Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Mmmm, this pumpkin seed pesto sounds wonderful!


We humans are a wasteful bunch, especially when it comes to food.  Think about the last time you threw out half an apple or tossed the skins of your soon-to-be-mashed potatoes.  We’ve been unconsciously trained to follow certain formulas when playing in the kitchen: if the recipe doesn’t call for the entire fruit or vegetable, the remainder belongs in the trash.

Let’s use pumpkins as an example.  Every Halloween you buy a few to carve with your children or your tipsy friends.  Newspapers are spread on the floor, ceremonial knives are brandished, and pretty soon the walls are dripping with bright-orange pumpkin guts.  Ninety percent of those guts end up in the trash.  The rest become wallpaper or hair gel, depending on the number of cocktails poured that evening.  Halloween is great.

But every now and then, some culinary genius decides to save the pumpkin guts for future consumption.  Said…

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Chicken, Pasta and Homemade Marinara Sauce

Tonight’s dinner consisted of bow tie pasta with homemade marinara sauce chopped  grilled chicken, and fresh green beans.

For the marinara sauce I first sauteed onions until translucent, added minced garlic and cooked until fragrant, then added fresh tomatoes that I had peeled and seeded earlier.  Added some Italian seasoning and simmered for about an hour.  Let the sauce cool and put in air tight container in the fridge over night.  Reheated and put over pasta, chicken and beans.


Pasta Florentine

On Friday I usually go out to my friend’s restaurant, Joes 5 Star Pizzeria, but tonight I just wasn’t feeling like doing much, though it is a beautiful day in Houston.


All Tue more reason to have a simple dinner outside on the patio watching Rex & Roxy romp around on the backyard.


They both seem to think the pool is their personal water bowl…

Buy I digress.  Tonight’s dinner started with sourdough toast sprinkled with olive oil, topped with a bit of goat cheese and some chopped up tomatoes from the church garden along with fresh basil from my herb garden.  Sprinkled with a bit more olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.


Main course was pasta Florentine with chicken.  I have to admit, I cheated tonight, this was a prepackaged Marie Calander dinner.  It was good, none the less…though I am not overly fond of prepackaged meals…


Drink… Well I made myself a little “easy margarita” using lemonade and a shot of lemon tequila.


Last, but certainly not least was dessert.  Fresh hung cherries (those babies are expensive!  Can’t wait for my cherry tree.to start producing…), homemade vanilla ice cream that I made for Memorial Day, topped with homemade chocolate sauce.


What did you have for dinner tonight?

This isn’t Your Mom’s Cabbage Soup

Yes, believe it or not… I still have a head of cabbage from the church garden that I need to use.  And yes, it is still very fresh, just need to peel of the outer leaf.

I was inspired by an article in the April 23rd issue of Woman’s World for this creation.

I actually started out with the intention of making Creamy Cheesy Jalapeno Soup, but I don’t have cheese in the house, didn’t feel like making a trip to the grocery store, and then remembered the article in the WWorld mag.

So here it is…

Cathy’s Cabbage Soup.

1 onion chopped
Couple tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove garlic
1 jalapeno pepper finely chopped
8-10 cups chicken broth
1 carrot chopped
1/2 head cabbage chopped
1 can cannilloni beans
Shell pasta
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions, garlic and jalapeno in olive oil about 5 minutes
Add everything else EXCEPT the pasta. Bring to a boil, lower to simmer and cook about 10 minutes.
Add pasta and cook about 10 minutes on simmer until pasta is cooked to your liking.


If you make a large pot like I did, and you don’t have others to eat it, the pasta will swell up in the soup as it sits, so you may news to add water or more broth to the left overs, or have a thick soup.  Either way it is good.

Pasta with Shrimp

Tonight was a three course meal line of night.  I made a southwestern black bean soup for my appetizer, Southwestern Pasta with Shrimp for the entree, and blueberries with sweetened “whipped milk” for dessert. 

To make the whipped milk o use this nifty gadget that came with my mini-French press for coffee.




I have been wanting to make black bean soup for a while.

Black Bean Soup with Avocado Cream

2 T olive oil
4 large carrots, dived (2 cups)
1 large sweet onion
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
4 cups chicken broth
3 cans bqlck beans, drained and rinsed
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup Sour cream
2 T chopped cilantro
1 T lemon juice

Saute onions and carrots in oil until tender crisp. Add pepper, cook 1 minute.
Add broth and beans. Bring to a boil.  Lower to simmer and cook for 25 minutes.

Mash avocado, add sour cream, cilantro and lemon juice, mix to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve place in serving bowls and place a dollop of avocado cream on top.


Pasta with Shrimp – this is another recipe from the Tx Dept of Agriculture

Serves 4

2 T butter, divided
2 shallots
4 oz sundried tomatoes (NOTE: I only used 1/2 the amount, and that was plenty)
1 jalapeno pepper finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, divided and minced
3 oz. White wine
8 oz cream (NOTE:  you can substitute milk and add 1 teaspoon corn starch or floor for thickening agent)
2 oz chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (NOTE: I also cut them up in two to three pieces each, or I can leave them whole) about 1#
8 shitake mushrooms, julienne
2 oz peas ( you can sub broccoli flowerlettes if you don’t like peas)
2oz grated parmesan cheese
3 oz pasta shells

Melt 1 T butter, add 1/2 tomatoes and shallots.  Saute until fragrant. 


Add 1/2 garlic and deglaze with 1/2 of the wine.  Add cream and broth,  cook until reduced by 1/2.  Puree and strain (I forgot to puree…), season with salt and pepper.


Cook pasta according to directions.

Melt remaining butter in saute pan, add shrimp, remaining tomatoes, mushrooms  and garlic.  Deglaze with remaining wine.  Add lease and sauce.  Season with salt and white pepper.  Place in servitude dishes and top with parmesan cheese.


Serve with a glass of white wine.


Butternut Squash Rissoto with Spicy Cream Sauce

I didn’t post anything last night, but I did make an interesting dinner.  This was inspired by another recipe from the “Simply Colorado” Cookbook from my sister-in-law Sarah.  The sauce was inspired by a Fettuccine with Sprimp Sauce recipe.

I took some of the butternut squash gnocchi that I made a few days ago, and cut them up into little bits, like Rissoto.  In order to help the pieces not stick together I tossed them with a little bit of flour and cut them on a board with flour on it.  The pasta was then boiled for 4 – 5 minutes, until done.

"Rissoto" after it was cooked

Spicy Cream Sauce

1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon dried whole marjoram
dash of pepper
1 Jalapeno pepper, diced into small pieces
1 T cornstarch
1 cup milk (the recipe calls for skim milk, but I just used what I have on hand – 1%)
2 slices provolone cheese (recipe calls for 2 slices of swiss cheese – I would suggest you use whatever sliced cheese you have on hand, because that is the cheese you like)
2 T snipped chives or green onion tips (would you believe it – I have chives in my herb garden, but completely forgot about them!! So I didn’t use any)

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Combine chicken broth, wine, marjoram, jalapeno pepper and pepper in a saucepan.  Bring to a full boil and boil until sauce is reduced to about 1/2 cup.

Combine cornstarch and milk., add to reduction in the saucepan.  Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture to further chop up the jalapeno pepper.  Cook sauce until it thickens and is bubbly.


Pour some of the sause over the rissoto and serve.

Sorry, I ate this before I realized I forgot to take a picture of the final dish… 🙂   It was delish!

Butternut Squash Gnocchi w/ Grilled Chicken

I happened upon q Gnocchi recipe.yesterday, and decided to use that for my dinner inspiration tonight.


Butternut squash – if you use fresh, you need to cook it first.  When you do it will be too watery because of cooking it with the water, so be sure to strain it to get much of the excess water out of it.
1 1/2 cups oat flour,
2+ cups all purpose flour, it may take more, depending on how much squash you use.  Note: you can also use only all purpose flour if that is all you have.
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced/crushed
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

You can mix this together by hand, but I opted to use my food processor.

Mix together until a nice dough ball forms


Pinch off teaspoon size pieces and roll into oblong pieces, flatten a little bit with the tongs of a fork.


I made mine a bit too big.  The ones I didn’t cook I cut in half before I froze them.

Cook in salted boiling water, a few at a time, until the pasta floats.

I served mine with sage and browned butter.


These would be great with a nice light Alfredo sauce too.  I have a recipe for that as well.  I will post it the next time I use some of these Gnocchi.  I am freezing what I didn’t use for a later time.

I made a simple grilled chicken breast and steamed asparagus to round out my.dinner.


Another “Food Critic” Post

Friday night, first Friday of Lent, not feeling like cooking for dinner… what to do… what to do…

Growing up every Friday of Lent was “Fish Friday”.  Being Catholic, we could not eat meat on Friday, so fish it was not seafood, but fish.  This is so “embedded” in me that it doesn’t dawn on me much that there is so much more that you can have that is neither, meat, nor fish.

That said, the first Friday of Lent arrived and, having been eating a lot of fish already the past couple of weeks, my thoughts turned to what I might want to order when I went out to dinner at Joe 5 Star Pizzeria & Restaurante   http://www.joe5starpizzakaty.com

Achillie center, Rhonda on the right

A little bit about Joe’s and the owners… The restaurant is owned and operated by Achillie Epifani and his wife Rhonda.  I met Achillie and Rhonda when they opened a little italian restaurant less than a mile from my house, many years ago.  I ate there often and quickly became friends with them.  Actually, they are more than just friends.  You see, in 2006, when I fell and broke my hip and arm, and lay in the hospital, they brought me dinner so I wouldn’t have to eat the hospital food.  That is the kind and wonderful people they are.

Achillie has owned several restuarants in the Houston area, all successful establishments.  They sold the restuarant near my home and took some time off, then last summer found a location in Katy Texas, and opened Joe 5 Star in September 2011.

Joe’s is a small restaurant with dine-in (they take reservations!), carry-out and catering.  They are located on 5th Avenue in Katy Texas, across the street from the Methodist church.  Because they are so close to the church, they cannot serve alcohol.  They do have their liquor license, though, so you can bring your own libations.  Even better – they do not charge any “cork fee” as some places tend to do.

It is very much a family atmosphere, and while Achillie spends a lot of time in the kitchen, he will come out to the dining area and check on the guests often to make sure that everything is fine.

Many families eat at Joe 5 Star after their kids' Saturday sporting events

Friday evening, we had a large group of Rhonda’s extended family there for dinner; a group of at least 12, I think.

This evening I started out with Bruchetta, since all I had for lunch was a cheese sandwich; I was also one of the first to get to the restaurant and wasn’t going to order my dinner entree until the others arrived.   Fresh chopped tomatoes, and basil on top of made-from-scratch garlic bread with a drizzling of olive oil and topped with parmesan cheese.

Many bottles of wine were consumed last night, it was such a great gathering of friends and family.  Many ordered pizza, of which Achillie makes the best.  Their pizza’s are made from scratch.  Achillie makes the dough and all the sauces himself.  He also uses the same dough to make the bread used for the garlic bread.  I have yet to find another place in the area that makes as good a pizza pie as Achillie.

I decided I would have Spinach Ravioli with Pink Sauce (all homemade), served with a dinner salad and plain bread with butter.  Unfortunately, I ate my dinner before I realized I had forgotten to take a picture of it for the blog … (Ops!)

Another YUMMY dinner compliments of Achillie, and I didn’t miss the fish at all.  🙂

Pasta Fagioli Soup

Okay – so I haven’t been very good about posting my evening meals lately.  Why you may ask…. well, several reasons.

1) I haven’t made anything very different that what I have posted here in the past.

2) okay, I admit it – I have been eatingdinner out way too much… even though my fridge is filled with “Good for you veggies from the FM and the church garden”.

3) Dinner leftovers from dining out – enough said…  🙂

So tonight, instead of going out to my usual Friday evening locale (a friend’s restaurant – I will Blog more about that great place later….), I decided to make Pasta Fagioli Soup.   I have never made this italian bean soup before, so I started by looking for a recipe to get me started in my cookbooks.  I have one great Italian cookbook, but low and behold, no Pasta Fagioli soup recipe there.

So on to the internet,  Allrecipes.com, but didn’t find anything that I liked there.  Then I remembered BigOven.com, so tried that.  I came across the recipe for the Olive Garden Pasta Fagioli soup.  Here is a link to the recipe http://www.bigoven.com/recipe/160813/Olive-Garden’s-Pasta-E-Fagioli  and a picture of the soup. 

Quick and Easy pasta Carbonara


Yes, quick and easy.  I know, I always thought carbonara was difficult and complicated.  But it isn’t!  And the great thing about it, you can adjust the ingredients for the # of servings you want to make.  Tonight I made a single serving because I only had pasta for one. 

Cut bacon into small pieces.  Dice some onion, put in a pan over medium heat to cook. Meanwhile cook pasta according to pkg directions.  Take eggs (1 for each serving you are making) and beat well.

When pasta is finished, drain pasta, saving some of the pasta water.  Add pasta water to egg a little bit at a time.  For 3 eggs you use 1/2 cup, so adjust amount of water based on # of eggs and servings you are making.

Add egg mixture to pasta, and heat so that it thickens a bit, add bacon and onion, toss.  Place on serving plate or bowl. Top with parmesan cheese and serve with garlic bread if you like.