Spanish Piquillo Pepper Pesto

This pesto has the flavors of Spain with the piquillo peppers, manchego and macrona almonds!

Piquillo-Pepper-and-Manchego-Pesto

I made this pesto to bring along to a barbecue at our friends Jill, Paloma and Beto’s house.  Beto turned me on to piquillo peppers years back and I have been obsessed ever since.  I wanted to see what they would taste like in a pesto and yes, I have to make everything into a pesto.  Anyways, it was a hit!

Piquillo is Spanish for “little beak” and are traditionally grown in Northern Spain.  They are perfect for stuffing and made into tapas.

Piquillo-Pepper-Pesto

Enjoy with a Spanish wine like a Ruada, White Rioja, Cava, Txacoli or Red Rioja.

Piquillo-Pepper-Manchego-Pesto Recipe: Approx. 2 1/2 Cups

  • 3/4 Cup Jarred Piquillo Peppers
  • 3/4 + 2 Tablespoons Marcona Almonds
  • 3/4 + 2 Tablespoons Manchego Cheese – finely shredded
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Spanish Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon Spanish Hot Paprika
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt

Instructions:

In the bowl of a food processor or blender combine all the ingredients and puree to desired texture.  Make sure to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula at least once.  

Health benefits:

Piquillo peppers are a high source of fiber, and Vitamins C, E, A, and B.  The vitamin C content is as high as a citrus fruit.  They improve the blood circulation and reduce high blood pressure.  They also help reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol and promote healthy cholesterol.

 

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Wild Rice Kale Casserole with a Cheddar Cheese Sauce

This hearty dish is perfect all by itself or accompanied by a side salad or a nice bowl of soup.

Wild-Rice-Kale-Casserole-with-a-Sharp-Cheddar-Sauce

You can really smell the fall air right now, which has inspired me to make a hearty main dish that is healthy yet comforting at the same time.   This dish satisfies hunger due to the nutrient dense properties of wild rice and kale, and what’s really cool, is that it helps lower sugar cravings as well.

Wild-Rice-with-Kale-Casserole-with-a-Sharp-Cheddar-Sauce copy

The great thing about this dish is that you can assemble it ahead of time and then bake it just before you are ready to serve.  It may take longer if it was refrigerated.

Wild-Rice-Kale-Casserole

This casserole pairs well with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, White Rioja, White Bordeaux, French Chablis, Pinot Noir, Red Rioja or Merlot.

Wild-Rice-with-Kale-Casserole

Recipe:

  • 1 Recipe Wild Rice
  • 5 Cups Kale – chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 White Onions – diced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Brown Rice Flour
  • 1 Cups Milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 Cups Half and Half  (you can use all milk if you prefer)
  • 2 Cups Cheddar Cheese – shredded
  • 1 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme Leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon Paprika
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Sea Salt or to taste
  • !/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 2 Heirloom Tomatoes – 7- 8 thick slices
  • 1 Cup Parmesan or Pecorino Romano Cheese – finely shredded

Instructions:

First make the wild rice.  While the rice is cooking, wash the kale and tear off the main rib by holding the end of the stem and sliding off the leaves then chop in to thin strips. Set aside

In a sauté pan on medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, and garlic.  Cook until the garlic just starts to become golden, then add the wine and reduce to a syrup.

Next, add the butter to the onions.  Once the butter is melted, stir in the flour and continue to stir while cooking the mixture for about 2 minutes.

Add the milk/half and half while whisking constantly, bring the liquid to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.  Add the cheddar cheese a little at at time, add the spices, stir until the cheese is completely melted.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Add the kale and rice to the cheese sauce, mix well and pour into a 1 1/2 to 2 quarts casserole dish. (taste to make sure if there is enough salt)

Arrange the tomatoes slices on top, then top with with the parmesan or pecorino cheese.

Bake on the middle rack for 30 to 35 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the juices are bubbling then place on the top rack and broil for 2 – 3 minutes to a nice golden color.

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

Wild rice is a good source of fiber there for it helps with digestion and to lower cholesterol.  It is a complete protein, and has twice as much protein as brown rice.  Wild rice contains all of the essential amino acids, but it’s a bit low in lysine.  It is extremely high in antioxidants so regular consumption protects you from disease and ageing.  A serving of wild rice is lower in calories than other any other rice and provides 15 percent of the recommended daily value of zinc.  It has good sources of essential minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, folate, Vitamin B6, and niacin.

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Tequila Garden aka Strawberry Balsamic Martini

“Tequila Garden” is like the lazy mans way of making a shrub!  You can cheat and muddle strawberries with balsamic vinegar for a WOW cocktail!  Reposado tequila is a beautiful addition to the kitchen cocktail as I call it; it could even be an inspiration for a salad.

Strawberry Balsamic Cocktail

 I know this type of drink has been done before but I thought tequila would be an interesting spirit to accompany the fresh strawberries and balsamic

 Recipe: Makes 1 Cocktail                        Profile:  Strong, Dry, Semi Sweet/Inspired Original

  • 2 oz Reposado Tequila ( I used El Tosoro )
  • 1oz Simple Syrup
  • 1oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1/8 oz Balsamic Vinegar
  • 4 Fresh Strawberries
  • 4 Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters

Glass: Martini, Coupe or whatever you like  Garnish: Fresh Basil Leaf

Instructions: 

Cut stems from the strawberries and slice in halves

In a mixing glass add fresh strawberries, balsamic and simple syrup

Muddle strawberries well then add the fresh basil,  lightly muddle a couple times just to open oils from the basil

Add remaining ingredients with ice and shake for 8 seconds

Double strain into appropriate glass

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Artichoke Chive Pesto

I love the way artichoke and chive flavors meld so well together in this particular pesto!

Artichoke-Chive-Pesto

I had leftover artichokes so I cooked them up and made this delightful pesto.  I love to add pesto to salads, they add so much flavor and a little bit of creaminess. I like how I can use the chive flowers as a pretty garnish as well.

Artichoke-and-Chive-Pesto

Serve with a dry white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc, Ruada, White Rioja or a bubbly like a nice Cava or Prosecco.

Chive-Artichoke-Pesto Recipe: Approx. 3 1/2 Cups

  • 2 Artichoke Hearts
  • 1 Cup Fresh Chives – cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 Cup Aged Asiago Cheese – finely shredded
  • 3/4 Cup Raw Walnuts
  • 3/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt

Instructions:

Cut the stem of the artichoke off.  Place them in a large pot of boiling water and place a wet towel on top to keep them wet and immersed during cooking.

 Boil for about 35 – 50 minutes, depending on the size. Don’t cover or they can become bitter.  Test a leaf to see if it’s ready, it should pull out easily. You don’t want to over cook.  Pull out of the water and turn upside down to drain any excess water.  Enjoy the leaves for your lunch : )

While artichokes are cooking, cut the chives and measure, grate the Asiago and measure along with the walnuts, olive oil, lemon juice and add garlic and salt in the bowl of a food processor or blender.  Cool the artichokes and remove leaves and scrape away the hairy part.  Add the hearts to the rest of the ingredients and puree to desired consistency.

Health Benefits:  Artichokes are a rich source of dietary fiber, which is great for the colon and heart. The bitter compounds contribute to cholesterol reduction in the blood. They contain good amounts of anti-oxidant vitamin-C and other anti-oxidants that protect the body from harmful free radical. It is also rich in B-complex group. They are one of the vegetable sources of vitamin K that is good for bone and brain health. Artichokes have a powerful liver protectant called flavonoid silymarin making it a powerful detoxifier. 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. Other Posts

Red Lentil Cilantro Coconut Soup

This is a flavorful soup with some serious spice.  

Red-Lentil-Cilantro-Coconut-Soup--

My mom came to visit Robby and me for my birthday.  It was a bit overcast so I made this soup to warm us up.  I like to have an extra soup or salad available when guest come to stay.  I love red lentils.  They are so quick and easy to make and they lend a great flavor and texture to any soup.  Not to mention, they are cheep and so very good for you!

Red-Lentil-Cilantro-and-Coconut-Soup-

Enjoy a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Rioja or a Borolo.

Red-Lentil-and-Cilantro-Coconut-Soup-

Recipe: 8 – 10 Servings

  • 4 Cups Red Lentils
  • 12 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1/2 White Onion
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 – 2 Jalapeño Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Vegetable Bullion Cube (unsalted)
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 4 Cups Cilantro
  • 2 Cans Coconut Milk (full fat)
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Tamari
  • 2 Teaspoons Fresh Ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons Homemade Curry Powder or Simply Organic Curry
  • 2 Teaspoons Dried Lemon Grass
  • 2 Teaspoons Tumeric Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cumin
  • 1Tablespoons Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper

* Garnish with thinly sliced green onion and cilantro leaves

Instructions:

Measure, sort and rinse the lentils until the water runs clear.  In a large soup pot; add the lentils and water, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Skim off the starch. Cook until lentils are soft.  (about 15 minutes)

Dice the onions, mince the garlic and slice the jalapeño into thin slices (if you want it milder you will have to remove the seeds first)

In a 5 1/2 quart pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic, stirring often, cook until soft and garlic begins to brown.  Add bullion cube, jalapeño and wine, reduce until syrupy.

Add the coconut milk, cilantro, lime juice, tamari, ginger and all the spices to the 5 1/2 quart pot along with half of the lentils. Let simmer for 10 minutes then puree in a food processor or with a hand blender until smooth.  Pour back in to the pot and add the rest of the lentils.  Cook on medium-low heat to incorporate all the flavors.  When hot it’s ready to serve.

 Garnish with green onion and cilantro

Health Benefits:

Lentils have very high levels of soluble fiber and a good amount of insoluble fiber, which is a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels giving you a steady steam of energy.  A half-cup provides about a third of the daily requirements.  Not only is the fiber good for your heart the amount of folate and magnesium is very beneficial for cardiovascular health.  They are loaded with an impressive amount of blood-fortifying iron and when paired with a food containing vitamin C, like citrus fruits or peppers the iron is enhanced, which can also increase your energy.  They are also a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K.  They are truly a nutritional fountain of youth.

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Arugula Burrata Tomato Salad with Mint Chèvre Pesto and Piquillo Peppers

This has to be one of the most tastiest salads ever!

Arugula-Tomato-and-Burrata-Salad

 I can’t even begin to tell you how good this salad is!  I have to admit I didn’t completely come up with it out of thin air.  I had a salad at one of our favorite restaurants called West End Tap and Kitchen.  The salad contains tomato, buratta, shaved fennel and arugula pesto.  It was a bit rich, so I ordered a side of arugula to add to it.  I ordered piquillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese and added them to the salad as well.  I just had to recreate it at home!  I used a mint chèvre pesto and chèvre stuffed piquillo peppers.  It turned out to be one of the best flavor combinations I have ever had.

Arugula-Tomato-Burrata-Salad

Serve with a dry white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc, Ruada, White Rioja or a bubbly like a nice Cava or Prosecco.

Arugula-Tomato-Burrata-Salad-with-Piquillo-Peppers

Recipe: 4 Salads

  • 1 Cup Mint Chèvre Pesto
  • 1 Ball Burrata
  • 2 Heirloom Tomatoes – sliced into wedges
  • 1 Cup Fennel Bulb – thinly sliced
  • 8 Piguillo Peppers
  • 4 Cups Arugula
  • 1/2 Cup Chèvre Cheese or to taste
  • Micro Sprouts  - to taste
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil  - to taste
  • Balsamic Vinegar – to taste

Instructions:

Make the Mint Chèvre Pesto and add 1/4 cup on the side of the plates

Cut the burrata into 4 parts and place in the middle of the plates

Slice the tomatoes into wedges and arrange a half of tomato on the side of the burrata next to the pesto

Cut the stocks off of the fennel bulb, then cut the bulb in half, then cut out the core, then slice each half in half and then slice as thin as you can and top with a 1/4 cup on the burrata

Stuff the piguillo peppers with the chèvre and place two on the side of the pesto

Wash and dry the arugula then arrange one cup on the side of the piguillo peppers

Top with the micro sprouts, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Health Benefits:

Arugula is a super food that cleanses the blood and detoxifies cells. It is an extremely high anti-oxidant making it a free radical absorbent and increases oxygen levels. It has a cooling effect on the body and contains 90% water so it keeps your body hydrated making it a great addition in the summer heat. Arugula has very high levels of chlorophyll, which helps with liver damage and contains phyto-chemicals that fight cancer-causing carcinogens. The leaves have an excellent source of vitamin A helping with vision, skin and respiratory health. It has good levels of vitamin C that’s great for cells and skin health. Arugula also contains decent levels of minerals, especially copper and iron. It has high amounts of calcium and vitamin K that strengthens the bones. It’s high fiber content helps with colon health and reduces chronic inflammation as well. It is high in folate (B9), which helps to slow down the aging factors of the brain and supports your metabolism.

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Kale Jicama Salad with Smokehouse Almonds and Roasted Grape Vinaigrette

This is a very unique salad with the combination of vinaigrette, smoked almonds and jicama.  It is mostly savory with a hint of sweetness from the grapes.

Kale-Jicama-Salad-with-Smokedhouse-Almonds-and-Roasted-Grape-Viniagrette

 You definitely understand how challenging it is to come up with a recipe that hasn’t been done before if you’re a blogger.  I am pretty sure you have never seen this combination of flavors together.  I especially love the origins of the ingredients.  Kale was farmed in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome.  Jicama a native to Central America and Mexico and has to be one of the coolest tubers.  Grapes are natives of Western Asia and Central Europe and feta is from Greece.  Check out the history of almond.

 

Kale-Jicama-Salad-with-Roasted-Grape-Viniagrette

 I enjoyed this salad with a dry Rose wine.  It also pairs well with dry white wine or a beer of your choice.

Kale-Jicama-Salad-and-Roasted-Grape-Viniagrette

Recipe: 2 – 4 Servings

  • Smoked House Almonds to taste on top
  • 1 Head Kale
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2  Small Jicama
  • !0 Grapes or to taste – cut in half (optional)
  • 1/2 Cup Feta – crummbled
  • 1/4 Cup Basil – packed then minced
  • Roasted Grape Vinaigrette – to taste

Instructions:

 Make the smoked almonds and let cool

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

In a large bowl add the kale with the olive oil and massage the oil into the kale

Mince the basil, add to the kale and mix together

Shred the jicama in a food processor or by hand.  Either mix the jicama, feta and grapes with the kale or add on top of individual portions

Top with whole or chopped smoked almonds

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 

 

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Blueberry Mint Vesper

The Vesper a drink invented and named by fictional secret agent James Bond in the 1953 novel Casino Royale.  I like to take a classic original, throw a little fresh fruit and some herbs into the mix making a “WOW” drink

Blueberry-Mint-Vespar

Before making this drink remember that James Bond drank this, it is not for the light hearted drinker!  This cocktail is strong, a drink you will want to sip

Blueberry-Mint-Vespar-

Recipe: Makes 1 Cocktail                       Profile:  Classic / Original Recipe from Classic

  • 3oz Gin (I used Glorious Gin)
  • 2oz Vodka (Hangar One)
  • 1/2oz Kina Lillet
  • 10 Fresh Blueberries
  • 2 Fresh Mint Leaves

Glass:  Martini                                        Garnish:  Blueberries/Mint

Instructions: 

Add fresh blueberries and Lillet to mixing glass,  muddle blueberries until completely mashed

Then add mint, gin, vodka and ice

Shake 6-8 seconds and double strain into glass

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Lemon Cilantro Hummus

The light zest of fresh lemon and the added savory hint of cilantro makes this hummus on a crisp rice cracker amazing!

Lemon-Cilantro-Hummus..

Adding lemon zest to the original lemon hummus added that additional “POW!”

LemonCilantroHummus.

I don’t know about you but I like using hummus on everything especially when it’s freshly made.  If it’s not gone after the first couple hours, use it on a sandwich, as a veggie dip, on your morning toast or get real creative make a salad dressing by adding a little olive oil

Lemon-Cilantro-Hummus

Recipe: 

  • 1 Cups Uncooked Garbonzo Beans (2 Cups Cooked)
  • 1/4 Cup Roasted Tahini
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
  • 1 Teaspoon of Lemon Zest
  • 1 1/4  Teaspoons Sea Salt or to taste

Instructions: 

First prepare the garbanzo beans or if you are not into cooking your own you can purchase the canned organic beans although they are not as tasty and as fresh!

In food processor combine beans, tahini, olive oil and lemon juice; blend well.  Then add garlic, cilantro, lemon zest and salt to taste;  puree until smooth

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