Basil Pesto

This post originally appeared in 2015 on my other blog. 

I discovered the joys of fresh pesto a couple years ago. Traditionally, pesto calls for pine nuts, but pine nuts are expensive so I have never made pesto with pine nuts. I have discovered, though, that pesto with almonds is even better.

A friend gave me an enormous bunch of basil from her mother’s garden (I believe their exact words were “basil forest”)–I was delighted. Basil is one plant I can’t grow very well (hardly the only one) but it really brightens all kinds of dishes.

And it makes pesto. We love pesto.


The Recipe:

4 garlic cloves

1/4 c raw almonds

1/2 c parmesan cheese

2-1/2 cups lightly packed basil leaves

3/4 c extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Pulse garlic cloves in food processor until minced. Add almonds, pulse till starting to look like coarse sand. Add parmesan, pulse till mixed. Add basil, pulse till minced. Add EVOO slowly while processor is running, add salt, run till it’s basically smooth. Then you’re done and can dip bread it in or pour it on pasta or put little 1/2 cup servings in the freezer  for some other day. I think this makes about 1 1/2 cups of pesto. I only put 1/2 cup in my pesto pasta for 4 meal. More gets a bit overwhelming.


Oh…did you notice that the picture shows more like 8 garlic cloves? I promise, it was more like 5 when they were covered in their little papery skins. Five hefty cloves, but only one extra for us anti-vampire garlic lovers that Zorro and I are.


Don’t be alarmed if the top of the pesto gets brown–that’s just oxidation. You can pour EVOO on top before storing to prevent that.


Our favorite way to eat pesto is with pasta (in this case, brown rice and spinach pasta) and chicken. I also sauteed some mushrooms and onions and mixed those in, also.

We have eaten this meal three times in the past two weeks and we’re not tired of it yet.


Homemade Granola



Mom started making homemade granola right around the time I started college. At the time, I wasn’t into yogurt and granola. But a few years of school and the realization that I really really need sustenance in the morning (dangit) and yogurt and granola became a routine part of the breakfast rotation. When I graduated I needed the recipe, and learned that granola is really flexible. Start with oats, oil, and flour or sugar of some kind to make it all stick, then add whatever you think you might like. I’ve taken to adding dried cherries after its cooked. All part of this complete breakfast!


The Homemade Granola Recipe

Mix in large bowl (8qt)

14 cups old fashioned oats

1/4 c sesame seeds

1/4 c sunflower seeds

1/4 c chopped almonds/walnuts/pecans

1 c powdered milk

1/2 flour or nut flour (I use the almond flour from my almond milk sometimes)

2 tsp salt

1-2 cups dark brown sugar/honey/maple syrup

Add 1 c water

1 c oil (I use olive oil, typically, but you could use coconut oil [melted] or grapeseed)

3T vanilla extract

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix thoroughly, spread in two large jelly roll pans and bake for 2 hours at 250 degrees. Add 1/2 c dried fruit if desired. Enjoy!

Sipping Chocolate

Ever since reading Calico Captive as a teenager, I have been fascinated with the idea of sipping chocolate.

This year I actually made it a couple times during the holidays, and may very well make it again as the winter progresses.

It’s very good.

So much depends on the chocolate you use, but I’ve actually really enjoyed my Costco brand chocolate chips. Who knew, right? I should really try it with some of the fancy organic fairtrade $4/bar chocolates and see how that changes the experience, but so far the chocolate chips are doing the trick.

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One of the really fun parts is garnish–or whatever else you call the last  finishing touch ingredient. So far my favorite is cinnamon sprinkled on top, but cinnamon with a spit of hot chili powder is also good. You could also use whipped cream, or whipping cream straight, lavender or rose (if you like drinking flowers), orange zest, fancy salt, vanilla sugar…Lindt bar flavors are great inspiration for chocolate toppers.

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The Recipe (adapted from the Tasty Kitchen Blog)

3 c whole milk

1/2 c heavy cream

8 oz chocolate finely chopped

1 tsp maple syrup or honey (I used honey)

1 tsp vanilla extract (I used homemade bourbon vanilla extract)

dash salt (brings out the flavor)

Warning: This is a really, really rich drink. Tasty Kitchen says it makes 4 servings. You have to have a serious capacity to down chocolate to only get 4 servings out of this. You could generously serve 6, or comfortably serve 8. This recipe does alright the next day chilled, though, so leftovers are not the end of the world.

Warm the milk and cream to nearly a simmer, add the chopped chocolate and whisk till melted. Add the honey, vanilla extract and dash of salt. Simmer and whisk about 4 minutes until starting to thicken.

Serve with cinnamon or whipped cream. Or both. Sky’s the limit.

Gluten free Peanut Butter Cups

I love peanut butter cups–that is, I love my peanut butter cups. So does Zorro. I always dig out the recipe and then realize in surprise that I don’t follow it.

It’s not that there is anything wrong with the recipe, it’s just that I have a near-celiac friend and started converting things to gluten free. This is one of the rare things which is actually better that way–plus it’s much better for you. What with raw honey instead of sugar, no wheat, and just a bit of chocolate and butter fat. It’s like melted trail mix now.

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I forgot I usually use honey and used powdered sugar this time…whoops. It’s what I get for cooking and watching Agents of Shield at the same time.

Tasted good.

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I’ve finally gotten better at the art of pouring peanut butter–most of the peanut butter is in the cups this time around! Woot!

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So here you go, I’ve now written down what I actually do when I make peanut butter cups. When I’m not distracted by a tv show and trying to remember what I do instead of following the recipe.


Gingerbread Star Wars

Full disclosure: This project was actually completed in 2013. But it’s still pretty epic. 

There is that one picture of an AT-AT made by a baker in CA that has dominated the gingerbread geekdom and it really made me want to try making a geeky work of gingerbread myself. I’m really not sure if it were me or Zorro who said we should make it, but I got in the supplies, called in Zorro’s siblings, and whipped up the dough. I also came up with one twist for our AT-AT which solved the problem of structural soundness.

He was a happy AT-AT, and he tried to go ice skating.

Zorro made a schematic, then he and the Minstrel spent forever measuring and cutting pieces. We decorated gingerbread cookies while it baked, and then the gluing and waiting and then  finally decorating took place. We started working on the schematics at 1 in the afternoon, I think they put the finishing touches on around 11 that night!

I’m so excited for how it turned out!






We had some leftover dough and made the shield generators, and tried to make an x-wing, but it came out more as an imperial shuttle. It tried to ice skate, too.


Merry Christmas!