What’s On the Menu

Arugula Pesto

Hopefully by now you’ve tried the Creamy Cashew Pesto that I featured a few weeks ago. If not, I can’t highly recommend enough because it really is just that good! To my point, I recently received accolades from a Follower. Her words made me smile ear to ear and I wanted to share them with you:

This Follower and I began chatting a bit and we collaborated on an arugula version of my pesto. Basically, the same recipe, but with arugula instead of basil. So today I gave it a whirl. It was excellent – bright and fresh, with a nice bite to it! The arugula adds its signature peppery profile and will work well for those who like things on the spicier side.

To tone it down, you can add more cashew cream, olive oil, and/or Parmesan. This smooths out the heat and made it more comparable to the original recipe. I added just a little of all three, plus a splash of lemon juice, until I achieved my personal desired flavor.

The best part of cooking is the experimenting! Have some fun and let me know how your recipes come out!

Homemade Ranch Dressing

So yesterday I made my own Ranch dressing. I’m sort of embarrassed to admit that I have never done this before. It seems like such a basic foodie thing to do — make your own Ranch. But I’m more of a vinaigrette kind of girl, which you can check out here, so this was indeed a first for me.

The biggest difference between my dressing and others is that instead of mayo, sour cream, and buttermilk (roughly 540 calories for half a cup of a typical recipe), I use nothing but Greek yogurt and a little whole milk for thinning (about 100 calories for that same half of a cup). Fewer calories, less fat, and a boost of protein = YES.

Making it was super easy, and I totally winged it (wung it? wang it? Fun with words, LOL.) What does that mean? I didn’t measure anything. I just dumped how much I wanted into a bowl and seasoned it ’til it tasted right. I encourage the same for you. But, if you’re jonesing for some real measurements, I’ll do my best to accommodate…

Homemade Ranch Dressing

  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2-4 tablespoons whole milk, depending on desired consistency
  • ½ teaspoon each of: onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper
  • 1 tablespoon each of: freshly chopped parsley and chives
  • 1-3 tablespoons lemon juice, preferably fresh

Whisk together yogurt, milk, and spices until smooth. Add lemon juice and and whisk again. Tweak as needed to gain desired flavor and consistency.

I put this on a salad made of arugula, grilled chicken, turkey bacon, and red and green peppers. So amazing. I also used some with dinner for dipping jalapeño poppers. The first thing The Man said was “It’s definitely Ranch flavored, but it’s not as heavy.” Bingo! Mission accomplished.

Penne with Creamy Cashew Pesto

Sometimes you just want to do something different. Special. Over the top. I can’t think of a better time to do that than on Mother’s Day! I mean, really. The woman wiped your butt. I’d say she deserves a bouquet and a whole lot more! A wonderful friend of mine at Judy’s Wellness Café recently introduced me to cashew milk. (plug plug, great site) We started talking about different things you could do with it, and that’s when it hit me: cashew pesto. My wheels started turning and the next thing you know, I was whipping up something I’d never tried before: a fresh and vibrant pesto made with cashew cream rather than pine nuts. I knew immediately that this would make for a really nice Mother’s Day lunch!

Cashew milk on it’s own is pretty easy to make. It doesn’t require all the extra straining that almond milk does. It DOES, however, require a minimum of 4 hours prep time for soaking, so bear that in mind if you decide to make this. Easiest thing to do is soak the cashews overnight, that way they’re all ready for the next day. It’s worth the wait, because cashew milk has a pretty impressive repertoire. As a general rule, you use a 3-to-1 water-to-cashew ratio. From there, make it into a smoothie with fruit, add more water and use as a creamer in your coffee or tea, or use less water and make a cream for sauces and the like. And that’s where my idea was born…

Penne with Creamy Cashew Pesto

First, prepare your cashews. You will need raw cashews that have not been roasted or salted. Soak them in water, enough to cover them, for at least 4 hours. The cashews will swell a little and get softer. Drain and rinse, and get ready to make some yum.

For this recipe, I soaked and drained 1 cup of cashews and then blended them with 1 cup of water. You will have leftover cream that you can save for something else!

  • 2 cups basil, torn
  • ½ cup cashew cream
  • ½ cup Parmesan, shredded
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons white wine
  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • whole wheat penne pasta
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • extra basil for garnish

Go ahead and season your chicken breasts and get them on the grill. Flip as you go along, cooking them thoroughly. Try to get some pretty grill marks on them, too. Go ahead and show off for Mom.

While your chicken is cooking, bring a pot of water to boil. Don’t forget to salt the water so your pasta isn’t bland. Meanwhile, once your cashew cream is ready, combine it in a blender or food processor with the basil, Parmesan, garlic, olive oil, white wine, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, tweaking as needed.

As if you needed another reason:

Cashews have been shown to reduce blood pressure
and raise “good” cholesterol levels.

Cook the penne al dente. It’s really the only acceptable way, plus it’s fun to say.

Check on your pesto. It may have thickened up a little. If so, add a touch more olive oil and blend. Once your pasta is ready, drain it and toss it with the pesto sauce. Serve with sliced chicken, garnish with Parm and basil, and voilà! Lunch is served!

Food so good you could slap yo’ mama. But you better not! It’s Mother’s Day, after all!

For more cashew and cashew milk info and tips, CLICK HERE!

Italian Stuffed Peppers on Cinco de Mayo?

As you are probably well aware by now, Sunday is May 5th, better known as Cinco de Mayo. Time for a fiesta!! 🎉 While it’s reportedly a minor holiday in Mexico, here in the U.S., Mexcian restaurants are going to make a KILLING this weekend! So naturally, I wanted to post a really good Mexican-style recipe.

And that’s when I realized I didn’t exactly have many, LOL. What a fiesta fail! I know a few festive items that I make on the regular at my house: tacos, chips and salsa, guacamole, and stuffed peppers. But all of those seem so typical, so I thought I might mix it up a little for ya. Let’s live on the edge! How about Italian Stuffed Peppers on Cinco de Mayo?

Italian Stuffed Peppers

  • 4 medium red peppers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2-3 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup kale leaves, finely chopped (optional)
  • basil, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, all to taste
  • dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup brown rice

Go ahead and get your rice going. Rice takes forever. Brown rice is even worse, but I think the flavor is better for this, plus it’s healthier.

Preheat oven to 400°. Cut off the top of your peppers and keep it beside the pepper you cut it from. You’ll need to match them back up later. Clean out the peppers and set them aside.

In a sauce pan, sauté the red onion in olive oil until translucent. Add ground turkey, tomatoes, kale, and seasonings. Cook thoroughly, then stir in the Parmesan and the rice and stir until fully blended. Fill your peppers about ¾ full with the turkey mixture, then top with Mozzarella cheese. I like to add a little extra sprinkle of salt, basil, and oregano on top of the cheese as well.

Cover the peppers with their matching tops and place in a baking dish just big enough to keep them standing upright. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until peppers are tender. You can serve these with black beans or rice or just eat them by themselves. So, so good!

If that is just not cutting it for you, and you really want something more Mexican-like, then take a look at this oldie but goodie:


Or, for a snack with a Mexican twist, try adding cilantro leaves to your apple slices. It’s pretty tasty!

No matter what you decide to do, have a great time this weekend, and have a margarita for me! 🍹

Ginger Glazed Carrots

Just in time for Easter this Sunday, I’ve got a tasty little recipe for glazed carrots. Cuz ya know … Easter. Bunny. Carrots. HA! 🐰 It’s just a little something I whipped up one day for a family lunch that has turned out to be a big hit. My husband said it reminded him of a dish his grandma used to make, and he and my mother-in-law raved. Those were quite the compliments.

Ginger Glazed Carrots

  • 1 pound of carrots
  • ⅓ cup agave, maple syrup, or simple syrup
  • ¼ cup relish
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste

Wash, peel, and slice carrots. I like to cut mine on the bias. I think it looks prettier that way, but you can slice them any way you like. In just enough water to cover the carrots, simmer until they are cooked but still somewhat firm. Drain the water thoroughly, then add all of the remaining ingredients. Simmer until the sauce reduces, about 15-20 minutes.

Wishing you all a wonderful Easter, full of family and fun and most importantly, time to ponder and be thankful that Jesus rose on that 3rd day. 💗

3-2-1 Cake

You’ve been so good and you’ve eaten all your green veggies, right? 😉 Time for a little reward! My dad was the one who showed me how to make 3-2-1 Cakes a few years ago and they have been a staple in our house ever since. Super easy, fun for kids, and the perfectly sized little cake, just for you!

3-2-1 Cake

  • 1 box angel food cake mix
  • 1 box regular cake mix (any flavor you like!)
  • milk
  • toppings

In a large plastic container or bag, pour in the entire box of angel food cake and regular cake mixes. Shake together until fully blended. You can now store this for multiple uses. I like using a gallon sized plastic bag, because I can flatten it out or roll it up to save space in my pantry.

In a mug or ramekin or small bowl, add 3 tablespoons of the cake mix and 2 tablespoons of milk, stirring until fully blended. Microwave for 1 minute. (Hence the 3-2-1.)

Top with whatever you like – my favs are fresh fruit, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream.

Happy Weekend!

Brussels Sprouts? Yes, Brussels Sprouts.

Can you believe it’s already the last day of March? What better day to share a final post on another of my favorite green veggies! (Not that we won’t still enjoy our greens throughout the rest of the year!)

Brussels sprouts are cute little mini cabbage kinda things that get a bad rap in the home cook’s veggie world. I think it’s because most often they’re boiled, which just makes them mushy. No thanks. But they’re soooo good for you, I didn’t want to give up. So I tried pan searing them instead. That’s when I fell in love! So. Much. Better. I’ve since cooked Brussels sprouts for family and friends who were skeptics and they all raved. Even my 8-year-old loves them, and that’s really saying something!

I love turning something healthy into something delicious!

Brussels sprouts are a low-calorie veggie that’s high in many nutrients, especially vitamins K & C, plus have an impressive antioxidant content. Bonus: half a cup will meet up to 8% of your daily fiber needs!

Pan Seared Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • water
  • salt/pepper/onion & garlic powders, to taste

Add your olive oil and seasonings to your pan, coating entire bottom of pan. Cut off the ends of the Brussels sprouts, then half the sprouts length-wise. Place them flat side down into pan. (Some of the leaves will come off — just throw them in the pan, too.) Sauté on medium-high until the bottom gets a nice sear on them, then add water – enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, adding more water if necessary, until the sprouts are tender.

Serves 4 people

Why is it spelled that way?

Brussels sprouts reportedly first appeared in northern Europe during the fifth century. They were later cultivated in the 13th century near Brussels, which is how they got their name.

Brussels Au Gratin

Serves 4

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, prepared as directed above

Once your Brussels sprouts are done, place them in a baking dish just large enough to spread them evenly across the bottom. Spoon enough cheese sauce over them so that each one is coated and there is some covering the bottom of the baking dish. Top with the au gratin topping and broil on low until golden brown.

for Smoked Paprika Cheese Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, give or take
  • 2 cups milk, give or take
  • 1-2 tablespoons smoked paprika, to taste
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Notice the “give or take” and “to taste” references. I find making any sauce is not an exact science. It’s more a matter of finding the perfect flavor and consistency for what you plan to do with it. For a cheese sauce, it also depends on the kind of cheese you use. Parmesan is less creamy and has a stronger flavor, so you’ve got to find what works for you. Parm also melts more slowly, so take your time adding it in. If you add too much or turn the heat up too high in a rush to melt the cheese, you risk singeing or having your sauce separate.

Never trust a cook who doesn’t lick her fingers.

Once I get my flour and butter whisked together, I start slowly adding in the milk and cheese until it looks the way I want it. It should be thick enough to coat your fingertip without being stringy from the cheese or so loose it runs down your finger.

Add as much or as little of the smoked paprika along the way or at the end until it tastes like you want it to taste. It always surprises me how much smoked paprika I end up using. As potent as it seems, it easily gets lost if you don’t add enough. I recommend going until you think it tastes great, then adding just a little more.

It takes just as much time and effort to make a little cheese sauce as it does to make a lot, plus I think making too little is actually trickier because you start with such a small amount of roux. So add a lot or a little of this sauce to your final product, and save any leftovers for another night. It would be great on chicken or pork, mixed in rice or quinoa, added to eggs or sautéed veggies, etc.

Au gratin originated in French cuisine.

It means to have a golden crust on top.

for Au Gratin Topping

  • ½ stick butter, melted
  • 1 cups Panko
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped

Combine all ingredients and mix until even coated with butter.

Focusing on all these green veggies has been so much fun! I feel like we did them proud. 💚

Looking forward to some amazing April recipes next month!