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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Individual Scalloped Sweet Potatoes

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Finished individual scalloped potatoes with green beans and sirloin steak

One of my favorite dishes is scalloped potatoes. My mom taught me to make it in a huge pan and nestle pork chops into it for a delicious one pan meal that fed two parents and six hungry kids. I have posted a gluten-free version of it on this website in the past. Today I’m sharing a recipe I saw on a Facebook post. Have you ever done that? Seen something that looked tasty on Facebook and gave it a try?

Well, I did, mainly because this recipe looked easy and used very few ingredients. I love my traditional scalloped potatoes but it involves a lot of steps. Hey, I thought, let me try this easier version.

Hardware

One 12 cup muffin tin

Bowl (to hold potato slices)

Mandolin (or sharp knife)

 

Ingredients

One large sweet potato, peeled and sliced thin

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 tsp dried thyme, or fresh if you have it

1 pint heavy cream

Vegetable oil

 

Heat oven to 350 degrees F

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If you have a mandolin, it makes the job faster and easier but using a knife is just as effective. Be sure to get sweet potatoes. There is a difference between the light yellow sweet potatoes and the dark orange yams we’re used to having at Thanksgiving. The yams would certainly work as would regular potatoes. Lots of options.

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In the bowl, mix the potatoes, melted butter, salt, pepper, and thyme.

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Lightly oil the muffin cups. Layer the potatoes in each muffin tin.

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Pour the cream into each cup. I had to lift the layers up to let the cream get all the way in.

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Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes for the boiling to subside. Serve 2 cups per person.

Feeds 6.

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Please tell us about your favorite potato 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.

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.

Company Cheesecake

Cheesecake, Connie Cockrell, Strawberry Glaze, Strawberries, Blueberries

Company Cheesecake by Connie Cockrell

In the theory that it’s better late than never, I’m presenting today’s blog post two days late. Hey, it’s a cheesecake recipe ya know! Anyway, this recipe is from my Betty Crocker cookbook, the one I bought just after I got married 40 years ago. The pages are yellowed and splattered, the tabs I used the most have torn off and I hold the cover on with duct tape but I still return to this book over and over again.

Cheesecake, yum. This is a nice fluffy style cheesecake, not dense like say, a New York style cake. But it’s a perfect dessert for company. I made this one for my bunko group. I hosted the game in April and while a lot of ideas floated through my brain since January, this is the one I picked. Make it the day ahead of your event and keep it in the fridge once completely cooled.

The Crust

Cheesecake crust, Lemon Shortbread Cookies, Butter

Crust Ingredients by Connie Cockrell

I made the crust gluten free by using gluten free lemon shortbread cookies. I used the whole box, broke them up into a food processor and whirled them till they were crumbs. I added 3 tablespoons of melted butter and stirred until the crumbs were coated.

Crumbs and melted butter

Crumbs and melted butter

Put in the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan, place on a cookie sheet and back at 350 degrees F until lightly brown. It could be 10 minutes, it could be 20. Mine took closer to 20. Also, add just 2 tablespoons of the melted butter to the crumbs and see if that’s enough to coat. At 3 tablespoons mine seemed kind of wet.

Crumbs in Springform Pan

Crumbs in Springform Pan

After the crust is pulled out of the oven to cool, reduce temp to 300 degrees.

 

Cheese Mixture

 

Cream Cheese, Sugar, Eggs, Lemon Flavoring

Cheesecake Ingredients by Connie Cockrell

2 8oz packages of cream cheese plus another 3 oz., room temperature

1 c sugar

2 tsp grated lemon peel

1/4 tsp vanilla (or substitute lemon juice or lemon flavoring)

3 eggs, room temperature

1 cup sour cream, Cherry Glaze or Strawberry Glaze

I use a stand mixer for this as I have in the past burnt out a hand mixer but both will work.

Cream cheese, sugar

Add sugar to beaten cream cheese by Connie Cockrell

Beat the cream cheese in the stand mixer bowl on medium speed. Gradually add the sugar, beating until fluffy. Add the lemon peel and flavoring.

Eggs

Add Eggs by Connie Cockrell

Mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time.

Cheesecake ready to bake

Cheesecake ready to bake by Connie Cockrell

Pour the mixture over the crust.

Baked Cheesecake

Baked Cheesecake by Connie Cockrell

Bake for an hour and check for doneness. The center should be firm. Turn off the oven and cool to room temperature right in the oven. Loosen edge of cheesecake with knife before removing the side of the pan. Spread with the sour cream or glaze.

 

Strawberry Glaze

1 – 1 1/2 cups cut up strawberries

1 cup sugar

3 T cornstarch (I used 1 tsp of Arrowroot. I find cornstarch makes the sauce cloudy.)

1 cup water (I used a couple of tablespoons)

Cook in a small pan over low heat to a low boil until you can mash the berries. I left some fairly large pieces but you can thoroughly mash them. Cook until the sauce is thickened. Refrigerate until ready to top the cake.

After I made the glaze and put it on the cheese cake, I sliced strawberries and used them and blueberries to decorate the top. This is optional, the glaze is certainly pretty enough on its own.

 

Cherry Glaze

1 1lb can pitted red tart cherries, reserving the liquid

1/2 c sugar

2 T corn starch

Water to add to the cherry liquid

Red Food Color

Add enough water to cherry liquid to measure 1 cup. Mix sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Stir in the liquid. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat, stir in cherries and 4 drops of red food color. Cool thoroughly.

 

Other Notes:

I have also cooked this cheesecake in a water bath.

Wrap the springform pan in aluminum foil, a couple of layers so no water can get in. Bake the crust per directions. Then, when you’ve filled the pan with the cheese mixture, put the springform pan in a large baking dish and fill halfway up the side of the springform pan with boiling water. It’s easiest to do this when the baking dish is sitting on the oven rack. Carefully slide the rack into the oven and cook until done. Cool according to the directions above. This helps prevent the cracks you get in the cheesecake top when it cools. It’s an extra step and takes longer to cook and cool. Your choice.

 

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Please tell us about your garden or favorite dessert 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

Homemade French Fries

I was going to post about cookouts on Labor Day, but the truth of the matter is, I haven’t unfurled our barbecue grill since my ex left. I’m afraid to use the thing since the time I tried to start it without supervision and singed the hairs off my arm. I’m just grateful that’s all I did, and I can laugh about it now, but propane makes me nervous. Just ask the manager at my first apartment. Every time the pilot light went out, I called the main office.

Anyway, we had some fun today at my house. After a pity party in which I bemoaned my lack of success with OurTime.com, I decided to get off my arse and go do something. As it turned out, I’d split up a bag of white potatoes I picked up at the farmer’s market, half for boiling, half for french fries. See, ever since we had Boardwalk Fries in Ocean City, I’ve wanted to make homemade fries, to prove to the boys that fresh food was way better than fast food. Continue reading

Kale Chips

I can’t believe this just happened. I was in the kitchen, testing out the kale chips recipe, when my 16 year old walked in and saw the bag on the counter.
“Kale! What’s kale?” he shrieked.
I said, “I’m making kale chips. Want to try some?”
He reached into the bag and ate a leaf. To that point, I’d only sniffed it. I was a little iffy when I noticed the bag said “A bold and bittersweet flavor.” It made me think of broccoli rabe, which is bitter and a very acquired taste. It took me a while to learn to like it but I do, so long as it’s smothered in garlic and/or cheese.
I turned to see his reaction. Continue reading

Chocolate Banana Bread

Last week I caught up with a very good friend of mine. We’ve known each other for years. We met because of work and something about that shared misery made us laugh until we just opened up. She lives on the other side of the country and we both have busy lives so it’s been a while but last week, we reconnected. “Serendipity” at its best. Continue reading