Power Ballads & Faux BBQ Cabbage Slaw

You know sometimes in a group setting, you randomly mention something that you believe to be a universal truth, and the other people disagree, and everyone ends up shocked and at that moment you begin a debate that ends up spanning months and dozens of beers? Sides are drawn, articles are googled, irrational anger takes over and you both know that this battle will have no end? Sort of like the white/gold and blue/black dress craze a few months back.

My friend and I are currently debating with some other friends over the term “power ballad”. Our wider definition of a power ballad is a song where the singer has a powerful voice, or makes you feel all of the feelings. Basically, they just need to be powerful overall. I mean, listen to “I will always love you” by Whitney Houston or “It’s all coming back to me now” by Celine Dion and tell me you wouldn’t define that as a POWER ballad. Don’t tell me that Poison & Whitesnake are the only type of power ballad you’ll acknowledge, great as their songs may be.

photo 3 (2) All this power ballad talk has made me want to listen to some old favourites. Which in turn gets me hyped. Any friend of mine will tell you that once I get hyped, I become this overwhelming, unstoppable planning machine. And spoiler alert: Planning machines love to organize parties, trips and events. Lots of them. Which in turn makes me come up with a menu that won’t stress me out but will be sufficiently unique, filling, and delicious. I know, it’s a lot of turning. It can make a gal pretty dizzy. I love BBQs but the extra work sometimes doesn’t cut it, so I prefer to be invited to them (hint hint all of you).

If you invite me to a BBQ or if I did have an event, I’d probably bring this BBQ cabbage hack I came up with. It is shockingly easy, quick and can be done right on your stove without pulling out the grill.

Faux BBQ Cabbage Slaw

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 10 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

4 cups chopped Purple Cabbage

2 tbsp BBQ Sauce of choice

1/2 tbsp Soy Sauce

1/2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes

2 cloves Garlic, minced

2 tsp Water

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Instructions

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients except for water and cabbage.

Place chopped cabbage in a skillet and sprinkle water over cabbage. Cover and let cook on medium heat for 1 minute. Add sauce mixture to skillet , stir to evenly distribute, and cook for another two minutes until liquid has evaporated. photo 5 (1)

I’m bringing this to Fiesta Friday and a Dish of Daily Life (although I’m a little late to the parties!)

You’ll get a sense of my music tastes from my previous lists (click here and here), but right now I’m hyped on ‘more than a feeling’ by Boston. And ‘fast car’ by Tracy Chapman – FYI, music does not have to be fast to get me sufficiently hyped #wisdom.

Whatever it is, put on your version of a power ballad and enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Asparagus Lima Bean Soup + the Great Fridge War of April 2015

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Right now, I’m locked in a thrilling power struggle. It’s Indi versus her crisper drawer. Yes, those two drawers in the fridge where you store your vegetables. At the most random times, the fridge seems to get a brainwave and freeze my beautiful fresh veggies. Sometimes I think that I will look back one day and realize that the crisper freezing was the first sign of the rise of the machines and I chose to ignore it.

The casualty this time was asparagus. The day before, I went to the market (ok, Rabin went. Although I love seeing the produce, I dislike going to the market because people take one look at the smiling, awkward newbie trying not to step in a puddle and the price magically goes up) and got a huge bunch of beautiful asparagus. It ain’t cheap over here, so I had plans to make about 3 other dishes I’ve marked off for when I decide to treat myself. Instead I got the saddest asparagus ice pops.

It didn’t ruin the nutritional value, but thawed Asparagus is soggy. Which means that if texture is an important part of one of the recipes (think stir-fry), then you’re just gonna have to wait until the next time you buy.

So what did I do? Life gave me lemons, so I made Asparagus Lemonade. Ugh, that sounds gross. I made soup. Asparagus soup.

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As for lima beans, I’ve had it in my pantry for so long but always overlook it, choosing instead the more flashy chickpeas or black beans. I had no idea that lima beans were so good for you! So in the pot they went. Lima beans are also known as butter beans, FYI.

Asparagus Lima Bean Soup

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Difficulty: easy
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Instructions

2 cups cooked Lima Beans
2 cups chopped Asparagus
3 small Potatoes, scrubbed
4 cups Water or Stock
1 medium Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, diced
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Thyme
1/4 tsp Red pepper Flakes

Peas, Parmesan cheese – Optional, for garnish

The soggy-ish Asparagus

The soggy-ish Asparagus

Instructions

Warm oil in a pot, add onions and let simmer until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add water / stock, potatoes, Salt, pepper & thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let cook until potatoes are soft. Add lima beans and asparagus and let simmer for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and using an immersion blender (or regular blender, just be careful!) and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

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This soup has spring flavours, but a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs texture because of the potatoes and beans. I’m happy to share this with the gals at Fiesta Friday.

The soup ended up working out well, and I later remembered that I always wanted to make soup with veggies like Asparagus but thought that it was a waste to hide it. Hello silver lining!

Indi: 1 / Fridge: 0 (but I’m watching you, crisper! *glares*)

Roesti, Rants & Resolutions

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I know you’re dying to know how I spent the last full week of March (quarterly reports due at work already!). I’ve been binge watching House of Cards (I’m halfway through Season 2 and really liking it) and I started having dreams that I was kidnapped by Frank Underwood, who was trying to get information from me by torturing other people I knew. Although I like that ‘talking to the camera’ method that Netflix employs, it’s clearly deeply unsettling to my subconscious. I also can’t decide which President seems to do less work – the HoC one or Fitz from Scandal. Also, – Oh right. This is a food blog. Let’s see…how about I make this rant relevant and talk about wine and popcorn or ribs? If you get those references, kudos. You can share my TV Nerd crown.

So anyway. I also managed to cross off the Pie & Ice cream Social that I had on my 2015 Food Resolution list. I made Sweet Potato Pie, Chocolate Pudding Pie, Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Ice cream, and Avocado Ice cream. I could have done more, but I’ve once again learned – Pie dough is stress! Among many of the other issues, you have to refrigerate dough about a million times (I’m not exaggerating).

Today I’m sharing a Roesti recipe with you. What is roesti you ask?

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First, let’s confirm that you’re in a place to hear this. Tell me you love crispy potatoes. Tell me you look for the crispiest fry in the packet and eat it first. Or the burned bits at the corner of a pan of roasted potatoes. If you love that, you’ll love Roesti. It’s a Swiss dish with it’s base consisting of that perpetually magical starchy trifecta: potatoes, butter and salt. Think of a hash brown crisped up into a pancake.

I’ve seen different variations with bacon, leeks, cheese, etc, but today I’m sticking to a stripped down, buttery and salty version. This is perfect for brunch and a lot of the prep could (and ideally, should) be done the day before.

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Roesti

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

4 Medium Potatoes

2 tbsp Milk

1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Black pepper

1/8 tsp Red pepper flakes

2 tbsp Butter

Instructions

Using a fork, prick holes in raw potatoes, Boil in salted water until tender, about 20 – 25 minutes. Drain and let cool. For best results, refrigerate overnight.

Grate the potatoes using the larger side of a box grater. Add salt & peppers and mix thoroughly.

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Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet. Swirl pan to ensure that the surface is evenly coated and add potato mixture. Using a spatula, press the mixture together and flatten it. Sprinkle the milk over potatoes. Cook on medium heat for about 8-10 minutes, until the potatoes at the edges of the pan start to darken. You can cook longer if you prefer a much crispier texture.

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Using a plate, cover the skillet and flip skillet over while firmly holding the bottom of plate. The roesti should flip onto the plate, crispy side up. Serve immediately.

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A much crispier one I made on another occasion

On another note, I’ve gotten very interested in improving my photography skills. I have a plain ol’ iPhone and won’t be investing in a fancy camera anytime soon (call me butter hands), but I’ve seen some gorgeous shots taken on the iPhone and know that I can do better. I’ve challenged myself to an April Food Photography Challenge. I am going to do Lesley’s April Food Photo Challenge (she’s over at the Purple Carrot), and you can see the list below I will be posting from April 1 (no, that’s not a joke!). I’m a little late as this was a 2012 challenge, but hey, better late than never, right?

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Follow me on Instagram if you’d like to see how my pictures turn out. If you’re interested in joining me, just let me know and I’ll follow you too. I also welcome constructive criticism…so many of you take much better pictures than I do, so I’d appreciate any tips you have.

I’m linking up with Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, Angie at Fiesta Friday, and a special 1 year Anniversary shoutout to Salma, Raj & Nisha at Three Things Thursday! You ladies are great blogging role models :)

For someone who didn’t know what to write, I definitely had a lot to say this time. Hope you have a productive week and a fantastic Easter (in case I develop a case of lethargy and don’t post before then).

Quick Hazelnut Asparagus + Cocktail name reveal!

photo (4) This recipe is so simple that I’m almost embarrassed to post it. It’s kind of like telling you how to make toast. But this is my blog, so too bad :). Seriously though, sometimes all you need is two distinct flavours or ingredients that pair beautifully together to make a spectacularly simple & classic dish, like butter & onions, lemon & lavender, or tomatoes & basil. Or chicken and a chicken container (last pairing courtesy of my brother).

This is one of the easiest and fastest asparagus recipes you’ll come across. There are 5 ingredients, and 3 are things that I know you have in your cupboard – Olive oil, salt & pepper. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset I chose hazelnuts for this recipe because I’m not a huge fan of hazelnuts without chocolate (damn you, Ferrero Rocher and Nutella) and like I said, I think it pairs especially well in this recipe. If you don’t have hazelnuts, no worries. You can easily substitute almonds or walnuts. Tip: If you know that you use roasted nuts a lot, roast them in big batches. It’s no skin off your nose (just the skin off the hazelnuts! Ha!) and will significantly shorten your work if you have a craving for anything that you want to put nuts in – salads, pilafs, roasted nut butter, granola bars, toppings, etc. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Hazelnut Asparagus

Ingredients

1 bunch Asparagus

1/4 – 1/2 cup Hazelnuts

1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Black pepper

1 tbsp Olive Oil

Instructions

Roast Hazelnuts in your oven at 350 for 10 mins. Allow to cool, and rub the nuts to remove the skins. Chop roughly. You want some small, crumb-like pieces and also some larger, chunkier pieces.

Trim Asparagus by snapping off the woody stalk at the bottom. The easiest way is to bend the asparagus spear and it will magically snap off at the right spot.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Warm olive oil in a skillet. Add asparagus, salt & pepper and sauté for about 30 seconds on medium heat. Add nuts and stir to coat the nuts with oil. Cover skillet and allow to cook for about 1 minute. The asparagus should be bright green at this point. Turn off heat, stir once more, and replace cover. Allow the residual heat to steam the asparagus for about 1 minute more. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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Now, with that business out of the way, it’s time for the cocktail name reveal. Last week, I asked you guys to vote on the best name for my cocktail recipe containing lavender infused syrup, lemon juice, tonic water and vodka. There were some fantastic suggestions, and I have to give a special shoutout to my friend Deslyn for the “Laventini” suggestion and Stacey for “Aromatini”. I really liked both. Now, without further ado…the winning name is: Lavender Breeze! Congrats to my buddy Adam who clearly knows what a drinking audience likes. His other suggestion got second place so his skills aren’t a fluke :).  Let’s have a round on me to celebrate!

I’m linking up with Angie at Fiesta Friday and want to congratulate her on her new move! Can’t wait to see what you’ll do next!

Lavender Infused Syrup + Help me choose a Cocktail name

Hey there. Remember me? I’m back and writing this post under the assumption that you’ve noticed my absence for the last two weeks, AND that you’ve felt the hole in your lives. Let me have this one, okay? It’s been a busy and tiring two weeks, compounded by travel, stress, allergies, the flu and general lethargy. All the more reason for the specific recipe I’m posting today. Actually, it’s technically two recipes. So let’s consider that I brought you a bouquet of flowers…with alcohol.

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So. First recipe. “Infused Syrup”. Sounds super fancy, doesn’t it? When I think of that phrase, I think of a syringe injecting some colourful concoction into a clear bag of liquid. Sounds very medical, doesn’t it? I like to think that if I ever find myself in the hospital hooked up to a drip – silver lining! I’d describe myself as a “morphine infused Indi”.

It’s a little difficult to find many uses for lavender. I’ve made Lavender Almond Bark, and I have lots of lavender type cupcakes and cake recipes marked to try. But I wanted more, so infusing it into a simple syrup of sugar and water seemed like a good idea.

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I also think that it would be a really nice gift to someone as well. It’s quick and easy for you to make (once you have a fine mesh strainer – you will kick yourself if you don’t), and is versatile to be used in cocktails, lemonade, in cakes, or as flavouring for coffee or milkshakes. Actually, if you want, attach my recipe to the bottle with your gift. If they like it, just direct them to my blog :)

Ingredients
1 cup Water
1 cup Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Lavender

Instructions

Add all ingredients to a skillet and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved and let boil for about 1 minute until the mixture is slightly reduced. Let cool, and strain to remove lavender. Store in the fridge.

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Now on to the cocktail. To be honest, I took a while posting this because I wanted to come up with a cool and clever name. I just couldn’t, so I asked a few friends for suggestions. It ended up being quite a lively discussion (with some very deep thought behind certain names), and I’ve decided to present some of the best ones for you to vote. Whatever name gets the majority vote by next Saturday wins the bragging rights. And I’ll make the cocktail for you. Probably. If you think you have a cooler name, I’m totally open to write-in votes.

The soon to be named Cocktail

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

3 tsp Lavender Syrup
1 cup Club Soda
1 shot glass Vodka (I used Grey Goose)
1 1/2 tsp freshly squeezed Lemon Juice

Instructions

Do I really have to tell you how to mix a drink?

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If you’ve made this recipe or any of my other ones and decide to Instagram it, just tag me at @illcookyouwash or label it #illcookyouwash. I’d love to see what you come up with!

Friendship, Independent Thought & Chocolate Puffs

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If you call me tonight at around 9 p.m, it’s very likely that I’ll be crying. Yes, I sometimes schedule my emotional breakdowns. People do that, right? This time, I’ll be sad because I’ll be watching the series finale of one my all time favourite shows – Parks & Recreation.

I recently binge re-watched (re-binge watched?) it and have fallen in love with it even more. I have new respect for Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) and beyond the brilliant comedy and zaniness of the series, they’ve written her as a strong female lead (let’s just ignore Season 1). I really respect that they’ve made her a competent, ethical & driven government employee who still cares about her friends and the welfare of a crappy community. Pawnee really sucks but I love almost every character on that show. I really respect Amy Poehler and although I think that Tina Fey is my spirit Comedienne (Liz Lemon FTW!), Amy Poehler is someone I’d want as my best friend. I want to be her Ann! This final season has been fantastic and it has been wonderful to see so many guest stars revisit the show. Every second of every episode is like an easter egg. Bonus points – Chris Pratt was already killing it as Andy Dwyer long before he became Star-Lord.

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Amy Poehler’s memoir “Yes, Please” is also a fabulous read. I was particularly inspired by one of her mantras in the book – “good for you, not for me”. Too often we compare ourselves to other people and where they are in their lives, and get down on ourselves and what we have. I am guilty of doing that too. Additionally, we get bombarded with pressure from society or people to act a certain way or accomplish certain things for no other reason than it being expected of you. Maybe you think that I’m wrong and my experiences are unique, but that’s one of the best parts of reading a book. That specific moment when your mouth drops open because you feel like the author is speaking to you alone is an indescribable comfort. I’m a pretty liberal chick, and I don’t believe that there’s only one right way to live a life. Good for you and what you have / do / believe, but that doesn’t mean it’s for me. And just because I might do or want something that you don’t, it doesn’t mean that I’m wrong (or right, as a matter of fact). Your judgment can stay right there on your lips because my ears aren’t taking visitors. That’s my grown up way of saying ‘talk to the hand’.

Her memoir also shows what a great friend she is in real life. Seth Myers (host of Late Night on NBC) writes a chapter. He and Amy hosted the SNL Weekend update desk for a few years. During this time, she was pregnant, and a few hours before the show, she went into labour, so he would have had to host alone that night. He writes that her message was “My water broke. You’re gonna do great!” I love that. I love that she found the time to encourage a friend while in the process of giving birth, and that he was an evolved enough person to understand and appreciate it. This is about the time I should say #friendshipgoals. In that vein, I’m grateful for the friends in my life, and I hope that I can be a Leslie Knope / Amy Poehler to all of you beautiful, tropical, naïve land mermaids. I love you and I like you.

So. On to food. How does anything I’ve said relate to food? Anyone who watches Parks & Rec will know that Leslie is obsessed with breakfast food – specifically waffles from JJ’s Diner. In one episode, JJ tells her that she spent $1000 the previous year on Waffles alone. Re-watching the series made me seriously crave waffles and I tried to break out the waffle maker but it’s pretty much shot. When I celebrated my blog-iversary a few weeks back, Rabin told me that I should do a “treat yo self” (which is another terms made popular by this show) and buy something to celebrate. I’m looking at waffle makers and if you have any good waffle recipes, send it my way, ok?

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Until I get my new waffle maker, I’m sharing a recipe for Chocolate Pear Hazelnut Puffs. It’s very close to a chocolate croissant (which is close to waffles…sort of…) and all in the same ‘fancy’ breakfast realm.

I found this recipe a while back at the Born in 82 Blog. Because the recipe is so simple, you can modify it to your taste, which I did. I got really into the combination of Pears, Hazelnuts and Chocolate last year  – check out my Hazelnut Pear Muffins and Chocolate Pear Tarts – and decided to bring it back.

Chocolate Pear Hazelnut Puffs

  • Time: 35 mins (excluding thawing of pastry)
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
1 sheet Puff Pastry
1/4 cup Hazelnuts
1 small Pear (I used Anjou)
8 – 9 pieces semi-sweet Baking Chocolate
Powdered sugar, for dusting (if desired, but recommended)

Instructions

Take a sheet of puff pastry out of freezer and thaw for approx. 40 minutes. In the meantime, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roast hazelnuts for about 8-10 minutes until browned. Remove from oven, allow to cool and remove skins by gently rubbing. Chop nuts.

Cut each rectangle of baking chocolate in half, and cut pear into small pieces. You will have extra pear remaining.

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Flour a piece of wax / parchment paper. Unfold pastry and using a rolling pin, lightly roll out so that it is about 2-3 inches larger on each side. Ensure that you carefully pull up each corner and continue to sprinkle flour underneath to avoid sticking.

Cut into squares (I ended up with 16 squares) and in each, place a piece of chocolate, pear, and some hazelnuts. Fold the corners together to meet in the middle and pinch shut.

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Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake in oven for 25 – 27 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired, but is very recommended.

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Notes:

1. Usually, you would use an egg wash on the pastry for it to brown and crisp up nicely. To be perfectly honest, I forgot about the wash. Go ahead and use the wash if you’d like, but you would likely need to reduce the baking time.

2. Rabin suggested that I used chocolate spread or chop the chocolate into finer pieces instead of the chocolate so that it would melt nicely and be ore evenly distributed throughout (what a nerd). I think it depends on the size of your puff. If you cut them on the small side, there’s really nowhere for the melted chocolate to go. I see his point though, so that decision is totally up to you.

3. Pinch the dough together to make it stick. The ones that I didn’t opened up a little unevenly, and a few opened up in a scandalous way that might offend a conservative person.

So there you have it. This will be my snack for tonight as I say goodbye to one of the strongest female characters on TV. Ron Swanson insists that there is no sadness that cannot be cured by breakfast food, so I hope these puffs qualify. Maybe I should also stock up on puffs…tissues?

Pesto, Doctors & Hydra

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Pesto, Doctors & Hydra. I don’t think these three words have ever gone together in a sentence. I feel like such a trailblazer. Is this how Columbus felt?

This year, Rabin and I decided to skip the Valentine’s Day dinner and do some general Doctor checkups instead. Crazy romantic, huh? In the spirit of V-day, we literally dealt with our hearts. And blood. And pressure (ha! the pressure on Valentine’s day). Plus we thought that it would be easier to get appointments, and we were more or less right.

Going to the Doctor is something I’ve put off for a while, mainly due to my crippling fear of needles and also because I always equate doctors with a Hydra. *pause while you scratch your head and look questioningly at the screen*

Don’t get me wrong. Doctors are wonderful, amazing miracle workers who save lives and families dozens of times a day. I totally respect you guys and get why there’s a whole subculture of mothers spanning races and ethnicities who brag about their children being doctors, or that their child is married to one :)

If you follow the Marvel Universe, you’d know that Hydra is the name of the evil organization that SHIELD fights against. You might also know it from the Disney Hercules movie, or if you’re really a genius and want to show off, you’d know that it originates from Greek mythology. The point is, cutting off the head of a Hydra makes three more heads grow in its place. Sound familiar yet?

No? Well, have you ever been to a doctor where he didn’t send you to a lab for more tests? Or a specialist? Did you get a referral? Did the doctor tell you to come back at another time to review the results of your tests? Did he say that some surgery has to be done and then schedule the surgery plus followup tests? Did he suggest that you should go see his colleague at another hospital? It’s never ending!

I get that it’s about my health and its important to deal with possible matters early, and checkups are non-negotiable, I know all that. But every appointment makes me face my own mortality. So for 2 days I’ve been making mental bucket lists. Thankfully, all is well health wise, and now I’m wondering whether I really do want to run a 10k or be part of a flash mob. Maybe not.

What I CAN do (and WANT to do!) is check off a recipe I’ve planned to make for a while: Fresh Basil Pesto. I’ve made it with dried basil before and I’ve used the ones in the little jars you see at the supermarket, but I’ve always found it to be a little too cloying. Fresh cilantro made me understand the total difference between fresh and dried herbs and I decided not to discount fresh pesto just because I don’t like it’s drier, older relative (insert family related joke here).

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I know. I’m on a roll today. It’s one of those days where I just can’t get to the point gracefully…so… here’s the recipe *curtsies gracefully*

Fresh Basil Pesto

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 5 Minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 1/4 fresh Basil Leaves
2 tbsp. Pine Nuts
1 1/2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 clove Garlic
1 tbsp. Parmesan Cheese

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Instructions
Toast pine nuts in a small pan on med-low heat until browned, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Add nuts and all other ingredients in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until thoroughly combined and the mixture turns into a paste, about 30 seconds.

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Makes approx. 1/4 cup


That’s it! Pesto is very easy to make and livens up practically any dish. We tossed it with some pasta and added tomatoes, peas and bell peppers. I love pine nuts so I made this a little nuttier (no comments about my mental state please!) than other pesto recipes you’ll see out there. If you don’t have pine nuts, any other bland nut like almonds or walnuts will do. There’s a reason why pesto is used loosely – there are so many variations that are equally delicious.

Also, thank you all for the Blog-iversary wishes. I haven’t gotten a chance to reply to all of you (although I will!!), but they are all very appreciated.