Mint Chèvre Pesto

 This is a delicious and savory mint pesto with the added bonus of a creamy chèvre cheese!  I love this pesto!  It is so perfect for a summer sandwich or salad.

Mint-and-Chevre-Pesto

 This was a fun weekend: Robby and I did our normal Friday night dinner and Saturday lunch.  After our Saturday lunch, we headed off to the Scotts Valley Wine and Art Festival.  What I love about wine festivals is the ability to try a bunch of different winery’s wines all in one place.  I love talking with the wine makers; they are always so enthusiastic about each varietal and the process in general.  It’s kind of sad that I can’t drink red wine anymore because I LOVE red wine.  It makes me feel woozy and heavy-headed.  But, there were enough whites to be had. : )  My two favorites were a Chardonnay from Wargin Wines, and a Chardonnay from 37th Parallel Winery which is saying a lot because I’m not always a fan of Chardonnays.  Many tend to be too heavy and over oaked for my taste.  These two were very crisp and I could actually taste the grape with just a hint of oak.  37th Parallel has three Sauvignon Blancs which are my favorite varietal.  Unfortunately, they were not available at the tasting, so I am going to have to visit them!  On Sunday I made and took photos of this delicious mint pesto.

Mint-Chevre-Pesto

This pesto screams white wine!  It is great with a crisp non oaky Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc.  This pesto would also be amazing on a hot afternoon with a nice Riesling with some fresh fruit, goat cheese and crackers.

Savory-Mint-Chevre-Pesto

Recipe:

  • 2 Cups Fresh Mint
  • 1/2 Cup or 4 oz. Chèvre Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Almonds
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt

Instructions:

Measure the almonds then put them into a food processor and turn on until the nuts are a finely ground

Wash and dry the mint then pick off the leaves, measure and add to the almonds

Add the garlic, measure the cheese, olive oil, lemon and salt then add to the food processor and puree.  Scrape the sides at least once

Health Benefits:

Mint activates the salivary glands just by the aroma alone, which helps to promote digestion. It relaxes the muscular lining of the digestive tract, improves the flow of bile through the stomach and it soothes the stomach, indigestion, inflammation, abdominal pain, nausea and discomfort associated with IBS.  People who suffer from allergies and asthma can benefit from regular use because it is a relaxant and relieves congestion. Mint contains potent antioxidants that decrease levels of free radicals that can cause damage to cells. It is an excellent source of potassium, calcium, iron, manganese and magnesium.

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Kiwi Honeydew Sangria

It’s wine harvest season, and I’ve noticed that the folks over at Williams-Sonoma aren’t just focused on grapes, but all freshly juiced fruits.  Juicing means different things to us all, but right now I’d like to mix the two for my perfect sangria recipe.  The best sangria is one made with fresh-juiced fruit.  It is a great time right now for making this delicious summer drink, as there are so many different types of fruit in season.  I am personally a fan of a more tart, dry sangria versus a sweet one

Kiwi-Honeydew-Sangria.

I used fresh kiwi, honeydew, lime and a crisp white wine.  I like to think of how the drink will look after I make it; it’s kind of like an art lesson in what colors mix well.  This kiwi honeydew sangria even looks refreshing with it’s pastel lime color

Kiwi-Honeydew-Sangria-

Recipe: Makes 1 8oz Sangria           Profile: Tart/Refreshing, Classic~Original Recipe

  • 3oz Crisp White Wine (Pinot Grigio)
  • 1oz Fresh Kiwi Juice (6 Kiwi’s makes 1 Cup of Juice)
  • 2oz Fresh Honeydew Juice (1 small honeydew makes approx. 2 cups of juice)
  • 1/2oz Honey Syrup ( 1 part honey 1 part hot water, stir well)
  • 1/4oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 Lime for Garnish

 Glass:  Wine Glass or Goblet        Garnish:  Lime wheel

Instructions:

First prepare your juice ahead of time so you can make it and serve

 I used a high speed juicer  when juicing the kiwi it provides more juice and less pulp.  When I juice the separate fruits I put them in individual jars so I can mix each drink according to others taste, it is also fresher to do it that way

After you have juiced your fruit and made your honey syrup simply pour your ingredients into a shaker, lightly shake without ice, pour over ice in your favorite glass and garnish with a lime wheel

*I first wanted to just use the kiwi juice but after tasting the kiwi it was quite tart so adding the fresh honeydew balanced it out.  For those of you who like a sweeter drink I recommend either using a Riesling and adding more of the honey syrup

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Cucumber Salad with Chive Cashew Pesto Vinaigrette

This salad has a refreshing, crunchy, mouth-watering explosion of flavor!

Cucumber-Salad-with-Chive-Cashew-Pesto-Viniagrette

Isn’t this a pretty salad of green, red, pink and purple?  I just love summer and all its vegetable charm.  I could eat salad everyday.  There are endless possibilities in the world of vegetables, herbs and spices.

Cucumber-Salad-with-a-Chive-Cashew-Pesto-Viniagrette

This salad goes best with a sweet or dry white wine .  Try it with a French Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, White Rioja, Gewurztraminer, Champaign or a Prosecco.

Cucumber-Salad-with-Chive-Cashew-Pesto-

Recipe:  2 – 4 Servings

  • 1 Large Organic Cucumber or 2 Small
  • 2 Purple Carrots (it will be just as pretty with orange carrots)
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Cup Pink Beauty Radishes

Dressing

  • 3/4 Cup Chive Cashew Pesto
  • 3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Dill
  • 2 Teaspoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper

Instructions: 

Make the Chive Cashew Pesto, mince the dill, juice the lemon and combine with the red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and black pepper to complete the vinaigrette and set aside

Slice the cucumber into thin slices (you don’t have to peel organic cucumbers because there is no horrible tasting wax on them)

Thinly slice the carrots

Slice the radishes into rounds then stack on top of each other and cut into match sticks

Cut the top and bottom off the bell pepper, cut in half and slice into thin strips then cut the strips in half

Toss the vegeibles with the dressing in a large bowl and serve

Health benefits:

Cucumbers are a good source of vitamin A and B that gives you energy and the high content of vitamin C which is primarily found in the skin of the cucumber is ironically beneficial to our skin.  They help eliminate toxins and keep you hydrated with their 95% water content.  The dietary fiber aids the digestion and helps with heartburn.  They are known to dissolve kidney stones by lowering uric acid levels.  Research has shown a connection with reduced risk of several cancers due to the three lignin’s it contains.  The juice is beneficial to diabetics due to a hormone it contains that helps the cells of the pancreas produce insulin.  Cucumbers help reduce cholesterol levels and regulate blood pressure so it is great for both low blood pressure and high blood pressure.  It is an excellent source of silica, magnesium, and potassium that helps promote joint health by strengthening the connective tissues and is great for your skin, hair and nails.

Chives contain flavonoid anti-oxidants, plant fiber, minerals, and vitamins.  It is one of the richest sources of vitamin K, rich in vitamin C and is really high in vitamin A.  It reduces cholesterol production in the liver and helps decrease the risk of coronary artery disease.  It also helps maintain bone mineral density.

Cashews are extremely concentrated in essential minerals like phosphorus, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, selenium and zinc. They contain essential fatty acids that help lower harmful LDL-cholesterol while increasing good HDL cholesterol.  They are also a good source of antioxidants.

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Chive Cashew Pesto

This pesto has a really nice mellow flavor.  The cashews give it a creamy texture and the chives give it a slight spiciness.

 I love it on toast with sprouts for breakfast. It is great on sandwiches, on pizza, as a dip for raw veggies or French bread, crostini and crackers.

Cashew-Chive-Pesto

I made this pesto to take to beach because our friends Beto, Jill and Paloma were coming for the day.  I know it’s a winner if I get a taste test approval from Paloma and she loved it!  It’s cute how she uses a cracker for a delivery system by eating the pesto alone and not the cracker.

Chive-Cashew-Pesto

We had this pesto with a white Rioja, but it goes well with most white wines.

Cashew-and-Chive-Pesto

Recipe - Approx. 2 1/2 Cups

  • 1 Cups Chives
  • 3/4 Cups Cashews
  • 1/2 Cup Aged Asiago Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt

Instructions:

Cut chives into 1 inch pieces and finely shred the cheese

Measure all ingredients and put into a food processor or blender and blend well

Make sure to scrape down the sides at least once

Health Benefits:

Chives contain flavonoid anti-oxidants, plant fiber, minerals, and vitamins.  It is one of the richest sources of vitamin K, rich in vitamin C and is really high in vitamin A. It reduces cholesterol production in the liver and helps decrease the risk of coronary artery disease.  It also helps maintaining bone mineral density.

Cashews are extremely concentrated in essential minerals like phosphorus, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, selenium and zinc. They contain essential fatty acids that help lower harmful LDL-cholesterol while increasing good HDL cholesterol.  They are also a good source of antioxidants.

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Pink Lychee Martini

I wanted to make this a pink cocktail; I like the subtle contrast with the white lychees.  The grapefruit with this drink makes it oh so refreshing and it looks pretty sexy!

Pink Lychee Grapefruit Martini

The lychee fruit tree is native to southern China but there are Organic lychees grown in the States.  I prefer buying the non-canned lychees, fresh is always better and this time of year, they are pretty easy to come by

Pink Lychee Martinis

There are actually a number of health benefits to the lychee and they are low in calorie so besides the vodka this cocktail could be a “skinny” drink

Pink Lychee Martini

Recipe: Makes 1 Martini          Profile:  Sweet, Citrus, Creamy ~ Original

  • 1 1/2 oz Fresh Lychee Puree
  • 1 oz Fresh Juiced Grapefruit Juice
  • 1 oz Vodka (Hangar One is what I like for this)
  • 1 Dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Splash of Champagne or Sparkling Wine

Glass: Martini                        Garnish: Grapefruit twist with Lychee rolled into

Instructions: 

If you are using fresh lychees which I highly recommend you will need to peel and deseed before pureeing

For one drink you will need about 4-5 lychees.  Put all the prepared lychees in the food processor, pulse until very smooth then strain through fine mesh strainer and set aside

 Next juice your grapefruit and also strain then add all of the ingredients except the champagne to a shaker, shake with ice for a few seconds

 Pour and top with champagne

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Potato Leek Soup with Caramelized Tri Colored Carrots

Love, love, love, this soup!  It’s hearty, flavorful and colorful all at the same time!

Potato-Leek-Soup-With-Caramelized-Tri-Colored-Carrots

I know it’s not soup weather for some of you, but here in Northern California we have some foggy overcast days and I was craving a nice soup.   I thought this would be perfect because my niece who is vegan was coming for a visit.  Since I am not a vegan, I added shredded Gruyère cheese on top and put it under the broiler until the cheese was bubbling.  It is so darn good!!!

Potato-Leek-Soup-and-Caramelized-Tri-Colored-Carrots

This goes so great with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc or light Pinto Noir

Potato-Leek-Soup-With-Tri-Colored-Carrots

Recipe: 4 – 6 Servings

  • 5 Cups Filtered Water + 1/4 cup
  • 2 Large Yellow Potatoes
  • 4 – 5 Tri Colored Carrots (of course you can use regular carrots)
  • 1 Large Leek
  • 1/2 White Onion
  • 1 Shallot
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Vegetable Bullion Cubes (salt free)
  • 1/3 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Dry White Wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 4 – 5 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme or 1 Sprig
  • 1 Sprig Fresh Tarragon
  • 1 Sprig Fresh Rosemary
  • 2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • Gruyère cheese (optional)

Instructions:

Dice the onion, mince the shallot and garlic, put into a 5 1/2 quart pot and add 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Saute on medium low until the onions are fairly soft (about 10 minutes)

You want to wash the leek really well, there is always dirt on the inside.  If you have never cooked with leek before, watch this how to video, follow the first instructions but cut into quarters after you wash it.

Slice the leek and carrots and set aside while the onions are cooking

Add the leek and bullion once the onions are soft and continue sauteing until the leek is soft (about 3 – 5 minutes)

Add the wine and reduce to a syrup (about 2 -3 minutes)

Add the water, thyme, tarragon, rosemary, bay leaf, salt and pepper.  You will need to make a Bouquet garni or just leave the rosemary out If you don’t want to chew on rosemary leaves. Continue to simmer on meduim low heat

In a separate saute pan add carrots, 2 tablespoons of wine, 2 tablespoons of water, a dash of olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper.  Sautee on medium heat covered until they are soft and the liquid reduces.  It can happen fast, so make sure to check on them (about 5 minutes).  Add a tablespoon olive oil deglaze and set aside

Dice the potatoes in to bite size chunks and add to soup (5 1/2 quart pot ).  Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer until the potatoes are very soft (about 40 minute) then remove the bouquet garni

Puree half the soup in a food processor, pour back into the pot and add the carrots

Cook for a couple of minutes to reheat the carrots

A great additions is to top it with Gruyère cheese and either let melt on its own or put under the broiler for a couple of minutes until bubbly

Health Benefits:

Yellow Potatoes – Yukon gold – content of potassium is higher than many foods and can help reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke.  They have twice the amount of vitamin C as a Russet, which helps protects your cells from free-radical damage. Yukon’s are rich in B6 and antioxidant properties. It has a bit of Iron, which helps the body absorb the C. They contain fiber that helps reduces cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar, helps prevent constipation and aids in weight loss,

Leeks allicin content reduces cholesterol production, blood pressure, blood vessel stiffness and protects the lining. Leeks help chronic low-level inflammations like in diabetes, obesity and rheumatoid arthritis.  They contain polyphenols that are known to be strong antioxidants that fight against free radicals, which help with chronic disease and aging. They are a good sources of vitamin-A, C and K.

Carrots contain beta-carotene that is then converted into vitamin A in your liver and helps restore vision. They lower the risk of coronary heart disease and are high in antioxidants that help in cancer prevention. They may also help with blood sugar regulation, delay the effects of aging, and improve the immune system.

Homemade Smokehouse Almonds

I just love the smokiness of these almonds and that they are a perfect healthy yummy snack!  These are great on their own or with some picnic supplies like fruit, pesto, cheeses and wine. : )

Smokehouse-Almonds

I remember eating these as a kid, it was kind of a staple for us girls.  We would roller skate to the liquor store to get them and because the guys at the counter knew us they allowed us to keep our skates on!  However they weren’t homemade like these!  I make these a lot for Robby to bring to work so he won’t be tempted by all the sugary snacks everyone brings.

Homemade-Smokehouse-Almonds

 I like them with almost any sweet or dry white wine and they especially go great with beer!

Smoked-Almonds

Recipe – 3 Cups

  • 3 Cups Raw Almonds
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoon Expeller Pressed Grapeseed Oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoons Liquid Smoke
  • 2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 Teaspoons Coconut Flour

Instructions:

Mix almonds, oil and liquid smoke making sure all the almonds are evenly coated.  Mix flour and salt together and add to the almonds until the oil is absorbed into the flour

Spread evenly on a baking sheet

Bake for 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 350 degrees

Let cool and then put in a jar and shake

*Shake before eating as the smoky powder falls to the bottom just like the store bought ones

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Kale Salad with Cucumber Parsley Pesto Vinaigrette

I could eat this whole salad in one sitting.  It is so refreshing, flavorful and full of crunchy yummy goodness!

Kale Salad with Cucumber Parsley Pesto Vinaigrette

This weekend Robby and I had the pleasure of having Sabastian stay with us.  We always enjoy having her around.  She is our friend’s daughter from when we were teenager’s!  When she was here we had a strange picnic on the beach consisting of black beans, pico de gallo, diced roasted poblano, cheese, lettuce and wine.  I normally bring things like this kale salad, which I am going to today because my friends Beto, Jill, Paloma and Beto’s friend Matt and his family are coming for a beach day.

Kale-Salad-with-Cucumber-Parsley-Pesto

 Enjoy this with a Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, White Rioja, Beaujolais or Pinot Noir

Kale-Salad-and-Cucumber-Parsley-Pesto-Vinaigrette

  • 1 Head Kale (I use  lacinato)
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Cucumber
  • 1 Large Carrot
  • 1 Small Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Red Cabbage
  • 3/4 Cup Cucumber Parsley Pesto
  • 2 Tablespoons Champagne Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • Dash Black Pepper
  • 1 Cup Toasted Almond or as many as you want

First make the pesto, (you can make a half batch or make the whole batch and have it on some toasted french bread along side of the salad!)

Toast almonds – spread out on a cookie sheet bake for 20 minutes on the middle shelf on 350 degrees

In a bowl mix together the pesto, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper and set aside

Wash the kale and tear off main rib by holding the end of the stem and sliding off the leaves then chop into thin strips

Put the kale in a large bowl with the olive oil and massage the oil into the kale

Cut the ends off the cucumber, peel it then cut in half, and scoop out the seeds. Cut the halves in half and slice in to thin slices

Shred the carrot, dice the bell pepper, mince and measure the red cabbage

Mix the dressing and all the veggies together with the kale and enjoy

*Top with almonds just before eating otherwise they will get soft

Health benefits:

Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and it is a loaded with antioxidants which helps detox the liver. It is also an anti-inflammatory with omega-3 fatty acids, which is helpful for arthritis, joint pain and asthma.  Kale has more Iron than beef and more calcium than milk which helps prevents osteoporosis, joint flexibility and helps maintain normal bone health. It is great for cardiovascular support that helps in lowering cholesterol.  It is really high in vitamin A, C, and super high in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K (anyone taking anticoagulants should avoid kale because the high level of vitamin K that may interfere with the drugs.)    More on kale 

Italian Parsley has an excellent source of vitamins C and A. The Vitamin A in parsley supports the tissues that line your lungs andpromotes eye health.  And the C protects your retinas from the sun that causes free-radical damage. It is rich in lutein, which is an antioxidant that protects against macular degeneration. It is a good source of folic acid that is great for cardiovascular health. It is one of the richest herb sources for vitamin K making parsley great for your bones. The iron in parsley helps get rid of carbon dioxide and brings oxygen to your tissues.  It is an excellent blood purifier with its high chlorophyll content and a good remedy for lung infection or asthma. It is also rich in anti-oxidants and a good source of potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.

Cucumber are a good source of A and B vitamins that gives you energy and the skin benefits from the really high content of vitamin C which ironically is primarily in the skin of the cucumber. They help eliminate toxins and keep you hydrated with the water content, which is 95% and the dietary fiber aids the digestion and helps with heartburn.  They are known to dissolve kidney stones by lowering uric acid levels.  There is research in connection with reducing the risk of several cancers due to 3 lignin’s it contains. The juice is beneficial to diabetics due to a hormone it contains that help the cells of the pancreas produce insulin. Cucumbers help reduce cholesterol levels and regulating blood pressure so its great for both low blood pressure and high blood pressure.  It is an excellent source of silica, magnesium, and potassium that help promotes joint health by strengthening the connective tissues and is great for you skin, hair and nails.

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