Sunday, August 18, 2013

Homemade Pesto

Does this look amazing, or what?!

It tasted amazing, too, with its wonderful mix of flavors and textures; I just love pesto, and when it comes to recipe payback for the amount of work put in, this one really packs a punch. It's made with six simples ingredients that bring plain pasta to life and make you feel like a gourmet cook! I found this gem, years ago, in my The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook.

1 cup packed with basil leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts (or walnuts), chopped finely
1/3 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (and no, you can't just use the canned stuff--the horror!)
1-2 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp salt

One method is to throw everything into a food processor and chop until it meets your pesto-texture preference. Another way is to simply chop the basil and nuts and then mix everything together. Then mix it with freshly cooked pasta, use it on homemade chicken pesto pizza, or whatever your heart desires. This recipe freezes beautifully; I packed a frozen container in our camping cooler and served it a few days later. If using that method, allow it to thaw to room temperature before mixing with your pasta. (There is no need for it to be hot when you put it on hot pasta.) If it's too cold and you don't have time to let it get to room temperature, set it in a pan of warm water while you boil the pasta.

This year, I used my own basil, grown in my garden. Next year, I plan to plant several plants and whip up enough to freeze and give as gifts--It's that delicious. I'd love to hear how you like it! :)

Mango Slaw

This recipe was offered to me by 93-year-old Cousin Ed, who assured me it is one of his popular recipes. If he hadn't insisted that I wouldn't even taste the sauerkraut*, I would have politely accepted it and dropped it in the recycling bin, but Ed also shared his wonderful Chicken Pasta Salad, so I had to trust him.

1 15-oz can sauerkraut (preferably Frank's)
1 cup sugar or artificial sweetener
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 whole mango, chopped (or one large jar) Ed says jarred mango is the best; it's nice and juicy. I agree.)

I took the simple ingredients with my family on a camping trip, figuring it would be easy to assemble. It was. First, drain the jarred mango and sauerkraut.

I measured the sugar at home. It was my first time using sugar that wasn't refined, so it's brown, "in the raw." (It tastes like sugar.haha)

Dice the mango and celery.

Mix everything together. I did this in a Ziploc bag, which worked beautifully.

 I prepped the salad in the morning, for dinner that night. It turned quite juicy by dinner, 

so I used a slotted spoon to serve it, 
along with pan-fried walleye, little red potatoes, and marinated veggies.

You may have noticed the smallish portion on my plate (I was nervous!).
However, I'm very happy to report that Ed was absolutely right;
this salad is a winner, and every one of my family members said that I should make it again,
so it doesn't get better than that.

*Nothing against sauerkraut, of course; I adore it with spareribs and wouldn't dare a bratwurst without it, but in a salad?! I'm so glad I bravely ventured into this recipe :)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Chicken Tacos and Homemade Taco Seasoning

I recently made these two delicious partner recipes and didn't have time for photos. Since I'll definitely be making it again, I'll take photos next time :) The blogger on whose blog I found the taco seasoning recipe (sorry, can't find it now!) added that she makes it in bulk, puts it into small mason jars, and gives it as Christmas gifts. In case you'd like to do that, I've included conversions at the end of this post.

Crockpot Chicken Taco Meat
1 bag of frozen chicken breasts (4-5 breasts)
1 pkg taco seasoning (see recipe below if you want to make it from scratch)
1 jar of your favorite salsa
black beans, corn, and creamed cheese are optional (I didn't use them this round, and it was delicious. You can also add some cooked rice at the end.) I double this recipe, because I have a big crockpot, and it freezes very well. It also makes for a great camping meal; I cooked it at home and brought all the fixins for chicken tacos for lunch the next day. It was a big hit!

Mix the taco seasoning. Sprinkle over frozen chicken breasts in crockpot. Add the other ingredients and cook four hours on high or until the chicken is done.


Taco Seasoning
1 1/2 tsp chili powder (I cut this in half, as more than a few reviewers said it was a little hot.)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground pepper

Add to one pound of your favorite meat. Or....

Conversions for making gift-sized containers (You're welcome! :)

64 times bigger recipe (makes about 9 cups):
2 cups chili powder
1/3 cup garlic powder
1/3 cup onion powder
1/3 cup crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup dried oregano
2/3 cup paprika
2 cups ground cumin
1 1/3 cups sea salt
1 1/3 ground pepper

128 times bigger recipe (makes about 18 cups):
4 cups chili powder
2/3 cup garlic powder
2/3 cup onion powder
2/3 cup crushed red pepper flakes
2/3 cup dried oregano
1 1/3 cups paprika
4 cups ground cumin
2 2/3 cups sea salt
2 2/3 cups ground pepper

Chicken Pasta Salad

Earlier this summer, Kendall and I received the blessing of a very special lunch with a distant cousin, Ed, who is 93 and sets a table like this:

The meal included this delicious chicken pasta salad.

In my thank you note, I asked if Ed would share the recipe, and he very kindly did, and I'm so very glad, because this salad is delish!

When I made it, I was far too busy to take photos (next time, sorry), so this is the quick-and-dirty version.

2 cups cut-up, cooked chicken thighs (I boiled mine.)
2 cups celery, chopped small
1 whole bunch green onions, chopped small
3/4 red grapes, halved
1 11 oz. can Mandarin oranges
2 tablespoons green pepper, chopped small
2 tablespoons pimiento
1/2 cup slivered almonds
 2 cups Creamette rings

1/2 cup sugar (artificial sugar works, too)
3/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup cream
1 tablespoon prepared mustard

Go easy on the mayo, according to Ed; start with 1/2 cup and add more, if needed.
I doubled this recipe for a dinner with 20 of us, and it was way too much, even though everyone raved about it. It completely filled my huge, gold-colored Tupperware bowl.