Large Batch Homemade Pesto

fresh pesto sauce

I planted basil in our garden this summer and was super excited when I discovered that I have enough to make a large batch of pesto, and freeze for the winter! I purchase the bulk pine nuts and Parmigiano Reggiano from Costco, which is so much more affordable than Whole Foods (Paycheck).  It is key to have a great food processor. I have a new “Breville Sous Chef Food Processor” that I received from my mother-in-law, that I absolutely love! Anyway, so here are the ingredients and the instructions.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound basil (9 oz leaves after removing stems)
  • ⅓ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 ½ cup fresh Parmesan Cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano)
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 Tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ cup pine nuts

Place the washed basil leaves, and oil in the food processor (using “S-Blade”), till minced, pausing occasionally to scrape in the basil on the sides. Add the cheese, garlic and salt and process until smooth. Add in the pine nuts at the end, you can make it as crunchy or smooth as you like. My son loves it chunky but my daughter likes it super smooth. You are now ready to place the pesto into ½ cup storage containers. Now you can freeze your batches. Thaw as needed, but please do not microwave. When you add to your pasta, please save some of the salted pasta water to thin out the pesto a little so it has a smooth and slightly liquid consistency.

Pork Tacos

BAHN0MI-TACO

As you all know Instagram is “the go to” for all teenagers. My 17-year-old-foodie found this recipe for Bahn-Mi Puffy Tacos from Tastemade on Instagram, and of course wanted to make it. I jumped at the opportunity to spend “quality time” with my son. It was actually a super simple recipe, and didn’t take that long to prep or cook! Thanks, Tastemade, and thank you, Lucas! These tacos were amazing!  (Video link below).

For the pork: 

  • 1/2 pound boneless pork chop cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic finely minced and ground black pepper to taste

For the pickled vegetables:

  • 1 carrot peeled and shredded
  • 4-5 few radishes thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium cucumber thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Taco Shells and Garnishes:

  • 4-6 corn tortillas
  • 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
  • cilantro, to taste
  • spicy mayo (equal parts Sriracha and mayonnaise)
  • oil for frying

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Combine pork and marinade ingredients. Allow to marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Make the pickles: in a bowl or sealable container, mix vinegar, sugar, and salt. Then mix in the vegetables and let sit for at least 1 hour.
  3. Drain off the pork marinade. Heat a little bit of oil in a pan, and cook the pork until caramelized. Should take about 5 minutes.
  4. In a shallow pot, heat oil to 375°F – Carefully lower one tortilla at a time into the oil. Once the tortilla begins to puff up and rise to the top, gently push the edge of a metal spatula into the center, bending it in half like a taco shape. Hold in place and cook until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and repeat the process.
  5. To assemble: Fill the puffy taco shells with the caramelized pork, and top with the pickled vegetables, jalapeño, cilantro, and a drizzle of spicy mayo.

Here is the instructional video from Tastemade Pork Tacos

 

Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

gazpacho

I wanted to make a gazpacho that was thirst quenching, nutritious and refreshing, so I married some juicy heirloom tomatoes, seedless watermelon, with the traditional bell peppers and cucumbers. All of which have a high water content, making it unnecessary to add tomato juice. This recipe was pretty simple even though the list of ingredients seems a bit daunting. As long as you have the right measuring tools it’s quite simple to make. Optional: make a big batch and store in the fridge for up to five days.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of diced heirloom tomatoes + 2 tbsp for garnish
  • 1 ½ cups of diced cucumbers – seeded and peeled + 2 tbsp for garnish
  • 1 ½ cups of diced red pepper – seeded + 2 tbsp for garnish
  • 1 cup of diced onions
  • 2 cups of chopped watermelon – seeded + 2 tbsp diced for garnish
  • 1 cup of croutons
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil + 1 tsp for drizzle on garnish
  • 1 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp diced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt

Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Chill the soup for minimum 4 hours but can be stored in the fridge over night. Mix all the reserve garnish (tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, and watermelon) with olive and salt. Place a tbsp onto each serving. Serve with a cool cocktail, perhaps a watermelon margarita or mojito.

Whipped Ricotta Flatbread with Zucchini and Tomatoes

Zan's recipe Flatbread whipped RicottaHere is a fun appetizer I created using some (store bought) pizza dough, ricotta, and some veggies. It’s not too heavy and you can make a little extra whipped ricotta as a dipping sauce.

Ingredients:

For the Whipped Ricotta

  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 2 Tsp. fresh rosemary
  • 8 small cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/2 Tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

For the Flatbread

  • 1 ball of pizza dough
  • flour for dusting surface and pizza spatula
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sliced zucchini (with cheese slicer)
  • 5 Roma tomatoes (sliced same thickness as zucchini)
  • 8 leaves of basil (sliced into strips)

Directions for Whipped Ricotta:

Place ricotta, rosemary, roasted garlic, salt, and goat cheese crumbles into the blender, blend on low speed, and slowly add in the olive oil until you reach a smooth consistency.

Directions for Flatbread:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees or grill. (I normally cook pizza on a pizza stone.) Roll out the pizza dough on a smooth floured surface, stretching on the edge of a counter then tossing in the air, as my husband normally does, (getting flour all over the place) until the pizza dough is evenly thinned out. You can leave the edges thicker (similar to regular pizza), which can be used for dipping into the sauce. Place 1/2 – 1 cup of whipped ricotta onto the center and spread to within one inch of the edges. Sprinkle with salt. Add the tomatoes and zucchini. Place onto the pizza stone and cook until the edges brown, and the center is cooked – approximately 5-10 minutes. Remove flatbread and drizzle the olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with the basil. Serve the extra whipped ricotta on the side. Slice into 3″ pieces and serve. Enjoy!!! Serves 4 as an appetizer.

Fish Tacos

Well, after experimenting with different ways to use Open Blue’s Cobia (aka Black Kingfish), I decided to create a new fish taco recipe. After spending 10 days in Mexico with my family, I really felt like I had tasted ample local flavor, in order to attempt to create something that my family would be proud of… and the verdict was… “This is, by far, the best fish tacos I have EVER had”, a direct quote from my foodie (a try food snob) 16-year-old son! Wahoo!!! It truly warmed my heart. Well, so here it goes:

Cobia Fish Marinade*:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 pound of Cobia (black kingfish) cut into 4 pieces
  • Salt
  • 2 limes cut into quarters

Pickled Onions:

  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • About 1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar

Tacos shells:

  • 8 fresh corn tortillas (We love the brand Mariposa)
  • 2 cups of canola oil

Avocado Crema:

  • 2 avocados
  • ½ Tsp salt
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup sour cream

Pico De Gallo:

  • 1 ⅓ cup of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 chopped green chili
  • juice of ½ lime
  • ¼ Tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 2 tbsp seeded and minced jalapeño (optional)

Bean and Corn Salsa:

  • 1 cup of sweet corn (organic canned)
  • 1 cup black beans (organic)
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 1 tbsp cilantro
  • ¼ Tsp salt

Preparation:

Marinate the Onion: Put the onion in a small bowl and pour in enough red wine vinegar to cover well. Set aside for at least 30 minutes or up to several weeks.

Marinate the Fish: Pour the olive oil into a small bowl and add the ancho chile powder, cumin, and chopped cilantro. Mix well. Place the fish in a plastic bag and pour the marinade over it, making sure to massage and coat the fish well on all sides. Allow marinating for at least 20 minutes. I marinated mine for 2 hours.

Avocado Crema: In a food processor, add the avocados, salt, and cilantro. Puree until smooth. Remove from food processor and stir in the sour cream.

Pico De Gallo/Salsa:  For both the Pico De Gallo and the Bean salsa. Mix all of the ingredients together. (I kept them separated).

Cook the Fish: Heat a nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Remove the fish from the marinade and place in the hot pan (there is no need to add more oil). Season the fish with salt. Cook the fish for 4 minutes undisturbed, then turn over, and cook for another 2 minutes or until cooked through and opaque. Remove the pan from the heat and flake the fish into the pan with a fork, making sure to mix in all the marinade that has stuck to the bottom of the pan. Check for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Set aside.

corn-tacosMake the Tortillas Tacos Shells: In a large deep pot, add the oil and cook on medium-high. One by one, place the corn tortillas into the oil, flip over after 10 seconds and make sure both sides start to puff up and brown, crease the middle and bend the tortillas in half, and submerge them until they are crisp. Place them on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Assemble and Serve: To assemble the tacos, place a heaping spoonful of the marinated flaked fish onto the center of a tortilla, add a squeeze of lime. Top with the both the Pico del Gallo and the bean salsa, and marinated onions. Serve with a dollop of avocado crema and cilantro.

*Inspiration from a fish taco marinade I found on Epicurious – made some modifications to the ingredients – the rest of the ingredients are my creation.

Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Onions, Black Beans, Sweet Potato Toast & Avocado Cream

I once again found inspiration for this dish from the Flavor Bible, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. I wanted to combine ingredients that were unusual but had a good balance of flavors, and paired nicely together. So this dish has a little bit of everything, sweet, sour and salty. My husband Dan and foodie-son Lucas said I could add it to my Top Five! It was a proud moment!

Hopefully, this list of ingredients is not too daunting. 😉

Avocado Cream:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro (no stems)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup Creme Fraiche

Sweet potato toast:

  • 1 large sweet potato (sliced with cheese slicer)
  • olive oil
  • salt

Pork Tenderloin:

  • 1 pork tenderloin (approximately 1 lb.)
  • 2 tsp rock salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro

Black Beans:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion chopped
  • 1 can of organic Black Beans
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • salt to taste

Caramelized Onions:

  • 2 onions sliced in rings
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. First, you want to bake the sweet potato toast. Cover sweet potato slices in olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in the oven on a baking sheet and cook until slightly browned approximately 20 minutes. Meanwhile, for the pork loin, melt butter in an iron skillet (oven safe) on medium high heat, add salt and pepper to the loin roast, and sear the pork on all sides. Once it is nicely browned, place the pork into the oven, next to potatoes and cook for approximately 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 135-140 degrees (for medium rare). You can then caramelize the onions, in a skillet with butter, stirring occasionally, until onions are browned and sweet. Next, in a saucepan, add the butter, once melted add the onions and garlic and cook over medium heat. Make sure not to brown the garlic. Add in the beans with the liquid and cook down the beans for 15 minutes. Next, you can make the avocado cream. Place the avocados into a food processor, or blender and add the oil, lime, salt, and cilantro. Puree until smooth. Remove from food processor and fold in the Créme Fraîche.

Now you are ready for assembly. Place 2 spoonfuls of Avocado Creme on each plate in a long smear. Add to pieces of Sweet Potato toast, then the beans, followed by the pork and caramelized onions, and finally sprinkle with the chopped cilantro. Serves 4. Enjoy!

Lamb Sandwich with Whipped Ricotta Mint Dressing

My son was bored with the typical “Ham and Cheese” sandwich, so I stepped it up a bit. I used our leftover lamb tenderloin fillet, which was cooked medium rare and had a silky smooth texture, to make his sandwich. I combined some whipped ricotta cheese with salt, olive oil and chopped mint as the dressing, and added a few caramelized red onions for a little-added sweetness.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pieces of toasted sourdough bread
  • 6 slices of lamb tenderloin
  • 1/4 cup whipped ricotta
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint
  • 1/3 cup caramelized onions
  • salt to taste
  • a drizzle of olive oil

Directions: Mix the ricotta with the chopped mint, add a dash of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Spread ricotta dressing onto the toast. Add the cooked lamb tenderloin and caramelized onions. Drizzle a little more oil on top of the sandwich. Serve with love!

Endive with Gorgonzola, Walnuts and Pears

I was slacking off in the kitchen for a while, and I can tell my husband was really looking for something new in our culinary lives, so I whipped up his favorite type of greens (or rather yellow ;-). Endives! I personally think they are a little bitter, so I added some balsamic reduction, a little sweetness to balance it. In addition, the stinky gorgonzola “paired” really well with the sweet pears. And for a little crunch, I added in the chopped walnuts. This is a super easy and simple appetizer to make, as long as you’ve made the balsamic reduction ahead of time. (Click here for that recipe). Enjoy!

Zan's recipe for Endives with Gorgonzola, pear and walnut

This only took a couple of minutes to throw together. Using the Endive as the serving utensil, you can scoop up the ingredients for a single bite, without the double-dipping.

Ingredients: (for 2 servings)

  • 1 head of endives (10-12 leaves)
  • 2 tbsp gorgonzola
  • 1 tbsp goat cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 bosc pear (cubed)
  • a drizzle of balsamic reduction

Mix all above ingredients in a bowl, except for the endives. Place the endive leaves on a plate, and add the mixture into the center, then drizzle with the balsamic reduction.

Slow Cooker Tomatillo Pork Shoulder

For approximately a year now, I’ve been volunteering for an amazing organization here in Boulder, called There With Care. There With Care’s mission is to provide a wide range of thoughtful and fundamental services to children and families during the critical phase of a medical crisis. They serve families referred by medical agencies, by building a network of services and people who ease the burden of life’s day-to-day obligations with compassion and care. I have been working on There With Care’s Team Chop, where we prep simple, healthy, and easy to cook CrockPot meals for each of the families. It has been an amazing organization to work for. We have an incredile team of people on our team, dedicating their time once a week to help eleviate some of the burden these families are facing.

So, after a year of working with Team Chop, I finally bought myself a slow-cooker (CrockPot). It has been fun experimenting with some new recipes. One of which was another creation by my foodie-17-year-old. Takes a total of 10 minutes to prep, and has very few ingredients. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb pork shoulder
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 8 tomatillos – quartered
  • 2 jalapenos – (remove seeds for less spice – chop into large chunks)
  • 1 onion – large chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves – quartered
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the pork shoulder into 1 inch pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper. In an iron skillet on high heat, add 1 tbsp of butter and add half of the pork, making sure not to crowd the pan.  Braise each piece so they are nice and brown, and crispy. Repeat with the second batch of meat. Set aside. Meanwhile, toss the tomatillos, jalapenos, onion, and garlic in the oil. Salt, then place onto a baking sheet and roast them, until they start to brown slightly, apprximately 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and place ingredients into a food processor or blender. Salt to taste. Place the meat into the crockpot and pour the pureed mixture ontop. Cook on low heat for 6 hours. Serve with rice, and black beans with sour cream.

Seared Tuna with Wasabi Crème Fraîche and Ginger Soy reduction

seared Tuna with Creme fraische
I cherish every minute I get to spend with my 17-year-old son, especially in the kitchen. He is so brutally honest when it comes to critiquing my food that it has made me a better cook. (He actually could be an amazing professional food critic). I have to credit him with this creation, I was just the executor! Searing the tuna took about 6 minutes, but the prep for the sauces was a little more labor intensive. Be sure to let the fish sit out at room temperature for about an hour, as you will only be searing the outside of the fish, inside will remain rare, and you don’t want the inside of the fish to be cold.

Ingredients for Soy Reduction:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp of rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp chopped ginger

Ingredients for Wasabi Crème Fraîche:

  • 1 cup Crème Fraîche
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 tsp wasabi paste (use less if you do not want it too spicy)
  • salt to taste

Ingredients for Tuna:

  • 2 tbsp of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp of chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp of pureed ginger
  • 4 – 6 oz pieces of Tuna
  • salt

Directions for Soy Reduction:

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, medium heat, cook down until sauce reduces it becomes thick and syrupy. Prior to pouring, strain through a sieve to remove the chunks of garlic and ginger. Pour over seared tuna.

Directions for Crème Fraîche:

Stir the Crème Fraîche together with the sour cream and salt. Add in the wasabi, one teaspoon at a time, until you’ve reached your desired potency. Spoon onto each plate. Place tuna on top of the wasabi cream.

Directions for Tuna:

Using an iron skillet, heat the oil, garlic, and ginger on medium heat. Saute until garlic is cooked, but not browned. Remove garlic and ginger with a slotted spoon, leaving any remaining oil in the pan. Increase the heat to high and add the tuna, searing each side. Once you all sides are browned, remove the fish and place onto the wasabi cream, then drizzle the soy reduction, and garnish with cooked garlic and ginger. Serves 4 people. Paired nicely with sushi rice.