mrs.b and her boys

embrace the chaos

Month: January 2017

HOMEMADE PESTO with PASTA

There are certain things I am intimidated to even attempt making because they seem so unapproachable and complex in my simple mind. Like dough that needs to rise, or canning, or homemade pesto. The thing is, is that I have eventually tried all these foods that once stopped me in my tracks of cooking…And they all turned out to be simple and completely approachable.

Some may be more time consuming, but what I like about the pesto, is it comes together in 5 minutes and can be made ahead of time. Actually, if possible, you should make it ahead of time. As it sets in the fridge, it just gets better and better.

Another thing I like about pesto is it has so many possibilities for easy dinners. All you need is a food processor. Our new favorite {thank goodness, the kids finally liked something new} is Pesto Pasta. It comes together in the time it takes to boil your pasta. You can have it on the table even on the nights that are full of mad dashes all over town.

 

This pesto recipe will make close to four cups, but you will only need one to two cups for a pound of cooked pasta. The rest you can freeze in half-cup portions to have on hand to pull together a quick dinner.

 

 HOMEMADE PESTO WITH PASTA

 

6-7 cloves garlic, chopped

¼ cup walnuts

¼ cup slivered almonds

5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

1 ½ cups olive oil

1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 ½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1 lb. pasta of your choice

 

In the bowl of your food processor, combine the garlic, walnuts and almonds for about 30 seconds. Add the basil. Then, with the processor running, pour in the olive oil at a slow, steady rate through the top tube, until well combined. Add the pepper, salt and Parmesan; process about 45 seconds until it all comes together.

 

Transfer to a bowl, cover and set in the fridge until needed.

 

When it is time for dinner, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and cook your pasta to your likeness. Drain, do not rinse, put back in pot and toss immediately with 1-2 cups of pesto. Add slowly, as to not over-sauce the pasta.

 

I serve it topped with fresh chopped tomato {but the hooligan’s pick around it!} and more fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

***REMEMBER to freeze your leftovers for another night.

A New Year & Homemade Soft Pretzels

It’s a new year! We all have goals for the 365 days ahead of us. Most always have something on their list regarding weight or health. Some want to be more organized. Others vow to give more to others.

 

Something I would like everyone out in the world to add to our list of goals is to spend more “time” with our family. I put the word time in quotes because I do not mean just time, empty time. I mean real, uninterrupted, not-over-scheduled time. Driving in the car from activity to activity or sitting at the table doing homework is not real time together. We need to sit down at the dinner table with our loved ones, phones not present, talk about the day and get to know each other on a deeper level. Listen to each other. Laugh with each other.

Now, I am not of the ignorance that this can happen every night, but we need to do this as often as we can in the week. In our family, all 4 of us sit down at the table to eat as a family about 4 nights a week. I know for others, 4 nights a week cannot happen. But the idea that I love and love to preach is making your “table time” work for a different time of day. If everyone is finally home and settling in at 8:00 p.m., make that your quality time together. Gather around the table for popcorn, yogurt dunkers or homemade soft pretzels.

 

Make it non-fussy. Popcorn can be homemade, microwave style or the premade stuff in the bag {no judgment here!}. Our yogurt dunkers are just toasted cinnamon bread topped with a little slather of butter and peanut butter, cut in 3 strips, and served with a small bowl of vanilla yogurt to “dunk” them in. And homemade soft pretzels can be made ahead of time and stay delicious for about 3-4 days. Again, buy them frozen if you want, but I have a simple recipe for you to try. They are fresh and you know what ingredients are in them.

 

Soft Pretzels are fun to make for any age. They sound difficult and intimidating, but I promise you they are simple. If you have the time or sanity left {just keeping it real!}, let the kids help. They love to roll them and figure out how to twist them the right way.

 

 

 HOMEMADE SOFT PRETZELS

 

1 ½ cups warm water

2 Tb. agave nectar (or whatever sweetener you like)

1 pkg. dry active yeast

6 Tb. butter, melted

2 ½ tsp. kosher salt

4 ½ – 5 cups all-purpose flour

Vegetable oil

3 quarts water

¾ baking soda

1 egg, beaten with 1 Tb. cold water

Sea salt or kosher salt

 

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray liberally with cooking spray.

 

In a stand mixer with a dough hook, combine water, agave, yeast and butter and mix until combined. Let stand for 5 minutes.

 

Add salt and flour; mix on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and let it knead until the dough is smooth and pulling away from the sides of the bowl, about 4-5 minutes. If dough appears too wet, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove dough from bowl, place on a clean, flat surface and knead with your hands into a ball.

 

In a medium bowl, coat it with the oil, add the dough, turning to coat in the oil. Cover with a clean towel and put in warm place for about an hour or until the dough doubles in size.

 

Preheat the oven to 425˚.

 

Bring the water to boil in large pot and add baking soda. Slowly, to take care to not let water over flow from the reaction to the baking soda.

Take dough to a floured flat surface. Divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope about 24 inches long. Take hold of each end, pulling up (in a “U” shape), cross each other and press ends into place. Boil two pretzels at a time in water-soda solution for 30 seconds; splashing the tops with the water. Remove pretzels with a spider or a slotted spatula. Place pretzels on lined baking sheets and brush the tops with the egg wash. Season with salt of choice.

 

Bake for 16-18 minutes until golden brown. Cool on wire cooling rack.

Serve them salted and as is. Or you can throw in a side of queso, honey mustard or classic yellow mustard.

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