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Sunday, August 10, 2014


I love pesto so it's a good thing I grow my own basil almost every year. I used to think about selling pesto, but I'm not sure everyone loves it as much as I do. Also, if I sold it I couldn't squirrel it away and give it away like I do.

Original recipes for basil pesto use pine nuts. I've never made it with anything except pecans.

Pesto is good in pasta, chicken, pasta salad, soups, potatoes, pizza.... It can be brushed on bread and toasted a little in the oven. It can be put in calzones and brushed on top. You can add sun dried tomatoes or chopped fresh tomatoes when you use it in whatever you're cooking. You can throw a lump into your spaghetti sauce for a quick boost of flavor. It can be overdone, so be careful of turning everything green or using too much.

You can process it very finely into a paste, or make it a little coarse. You can use more or less spinach, or none at all. More or less garlic to taste also. Once you've made it and tasted it on your noodles you can decide how strong to make it next time. Of course fresh basil is best, but people also make it with dried basil and fresh spinach. If you freeze pesto you can leave out the cheese if you want, adding it to your dish later. Some people say the cheese doesn't freeze very well.


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, firmly packed (no branches)
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • ½ cup Parmesan or Romano cheese (the better the quality, the better the taste)
  • ½ cup pecans
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ fruit fresh or lemon juice (optional. Just keeps it brighter green)
  • ½ cup olive oil

Pack your measuring cup with the basil, but this isn't an exact science.

Place all ingredients except the oil into a food processor and pulse until you make a paste. This will take quite a few pulses, scraping down the sides each time if you want a smoother paste. You can make it the old fashioned way, chopping and smashing by hand if you like. I'll be eating mine on hot pasta with my feet up
while you're still looking for a big sharp knife!
Once it's to your desired consistency start adding the oil slowly as the machine runs.
Smell that heavenly smell!

Once it's processed I keep some in a jar in the fridge and freeze the rest in doubled sandwich baggies which are then placed into a quart size freezer bag. I turn a baggie inside out on my hand and squish it in there. I know, it looks weird, but it's green gold!
(originally posted in July 2009)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Calzone or Pizza Dough

  This dough is best made early in the day, or the day before you'll want to use it. You can leave it on the counter and cover it, punching it down if it starts trying to overflow, but it's best placed in the fridge and aged. 

Calzones fresh from the oven.

Yummy Pizza

Calzone or Pizza Dough

This recipe makes 2 large or 4 smaller calzones.
Mix it in your bread machine on the "dough" setting or stand mixer with dough hooks.

  • 1 1/4 c. Warm Water
  • 2 tsp. Honey or Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tab. Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 2 1/2 c. All-Purpose Unbleached Flour
  • 1 c. Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. Yeast
Combine everything in the bread mixer bowl in the above order. As it mixes, add a tiny amount of flour, if needed, to make a tacky, but not super sticky dough. Let the bread machine finish the mixing stage, or until it is mixed well in the mixer bowl. You may leave it in the bread machine to finish the cycle, but I usually make 2 batches, so I dump it into an empty 4 qt. ice cream container. Oil the dough and flip it over. Place the lid on, or cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for a few hours, or up to 3 days before you use it. You can use it quicker, I have done that, but it's much better after it's left to sit. "Burp" the cover if it bulges.

Making Calzones

You can put anything in a calzone that you normally like on pizza, but the ingredients for my calzones are:
  • Ricotta cheese, sometimes thinned with a little milk or buttermilk
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Romano and/or Parmesan cheese
  • Swiss cheese slices
  • Pepperoni
  • Oregano
  • Pesto (I make my own) or Spaghetti sauce is used in a few, but mostly just the above cheeses and pepperoni.
Divide the dough into 2 or 4 balls and let them rest on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes.

Use a rolling pin to roll the balls into circles.

On one half of the circle, or as near to a circle as you got, 
spread the ricotta

 Really pile up the other ingredients, alternating layers 
of pepperoni & different cheeses. 
Sprinkle with oregano.
Oil a pan & sprinkle it with corn meal.

Fold over, pinch closed, drizzle with olive oil

Sprinkle with garlic salt & oregano. Bake at 400° 
15-20 minutes or until lightly browned

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fresh Salsa!!

Fresh Salsa is super easy to make. No need to can it unless you have a bunch that you can't eat right away. 

The basic stuff of salsa is: Tomatoes, onions, garlic, lime or lemon juice, cilantro & salt. If you start with these you can't mess up. Cilantro has a strong, distinctive flavor that some people don't care for. If you don't, use some cumin or chilli powder.

Here is how I usually make salsa
In a food processor chop all your veggies & herbs. 
Keep pouring it all together into a bowl as you work. 

Stir it well and taste it on a chip. Eat about three big bites before you decide to add anything. 
As it sits in the fridge the flavors will blend and it might get a little more spicy. 
Eat it with chips, add it to guacamole, put it on salad...YUM!
  • Tomatoes, Roma are best. Squeezing out the juice and seeds to eliminate liquid
  • Hot peppers of your choice. Removing some of the seeds will cool it down. Wear gloves when handling the hot peppers! Unless you want your kids to see you crying and holding your hands in ice water the rest of the day.
  • Bell or other sweet peppers
  • Onion/green onion
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Cumin, and/or little chili powder
  • Fresh oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary (if you want)
  • Salt ( sea salt preferred)
  • Vinegar
  • Lime or Lemon juice
This post is about uncooked fresh salsa.The link to canning salsa is here: Tar Tar's Salsa

Monday, July 29, 2013

Veggie Sculpture for Kids

Veggie Sculpture is great fun. I have to give an uncle credit for teaching me the basics when I was a bored little girl. He was my momma's brother. They and their siblings, grew up in the days of make-your-own toys, and boy did they know how to do that! Some of that ingenuity was passed down from Grandfather Vinson who made fences for his children's tiny bottle "animals" with large nails to form the fence posts and wire twisted around the nails to make the fence.

If you have a garden this summer, or produce going too big or dry (not rotten) you already have the makings for cute creativity. Above are my tiny eggplant people. They just started to appear while I was peeling little finger eggplant. Clove and fennel seed features.
 Since my grand kids don't live near I am doing a couple of crafty critters for them and their mommy can help them do their own.

 Gather produce such as: squash (the crooked-neck squashes make great animals), cucumbers, beans, eggplant. Supplies such as: sticks for legs & arms, pine needles, leaves, flowers, toothpicks to hold the vegetable parts together. Pruning shears to cut sticks, seeds like fennel, whole cloves.... you get the idea!

Test out how you want the pieces to go together. 
Little ones will need help with shears and the sharp toothpicks.

Cuke Creatures!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Homemade Electrolyte Drinks

Make Your Own Gatorade Type Drink or Flavored Water

First - What are electrolytes?

Electrolytes are substances that become ions in solution and can conduct electricity. A balance of minerals/electrolytes in our bodies is essential for normal function of our cells and organs.When we are sweating in this hot weather we are losing essential minerals/electrolytes. For our purposes we are mainly concerned with potassium and chloride replacement. 

Potassium is a positive ion found inside our cells and is needed for normal cell function. A couple of important functions are regulation of the heartbeat and muscle function. Orange juice is high in potassium. An 8 oz. glass has 450 mg. That's 10X the potassium that a quart of Gatorade has! 75 mg are in 1/4 c. of lemon juice which is almost twice what Gatorade has.

Chloride is a negatively charged ion found in the fluid outside of cells and in the blood. Chloride plays a role in helping the body maintain a normal balance of fluids. Table salt or sea salt is mainly sodium chloride with other trace minerals.

If you drink water and eat a salty snack and a piece of fruit to replace what you've lost that is great, but don't drink quarts and quarts of water and not snack. You can become the victim of water intoxication. It sounds funny, but trust me, it's not. That puts a whammy on your body's cells because of salt dilution. Theoretically, cells could swell to the point of bursting. Tissue swelling can cause an irregular heartbeat and allow fluid to enter the lungs. Swelling of brain tissues can cause seizures, coma and ultimately death unless water intake is restricted and a hypertonic saline solution is administered. I am pretty sure that's where I was headed one summer. I was drinking lots of water too quickly and not eating.

Good, old-fashioned lemon juice contains high amounts of vitamin C, the B vitamins, A, vitamin E, retinol, folate and folic acid. Minerals that are found in lemon juice include calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium, copper, zinc, manganese and selenium. Most of the essential minerals that are required by the human body are present in lemon juice. Cool! Oranges, limes , pineapples, grapes & coconut water likewise have good stuff we need like the all important potassium.

Now that you've had your health lesson, on to making our drinks! Pick your juice or juice combo. You can make Salty Lemonade, Grape, Orange, Lime, or a combination of these.

You'll need:
  • Sea Salt
  • Sugar, Honey or Stevia
  • Juice or fruit to get the juice- Such as: Lemon, Lime, Orange, Pineapple, Grape...
  • Coconut water is another possible ingredient 
  • Sports jugs, or quart jars
I think the favorite has become the Salty Lemonade. You can substitute stevia for the honey or sugar, but just remember that cuts down on the carbs also. With a sweeter juice you may or may not want as much sugar or honey.

You may want to warm up your juice to get the sugar & salt dissolved.

Add concentrated orange juice to grape or lime if you want. Taste it after adding the salt. You may decide to add more of something at this point even though it's concentrated. Add water and ice to top off your quart jar or bottle. Taste again, remembering it's supposed to be like a flavored water, not full-strength juice.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Apricot Zucchini Bread & Muffins

Made With Fresh Apricots, Zucchini Squash & Coconut this is going to be my favorite quick bread! 

I adore apricots and coconut. The combination is something wonderful! I had frozen apricots & tons of squash this morning so I experimented with my zucchini quick bread recipe and found something heavenly! Moist, beautiful apricotiness. Shhhh! Don't tell the silly people that it has squash. They will never know as fast as it disappears down the hatch!           

½ cup Coconut oil
1 cup Raw Sugar
2 Eggs
1 cup Apricots fresh or frozen, cut up and smashed, (NOT DRIED)
2 cups Zucchini, shredded
1 cup Coconut (moist, Baker's brand)
2 tsp Vanilla
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Baking Powder
1½ tsp Baking Soda
3 cups Flour (can use part whole wheat)
2 tsp Cinnamon
¼ tsp Nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 325°F. In a mixing bowl stir together oil and sugar. Beat in the eggs, apricots, zucchini, coconut and vanilla, mixing well. 

Fold in dry ingredients just until blended.
Pour into greased loaf pans, or muffin tins. 
Bake for about 30 minutes for the loaves. Don't overcook!
You can toothpick test off center. A toothpick coming out relatively clean is a loaf done enough. Springs back when you gently touch center? That's good also. This is so scrumptious I could make myself sick eating it.

Apricot Zucchini Bread

1 stick butter
1 cup raw honey
2 eggs
¾ cup fresh apricots, cut up and smashed
2 cups shredded zucchini
2 tsp vanilla
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1½ tsp baking soda
3 cups fresh-ground sprouted whole wheat flour
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
A pinch of cardamom

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl cream the butter and honey until creamy. Beat eggs in one at a time then continue beating for 1 minute. Add the apricots, zucchini and vanilla. Mix well. Fold in dry ingredients just until blended. Do not over mix.
Pour into 2 greased bread pans. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Dear Sweet Peas: Tinkerbell

I know that you, Little Sweet Pea, are obsessed with all things Tinkerbell & Pan. I only encourage you in that wondrous imagination of yours by sending you fairy wings, and a teeny Tinker in her lantern. You're only little once, and this is a magical time for you. 
SO Tinker is on her way to you.  
She will be flying over in an airplane because her tiny wings would be all worn out from the flight over the ocean. It's such a big, big water to us and even bigger for her! She will be bringing something for Brother Sweet Pea & Daddy to put together, and something for Mommy to read.Tink will tell you how much your Nan & Pappy love you all and our secrets. So listen closely, and she might tell you things like how she saw Nanny & Pappy hugging and watching fireworks from the window, and how she heard the noisy firework LATE last night and told Patty Dog, "Don't be afraid!" She saw Nanny read her bible and talk to God, and heard Pappy & Uncle A fixing the side of the house.Tinker might tell you to remember that little girls can pretend to fly like fairies, but only pretend. No jumping off of tall things. Daddy is great for a "take off!" flight. 

I'm so glad I get to Skype with you and brother. Glad that Tinkerbell wasn't too shy to talk to you. 

Here's a picture of Nanny's shadow that I took at your house one night. I thought of Peter Pan when I saw my shadow. I'm glad my shadow sticks close by me and never runs away.