Pesto

I love the smell of basil and lemon! Making this pesto is simply the best way to incorporate those two ingredients. A very simple and easy recipe that can be used with pasta, shrimp, tomato & mozzarella, omelets, and well anything you want. Even better is that you can keep pesto for a long time in the freezer. Yum!
I saw this recipe on the food network a long time ago when Dave Lieberman was hosting his show and from then on I kept making this recipe over and over again.

Pesto
Adapted from Dave Lieberman
After making this recipe a million times I tweaked it to my preference such as not adding garlic, less extra virgin olive oil, switching nuts and the rest is all to your personal taste. The reason i switched nuts is because if you have bought pine nuts you know that it is more expensive than walnuts, almonds, etc. As for the oil, I felt that it was a bit much for me since the oil would float to the top when the pesto was resting; I know that is quite normal but that is just me, you can put more oil if you would like.
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Colorful ingredients going in the blender. If you have a large food processor, I think that it would be easier to get the pesto out rather than struggle with spoon trying to scoop out every last bit.
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Finished product.
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Nothing like pesto pasta. yum!
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5 big handfuls basil leaves (about 2 hefty bunches)
1/2 cup pine nuts or 3/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
Juice of 1 small lemon
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until pesto is thick and smooth.

Baked pasta & Asparagus

What a beautiful day! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, flowers are blooming and the smell of fresh cut grass is in the air! This makes me want to listen to really upbeat pop music such as One Direction, yes that’s right I like their music!
asparagus
The asparagus dish came to me because I was hungry and digging through my fridge.  Took a short cut and used frozen asparagus, microwaved it for 3 minutes then crumbled feta cheese and drizzled on some Persian lime olive oil. (My friend Nicole introduced me to this olive oil. If you have never tried Persian lime olive oil, you are missing out, it tastes and smells delicious)

On to the main dish Baked pasta! I found this recipe in a foodnetwork magazine featuring Italian food. It’s quite simple and fast to make, also the ingredients can be swapped with almost anything. When I make this I put in all vegetables, one pound each of zucchini and frozen spinach. As for cheese I play around and put in whatever cheese I have on hand such as cheddar, monterey jack or an Italian blend of cheeses.

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All the ingredients and baking dish. The pasta was a gift from my cute cousin, she went to Italy and bought that for me.
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Cooking the zucchini and spinach.   Tossing the cooked pasta with vegetables, tomato sauce and half of each cheese.

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before baking

pasta
After baking. look at the browned cheesey deliciousness!

Baked Pasta
From foodnetwork March 2011 issue.

1 pound pasta (faralle, ziti, rigatoni, cavatapi, fusilli, penne or large shells)
4 cups tomato sauce (about one jar of prepared tomato sauce)
3 cups cooked ground meat and/or cooked chopped vegetables
3 cups shredded melting cheese  (mozzarella, provolone, fontina or asiago)
1 cup grating cheese (Parmesan, pecorino or ricotta salata)

Preheat the over to 450°
Cook the pasta till al dente (still has a bite/slightly uncooked) and cook the meat and/or vegetables.
Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce, meat and/or vegetables and half of each cheese.
Spread in an oiled 3 to 4 quart baking dish.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the pasta.
Bake uncovered, until browned, about 20 minutes.
Let it cool for a bit and Enjoy!