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La Petite Maison Verte

La Petite Maison Verte: February 2012

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Soup

Soup was ON for dinner tonight.  I've been totally obsessed with the combination of sweet winter vegetables (for example butternut squash and sweet potatoes) and black beans lately.  Remember my Chipotle-Glazed Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos?  Oh no?  Get into your kitchen and make them.  Now... just do it.

This soup is crazy-good.  It'll make you feel like snuggling up in a blanket in front of a roaring fire.  It is smokey and savory.  Oh, it's good.  And it's vegetarian and vegan (and even gluten-free if you leave off the crispy wonton strips).  I adapted the recipe just slightly from Sprouted Kitchen.  I added smoked paprika because I love the smokiness with black beans.  If you don't have smoked paprika, you could add a bit more ground cumin or some chipotle powder.

I didn't have tortillas for garnish so I used an open package of Nasoya wonton wrappers that I had in the fridge.  They worked like a charm, crisping up beautifully.  Use whatever you have, even some broken-up tortilla chips would work in a pinch.

Something else cool about the soup: it's inexpensive and quick to make.  How many more reasons could you possibly need?

So hurry up and make this soup before springtime.  Because when spring arrives, soup just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Since Brian has been working late the last few days, I was dining solo this evening so I decided to have two of my GFs, Joy and Tracy, join me (OK, so what if they don't know they're my GFs).  I listened to a couple of the Joy the Baker Podcasts while I ate dinner and it felt just like dinner with friends...except they did all the talking and I mostly just laughed along.

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Soup
serves 4-6
adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 small head of cabbage, chopped (I used purple cabbage, you could use any variety at all)
3 cups cubed butternut squash (about 1'' chunks)
4 cups vegetable broth
2 level teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder (I used dark)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 (15.5 oz) can low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
salt, to taste

For crispy wonton strips:
10-12 wonton wrappers (I use Nasoya wontons).  If you don't have wontons you can use 2 or 3 small flour or corn tortillas)
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
salt, to taste

For garnish:
avocado, chopped
green onion, thinly sliced
crispy wonton strips

In a heavy pot or dutch oven over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and add the chopped onion and saute until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and saute another 1 minute, stirring.  Then, add the cabbage, squash and broth and bring soup to a boil.  Cover the pot with the lid and lower heat to a simmer.  Simmer 15-20 minutes or until the cabbage and butternut squash are nearly done.  Meanwhile, make the crispy wonton strips (see method below).

After the soup has cooked about 15-20 minutes, add the spices and beans to the pot and stir.  Cook soup another 5-10 minutes, taste and season with additional salt as necessary.  Then turn off the heat and using an immersion blender, pulse several times to puree the soup just slightly in order to thicken it, leaving some of the vegetables and beans intact.  (If you don't have an immersion blender, remove 1/4 -1/3 of the soup liquid and vegetables to a blender and puree.  Then return pureed portion back to the soup pot and stir.)

Serve soup warm topped with the chopped avocado, cilantro, green onion and crispy wonton strips.

To make the Crispy Wonton Strips:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with a sheet of aluminum foil and spray with a light mist of olive oil cooking spray.

Stack the wontons (or tortillas) on top of each other and slice into thin matchsticks.  Spread them out in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.  Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Bake 8-10 minutes until light and crispy (if you use tortillas in stead of wontons, you may need to leave them in the oven for an additional 4-5 minutes).  Remove and season strips with additional salt, if necessary.  Use to garnish the soup.

What foods are you the MOST excited eating this Spring?

My favorites are strawberries and asparagus!  Love Spring Time!


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Leap for Joy

It's Leap Day!  That's kind of a big deal, right?

I mean, how often does this really happen?  (Once every 4 years, but you probably already knew that)

I didn't really do anything different or special today.  Unless you consider Brian making us an omelette this morning special - in which case we celebrated with breakfast!

One of Brian's co-workers gave us 18 fresh eggs from his very own chickens!  I LOVE eggs, especially when I know that these were laid by free-range chickens that are loved and hand-fed by a 3 year old little girl.  Not to mention that their yolks are the most beautiful marigold hue, and the flavor is unlike any store-bought eggs I've ever tasted.

He made a bell pepper, onion and bacon omelette with some shredded mozzarella cheese that we split right down the middle.  So good!  I drizzled my half with a teensy bit of Mrs. Renfro's salsa verde.  With a little fruit trio on the side for sweetness, and of course coffee.

Today's workout was Chest and Triceps (see it here).  It went much better than last week so I know I'm getting stronger.  I followed it up with a nice 3 mile walk with Hudson around the neighborhood.  It was HOT today - my car said 86 degrees (yikes!).  Straight into summer time, where was SPRING?

Hudson didn't mind the heat so much...

Somebody was not feeling very posey today.
Clearly he can't be bothered to stand still for more than 1 second when it's this nice outside.

I have a delicious soup recipe up next, so make sure you check back for that!

How did you commemorate Leap Day?  Did you do anything different or special to celebrate this day that only comes around once every 4 years?


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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Short Stack

After seeing Kath and Cait build lovely stacks of waffles for breakfast lately, and realizing that I too, had a box of Kashi waffles in my very own freezer, well there was nothing anybody could have done to stop me.

Two Kashi 7-grain waffles are a serving size (!) so I toasted them up and stacked them with some plain Fage 2% greek yogurt and sliced strawberries in between the waffles and on top.  And added a small dollop of TJ's unsweetened almond butter.

My breakfast short stack was not very sweet (two waffles only have 3 grams of sugar), which was perfect for me but others with a sweeter palate may like a drizzle of honey or maple syrup on top too.  It has been a long time since I've eaten frozen waffles (or any waffles for that matter) but these tasted delicious and smelled heavenly while they toasted, which really increased the anticipation and overall experience.

Here's another fun idea for how to dress your waffles:  top them with a fried egg!  Inspired by Dana's (gorgeous) pancakes of yesterday.

After breakfast I hurried off to a doctor's appointment.  I'm not sure I'm ready to talk about the reason for my doctor's visit on the blog just yet, it's personal and I need to wrap my head around it first.

I hit the gym after my stressful morning at the clinic, which was perfect because it helped me blow off some steam.  I started off with a 1 mile run around the track @ 8 min/mile pace.  It felt good but honestly, it's already starting to get too hot outside to do any running after 9 or 10 am.  It was already 80 degrees outside at 11 am!

Today's workout in the gym was Day 23 Back & Biceps which you can see here.  After 4 days off from lifting weights today's workout was really good.  I felt strong and I was able to increase my weights on a couple of the exercises.  Progress!  I finished up with a fast 1.5 mile run on the treadmill at 7:30 min/mile pace.

I'm not a fan of running on the treadmill AT ALL but now that its starting to get so hot and humid outside it looks like if I want to continue running I might have to take it indoors :-/  Either that or start waking up before dawn, and I am NOT a morning person.

Lunch was A-MAZ-ING.  No lie.  A-freaking-mazing.

Small whole wheat tortilla (actually it's one of these Mission Ancient Grains tortillas*) with a schmear of Trader Joe's Edamame Hummus (I've posted about it before, here), organic baby romaine lettuce, sliced tomato, cucumber and orange bell pepper with one piece of CRISPY bacon.  

*FYI I'm not recommending the Mission Ancient Grains tortillas.  I picked them out when I was in a hurry and didn't really look at the ingredients (my mistake).  It contains a LOT of preservatives and un-prounouncable words which for me is a total NO-NO :-/

On the side:  a Fuji apple and some of my Cinnamon Almond Butter Dip.  And a can of La Croix COCONUT sparkling water.  Love this stuff (Zero sugar, Zero artificial sweeteners, just water and the taste of coconuts!)

I just have to take a moment to tell you how much I love bacon.  Real bacon, that is.  Yes, I know everyone loves bacon but I just wanted to tell you that I love it and I think real, high-quality bacon does have a place in a healthy diet.  Shocked?!  My rational goes like this:  ONE slice of delicious bacon has SO MUCH flavor that it's all you really need to eat.  I'd have to eat 3 or 4 slices of turkey bacon or faux-bacon to get even half as much flavor and satisfying salty, smokey crunch as one piece of the real thing.  And why would I want to eat 3 or 4 slices of those faux foods anyway?!  [Steps down off soap-box]

To eat the bacon veggie wrap I folded up the tortilla around it and shoved it in my mouth.  It's just laying there flat for the photos.

Later on, I'll have a recipe to share for Sneaky-Healthy Blondies that I made yesterday.  I was prepared for them to turn out gross but they were actually really good so I'm willing to share the recipe with you.  Check back later today for the recipe!

What are you loving at lunch time these days?  I'm usually a big salad person but today I needed something with a little more staying power.  This bacon and veggie wrap nailed it!


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Monday, February 27, 2012

Early Monday Morning Wakeup

You'll have to forgive me for today's scatter-brained post.  I was up waaaay before the sunrise this morning.

Last week I told my sister-in-law I would drive her to the airport this morning for an early morning flight to Boston.  Waking up at 5 am didn't sound so bad until last night when I was up watching the Oscars until 11:30. Meh...

As I've mentioned before, I'm usually more inclined to eat a HOT breakfast than a cold bowl of cereal in the morning.  For some reason the cereal never does the job at keeping me full until lunch time.

I'm sure that has more to do with the particular cereal (i.e. fiber content, protein content, whole grains vs. processed, etc.) than the fact that it's cold.

This morning I decided to try a new cereal I bought at Trader Joe's the other weekend:  Nature's Path Optimum Power Blueberry Cinnamon Flax.

I loved its subtle blueberry flavor, and all of the different textures from its crunchy flakes and puffy Kamut grains to the fiber "twigs".  Not too sweet but just sweet enough.  I loved it.

Loaded the bowl up with 3/4 cup cereal, Almond Breeze unsweetened vanilla almond milk, a pile of strawberries and a tiny dollop of natural peanut butter.

I had two hard boiled eggs on the side (not pictured), water and coffee.

It kept me full all morning long!

Give the Blueberry Cinnamon Flax cereal a try next time you're in the cereal aisle looking for something different.  I really loved the taste and it's the first cereal to keep me full for longer than an hour or two.  Sweet!

P.S.  This is not a sponsored post (Ha! As if companies send me free products to review!)  I paid for the cereal and just so happen to like Nature's Path cereal and granola so I wanted to share that with you.

Today was supposed to be a legs workout but since my race is in LESS than a week (yikes!) I want to make sure not to overdo it in the gym.  I'm going to take it easy with a 3 mile run and take Hudson for a good 3 mile walk.  Tomorrow I'll be back in the gym with some upper-body stuff (back and biceps).

Hmm what other random tid-bits did I want to mention?  Oh!  I've been listening to the Joy the Baker Podcasts on my iPhone when I walk Hudson.  Hi-lar-ious!  Like, I find myself LOLing all the time listening to Joy and Tracey from Shutterbean just ramble on about random things (often not cooking-related).  It's a fun change of pace from my usual Pandora streaming.  Check them out if you want to laugh :-)

For dinner the other night I made BLTs.  But not just any BLTs, these had grilled chicken, avocado and homemade creamy basil pesto on it.  Whoa momma it was good.  I love BLTs because you can legit get away with eating a BLT any time of the day without it being wrong.  Don't worry, I'll share the recipe with you.  Because, well, that's what I do.  

Oh AND some roasted vegetable pasta salad.  Patience, my friends.  It'll be worth it. 

Hope your week is off to a great start!


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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Greens with Eggs and "Ham"

For breakfast this morning I went with simple.  Every once in a while I'll go all out on Saturday or Sunday morning and make a complicated breakfast:  pancakes, french toast, frittata; you know, something that leaves a pile of dirty dishes to clean and takes an hour to prepare.  It's really special when this happens so we really savor it.

But most weekends, I am just as happy to relax and eat something simple that I can whip up in 15 minutes and have one pot to clean up afterwards (and one piece of aluminum foil to toss in the trash).  This is one of those breakfasts.  It's not fancy, it's not complicated, but it's delicious.  And it's best enjoyed with a hot coffee, some fresh fruit or orange juice and the Sunday paper.

I use this fool-proof method for hard-boiled eggs and they are perfect every time:  Place (large) eggs into a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then cover the pot with the lid and turn off the heat.  Let the eggs sit, undisturbed for 13 minutes.  Then transfer them to a bowl of ice water.  Peel when cool to the touch.

I always make my bacon in the oven on a foil-lined baking sheet at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  Clean up is easier than on the stove top - no grease splattered all over the place, and I don't have to worry about getting burned by bacon grease popping and spitting.

Fellow blogger Jenn from Peas & Crayons loves Mrs. Renfro's Green Salsa so when it was on sale, I picked up a jar.  It is delicious and flavorful but SPICY!  A little goes a long way!

I really shouldn't even call this a recipe but for the heck of it, I'll write it all out for ya.  It's no trouble to double, triple or quadruple this depending on how many people you're feeding.  This morning, it was just me, as Brian has a training exercise that has him working odd hours for the next week.  Poor guy had to be out the door before I was ready to commence breakfast-making (i.e. before I had had my first cup of coffee).  Ahh, the joys of being a Marine Corps Wife.

Greens with Eggs and "Ham"
serves 1

1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1 or 2 slices crispy cooked bacon (or you could use a slice of ham, but I prefer bacon)
1 personal-size whole wheat pita bread (or an english muffin, sandwich thin, bagel or piece of bread), toasted
small handful baby spinach, washed
green salsa

Layer spinach on top of the toasted pita (or bread of your choice), then top with the sliced hard-boiled eggs.  Drizzle on a little green salsa and top with the cooked bacon.  Eat it open-faced or top with another slice of bread or other half of english muffin, bagel, etc.

How do you plan to spend your Sunday?

The hubby is away so I am going to PLAY!  Think I'll do a little shopping, take Hudson for a nice walk and catch up on some magazines that are piling up.  Yesterday was a rest day so today I think I'll go for an easy 3 mile run this afternoon.  My first race is a week from today!  Any tips for me on what to do/not do the week leading up to a race?!!  


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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pan-Fried Plantains and other Recent Eats

The other night for dinner I made deconstructed Mahi-Mahi taco salad with Grapefruit Salsa and some Pan-Fried Plantains on the side.  It was GOOD!

It was my first time making plantains at home and it was SUPER easy!

Pan-Fried Plantains
serves 2

extra virgin olive oil
1 ripe plantain (the blacker it is, the sweeter it will be)
salt and pepper
cinnamon or other spices (cayenne pepper, caribbean spice blend, garlic, etc. - whatever you like)

The first step is to make sure they're ripe - yellow with lots of black spots OR completely black is my preference.

Then peel it like a banana.  And cut it into about 1-2'' chunks.  Heat a little extra virgin olive oil (enough to coat the pan) in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Place the chopped plantains standing upright into the hot oil and sear 2-3 minutes or until golden on the bottom.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a little cinnamon (or whatever spices you want).  Then flip 'em onto their other side, season them a little more and sear on the other side - make sure you watch them closely.  They can go from golden to burnt in just a few seconds!

Once they are softened and seared on both sides, remove them to a plate and use the back of a wooden spoon to smoosh them down (this is the FUN part).  Put them back into the hot oil and sear another 1-2 minutes per side until evenly golden on both sides. 

I've also been enjoying my Banana Chocolate Pecan cake that I made the other day.  The recipe isn't perfect yet, so I'm not ready to share it BUT it was pretty darn good.  I think I'm almost there, it just needs a little tweaking.

This morning's breakfast was SO satisfying.

1 slice of Ezekiel bread, toasted, with all-natural peanut butter and sliced bananas, scrambled eggs, and fruit salad on the side (strawberries, bananas and pink grapefruit from Brian's co-worker).

Happy Saturday!  Hope your weekend is off to a great start!

What are your weekend plans?  Please share, I'd love to know!


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Friday, February 24, 2012

Tasty Squirrels and Lunchtime Recap

Today's workout was good!  Day 19:  Shoulders and Abs.

But I can never leave well enough alone so I changed it up to better suit me:

1/2 mile run around the track, then:

3x10 each (unless stated)

Seated Dumbbell Press                            15# (3x12)
Lateral Raise Machine                                  20#
Dumbbell Front Raise                                  7.5#
Seated Arnold Press                                    12.5#
Dumbbell Lateral Raise                        7.5# (10# last set)
Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise               10#

Abs Circuit   (2x25 each unless stated)
Bicycle Crunches
Roman Chair Leg Raise
Forward Plank (max hold)
Side Plank Dips (x10 each side)

It went really quick compared to the other workouts.  I think because it used mostly dumbbells so everything was in the same exact place.  I didn't have to go wandering around the gym to find different pieces of equipment.

Lunch was a mix of leftovers and veggies, devoured as soon as I got home:

Salad with leftover black beans (YUM!), carrots and red bell peppers with Trader Joe's Edamame Hummus, and the last slice of Grilled Pesto Pizza with Balsamic Chicken.  Plus an apple with almond butter (not shown) and a few slices of turkey breast from the deli (didn't make it onto the plate).

The TJ's edamame hummus is pretty good.  But I still think I prefer Sabra's roasted pine nut hummus, or homemade.

And then I may have had a tiny sliver of this

It's a banana cake with chocolate and pecans.  It was worth every. delicious. calorie.

For Hudson's lunch he had one of Trader Joe's Natural Dog Treats.  He loves them and highly recommends them to his four-legged friends.

Hudson's favorites are the squirrels.  He considers it payback for all of the times they sit just outside the back door and taunt him.

Look at that focus.  

Time to get on with the rest of the day!  Happy Friday!


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Chocolate in the Morning

I woke up feeling chocolatey.  As in, I must start my day with chocolate or I am just going to stay in bed.  As much of a chocoholic as I, admittedly, am, this doesn't happen often.  I usually prefer to end my day with chocolate, not start it.

Since we don't exactly buy the chocolatey kids cereals (um, ew.  Have you looked at the nutrition information on the box?!) I made my own.  But it was even better because I used Oat Bran (Trader Joe's sells it in 2 lb bags for less than $3) and I added chocolate whey protein powder and cocoa powder for flavor.  It kind of reminded me of the taste of hot chocolate, but chewable.

Also, the dollop of PB I added after I took the photo was a good idea - makes it taste like a peanut butter cup.

Hot Chocolate Oat Bran 
serves 1

1/4 cup oat bran
1 cup liquid:  water, milk, almond milk or a combination (I used 3/4 cup water +1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk) + up to 1/4 cup more, depending on thickness desired
dash of cinnamon
1/2 scoop chocolate whey protein powder (use one sweetened with stevia or unsweetened, not with sugar) - make sure you use a high quality protein, one that you enjoy the flavor.
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 packet stevia (or other sweetener, optional)

milk, strawberries, peanut butter, sliced bananas, etc. (optional) for serving

In a small pot, combine oat bran and 1 cup liquid over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Once it starts to boil, lower the heat to medium and stir until about half the liquid is absorbed.  Then, add the cinnamon, protein powder and cocoa powder.  You may need to add a little extra liquid (water or milk) depending on your desired thickness.  Stir until most of the liquid is absorbed and the oat bran is thickened.  Taste and add stevia (or other sweetener) as needed.  Serve topped with the strawberries, peanut butter or other toppings.


Count Chocula Cereal (per 3/4 cups cereal) :  12 grams of sugar, 1 gram protein, 1 gram fiber

Chocolate Cheerios   (per 3/4 cup cereal):  9 grams of sugar, 1 gram protein, 1 gram fiber

Reece's Puffs Cereal (per 3/4 cups cereal):  12 grams of sugar, 2 grams protein, 1 gram fiber

Cocoa Puffs Cereal (per 3/4 cups cereal):  12 grams sugar, 1 gram protein, 1 gram fiber

Mine (per serving, not including milk or toppings for comparison to cereals above):  0 grams sugar, 18 grams protein, 7 grams fiber

I win.


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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Grilled Pesto Pizza with Balsamic Chicken and Tomatoes

Monday night's dinner was a total WIN:  we made pizza on the grill using fresh homemade basil pesto and it was SO good!

It was our first time grilling pizza and we were pretty excited with the results.  Now, I know a lot of you guys live where it's a little too chilly to be outside at the grill right now but here in Tampa the weather has been lovely.  Just bookmark this recipe (or you could Pin it!) for the warmer days ahead!

I've been wanting to grill pizza directly on the grill grates for at least the last two summers (we've grilled it on a pizza stone before with good results) and I thought this was a good time to do a trial run before summer hits and it gets too hot to turn the oven up to 500 degrees.  You know, it was all in the interest of practice.

Brian used The Kitchn's method and it worked well.  We  loved the slightly charred flavor from the grill.  Grilled pizza is a WIN!

The pizza dough was from Trader Joe's - we used the whole wheat pizza dough that they sell in the refrigerated section.  We love to make our own pizza dough but TJ's is so convenient it's ridiculous.

The "sauce" was homemade pesto that I made from my basil plant in the backyard (yep, it's still a-blooming here in Florida).  I have used The Barefoot Contessa's recipe for basil pesto before with good results, but it turned out awesome this time.  I've provided the recipe with my changes below.

I halved The BC's recipe volume so it was perfect in my Mini-Prep Food Processor.  I don't think this lil guy could have handled the full recipe.  

On top of that we added fresh mozzarella (another TJ's buy), a sliced tomato and cooked balsamic-marinated chicken.  I would have sprinkled fresh basil on top before serving but I was fresh out after using it all in the pesto!

I ate the leftover pizza with a salad for lunch the next afternoon.  So delicious!

Grilled Pesto Pizza with Balsamic Chicken and Tomatoes
serves 4
pizza grilling method from The Kitchn

1 large chicken breast
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

1 pound ball whole wheat pizza dough
extra virgin olive oil
prepared basil pesto (see recipe below)
1 tomato, sliced thin
1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced very thin
fresh basil, thinly sliced, for serving

Prepare the Balsamic Chicken:

Cut the chicken breast into 1'' chunks and place in a ziploc bag.  Pour 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar onto chicken and close bag.  Make sure vinegar is in contact with all of the chicken and allow to marinate in the refrigerator 1 hour.

Preheat broiler to high and line a sheet pan with foil.  Spray foil with nonstick baking spray.  Put marinated chicken onto prepared baking sheet in one layer, making sure the pieces are not touching, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.  Broil 5-7 minutes until fully cooked, stirring and rotating the tray once or twice to insure even cooking.  Remove from oven and allow chicken to cool slightly while you prepare other ingredients.

Prepare the Pizza Dough and Get the Grill Ready:

While chicken is marinating, remove pizza dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before manipulating it.  Preheat grill to about 500-600 degrees, as hot as you can get it.  This could take 20 or 30 minutes depending on your grill.

Lightly oil one side of the pizza dough with extra virgin olive oil (a neat little trick is to oil a rimless baking sheet and roll the dough out on top of it - this way, the dough slides right off the baking sheet and onto the grill - no muss, no fuss!).  Depending on your tastes, roll the dough out into a circle as thin as you dare without risking a tear (this will yield a thin, crispy crust) or about 1/3 inch thick (for a thicker, doughy crust).  With the grill cover open (or off), place the dough directly on the grates for about three minutes (feel free to check the underside with a spatula to ensure the bottom isn't getting burned).

At the three minute mark, use your rimless baking sheet (or spatulas) to flip the dough.  Immediately spread the pesto and add the other toppings - but hurry!  When finished, quickly replace the grill cover and allow to cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and slightly browning.  Remove from the grill and serve fresh and hot!

Basil and Spinach Pesto
makes 2 cups
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa

1/4 cup raw, unsalted cashews
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

Place the cashews and garlic in the bowl of a mini-food processor.  Process for 20-30 seconds until finely chopped.  Add the basil, spinach, salt and pepper and pulse a few times to start to break down the greens.  Add the olive oil in two increments, pulsing in between additions and process until pesto is pureed.  Add the Romano cheese and puree another 30 seconds - 1 minute.  Use immediately or store in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.


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