Summer Cooking {Pesto Crab Pasta}

I made my first batch of pesto tonight. I scheduled Alfredo Pasta with Crab for dinner thinking that Adam would be home to cook it. And he wasn’t. So I was staring at the clock…4 p.m….knowing something needed to be done to feed the kids and I was starving myself. Alfredo seemed…well, complicated. So I googled pesto + lump crab + pasta and came up with a simple recipe.

I love pesto. The spicy garlicky bite mixed with the fresh herb undertones of the basil. My summer staple. If there is one plant I will always have in my garden it is basil. Plus, now I know you can freeze it. Just pop your leftover pesto in an ice cube tray and you have fresh summer in the middle of winter.

Tonight pesto went into everything. A little reserved pasta cooking water mixed with pesto equals easy-to-toss sauce for noodles. A spoonful or two of pesto in the zuchinni being sauteed equals garlicky goodness. Touch of pesto warmed with crab equals salty perfection. Pesto painted over breadsticks equals soft, carb-o-licious heaven.

Make simple pizza dough. Check.

Turn into breadsticks. Check.

Make pesto. Check.

Boil pasta. Check.

Cut and sautee zuchinni. Check.

Lightly warm crab meat. Check.

Drain and toss pasta with pesto. Check.

Plate and take beautiful pictures in the evening sun. Check.

Eat heavenly deliciousness. Check.

Lick pesto off of plate. Check.

There are a million good pesto recipes out there. My basic recipe is below but I rely much more on tasting and adding what I think I need more of, usually more garlic or parmesan or olive oil. If using pesto as a basic pasta-toss sauce, be sure to check final flavor for a bit of salt and pepper!

  • 1-3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (who ever has pine nuts on hand, I ask you?)
  • 3/4 – 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup olive oil

 

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~ Cookie Comfort ~

How do you bake cookies while simoultaneously holding a whining infant who may have RSV and has been clinging to you desperately all week day?

One hip…baby. Other hand…cookie scoop. Wasn’t this such a clever invention? I used to see it as a needless tool (my hubby wanted it) that I avoided just on principle. But, I’ll admit, today it has greatly come in handy.

We should be dosing up on meds and trying to clear out this sickness pervading our house. I should be packing the last little bits of our house. But there is something ultra comforting about home baked chocolate chip cookies in the middle of the afternoon! I mean, seriously, look at all that sweet, warm, fresh gooey goodness!

I’ve adapted our recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. The only change being that I use all butter. No shortening or margarine in this house! And Adam has taught me to add the flour slowly at the end testing for that just-right-consistency. That has made all the difference in cooking the perfect cookie!

I cook mine at 350 degrees for exactly 9 minutes. No more, no less. Always pull even if you don’t think they look done! Everyone’s oven is different so that part may take some experimenting.

Scratch Real-Butter Ultra-Comfort Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 3/4 Cup White Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Butter (slightly softened)

~ Mix with beater.

  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp real Vanilla
  • 2 Eggs

~ Mix again with beater.

  • 1 3/4 Cups – 2 1/2 Cups Flour 

~ Mix in 1 3/4 Cups flour with beater. Slowly add 1/4 – 1/2 cup more at a time till dough is still sticky but can be squished together in hand and keep shape.

  • 1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

~ Stir in chocolate chips.

Cook, eat and enjoy!

And, by the way, the other cool secret about this recipe? You can use it for any type of cookie! Making peanut butter cookies? Add peanut butter and adjust flour accordingly. Making oatmeal cookies? Add a handful of oats and adjust the flour accordingly. As long as the dough has that same consistency then you’re good to go! This helped me in memorizing just on recipe and ditching the rest. Ultra simple for this overly busy mom!

Orange Clove Winter Stove Top Potpourri

 

winter potpourri

One of my favorite smells in the world is that classic cinnamon spice aroma that permeates the winter season. Most of us modern day Americans run to the store and purchase our Fabreeze or Glade cinnamon plug-ins. Some of us might even splurge on more pricey Scentsy warmers. But my favorite classic is the simple orange clove stove top winter potpourri.

This works especially well in a synergistic no-waste seasonal way as part of your kitchen clean-up. Winter is the traditional time for citrus to be in season and on sale. With a 4 pound bag of oranges at $1.49 a bag, who isn’t going to eat as many as will drip down their chin? So you are in your kitchen cutting up oranges for the kids lunch. What to do with the orange peels?

There is always the classic churn them in your disposal method. A wonderful natural cleaner for your disposal and sink pipes. But a better, more wintery way, is to simmer them on the stove top with some water, whole cloves and cinnamon sticks. (Stock up on them when they are half price in after Christmas sales…trust me, they will still be good when the next Christmas comes around!)

Ohhhh…the aroma! Just do as I say, not as I do. Use a bigger pot. There is nothing worse then your husband coming to you wanting to know what that burning smell is only to find your water simmered out and your cinnamon sticks are burning! Big pot + lots of water = lots of yummy smelling, house warming goodness! Enjoy.

Free Lessons ~ Health, Nutrition, and the Human Body for Healthy Kids

Discovered a great new site for homeschooling moms…

Nutrition for Healthy Kids is a blog dedicated to teaching our children about proper nutrition. This homeschooling momma steps out of the box and teaches young children to think critically about their food. Her lessons go way beyond the public school’s general 4 Food Groups philosophy. What’s the difference between organic and non-organic? Can you taste the difference? See the difference? She explores using the scientific theory to go through lessons on everything from basic food nutrition to grocery store plu codes and knowing what a GMO is. Each lesson comes with a downloadable worksheet for the kids to use in their science investigations. And there is lots of hands-on (with little prep work) and opportunities for field trips.

I was planning on doing a Nutrition, Health and Hygiene, and Anatomy and Physiology unit this upcoming winter anyway. A good can’t-go-outside science unit to work on.  This site will tuck in neatly to what we will already be doing. Besides, flu season is the perfect opportunity for a field trip to our doctor for a seasonal shot! And our kids have all been under-the-weather this week so it will be the perfect time to start studying about germs and how nutrition can heal your body. My goal is for the kids to take an active role in their own health and understand why mommy and daddy make some of the decisions we do. I want them to decide what foods will build their immune systems and I want them to begin the process of learning the basics of cooking. We will also be spending the winter planning our spring garden so that will also tie in nicely. We will also be focusing on two very important key biblical elements…the fruit of self-control paired with the freedom we have under Christ. I will be curious to see how their knowledge plays out over the season of over-indulgence!

Here are some other resources we will be using:

If you’ve done any clicking, you can see we are going to have loads of fun with this study! We will use the books we have on our shelf first and then, if needed, supplement with the library. What do we have on our shelf? Take a peek!
I hope to add each week what we’ve done specifically for the week and what resources we used. This will allow for a more detailed list then I can provide here as well as lots of fun, free video links to specific units.
Our schedule:
  • Week 1Germs, How the body heals, Doctors, Teeth and Dentists
  • Week 2 – Nutrition, Vitamins and Minerals, Supermarket
  • Week 3 – Anatomy: 5 Senses
  • Week 4 – Anatomy: Cells, Bones, Muscles
  • Week 5 – Anatomy: Heart, Lungs, Stomach

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Real Food Part One: Dinner and a Movie

Maybe some of you remember the $5 Food Challenge invitation?

Yesterday was the big day. I admit, I was a little worried. Because of time and money restraints I wasn’t able to go shopping until the day before.  But due to the generosity of friends and being able to go shopping at a new wonderful all local food store, Tomato Tomato, everything came together beautifully!

The Challenge ~ Can we eat a local, real food meal for less than the average value meal ($5 per person)? Do we have to sacrifice nutrient-dense healing food for processed, mass produced pretend food?

How did we do?

People attending: 20

Challenge Food Budget: $100

Actual Spent: $50.73

Per Person: $2.54

~ Dinner Menu ~

Herbed Arm Roast

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Buttered Green Beans

Smoked Bacon Swiss Chard Gratin

Fresh Baked Bread

Local Fresh Farm Milk

~ Dessert Menu ~

 Fall Apple Crisp with Fresh Whipped Cream

Locally Roasted Coffee: Columbia Sierra Nevada

~ Movie Snack ~

Local Stove Popped Popcorn

The biggest challenge was deciding how legalistic I was going to be about the whole event. Does every little thing have to be local? Does it all have to be organic? It is easy to fall into a trap in every ideology, whether religious or worldly, that one must adhere to strict rules and never fall off the path. But the biggest life lesson I am learning is that grace abounds and that allows flexibility and freedom while seeking the heart of an issue.

The heart of this challenge for me was two-fold. First I wanted to bring people together to share in food and good conversation. That is so key to what my family believes in. Second I wanted to offer up fodder for conversation on the food war front. We can only change things if we are making informed decisions. I was excited to share a film that would spur debate and critical thinking that we greatly need right now about our food industry.

Some of my local, real food challenges for this dinner…

I needed butter. I wanted vitamin-rich grassfed butter. There was none to be found. So I had to settle for butter at my regular grocery store and just made sure I picked the most local vendor.

I decided to go ahead and use the spices already in my cupboard…salt, pepper, garlic, etc…and not stress about whether they were local or organic.

Price Breakdown ~

Arm Roast$17.85 (3.50 x 5.10 lbs – Range West Grass Fed Beef)

Potatoes free (neighbor’s farm)

Green Beansfree (neighbor’s farm)

2 Onions$ .96 (Spring Valley Gardens)

Swiss Chardfree (own garden)

Herbsfree (own garden)

Apples$8.74 (4.5 lbs)

8 oz Smoked Bacon Cheese$4.60 (Jisa Farmstead Cheese)

Gallon Whole Milk$6.22 (Burbach – $4 credit for bringing back bottles)

Pint Cream$2.87 (Burbach – $1 credit for bringing back the bottle)

1 lb Butter$4 1lb (Highland Dairy)

Flour –  $2 for 2lbs (Grain Place Foods)

Oats $1 for 1lb (Grain Place Foods)

Popcorn$.49 for 1/3 bag ($1.49 bag – Hilger Agri Natural)

Coffee$3.00 for 1/3 bag ($9.30 16oz – locally roasted at Midwest Custom Roasting Inc.)

   

After a delicious dinner that everyone felt was much more like Thanksgiving rather than a usual evening meal, we retired to the living room to watch the controversial documentary Food Inc. The first time I watched this movie I literally walked out of the theater crying. I was already much more in the know about the food industry then most people I knew yet I was still shocked by what I saw. Having studied much more extensively about food since then, watching it this time just made me very angry. My first viewing left me wanting to change and I did make small baby steps. This viewing left me with a steely resolve that I need to get this food thing figured out for my family. We had some great conversation starting points and I think most everyone left with something to think about.

It was a great night of delicious food and even greater fellowship.

And it gave me much to talk about and share here in this virtual space. So I will be picking my own brain and hashing out thoughts throughout the next couple of weeks in a Real Food Series. Be sure to check back for more discussion and how your family can start making changes.

In the meantime, watch the movie Food Inc. Start reading (your local library is a great resource) and thinking. And check out Slow Food USA and “like” them on Facebook for real-time news stories. Let’s stop pretending that our world is fine and that we don’t need to change. Let’s start taking a real look at food and get back to eating food as God intended it to be.

Want to hear about our night? Listen to my husband on a radio podcast on in-season eating over at Judy A La Carte’s radio talk show.