Category: recipes

Freezer Pesto

One thing that grows down here in the hot dry summers, even when the rest of the garden has literally cooked to a crisp, is basil.  And we love it.  It keeps going and going and going…but I’m not complaining.  Just keep picking and making pesto! I don’t actually use a recipe for pesto, I just add this and that until it looks right, but if you don’t cook like this, you might want to try this recipe.  Just keep in mind that it can be modified a LOT and still be delicious!

Here is my method.

1. Pick a bucket full of basil and wash thoroughly.  Then take a picture because it is pretty.  If you are using spinach, you can use an amount equal to the amount of basil.  I find that the spinach doesn’t really change the flavor of the pesto much, but it makes the pesto stay green better in the freezer as well as (obviously) increasing yield.

2. Gather up the rest of your supplies.  You will need:


Nuts of some kind (Pine nuts are too expensive, so I use what I have.  I’ve used walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.  You can also add in some sunflower or pumpkin seeds, though I use them sparingly.)

Fresh Garlic

Fresh Lemons

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Fresh Baby Spinach (optional)

You will also need Parmesan cheese, but not yet

3. Roast Garlic and Toast Nuts

Cook the nuts in a single layer until they just start to get crisp and golden, but be careful because it’s easy to overcook them.


Cut the tops off the garlic, just exposing the top of each clove. Then place in a baking pan and drizzle over the top with EVOO. Roast at 400-450 until golden and the cloves are beginning to pop out of the top.  Pull out of oven and let cool.  Then you should be able to just pop the cloves right out of the paper. Super easy.

4. Start throwing things in the food processor. I fill the bowl with spinach and basil, add some garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt and pepper and then start the machine.  Pour EVOO into the food processor slowly until it all blends up evenly.  When smooth, use a spatula to scrape the pesto into a big bowl.

5. Do this about a million more times.  Keep adding batches to the big bowl. You don’t have to worry that every batch has the same amount of all the ingredients because once everything has gone through the blender, you want to stir it up and taste it.

6. Adjust seasoning. Add whatever you need to taste.  The flavor will be strong because a little bit goes a long way.  So it’s not a big deal if it tastes a little too salty or peppery.

7. Run it all through the food processor again.  This will help make sure that everything is incorporated evenly and will hopefully make it nice and smooth.

8. Fill Jars. Or whatever freezer containers you are using.  I LOVE tiny little four-ounce jelly jars for this.  One tiny jar will actually make a lot of pasta!  We love to add the pesto to other things: instead of mayo on grilled sandwiches, to flavor roasted meat or veggies, etc.

9. Label and Freeze. Make sure to include the date.

10. Use. When you are ready to use, make sure to add Parmesan cheese to taste.  And if you are using it on pasta, reserve the starchy cooking water and add a cup to your pasta when tossing with the pesto and cheese.  So yummy!

Menu Plan

Trying to get back to posting this, as it really does help me stay on track. Here are my plans for this week.

B – Kashi
L – Black Bean Burritos from freezer with tomatoes
S – carrot sticks and cheese
D – grilled eggplant/feta stacks with green salad and olives

B- egg muffin
L- leftovers from Tuesday dinner
S – cheese sticks, ww crackers
D – crustless veggie quiche with salad

B- oatmeal or egg muffin
L- taco salad w/ homemade tortilla strips
S- carrot sticks and cheese
D- leftover quiche, salad

B- cereal or oatmeal
L- grilled tilapia and chicken breast with grilled veggies (grilled brussels sprouts?)
S- nuts and carrot sticks

Saturday (make a big batch of marinara and a crock pot of taco meat)
B- out or egg muffin
L- leftovers from Fri lunch
S- nuts and carrots and cheese
D- baked spaghetti squash with meatballs and red sauce

So I’m going to take a stab at the pantry challenge for January. We’ve actually been eating mainly from the pantry and freezer for all of December, so I don’t have much of a stockpile, but I do really want to work through what we have and also put together a donation for a local food pantry.

My goals:

  • Keep grocery spending under $25 a week for the month of January. This will be mostly produce and dairy.
  • Clean out the freezer in preparation for defrosting and a thorough cleaning at the end of the month.
  • Work through pantry to avoid having food expire.
  • Inventory freezer, fridge, cupboards.
  • Gather and deliver food pantry donation.
  • Grocery budget money will go towards supplies for the garden. I want to add another raised bed and we also need to purchase another truckload of mulch/compost as well as plants and seeds.

24 Days of December

Check out my scrapping blog for lots of tutorials, gift ideas, and recipes leading up to Christmas!

Indian-Spiced Turkey Burgers

Those of you who know me know, that while I love to cook, I don’t buy cook books. Most recipes I can find online for free. But a while back, I did purchase a copy of Anjum Anand’s “Indian Food Made Easy” because I really wanted to learn to cook the Indian food that we enjoy so much when we go out to eat. Everything I’ve made from the book has been delicious and enjoyed by all of us (as long as I make milder versions of the spicy dishes for Autumn).

I adapted her Chicken Burger recipe from the book to make turkey burgers for lunch today and they turned out soooooo yummy. I’d love to try the original recipe as it’s written in the book, but adapted it to use what I had on hand in the house. Here’s my version from today (oh, and this made about 13 burgers, 10 of which I’m sticking in the freezer for quick lunches):

2 lbs ground turkey
1 1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 small onion minced
2-3 large garlic cloves minced
handful of fresh parsley leaves and stalks finely chopped
2 heaping teaspoons salt
1 1/2 t garam masala (common Indian spice combination – you can find this one in the grocery store)
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
2 eggs
2 t ground cumin
2 t fresh lemon juice
1/2 – 1 t ground red pepper
2 T EVOO, plus extra for oiling pan

Pre-heat oven to 400. Mix all ingredients together with your hands until well-combined. Shape into patties and place on an oiled pan. Cook for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Serve on toasted buns with tomato, lettuce, onion and (herbed) mayo.

"Baking Day" Part Four

Wednesday afternoon after grocery shopping, I came home and started browning ground chuck for the pasta sauce in the crock pot. Made sauce with lots of fresh herbs from the garden, then added it all together with spinach to simmer in the crock pot.

Baked two loaves of oatmeal bread and two more batches of muffins for the freezer. (not pictured)

Cooked pasta and assembled baked ziti with lots of cheese and popped them in the oven. Made four-six meals worth of baked ziti. Some below.

Mixed up four batches of pizza dough, freezing three and making BBQ chicken pizza for dinner.

Baked a couple dozen pecan tarts, but the rest will have to be for tomorrow. I’m just too tired! I’m hoping to put together a complete list and how much I spent, but again, just too tired.

Wednesday morning it was great to start with a clean kitchen after cleaning up the night before. Started out by packaging up and freezing five meals worth of black bean soup that had cooked in the crockpot all night! (No picture)

Then I mixed up oatmeal bread dough and set it out to rise.

Mixed up five batches of blueberry waffles and ate some for breakfast and froze enough for five more breakfasts.

Rolling out and shaping bread for baking.

Processed the rest of the garden tomatoes that I had had sitting on the counter to make the beginning of pasta sauce and off to storytime @ the library and the grocery store.

Tuesday evening I started out by removing the bones and shredding all the chicken and adding seasoning to taste. Looks nasty, I know, but it really isn’t. Enough for four meals for the freezer, with some left over for dinner Wednesday.

Sauteing sweet potatoes and onions for black bean soup.

Then it was time to chop up the precooked bacon, dice up leftover steamed veggies, and mix up the egg/milk/cheese for quiche.

I had pillsbury pie crusts from a freebie deal this week, so I guess I cheated a bit. 🙂 Here are the crusts with veggies and bacon layered in them.

And one of them finished. I made four, three for the freezer and one for dinner (and lunch Thursday from the leftovers).

Got everything in the freezer and mixed up a batch of pecan tart dough.

Also put all the black bean soup ingredients in the crock pot to cook overnight – smells good!!!

Oh, and made two experimental batches of muffins, trying to make my own recipe…

I joined in moneysavingmom’s Bakingday on twitter over the last couple days. Too exhausted at the moment to clean up the mess from today, so I’m blogging some of what I got done.

Tuesday morning I started out by soaking black beans, pre-cooking bacon in the oven, and starting a whole crockpot full of BBQ split chicken breasts, before making lunch and heading to home-school co-op for the afternoon.

Okay, granted, not exactly healthy, but these are super yummy!

Basic Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar (i use less)
2 cups grated zucchini
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 T cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup nuts (i use more)

Beat eggs and add in sugar, vanilla, oil, and zucchini. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Bake in two greased loaf pans or muffin tins at 325-350 for about an hour (less for muffins).

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 T vanilla
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup cocoa
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
nuts (i use a lot)

Follow directions for zucchini bread, but pour into a greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake at 350 until done, center will bounce back when touched.

Remove from pan and cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or a powdered sugar glaze.