Spaghetti Squash with Sunflower Lemon Pesto (DF / GF)

Walkin’ that line between summer and fall
Feelin’ like maybe I can have it all…

And I can!  Well, I can have fresh squash and basil anyway!  Speaking of pairing foods in a speed dating type situation…. (we talked about that in our last post and are dreaming up a fun contest around that theme)…..

Spaghetti Squash says, “I’m new around here, what do you plants do for fun?”
Basil: “I just turn all my faces up and keep reaching for the sky!”

Reaching for the sky IS fun and even on a cloudy day, there is tons of room up there for dreams and hope and autumn leaves twirling their way to a moment’s repose on the ground.  Reaching for the sky turns my eyes into and onto larger ideas, beliefs and a faith that I am part of the seasonal change that defies all of the little problems that cloud my vision of the beautiful, expansive sky.

So you’re probably thinking “This must be an easy recipe if she has time for all this ruminating on the sky!” 🙂

It is indeed an easy recipe and another one that modifies a recipe we’ve posted earlier.  This time I was getting jiggy with the dilly sunflower cheese Little Sis introduced us to after a bear visited their suburban backyard. Continue reading

Winter Pesto – Delicious Pasta!

Once mid-August arrived, I was hit by school.  And school did hit me hard with a, “Look at me when I’m talking to you Woman!”

Alas, the fresh, fragrant basil in the garden froze before I made that big batch of pesto to use throughout the winter.  And Holy High Herbs Batman, have you seen what you pay for fresh herbs in the grocery store?  Or for pre-made pesto for that matter?  Yikes on both counts… Truly – “yikes, yikes!”

With the additional problem of wanting to make dairy free pesto (a la the lovely and talented Little Sis), for my dairy free husband, I had to come up with something.  So I bought a big old jar of dried basil.   Gauche?  Perhaps.  Cheap?  Definitely.  A solution? Hooray!

I started with my hybrid sunflower seed / cashew cheese mixture that can also serve as a base for a cheesy flavor inclusion in burritos or sandwiches or right onto a cracker or carrot… This cheese goes either way depending on whether you add nutritional yeast flakes & a little water, or basil and some olive oil.

Here’s the recipe for the sunflower/cashew cheese spread – this time destined for pesto-ey pleasure.

Quick sunflower seed / cashew cheese

This is an attempt to combine some cheesy offerings we have shared in the past (sunflower cheese & cashew cheese) but without the extra work and time involved in making firm cashew cheese.
1/2 cup sunflower seeds & 1/2 cup cashews soaked in 2 cups of water in the frig (put these in to soak in the morning and they’ll be done by dinner)
juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 – 1 tsp salt
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 -3 Tbsp. dried basil

Mix all in food processor until creamy, scraping down sides as needed

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I actually split the above recipe between cheesy filling for burritos and this pesto – simply removing half of this cheese BEFORE adding basil and olive oil, mixing those by hand and placing nutritional yeast flakes and water in to complete the cheesy filling.  I mixed the basil and olive oil in by hand:  IF YOU CUT THE CHEESE (okay, okay) IN HALF, ALSO HALF WHAT YOU ADD AFTER CUTTING IN HALF>

DSC07590Taste as you go (always good from many angles), and add basil and olive oil (as above) to preferred taste and consistency.

Place this concoction on pasta of your choice with veggies of your choice, such as…colored bell peppers and swiss chard:
3 orange peppers
1/2 large bunch (about 3 large leaves, stems removed)
1 – 2 cloves garlic
Tbsp. olive oil
Saute the above – garlic first, then peppers, then chard:

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Cook your pasta to package directions.  Top with sauteed veggies and a generous dollop of pesto cheese.

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This was very tasty and it was fun to make the 2 ‘cheeses’ from a base on one night.  The cheese step the second night was then very quick.  I also doubled the pepper and chard saute and froze half of it for an easy base for this or another dish on another night.  I love having those frozen back ups that lack the usual additives of frozen foods.   Cheap pesto rocks!

I Love Lucy or Vacation Eating

Sheeeeee’s baaaaaaaaaack. Hey friends. As you might have guessed, I have been enjoying a bit of a hiatus. Big Sis graciously covered my fanny online as I took some time with our super parents in a super retreat. We are the lucky beneficiaries of an annual trip in the summer (Big Sis first, we second) that never fails to restore some well-being and hope for humanity (no, really), but I have to confess that it doesn’t typically do a lot for my healthy habits. I had great hopes for maintaining my course on this trip (as I managed to at the beach, where I had Big Sis to help me avoid the ice cream), but I’m afraid this time, I was pretty much like Lucy on the chocolate line. If you are unfamiliar with Lucy on the chocolate line, you may be very young, and I suppose we’ll have to forgive you for that. Regardless of the reason for your unfamiliarity, I would encourage you to check out the fabulous Ms. Ball (in the chocolate and two other food-related scenes) here. The picture above says it all, though. Cheeks full, and a determination to look as though nothing is wrong…. I just couldn’t stop myself.

Now look, don’t get me wrong, regardless of what your internal or external rules are about food, I think it’s pretty reasonable to willfully ignore them now and again. It’s not a point I want to argue – I am just not willing to be that rigid or hold myself to that high a standard. I don’t need to be disappointed in myself that often. With that said, on our trip some sort of switch flipped and it seems that after the first transgression, despite feeling bloated, overly-full, greasy, and a little nauseous, I just couldn’t stop. And so I arrive home feeling spiritually, mentally, and familially refreshed, and further affirmed that for me, there are some kinds of food I really just can’t do, and if I DO choose to eat them, I should do it when I’m with Big Sis so we can be sure it won’t happen the next day too. 😉

On our road back to normal digestion this morning, I chose to give my daughter a soft landing with pancakes.  The kids enjoyed their little fluffy vegan breakfast friends with a little syrup on the first, and then jam on those that followed.  Mommy and Daddy enjoyed pancakes with fresh Western New York blueberries with some date cream spread on top.  And after I had the first two and I felt satisfied?  I stopped.  So there.  And for dinner tonight?  Homemade pasta with both red sauce and vegan pesto options….  that’s what I call getting back to normal in style.  Many kudos for my wonderful husband’s consistently awesome homemade pasta, and many thanks to fabulous sister-in-law and family for giving us an excuse to do it up with multiple options.  Vegan pesto was enjoyed by all but the youngest in the crowd (my wonderful but picky daughter and my wonderful but picky niece).  So here you are, the cheapest pesto I’ve ever made.  All the yum and none of the pricey ingredients. 🙂

Welcome Home Vegan Pesto

  • Double batch sunflower cheez spread (omit the dill)
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 6 cups packed fresh basil
  • 1 t  salt
  • 6 Tbs olive oil

Follow the recipe  for the sunflower cheez spread (to which I am now hopelessly and willfully addicted, by the way), omitting the dill (unless of course you like dill in your pesto), and adding a large clove of garlic.  Process the cheez until it is as smooth as your patience will allow.  Add the basil, additional salt and the olive oil and process again until ingredients are incorporated.  The pesto will not be as green as traditional pesto, but like traditional pesto, it WILL oxidize, so the color will go from green to brown when left uncovered or as time passes.  Stir for better color.  This recipe makes A LOT of pesto.  Cut it to your satisfaction, freeze some, OR play all week with new combinations based on your fan-flippin-tastic vegan pesto.  I’m betting you can guess which option I’m choosing. Delish.