A bright, fresh taste that is missing in our store-bought favorite. Homemade pesto can’t be beat.
The combination of creamy pine nuts, salty parmesan cheese, bright and flavorful basil, spicy fresh garlic all combined to make a sauce that is simply magic. We douse our pasta in pesto, smear it on sandwiches, and swirl it into bread dough. We freeze big batches of basil when the leaves ripen in the summer and make fresh pesto all year long.
- 2 cups packed basil leaves (or frozen equivalent)
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place basil, parmesan, pine nuts, and garlic cloves in blender, food processor, or nut chopper attachment of a stick blender. Give the mixture a couple of blitzes to chop the basil leaves.
- With the machine running, drizzle olive oil into basil mixture.
- When all is chopped and nicely blended, salt and pepper to taste.
A delicious and satisfying cinnamon roll – this reduced guilt version has more fiber from the whole wheat, natural sweetness and flavor from bananas, and a pecan crunch.
A few years ago, a friend graciously helped us out with taxi service for one of our 4 a.m. flights back to the bush. After dropping us off by the ticket counter, he disappeared and quickly reappeared laden with Cinnabon cinnamon rolls for all three of us. How sweet, right? Really, how sweet! I’ve always thought there must be a way to create a cinnamon roll with lots of flavor and sweetness, but not so much sweetness that when you’ve finished eating it, you feel gut-bombed. Sorry, Cinnabon. This banana-wheat creation did the trick. The dough gets moistness and flavor from smashed bananas. The swirl of banana slices, cinnamon, sugar and nuts give you that tasty, satisfying, fun unwrapping and unrolling experience that we expect from eating a cinnomon roll. And the drizzle of glaze on the top gives a sweet Pow you’d expect on traditional cinnamon rolls without overloading them. So, go ahead and enjoy a healthier version of this breakfast treat today!
Banana Wheat Pecan Cinnamon Rolls
- 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 1 cup milk (any kind of milk will work)
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter, separated
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar, separated
- pinch salt
- 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
- 1/2 cup sliced bananas
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 chopped pecans
- Place yeast and 1 tbsp of granulated sugar in a large bowl.
- Warm milk and 2 tbsp butter to 105 degrees F (40 degrees C).
- Stir milk mixture into yeast mixture and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
- Mix in mashed banana and salt.
- Mix in flours, 1/2 cup at a time. Dough should be sticky.
- Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for another minute.
- Place dough in a bowl lightly coated with light oil, like canola. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled in size, about an hour.
- Grease an 8×8 square pan (or equivalent round). Set aside.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a long rectangle which is about 1/4 inch thick (about 6 mm).
- Melt 4 tbsp butter. Mix in remaining sugar and cinnamon.
- Brush dough with butter mixture. Evenly sprinkle chopped pecans over dough. Evenly spread out banana slices over dough.
- Roll dough jelly-roll style. Make sure the seam side is down. Slice the dough log into 10 pieces with a serrated knife.
- Place cut pieces in the prepared pan. Brush the rolls with remaining melted butter. Sprinkle additional sugar and nuts on top, if desired.
- Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and let rise again while you preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Bake rolls for 25-35 minutes. They should be slightly golden brown.
- Let cool slightly and serve warm.
- These rolls are delicious without glaze. If you need a glaze, you can make one quickly by mixing 1 cup powdered sugar with a couple of tsp of milk (glaze should be consistency of honey). Drizzle glaze over rolls.
A mix of spices and flavors that will remind you of those chips that maybe you should be avoiding.
Awhile ago, I was at a camp with 33 students. As much fun as that sounds like it might be, I ate an entire family-sized bag of Doritos at the end of the first day to de-stress. That was the strongest thing I could find. There is something about those chips that is ridiculously addictive. I really don’t know what it is. What I do know is that those chips are not good for me. And, a whole bag? I knew better than that. Even though I enjoyed every tasty chip, I immediately went into a salt coma after finishing that bag. As much as I enjoyed the flavor of Doritos, I have not touched them since. But the flavor…
Recently, I came across a popcorn recipe that featured a spice mix reminiscent of those terribly addictive chips. Jack and I love a good date night featuring a movie and popcorn. After tinkering with the recipe (it is no longer vegan), I have come up with a keeper. I’ve used it on popcorn and enjoyed it on homemade oven-baked potato chips which we devoured.
Better Than Doritos Spice Mix
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp finely shredded parmesan cheese
- Mix all ingredients.
- Use to taste on popcorn, fried potatoes, grilled corn, and anything you’d imagine.
- Store leftovers in an air-tight container.
Versatile, soft and tasty pita pockets perfect for so many things – sandwiches, mini pizzas, and anything else you can imagine.
These delicious little breads are quite literally better than sliced bread. We’ve stuffed them with hummus and cucumber. We’ve enjoyed them warm along with a hearty homemade soup. Just this morning, Jack made a breakfast pizzas with these delicious pitas as the base, topped with a hearty roasted tomato sauce, mozzarella and a perfectly poached egg. We’ve even had them smeared (to Jack’s chagrin) with peanut butter and jelly for a quick and easy lunch. They’re also great stuffed with cheese and salmon and toasted.
I’ve made pita bread before using only white flour. Jack and I really enjoy the pizza crusts I make with half and half wheat and white all purpose flour. I was confident the pita would also be enjoyable with the wheat and white mixture. The wheat does add some healthful fiber, but it also adds a nice flavor and a little heartier texture. We enjoy this bread so much, I make a batch every weekend. I freeze the extra pitas and thaw them as I need them throughout the week. The thawed bread tastes like it just came out of the oven. Perfect!
Whole Wheat Pita Bread
- 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for coating the bowl)
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tsp salt
- Stir together yeast, honey and warm water in a large bowl. Let stand about 5 minutes. Mixture should become foamy indicating the yeast is good.
- Stir in olive oil.
- Whisk in 1/2 cup of all purpose flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour. Mix until smooth.
- Stir in another 1/2 cup of all purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and salt.
- Knead in last 1/2 cups of flours until dough is smooth and elastic.
- Form dough into a ball and set in a clean, oil-coated bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place. Let rise until doubled, about an hour.
- Punch dough down and cut into 10 equal pieces.
- Form each piece into a ball. Flatten and roll out into about 5 – 6 inch rounds.
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Place baking sheet in center of oven while oven preheats.
- Place two pitas on baking sheet and bake for 3 minutes. Flip and continue to bake for 2 minutes.
- Cool baked pitas on a cooling rack and cover with a clean kitchen towel.
- Repeat with remaining pitas.
- Serve warm or store in zip top bags in the freezer.
Good morning Ulaanbaatar! A stack of moist, flavorful pancakes topped with real maple syrup and we’re ready for anything the day has to offer.
Boring oatmeal for breakfast? No way! One bite and you will forget how healthful these pancakes are. This may become your go-to pancake recipe. It is now ours!
Honey Wheat Oat Banana Pancakes
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1 ripened banana, mashed
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tbsp honey
- 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch mace or grated nutmeg
- pinch salt
- chopped nuts for garnish
- Chop oats finely by using a blender or a nut chopper.
- In a medium bowl, soak oats in buttermilk for 10 minutes.
- Mix egg, banana, butter and honey into oat mixture.
- Mix flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, mace and salt into oat mixture.
- Heat pan over medium heat.
- Lightly oil pan.
- Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto pan. Cook until bubbles appear on surface, then flip. Continue cooking for another minute until pancake is golden brown.
- Serve warm with maple syrup and garnish with nuts.
No oven needed to make these tasty treats. We made them in the freezer… and ate them frosty cold!
I’ve been experimenting with coconut oil and came across a recipe at detoxinista.com for a “candy bar” using coconut oil and some other favorite ingredients I had on hand. If you are looking for a gluten free, vegan sweet, this is a terrific recipe. For a second version, I chopped up some maraschino cherries I had on hand and added another layer atop the coconut for added flavor and visual pizzaz. This is an easy and versatile recipe.
No Bake Almond Coconut Sweet Bars
- 1 cup pulverized raw almonds (I used the nut chopper attachment for my stick blender)
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
- pinch salt
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
- 1 tbsp water
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
- Mix bottom layer ingredients together until well incorporated.
- Spread bottom layer mixture evenly on base of loaf pan.
- Mix middle layer ingredients together until well incorporated.
- Spread middle layer mixture evenly atop bottom layer.
- Mix top layer ingredients together until well incorporated.
- Pour top layer mixture over middle layer and spread to evenly cover.
- Place in freezer to set, about an hour.
- When set, pull bars out with parchment paper and place on cutting board. Cut into pieces.
- Serve immediately.
- Store in air tight container in freezer.
Creamy, delicious and packed with flavor, this soup puts to tasty use something people tend to throw out – broccoli stems!
In our kitchen, we try to get the most out of everything. We roast whole chickens and crack the bones for chicken stock. The fish we catch get picked clean to the bones. The vegetable odds and ends a lot of cooking show hosts scrape off cutting boards into into the trash end up in soups and other dishes. Having read that banana peels are edible, we gave them a go last summer. (Edible, perhaps; palatable, not.) For some reason, I grew up thinking that the only part of broccoli that people are supposed to eat are the florets. When I began to cook as an adult, a friend introduced me to a recipe with stir-fried broccoli stems. Delicious. Even before we met, Jack had been combining stems, garlic and chicken stock to make a tasty, nutritious soup as well as slicing the stems thin and adding them to stir-fries.
With a sunny high of 5° F here in Ulaanbaatar, this day called for a hot bowl of homemade soup. The tough outer layer of the broccoli stems do have to be peeled away, but it’s worth the effort. (I use a vegetable peeler for this.) Once you’ve removed this fibrous outer layer, you’re left with a tender, flavorful vegetable that can be sautéed and added to pasta dishes or puréed and served in soup, as is the case here.
Broccoli Stem Potato Soup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 cups chopped potatoes
- 3 cups peeled and chopped broccoli stems
- generous pinch dried thyme
- generous pinch salt
- 4 cups broth (beef, chicken, or vegetable)
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- toppings – Cholula hot sauce, parmesan cheese
- Sauté onions for a couple of minutes until they begin to be translucent.
- Add garlic to onions and continue to sauté for a couple of more minutes.
- Add potatoes, broccoli, thyme, salt, and broth.
- Bring mixture to a simmer. Continue to simmer until broccoli and potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes.
- Purée soup with a stick blender, or in batches in a regular blender.
- Serve hot topped with splashes of Cholula hot sauce and some shavings of parmesan cheese.