Everything But The…Pesto

So, I won’t be making candy cane kiss cookies for my co-workers.  I sort of had a hunch that would happen.

I have now consumed two entire bags of these delicious, addictive, terrible-for-you candy cane kisses.  My only hope is that this will now hold off my insatiable craving until next year’s holiday season.  My co-workers will be getting pumpkin bread instead, the recipe for which I will not be posting here, as I rely heavily on a Trader Joe’s mix (sssh).

While that bakes, I’m hungry for dinner.  And there are a lot of leftovers – not all of them pulled chicken – in the fridge.  I’m talking broccoli, not just tired but exhausted looking herbs, and zested lemons.  This will all go bad in a few days…which means it’s food processor time.

Everything But the Kitchen Sink Pesto

  • whole wheat spaghetti
  • 2-3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup basil
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, stems included
  • 1 cup arugula (both for the peppery taste and to offset the very tired basil’s color!)
  • about 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as you see fit
  • 3 garlic cloves (let’s be honest, I used more than that, but I guess not everyone is into that sort of thing)
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 big handful Parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • crushed red pepper
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook your pasta according to directions.  Drain, reserving at least one cup of the starchy water.
  2. Microwave your broccoli florets for 2-3 minutes.  Combine broccoli and the rest of the ingredients (through crushed red pepper) in a food processor and pulse until it starts to resemble a sauce.
  3. Slowly add the reserved pasta water and keep pulsing until sauce gets to your desired consistency.
  4. Don’t be fooled: this is not an exact science, or an exact recipe.  Keep playing with the ingredients until the pesto tastes right – more salt? more olive oil? more cheese? – to you.  Serve, well mixed, with pasta.
fighting off all the vampires tonight.
fighting off all the vampires tonight.

The Verdict:

This is a go-to for using up leftover vegetables and herbs.  You can make with almost any combination of things you have already in your fridge, and if you don’t use too much olive oil (or cheese), it actually feels like you’re doing ok health-wise.  You can also freeze pesto – pop it into a ziploc bag, snip off one corner, squeeze into ice cube trays, and cover with saran wrap.  That way, you can use one (or two, or three) cubes without having to chip it off a frozen solid block.  Presto pesto.

Pizza night! (And some salad was involved, too.)

Tuesday night went according to plan – sort of. (And so is life.) We’re fostering a puppy right now and so much of my day-to-day existence has revolved around making sure she isn’t eating our house, peeing everywhere, or otherwise hurting herself. She’s also a bit of a timid little lady, so I took her to a shy and fearful dog class, which was kindly hosted by her rescue organization, Second Hand Hounds. The class started at 6:30pm, so I naively thought that it’d last an hour, I’d be home by 8pm, and I could take charge of dinner then. No such luck. I left the class at 8:30pm and got home at 9pm, thinking that dinner was all over. And then… as I climbed the apartment stairs, delicious smells started wafting through the air. “Could it be,” I wondered in my starved stupor. I steadily mounted the last stairs, opened the apartment door, and gasped in excitement: the pizza had been prepared (by my kind and loving husband). Seriously, there is nothing better than coming home to have a freshly cooked pizza waiting for you. So here is our favorite pizza to make at home. It’s nothing special, but it’s oh so delicious and oh so easy and enjoyable on a night where you don’t really have much gas left in the tank and you want a cheap and simple meal.

Simple Homemade Pizza

  • Prepared pizza dough (when I called this pizza “homemade,” I stretched the truth a little bit). We’ve bought our dough at Whole Foods, our local food coop, and Trader Joes. Your local pizza place may have dough for purchase as well.
  • A jar of pesto.
  • Salami
  • Mozzarella

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (or follow whatever cooking directions your dough provides).

2. Roll out the dough on a baking pan – feel free to spray the pan with non-stick spray first.

3. Spread the pesto on the dough, place the salami on the pizza, and then cut up the mozzarella into slices and arrange on the pie.

4. Stick in the oven and let that baby cook until the crust is where you want it -maybe around 20 minutes.  Totally easy and totally yummy.

To make ourselves feel better about having pizza, we also pulled together a quick salad. The story behind this salad: for the longest time, I’ve been going to restaurants and ordering an arugula salad – it’s always super simple and I feel clean and wholesome and pretty while I eat it (before diving into whatever pasta deliciousness I’ve also willed to appear on the table). But then I go home and forget about arugula until the next time I go to a restaurant and run through the same cycle and spend another eight bucks on something I could have easily made myself. Recently, I realized that I was being stupendously silly and set out to rectify the situation. And here it is: the best (and easiest ) salad ever.

  • 1 packet of baby arugula
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • Thin slices of parmesan
  • A gentle swirl of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Mix it all together until you find the balance that makes your taste buds sing, and enjoy! (I told you it was easy.)

Dinner for Four: Slow Cooked Pork Loin with Arugula and Mozzarella

Last night was the first time since starting this blog that we’ve had more than just the two of us at the dinner table.  So we busted out our secret weapon: the crockpot.

The Husband has been a firm believer in the crockpot since before we started dating.  And while I had some doubts initially (doesn’t all the food turn out mushy?), I have joined the ranks of the converted.  Nothing is easier than set it, forget it, eat it.  So that’s exactly what we did, plus a few bottles of wine, to delicious results.

The “recipe” that follows is more of a guideline, than a recipe.  Sadly, we didn’t capture this on camera, as I was too excited to eat and completely forgot…

Slow Cooked Pork Loin with Arugula and Mozzarella

  • olive oil
  • 1.5-2 lbs of pork tenderloin
  • 1-2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1/2 chopped red onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ketchup – a couple of squirts
  • about 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 package of French onion soup mix (I know, I know, but it really does add great flavor!)
  • a little something sweet – a dash of honey or a spoonful of brown sugar
  • salt, pepper
  • crushed red pepper
  • arugula
  • (another) 1/2 chopped red onion
  • sliced fresh mozzarella
  1. If you have the time, sear the pork loin in olive oil until browned on all sides before putting it in the crockpot.  It will give it a better, deeper flavor.
  2. Place the pork loin at the bottom of the crockpot, pour the chicken stock over the pork and mix in the rest of the ingredients, through the red pepper.  Set on low and cook for 8-9 hours.  Go to work!
  3. With about 20 minutes to go, warm some olive oil in a saute pan, cook down the onions.  Add some salt and pepper (and if you’re like us, some more crushed reds!), and then a large bunch of arugula – it will cook down significantly!
  4. Slice the loin and serve in a shallow bowl, topped with some of the cooking liquid, a slice of mozzarella cheese, and the greens and onion mixture.  The cheese will melt and the greens will add both a spice and a texture to the pork – which should be delicious on its own!

The Verdict:

The Husband first made this meal for me after I returned from three months of living away from him.  It was delicious then, and it was delicious now.  This is definitely a go-to for easy, relatively elegant, hearty food.