Arugula Pesto


Before we begin, have I told you about this article I wrote for the Today Show Parenting Community?  It's about "parenting on-the-go" and how over the years, whenever we're packing for anything, I forget something monumental.  WITHOUT FAIL.  And so I talk about keeping your sanity during these situations, because no one is perfect.  So read, and make fun of me, and comment letting me know I'm not alone in this matter, and vote!  Thanks :)  

Now let's talk about pesto.  As a kid, I LOVED pesto, but the traditional basil kind.  In recent years, I have learned you can make pesto from anything!  Peas, kale, sun dried tomatoes, etc.  And as daunting as making a homemade sauce might seem, let me tell you, it's truly as simple as throwing everything in a blender or food processor.  I made this pesto with peppery arugula in a matter of minutes!  The longest step was toasting the pine nuts (which you could totally omit if you have a nut allergy).  We served it with spinach pasta, and it was soooo good.  Completely green, no carbs, right?  

I ate two bowls.    

Arugula Pesto
(Makes roughly 1 cup)

1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
2 cups baby Arugula
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast pine nuts until they begin to brown, stirring frequently to prevent burning.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Once cooled, add pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan to a food processor or blender.  Pulse until everything is finely processed.  Add arugula, and process, slowly drizzling in the olive oil until your desired consistency is reached.  Taste, and then season with salt and pepper.  

You might also like this Pistachio and Pea Pesto!

Genius Ingredient Mushrooms

I set my alarm for you.  Yup, I sure did.  I set it for 5:50am, which is a really weird time to set an alarm for but last night it made sense in my head.  You see, Carson usually leaves around 5:30 and I typically wake up when that happens.  On rare occasions, I get up too, and when I do it is the best decision ever.  The house is mine!  Quiet, calm.  I can leisurely make coffee and watch the news instead of Max & Ruby.  I can blog!  But if I DON'T get up when Carson does, I wake up at 6:40 to a whining baby and I'm rushed, frantic and GROGGY as hell.  So I set my alarm for 20 minutes after Carson left, cause someone once said that's the perfect amount of time for a little snooze.  I don't think it worked, however, because THIS IS ALL EXTREMELY BORING INFORMATION.

The point is, I set my alarm for you because it's been too long since I've blogged, or cooked for that matter!  I wandered around the market like a lunatic yesterday trying to get back into it.  After being gone for awhile, we needed everything, so I bought everything and then went home and stared at it.  Do you ever have those days?  When you either want to cook nothing or everything??  I finally threw a dinner together, albeit a random one, and these mushrooms were a highlight.

A reader sent me this recipe not long ago: mushrooms sautéed in pickle brine.  It may seem weird at first, but when you consider that brine is a combination of salt and acid, then why wouldn't you use it to cook with?  Just a few tablespoons in these buttery mushrooms made them divine.  Pickle brine and I are now best friends, and will go everywhere together...

These are also great, if you can handle how OLD this post is and how teeny, tiny the photos are.

Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies


I feel two things when I'm at the airport about to fly with my kids: relief and fear.  Relief, because, I've made it this far.  I've packed all the snacks and chargers and iPads and crayons and diapers and extra clothes and emergency lollipops and flasks of vodka (hahaha just kidding, or am I?).  Even if I've forgotten something (like the great Christmas Blizzard of 2010 when we flew from LA to NY without Jack's winter coat), the relief is still there because there's not much to do at that point (other than to feel like the worst mom ever and pull out that flask you didn't pack).  And then the fear.  The fear because of what lies ahead... five hours trapped in a tunnel with your small kids who might behave?  Maybe?  Maybe not?  Doesn't really matter, because you're going to be pumping them with those emergency lollipops and Benadryl (HAHAHAHAHA just kidding. Or am I?).  

That's how I'm feeling right now as I type this on my phone from the airport.  But what I'm REALLY here to tell you about are the cookies I made yesterday, the glorious, glorious cookies.  I've had this recipe bookmarked for quite some time.  Audra at The Baker Chick sure knows her baked goods.  Everything you love about a cinnamon roll and everything you love about a sugar cookie, at once!?  Yes please!!  They were delicious.  Thanks Audra!  And now it's time to board the plane... pray for us. 

Tuna Casserole + Fried Chicken


I had a blast this morning (as you can tell from photo above) cooking one of my favorite childhood dishes: Tuna Casserole (or Tuna Casserola as we called it as kids, don't know why).  I LOVE the traditional way my mom made it (with crushed potato chips on top, obviously) but I put a modern twist on this version.  Carson made his mom's Fried Chicken (which you can also read about here).  In case you missed it (or are interested in the recipes), you can check it out here.

Happy Mother's Day to all you mama's out here, I hope you have splendid weekends!  I wrote a little story about my mom here, if you'd like to read :)    

(Images by Samantha Okazaki, and Jumpsuit from J.Crew)

Bourbon Balls


Sorry for my lack of posts this week.  MY HOUSE IS FULL OF THE SICK.  That's right, The Sick.  I'm going to call it that, because it's so mighty it deserves it's own title, capital letters and all.  It started with one kid, and just as that kid showed signs of getting better, another kid went down.  The Sick likes to overlap, oh, and The Sick is many things.  It is a viral hacking/snotty nose in one kid, it is pinkeye in another, and a fever/barf in the last kid.  I'm calling them "kid" because I can't even remember their names.  I've lost it SO MUCH, in fact, that I threw out pinkeye kid's eye drops the other night, completely absentmindedly (which led to a night-long search ending in the dumpster).  

However!  We still managed to have a fun weekend celebrating the fight and the baseball and the hockey and the draft and the basketball and the Derby... which is where these Bourbon Balls came in (recipe here).  Oh, hello Bourbon!  These are not for kids (although maybe they would help sick kids?  Hmm...).  They are very bourbon-y.  But delicious.  And rich!  And did I mention the Bourbon?  (Recipe here.)

And finally... Carson and I are doing a cooking segment on the Today Show tomorrow!  It's a Mother's Day segment in honor of our mama's... tune in!

Another Chocolate Chip Cookie...


Bread flour, cake flour, all granulated sugar, all brown sugar, some powdered sugar, muscovado sugar, coconut sugar, browned butter, salted butter, shortening, chocolate discs, layered dough, chilled dough, pudding mix, cake mix, oatmeal... YOU NAME IT, I've tried it.  I have tried one BILLION variations for chocolate chip cookies.  And when I think there is nothing new left, something comes up.  However subtle the change, I will try it.  Do you know why?  It's an excuse.  It's an excuse to bake and to eat spoonfuls of cookie dough.  "Oh, in the name of research I should probably find out what happens if I use some turbinado sugar as well as the brown and granulated sugar!"  Which is what I just did with these cookies (recipe here).  They were quite lovely, the turbinado sugar (aka "sugar in the raw") gave the cookies a subtle crunch.  

So, anyone have another variation I just HAVE to try?? 

Boursin Pasta with Spring Peas


Are you familiar with Boursin Cheese?  I add it to almost every cheese plate, and it's always a hit.  It sort of tastes like flavored cream cheese, and as a devout cream cheese lover I obviously find that wonderful.  Well, the other day I was trolling around blog land, and I came across a PASTA in which the sauce is made entirely from Boursin cheese.  Not only did that sound like CRACK to me, it also sounded incredibly easy.  And it was!  Pasta, Boursin cheese, frozen (or fresh) peas and lemon zest.  And don't forget lots and lots of pepper.  I ate this until I felt really, really full, and if anyone has any suggestions on how I can implement portion control into my life, that'd be great.  

You can find the recipe here.

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup


If you're like me, then you frequently buy roasted chickens at the grocery store because you can't handle how good they smell when you walk past them.  If it weren't taboo (or illegal) I would stop what I was doing, open the plastic lid, and eat a drumstick with my bare hands right there in the market.  Instead, I put the chicken in my cart like a law-abiding citizen, purchase it, and take it home with all sorts of plans in my head.  A pre-roasted chicken is really the best shortcut when it comes to making salads, sandwiches or soups.  Like this light and creamy tortilla soup, which would be perfect for Cinco de Mayo, by the way.  With only a couple of tablespoons of cream, you don't have to feel guilty eating bowlfuls of this... and you will eat bowlfuls, it's very delicious.  We topped ours with avocado, queso fresco and crispy leeks.  Go forth, and steal- buy, buy a chicken!   

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
(Serves 6-8)
Printable Recipe

2 T olive oil
1 large carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 T all-purpose flour
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 T half and half (or heavy cream, or milk)
4 cups chicken stock
3 cups shredded roasted chicken
1 cup frozen corn kernels

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Add carrots, celery, onions and garlic.  Saute for a few minutes.  Add cilantro, ground seasonings and salt and pepper.  Saute for a few minutes more.  Add flour, and sauté for one more minute.  Then add tomatoes, and bring to a simmer.  Add cream and stir until combined.  Add chicken stock, and bring to a boil.  *Remove from heat, and with a handheld immersion blender, puree until desired consistency is reached (I like mine still somewhat chunky).  Return pot to a low simmer (medium or medium-low), and stir in chicken and corn.  Simmer slowly for 15 minutes.  Serve with toppings of choice!

*You can skip this step if you don't want a creamy soup.  And if you don't have an immersion blender, you can transfer soup to a blender to puree, working in batches.  


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