Tag Archives: Basil

Pistachio Avocado Pesto

I’m one of those people who has a sensitivity to pine nuts. It’s not so bad to have stuff that may have been in contact with them but if I eat them, well…it’s just not a happy time. So, for the longest time pesto was something I eyed with longing and dread. Then one day years ago I made my own, but with different nuts. There was dancing and rejoicing far across the shire. Pesto was once again a tasty thing to be had again. I have done it with walnuts, pecans, and almonds but so far my favourite has to be this newest version with pistachios. Pesto is chock full of nice and healthy ingredients but sadly so full of fats. It’s those fats though that are giving us those healthy benefits so they stay. This is one of those things to be enjoyed in moderation.

  • 30 basil leaves
  • 4 tbl pistachios
  • 4 tbl extra virgin avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbl parmesan cheese
  1. Pulse the pistachios to the desired texture in a blender.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until a paste or sauce forms.

Makes 4 servings. Each serving contains 92 calories, 8.3 grams of fat and .9 grams of fibre. To help metabolize a lot of that fat you can add a clear dissolving fibre supplement to the mix without any loss of taste or texture. This pesto is great tossed with angel hair pasta but my favourite is serving it as a flatbread topped with a nice light goat cheese and prosciutto.

There are some really great high fibre flat breads out there or you can make this using some of the dough from the deep dish pizza crust recipe.

Hardcore Hobbit: Roast Pork

So, in the game roast pork is made from pork, onion and butter. The item is described as being “cooked simply”. Well hmmm, that leaves far too much wiggle room. So I sat down and asked…wwhd…what would hobbits do? hehe. The answer was obvious really. Stuff it with mushrooms ofcourse! I love stuffed pork tenderloin. Lovely organic mushrooms were even on sale this week. So, I sent my husband out on a mission of mushroom retrieval and began plotting. The end result was delicious!

  • 1 tbl extra virgin olive oil
  • 150 grams crimini mushrooms
  • 2 tbl yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small¬† garlic clove
  • 2 tbl dry sherry
  • 1 tbl chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp light butter or butter flavoured cooking spray
  • 12 ounces pork tenderloin
  • salt and pepper
  1. Slice the pork lengthwise but not all the way through, open it up, cover with plastic and pound flat. I find 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch thickness works best for me.
  2. Puree the olive oil, mushrooms, onion, garlic, sherry, and a bit of salt and pepper together until you get a smooth almost mousse like consistency.
  3. Fill the center of the pounded pork with the mushroom filling and roll closed. Bind it closed using either cooking twine or toothpicks.
  4. Melt the butter and brush on the tenderloin or spray with butter flavoured cooking spray. Season by sprinkling with salt, pepper, and chopped basil.
  5. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes. Allow to rest for atleast 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Serves 4. Each serving contains 215 calories, 9.6 grams of fat, and 2.6 grams of fibre. Calculated using light butter although this time I used cooking spray. I served this with a lovely butter lettuce salad. A side note this mushroom mousse recipe of mine was originally used to fill homemade ravioli. So delicious! If you are also a home pasta maker I definitely recommend this as a filling. My original recipe for the pasta filling though was half baby bella and half shitaake. Either way is very tasty.

Bison Steak with Blood Orange Relish

Bison is a fantastic lean red meat, perfect for those watching their fat intake. Also, the bragging rights of having bison for dinner are worth it too. I couldn’t believe how wonderfully tender and delicious this meat is. I used it to kick off my birthday celebration this past weekend but really any celebration will do. Valentines day? Awesome. The dog finally sat when you asked him to? Perfect. Your pet rock didn’t have an accident inside the house? Fantastic! You get the idea. We are lucky enough to live so close to Alberta the land of bison goodness, if you aren’t able to find it I imagine a nice cut of sirloin would be a tasty substitute. I love the colour of the blood orange on this plate. Such a nice deep red, a great way to liven up the visual presentation of a basic meat and potatoes meal.

  • 8 oz Bison steak
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 blood orange
  • 1/2 gala apple, sectioned and sliced thinly
  • 1 tbl dried parsley (2 tbl of fresh)
  • 1/8 tsp anise seeds
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 3 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt and pepper
  1. Smash the garlic clove and cut in half. Rub the garlic clove over both sides of the bison steak. Season with sea salt and pepper and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Cut both ends off the orange. Stand the orange on one of its ends and cut away the peel, don’t leave any of the pith. Quarter the orange by cutting from top to bottom. Slice the wedges thinly starting at the short end.
  3. Combine the orange, apple, parsley, anise, and vinegar gently in a small bowl. Add the sea salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready for use.
  4. Grill the bison. I suggest a medium or medium rare doneness. I gave it 10 minutes on one side and 5 on the other. Allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes and slice thinly.

Serves 2. Each portion of bison (3-4oz) and relish contains 174 calories, 2.3 grams of fat and 2.3 grams of fibre. The relish alone split into two portions is 50 calories, .2 gram of fat and 2.3 grams of fibre. I served this with some twice baked potatoes since I had saved so many calories and fat on the main portion of this meal I could go nuts on my side dish. Hurray!

Hardcore Hobbit: Golden Roast Potatoes

Sometimes, a side dish requires that extra bit of something special. Instead of approaching these with my usual slice potatoes, season and oven method, I thought I would give another tried and true method a go. In the game Golden Roast Potatoes are made from golden shire taters, fine seasonings, and savoury seasonings. I made mine from the golden fleshed shire taters grown right here in the shire…*cough* I mean on the island.

  • 500 grams golden fleshed potatoes
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, chopped
  • 3 1/2 tbl lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • sea salt
  • ground pepper
  • cooking spray
  1. Scrub your potatoes and cube them.
  2. Boil for 10 minutes and drain.
  3. While the potatoes are boiling combine the remaining ingredients in another bowl. Allow to sit until the potatoes are done cooking.
  4. Pour the mixture over the drained, hot potatoes and stir.
  5. Pour into a baking dish and spray with cooking spray. Bake at 400F for 25-30 minutes. Turn once during baking.

Serves 2 or 4, depending on how much you love potatoes. Each serving for 2 contains 190 calories, .4 grams of fat, and 4.4 grams of fibre. Just cut that in half for servings for four. These are delicious cold too!


So I’ll admit it, we watch a lot of those reality cooking competition shows like top chef, hell’s kitchen, etc. For some reason atleast once per season…often more than that, somebody absolutely has to make a chimichurri sauced something. Colour me all impressed, ooo bringing out this Argentinian sauce, awesomeness, you culinary gods you. Then I started looking at recipes and such. It’s just a nice easy tasty blender creation. Not so impressed anymore am I (I know, I totally yoda’d that statement. It happens. Chill.). Granted, thanks to those shows I have now added another tasty to my repertoire.

  • 6 cloves garlic (you may want to use less, I am involved in a torrid love affair with garlic. So, you might not want to be as involved with it as much as I sometimes am.)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/4 cup red wine or red wine vinegar (I used the wine because I just plain wanted to.)
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbl fresh basil
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth like the sauce above.

See? You see how easy this is? Takes more work to make rice crispy squares. I’m so totally going to give the evil closet monkey stare to the next person on one of these culinary reality shows that stands there all proud next to their chimichurri sauced whatever. I used mine as a marinade and sauce for a two person steak. So the sauce for two is 75 calories, 1.6 grams of fat and 2.4 grams of fibre per person. Folks use this as a dipping sauce as well. I highly recommend this as a marinade, that was one happy steak….in my tummy. Goodtimes.


Spicy Spread

No, I’m not being dirty…this time. This is a spicy margarine spread that I made for an awesome side dish the other day. It was a nice step away from the usual and perfect for compliment a delicious fall time veggie: corn! Oh glorious corn! This is the last month for farmer’s market around here so I’ve been taking advantage of all that fresh local corn. I used this on a lovely sweet yellow corn, num! I think its extra great that the spread turns into such a fall festive colour too. Check it out!

  • 2-3 tbl light cooking margarine
  • 1 red hot chili pepper (not the band…that would just get gruesome)
  • 1 tsp fresh basil, chopped
  • ground pepper to taste
  1. Remove the seeds and top of the pepper. Chop very fine.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl or ramekin until it looks like above. Allow to sit at room temp for 10 minutes before using.

This makes about 4 tbl of spicy spread. Each tbl contains 22 calories, 1 gram fat and .2 gram of fibre. To use this spread I covered a cob of sweet yellow corn and grilled the corn for 20-30 minutes on low or medium heat. I specifically wanted that slight char and smoky taste. I basted one side, cooked, flipped halfway through cooking and basted the other side. The end result on the cob:

Mmmmm. For more civilized eating the corn can be cut off the cob carefully to give you something more like this:

Either way it remains tasty! A great side dish during this harvest season. The best part is, everything except the margarine was obtained from my local farmers market. Hurray!

Creamy Pasta Bake

More of that good old fall comfort food. A nice filling pasta bake can really do the trick after running around all day out in that colder weather. The beauty of this is that you can assemble it the night before or on the weekend (pop it into the freezer) then bake it up after a really busy day. Tasty homemade food that really comforts the soul and fills you up. I’m not a pasta fan but sometimes even I need a pasta boost. Sometimes I think of this as a sort of lazy man’s lasagna.

  • 300g whole wheat rotini pasta
  • 2 cups pasta sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup fat free sour cream
  • 1/2 light smoked cheese, grated (light provolone is good also if you don’t want the smokey flavours)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  1. Cook pasta according to directions.
  2. Add the sauce to the pasta and combine completely.
  3. Combine the basil, sour cream, and smokey cheese.
  4. Spray a 9×9 baking dish. Spoon half of the pasta mixture into the dish, covering the bottom. Spread the creamy mixture over the noodles in the dish. Top with the remaining noodles. Sprinkle the parmesan on top.
  5. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes, let stand 5 minutes. If baking from frozen bake for 45-55 minutes.

Makes 4 servings. Each serving contains 423 calories, 9 grams of fat, and 6 grams of fibre. All that high fibre really fills you up and remember that sauce gives you 2 fruit and veggie servings per serving of this pasta bake. A total win for a one dish meal.

Thai Glaze

What started as a mint jelly turned into a thai glaze. Hehe it’s crazy how stuff like that happens sometimes. We picked up mint at the market, while we were there the basil called to us, then we found some tasty hot peppers, then lemongrass…well something had to be done! Done it was. I made jars of this stuff to have on hand as a glaze for all sorts of meats or to add to a stirfry as a dressing. Makes a nice subtle marinade too! It was definitely a fun experiment in canning.

  • 1 cup mint, minced
  • 3/4 cup basil, minced
  • 2 tbl lemongrass puree
  • 2 hot peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tbl lemon juice
  • 3 cups splenda
  • 1 gelatin sheet
  • 3/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup basil and mint minced finely combined
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  1. Combine the 1 cup of mint, 3/4 cup of basil, lemongrass and water in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cover. Allow to steep 30 minutes. Strain and press all liquid out of the leaves.
  3. Combine all the liquids, splenda, and pepper in the saucepan. Boil 2 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatin sheet. Add remaining herbs.
  4. Store using prefered method.

Makes enough to fill 3 250ml mason jars. Each jar contains 64.4 calories, .1 grams of fat, and .8 grams of fibre. Yeah…each jar. That is the kind of glaze you can go nuts with. Want to see our first invention using it?

Tasty! We used the glaze as a marinade with a couple of chicken breasts. Did up two portions of rice noodles according to the package. Added a tbl of soy sauce and honey to the noodles, tossed, and topped with the grilled chicken all nicely sliced up. Goodtimes. Can’t wait to try this with pork sometime. The glaze is a really bright and lemony type of thing. Not as spicy as I had hoped but my husband thinks a couple of coats during grilling will yield more spice.

Smoked Tomato Basil Jam

Inspired by the smoked jam we had at the spa. All the ingredients except the gelatin and the sugar came from my local market. I suggest giving yours a visit for making this jam. Tomatoes that have been picked the day before without shipping far and wide really gave this jam a strong flavour! I figure this will go well with those cheese fritters I’ve had an idea for. Another idea that crossed my mind was making bruschetta with it. Mmm could be so fun. Especially since I normally can’t eat tomatoes. There is something about tomatoes that often makes me ill. I think its the acid in them. When they are heavily processed like in ketchup, tomato paste, and some sauces I can eat them just fine…but on a sandwich or in a chunky sauce, oh my! I’m a heartburn mess! This tomato jam at the spa had no such effect on me. So, as you can understand I am pretty excited about it. One day soon I too may be able to eat some bruschetta!

  • 2 lbs Roma Tomatoes, quartered
  • sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
  • Hickory wood chips, soaked
  • butter spray
  • 2 cups sugar/splenda
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups basil, chopped
  • 1 pkg gelatin or strawberry jello sugar free
  1. Arrange the hickory chips in a packet of foil, pierce with holes to make a smoker pack. Arrange the quartered tomatoes on a foil covered tray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spray with butter spray.
  2. Place the smoker pack on the element of the grill. Place the tomato tray on the grill rack. Cook on low for one hour. They should look a bit like this: 
  3. Meanwhile, put 1 1/2 cup of the chopped basil and the water into a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to steep for 30 minutes. Strain and return the liquid to the saucepan.
  4. Once the tomatoes are done smoking, strain them and add the liquid to the herb liquid. Add the sugar/splenda (I did a combination of 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 1/2 cup splenda). Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in the remaining basil and gelatin.
  6. Divide into your chosen storage method.

This recipe makes enough to fill 3 250ml jars. Each 1 tbl serving of my sugar splenda blend has 10 calories, 0 fat, and .2 grams of fibre. A little goes a long way with this tasty jam. I can’t wait to think of all sorts of things to serve it with. Note: Sometimes the gelatin needs to be chilled for a bit after cooking to activate.