let’s get basic: part two, pesto edition


Talk pesto to me, baby. There are a few things that I always keep on hand, which I will cover in this ‘basics’ series. Pesto is one of them. You can put it on toast with eggs, add to pasta, eat with fresh bread or tomatoes, add it to a salad or quinoa bowl, toss it on roasted vegetables or poultry, use it as a pizza base–SO MANY OPTIONS! Make a large batch and it lasts a few weeks. It’s such a quick and easy way to add flavor to things you already eat.

Basic Pesto:
— basil (one large clamshell container or three smaller containers)
— 1/4 cup pine nuts
— 1/2 cup evoo
— 1/2 cup parmesan, freshly grated
— 6-8 cloves garlic, peeled
— salt & pepper, to taste

**equipment needed: food processor (optional but highly recommended), mason jar

  1. Are you ready for this? Throw everything in the food processor (literally don’t cut a thing) and puree until smoothish. Taste and season as necessary.

A few notes:

  • You can make this by hand but it involves a lot of chopping. Still worth it.
  • The garlic will taste a little sharp at first, give it time to sit and mellow out.
    • I like to roast my garlic in a pan with the evoo until browned for extra flavor. You can also roast the pine nuts in there as well.
  • Go nuts! You can substitute the pine nuts for pecans or walnuts or cashews. Just make sure they’re not already salted or else you end up with a very salty pesto!
  • Keep in mind that parmesan is very salty on its own when adding seasoning.
  • Throw the whole basil in there, don’t pick off the leaves. Eat them stems!
  • Add sundried tomatoes for a twist. Or jalapeno for a spicy kick.
  • Add more or less evoo for desired consistency. I prefer to leave mine more chunky since I use it primarily as a spread versus a sauce. That way I can add more evoo if I do use it as a sauce. You can always add more oil but you can’t take it away so I err on the side of chunky.

Same as with the vegetable stock, yes, you can buy pesto. But again, this has no preservatives, and you can control the sodium and quality of each ingredient.


let’s get basic: part one, vegetable broth edition


Why, yes, we are pretending I didn’t take a year-long gap of not posting. And what about it? In the past year and a half, the fiance and I moved from Chicago to the PNW, bought a house, switched jobs, and planned a wedding (that is 30 days from now). Also in the past year, I’ve been promising recipes to friends and haven’t posted them, so here goes:

Let’s talk vegetable stock/broth. I always keep some in the house. It makes rice, quinoa, soups, risotto, literally everything more flavorful and it’s so easy to make.

Vegetable Stock:
— two yellow onions
— three leeks, washed thoroughly
— 5-6 carrots, washed
— one head garlic, cut in half
— one bunch celery
— ten dried bay leaves
— two tbsp black peppercorns
— one bunch thyme
— salt to taste

**equipment needed: 2 large stockpots with lids, a fine-meshed strainer or cheesecloth, lots of tupperware or mason jars for storage

Give the onions, carrots, leeks, and celery a large dice, keeping everything around 2″. (Yes, a very large dice or else you end up with mush.) Doesn’t need to be perfect as you’re just extracting flavor, however, you do want everything similar in size so it cooks evenly. Divide everything between the two biggest pots you have and fill with water. Cover with lids and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and let it do its thing for about 2-3 hours. Taste to see if it needs any more salt and then strain and store in pint-sized containers. Freeze most of your containers, leave a few in the fridge so they’re ready to go when you need them!

A few tips: You don’t need to peel the onion, carrots or garlic, just make sure they’re clean. It’s all flavor so don’t toss it out! Additionally, you can save scraps from previous cooks in a bag in your freezer until you’re ready to make stock. So save the outer layer of your onions, those mushroom stems, and the last bit of herbs you didn’t need and repurpose them into a flavorful broth!

Sure, you can buy broth from the store, but it’s loaded with salt and preservatives. It’s also much more expensive than making it yourself. You can also turn this vegetable stock into chicken/beef/bone broth by saving bones from whatever meals you make, roasting them in the oven, and boiling them in the stock. I’ve been making my own broth for years and I use it for everything I possibly can and it’s definitely worth it.

You’re gonna like the way you cook, I guarantee it.
–me, just now


Bowlin’ (read: Ballin’)


The fiance and I are forever on the quest to eat healthily yet deliciously. Like most young adults, we work a lot, not leaving much time for cooking, which is why eating out or grabbing some unhealthy fast food thing is so tempting. We recently got a charcoal grill and have been smoking chicken and steaks in large quantities to save for leftovers, and keeping quick sides around the house (i.e.: black beans, green beans, spaghetti squash, etc.).

This week, we wanted to switch it up and try making quinoa bowls! I cannot eat mass amounts of the same thing over and over, which is why I usually try to keep leftovers to a minimum. I wanted a few different bowl options with cross-utilization of ingredients as not to have too much food on hand.

Pesto Bowl:
– Homemade Pesto (finely minced basil, garlic, cashews, parmesan, basil evoo, garlic salt, freshly ground pepper)
– Baby Greens (baby spinach, kale, arugula, romaine) [superfood+veggie power]
– Avocado [healthy fat]
– Roasted Cauliflower [for veggie power]
– Egg [hey, protein]
– Quinoa, of course [starch+protein+hella amino acids]

Fiesta Bowl:
– Sauteed Onions & Bell Peppers [for veggie power]
– Baby Greens [superfood+veggie power]
– Pulled, smoked chicken [protein goodness]
– Homemade Pico de Gallo (tomato, onion, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno, s&p)
– Avocado [healthy fat]
– Black Beans [starch]
– Quinoa, of course [starch+protein+hella amino acids]

Summer Salad Bowl:
– Baby Greens [superfood+veggie power]
– Strawberries [fruit+vitamin goodness]
– Avocado [healthy fat]
– Cashews/Almonds [hella vitamins/minerals/antioxidents+quality protein+cronchy]
– Balsamic Vinegar [do it for the polyphenols, okay?]
– Quinoa, of course [starch+protein+hella amino acids]

To prepare for the week, I prepped all the ingredients ahead of time and stored them all separately so we can freestyle bowls as desired.

– 1 cup quinoa yields about 4c quinoa. (TIP: Toast the quinoa in butter before cooking. I also used homemade veggie stock for flavor rather than just adding water. 2:1 liquid:quinoa is the magic ratio.)
– Pesto (The extra time allows the flavors to meld together and make it more yummy.)
– Salsa (See above.)
– Cook & Pull Chicken
– Dice Strawberries
– Julienne Onions & Peppers

As always, I don’t like to give measurements. I included my reasoning for the inclusion of each item in the bowl to show how to try and hit each food group and make a (mostly) balanced bowl. Add more or less according to your dietary needs. For example: the Fiesta bowl has two starches (beans and quinoa), just use less of each as not to make the bowl overly starchy.

Go forth and bowl out.