Savory Watermelon Basil Salad

Savory Watetmelon Basil SaladRecipes in this Post

I love when spring comes and all the fruits and vegetables you missed over the winter come into season. I especially miss watermelon. There are all sorts of watermelon flavored things, but they are just not the same, and who knows what’s really in them.

Last year, I found a great recipe from Jeff Potter’s book, Cooking for Geeks, for a watermelon and feta cheese salad. It was an experiment in sweet salty that I made one of the times I was Guest Chef at Ascencia in Glendale.

Spane had gotten a good report card and had requested Jambalaya for dinner. It’s spicy food, and with Global Warming Climate Change giving us warm nights already, we needed something to cool down our selves and our palates. I was reminded of the watermelon salad I made last year, and it was time to make another.

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Fresh Basil and Pine Nut Pesto

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Fresh Basil and Pine Nut Pesto

Fresh Basil and Pine Nut Pesto

I think all of us have been tempted to buy the pesto sauce in the refrigerated sauce section at the supermarket. The one at the supermarket has things in it you will never find in fresh pesto, whey, milk, canola oil, water and 2% or less of garlic puree. Some brands do have pine nuts, others use walnuts. But, there is nothing like the real thing.

Pesto is one of the easiest sauces to make, and can be used on a variety of foods. Heck, it’s good just on a spoon!

When you make pesto, it’s important to have fresh ingredients. If you can find pine nuts in the refrigerated section, those are best. If not, look for nuts that are of a uniform pale cream color, with no spots. Pine nuts are the edible seeds of, yes, pine trees. Please use good Parmesan cheese as well, you don’t have to get Parmigiano-Reggiano, but at least get the cheese in the refrigerated section.

If you’re angry at someone and want to take your aggression out on something, you can use a mortar and pestle, and grind away for a very long time. Or, if you don’t have any aggression, then please use a food processor.

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Manicotti Stuffed with Cottage Cheese, Spinach and Pine Nuts

Manicotti Served

Manicotti is a child friendly food. Most kids love spaghetti and pasta. What could be more fun than stuffing tubes and then eating them? Kids can get a little messy, but that’s their job, right?

My friend, Chef John Farion, came over and brought me a large container of cottage cheese. I did not think that Spane and I could eat if fast enough for it not to go bad, so I decided to stuff something with it. Quite frequently, cottage cheese is used for lasagna, but I don’t like meatless lasagna, and I wanted it for Friday. Oddly enough, I had everything I needed already at home, so I bought some manicotti and brought it home.

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Veal Marsala Meatballs and Tomato Basil Cream Sauce with Mushrooms

Veal Marsala Meatballs atop Tomato Basil Cream Sauce with Mushrooms

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I love to find things on sale, especially things that would usually be expensive, like ground veal.

I love cream. Why do I love cream? I love cream because you only need a little, and it stays fresh in the refrigerator for quite a long time. I also like it for those occasions when I have run out of milk for my coffee. I prefer milk.

That’s what happened to me this morning, I ran out of milk last night, and not wanting to the store unwashed, I used a little cream in my coffee. I’ve had that cream in my house for quite a while, and I knew today was the very last day to use it.

When we were at the supermarket today, someone was buying red sauce for spaghetti. That almost sounded good, but I wanted to use up what I had in my refrigerator. No problem, I thought, I can make spaghetti and meatballs, but use the veal, and make the sauce with the cream.

Veal has very little fat, so these meatballs are a good choice for those watching their weight. Omitting the cream makes the sauce another good low calorie choice. If you have vegetarian friends, serve the meatballs separately.

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Spane’s Birthday – The Prep

Spane at the phone store

Spane on November 15, 2010 at the camera store

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Spane’s birthday is tomorrow, November 21, 2010.  He is going to be 7 years old!  So, like every birthday there is the preparation for the party.  This year will be the first one where he gave out invitations. 

Originally, we were going to have the party at Carr Park, but since it is supposed to rain, Amber volunteered to host the party at her house.  That meant sending out notices to everyone to let them know about the change of venue.  I hope everyone will make it.

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Catholic Seder

“On this day you shall explain to your son, ‘This is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.”

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I am a practicing Catholic. What does that mean? It means I go to Mass every Sunday where I have Communion , I try to go to Confession once a month (and definitely before a Holy day), and I share the Good Word with others. When I was growing up I heard about the Passover Seder, and my mother had friends who were Jewish, but we never went to one. It was not until a year after I went through RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) that I went to any form of Seder, and that was put on by a lovely Catholic couple. I thought it was such a nice way to help celebrate what God has given us, that I decided that I was going to have my own Seder. Last night was that first attempt, and was the start of a new tradition in our small family. I did not do a full Seder, I just presented a Seder plate, said some words of explanation where we all participated, and then I served a great dinner that brought it all together. I will share that with you here.

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