Lately I’m all about pesto. For me, summertime and pesto go together. It must be the fact that basil grows in such abundance. I’m always proud of my basil harvests. Anybody that knows me knows I do not have a natural green thumb. Basil is an easy herb for me to grow. It’s hearty so even when I neglect my basil, it still fights to live and thrive. If you are looking for a pesto recipe, this pesto chicken sandwich can’t be beat. [Read more…]
Lately, I have decided to take a much more laid back approach to holidays, birthdays, celebrations, etc. It’s easy to get caught up in gift giving and spending a lot of money. I love giving gifts to others, but sometimes, I need to watch the budget. Sometimes it’s nice to make something for others, especially cupcakes! Something about cupcakes equals happiness. Maybe it’s the frosting or the sprinkles, but it’s hard to look at a cupcake and feel sadness or anger. When I see one, I immediately feel like my day is full of rainbows!
Macaroni and Cheese is truly one of those dishes that can be enjoyed year round. It’s perfect during the cold winter months and can be enjoyed for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s also wonderful as part of Easter dinner. Now that the 4th is upon us, macaroni and cheese is another great dish to enjoy during this patriotic holiday. It just screams American food, right? [Read more…]
Happy National Pineapple Day! Who knew? What a fun holiday! If you love pineapple as much as I do, then this is the perfect holiday for you. With so many ways to enjoy pineapple, you can easily think of many reasons to celebrate this holiday!
We hear lots of talk about getting the proper daily nutrients and watching our macros. It’s common to focus on calories, fat, protein, fiber, cholesterol, sodium, vitamins A, D, calcium, etc. However, one mineral that is often overlooked is potassium. We don’t hear too much about potassium, but that is slowly starting to change. Fortunately, more information about potassium is being shared with the general public and food companies are beginning to include potassium information on food labels. Enjoying a daily smoothie is one way to ensure that you are meeting your nutritional goals. [Read more…]
Oh summertime…one of the best times of the year. Summer offers so many fun things to do and places to visit. Of course there is the pool and the park, but I also love the opportunity to visit the local farmers’ markets. We love waking up early on a Saturday or Sunday morning and finding some new treats at the farmer’s market. I love the fresh garlic, onions, fruit selections, and this summertime favorite: zucchini.
Zucchini is such a beautiful squash. I love that you can find it in abundance during the summer. There are so many ways to cook with it, too. It can be tough to choose between zucchini chips, zucchini fritters, or the classic zucchini bread.
Zucchini bread is one of those special treats I can remember my mother making when I was a kid. I loved the dark richness of the bread with the green flecks of zucchini strewn throughout. We would warm it up with a pat of butter and it was perfect!
Since the season of the zucchini is upon us, I had to make this classic zucchini bread for my family. The combination of the zucchini, butter, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon is divine. My family does not like nuts in their baked goods (they don’t know what they are missing), but feel free to to add a half cup of walnuts to the recipe. In my opinion, the crunchy texture of the nuts enhances the flavor. With so many options available for making zucchini bread, I love that you have decided to take the time to make this one. If you would like to make two loaves and freeze one for later, simply double the recipe. As always, please take a moment to sound off in the comments! I love hearing from you!
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup zucchini, drained
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a loaf pan with 1 tbsp butter. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the egg, sugar, and vanilla. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and baking soda to the egg mixture. Gently mix in the zucchini. Carefully stir in the flour. Mix until combined, but do not over mix the batter. If you are using walnuts, fold them in at this time.
Pour the batter into the greased cake pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes and enjoy.
For best results, allow time for the bread to cool completely.
How glorious is summer? I know I keep repeating myself, but I truly adore summer. Summer brings new experiences, beautiful days, fresh produce, and fresh herbs! My most favorite herb of all, hands down, is basil! It’s absolutely gorgeous and it has the most amazing aroma. Peppery, minty, lemony…just delicious. It’s such a versatile herb, but my favorite dish to make using basil is pesto, of course!
One of my favorite cuisines has always been Italian dishes. I’m ashamed to admit that I never tried pesto until I reached adulthood. I always went for the marinara based dishes and never knew what I was missing. When I finally tried pesto at a local Italian restaurant, it was love at first bite. My entire family loved it and I was on a mission to recreate pesto at home.
Now, I grow basil at home every summer. It’s makes so much more sense to grow your own, because it’s much cheaper than buying it at the store. I don’t have a green thumb (you can ask my mom), but basil is almost foolproof to grow! I just have to remember to water it. It grows abundantly because I am constantly cutting it back to use in my kitchen. The more you cut basil, the fuller it grows! It’s perfect! My family and I are able to enjoy pesto all summer long.
When preparing to make pesto, be sure to roast the pine nuts first. Keep a close eye on them to avoid burning. Set the pine nuts aside to cool for a few minutes. I must admit: pine nuts are expensive! If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, they sell a large bag at a more reasonable price than the other grocery stores. (I know some recipes say that you can use walnuts instead of pine nuts when making pesto. I have tried using walnuts, but my family and I were not pleased with the results. Pine nuts produce a nutty flavor in pesto that cannot be substituted, in my opinion.)
Seriously, pesto is one of the easiest and most delicious dishes to prepare at home. It’s so much better than buying it in the stores!
Isn’t this pesto simply beautiful? It looks like nature! I would love to hear your thoughts! Please sound off in the comments!
The Best Simple Pesto
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
3 cups basil leaves (no stems)
1/3 cup pine nuts, roasted
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp garlic salt
Dash of pepper
- Roast the pine nuts in a skillet on medium heat until they are golden brown in color.
- Using a high powered blender (such as Blendtec or Vitamix)-Place the ingredients in the exact order as listed in the ingredients-extra virgin olive oil, garlic cloves, basil, roasted pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, and pepper.
- Pulse the ingredients until the pesto reaches the desired consistency. (I don’t like to have large chunks but I don’t want a smoothie consistency, either. Sometimes I use the ice cream function button on my Blendtec.)
- If using a food processor-Pulse together the basil, garlic cloves, and pine nuts until chopped. Add the olive oil, garlic salt, and pepper. Pulse until smooth. You have two options for the Parmesan cheese. Add it to the food processor and pulse a few times, or mix in the cheese until combined.
- You have pesto! Enjoy!
- How to enjoy your pesto: Mixed with your favorite pasta noodle, drizzled over chicken, shrimp, steak, or use as a dip for crusty bread.
Yields approximately 18 servings, 1 serving=1 tbsp pesto
Nutritional information per serving:
81 calories, 8.4 g fat, 2.2 mg cholesterol, 1.5 g protein, 0.6 g carbs, 0.2 g fiber
I’ve said it before but I truly believe muffins are one of the best breakfast options on a busy morning. The beauty of a muffin is that it may contain all of the best components of a well-rounded breakfast, but it can be carried with you on the go. School may be out for the summer, but if you have kids in camp or other summer programs, the mornings are still full of hustle bustle. Organization is needed during the summer months, too! [Read more…]
At our house, we have a tendency to eat the same vegetables over and over again. Some days we have salad, other days, it’s broccoli. I like variety in my life and I love it even more when variety does not mean time consuming. Seriously, you should be able to make this Green Bean Salad in about 15 minutes or less. That’s why I’m so excited to share this dish with you today. It’s quick, easy to make, and will add some variety to your veggie life.
This is not your typical green bean dish. The crispness of the green beans are accentuated by the sweet tartness of the Craisins, the creamy smoothness of the goat cheese, and the salty goodness of the bacon. No more plain green beans here!
I have to admit: it’s amazing how our tastes evolve over time. As a kid, I only liked green beans from the can. Fresh green beans used to make me produce a gag reflex (Insane, right?). Now, as an adult, I love fresh green beans! They are quite versatile!
Green Bean Salad with Craisins, Bacon, and Goat Cheese
1 pound green beans, ends cut and removed
1/3 cup Ocean Spray Craisins, Reduced Sugar
3 slices bacon, cooked (I used Oscar Mayer center cut bacon.)
1 ounce goat cheese
For the vinaigrette dressing:
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
Prepare a large bowl of ice water.
Bring a large pot of water to boiling. Lower the green beans into the water and cook for 5 minutes. Once the green beans are done, immediately submerge them in the ice water. Once the green beans have cooled, remove them from the water and pat dry.
To make the vinaigrette: Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic in a small bowl.
Place the green beans in a large bowl. Toss them with the vinaigrette until lightly coated. Add the Craisins, bacon, and goat cheese. Toss all the ingredients until mixed well. Green bean salad is now ready to serve!
150 calories, 7 g fat, 475 g potassium, 19 g carbs, 6.8 g fiber, 6.7 g protein (Nutritional information calculated using the MyFitness Pal app.)
Summer is upon us and this time of year always reminds me of my own childhood summers. I used to love making homemade popsicles with my mom. We kept it very simple. We would pour orange juice into a white cup and before it froze entirely, we would stick in a popsicle stick. Several hours later, we had popsicles! [Read more…]