With a new flexible schedule I am now able to take out my list of things I want to accomplish and begin checking off the list. My number one task being to start becoming more familiar with cooking. I'm not completely hopeless in the kitchen, but I feel bored with what I know. I'd like to be more adventurous.
My father-in-law once asked, "If you could be an expert at anything then what would it be". The first thing that came to mind was COOKING! It seemed strange, but as I explained why, it became clear that this was actually a true desire of mine. I would absolutely love to be able to (successfully and confidently) prepare gourmet, exotic meals. Cooking for others brings me so much joy, but with the limited number of recipes I know, I tend to feel unenthusiastic at the idea of inviting people over.
You see, I've had this irrational fear of following a recipe for a while now. It's not just the intricate steps and unknown techniques that daunt me, but the long list of ingredients. I take one look at the index of things to buy and I automatically plunge into a dark pit of despair. My eyes shut and I envision myself as this tiny little thing, trapped amidst the enormous walls of the grocery aisles. I open my eyes, realizing I'm still at home, slam the cookbook shut, and decide it would be safer to make quesadillas for the third night in a row. Yeah, I know, it's pure silliness, I've gathered that. It's finally time to do away with the fear. I have been given an abundance of time and I'm determined, and excited, to conquer my dreams. Hopefully by the time I have kids I will at least be able to make more than just chicken tacos and stir-fry for dinner.
I'm a wife on a mission to get past my fears in the kitchen; forging my way into the world of cooking, one recipe at a time. The plan is to make at least one new recipe each week, starting simple with ingredients I'm familiar with. I will be documenting all of my trials and errors here for you to laugh about and learn from. So far, I've been able to successfully make my own pesto. It's an easy recipe to follow, with just a few ingredients. It saves you money and everyone loves it!
Here's the recipe:
Found at wholheartedeats.com
Spinach & Cashew Pesto
Using a food-processor or blender, combine:
1/4 Cup Cashews
1/2 Cup packed basil
1 Cup packed spinach
Note: Place the greens at the bottom; the nuts tend to turn into a buttery paste and jams the mixer if put in first. I learned this the hard way – it ruins the consistency of the end result.
Then blend in:
1/2 Lemon, juiced
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
8 Tbsp. Olive oil
I like to add:
A few pressed Garlic Cloves (to taste)
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan Cheese
(This increases saltiness, so mix salt in after, if you choose to add cheese.)
- Pesto uses up all of your olive oil (even that huge Costco jug)
- Garlic makes everything better
- Good parmesan cheese is very salty
- A "half a lemon squeezed" isn't the best way to measure such a strong-flavored ingredient
- Homemade pesto is better than store-bought pesto
This recipe is awesome because it's a more affordable way to make pesto at home. Cashews are much cheaper than pine nuts (you can also substitute other nuts) and adding spinach doubles the recipe, and, not to mention, adds tons of nutrients to a basic pizza/pasta sauce.
Pesto goes great with many toppings. Sometimes I grill-up chicken and sauté mushrooms and white onions. I've found Italian sausage to be a great pair with the pesto as well. Cherry tomatoes, halved, is also a great, fresh addition to a heavy, pasta meal. To top it off, sprinkle a pinch of fresh parmesan cheese for an added sharp flavor. There are so many ways to do it, probably explaining why I can make this meal every week without my husband ever getting tired of it.
(If there's left over sauce, you can use it as sandwich spread the next day – it's so good!)
I encourage you to try-out this recipe. It's absolutely wonderful.