 15 minutes.

 

Cook 15 more minutes by Connie Cockrell

Cook 15 more minutes by Connie Cockrell

Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes for the boiling to subside. Cut into squares to serve.

 

Finished Lasagna by Connie Cockrell

Finished Lasagna by Connie Cockrell

Feeds 4 with leftovers for later meals.

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Please tell us about your garden or favorite lasagna recipe in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Women’s Fiction and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.wordpress.com.

Firey Angel Hair Pasta

Rosemary by Connie Cockrell

Rosemary by Connie Cockrell

October has been a wild ride for sure. I’m busy with all sorts of volunteer organizations and I’m trying to get ready for the National Novel Writing Month challenge in November. What’s that, you ask? It’s a challenge to all writers, new or not, to write 50,000 words in a month. Yep, that’s novel length. You don’t have to finish a novel but if you don’t you’re well on your way. I outline my story so I’m not spending a lot of time wondering what comes next. That’s what I’m prepping this month. I’ve decided to try and write a cozy mystery. Since my usual genre’s are SciFi and Women’s fiction, this outline has been a struggle. Mysteries require a lot of planning.

The thyme I talked about last month? Still on the drying rack. I need to get it down and the sage cut and hung before we get a frost and it’s spoiled for drying. I want to dry some rosemary, too. Not just for the kitchen but for soap. I like to make my own soap. It’s easy, I know it doesn’t have aircraft cleaner in it and I can make it unscented or add any scent I want. I’m planning on adding rosemary to my next batch so I want to have some dried and ready to go.

Back to October. Yes, even here in Arizona the days are getting cooler and we’re all thinking of heartier fare. And as I’m still running crazy with volunteer work and NaNo is coming, I like to have quick and easy dinners. I know I gave you my spaghetti sauce recipe last week. Here’s another one, but easier. It comes with some prep though. You need to make up chili oil in advance. I make mine and store it in the fridge. It has to be warmed to room temp before using but a bottle of it will last through four or five dinners.

Chili Oil

2 cups Olive Oil         4 teaspoonsful dried crushed Red Pepper Flakes

To make exactly enough to fit in your storage bottle or container, fill the container with chili oil less about 1/2 inch from the top. I use an old olive oil bottle.

Combine the oil and the red pepper flakes in a heavy small saucepan.  Cook over low heat until a thermometer inserted into the oil registers 180 degrees F, about 5 minutes. Cool to room temp and using a funnel, pour the oil and flakes into the bottle. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

 

Fiery Angel Hair Pasta

From Giada De Laurentis

1 pound angel hair pasta   ½ cup Chili Oil   ½ cup chopped fresh Italian Parsley, 1 lemon, Juiced and zested,  Salt, Dried crushed red pepper flakes, ½ tsp grated lemon peel (optional), 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Cook the pasta by the package directions.  Drain, and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.  Stir the shaken oil (you want to get some of those red pepper flakes), parsley, lemon juice and zest together in a large serving bowl. Add the pasta and toss with enough of the reserved water to moisten. Season the pasta with the extra salt and red pepper flakes to taste.  Sprinkle on the extra zest and cheese.  Serve.  To keep it gluten free, use gluten free pasta.

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Please tell us about your garden or favorite pasta recipe in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Women’s Fiction and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.wordpress.com.

Spinach Roll-Ups

Spinach Roll-ups | Chicklets in the Kitchen Hello again! It has been a while since I have posted, but I have been kind of busy lately.

I have decided to take on a new task these days. Instead of going with the old favorites of my family, or exotic meats, I am instead going to go through old recipe books that I have lying around. Many of them were passed down from my mother, who is still alive, but no longer uses these books (or never used them in the first place!) Continue reading

Characters gotta eat, right?

Less food. More sex.

That was the gist of the critique from one of the first friends who read my manuscript for BLIND DATE BRIDE. She explained that food is often a metaphor for…well, you know—and I should just get my hero and heroine in bed instead.

Being the kind of gal who loves to read steamy scenes, I took her advice to heart. Continue reading

Guest Chick: Judy Alter

Greetings, Chicklets and Roosters. Arlene here. As I told you last week, I’ve been feeling the pressure of getting ready for my October release, “Diva in the Dugout.”

One of the ways I’ve been preparing is keeping up with all the comings and goings on the Turquoise Morning Press author’s loop. There’s a large and talented group of folks writing great stories — and blogging about them.

When I discovered that my new TMP sister Judy Alter had not one but two blogs where she talked about cooking (and life),  Potluck with Judy and Judy’s Stew, I knew she’d make a great guest chick.

Take it away, Judy! Continue reading

Linguine alla Carbonarra

Aside

Hello Chicklets readers! Lis’Anne here with a past Guest Rooster in the house today. Jon Akers is sharing one of his culinary masterpieces, a hearty pasta dish. Welcome back to the Kitchen, Jon! 😀

Looking at the past month or so of posts, I note that there is a severe lack of dishes and recipes that are, well… not necessarily healthy for you. As such, I present to you a favorite pasta dish of mine that is possibly going to set your taste buds into overdrive and your heart into palpitations of distress. Linguine alla Carbonarra!

The finished product, linguine alla carbonnara!

The finished product, linguine alla carbonnara!

Continue reading