Nut-Free Pesto with Pasta and Veggies

Today was a hard day for me. Grandma would have been 91 today. While it was easy holding things together to get through my workday, after work was another story. I had made plans to pick up a bundle of Gladiolas and bring them to her. I got extra lucky and my Fiance had finished work a little early and was able to be there with me and help me get the flowers situated  in the vase. After a few emotional moments we headed home and decided we should make a recipe of grandma’s that I have tweaked and changed. Grandma’s recipe is a basic pasta, zucchini, yellow squash, with olive oil. My recipe includes the addition of chicken, and a pesto instead of using just oil to coat the pasta

20190812_1631126637389299058216408.jpg I start by prepping the chicken and cutting them in half through the middle so that they will be thinner pieces and will cook more quickly. I just add a little salt and pepper to the cut breasts and pass them off to my fiance. He prefers to have the chicken cooked on the grill. While I wait for the chicken to be cooked, I start getting my pot for pasta coming to a boil and get some butter melting in a skillet for my veggies.

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I slice up my veggies and toss those in the skillet with salt and pepper and let them cook. Once the pasta water come to a boil I add in my pasta. This time we used fettuccine but literally any shape will work for this recipe. Once everything is cooking make sure to keep the heat on low so that we can make the pesto without worries of burning or over boiling.

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Pesto is pretty simple. Though unlike a normal pesto, I cannot eat pine nuts so this recipe is nut-free! I add in all the needed ingredients, garlic, basil leaves, salt, pepper, olive oil, and red wine vinegar, and then blend.

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Typically I blend for a few seconds, stir the stuff on the stove and repeat 3-4 times. The pesto will look a little watery but all the pieces should be finely chopped. Once the pesto is ready I let it sit until the pasta and veggies are finished cooking.

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When the veggies are cooked I shut off the burner and let them sit until the pasta is ready. Because I used fettuccine it takes just a little bit longer to get all the noodles cooked.  Once the pasta is ready I drain out the water and flip the noodles into the skillet with the veggies. I add in a glob of butter and mix it around to keep the noodles from sticking to each other.

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Once the butter is melted I pour the pesto onto the pasta and mix it around. You need every bit to be coated by the pesto. I know this doesn’t look like much sauce but it is enough for the amount of pasta and veggies.

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Once the pesto is fully mixed into the pasta, I plated my pasta and veggies into a bowl, added my chicken and of course some Parmesan cheese! Its definitely a favorite anytime I make this recipe there is usually no leftovers!


Ingredients

  • 1 box of pasta
  • 1 or 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 or 2 yellow squash, sliced
  • 3 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • 1 container of Basil, leaves only
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons of butter
  • 4-6 cap fulls of red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. thinly slice chicken breasts. Add salt and pepper to taste. cooked until no longer pink in the middle. let it cool then slice up into bit-sized pieces. Set aside.
  2. Fill a pot with water and bring to boil. Add in pasta. Add 3 tablespoons of butter to a skillet. After most of the butter has melted, add in the chopped squash and zucchini.When the veggies are cooked turn off heat.Once pasta is cooked drain water and add pasta to skillet with veggies.Toss in remaining 3 tablespoon of butter into pasta noodles to avoiding sticking.
  3. While pasta and veggie are cooking add basil, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to a blender. Blend for 5-10 seconds using the blend setting. repeat 3 to 4 time until pesto is watery and have fine basil and garlic pieces. Pour pesto over pasta and mix until  well combined.
  4. Serve pasta in a bowl. Add the chicken and Parmesan and enjoy!

Meaty Zucchini Pasta Sauce

I occasionally get bored with my normal pasta sauce routine. Brown some ground meat dump some sauce in and let simmer. I recently felt like I needed to change it up a bit. So I wandered my grocery store until I found this combination to try with my sauce.

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I start this off by chopping up some prosciutto and throwing it into a skillet with some oil. The pieces will stick to each other, which is fine. I try to break up the clusters of meat as much as possible while the meat gets crispy.  The meat will need to be stirred around occasionally to make sure all parts are crispy.

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Once the meat is nice and crispy, I add in the zucchini and summer squash pieces to the skillet. I cook this down quite a bit, sometimes it is necessary to add a splash or 2 of  water to keep everything from sticking to the skillet. I also add a very small amount of salt, a generous amount of black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Keep the use of salt to a minimum since there is a lot of salt in the prosciutto. But you will need to add a  little salt to help break down the squashes.

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Once the zucchini and summer squashes have been cooked enough, I pour a jar of tomato sauce into the skillet. It is important that almost all of the liquid is gone from the skillet before adding in the tomato sauce.The water needs to evaporate away otherwise your sauce will be too runny. As the sauce simmers I taste test and adjust the seasonings. It is important to not add any more salt at this point, otherwise it will be a very salt sauce. While the sauce is simmering away I cook my pasta. Once the pasta is cooked I drain the water and add some butter to it to help prevent the pasta from sticking to itself once the water is gone. I do not run cold water over the pasta after it has been drained of water. I use the heat of the pasta to melt the butter.

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After the pasta is cooked I add a little into a bowl. Then add my sauce to it. And of course some parmesan cheese goes on top. Then enjoy!


Ingredients

  • splash of oil, canola or olive
  • 1 package of prosciutto
  • 1 zucchini, cut to your liking
  • 1 summer squash, cut to your liking
  • pinch of salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • onion powder to taste
  • garlic powder to taste
  • 1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce
  • cooked pasta
  • 3 Tbsp of butter, preferably unsalted

Directions

  1. Set a pot of water and bring to boil. Set up your skillet with a splash of oil with the heat set to medium. Allow the oil to warm up and coat the bottom of the skillet.
  2. Add chopped prosciutto to skillet. allow the meat to get crispy. Stir occasionally to help get the meat evenly crisp. Once the prosciutto has reached desired crispiness, add in the cut zucchini and summer squash.  Stir around a little bit then add in the salt, black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Stir to prevent the veggies and meat from sticking. If oil is completely gone and there is some sticking add a splash of water.
  3. Once the veggies are fully cooked add a jar of tomato sauce to the skillet. Stir to combine ingredients. Set stove to low and allow to simmer. Add pasta to boiling water. Once the pasta is cooked drain and add 3 Tbsp of butter to noodles and stir.
  4. Serve up and top off with parmesan cheese, if desired, and enjoy

 

 

Made in Rememberance

The past month has been such a mix of emotions and anxiety. On Februrary 20th I got the call from my Aunt informing me that my Grandpa had passed away. For me this was extra rough becuase Grandpa taught me all the skills no one else thought I should learn. Like gardening, basic electrical knowledge, how to tell the difference between tools, when to use duct tape vs when to use a bit of wire, etc. He really sparked the creativity in me because he believed that there is more than 1 way to fix a broken object.

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He lived to be 95 years old and was always being silly for a picture. I literally haven’t had time to do anything besides funeral stuff and trying to console grandma and help get her situated with her new life changes. Since things have settled down a little, and I could finally have an evening at home, I decided to make one of the many favorite meals I’ve made for grandpa, Beef Stew.

I don’t use many measurements for this recipe. This was mostly an indulgent dish for grandpa because of his health issues he had some dietary restrictions. I heavily altered the original recipe to sneak in some things that he could eat every once in a while.

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I prefer to get the pre-cut beef stew meat but if that isn’t available, such as this particular meal, I get a nice London Broil and cut it up in into cubes. I throw the cubes into a bowl and add some flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and then mix it up until the meat coated. Once coated I add a little oil, grandpa preferred extra virgin  olive oil, to a large pot and allow it to heat up. I then dump the coated meat and any excess seasonings into the pot. While the meat is browning I slice up 1 onion, 2-3 carrots, thoroughly wash 1 small bag of baby potatoes, and trim and rinse 1/2lbs – 1lbs of green beans. DO NOT USE CANNED GREEN BEANS! canned green beans will turn to mush and/or dissolve away in the stew because they are already cooked. Plus they won’t be able to take much of the flavor from simmering in the stews juices.

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Once the meat is mostly browned I toss in the sliced onion. I then let the meat finish browning and allow the onion to get soft. I also add a bit more salt and pepper to help break down the onion a little bit faster. If needed, add a little bit more oil so that things do not stick to the pot.

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Once the meat is browned and the onions are soft, I add in the carrots, baby potatoes, and 1 carton of unsalted beef stock/broth. I allow this to simmer for a few minutes before I begin adding in spices.

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After everything has been simmering for a few minutes I add in a few bay leaves, a generous amount of salt and pepper, and my special secret spice. My special secret spice is 1 cap full of ground corriander. I know its a very untraditional beef stew ingredient and it kind of sound like a large amount but trust me it’s delicious.

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I stir the spices around and put the lid on the pot and let everything come up to a boil. Once at a boil I add in another non-traditional beef stew ingredient, green beans. Adding in the green beans made this feel like a more filling meal. I give everything one last good stir and then put the lid on and let the pot simmer for at least an hour.

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Once the potatoes, carrots, and green beans are fork tender its ready to be eaten. Don’t forget to take out the Bay Leaves before serving up! If you’re feeling extra indulgent, you can add a sprinkle of your favorite cheese on top.

Biscuit Chicken Pot Pie

Its been a cold and blustry winter this past month and a half in Michigan. I feel like it is time to share one of my favortie winter meals, Chicken Pot Pie. While I do have a from scratch recipe, its more difficult to do as an after work meal so this version is a little more of a dump and cook recipe. This is also a good recipe for finishing off those half bags of frozen veggies.

To start off I melt a little butter and olive oil in a pan. Once melted I add in the chicken pieces.

I let it go until its browned nicely. I don’t add a whole lot of spices until the cream of chicken is added in. After the chicken has been browned I dump in the veggies.

Tonight I had a few half full bags of frozen corn, peas and carrots, and green beans. I add them to the pan with a little more butter and allow it to cook until tender. Once tender I add in the cream of chicken soup. For my recipe I use the cream of chicken with herbs that way I dont have to go rummaging for too many spices. My family prefers a thicker gravy like consistency so I use 2 cans of cream of chicken and about 1/2 a can of chicken broth.

After the soups have been added I reduce down to a simmer and start on the biscuits. I normally go for a refrigerated tube of whatever is on sale and sounds tasty. While the pan is simmering away I set up the biscuits to bake.

It’s important to not cook these all the way through, because the biscuits will be going back into the oven, but you still want them to look a little golden. Once the biscuits are ready, pour the pot pie mixture into a greased pyrex dish and top with the biscuits. I like to flip my biscuits upside down so that the bottom will get crispy.

Once everything is set, I pop the dish into a 400 degree preheated oven for 10 minutes. Sometimes its more, sometimes its less, it all depends on what level of crispiness you prefer your biscuits.

And here it is fresh out of the oven! After allowing it to cool and thicken up a little bit its ready to be eaten. I like to add a handful of cheese to my bowl before digging in!

White Grape Jam

My grandmother had made a request for some grape jam so I had to make some for her. I use a very basic recipe of grapes, sugar, pectin, salt, and for a little twist I add lime juice instead of lemon juice/zest.

I begin with getting a bunch of grapes and enlisting some help to cut, peel the skin off, and remove the seeds of every grape. Then put the grape goop in a bowl.

It’s quite the challenge because this took me, my boyfriend, and his son almost 3 hours to complete. So needless to say, after this we put the lid on the bowl of grape goop and called it a night. The goop can stay like this for about 24 hours in the fridge before it tries to freeze or alter the quality of the grapes.

When I was ready to begin making he jam I put all the ingredients except for the sugar into the pot. I let it all break down a little bit before I add in all the sugar (about 10 minutes) and mix everything together. I then usually set it to very low and leave it alone for 10-15 minutes. At this point I do a taste test and add whatever is necessary. Then allow it to simmer until the grapes are mostly dissolved and theres a syrup like consistency.

After the jam is at the perfect syrup consistency, I then strain of the solids and allow the jam to cool a little bit away from the heat. I have just enough time to get my jars together before it cools too much. If it cools too much a small spatula will be needed to transfer the jam into jars.

Once the jam is poured into the jars. I allow it to cool for 30 minutes before I put the lids on.I let the jars sit in the fridge for at least 24 hours to allow it to set perfectly. Then I like to make a bunch of toast and enjoy! ❤

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of grapes, peeled and pitted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 tablespoons pectin, I prefer the low sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • clean mason jars and lids

Directions

  1. Slice each grape in half to remove the pits/seeds and peel and put into a container. I ended up using a container with a lid so that I could store the grape goop overnight.
  2. When you are ready to begin, dump the grape goop, pectin, salt, and lime juice into a large pot on medium heat. Allow  this mixture to break down for 10 minutes, stirring occassionally. After 10 minutes you can add in the sugar and then let the mixture simmer still stirring occassionally
  3. When the mixture turns into a syrup -like consistency remove from heat. Pour into a measuring cup to help with the cooling and pouring process. Cooling should take about 3-4 minutes. Then evenly pour the grape jam into the mason jars. Allow the mixture to continue to cool while in the jars. Once they are cool enough, place the lids on the jars and put the jars in the refridgerator.

Tomato Jam

Probably my last ripe tomato harvest for the season. I decided to go with a long term use of turning these tomatoes into a delicious tomato jam.

These guys are pretty big and at various stages or ripe. I somewhat followed a pintrest recipe because time and ingredients were an issue.

General basis of this recipe is chop up the tomatoes, throw the other ingredients into the pot and let it simmer. The original recipe said to simmer for 4-5 hours. I really dont have that kind of time to hover over a pot waiting for liquid to evaporate so I used a higher heat for a longer period of time before switching to a simmer.

This process helped evaporate a lot of the liquid quickly in under 30 minutes and without compromising texture too much. In the end I was able to get it all done in about 2.5 hours and boy is it tastey! Through some experimentation, we discovered that our favorite way to consume this jam is to replace it as the BBQ sauce on top of Meatloaf.


Tomato Jam

Ingredients

  • 4-5 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground corriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 (or more) Mason Jars w/lids

Directions

  1. Rinse and chop all tomatoes. I also removed all the seeds. Place chopped tomatoes into a medium stock pot on medium-high heat. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Stir frequently until the pot begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue to stir frequently for 30-40 minutes. This help to evaporate the liquid faster. Once it begins to look a little thicker, reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer. Once the texture has thickened up to a jam-like consistency, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  2. Prepare and clean mason jars. Be sure to dry out all wetness from cleaning. Carefully transfer the jam into each mason jar. Allow to comletely cool before adding lids and refrigerating jars.

Tomato Sauce Night!

I started my week by picking a bunch of ripe heirloom tomatoes from my garden. Since there was a lot of them I decided to let them sit for a week to soften up so I could make homemade tomato sauce.

I started by cutting, trimming and peeling all the tomatoes. I then smooshed all the chunks through a wire mesh strainer to make all the seeds and white parts easier to remove from the tomatoes.

Added all my spices and let it simmer for a while. It really smelled wonderful while this was simmering. Even my dog Taco was interested.

The final result! A little thicker than normal but it looked great over the pasta for dinner. ❤


Homemade Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

  • Minimum of 4 large tomatoes, cleaned, peeled, and cut into smaller pieces
  • 5-6 basil leaves, thinly cut, or 1 Tablespoon of dry basil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced or in little chunks
  • 1/2 tablespoon dehydrated onion, or 1/4 of diced onion
  • 1/2 tablespoon dry oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooked pasta

Tools

  • Wire mesh strainer
  • Sauce pan
  • Large pot
  • Knife
  • Cutting board

Directions

  1. Cut and peel all tomatoes. Skin must be removed. It is also helpful to pull out as many seeds as possible. Cut tomatoes into small wedges and smoosh each wedge through a wire mesh strainer over a sauce pan.  This should help get the remaining seeds and any other under ripe pieces out of the way. L`et it begin to cook on medium-low heat.
  2. Chiffonade 5-6 Basil leaves, or 1 tablespoon of dry basil and add to pot. Also chop garlic and add to pot. I tend to go with something a little larger than a mince because my family likes to chomp on garlic. Measure out and add remaining spices to pot. Increase heat to medium. Allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Stir occassionally and taste test to adjust the seasonings. If the sauce is still too thin, you can add a can of petite diced tomatoes or sliced zucchinni or any other vegetable to help it along.
  3.  After 30 minutes is up, I begin cooking my Pasta. I allow the sauce to continue to simmer until the noodles are cooked. Once the noodles are cooked,  plate up and enjoy!